Two serial killers meet over coffee when they realize they've targeted the same victim by mistake.
Interview with Writer/Director Wynter Rhys
Congratulations! Why did you make your film?I wanted to give a synonym to love to a species of human that is said cannot experience it - sociopaths. And what is closer to love than obsession? This film was born on this thought: what could bring two of the most dangerous men across a table...besides a woman?
Imagine I’m a member of the audience. Why should I watch this film?
I think seeing two vastly juxtaposed serial killers speak about their creative differences when it comes to murdering the same woman is not an experience you could achieve outside of watching The Fawn Response. Through my film, audiences get a firsthand look at the human psyche when things go wrong, and get a chance to view love, attraction, and affection in a whole new and twisted perspective.
How do personal and universal themes work in your film?
I always want to portray the human condition in my films, so I can really get under my audience's skin. Although very few can relate to being a serial killer, there is a larger universal theme at work in my film - human greed. A lot of people can relate to wanting something and going to a sometimes immoral state of mind to achieve it.
How have the script and film evolved over the course of their development and production?
Sometimes the characters in my own scripts surprise me as I am writing it. During The Fawn Response, the writing process became very personal as these characters became more and more real to me. One day when I was writing, one of the subtle background characters had suddenly made herself very present in the story. I toyed around with it and loved the way my main characters responded to her existence.
From there, it spun into a very solid and twisted ending and completely changed my original intention for the script in a new and innovative way. Because I am a very visual director and have the shots and set design woven into the story itself, the film remained the same in my head from the finished script through production. However, editing the film is what shifted the story around even further.
There is so much power in editing, because I am shaping the beats, the moments, and the tension in the film and deciding what is clear and explicit and what is left for interpretation and abstract viewing tailored to each viewer's unique life experiences. Through editing Fawn, the characters' responses clicked together in sometimes unexpected ways that ended up really, really working in their dynamic.
What type of feedback have you received so far?
The film has been perceived to be an iconic-feeling, slow-building thriller peaking to an unexpected ending. Many viewers stated that both serial killers juxtaposed each other beautifully, and that the dialogue felt undeniably human. Some felt bored by the depth and detail of the characters' back-and-forth argument, and were not satisfied until the second half of the film were things become more graphic. The biggest variable in liking or disliking the film was each individual's attention span and preference for dialogue-heavy versus action-heavy film.
Has the feedback surprised or challenged your point of view?
The film has moments that can either be deeply disturbing or hilarious depending on the individual watching. I love being present for the screenings and seeing those handful of people who find dark humor in the corners of the film, and all the rest of the audience looks at them like, "that's so messed up, how could you laugh at that?" I am also amazed at how audiences seem to "fall for" one serial killer over the other, having opinions on who is more ethical in their method of killing. This in itself is fascinating for me.
What are you looking to achieve by having your film more visible on www.wearemovingstories.com? I am looking for widespread viewing of The Fawn Response so it can be seen, heard, felt, and talked about.
Who do you need to come on board (producers, sales agents, buyers, distributors, film festival directors, journalists) to amplify this film’s message? I believe all mentioned will be key in amplifying the film's message, especially distributors who can unlock the door to The Fawn Response being seen by many more eyes and lingering in many more minds.
What type of impact and/or reception would you like this film to have?
I want The Fawn Response to make audiences' stomachs turn with its truthfulness of the primal, dark corners of the human mind, human instincts, and human nature. I want viewers to walk away from the film realizing that danger sometimes comes from very unexpected places, and to look inside themselves when they realize they are rooting for one bad man over another equally bad man. It's almost like a social experiment.
I believe interpretation to be an extension of my work. It's a piece I create in my mind and with my talented crew, but it becomes art and an experience when it is interpreted in the eyes of my audiences. Without that, my film would be nothing but a concept that has haunted me into pouring blood, sweat and tears to create it. In a theater full of mannequins, film would not have the same impact. It must be an exchange. This process of communication from film to viewer is when a story truly evolves. And as a director, if my piece lingers, if it is reflected on, if it raises questions - then I have done my job.
What’s a key question that will help spark a debate or begin a conversation about this film?
"Which of the two killers is most ethical and morally correct? 'Neither' is not an applicable answer."
Would you like to add anything else?
I'd like to add that I want my films to fit the rare niche of being psychological and under-the-skin, but undeniably human and relatable. I want to juxtapose beauty with fear, and I want viewers to feel enough closeness to the characters that no matter how anxious or terrified they are while watching, it's difficult to pull away.
What are you developing or working on now?
I am currently dabbling in 360 Virtual reality music videos, which is way way out of my comfort zone as a stylized director. I am also writing multiple projects - two shorts (thrillers) and a coming-of-age/thriller hybrid feature that fits the rare niche of simultaneously unsettling, yet romantic, dramatic, and relatable. This time I'm not just toying with the human mind when things go wrong, but also the human heart.
Interview: June 2016
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The Fawn Response
Length: 18 mins
Director: Wynter Rhys
Producer: Wynter Rhys, Jeremiah Kaynor, Garrett Devin MeyersWriter: Wynter Rhys
About the writer, director and producer:
I am a writer, director and producer of my signature aesthetic and storytelling style, which represents all things controversial and abstract that push the boundaries of society and common thinking.
Key cast: Hans Luther, Dan Crisafulli and Kay Whitney
Looking for (producers, salesman, agents, buyers, distributors, film festival directors, journalists):
I am looking for producers, sales agents, buyers and distributors to help further reach and impact audiences and open doors of discussion.
Made in association with: just me.
Release date: July 30th
Where can I watch it at the film festival or in the next month?
The Fawn Response screened Thursday the 9th at 5pm during Dances With Films. It can also be found online at my website upon the release date. It will also screen at HollyShorts.