ARTBOY, 14min., USA
Directed by Eli Canter
On Halloween night, a shy high school artist navigates social validation and the bittersweet lines between friendship and heartbreak.
Get to know the filmmaker:
1. What motivated you to make this film?
Artboy was my Boston University senior thesis film. I wanted to create a film where the main character dealt with his emotional life through drawing and imagination, but I also wanted to include 2D animated sequences that could help to capture his internal world. I wanted to capture the feeling of how everything feels like such a big deal in high school and the bittersweet lines of friendship and heartbreak at that age.
2. From the idea to the finished product, how long did it take for you to make this film?
From the very first treatment I wrote to the completed final cut of the film it was about 10 months! My first treatment was in May of 2022 and the script wasn't finished until September and we shot in October. But, the editing and the animation took much longer than I anticipated. We were also under pressure to finish the final cut of the film by the end of February in order to submit it to the Boston University Redstone Film Festival. It was definitely a scramble. But we were so happy that we pushed to make that happen – Artboy won best picture there and took home some other awards too.
3. How would you describe your film in two words!?
4. What was the biggest obstacle you faced in completing this film?
Because this film was being made within the confines of the senior thesis class at BU, the timing of when things needed to happen was very tight and unforgiving. So, the biggest obstacle was finding someone who could authentically play the lead role of Liam (Rishu Nevatia). We literally had not cast the role with just 3 weeks until being on set. We got super lucky – Briana Simkoski (the female lead) knew Rishu from another film shoot they had together and recommended him. Briana, Rishu, and the rest of the cast made my job as director look easy!
5. What were your initial reactions when watching the audience talking about your film in the feedback video?
It felt great to see the story and the animation as a storytelling device resonate with everyone. I loved how they all commented on how they fell in love with the characters and how the animation and performances really drove that feeling. To be able to get the audience invested in the characters' experience is crucial as a filmmaker so it was a nice confidence boost and it was super validating.
6. When did you realize that you wanted to make films?
At 6 years old I wanted to work for Pixar! But I started taking filmmaking seriously at the start of high school. My junior year of high school, I made a documentary film called "Inclusion on the Air" about Emily Kingsley who was a writer on Sesame Street for 40 years and an advocate for people with disabilities. The feedback from that film from family, friends, and the festival circuit really gave me the confidence to pursue filmmaking as a career.
7. What film have you seen the most in your life?
Probably Her by Spike Jonze. Every time I watch it, it feels different. My own life experiences seem to bounce back onto it in new ways with each watch and I can never seem to stop coming back to it. I also love sharing it with other people who've never seen it before. It has this rare combination of being "high-concept" while also being grounded by a uniquely sensitive and well-developed main character (played by Joaquin Phoenix).
8. What other elements of the festival experience can we and other festivals implement to satisfy you and help you further your filmmaking career?
Anything that helps us meet like-minded people!
9. You submitted to the festival via FilmFreeway. How has your experiences been working on the festival platform site?
10. What is your favorite meal?
11. What is next for you? A new film?
I'm currently interning at a production company in Brooklyn and I'm working on my next script now. There, I'm working on an upcoming feature documentary. Eventually, I plan to write and direct narrative feature films spanning across many different genres.