In what may be a record year for local (and repeat!) filmmakers with films at Cinequest, we also have an interview with Frank Door, the director of the short film FIVE PROOF. Not only is Frank a local filmmaker and director of a locally based film production company, but he also enlisted the help of students from the East Side Union High School District to help produce this film. Here is our interview:
FIVE PROOF movie poster
1Q: Tell us a little about the origins of FIVE PROOF (playing at CQ with SUPER HERO PARTY CLOWN), from concept to financing.
The script for FIVE PROOF was brought to me by a good friend and collaborator of Element 151, our production company based here in San Jose, Rory Campbell. At the time Rory had just finished helping us with a motion graphic title sequence for one of our previous short films. I received an email with about half a dozen scripts for shorts from him that said I could take my pick, and FIVE PROOF stood out to me most. The writing is amazing, the ideology behind it was sharp, and the fact that it was the most technically difficult script to make into a film out of the lot, intrigued me. And to be honest there is a lot of subtext underlining the story in a comic book nature, of which I am a fan.
The financing for the film is a unique situation. My partner and producer at Element 151, Chante Cardoso and I founded a non-profitsummer youth program focused on teaching real-life filmmaking skills to youth in the East Side Union High School District here in San Jose, two summers ago. Our initial summer program worked off a grant from the city. However, last summer that grant was not made available to us. We felt we needed to try and continue the program regardless, and sat down with some of the students from the previous summer and let them know we had no funding for the program but if they wanted to dedicate themselves to working on FIVE PROOF and help us fundraise then we would continue the program and work side by side with them to shoot the film. They jumped on board in a heart beat. Which was amazing. From there we went into pre-production and started fundraising. A Kickstarter was formed, we held various fundraising events including a concert at the Improv hosted by our good friends at Live 105, and did just about anything we could to make it happen. On top of that our collective filmmaking crew all chipped in by reducing rates and doing what was needed to just see the film finished. We were incredibly lucky to have an amazing group of kids to work with as well as an enormous amount of support from our local community here in San Jose that ended up reaching across the nation.
2Q: You attended Cinequest last year with another short film. How was your experience with the festival, and were you able to show at any other festivals?
Cinequest 20 was great, we met some amazing people. I have gone to several Cinequests past and always felt it was important for us to be a part of it, being that we are local. The free beer isn’t a bad perk either. Our film from last year, Parallels, did screen at the Carmel Art & Film Festival and was invited to the Toronto Film Market as well.
3Q: What was your best and/or worst experience while making FIVE PROOF?
The best part, was the opportunity to collaborate with some amazing people. I got to work with my good friend Eric Callero (Conan O’Brien, The Runaways, Terminator : The Sarah Conor Chronicles) again, he was in our first short film Whiskey Tears. Eric and I have a great relationship as director / actor, I trust him and that gives him the freedom to take risks. The film also took me to a new venture in filmmaking and that is dealing with visual effects. In turn I was introduced to Mark Christiansen. Mark has worked on titles such as Pirates of The Caribbean, 2012, and The Day After Tomorrow. He is just a mind blowing person to talk to when dealing with the reality of something that is not real or for that fact can’t even be seen when shooting. Our team has also expanded locally working with the likes of Brandon Van Auken from Moving Red and Steve Murr a local music producer with a sharp cinematic sensibility. These new relationships have grown past FIVE PROOF and we are all continuing to create locally together. The worst experience, we had some technical issues with the RED files. Even to the point that RED itself couldn’t lend a helping hand. Some shots in this film were saved frame by frame, which sucked.
4Q: Festival audiences often have to make hard decisions about what to see, and the catalog descriptions sometimes run together. In your own words, why should people see your film?
That is really tough for me. As I’m writing this we are literally wrapping up the final locks on picture and sound, getting ready to print later this week. So I still have an unsettled feeling about the film. It’s great, don’t get me wrong. I’m extremely proud of it. But right now selling it to people is hard for me to process. We will be promoting it like crazy though…and good people like CQCentral are key to us getting the word out. So, thanks.
5Q: Short films often have no means of wide distribution. What are your plans for FIVE PROOF in the future, and what sorts of things can you accomplish by making a short film?
Plans for FIVE PROOF are to just get it out on a wider festival run. I feel strongly that this film is the start of something greater as well. So, Shawn West could potentially be developed into a longer format. The three shorts I have directed over the last two years are all stepping stones towards a feature length production. They are proof that we can accomplish successful work and are key for us to know our strengths and limits when moving into a feature. There is an original idea in development right now for said feature. The plan is to be in production by late summer / early fall of 2011. Unless something epic comes along, FIVE PROOF will be our last short film. I feel that in itself is an accomplishment for my team and collaborators.