MISLEAD, 18min., USA, Drama
Directed by Steven P. Perkins
Harry hit a rough patch some years ago. While his peers have retired, he’s stocking shelves at a grocery to stay afloat. When you've lived long enough, there are things that haunt you. There are things that have been done that cannot be undone.
The laconic and layered script was written by the critically acclaimed Australian playwright Adam Szudrich. When Adam shared this story about longing and regret between an older man and his past, I thought of actor Rick Sadle immediately. Between the spare dialogue and the shifts in tone, a vision for the film came quickly into focus. Working for the first time with Director of Photography Lauren Mueller was a mind-melt of proportions I couldn’t have imagined when we began. The editing was with super editor Zack Linkow, and original score composed by Daniel Velasquez. In all an entirely Portland production, from cast to crew, start to finish.
Get to know the filmmaker:
1. What motivated you to make this film?
I'd first encountered Australian Adam Szudrich's writing at a short play festival in Wisconsin--of all places. His short play so caught my attention that I reached out to him with the hope of working together someday. He sent me scripts that were not quite to my taste, but then MISLEAD hit at just the right time, summer 2020, as the world was adjusting to COVID. It was an atypical love story, something manageable from a production standpoint, so we plunged into it as the first film I made during a pandemic.
2. From the idea to the finished product, how long did it take for you to make this film?
From the time I got Adam's script until completion of editing, 8-10 months.
3. How would you describe your film in two words!?
4. What was the biggest obstacle you faced in completing this film?
COVID precautions were a big deal. Normally, getting the money is top of the obstacles, but in this case, keeping everyone on set healthy and safe was the biggest obstacle for me. Secondly, Zack Linkow, the editor, had a small baby and immunosuppressed in-laws, so we NEVER worked in the same room. We edited completely remote, via Google Drive and email communication. It required a refinement of my communication, and built a great deal of trust with the editor.
5. What were your initial reactions when watching the audience talking about your film in the feedback video?
It was especially nice to hear reactions about pacing. There were very deliberate choices about how to pace the film during shooting and editing. Likewise, a great deal of time was spent working with composer Dan Velasquez in order to capture the tone that walks the line between romance, suspense, and humor.
6. When did you realize that you wanted to make films?
At Indiana University in 1978 taking a summer genre class about Charlie Chaplin and Film Comedy.
7. What film have you seen the most in your life?
Probably a three-way toss-up between APOCALYPSE NOW, CHINATOWN, and THE CONFORMIST.
8. What other elements of the festival experience can we and other festivals implement to satisfy you and help you further your filmmaking career?
It was terrific to hear the comments of viewers. As an artist working alone for long stretches at a time, being a director means being both an extrovert with cast, crew, screening audiences, but also an introvert during that solo time developing something in your own little bubble. Having access to unvarnished comments from the audience was/is refreshing. A million times better than any post-screening Q&A that I've ever attended.
9. You submitted to the festival via FilmFreeway. How has your experiences been working on the festival platform site?
The festivals around the world are everywhere in terms of responsiveness. Generally I've had good experiences on FilmFreeway, though only recently just had contact with filmmaker/festival leader, who had an axe to grind with FilmFreeway. Not my experience, but something I heard of second hand.
10. What is your favorite meal?
Too many to list...
11. What is next for you? A new film?
Just finished my first feature-length film DEAD MOM CARD, a black comedy about white privilege, which will have a theatrical showing at the American Film Market in LA early November 2022.