Five Questions With... Hannah Elless (NORA EPHRON GOES TO PRISON)

In NORA EPHRON GOES TO PRISON, two women from different worlds meet in unexpected circumstances, but an unlikely friendship blooms based on their common love of Nora Ephron.

Take a look at our video interview with Director Hannah Elless, and catch the film in the “Laugh Out Loud” block of shorts on Fri, June 21 at 9:15am and Sat, June 22 at 4:15pm!

Five Questions With... Emilie McDonald, Bruce Smolanoff, & Urvashi Pathania (CHURROS, NAAN & BALSAMIC VINAIGRETTE)

We spoke with the filmmakers behind two of the shorts in the “What I’m Looking For” block, playing on Sunday, June 23 at 11:30am.

Read more with Emilie McDonald and Bruce Smolanoff of CHURROS and Urvashi Pathania of NAAN & BALSAMIC VINAIGRETTE, and see the films on the 23rd!

NFF: Please say a little about your inspiration for the film.

URVASHI: 2016, the end of democracy, some say, also happened to coincide with the end of my first relationship. This film was an attempt to make sense of it all.

NFF: Your film is in the "What I'm Looking For" block. What do you think your characters are in search of?

EMILIE & BRUCE: Jo-Jo is in search of a sense of security and belonging. Maria is in search of safety and comfort for her family, seeking to see the beauty rather than the blemishes in their daily struggles. 

URVASHI: Maya is searching for her own identity. As a woman on the brink of adulthood, she is finally learning about herself, her own preferences, even if the process leads to some painful discoveries.

NFF: What do you find the biggest advantages and challenges of making a short as opposed to a feature?

EMILIE & BRUCE: The biggest advantages of making a short are that you can finish things *slightly* more quickly - the script, the shoot and the edit, although the process is still quite time-consuming. Another advantage in our case is that we have a piece of work to show our vision in trying to make the feature version of the film. The biggest challenges of making a short are that you have only a finite number of days to get everything in the can (and in our case our DP was here from out of town so we had no flexibility with timing), and must face whatever challenges come up head-on (we had locked parks where you are supposed to film, unexpected multi-day rainstorms, and more). Ultimately the challenges are part of the work and make their way into making the work more layered.

URVASHI: Shorts give you more room to experiment with form. The viewer of a short has not been conditioned to expect a three-act structure in the same way they have for a feature. Of course, they’re also cheaper and less time-consuming. I have yet to make a feature, but I look forward to having the running time to explore my characters more deeply! I also think excess is more forgivable in features. I love scenes that veer off course, but in a delicious way that adds an unexpected nuance to the story. There's rarely time for that in the short film format.

NFF: What are you working on currently, and/or where can we see more of your work?

EMILIE & BRUCE: We are working on the feature version of Churros :)

URVASHI: I’m entering the final year of my MFA at USC this fall and will be traveling to Rajasthan, India to shoot my thesis film! You can follow my journey on my website www.urvashipathania.com or on instagram @swurvashi.

NFF: Why are you excited to screen in Nantucket, and/or what do you hope Nantucket audiences might relate to or takeaway from the film?

EMILIE & BRUCE: We are excited to screen in Nantucket for many reasons. We have heard that the festival and audiences are just incredible and we cannot wait to meet everybody. We of course are also excited to see Nantucket for the first time. We have never been there and it almost seems like a magical Shangri-la so will be nice to see the real thing in person. We hope Nantucket audiences will relate to the plight of a young boy grappling with a big decision, and will be able to put themselves in the shoes of a new immigrant trying to provide for her family.

URVASHI: This film is five minutes of densely layered half thoughts. It was the first film I made in my MFA, and I felt a sort of need to scrap together all of my ideas and emotions. I hope the audience derives some pleasure from the mixed-media format and that it inspires some creativity.

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Five Questions With... Jamy Wheless (THE PIG ON THE HILL)

In the kids’ short THE PIG ON THE HILL, narrated by Pierce Brosnan, Pig and Duck are next-door neighbors, but worlds apart.

We spoke with filmmaker Jamy Wheless about the film. Read more with him below, and bring the whole family to the screening on Saturday, June 22 at 9am!

NFF: Please say a little about your inspiration for the film.

JAMY: The inspiration of the film came from the children's book written by John Kelly.  We fell in love with the two characters and the message of how to simply "get along". Personally, growing up with "barriers" in my life, the "bridge" is symbolic of how we should reach out and be intentional in each other's lives. No walls, just bridges!

NFF: Why do you enjoy working in animation to express your vision? 

JAMY: Animation is the highest possible art form in my perspective. You have the ability to tell any story with any type of character. It transcends through any judgements and allows not only the creators but also the audiences to connect and relate universally.

NFF: What do you find the biggest advantages and challenges of making a short as opposed to a feature?

JAMY: The biggest advantages of making a short is time and money. Feature Films can take up to 4 years to produce and can prove costly. But short films allow the opportunity to complete a story, finance it, distribute it, and show that you have the ability to tell a story worth telling. The disadvantage is that it forces you to condense a story arc into less than ten minutes which is probably a good thing.

NFF: What are you working on currently, and/or where can we see more of your work?

JAMY: We are currently in development working on another children's TV series that we hope to partner with a distributor by end of this year. We are also working on an Augmented Reality project that is exciting. And we are currently in talks with a Distributor for "The Pig on the Hill" TV series that we are super excited about!

NFF: Why are you excited to screen in Nantucket, and/or what do you hope Nantucket audiences might relate to or takeaway from the film?

JAMY: I had hoped we would be joining everyone at the Nantucket Film Festival but logistically we couldn't make it work. Nantucket is one of the most beautiful places in the world and a favorite spot that my wife and I love to visit. Our daughter went to Rhode Island School of Design and we traveled out there many times and enjoyed the surrounding areas.

Our hope is that the Nantucket audience will walk away with a smile. And both children and adults will be encouraged to work through their differences and build authentic, lifelong friendships!

Five Questions With... Paul Downs Colaizzo (BRITTANY RUNS A MARATHON)

In Spotlight Film BRITTANY RUNS A MARATHON, a young woman who hides her insecurities with humor becomes determined to turn her life around one block at a time training for the New York City Marathon. Featuring Jillian Bell, Michaela Watkins, and Utkarsh Ambudkar. Winner: Audience Award, Sundance.

We spoke with writer/director Paul Downs Colaizzo about this funny and heartwarming film. Read more with Paul below, and see it at NFF on Thurs, June 20 at 3:15pm and/or Sat, June 22 at 4:45pm!

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NFF: Can you talk a little about your inspiration for the film, and your relationship to the "real" Brittany?

PAUL: The screenplay was born out of the late night talks I had with my friend Brittany when we were both in our mid-20s. In trying to define success and fulfillment for ourselves, we started to wonder if we were capable of more than we’d always believed.  As an experiment in pushing herself, she went for a run. Before she’d returned home from the run, I’d come up with a rough outline of the film. Brittany and I have a rare friendship, with the kind of insight and support that somehow, almost cyclically, finds a way of inspiring each of us.

NFF: Are you a runner? Which do you think is harder: running a marathon, or finishing a script (and getting it made)?

PAUL: I am not a runner, I’ve never been a runner, I actually had to get double ankle surgery while we were in post because I was physically not created to stand for long periods of time, let alone rely on my feet to get me from one point to another quickly.

So, answering for myself, I’d say running a marathon would be harder than getting this movie made because 26.2 miles of relying on my joints would be impossible while getting this film made was only near impossible.

NFF: What was the casting process like, and/or when did you know that Jillian would be your Brittany?

PAUL: Finding our Brittany started about 9 months before we started filming. Jillian had read the script, I’d been a huge fan of her work, but I knew that exploring a part specifically like this one would be a new exploration for her. We met and had a few conversations about what we both wanted out of this movie, how we wanted the world to see this character and her journey, and it became clear we both had the same goals, and that this was going to be a very vulnerable and personal experience for her. And it felt like it had the chance of being an electric performance. Jillian brought her heart, soul, and then some to the role and I’ll be thankful for her hard work forever.

NFF: What are you working on currently, and/or where can we see more of your work?

PAUL: I’m currently finishing up a script I’ve been toying with for a couple of years now. Stay tuned.

NFF: Why are you excited to screen in Nantucket, and/or what do you hope Nantucket audiences might relate to or takeaway from the film?

PAUL: What I’ve learned traveling the film festival circuit with this movie is that every demographic finds an emotional way into the movie. I’m interested to see how Nantucket audiences respond to the film in a moment-to-moment way, and even more excited for them to experience the totality of the journey in the way all of our audiences have responded so far. I want Brittany to stick with them long after they leave the theater.

Five Questions With... E.J. McLeavey-Fisher (THE GUY: THE BRIAN DONAHUE STORY)

In THE GUY: THE BRIAN DONAHUE STORY, we take a journey through the checkered career of veteran stunt actor Brian Donahue.

We spoke with director Director E.J. McLeavey-Fisher about the short film. Read more with E.J. below, and catch it in the “Characters Welcome” short documentary film block on Saturday, June 22 at 9:30am!

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NFF: Please say a little about your inspiration for, or how you found your subject of the film.

E.J.: I met Brian during a casting session for a commercial I was directing for a healthcare company. We needed to interview stunt people about their histories, and Brian came in and blew me away. Turns out he wasn’t the right guy for the commercial (as he will tell you “they wanted the beautiful twentysomethings”) but I emailed him that night (with that bad news) and then asked if he’d be interested in discussing another kind of project. We spoke on the phone for two hours the next day, with Brian spinning the most incredible stories about his time in and out of the industry, and I knew we had to make something together, which is what ultimately became THE GUY: THE BRIAN DONAHUE STORY.

NFF: You're in the documentary block. How do you balance entertainment value with a factual accounting of events?

E.J.: We always wanted to approach this project more like a narrative than a traditional doc project, so we shot our first day, the main interview day, then started to build our visual story around that. Using Brian’s story as our guide, we tried our best to either capture or re-create each scene in the most cinematic and powerful way possible without the style interfering with the viewer’s ability to connect with Brian as a real person. I don’t think a stylized approach like this is always appropriate in doc work but in our instance, when you have such a big character like Brian at its center, not to mention the fact that it’s a film about stunts and movies, it made sense. I must say, it’s also a lot more fun shooting this way and having a bit more control rather than following someone around with a camera and waiting for something to happen!

NFF: What do you find the biggest advantages and challenges of making a short as opposed to a feature?

E.J.: I think shorts are great because there’s so much flexibility in what the story is that you ultimately want to tell. Despite the approach I mentioned above, we were still creating a documentary and weren’t working off of a script, and until you get into the edit it’s hard to know how long a film needs to be. If you’re filming a short documentary the story might be twenty minutes or you might realize it’s better off being half that length- this is a luxury that doesn’t exist with features. You’re boxed-in to a stricter format in terms of duration.

The challenge with short films, for me at least, is that I spend as much time on them as I might shooting a feature otherwise. I haven’t done that yet so I can’t exactly compare, but we worked on this project for about three and a half years and only actually filmed 8 days in total. This was due to the fact that everyone involved with it had to work on it in between our paid work (for the crew, shooting commercials and for Brian, splitting his time at UPS and his acting and stunt gigs)- trying to coordinate all of our schedules was incredibly tricky, but we eventually made it happen!

NFF: What are you working on currently, and/or where can we see more of your work?

E.J.: I’ve got a few projects in various stages of development: one super short profile piece about a guy who has been teaching himself to skateboard at age 40 and documenting the process daily on YouTube, a baseball story about Armando Galarraga’s near-perfect game, and a music doc about a band with a cult following from the 70s (who I don’t want to mention yet because I’m waiting to hear back from some lawyers about whether I’ll be allowed to pursue it).  You can see my previous short docs COMIC BOOK HEAVEN and THE DOGIST on my website at www.ej-mf.com, along with some of my commercial work.

NFF: Why are you excited to screen in Nantucket, and/or what do you hope Nantucket audiences might relate to or takeaway from the film?

E.J.: I’m really excited to screen at Nantucket because I grew up on Cape Cod but have never had the opportunity to screen my work on the Cape and Islands until now! Hopefully it’ll be the first of many at NFF.

Five Questions With... Roy Power (MEMORY VIDEO)

In MEMORY VIDEO, an optimistic video-store owner tries to keep the tradition alive amidst the rising popularity of streaming.

Take a look at the video below where director Roy Power answers our Five Questions, and catch the film in the “Characters Welcome” block of short documentary films on Saturday, June 22 at 9:30am!

Five Questions With... Christopher Guerrero (WHITE GUYS SOLVE SEXISM)

The Weinstein scandal causes two men to discover all of their favorite movies are now sexist in WHITE GUYS SOLVE SEXISM, playing in the “Laugh Out Loud” block of shorts on Friday, June 21 at 9:15am and Saturday, June 22 at 4:15pm.

We spoke with Writer/Director Christopher Guerrero about the film - read more, and see it next weekend!

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NFF: Please say a little about your inspiration for the film. Why (or how) do you use comedy to tell your story?

CHRISTOPHER: The idea for WHITE GUYS SOLVE SEXISM originated after a conversation with a close friend. they told me about a number of male filmmakers from a famous University coming together to mourn the ‘loss of filmmaking’ in a post-Weinstein world. These men were so blindsided and shocked that women could be treated so terribly for so long… and they… THEY DIDN’T EVEN KNOW. While Weinstein’s abuse is both shocking and horrifying, it is far from the first sign of sexism in the film industry.

WHITE GUYS SOLVE SEXISM is an expression of the absurdity of men freaking out about something incredibly obvious to everyone else in the room. It is my hope that viewers can identify the absurdity, not unlike the characters in the short.

I also wanted to make a short about self-congratulatory elements of filmmaking. If this were ever to win an Academy Award, I would have to look out upon a sea of white men, hoisting a trophy, saying ‘We did it!’. Even recognizing that this film is good is a sort of congratulating itself. Give yourself a pat on the back, white guys. Ya did it.

NFF: What do you find the biggest advantages and challenges of making a short as opposed to a feature?

CHRISTOPHER: It really depends on the project for me, this project was conceived shot and edited within about 72 hours worth of time.  Which is great because it allows you to come up with something quickly and then show it to the world. Though in other short films I've made, it was really hard to be concise, clear, and to the point. In shorts, you don't have much time have to choose wisely, which is an amazing challenge.

NFF: What are you working on currently, and/or where can we see more of your work?

CHRISTOPHER: The same day (June 21st) that WHITE GUYS SOLVE SEXISM screens in Nantucket I will be having the world premiere of my latest pilot/short film CAR STEALERS at the TCL Chinese theater for "Dances With Film" which is very exciting.  You can find out more at: https://www.carstealers.com

Currently, projects getting ready to shoot are a short film called THE CUCK. "After being fired, a Drama teacher becomes an Alt-Right fanatic writing a play about a " Cuck", but he's too naive to see that the "Cuck" is in fact himself."  Also, a short film called GIRL AFRAID with my partner Stef Estep-Gozalo which takes place in my home town of Selma, CA (near Fresno) about a young Latinx woman and how hard it is for young poor underprivileged mothers to get health care. In the realm of features, I am in pre-production and funding on a feature called THREE BULLSHIT DAYS with writer Ryan Gilmore its sort of THE BIG CHILL but about a metal band instead of college friends.

You can see more of my work at my website https://www.christopherguerrero.com, my latest finished projects will be there as well as click on my CV to view everything in chronological order.

NFF: Why are you excited to screen in Nantucket, and/or what do you hope Nantucket audiences might relate to or takeaway from the film?

CHRISTOPHER: I've been told for many years by many close film mentors that Nantucket was by far their favorite film festival to go to; it's intimate and you get to meet amazing people. I really hope people are able to take away how absurd the "white savior complex" is and how absurd it is for "men" not to realize that sexism exists or have turned a blind eye to it for so long. I would love to make people "wake up" and realize that horrible things are happening around them.

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Five Questions With... Thomas Matthews (LOST HOLIDAY)

Back home in Washington, DC, for the holidays, a young woman and her irresponsible friends find themselves embroiled in an unexpected adventure involving kidnapping, drugs, and extortion. LOST HOLIDAY features Kate Lyn Sheil, Thomas Matthews, William Jackson Harper, and Joshua Leonard.

Writer/director/producer/actor Thomas Matthews answered our five questions in the video below - take a look, and see LOST HOLIDAY on Thurs, June 20 at 6:45pm and/or Sat, June 22 at 2pm!

Five Questions With... Alison Chernick (JACKSON POLLOCK: BLUE POLES)

JACKSON POLLOCK: BLUE POLES is the true story behind the extraordinary price tag of Jackson Pollock's Blue Poles—now considered one of the most expensive paintings in the world, and one whose purchase almost brought down the Australian government.

We spoke with filmmaker Alison Chernick about this documentary short - learn more, and see it on Thursday, June 20 at 9am in the “Show and Tell” block!

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NFF: Please say a little about your inspiration for, or how you found your subject of the film.

ALISON: I was a close friend of collector/dealer Ben Heller who was responsible for getting Pollock’s work into the mainstream. He had followed my work for a while and asked me to do a film on Pollock and abstract expressionism.  When The National Gallery of Australia came to him regarding Blue Poles- which he had sold to them in 1973 - he referred me to them and this jumpstarted the project.

NFF: You're in the documentary block. How do you balance entertainment value with a factual accounting of events?

ALISON: For me I stick to facts. Truth is often stranger than fiction. It’s about how you weave the story. 

NFF: What do you find the biggest advantages and challenges of making a short as opposed to a feature?

ALISON: A short is much easier in terms of story, financing, time management.  It’s harder in terms of traditional viewer platforms. But you can’t worry about any of that you just have to let the story / subject dictate the length. Many stories can be told concisely. 

NFF: What are you working on currently, and/or where can we see more of your work?

ALISON: Working on a narrative project. Along with another documentary involving the art world.  Voyeurfilms.net

NFF: Why are you excited to screen in Nantucket, and/or what do you hope Nantucket audiences might relate to or takeaway from the film?

ALISON: Heard it was a great festival!

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Five Questions With... Nölwenn Roberts (SAM'S DREAM)

In SAM’S DREAM, a small mouse decides to pursue his crazy dream: flying with swallows.

We spoke to Writer/Director Nölwenn Roberts, whose short film SAM’S DREAM will play in “Kids Shorts” on Saturday, June 22 at 9am. Read more with Nölwenn, and bring your family to see her film (and more!) on the 22nd!

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NFF: Please say a little about your inspiration for the film.

NÖLWENN: I started by just a drawing of a mouse, without thinking it would become a short film. Then a friend asked me why the mouse was going to do and I started imagining his life, by that time I was listening to the music of a film called BEASTS OF THE SOUTHERN WILD. The music is amazing and it helped me imagining the story of a mouse who wants to fly.

NFF: Why do you enjoy working in animation to express your vision?

NÖLWENN: First, I always loved drawing. Then I discovered that I could tell stories with drawings, and make movies with it ! Now I think, as directors, animation allows us to "free" our imagination, I may not have think about this story the way I did if we made a live action film. 

NFF: What do you find the biggest advantages and challenges of making a short as opposed to a feature?

NÖLWENN: I think the challenge of a short film is to tell a compelling story in less than 10 minutes so we don't always have the time to develop a big character arc like in a feature. But the time we have on a feature can also be challenging as we can easily lose the storyline by wanting to explore lots of different aspects of the characters and relationships and it makes it hard to stay focus on what we want to tell. In this, it's much easier to keep our storyline by making a short film.

NFF: What are you working on currently, and/or where can we see more of your work?

NÖLWENN: I am currently working as a storyboard artist at Illumination on SING 2. You can see some of my personal work on my tumblr or instagram: https://nolwenn-roberts.tumblr.com/ | @nolwenn.roberts.art

NFF: Why are you excited to screen in Nantucket, and/or what do you hope Nantucket audiences might relate to or takeaway from the film?

NÖLWENN: SAM’S DREAM is about making your dreams come true, but also connecting with people and making friends, I hope audiences in Nantucket will relate to this!

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