Logline: Kindness can be so Cruel
Length: 12.5 mins
Director/Producer: Carey Ryan
Carey Ryan is a writer/director from Australia. Having a visual focus, and a background in photography and graphic design, her first films, Contender (2003), and Empathy Traces (2012) were experimental. Empathy is the Devil (2016) is her first narrative short.
Film Festival Directors to showcase Empathy is the Devil on the film festival circuit
Producers to work with in the future
Journalists to give Empathy is the Devil media coverage, and open a conversation about its themes and issues
Funders: self funded
Made in association with: Griffith University
Release date: Screening as part of the Griffith University Showcase Screening at Short Film Corner, Palais G on Wednesday 18th May 2016 from 11:30 – 1:30pm.
Congratulations! Why did you make a film called Empathy is the Devil?
I was thinking about how a lot of the time we feel terrible about things that we can't change, particularly other people's circumstances. So as the film evolved from a simple idea that a guy starts his story proudly wearing a hat on his head, and ending it with the hat tipped up as a beggar, and all this happening purely because he was generous beyond his means, I thought… we all need empathy to live in a civilised world, but how much? And it kinda had a nice ring to it, like the Stones' song Sympathy with the Devil.
Imagine I'm a member of the audience. Why should I watch this film?
It's gorgeous! The dance sequences are wonderful and the story is socially relevant. Issues of the past are being replayed and it offers the chance to view the past through a nostalgic lens, giving the audience an enjoyable way to see the truth.
How do personal and universal themes work in your film?
Addiction, homelessness, debt… these are all universal social problems. I wanted to make an important film, but an enjoyable one. That way, people can choose what they want to take away from it, it's in their hands.
How have the script and film evolved over the course of their development and production?
It was always written as a silent, Chaplinesque type film, but once the idea of dance was introduced, and then the choreographer/dancers came on board as the stars, it really evolved. The ending changed a few times, and certainly there were more scenes shot than we used, but all in all, the basic premise remains.
What type of feedback have you received so far?
A lot of people have spoken about what Empathy means to them. I've really enjoyed it. If it provokes thinking about empathy, and the similar issues of the past and today, we've done our job.
Has the feedback surprised or challenged your point of view?
The feedback so far has been great. As the protagonist's inner journey is played out in dance, this isn't the easiest film to grasp, yet, everyone seems to get it so either the audience is particularly savvy, or only film literate people have seen it, I'm not sure. Either way, I'm delighted with the audience reception so far and hope it continues.
What are you looking to achieve by having your film more visible on www.wearemovingstories.com?
As a female writer/director, I would like to engage with media that champions women in film. If the film is popular, it's a win win. My film also addresses social issues, and I think that We Are Moving Stories, and the agenda you have, is an appropriate fit.
Who do you need to come on board (producers, sales agents, buyers, distributors, film festival directors, journalists) to amplify the film's message?
I have been the producer until now, but that's not really my expertise. I would love a producer to take this film and give it the life it deserves.
It would be really great if Film Festival Directors were to embrace this film – and I would love Empathy to have a great festival run. It's a film that should be seen and heard on the big screen. There are so many audio nuances, and the camerawork is so lovely, that, although the themes are clear, the big screen really shows it off.
What type of impact, and/or reception would you like this film to have?
Obviously... Bravo! We have a great film and I would love the audience to enjoy it. I would also love all the people who dedicated themselves to this project to be recognised. Most of them volunteered their time and expertise, and the result is there. We just need people to see it!
What's the key question that will help spark a debate or begin a conversation about this film?
Why do you give? Everyone does something, whether it be direct debit pledges, coaching a kid's soccer team, or helping someone with their bag at a train station. I would like people to think about that. Do you do it because it's the right thing to do in our society? Because it gives you pleasure, because you'll feel guilty if you don't? Because you don't want to think about your own problems, so giving to others allows you to remove focus from you?
No one needs to share it, I'd just like people to think about it. A friend once told me that he couldn't remember who he was donating to, there were a few causes, and he knew he cared about those, but he was so busy, he took no pride or pleasure from doing it, he just did it. I think life would be more satisfactory if we thought about it, and even thanked ourselves for doing it, privately of course!
Would you like to add anything else?
As part of the promotional material for the film, we made some 'Empathy' money boxes. The idea behind it is you fold the box into shape, fill it with coins and give it to whomever you choose. The boxes are tiny so we're not talking big bucks here, just a little help. The idea behind it is autonomous giving.
Put the act of giving back into the hands of the donors and let them decide who to give it to. This isn't to stop people's monthly or yearly pledges of a decent size, it's just a reminder that giving is a good thing, it makes you feel good, and for individuals in need, it really doesn't need to be much.
I would also love it if people told their stories on our website, of who they gave their moneybox money to and why.
What are the key creatives developing or working on now?
We have a few projects on the boil. One is called The Boxer Inside. It's a Frank meets Rocky, with a touch of Anomalisa, kinda crazy mix I know. It's a film about identity and the question of how much control we have over our own. Each scene is a recreation of an iconic scene from a classic film, mostly boxing films like Rocky, On the Waterfront, and Raging Bull.
We have a few others, check out www.sumiproductions.com to see what we're working on. We would love to have some producers on board.