Five Questions With... Lilian Mehrel & Mary Evangelista (WATER MELTS)

WATER MELTS is a blue-hearted rom-com about people who are going to lose someone they love. Nobody knows what to say, so they bicker, laugh/cry, and get married. It's a romantic comedy, after all.

This virtual reality experience is available in our Legacy Lounge in the Harborview Room - take a look at the teaser below, as well as our filmmaker Q&A, and try it out for yourself this week!

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

LILIAN & MARY: Each of us co-creators were handed similar cards - the person we love most was given a terminal diagnosis. We came together and realized the story we had to create: a story that didn't exist yet. A story about the struggle to enjoy the moment with your loved one when you have been told you will lose them. It's almost impossible to be light under urgent dark clouds, but we knew what it felt like to live for the smallest of golden moments. And how the most absurd comedic moments burst forth from these tightly wound circumstances. And how it's about love.

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

LILIAN & MARY: We are storytellers first, but we love the challenge of telling a story in this medium. When the entire space is our canvas, how do we imbue scenes with feeling? WATER MELTS is unique in the 360 realm as a narrative-driven cinematic piece. It also stands out in its play with genre: a blue-hearted rom-com.

We embraced a minimalist naturalism with long takes (the way it might feel to be sitting near a couple on the beach, eavesdropping on their argument) -the dreamy theatrics of life. We wanted the audience to have breathing room to look around and take in the vastness of the beach, to choose to watch the characters or let their conversation wash over you as you follow an animation. The blank canvas beach environment allowed any Fellini-esque absurdity to stand out in contrast.

We also enjoyed playing with cinematic touches in editing, like creating a slow-motion 360 montage.

It also brings an old-school element to the new medium in a fresh way. We overlay classic hand-painted animation (created by Emmy-award-winning artist Maya Edelman) on the 3-dimensional live-action footage. The real and the unreal co-existing in this surreal emotional landscape - the way humor and heartbreak can live together too.

NFF: What do you find the biggest advantages and challenges of making a film in this way, vs. "traditional" filmmaking?

LILIAN & MARY: The biggest advantage is the minimalism, which forces us to sharpen our storytelling skills. Also by allowing us to give audiences a life-like experience, we were able to let the real (live-action) and the unreal (animation) co-exist in a surreal emotional landscape - the way humor and heartbreak can live together too. So we overlaid old-school hand-painted animation (created by Emmy-award-winning Broad City artist Maya Edelman) on the 3-dimensional live-action footage.

The biggest disadvantage is the difficulty in sharing the final work with wide audiences.

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

LILIAN & MARY: We’re working on a new romantic-comedy-with-an-edge series. More about our work at www.lilianmehrel.com and www.maryevangelista.com.

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?

LILIAN & MARY: We love the emphasis on screenwriting at Nantucket, and hope audiences will connect to our storytelling first and foremost. We also hope that those who see themselves in our characters and circumstances will feel seen. We would love to engage with audiences and invite anyone to share impressions with us - hashtag #WaterMelts and feel free to message us on Instagram (@lilianfilm @maryelista) - thank you!

Five Questions With... Wiebe van den Ende (INCITEMENT)

Sara returns from working abroad to boyfriend Luis. When she reveals that she has to leave again, Luis gets a big confession off his chest... with a very peculiar motive.

We spoke to Director/Screenwriter Wiebe van den Ende about his short film, INCITEMENT, as part of NFF’s Enter the Story: Virtual Reality Experiences, available in our Legacy Lounge in the Harborview Room. Read more with Wiebe, and experience the film for yourself!

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

WIEBE: Storywise, I like to create real people. Characters that resonate and connect with the audience. Have a peak in their extraordinary lives and then surprise and shock the audience, gently. Technically I love to push boundaries subtly. There is so much happening behind the camera that people don’t really notice. Six out of the eight shots are emoting and with more than half you don’t really notice. It’s the subtle movement that helps to propel emotions and play with the mindset of the viewer. There went a lot of thought, preparation and post production into making that look smooth.  

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

WIEBE: I like to really think a lot and hard about whatever I write and put on screen. Attention to details in characters, but also framing, editing, blocking staging, camera movement. Everything tells an extra story and adds up to the overall experience. There’s a lot of mind exploration that goes into tricking the audience and play them like a conductor. In VR, you can multiply those challenges by a lot. How to keep focus where you want, where provide freedom to roam. Eventually, it’s creating a more detailed world and deleting the frame. 

NFF: What do you find the biggest advantages and challenges of making a film in this way, vs. "traditional" filmmaking?

WIEBE: The biggest advantage is the immersion, presence, and being able to play with the the social perception of the viewer. You can really trigger and play with instinct way more than traditional film. The biggest challenge is budget. Everything is so much more expensive and the market is still very small.  Eventually everything that we can think of can be done, but all with a large price tag.

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

WIEBE: Currently I am developing a VR / TV Series called MY ONLY WAY OUT. About a group of friends who are caught up in a power grab amongst some big time gangsters. The VR  part would be a 10 x 20 minutes Cinematic VR crime drama. We have the story arch of the series, good character outline and a decent draft of the first two episodes. Even though the setting of the story is a thriller / crime drama, the main arch is all about people searching for themselves and their place amongst one another. Friendship, loyalty, relationship patterns, personal growth, betrayal. But this will take some years before it will see the light of day.

And I am working on my first traditional feature film. An American Indie called: CAMERON AND HOW TO NEVER OUTSHINE A BRIDE AND OTHER FUTILITIES IN A LIFE AND DEATH SITUATION.

It’s about Cameron, who discovers on Friday morning that he is terminally ill and then gets to spend the rest of the weekend at the wedding of the best friend of his girlfriend who hates his guts.

All my short films can be seen at:  wiebevandenende.com

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?

WIEBE: It’s hard to say what my takeaway would be without spoiling the plot. I think I have to go for the realization there can be true love lurking behind a brutal confession.

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