FIGURES short film, audience reactions (director interview)
FESTIVAL AUDIENCE FEEDBACK VIDEOS • 7m 22s
FIGURES, 20min., Canada, Action
Directed by Jamie Hegland, Jade Yurich
A Special Forces officer turned crime syndicate operative uncovers the site of a drop being conducted by one of the world’s most dangerous, underground criminal organizations. With his syndicate’s mission of eradicating this rival organization, he infiltrates the drop site in an attempt to recover a mysterious item and locate the group’s notorious leader. However, things go astray when he is unexpectedly forced to deal with one of their organization’s most reputable mercenaries. Under unforeseen circumstances, he must use his newly acquired skills and act quickly in order to accomplish his mission and survive this encounter.
Get to know the filmmakers:
1. What motivated you to make this film?
In April 2019 I unfortunately tore a tendon in my ankle during some of my training and had to take it easy for a bit. Being that this was also in the middle of the COVID pandemic I also wasn’t working as much and had a bunch of downtime, especially now that I had to take a break from training. However during this time I kept thinking of new ideas to film and use as self-promotional or for my stunt reel. After coming up with a couple concepts and fun ideas I decided to start organizing them into a single, cohesive action sequence and eventually built up an idea I thought could be strong enough to propose as a short film. At that point I started to flesh out a bit of a story that I thought was intriguing. Interestingly enough this was around the time that my producing/directing partner, Jade Yurich, had me on his weekly podcast where we discussed all things film/stunts/etc. I mentioned this idea I had to Jade and it seemed to peak his interest a little bit. Afterwards I got in further contact with him and asked him if he would be interested in helping me bring this idea to life as partners in this project. From there we took off running and now here we are, 1.5 years later, with a finished action short film we can be proud of.
To piggyback off the timeline that Jamie mentioned above, when I interviewed Jamie on our #wildfirelivestream (which back during the height of the pandemic we were doing every week), it was a purely organic conversation that just had good vibes written all over it. When he contacted me afterwards and broke down the idea and how it would all play out - I immediately saw it. Jamie’s ability to communicate the vision in such a well-detailed manner motivated me completely. Jamie’s determination was infectious and now 1.5 years later I can happily say that we accomplished what the original vision was… with a whole lot more cinematic epicness that we never even saw coming!
2. From the idea to the finished product, how long did it take for you to make this film?
I started conceptualizing the action in April 2019 and we had a finished copy of the film ready to showcase at the end of August 2022. All in all it took roughly 1.5 years to create from top to bottom.
A total of 6 production days was what it took to shoot the entirety of the film. We had to reshoot certain components and add in others to really tie together a more cohesive narrative flow. Over the course of the past year and a half there’s been a really solid amount of feedback and input from other members of the film and television industry which has helped inform some of the creative decisions we’ve made. We wanted to ensure our final delivery had already tested the waters of a potential audience and we were open and collaborative in our process of refining the film.
3. How would you describe your film in two words!?
4. What was the biggest obstacle you faced in completing this film?
In my opinion the biggest obstacle we faced in completing this film was being able to effectively shoot the entire film in a short timeframe with the small amount of resources we had available to us. In total we had six days of filming but we could have easily taken ten days (if given the proper time/money/resources). There is one location in the film that accounts for more than half of the film’s runtime. Initially we planned to shoot it in one night, a task that proved to be too ambitious and as a result we had to plan a second day at that location to finish what needed to be filmed, and even reshoot several portions. Having to completely tear down the set and clean up the space only to come back months later and recreate the same set environment with differing materials proved to be a challenge but we were up to it.
Locking the final cut. There were so many scenes that ended up on the cutting room floor and this film could have easily run over 30 minutes. We knew we had to boil down on what the intention of this project was. A badass fight film with a story that keeps the audience engaged and in anticipation of what’s next. Cutting 11 minutes worth of story out did that in a more concise and impactful way.
5. What were your initial reactions when watching the audience talking about your film in the feedback video?
It’s always very nerve-wracking when preparing yourself to listen to audience feedback. I think it’s because we have put so much time, effort, blood/sweat/tears (and yes, the real kind) into this project and we’re constantly worried if we did enough, if we actually came out the other side of this with a project that audiences will actually find exciting and worth watching. For me personally I am never completely satisfied with the result; always picking apart the small details and stressing over things a casual viewer would never notice but I think that’s the plight of all artists. Listening to the audience feedback really just helped take a weight off our shoulders, allowing us to take a breath and relax. It proved to us that all of our hard work actually amounted to something incredible and that we have a project that people can really enjoy. Whether it’s the action elements or the embedded story throughout, FIGURES is able to captivate the attention of some audiences and that is all we can ask for.
Overwhelming positive vibes. It was so nice to actually hear people enjoy the film and get the point of it. Their experiences sparked new conversations on our creative end so it really contributes to how the film will continue to exist and be interpreted. Which all great art aspires to do - stimulate conversation!
6. When did you realize that you wanted to make films?
To be honest, I never really knew if I myself would want to be responsible for making a film. It is an absolutely crazy amount of work to build a project from the ground up and I knew that from the start. However it’s also tough carving out your path in life and taking your career to the next level. I’ve always been ambitious and I take joy in challenging myself to push further and work harder. However sometimes the opportunities you’re looking for don’t particularly exist or you’re waiting for the others to hand you said opportunities. But waiting around for someone to give you a chance can be mind-numbing and tough; waiting gets you nowhere. That being said, I have also taken inspiration from great artists in the world (such as Lin-Manuel Miranda) and I decided that if opportunities were not being given then I had to make my own and in turn, make my own success. That is when I realized that attempting this project was so important.
Flashback to 1997. I didn’t know it at the time but, when I was 4 years old I went and saw my first movie on the big screen - TITANIC. I was in awe the entire way through and it didn’t really emotionally phase me, but when I looked over at my dad who’s in tears, it made me realize somewhat consciously that that was an experience that moved him. I pursued the sciences in University when starting out but quickly realized that my passion was in the arts - so I did a big transition and moved into Film Studies and I can happily say I’ve never looked back with any regrets. Filmmaking has become my true calling.
7. What film have you seen the most in your life?
That’s actually a really tough question but in the end I think it would be The Other Guys. I am a huge fan of comedy and this action-comedy resonated extremely well with me and my group of close, personal friends. To this day we can still quote this film from top to bottom and laugh just as hard as when we first watched it.
Good Will Hunting - I always return to that one for no significant reason other than it just always leaves me with a satisfied feeling at the end. Something to the ring of - career versus life - and he picks life. So maybe there’s a lesson there that I always need to return to remembering. Your career is important and the talents/skills you may have in that field is what a lot of people will value you for, but your life and how you live it is more important than any financial or socially pressured ideal.
8. What other elements of the festival experience can we and other festivals implement to satisfy you and help you further your filmmaking career?
What I find really important with regards to what can be offered to filmmakers from festivals is a form of true, unbiased and constructive feedback on the film. That is something I found extremely insightful about the audience feedback video with this festival. It’s a true measure of what individuals thought of the film, favourite parts, elements that perhaps confused them or could have been improved upon and general feelings while watching. It is the only way an artist can move forward with improved, informed knowledge that they can bring to their future projects.
Networking experiences where conversations are compulsory on your film and others. When artists can break bread in a room and give their feedback to one another that really provides a great growth experience.
9. You submitted to the festival via FilmFreeway. How has your experiences been working on the festival platform site?
FilmFreeway has been an excellent festival platform site, making it very easy to navigate different festivals from all over the world with an interface that excels in simplicity. It allows you to compliment your submission with all the required information with ease and give you real-time updates with regards to festival selections, nominations, awards, etc. Being my first experience submitting a project to festivals I have had zero issues or concerns and can only praise FilmFreeway for their ease of access and use.
The anticipation and excitement everytime I type f into my address bar is something! Filmfreeway has been amazing to keep track of things and it’s been a very valuable resource in getting our film out there!
10. What is your favorite meal?
I’m a simple man; get me into an old diner with a burger, some fries and a milkshake and I’ll be smiling from ear to ear.
A niceley seared Steak - medium rare with mushrooms, onions, vegetables and a nice Baco Noir. Or Chicken Adobo :)
11. What is next for you? A new film?
Currently I’m working to promote the film on social media and hopefully garner more attention to our project. Being primarily a stunt performer I’m also working stunts on several other independent projects as well as stunt coordinating for an upcoming short film. Otherwise I’m training and working to develop new skills and improve upon my current skill set in order to incorporate more exciting action elements into the film scene. I do have several new concepts I’d like to flesh out and film at some point in the near future but for now my focus is on the success of FIGURES and spreading the word.
Similarly to Jamie a big part of the next few months is really promoting FIGURES and giving it the exposure it deserves. But I do a lot of other projects on the go as well, my strong suit is comedy and I’m Directing a short romantic comedy called Rally To Serve at the end of October. It’ll be starring Vance Banzo, Andrew Packer & Joy Castro, all incredibly talented comedians in their own right. As well, I have a short documentary project that I’m aiming to shoot in late November in Sault Ste Marie, chronicling a band that almost made it big called Polisi Bassoon. Aside from my personal projects I’ve been working full-time as an Associate Producer on a Crave Comedy series titled I Have Nothing starring Carolyn Taylor of Baroness Von Sketch Show which will be released in March 2023. If I’m not working on film projects, you can catch me on the tennis court!
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