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Interview with Director James Brylowski (A Mile In These Hooves)

Watch the Audience FEEDBACK Video for the Short Film A MILE IN THESE HOOVES:

“A Mile In These Hooves” was awarded Best Film at the WILDsound May 2015 FEEDBACK Film Festival.

Follow the film’s progress on the facebook page- http://www.facebook.com/amileinthesehooves

Matthew Toffolo interviews director James Brylowski:

Matthew: What motivated you to make this film?

James: I knew that I wanted to make a film that encompassed my two passions, absurd and bizarre comedy and landscape cinematography. The idea of making a film about a couple of people in a 2-person donkey costume was kicking around in my head for a while. Eventually it hit me to incorporate my 2-person donkey costume idea into a road trip film, and so the journey began. I loved the idea of showing these majestic and beautiful landscapes juxtaposed by this ridiculous donkey costume walking through them.

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

James: Probably around 1.5 years. There was a break waiting on BravoFACT funding.

For the main shoot, we crammed 5 of us, the giant donkey costume and all of our gear and drove from Toronto to LA and back shooting. We put 14,000 KM on the rental van over the course of 3 weeks. Then, we shot in studio when we got back for another 4 days and a few little shoots around Ontario and Quebec.

Matthew: How long do you think it would REALLY take two guys to travel from Toronto to Venice Beach in a two man costume?

James: I actually worked it all out and I think that my estimates were pretty accurate. I think it’d take a team about 3 to 3.5 months to walk from Toronto to LA in a 2-person donkey costume. If someone wants to prove me wrong, I double dog dare you. *

Honestly though, I kind of don’t think anyone could do it. We shot in the South West for the majority of the shoot where it was 105-110 F degrees outside and hotter inside the costume. I don’t think you’d want to be in a costume in that heat for days on end, or for 10 min for that matter. You’d end up looking like a prune…or worse…a rotten plumb.

* Disclaimer, don’t do it…you probably won’t live for too long.

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

James: A Mile in these Hooves was an ambitious project from the start. I wore a lot of hats, writing, producing, directing, editing and as the cinematographer of the film, so there were times that it was tough. Thankfully, I had a lot of friends, family and colleagues who helped out.

The initial shoot across the USA was challenging, yet a ton of fun. A lot of the film is set in the south west in the desert, so there were times that it was 109 degrees and my stand ins (one was my wife, as the ass of the donkey) would wrap frozen towels around their necks in an effort to keep cool. We’d do 15 second takes, then take a break.

When shooting in studio, there were times when I had my two actors, Ned Petrie and Jordan Gray, myself with my camera, lights, a sound recordist and makeup artist all inside the donkey. Let’s just say that it was cozy. So, a lot of challenges with production can be attributed to dealing with all of the logistics of shooting in and enduring that 2-person costume.

Matthew: How is the film scene in your city and country?

James: I’m based in Toronto. Toronto and Canada has a really great film scene. We have tons of talented actors, comedians, writers, producers, directors, editors, etc. There are a lot of interesting projects coming out of Canada right now.

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

James: I’ve been lucky enough to have A Mile in these Hooves screen at quite a few festivals now. I think we’ve screened at around 25 festivals, so far. and, I’ve attended a bunch of them. I can honestly say that attending WILDsound was one of the most unique and interesting festival experiences. For most of the festivals I’ve attended, at the end of the shorts program, I head up to the front with the other filmmakers and do a Q&A with the audience. People ask questions about the concept, production, etc. For WILDsound, it was kind of nerve racking. I was wondering if anyone would say “well that sucked” not knowing I was sitting there. Then, it’d be awkward when Matthew would be like, “here’s that guy that made that crappy film!” and, I’d have to wave and be like “Hi everyone…that was my crappy film….hello there!” Honestly though, it was really nice to hear positive comments and feedback about my film. and, knowing that they didn’t know I was there and that they COULD have torn it apart made the comments feel really genuine and I really appreciate it. I think someone said “that’s the kind of movie I like to watch.” and, for me. It doesn’t get any better than that. For a film that’s as absurd as it is, I really poured by blood sweat and tears into it (I wept most nights), but seriously, I spent a ton of time and energy on it and there were a lot of times when I remember thinking “What if nobody cares or likes it?” In the end, if the film has made one person laugh and brought them some enjoyment, I’m happy.

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

James: Jurassic Park. I recently met Laura Dern (Dr Ellie Sattler) at the Maui Film Fest. I’d had a few drinks and I think I may have talked about dinosaurs for too long. Sorry Laura. #1 T-Rex fan, right here.

Trivia- what was the name of the actor-goat in Jurassic Park? (This is not so much trivia as it is a question…I’d like to know. Please email me if you have the answer.)

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

James: I have a few projects in development, which I’m super excited about. Things are under wraps right now.

Thanks for the interview Matthew. I just want to say to anyone who hasn’t been to WILDsound who’s reading this. Go and check it out. It’s a unique and interesting experience and most importantly, it’s fun.

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WILDsound Festival runs monthly in downtown Toronto, Canada. Go to http://www.wildsound.ca/torontofilmfestivals.html to RSVP your tickets and see what’s playing next.