THE HUNTER'S EXCHANGE, 10min., Canada
Directed by Aidan Byrne
This 8-minute action film throws an experimental twist on the fight scene genre while taking new directions with popular tropes from fantasy and science fiction films, telling a story about the price of power, with no dialogue.
Get to know the filmmaker:
What motivated you to make this film?
I had made a minute long lightsaber fight scene years ago, which I had also done all of the VFX for. My brother (and co-star) Mac was looking over my shoulder one day when I was working, experimenting with different lightsaber colour combinations which were unlike anything that had been seen in the Star Wars films. And we both agreed, there was a story in there somewhere. That's how it started, was finding the story behind this weapon which has been around for decades, that had suddenly been given new life in our eyes.
2. From the idea to the finished product, how long did it take for you to make this film?
The idea and choreography were hammered out in the late spring of 2022, and the filming took place over three days in the following July. The longest process was definitely the post production, which took us all the way to early August. Over a year! Quite a bit of commitment for a solid 9 minutes of film.
3. How would you describe your film in two words!?
4. What was the biggest obstacle you faced in completing this film?
I would say my biggest obstacle was myself! I would not consider myself an incredibly technical guy when it comes to colouring and VFX, so I had to learn a lot as I worked on the film. I don't think it helped that I had a monochrome/colour concept which I had to execute myself. There were many moments in the VFX process as well where I had to backtrack, because I realized there was something about my process that resulted in a look that just didn't feel right. That would typically mean revising every frame on about 40 or 50 shots. Fun times!
5. What were your initial reactions when watching the audience talking about your film in the feedback video?
I was thrilled! More than anything else, I'm proud and grateful that people enjoyed the film. I was looking for critiques concerning the plot and if people were able to follow along, because that was my greatest fear as I was telling a story with no dialogue. Thankfully, it seems that everyone got the gist, so that is a relief. Eternally grateful for the kind words and feedback from all who attended the screening.
6. When did you realize that you wanted to make films?
I was in about grade 9 or 10 when it had officially dawned on me. I had always gone the route of making videos for school projects when I was given the chance, because they were just so fun to make. And there was such a catharsis to having an idea and then executing it, watching it over and over and going, "wow, I finally made that. It's been in my head since forever!". I still get that feeling today, and with this film in particular, watching the fruits of everyone's labour, after all the hours of labour, was incredibly satisfying. Nothing tops that feeling.
7. What film have you seen the most in your life?
Probably one of the Star Wars prequel films! Those films ran through my veins as a child, and to this day they are all still comfort films. I have probably seen each of them about 40 times. I also watched The Matrix a good 20 times, which is my all time favourite film.
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 this experience was perfect! I love all the stops this festival pulls out to promote the film. I was not expecting this kind of support from a festival since I have no real frame of reference, so this has been a real treat.
9. You submitted to the festival via FilmFreeway. How has your experiences been working on the festival platform site?
FilmFreeway is a godsend. For an indie filmmaker like myself it is so necessary to have a platform which is so streamline in its design and also so accessible. I was afraid of getting lost and overwhelmed with my first festival run, but no! FilmFreeway is just that good. I had a blast discovering a whole world of film festivals and events, and submitting is such an easy process. I loved it.
10. What is your favorite meal?
Great question! I am a sucker for breakfast, so I would have to say French Toast. Maybe a couple slices, or three, with a fruit compote poured on top and sausage on the side. So good.
11. What is next for you? A new film?
Maybe not a new film, right away, but a new screenplay for sure! I would love to write something with some dialogue for a change and just hone my craft some more. I definitely want to put a screenplay (or two) through some festivals when I've cooked something up that feels ready. I just don't know if I want to follow up on the Hunter's Exchange vibe, or to sit on those ideas and dip my toes into another genre for my next project. There's definitely more there, to that world, and there is a time where that can be explored further. To me it is a matter of how and when.