Fantasia Film Festival (Best Emerging Short Filmmaker Award) - Static

 

A heartbroken man gets a second chance at redemption when he’s able to deliver his wife’s dying wish to another longtime companion, his faithful TV.

Interview with Director Tanya Lemke

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Congratulations! Why did you make your film?

After my first short film HAPPY PILLS I was looking for a new story to tackle. I was dragged to my first Doctor Who convention around that time (I’ve developed a real appreciation for cons since then!) where I met author Rob Shearman, then read his first short story collection Tiny Deaths and loved it.

The story “Static” jumped out at me, because it had the perfect combination of poignancy, absurdity and darkness that I find so exciting, and featured a similar theme to what I’d been exploring in some of my other work, that moment when the façade cracks open, despite our best efforts, and the truth leaks out. I just had to do it, and luckily for me Rob agreed. My resulting script won the Screenplay Giveaway Prize at the Canadian Film Centre’s Worldwide Short Film Festival, and then there was no turning back!

Imagine I’m a member of the audience. Why should I watch this film?

There’s quite a bit jammed into this little film, so I’m hoping there’s something for almost everyone; a tragic love story, a taut family drama, a surreal comedy, a sci-fi-esque look at our relationship to technology, some judicious gore, a minor explosion, and a really cute little dog. Also the lead actor, Canadian legend Eric Peterson, is freaking transcendent.

How do personal and universal themes work in your film?

The universal themes are easily relatable. I think pretty much everyone has had some experience of loss and grief; of guilt after a loved one leaves us and what we could have done better; of tension between those left behind and the things not said between them; of our fear of aging and losing ourselves; of our increasingly forced-obsolescent society and navigating what’s important to hang on to vs. what we can and should let go of. 

All of these things spoke to me immediately in the story, but it wasn’t particularly personal, not at first.  By some weird kink of the Universe, the story became very personal when two people very close to me and a much-loved family pet passed away, under similar circumstances to the story, all during the making of the film. It was a rough time, and though it was completely coincidental it definitely made me think more deeply about the story’s thematic heart.

Ernie cracks.

Ernie cracks.

How have the script and film evolved over the course of their development and production?

 Since the script is an adaptation of a short story, there was quite a bit of evolution of the story on its way to script stage, just to make it comfortably shootable as a short film on a limited budget with the resources I was fairly sure we’d be able to get, while maintaining it’s emotional core.  All of the original shooting script was shot (quickly!), and from there it changed quite a bit again in the editing room, in order to streamline and coalesce Ernest’s internal journey.

What type of feedback have you received so far?

All of our feedback has been outstanding! I never thought I’d be so happy to know that I’ve made people cry. Of two festival screenings so far, we’ve won awards at both: Best Actor In A Short Film at the Canadian Film Fest in Toronto, and Special Jury Mention for Best Emerging Short Filmmaker at Fantasia International Film Festival in Montreal. I’m excited to see what comes next.

Has the feedback surprised or challenged your point of view?

Honestly, what surprised me the most is the reception we’ve received from the horror community. I had never considered STATIC a horror film by any stretch, to me it’s a love story! But there’s no denying the visceral power of a bit of blood spurt, and since genre films (and TV) are my absolute favourite thing, I’m thrilled to feel welcomed to the slavering pack.

What are you looking to achieve by having your film more visible on www.wearemovingstories.com?

Any filmmaker wants to have their film seen by as many people as possible, so more exposure is wonderful, but I also really appreciate what you’re doing with the format and focus of your site. Thank you for including me.

Who do you need to come on board (producers, sales agents, buyers, distributors, film festival directors, journalists) to amplify this film’s message?

 All of the above! Not only does it help validate the hard work and love that all these talented people put into the making of this film, it helps to push and inspire me personally to do more work and better.

What type of impact and/or reception would you like this film to have?

 I hope it makes people go home and hug their parents. And their pets. (And their TVs). To appreciate what they have.

What’s a key question that will help spark a debate or begin a conversation about this film?

Is what is happening to Ernest real? And does it matter, as long as it’s real to him (or you)?

Static - Billy argues.

Static - Billy argues.

Would you like to add anything else?

 Only that I’m so glad that I made this film. It took a long time and was much more difficult than I ever thought it would be (despite a ton of super talented support and an age of production experience behind me, it still took me by surprise!), but now that it’s out there it’s confirmed for me that this is exactly what I want to do with my life.

What are you developing or working on now?

I joke that after my parallel life experience shooting STATIC that I’d only do rom-coms from now on, but I’m only partly kidding. My next feature project, LUCKY, is a dark but ultimately affirming quantum-rom-com with life and death stakes.

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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

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Static

A heartbroken man gets a second chance at redemption when he’s able to deliver his wife’s dying wish to another longtime companion, his faithful TV.

Length: 16 mins.

Director: Tanya Lemke

Producer: Sonya Di Rienzo

Writer: Tanya Lemke, based on a short story by Robert Shearman

About the writer, director and producer:

Writer/Director Tanya Lemke: Having worked in the trenches of Canadian film and TV production for over 20 years, Tanya has also trained at the prestigious Canadian Film Centre and National Screen Institute. She has written and directed two short films, HAPPY PILLS and now the multiple award-winning STATIC, and is currently working on her first feature.

Author of original material Robert Shearman: UK author, screenwriter, and playwright Rob Shearman is known for his work on Doctor Who, and has written five short story collections which between them have won the World Fantasy Award, the Shirley Jackson Award, the Edge Hill Readers Prize, and three British Fantasy Awards. His latest book is soon to be released.

Producer Sonya Di Rienzo: Sonya is an accomplished producer who has worked on such milestone Canadian projects as Slings and Arrows and Blindness. She was the co-creator and co-producer of Little Films About Big Moments, and her short from the project, The Translator, premiered at TIFF. She has directed the half hour documentary Behind the Curtain, produced the films The Devil’s Delight, The Eyeborg Documentary, and Little Mao, and written/edited the incendiary short film God’s Wrath.

Key cast: Eric Peterson, Yannick Bisson, Kristian Bruun, Janet Laine Green, Chantal Craig, Matt Murray, Supinder Wraich, Igor Pugdog

Looking for (producers, sales agents, buyers, distributors, film festival directors, journalists): Yes, please!

Funders: CFC Screenplay Giveaway Prize, CBC, our amazing Indiegogo contributors

Made in association with: Canadian Film Centre, CBC

Release date: March 2016 (Canadian Film Fest, Toronto Canada)

Next festival screening: Geekfest Special Edition, FAN EXPO Canada, September 2016