THE PENCIL, 10min., USA
Directed by Thomas Calvin Schultz
Sara, a struggling artist who discovers a unique pencil that can solve all her problems. But her dreams turn into a nightmare when a malevolent demonic creature from Kazakh legends gets unleashed.
Get to know writer/director Madina Baimakhanova & director Thomas Calvin Schultz:
1. What motivated you to make this film? My wife and I always wanted to do a project together, and in fact it was one of the very first conversations we had when we had first met each other. When the opportunity arose we decided it would be a great time to have a short family/friends project in Kazakhstan where we would be traveling for a month.
2. From the idea to the finished product, how long did it take for you to make this film? About a year. Writing the script and coming up with the idea was very fast. We literally came up with it and wrote the script in a day. Like right before the flight. Pre-production and filming took about a month. The filming part only took about 3 days. Everything else in post from VFX, editing, and the score took about 11 months. We filmed it in July of last year 2022, and we tried to finish it all for an October Halloween release. But once we realized that we wouldn't hit that deadline we decided to take our time, and not rush the post process. So we would work on it or every other weekend or so.
3. How would you describe your film in two words!? Terra Incognita
4. What was the biggest obstacle you faced in completing this film? Madina: Juggling between vacation mode where I wanted to enjoy my time with family and friends, and also working on a project where I had no previous experience in.
Tom: The language barrier, and having to rely so much on my wife, who not only was a kickass producer and co-writer, but was a translator and was really the main driving force in making the film.
5. What were your initial reactions when watching the audience talking about your film in the feedback video?
Madina: I almost cried. It is one thing to hear positive feedback from your loved ones, but so rewarding to learn it from complete strangers.
Tom: Complete joy. Everyone who watched and gave the feedback was so wonderful and kind.
6. When did you realize that you wanted to make films? Tom: Probably when I was a kid. It kinda went from watching Star Wars when they re-released them in theaters to watching the behind the scenes to the Lord of the Rings Trilogy. From those movies it snowballed into making little home movies with my friends.
Madina: When I was in highschool. I was considering becoming a director, but never took it seriously enough.
7. What film have you seen the most in your life?
Tom: Star Wars a New Hope
8. What other elements of the festival experience can we and other festivals implement to satisfy you and help you further your filmmaking career? Networking events are always fun.
9. You submitted to the festival via FilmFreeway. How has your experiences been working on the festival platform site? It's been great. We've only had one bad experience with a festival so far. Which FilmFreeway stepped in immediately and resolved the situation for us. We really like how they have the filmmakers' backs.
10. What is your favorite meal?
Tom: Steak Tacos
11. What is next for you? A new film? We have a couple of scripts that we have been workshoping, but we would love to expand "The Pencil" story into a feature.