Punching Your Way Through the Barriers of Love.
Interview with Director Robert Cuffley
Congratulations! Why did you make your film?
Chokeslam has been in development for over ten years. I’ve made other films in the meanwhile (“Walk all over Me” and “Ferocious”), but I’ve always had more of a personal attachment with Chokeslam. It is, I suppose, my love letter to John Hughes, who was very influential to me as a teenager.
Imagine I’m a member of the audience. Why should I watch this film?
To call a film in current market a “Rom Com” is the kiss of death and we knew that. It’s been done so many times. But Chokeslam gives you a love story for people who want something different – something physical, something charming and something that paints outside the lines of the traditional Rom Com. Audiences have already reacted positively to this.
How do personal and universal themes work in your film?
The attempt of redemption runs through my work and is fun to play with. But an even more recurring theme regards my characters and their relationship with fame…the duality of who that particular character appears to be in front of the camera as opposed to off-camera. This I find infinitely fascinating.
How have the script and film evolved over the course of their development and production?
Compared to our first draft, it’s a completely different story. It took us a while to get the wind behind us. My filmmaking process is the same in many ways, but the finished version could not be more different from the first draft
What type of feedback have you received so far?
The Whistler Film Festival is only the second festival it’s played (the other was closing night at the Calgary International Film Festival), but reaction has been very enthusiastic. I hear the same comment – “It’s different than what I’m used to. And I liked that.” I take this as a compliment.
Has the feedback surprised or challenged your point of view?
Seeing a film with an audience is like seeing it for the first time. A comment made by many filmmakers because it’s true. There were laughs where I never expected them, for sure, so nice added bonus. But overall, it confirms my belief that an audience can take a familiar story structure and not roll their eyes, provided if you tell it to them a different way.
What are you looking to achieve by having your film more visible on www.wearemovingstories.com?
As moving stories covers independent films from across the world, my hope would be that the title sticks in people’s minds and when the time comes where they can see it in a cinema or on VOD, they will give it a shot.
Who do you need to come on board (producers, sales agents, buyers, distributors, film festival directors, journalists) to amplify this film’s message?
We are about to announce Canadian distribution and I expect others will come on board as well. I would love to travel more outside of Canada with the film. It’s a great place to meet other programmers and other filmmakers.
Every film needs a champion who can say – “you really gotta see this one” – someone who can get it to places I couldn’t get it to myself. I hope we can find that person(s) as well.
But every single audience member has potential to create word of mouth. There is SO MUCH product (films, tv) right now, you need to stand out. I am hopeful that people will see the cast I’ve assembled and see what they bring to the table (in certain cases, like AMANDA CREW, seeing them like you have never seen them before) and applaud that.
What type of impact and/or reception would you like this film to have?
Any filmmaker wants their film to grab/affect/touch/offend or their audience…in other words, prompt a reaction. The worst thing in the world for any artist is ambivalence. Because many of the scenes are atypical of what you expect in this genre, I hope the movie stays with them.
What’s a key question that will help spark a debate or begin a conversation about this film?
This film, like all of my others, has a female lead character. Amanda Crew (from SILICON VALLEY) as Sheena is certainly no exception. Sheena is the “leader” of the relationship with Corey. She is the dominant force, which is somewhat of a gender reversal for comedies.
Would you like to add anything else?
This was by FAR the most difficult movie I have ever made. Anything that could go wrong did. But out of that came an opportunity for me to learn something: that no one cares how tough it was on the crew and cast…provided the movie turns out. And it did. It’s something I am immensely proud of.
I make movies that I would like to see as an audience member. I’ve done that and would gravitate towards this had I not been involved with the creation of it.
What are the key creatives developing or working on now?
The co-writer, Jason Long, and I are working on another movie, a crime noir thriller. Jason also teaches film to film students.
And I am in development on others: a thriller an R-rated comedy, in addition to a television pilot.
Interview: December 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
Punching Your Way Through the Barriers of Love.
Robert Cuffley and Jason Long.
About the writer, director and producer:
Robert Cuffley, Director:
Robert Cuffley began with short films, then music videos, then features that have played around the world. Chokeslam is his fourth feature film.
Jason Long: co-writer:
Jason is a screenwriter, a playwright as well as a teacher. He has co-written all of Cuffley’s films and continuous to remain active in the indie film scene.
Carolyn McMaster, Producer:
Carolyn has produced four feature films as well as having worked extensively in documentary world.
Amanda Crew (from the multi Emmy nominated SILICON VALLEY), Chris Marquette (The Girl Next Door), Mick Foley from the WWE and Michael Eklund (from The Call, Mr. Right, Bates Motel).
Looking for (producers, sales agents, buyers, distributors, film festival directors, journalists):
Film festival directors, sales agents, distribution outside Canada.
Alberta Motion Picture Industry Association
Made in association with:
-Alberta Motion Picture Industry Association
Canadian release sometime in 2017
Internationally? We are waiting to hear where/when.
Where will it screen in the next month?
We’re waiting word on other festivals.