THE ECLIPSE, 12min., USA
Directed by Dmitriy Usov
Roy, a widower, seeks the help of a psychic, Donna, to uncover the reason behind his wife Esther's suicide. Donna suggests that he enter the spirit world and ask Esther herself. To do this, Roy must perform an ancient ritual at his old home, but with the condition that he only has 11 minutes in the spirit world and cannot kiss Esther. During his journey, Roy forgets the rule and kisses Esther, attracting dark forces that chase him. Esther reveals that a demon possessed her and has been after Roy for a long time. As Roy tries to return to the real world, he is possessed by the demon, and Donna is shown to have a deal with the demon to provide bodies in exchange for time with her deceased husband.
Get to know the filmmaker:
1. What motivated you to make this film?
I shot The Eclipse as a senior thesis film at Loyola Marymount University. I wanted to showcase everything that I have learned at the film school and shoot a short film that would establish my visual style, a genre I love to work with, and overall the stories that I like to work with. A lot of my films revolve around the themes of desire and obsessive love, and I wanted to merge these elements with the magical realism and dark fantasy aspects I also like to work with.
2. From the idea to the finished product, how long did it take for you to make this film?
Around 8 months. I wrote the script in one week and immediately started crewing up for the project. We shot a month later. I knew that I wanted to shoot early in my senior year so I could play around with the story and create a dark and eerie atmosphere in post-production. The story really started finding its shape in the edit. I ended up cutting out the first two scenes of the film that I initially wrote and shot, only to realize that they do not fit the overarching dynamic of the rest of the film.
3. How would you describe your film in two words!?
4. What was the biggest obstacle you faced in completing this film?
Surprisingly, the film did not have a lot of obstacles. There were certain complicated shots with the lighting change and VFX that I wanted to get right and it was a little bit of a challenge to get it done technically. Also, it was hard to find a spacious psychic room with a lot of red and velvet, so our Art Department had to build it on the soundstage. But overall, I really trusted my initial vision for the film, but also listened for feedback from my close collaborators, which made the whole experience very smooth and rewarding.
5. What were your initial reactions when watching the audience talking about your film in the feedback video?
It felt so great seeing people who you know nothing about giving genuine reactions and analyzing your film in the ways that you did' t even have a clue could be analyzed in that way.
6. When did you realize that you wanted to make films?
I grew up in a creative family that rewarded artistic pursuits. When my older sister, a successful singer in Russia for nearly two decades, released her first music video when I was just 5 years old, it left a profound impact. Watching her on the TV screen, I was captivated by the magic of music and visuals intertwining. This ignited her pop singing career and my lifelong passion for the storytelling industry.
7. What film have you seen the most in your life?
Pan's Labyrinth. I watched it over 20 times and it has been the most significant artistic impact I had in my life. Del Toro's masterful combination of magical realism and the harsh reality of the mundane world is what I am striving to combine in my own films.
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 think what the festival is doing right now with all the additional PR elements, this interview, and podcast is absolutely great.
9. You submitted to the festival via FilmFreeway. How have your experiences been working on the festival platform site?
Very user-friendly and easy to use.
10. What is your favorite meal?
Nothing hits more home than a slice of a homemade cheesy lasagna.
11. What is next for you? A new film?
I am currently finishing post-production on another short film and in pre-production on an experimental web series. Let's see what comes out of it.