I had a chance to send out a questionnaire to four of the featured filmmakers at this year’s Door County Short Film Festival – John Pata, T.C. DeWitt, Adam Krause and Nella Citino. Below are a selection of answers from all four, which give insight to not only the films they will present, but the process and inspiration behind filmmaking. For more on what goes into this cinematic art, be sure to stop by the Sister Bay Village Hall at 2 pm on Saturday, Feb. 14 for an open forum with the DCSFF filmmakers.
John Pata: Director of Pity
• Film Synopsis: Separation can be a terrible thing. It can break you down; physically, mentally, and emotionally. The person you once were can begin to slip away. How much agony will it take before you lose yourself? Would you realize just how far gone you are? This is a portrait of a man at the bottom, struggling to find an answer, after the wrong things happened at the wrong time. This is a story of loss.
• Favorite Horror Film: The Evil Dead (1981) is, without a doubt, my favorite horror flick followed closely by Jaws and The Thing (1982).
• What do you enjoy most about working in short form? Shorts are fantastic to keep working at the craft, hoping to better your abilities, and to try new things out. While I’d rather make a feature, it is kind of nice to shoot for two or three days and be done.
T.C. De Witt: Director of The Roxy Incident, The Unpossessors, Game Day, I’ll Raise Ya, and Hi, Neighbor
• Film Synopsis: The Roxy Incident: Private Eye Carson Fuller needs to solve his toughest case yet and get his brother out of prison in this Film Noir stylized puzzle. Hi, Neighbor: Successful suburbanite Erin is slowly realizing that not every neighbor is super-dee-duper. The Unpossessors: Dana and Zee are two demon hunters on another routine exorcism that tests the limits of their skills. Game Day: It’s another strike out at the plate, and another weekend without a date for the love struck batter of the Locksmiths. I’ll Raise Ya: Three friends sit down for an ever-increasing stakes game of poker.
• Which filmmakers have most influenced you? John Hughes, Robert Zemeckis, Peter Jackson and Edgar Wright.
• Advice for aspiring filmmakers: If you want to be a filmmaker, you have to actually film things. Get your friends together or get just one friend or your little sister or film alone. You simply have to just start. And it might be bad at first, but you’ve stopped thinking about it and you’ve stopped talking about being a filmmaker and you’re doing it.
Nella Citino: Director of In Tandem
• Occupation: Chair of the Video and Film Departments at Madison Media Institute
• Film Synopsis: Ren Redfield loses his job and wonders what he’s going to do next when a chance encounter with a man in a park sends him to the local bike shop where he meets some very strange people.
• What inspired you to make the film? One of my colleagues, Sean P. Little, is a novelist and I challenged him to write a script because he always wanted to. The film program was just starting up and I wanted to make sure the film students understood the process of pre-production, production, post-production and all that goes with it. I also wanted some of the staff to get IMDB credits (internet movie database) so they can build on their careers in the film industry. We had the opportunity to work with some really fun actors and our IMDB credits are now in place, thanks to the Door County Short Film Festival.
• Favorite film: The Big Lebowski and yes, Gone with the Wind
Adam Krause: Director of Home Sweet Home
• Film Synopsis: While house hunting, a young married couple drives out to a desolate old house for sale and gets more than they bargained for when they decide to enter the home for a closer look.
• Favorite Horror Film: John Carpenter’s Halloween
• What do you enjoy most about working in short form? How concise you need to be with your storytelling.
• Advice for aspiring filmmakers: Make films for no reason other than love of the craft. It’s an expensive, time-consuming process that can burn you out quickly. But if it’s fueled by passion, it’s totally worth it.