I caught up with the writer / director Louis Chanand producer, Jonathan Caicedo-Galindo from Stationary, a short film about the reunion of estranged friends, drug dealer Che (Rebekah Murrell) and reformed, soon graduated Jimmy (Aaron Thomas Ward), in a car in northwest London. We discussed the project in a conversation that dealt with identity, representation and their experiences with festivals in lockdown.
The film, made in late 2018, was inspired by a story Chan told over a drink with an old friend. He describes this "alpha man" who, with surprising vulnerability, talks about his 18-year experience and the impact of experience on the choices he made in adulthood. Chan, a writer and director for five years, divided this psychodrama into two characters. This core dynamic of two versions of the person who it might have been struggles to influence Gino (Xavien Russell), Che's younger brother.
By turning the story into reality, the film avoids a didactic approach and shows empathy for Jimmy and Che, avoiding direct judgment. Instead, the two conduct an extremely combative Socratic dialogue, which ultimately leads to a solution through the exchange of human experiences. In dramatizing the difficult decisions his characters face, Stationary acts as the true embodiment of Roger Ebert 's manifesto of cinema as Empathy machine. When hope is attained at the end of the film through the redeeming power of human understanding, the film confronts its audience with a complex view of the pressure on young people that could lead to crime.
It was this central complexity faced by young people trying to find their way around the world that attracted Caicedo-Galindo to the project. The couple met at a BAFTA event (Chan, self-ironically clarifying that this "sounds a lot more unusual than it was") to adequately assess the development of short films. Caicedo-Galindo, who has long worked as a programmer for the London festivals East End Film FestivalCutting East, the youth brand, had been looking for the right director and script to go into production. The step felt very natural to him, as "film programming was almost film-producing" to bring underrepresented stories and perspectives onto the screen.
The couple was supported by Alexei Slater, who also has a producer credit, and both quickly recognize him as an invaluable mentor, with Chan calling him "Genco Abbandando for their Corleone family". This know-how, especially with regard to the content strategy in the financing phase, helped the project to achieve its Kickstarter goal by over 130%. This allowed them to work with DP Samira Oberberg to create a visual style based on Nicholas Winding Refn and Jacques Audiard. With the support of Hammond Cox, they were also able to carry out an extensive casting process in which 70 actors were narrowed down within three weeks. It was this extensive pre-production that, according to Chan, simplified parts of his on-set job, which means that he was able to try out more options with his actors when filming.
Festivals in Lockdown
With the production of the rear view, the fear associated with the release of a film for the world was compounded by international barriers. Film festivals at those Stationary was to show, were pending and then forced to either cancel, postpone, or postpone their events online. However, your experience shows that it is not just the production cycle that produces iinnovative answersand unexpected benefits for challenging conditions.
Chan believed that the crisis gave us a “look through the keyhole, a what-if” of film festivals with reduced financial and logistical entry barriers. He believes that more online festivals could allow a larger number of stories to find an audience. In a market where youth-oriented players like Quibi and Snap dig deep and normalize "nutritious" content, the same audience could offer growth to short film viewers.
On the social platforms where several festivals have organized events, as well as on YouTube, where the Stationary The team released the film in collaboration with MYM: Million Youth Media (where almost 100,000 views were received two weeks after the release). The ubiquity of the comments triggered an immediate reaction from the audience. What is lost without the audience being able to consume the film is replaced by a platform on which younger millennials and Gen-Z are happy to share their opinions. Aside from the mandatory evil trolls, Chan claims to have found value even in negative responses where he can seek understanding of aspects that may not work for some viewers. Even in their silence, VoD viewers can create a digital footprint of the film that enables a better understanding of their audience, so that they can better control how the film can be successfully marketed.
Caicedo-Galindo welcomes new online alternatives and firmly believes that festivals must be part of the film ecosystem as they offer something irreplaceable. They are not only an exhibition space, but also a forum for discussions and networking. In his role as a programmer, he was clear in his mission to create an environment in which aspiring filmmakers could find mentors and contacts who would help bring their stories to the screen. Chan is also clear that there is no substitute for the IRL experience to measure a film's emotional impact on an audience.
If Stationary If a film is about identity and decisions that influence a character's future, then the experiences of his creative team may offer an insight into the future of the short film exhibition. Like the film's ambivalent statement, this is probably a mix; In this case, there has to be a lot that the IRL Festival has to offer – the fact that this film is thanks to British festivals and institutions. It also learns what worked at Lockdown to expand the audience for short films. We look forward to new models with a clear objective that ensures that people can find films that can change the way their audience perceives.
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About Oli Picken
Oli Picken is a London-based writer who holds an MA in Sexual Dissidence with a research interest in deleuzoguattarian approaches to film. You can find more of his writing here