When Reason Fails, the Devil Helps
Interview with Writer/Director Andrew O'Keefe
Congratulations! Why did you make your film?
It had been approximately 7 years since the first feature film I had made so I was getting itchy. But mostly it's because, finally, after many years, I read Dostoevsky's Crime & Punishment and fell in love with the story immediately. It fired a passion to get it done - and I knew the resources would be there.
Imagine I’m a member of the audience. Why should I watch this film?
I think we've crafted a deeply psychological thriller that explores one of the great characters of world literature. Many people would love to read Crime and Punishment but it's a very dense read and quite a commitment. So, if you've never gotten around to it, we've given you a way to cheat!!
How do personal and universal themes work in your film?
There are two very important themes running through the film that make it relevant today. The first and most personal is that all men (and women) are created equal and that no-one is a superman. History has shown that there is a tendency of people in positions of power to assume that they are above the law. This film explores that idea and says that the real, inescapable prison is your own conscience.
Secondly, a more universal theme, is about education and what can happen when we restrict access to people who need it the most but may not be able to pay for it.
How have the script and film evolved over the course of their development and production?
The writing and shooting of the film was quite a short process - 6 months from the first word on paper to the final day the camera rolled in principal photography. So, there was not a lot of flexibility among the production. Also, there is a lot of dialogue that has a theatrical feel and we cast theatre actors - so they stuck pretty closely to the script. The edit evolved quite a bit though. Characters and scenes were cut out in order to stick more closely to the protagonist's story. This also required a couple of pick-ups to as there was some confusion among test screenings about motive and the complexity of relationships.
So, we filmed a few extra scenes to deal with that. The final evolution, however, was the score and the grade. They had much more of an impact on the mood than I thought they would, which meant that a bit of recutting occurred to accommodate the direction that the music and grade was taking the film. The post-production was unusually long - almost two years - but the film looks a million dollars and only cost fifty grand!
What type of feedback have you received so far?
Probably the most interesting feedback I had was in Vancouver where the International Dostoevsky Society had a world conference celebrating the 150th Anniversary of the novel. Our film opened the conference proceedings. So, I screened the film and then did a Q&A to a full house of Dostoevsky scholars. Quite daunting, especially that I do not consider myself a Dostoevsky scholar. It turned out that most of the feedback was positive - they were really happy that I'd messed with the story and given it a contemporary spin. But I also learned a very big lesson that the key audience is those who have read the book. I have taken a few liberties with certain things that confuse some people, but those who know the book follow it all perfectly. So, that was a lesson about audience and who to target.
Has the feedback surprised or challenged your point of view?
No, not really. The main challenge was to my own prejudice that the Dostoevsky lovers would turn their nose up at the film - but it's turned out the opposite. Of course, there have been a few trolls online but you get that with anything.
What are you looking to achieve by having your film more visible on www.wearemovingstories.com?
I am hoping to expand the audience for the film. That's an obvious answer, however, as I've stated I have been concentrating on Dostoevsky audience whilst the 150th Anniversary is still happening. Now, though, I want to take the film out into a broader audience. I think WAMS can help with that. It looks like a terrific database.
Who do you need to come on board (producers, sales agents, buyers, distributors, film festival directors, journalists) to amplify this film’s message?
I'd be looking for distributors. We've already signed a non-exclusive contract with one distributor already however only for a limited theatrical run. The online distribution rights are still ours and I think that's where the film's life will really be. Crime and Punishment is a very well known story but I don't think too many people would go to the cinema, outside of festivals, to see it. It's going to have a good life online though I think. So, assistance with VOD will be paramount.
What type of impact and/or reception would you like this film to have?
The audiences that I've watched the film with have mostly been impacted by the idea that there might be some people who have a "right" to live outside the common law because of the positive impact that their life will have on humanity. Napoleon Bonaparte was one such character whose presence features in the film as an example. When our hero, Raskolnikov, attempts to overstep the law, his conscience turns out to be the troublesome issue. So, it's a complex film that takes a bit of thinking about. I have had people watch the film and not know what to make of it until a few days later when the find themselves still thinking about this "Superman" idea.
What’s a key question that will help spark a debate or begin a conversation about this film?
Does anyone have the right to commit murder, even if it does bring good to the world? Why is killing thousands "conquering" yet killing one is "murder"? Would you commit murder even if you knew the outcome would be righteous?
Would you like to add anything else?
As the writer/director I'd be very happy to engage with the audience with anything they'd like to talk about, so I can be contacted through our facebook page: http://www.facebook.com/crimeandpunishmentfilm
What are the key creatives developing or working on now?
Director Andrew O'Keefe and actor Lee Mason are re-teaming for a third time on a psychological thriller called CAVITY: When distraught photo-journalist buries a young girl’s body after a car accident, he finds himself stalking the girl’s mysterious mother. Or is it the other way around?
Interview: November 2016
We Are Moving Stories embraces new voices in drama, documentary, animation, TV, web series and music video. If you have just made a film - we'd love to hear from you. Or if you know a filmmaker - can you recommend us? More info: Carmela
CRIME & PUNISHMENT
When Reason Fails, the Devil Helps
Director: Andrew O'Keefe
Producer: Tuuli Forward, Steve Jablonski and Andrew O'Keefe
Writer: Andrew O'Keefe
About the writer, director and producer: Husband and wife team Andrew O'Keefe and Tuuli Forward are the principals behind Apocalypse Films. They both graduated from the same Australian film school, the Victorian College of the Arts, and have been making films and children even since.
Key cast: Lee Mason, Christopher Bunworth, Anna Samson,
Looking for (producers, sales agents, buyers, distributors, film festival directors, journalists): An international Sales Agent that has the skills to tap into the various markets that the film will play, such as the indie film circuit and especially the educational sector.
Release date: 2017
Where will it be screened in the next month?
Aside from the Made in Melbourne Film Festival, the film is playing at the Phnom Penh Film Festival in Cambodia.