A meditative exploration of childhood and loss.
Interview with Writer/Director Sara Katarina Burke
Congratulations! Why did you make your film?
It was a story that came to me in pieces and I felt something for the characters I developed over time in my head, so I just wanted to make it. It’s more of a mood or poem than a film driven by plot. I was into the idea of creating a world that feels real and washes over you, something that gives a glimpse into lives that feel real. You feel things with them, and about them, maybe you even feel sorry for them – and all these things vary depending on where you’re at and what you’ve experienced in your own life. And some people will feel nothing about it. But I think that a lack of feeling is also its own thing that interests me and I respect that if it happens.
I also wanted to make a movie with kids that wasn’t a light, fluffy movie “for kids”. The truth of childhood to me is that it’s all more complicated than a lot of films and stories portray it to be. It’s messy and weird, it’s happy, it’s sad, and sometimes it’s lonely as fuck. Just like the rest of life, you know? I remember sometimes when I was a kid, I’d see such bizarre interactions that no one ever really seemed to think anything of, but to me they were these moments I could see one day defining someone as a human being.
Things that were so small and heartbreaking, and ordinary, and insignificant somehow and this movie is kind of asking about those moments. I also think that, after finishing the movie I’ve realized more that the story is also about one of my worst fears, which is burning down my house and accidentally killing everyone I love. And I usually have a lot of candles burning, so it’s kind of strange. There’s this harshness of being unable to take something back, and just sort of being alone and not even being able to process the magnitude of what a careless action like dropping a match or leaving a candle burning in the bathroom could do to change your life in only a few minutes.
Imagine I’m a member of the audience. Why should I watch this film?
The truth is, I don’t know. Watch it if it grabs you. I’m not the best sales person.
How do personal and universal themes work in your film?
They’re naturally intertwined. I could never make a movie that I didn’t feel emotionally attached to, to me that’s everything. Universal themes like connection, fear, love, joy, sadness, emptiness, are somewhere in the blood of all stories, as long as you tell a story that’s tapping into some kind of truth.
How have the script and film evolved over the course of their development?
Making BUNNY/BUNNY has been an emotional rollercoaster for me. It has probably been an emotional journey for most people involved. We made this thing with a 5 person crew including me, 6 actors and only $6,000 that we crowdfunded on Indiegogo. It was a tight knit group and this movie really could not have happened without every single person who was involved, giving more than they ever thought they were capable of giving. We all loved this thing for whatever reason and we all hated it at times too. To me that’s beautiful.
Sometimes it was extremely challenging to keep moving. We shot it in only 4 days. We had a lot of favors being pulled for us and a lot of people really just giving us the benefit of doubt. When I started writing the script it was originally meant to be part of a feature made up of three stories. I was working random jobs at different film companies in LA. I kept getting promoted quickly and then getting fired, and I guess looking back I was just trying to get paid enough to get by while writing, and the absurdity of Hollywood was driving me mad.
My boyfriend, Aaron, who is also my creative partner and the producer and editor of BUNNY/BUNNY, and I ended up quitting our jobs and moving to Portland to make movies and have more balance in our lives. I started working in advertising when I couldn’t stand film anymore in LA and I remember going into the office of the last agency I was working at with a beer in my pocket and another beer in my hand, offering one to the CEO and telling him that I gotta move to Portland because I’ve got movies to make. He wasn’t sure what to say, but for some reason they were supportive.
Snoop Dogg was hanging out in the chief creative dudes office and I’d walk up and down this stairway every day past a huge mural of him smoking a j. Aaron was my sidekick through this whole process. We packed all our shit, got to Portland, lived on credit cards, set up auditions, cast everyone locally, knocked on doors asking people if we could shoot in their houses, asked to borrow cars, asked to use a bunny, I worked with three kids. All of their parents were amazing. It was crazy to see it all come together.
After Luke, the lead actor who is 10, left his audition I started crying. I was like, this is the kid. This guy is everything and if you can’t see it up there then you’re crazy. His mom Anne ended up playing his mom in the movie, and she is also amazing on all levels. Luke’s dad Brian (and Anne’s husband) ended up doing the sound mixing. And Luke’s older brother Evan even was a stuntman for the underwater pool scene. He killed it. They live 5 blocks away from us, and through this whole process they’ve become family.
What type of feedback have you received so far?
We barely finished the movie in time for the local Portland Film Festival, which just happened like 2 weeks ago. At first we got a rejection email, then we were told it was a mistake, then we ended up winning the Grand Jury Prize. It was a ride. I just really wanted all of the kids to like it, because they were all so great and gave a genuine part of themselves to this project. I’ve been talking about Luke, but Sydney and Nolan were both so great, too. So patient. So real and genuinely talented. After we heard we won it was the first time I had an agent from UTA tell me he’ll be reaching out. And hey, if you’re reading this, why haven’t you? Haha. Life is weird. I’m taking it all with a grain of salt, but I’m excited to hit the festival circuit and we are submitting to quite a few. Portland Film Festival was such a quick turn around that it’s the only one we’ve heard back from so far.
Has the feedback surprised or challenged your point of view?
Not yet, but this is the beginning. My own up and down views on the project will probably challenge my point of view the most.
What are you looking to achieve by having your film more visible on www.wearemovingstories.com?
I’d love to just get the movie out there.
Who do you need to come on board (producers, sales agents, buyers, distributors, film festival directors, journalists) to amplify this film’s message?)
I’d welcome anyone who wants to get involved to hit us up and we’ll see how it goes.
What type of impact and/or reception would you like this film to have?
I’d like people to feel something.
What’s a key question that will help spark a debate or begin a conversation about this film?
I can’t say that or it will impact how people who read this view the film. I put what I want people to perceive in there, but everyone needs to come away with their own thing
Would you like to add anything else?
No, I think this is good. I’d like to thank you guys for covering our movie.
What other projects are the key creatives developing or working on now?
Aaron and I are actually writing a feature together that we hope to make next year. More info to come. If you’ve got money and want to finance it, give us a call.
Interview: November 2017
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
A meditative exploration of childhood and loss.
Length: 25 mins
Director: Sara Katarina Burke
Producer: Aaron Andrew Keene
Writer: Sara Katarina Burke
Luke Alden, Sydney Langford, Anne Sherwood, Nolan Taber, Don Holden, Brian Howelton
Looking for (producers, sales agents, buyers, distributors, film festival directors, journalists): Sure
Social media handles:
@timothywildgoose (our amazing DP)
Facebook: Just look up our names
Funders: You know who you are.
Made in association with: Chromacolor