The future is beneath us.
Interview with Writer/Director/Producer)Teddy Cecil
Congratulations! Why did you make your film?
Thank you! And that’s a good question… There were several reasons why I chose this project to be my first short film. I have lots of stories that I want to tell, maybe close to fifty I have stored away. But it was important to me and my team that we made something which stood out with its production value and complete storyline. Too many times when I see a short, I feel as though the limitations for the filmmakers is what drove the production – either limiting the film to one or two characters and/or a single location. And too often it leads to very uncinematic films.
But we really wanted to create a project that even if the viewer wasn’t a fan of the material, they could objectively tell that we knew how to make a film. Of course, I had no idea ahead of time if we would truly be able to pull this off, so it was a big risk. When we first tried to get people on board for the project, everyone was telling us that the film was too ambitious to make independently.
And the fact that people kept saying it was too difficult only made us want to make it more. I also knew that this project would provide our team with lots of opportunities to learn about the aspects of filmmaking we weren’t completely comfortable with – namely VFX and action. I also have a fascination with visual storytelling over dialogue based films, so I tried to design the project in a way where the visuals were leading the audience the entire way through. Any dialogue that is in the film is secondary to the story that is laid out in the action.
Imagine I’m a member of the audience. Why should I watch this film?
If we did our job right, then Helio should feel like a major studio film that’s compacted into twenty minutes. I think we ended up with something that you don’t get to see that often, which is a spectacle short film AND a full story. Our goal was to make something that stood out because of the amount of effort we put into it.
The project took almost three years to complete, mainly because of the post-production process, and I really tried to make every shot count. As far as the production went, we tried not to ever look at the film like it is ‘just a short.’ There are almost 500 shots in the film, 130 of which are VFX.
How do personal and universal themes work in your film?
My team and I were mostly young guns who had everything to prove. In that way, I really felt like the story actually mimicked what we were trying to do. Helio follows one underling who fights against insurmountable odds to do something much bigger than himself, and as a unified team we were attempting to do something bigger than most of us had ever tried before.
Which was really asking a lot of the cast and crew, especially for an low-budget, independent short film. The project ultimately was made through a collaborative process and together all of the departments pushed themselves to make something big.
How have the script and film evolved over the course of their development and production?
The script evolved a lot. I tried desperately to keep everything as organic as possible, so that the script was molded based on our limitations and strengths as we discovered them. Going into the project, I didn’t really know what we’d be able to pull off with the VFX elements. So it was important to me that I didn’t inhibit my creative process because of that, and instead would shoot for the stars, and if that ended up being impossible, hopefully we would be able to hit the moon with rewrites.
What type of feedback have you received so far?
The majority of the feedback we have received so far has really come from the festivals that have asked to screen our film, which has been better than we anticipated – especially in the science-fiction community. We’ve received a lot of helpful comments, and I find constructive criticism to be very useful as we move forward onto other projects. Most of the time, I get a good sense of how people really feel about the film based on the questions they would ask about the story.
If the questions were about things I felt should have been evident in the final film, then I knew I didn’t do my job in that area as best I could. Other times, people have asked the exact questions I was hoping they would, which would make me feel like we accomplished what we had set out to do.
Has the feedback surprised or challenged your point of view?
We’ve been happily surprised with the number of festivals that have shown our film and even more surprised with the accolades and positive attention the project has received. But it’s always surprising and refreshing when people are candid about the film. If they say one thing that’s critical of the film, it makes me feel like the rest of what they have to say is more legitimate because most often people do not want to be mean, so they will tell you what they think you want to hear. Which doesn’t really help anybody get better. But the most surprising feedback is always when people come to extreme interpretations of what they think the whole short represents.
What are you looking to achieve by having your film more visible on www.wearemovingstories.com?
For as many people to see our film as possible! Thankfully, because of cool sites and independent forums like yours, us little guys are able to get exposure for our film that goes way beyond the festival circuit. Ultimately, films are meant to be seen and wearemovingstories.com will really help us get our story out to more viewers – which is why your support means so much!
Who do you need to come on board (producers, sales agents, buyers, distributors, film festival directors, journalists) to amplify this film’s message?
Really, everything and everyone! Our goal is to eventually make a feature film out of Helio, and then hopefully a full trilogy, which is what the scope of our story would ultimately require. Anything to help us accomplish this would mean a lot for us. Since we’re only now getting our first film out there, we’re still talking with different groups about personal representation as well as representation for our company. But we are far from settled on that front.
What type of impact and/or reception would you like this film to have?
In an ideal world, our film would go ‘viral’ after its worldwide internet release. But that seems very unrealistic considering our film is twenty minutes long and the subject matter isn’t exactly the type of thing that goes viral – you know, like puppies playing with kittens or comedic sketches which feature celebrities. I share a company with a few other filmmakers like myself and we just want to be able to keep making films. The problem is the resources that are required don’t make it such an easy feat, so any positive attention that we can muster could have the potential to do wonders for us.
What’s a key question that will help spark a debate or begin a conversation about this film?
Hmmm. That’s a tough one. But I think the question would be this: What did we do to get us here and where are going next?
Would you like to add anything else?
Filmmaking should be a collaborative process, because it requires an army as much as much as it requires a leader. Whatever we were able to capture is the cumulative effort of passionate people working hard to one end. And I couldn’t be more proud of the team and what they were able to accomplish with this project.
What are the key creatives developing or working on now?
We’re in post on our second short film, which is a comedy. So it’s a very different beast from Helio. Our goal is still to hone our craft and become a tighter filmmaking team with time and experience. We also have a couple feature film projects we are currently taking around town, so our goal is to get as much momentum for our team as possible so as to get the pieces in place to support us making a feature length production.
Interview: August 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: 19 minutes, 47 seconds
Director: Teddy Cecil
Producers: Teddy Cecil, Brett Miller, Nick Cofino, David Kenneth
About the writer, director and producer: Teddy’s a young filmmaker who grew up in NY and studied film at NYU before making the move to LA with the hopes of becoming a successful writer/director.
Looking for: We’re looking to gain more attention for our film, and us as filmmakers. So anybody who can help us get our next project(s) off the ground is ultimately what we’d really like to find. That of course includes anyone who can help us turn Helio into a feature.
Funders: Shadow Council Productions, Innovate Entertainment, and a lot of friends and family. The cast and crew also committed a lot to the production, mainly in the form of time and effort that went well beyond what would normally expected of them.
Made in association with: Shadow Council Productions and Innovate Entertainment
Release date: It was released on Vimeo on July 27, 2016 so check it out!