DAYS AWAY, 4min., USA
Directed by Lawrence Staebler
After a fatal tragedy, a community gathers for a memorial service. Meanwhile, a man navigates miles of surreal landscapes, uncertain of what awaits him.
Get to know the filmmaker:
1. What motivated you to make this film?
Having grown-up with a few members of the band Staleworth, it was always a collab that we'd wanted to do. When they told me that they were looking for a video to accompany their new single "Days Away", it felt like the perfect time. The lyrical content was there and they had even finished the album artwork. So pretty quickly, it became a sort-of frenzy of ideas, of how to tie-in certain lyrics or aspects of the artwork. And through that process, I think the music video acts as a glue that holds the song and the artwork together; while expanding upon each in their own rite.
2. From the idea to the finished product, how long did it take for you to make this film?
It was about 5 months start-to-finish. We began drafting up ideas around March 2023, and by way of lax attitudes and procrastination, we didn't really have the story solidified until May. With a predetermined release date of August 5th, we knew there wasn't a whole lot of time left for Pre-Pro. On June 16th, we received our final prop in the mail and began shooting the next day. The shooting was done over 2 days, and 8 different locations spanning the length of Long Island, NY. And after an honestly exhausting turn-around for Post Production, the video was completed on August 1st, just in time.
3. How would you describe your film in two words!?
Loud + Melodramatic
4. What was the biggest obstacle you faced in completing this film?
From the fiery hoops of precuring film permits, to actors getting pulled over between locations, to a sub $1000 budget and a super short deadline, I'd say the biggest obstacle was the weather. On such a thin budget, and pulling so many favors, there was no 'rain dates'—it had to work. And with the band set to shoot on day#2 (each member about to leave for vacations in the following days/ weeks), it was this day or no day. And as they always do in Summer; tropical storms were battering the east coast. All the camera and musical equipment, along with hundreds of paper props, were brought in and out of shelter as intermittent stormclouds would eat up 30mins at a time. But with the help of the crew and extras, and several strokes of luck, we managed to stay at the fringes of the storm and get it done.
5. What were your initial reactions when watching the audience talking about your film in the feedback video?
Its always interesting to see how people will react, completely unprimed. With a concept that takes me near-5 minutes to verbally explain, I knew that this was going to be a fairly complex story to cover visually, in just 3 minutes worth of music. So I spent a lot of time in Pre-Production making sure that the film would function properly as a communicator of the story—not including all the plot-points, details, or easter eggs that I would've liked to. I was glad to see that the concept translated to everyone.
6. When did you realize that you wanted to make films?
I began making "films" when I was about 9 years old. I got a digital camera for Christmas. It was made for standard home-photography, but had a video function. As soon as I found that out, I began directing 99%-action-1%-plot movies with my siblings. Over the years, stories started getting more complex and soon I was in High School where we had a well-equipped Video Production facility. The rest is history baby.
7. What film have you seen the most in your life?
While certainly not my favorite, I've seen The Princess Diaries more times than I can count. I have three little sisters, so it comes with the territory I guess. Outside of that technicality, I always find myself coming back to Yorgos Lanthanimos' "Dogtooth". I think that film calls a lot of aspects of human and family psychology into question, and is always such an interesting watch.
8. What other elements of the festival experience can we and other festivals implement to satisfy you and help you further your filmmaking career?
I find that the hardest part about furthering your filmmaking career is funding. Creative techniques can often conquer budget, but after awhile, you kinda just want to be able to give an idea the budget it deserves. If festivals could act as a conduit for funding on future projects, I believe that would be extremely valuable for people like me.
9. You submitted to the festival via FilmFreeway. How has your experiences been working on the festival platform site?
FilmFreeway has been a great platform since I joined. Its all the good parts about social media, none of the bad, and its solely focused on filmmakers and film festivals. What more could you ask for?
10. What is your favorite meal?
Egg Sandwich, anytime of the day. Next Question.
11. What is next for you? A new film?
My writing partner and I have just completed our next script. It is a ~15 page short film, adapting one of the oldest stories in human history. We aim to begin shooting Spring 2024.