Beware… truth is never what it seems.
Interview with Writer/Director Frank Battiston
Congratulations! Why did you make your film?
Thank you! We made our film as part of a social impact campaign called "Where Are We" built on Facebook and Twitter where we interviewed several victims of racial profiling. Here they had a space to tell their story and expose the importance of equality in our society. The film was part of the campaign as we wanted to also contribute to the message in fictional form and show that perspectives can shift when we talk about racial profiling. Nowadays racial profiling is an issue that can be lived in the most subtle interactions between human beings.
Imagine I’m a member of the audience. Why should I watch this film?
I think you should watch this film, not only because it exposes racial profiling as an issue that is deeply rooted in the U.S., but also because it plays with your senses and makes you believe that what the main character is experiencing is true. Many times in our lives, we can make wrong decisions just because our perspective on an issue is different from another person's, and this doesn't necessarily mean you or the person are 100% correct. What does matter, however, is the response we give to what we see and experience.
How do personal and universal themes work in your film?
Daniel and I, the writers and directors of the film, believe our life paradigms enslave us. Our memories and experience mould our view of the world and we always want to live the way we were brought up. Yes, we both believe it is good to grasp the best out of what memory and experience teach us; however, we also know it is important to choose for ourselves how we want to respond, and therefore, be the people we want to be and not what others want us to be. Our personal theme in the movie is this: Don't let the wrong paradigms of life choose for you.
Now, in terms of a universal theme, we definitely implemented the Man Vs. Himself theme. This short story simply conveys through its main character that our fight is not mainly with others, but with ourselves. It highlights the importance of tolerance to live right with one another.
How have the script and film evolved over the course of their development?
The script and film definitely evolved during the course of their development. We always knew the core themes of the film from the moment we wrote it, and we always knew the way we wanted the story line to unravel. What we didn’t know was where the events of the story would take place. The original story in the script started in a convenience store, not in a Money Gram location. However, because of budgetary purposes and logistical reasons, we decided to work with what we had through our contacts. Plain and simple, we were able to get a Money Gram store very inexpensively.
Moreover, the original script had a caucasian female born and raised in the U.S. Yet, once we went through the casting process, we realized Irina, the actress who plays the main character in the movie, had a great grasp of the themes and the character in the story, but she was from Russia. It was here when we realized the great opportunity we had. A woman from another nationality in the U.S. sending money to her mother back in her home country, would not only make the story more interesting, but also make her response at the end of the film more believable given the culture differences and values.
What type of feedback have you received so far?
For the most part, we have received very positive feedback. Most people like and relate to the story. However, almost everyone thinks it is too short and would like more. Also, there have been viewers who have expressed they find the Stranger, Ernest’s character in the movie, very unreal. They ask, why would I put myself in that situation? I would leave the wallet on the floor, it’s not my problem.
But then other viewers have expressed anger against Irina’s character and said they have lived through similar situations where they have reacted scared without a reason. We like this very much though, it makes is feel these two characters represent different people in our society.
Has the feedback surprised or challenged your point of view?
Absolutely! The feedback we get from viewers of the film has surprised us in the sense that it makes us realize how polarizing the script’s subject matter can be. It has also challenged us in the sense that we now know these social impact subject matters deserve a longer story line.
What are you looking to achieve by having your film more visible on www.wearemovingstories.com?
First of all, we feel honored to be part of a collection of films that are considered to be moving stories. Our goal as filmmakers has always been to move audiences to the core, and the more we do it, the more we understand that.
Having our film be more visible on wearemovingstories gives us the chance to reach more people that identify with the story and the characters in it. Being part of the ‘We Are Moving Stories’ collection gives us the chance to have other people question their life paradigms.
Who do you need to come on board (producers, sales agents, buyers, distributors, film festival directors, journalists) to amplify this film’s message?
Being a short film, we definitely need film festival directors, journalists, and distributors to come on board to help amplify our film’s message. We are always looking for great outlets to have the film be shown to audiences that value this type of content. Also, we would like to find other people that would want to co-produce / finance social impact stories like this one that relate to other controversial subject matters in the world.
What type of impact and/or reception would you like this film to have?
We definitely want viewers to be in a 3 minute roller coaster ride that not only entertains them, but also makes them question their perspective on racial profiling. Making people talk with one another after the film ends about this subject matter is our primary goal.
What’s a key question that will help spark a debate or begin a conversation about this film?
A key question that will help spark a debate about this film would be: Who was wrong in this film really? The Woman or the Stranger?
Would you like to add anything else?
We would like to ask any one who watches this film and likes the value of it’s theme to share it with others.
We just finished the post-production of our next short film “Bad News”. It is a 7 minute short satire of how today’s American society is induced with fear by modern media. People that are fans of “The Twilight Zone” will love it, because it has the same tone. The film is about a fictional character called David, who is a successful business man in control of his destiny, but breaks down into a dark spiral of panic and death while watching the morning news minutes before going to work. It has comedic, dramatic, and even thrilling elements in it. We recently release it and it’s on Vimeo. (Link to “Bad News”: https://vimeo.com/285949131)
We are definitely also sending it to film festivals that can physically screen it as we speak. Also, we are currently writing another short film that touches the sensitive subject of gun control in the U.S., and we are beginning to write a feature film that also deals with a controversial society issue.
Interview: September 2018
We Are Moving Stories embraces new voices in drama, documentary, animation, TV, web series, music video, women's films, LGBTQIA+, POC, First Nations, scifi, supernatural, horror, world cinema. 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
Beware… truth is never what it seems.
Directors: Daniel Urdanivia & Frank Battiston
Producer: Edna Liset Gutierrez & Glennidka Jurado
Writer: Frank Battiston
About the writer, director and producer:
DANIEL URDANIVIA studied photography, which inspired him to pursue a degree in film production. He went on to work for various TV networks and production companies and produce several shorts films. Daniel now owns and works at PowerTale Productions where he is the Creative Director.
FRANK BATTISTON studied photography Colombia and eventually moved to Madrid, Spain to study film directing and then to the US to study film production. While working for TV networks, he pursued a master’s degree in the entertainment business. He co-owned Walking Wolf Productions until 2012 where he produced 2 award winning films, and he is now the owner and Technical Director of PowerTale Productions.
Key cast: Irina Kompa, Ernest Butts, Anthony Powell
Looking for distributors, film festival directors, journalists.
Funders: PowerTale Pictures
Where can I watch it next and in the coming month: You can watch “The Follower” on Vimeo at https://vimeo.com/261754986 and Amazon Prime if you are subscribed to their service at https://amzn.to/2NcTXIU