Tag Archives: audience feedback

SERENA – The October Short Film Festival Winner for Best Film. Get to know filmmaker ERIC LAMHENE

Eric Lamhene’s short film SERENA was the WILDsound Short Film Festival winner for Best Film, and Best Overall Performances at the October 30 2014 event.

Serena is easily one of the best short films of 2014. A film that is essentially about violence through the lives of privileged teenagers. Watch the Toronto audience feedback video from the festival:

WILDsound’s Matthew Toffolo chatted with Eric about his award winning short film:

Matthew: What motivated you to make this film?

Eric: A few years ago, a twenty-year old man stepped on a girl’s foot in a nightclub in Luxembourg. That girl’s boyfriend started a fight because of this, breaking a bottle and stabbing the 20-year old in the throat. He bled out in the club, in front of everyone. Around the same time, the rate of youth violence drastically increased in Luxembourg. Not a weekend night went by without teenagers beating each other up and the police having to intervene. I wanted to set a story in this climate of increasing readiness for violence among youth, focusing on well-off kids rather than poorer working class kids. The film is about the capacity for violence in all of us and therefore the violence had to be independent of social class, i.e. I didn’t want audiences to leave the cinema and say to themselves that these kids are violent because of their upbringing or their social status, and that therefore this could never happen to their kids. It needed to be more universal than that.

Matthew:. From the idea to the finished product, how long did it take for you to make this film?

Eric: I started writing in 2012. Once we got the money to make the film, I was aiming to shoot in December 2012. Unfortunately, the young actors were not ready to shoot by December (not enough rehearsal time, etc.), which is why we pushed the shoot back, into 2013. Once the 6-day shoot had finished, a lengthy post-production phase started. The film was completely finished in January 2014. All in all, it took about 2 years to make “Serena”.

Matthew: What was the biggest obstacle you faced in completing this film?

Eric: I would not call it an obstacle, but rather the big challenge of the film: working with young (non-)actors. Out of the four teenagers, two had never acted before. Professional actors with many years of experience will give you the performance you need and can easily adapt to changes on set. They know what each movement of their body looks like, i.e. they control their body exactly to help express the emotion they want to express. Teenage actors have much less experience and often are unable to see themselves from the outside, i.e. how their movements and body language affect how we perceive the emotion within. The wrong body movement can make the emotion within seem fake and played. Thus, the entire shoot was about helping them express what they felt inside for us to see, making sure their performances were real and truly felt by them at all times.

Matthew: What movie have you seen the most in your life?

Eric: Whereas TOKYO STORY (dir. Yasujio Ozu) is my favourite film, I have seen BATTLE ROYALE (dir. Kinji Fukasaku) more often. This is probably due to the fact that I have seen the latter many years before TOKYO STORY. As you can tell, I love Japanese cinema.

Matthew: What were your initial reactions when watching the Toronto audience talking about your film in the feedback video?

Eric: I was really happy to see that the audience picked up on the various themes of the film and that a lively exchange followed the screening. The film was meant to make the viewer feel uncomfortable so that he or she will still think about it and talk about the violence it portrays long after the lights in the room have come back up. “Serena” is not meant to give answers, but further discussion about violence between people living in a given society. It is less of a “why did they do what they did ?” and more of a “this type of violence does exist and how can it be adressed?”.

Oh, and I liked that everyone called the main actor “the ginger kid”. I will tell him that. He hates that. 😉

Matthew: What is next for you? A new film?

Eric: I am currently developing a story that is to become a feature film in the coming years. I am still at the very early stages, but I can already tell you that it will again be set in Luxembourg and that it will be a thriller.

Matthew: Besides filmmaking, what else are you passionate about?

Eric: I like to travel. My wife is from Singapore, so I have the chance to visit Asia quite frequently.

Go to http://www.wildsound.ca/torontofilmfestivals.html and see the lineup for the next WILDsound FEEDBACK Film Festival event.

7 Questions with Director Sean Singh (Suburban Deathcore)

Today let’s get to know Canadian filmmaker Sean Singh. We just showcased his short documentary at our film festival to much success:

Watch the audience feedback video of his film:

Read more information on the film:

Q&A with the director:

1. What motivated you to make this film?

Ever since I was in highschool I’ve always been really into playing in bands, not necessarily “deathcore” but relatively heavy music. And at the occasional show there has always been the odd band of 14 year olds that would come on stage and unleash the most brutal music that I could possibly fathom. I thought it was a hilarious contrast that such aggressive music could come out of normal kids just like me and I think that was something that not many people would get from just listening to the music. I’ve known now that I wanted to explore this subject in a documentary type setting for the past few years now and when I got a few friends together and had the chance to pitch the idea around, everyone seemed to take to it really well. The more and more I dug into this connection between geography and music, the more interesting this idea became to me.

2. From the idea to the finished product, how long did it take for you to make this film?

The entire process took approximately 3 and a half months to complete. Looking back now part of me wishes that maybe I should have taken more time with it to get to know the characters of my film better. But I’m glad that I was able to accomplish what I did in that timeframe. I feel like if I did add any more content, my film would have become a little over-polluted and it might have suffered from coming off as a preview for a feature rather than a self-contained short.

3. What was the biggest obstacle you faced in completing this film?

Finding the right subjects was definitely the most “make or break” aspect of this project. When I was first pitching the film I had a very clear view of the type of interview subjects I wanted. They had to be highschool kids that played extreme metal and lived in the suburbs (in fact the original title of the film was “Highschool Deathcore” I still think its a better title but it became less fitting as production went on). Finding people that fit that criteria was absolutely essential for making the point that I wanted to make with this film. I was a little worried during pre-production that these people perhaps didn’t exist or it would be too difficult to find the right characters in such a short period of time. Even though only one character in the film was currently in Highschool every one of the subjects was at one point a highschool death-metal kid and could totally relate to all of the questions that I threw at them.

4. What movie have you seen the most in your life?

Hands down the “Yellow Submarine” Beatles animated film by George Dunning. When I was 8 years old my parents rented it for my brother, my sister and I. Even though my siblings were a little weirded out by it I remember being absolutely taken by the movie. I didn’t want to return it to the video store and I convinced my parents to buy me the VHS tape. That summer I remember watching that film became part of my daily routine. I can’t explain exactly why but the combination of music and trippy animation was extremely addictive. I honestly can’t recall how many times I’ve seen that film but I would guess its at least 80+. I can easily accredit my lifelong love affair with music and animation to that summer I spent watching The Yellow Submarine.

5. What were your initial reactions when watching the Toronto audience talking about your film in the feedback video?

It was a very humbling experience. I’ve had my work shown in festivals before but I’ve never had the experience of being in a room with 100 people all engaging in a discussion about a film I made. The coolest part of it was seeing that people in audience who I didn’t think would enjoy the film giving positive feedback about it. I always pictured that you would need to have some sort of understanding of death-metal music to enjoy the film but I couldn’t be more pleased to discover that wasn’t the case.

6. What is next for you? A new film?

I’m actually in pre-production for my next film right now. I like to keep expanding my creative boundaries and trying things I’ve never done before. Filmmaking is cool in that you can apply the same set of skills to so many different kinds of projects. A friend of mine had this idea for a puppet-film with a more mature plot and I instantly loved the script right off the bat. We’ve got a great crew together now and I can’t wait until we get to shoot it in mid-January. Of course we’ve still got a lot of work to do before then but hopefully in one years time I’ll be watching it in a festival setting just like I did last week. Other than that I’ve been slowly writing a script for a science fiction graphic novel over the past few years. I really don’t know exactly when I’ll start looking for hiring an illustrator or even finishing the script but it’s something I’ve wanted to do for a long time now. I feel like its the one project I have in the bank now that would really excite the 8-year old me that was addicted to watching the Yellow Submarine.

7. Besides filmmaking, what else are you passionate about?

I’ve always been very passionate about listening and playing music. For the past few years I’ve been playing drums in a band called The Johnny Red Eyes. We released our first album over the summer and writing music and playing shows has been a blast. In the band we seem to have a creative understanding with each other where no genre seems to be out of bounds. I also love playing video games, I was born into playing a Super Nintendo and never looked back since then. Gaming is a great stress relief from being so busy from working on film sets all the time. I’ve recently become a big fan of the “Dark Souls” series. I’m also working hard at the moment to jumpstart my career as a location sound recordist which has been keeping me very busy. I love working on film sets and I really like the idea of having a technical career in the industry rather than having an unrelated part time job to support my own film endeavours. Giving people high quality audio is a really great feeling too and when I do good job I definitely feel like I’ve accomplished something. I’ve still got a lot to learn but I’m excited to continually get better have more great experiences working on films.