Making the Movie

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Tag: ingmar bergman

Stick true to the stories you want to tell: An Interview with Thad Nurski

thad_nurskiI recently saw some test footage for a short film that knocked my socks off. It combines blacklight makeup and costumes to create an otherworldly, almost bio-luminescent visual effect unlike anything I’ve ever seen. And its all done in-camera!

The film is to be called “A Dimly Lit Room” and the writer/director/editor, Thad Nurski, is currently raising funds on IndieGogo to shoot the project. Check out the pitch video to see some of the stunning test footage:

I interviewed Thad via email about how he created the effect, his fundraising strategy and his cinematic influences. Read on…

Making the Movie: Tell me a little about who you are and how you came to filmmaking…

Thad Nurski: I was born and raised in Missouri. I had a big imagination as a kid, and I would dream up elaborate worlds when playing with my toys, drawing photos, or writing short stories. I loved to come up with these elaborate worlds and display them — some way, somehow — even if it was just talking to people about them. Film caught my imagination very early on. I remember as a kid watching the distinct visual worlds of Beetlejuice and Sleeping Beauty. They really stuck with me, and I was fascinated by them and what they were showing me. In Beetlejuice, the practical effects took me aback, and the gorgeous animation of Sleepy Beauty drew me in. I remember at the end when Aurora’s dress keeps changing from pink to blue and blue to pink. It was all so visual and I loved it. That type of storytelling was very visceral to me, it stuck with me. At a certain point I said very early on, “I want to do that, I want to make films,” and I’ve never looked back.

As people will see when they watch your Indiegogo video, the plot of “A Dimly Lit Room” is top secret. But what can you tell us about the project without spoiling anything?

I have been rather illusive about the specifics of our short, but I wouldn’t say it’s top secret. When people have reached out to me and wanted to know more, I have told them. However, a lot of people have told me they enjoy the mystery of it all and don’t want to know more, that they want to wait for the finished film. [If that’s you, reader, skip ahead. – JO] Without giving away too much, I can explain our story like this…

Our protagonist, Asher (John-Michael Carlton), meets our antagonist, Persephone (Jamie VanDyke), in a gloomy room where Asher learns that what surrounds him will directly affect his future. A simple conversation with Persephone teaches Asher that his existence is in jeopardy with grave consequences to follow if he does not solve his situation before it is too late.

The movie is based on a series of revelations; the more you get into the story, the more that is revealed, and all of these revelations lead to our final climatic moment.

Most people have compared the premise of our film to a very famous Ingmar Bergman film, which is a wonderful compliment, but our films are not at all alike. They just have some similar tropes. When people have read my script, the nicest feedback I receive is that they didn’t know where it was going and they were compelled to keep reading because they wanted to find out what was going to happen. So generally we like to sell the mysterious nature of our film, because that is what people enjoy when they read the script.

These makeup effects look amazing. Talk about your makeup and camera tests and how you arrived at these surreal, dramatic visuals.

Continue reading

What was Ingmar Bergman told were a director’s two primary duties?

To listen and to shut up.

Ingmar Bergman on the set of Fanny and Alexander

Ingmar Bergman on the set of Fanny and Alexander (1984)

Director Ingmar Bergman was famous for pulling world class performances from his actors. In one of the many excellent documentaries on the 5-disc set of Fanny & Alexander (“Ingmar Bergman Bids Farewell to Film”), the elder Bergman relates a key piece of advice about working with actors that he was given as a young man:

My old teacher, Torsten Hammarén, whom I met as a young director at the end of the 40’s, taught me everything about the theater. He said a director’s two primary duties are to listen and to shut up.

I didn’t quite understand it then, as I was rather garrulous.

He means he didn’t shut up and listen much in those days. In the documentary Bergman Island, he tells a story about when legendary Swedish silent film director Victor Sjöström had to stage a sort of intervention, walking him around the Swedish Film Institute studio lot for an hour lecturing him on being more collaborative. But back to the interventions of his other mentor, Hammarén: Continue reading

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