When a strange loner comes in to town, a bloody encounter with the local youth will reveal the true nature of what it means to be human.
Interview with Director Anya Beyersdorf
Congratulations! Why did you make a film called Vampir?
Thank you! Good question. We made the film called Vampir because we were interested in inverting the horror genre – we invoke all the classic horror elements however the film is essentially a drama. We set it up for one thing, but it is something else entirely. I like a film that subverts expectations to make a point.
Imagine I’m a member of the audience. Why should I watch this film?
Firstly, it is a damn good looking film. Cinematographer Warwick Field ACS lensed it with a lot of love and vintage Kowa anamorphic lenses – it looks so unique – I’ve not seen another film like it. It is distinctive, dark and beautiful. He won a Gold ACS award for it, well deserved.
Secondly, its different from other short films. It is more impressionistic – it is about leaving the audience with a very specific emotion. The story is designed to have an impact in a very short time – to carry the audience along with a specific point of view and then dump that on its head. Things aren’t as they seem.
How do personal and universal themes work in your film?
The film definitely has universal themes, we set out to make more of a dark fable than a specific narrate – a fairy tale which could be set anywhere at any time, with easily recognisable archetypes. We purposely don’t anchor the story in any particular time/place – you watch and it looks vaguely European, vaguely Australian. It could be happening anywhere at any time. Trying to tap in to more myth than movie.
For me it is a very personal film too, half European half Australian. I think the message is pertinent now, at a time when fear of the other or outsider is reaching a fever pitch across the world. It shows us that being human isn’t necessarily the qualifier for being “good”. I think there is a tone of hope, too.
How have the script and film evolved over the course of their development and production?
I wrote this film at Sydney College of the Arts during my Masters when I was pregnant with my son Rumi. He is now 3! It takes a long time, many years. What is on screen is pretty close to what was in the screenplay, though. I guess that is writer/directors!
Once I met my producer Nicole Coventry and she came on board, things happened much more quickly. It was great having a partner in crime who just trusted my ideas and made brilliant suggestions when I was off track or lost in the whole thing. She brought so much to the film – creatively as well.
What type of feedback have you received so far?
It has been great! The film was shortlisted for both the Lexus International Short Film Series (which was won by the talented Damien Walshe-Howling) and the Lexus Sydney Film Festival Fellowship, which has been great for the film’s profile. Warwick winning the Gold ACS award for his work is another highlight.
I know the film has done its job when the person I am showing it to turns to me at the end, and there is a small tear in their eye. Then I know the film has hit its mark. I’m looking forward to sharing the film with an audience for the first time at the St Kilda Film Festival next week – so far its just been cast and crew and friends. I’m nervous but excited.
Has the feedback surprised or challenged your point of view?
The feedback has been excellent, though I think some people have found the subversion of genre thing a bit challenging – people like to know what movie they are watching from the beginning, and I think they do get a bit miffed when you don’t deliver what they are expecting – what expectations you have set up. Like if you called your film THERE WILL BE BLOOD and then there isn’t any. But hopefully they are surprised in to feeling something different to what they are used to, and something different to what they set out to feel.
What are you looking to achieve by having your film more visible on www.wearemovingstories.com?
We Are Moving Stories is a great platform, we are hoping to start a dialogue and be part of the movement. Films are collective ownership now – we saw that from the start – our film was crowdfunded so it has always belonged to the collective rather than just Nicole and I. We are hoping to share it with a wider audience and see where it goes.
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 excited to share the film further than Australia – we’d love Film Festival Directors to get in contact and for the film to start its international tour. I think it is going to connect with a lot of people – we made it that way – so a cinema audience in Vladivostok will get the same message as the crowd in St Kilda – an optimistic little message of hope for humans of the world.
What type of impact and/or reception would you like this film to have?
If the audience has a little tear in their eye at the end and will think a split second longer about judging outsiders in the future, the film has done its job.
What’s a key question that will help spark a debate or begin a conversation about this film?
What is it about outsiders that scares us so much?
Would you like to add anything else?
Thanks very much for the chance to discuss the film. As a filmmaker you have a responsibility – from the moment you start talking people in to helping you out (this film is one of those special ones where the script managed to attract really high level cast and crew who all worked for free) you have a responsibility to make sure their contribution is honoured – that you see it through and really push the film to be everything the collective hoped for. We’ll push it as far as it will go.
What are the key creatives developing or working on now?
Anya and Nicole have a short film they’d like to make – How The Light Gets In.
Anya is writing a doctorate in screenwriting at the University of Sydney, and has several feature projects she is developing as a writer including one which was shortlisted for the Sundance Writer’s Lab last year.
Nicole is currently working on Top of the Lake: Season 2 and is developing a slate of shorts and a feature film with a range of exciting female directors and looking forward to the next adventure with Anya!
Interview: May 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
Length: 8 min
Director: Anya Beyersdorf
Producer: Nicole Coventry
About the director and producer:
Director: Anya Beyersdorf is an actress turned writer/director and current Doctoral candidate at the University of Sydney. She is a founding member of Gifthorse Films – a Sydney filmmaker collective dedicated to creating and producing unique and unusual screen stories. www.gifthorsefilms.com
Producer: Nicole Coventry is a producer with a background working on TV dramas. Addicted to working with emerging directors, in 2015 Nicole produced the short films Vampir and Eaglehawk.
Looking for (producers, sales agents, buyers, distributors, film festival directors, journalists):
Film festival directors!
Funders:Guilty in association with Gifthorse Collective and Possible supporters.
Made in association with: Guilty, Gifthorse Collective, The Butchery, Final Post, Final Sound
Release date: 21 May 2016 – St Kilda Film Festival