Insights from talented Filmmakers

Eric Simonson

“As a stage director, I always wondered what it was like to make a film. Theater is more of an actor’s art. Cinema is more of a director’s art. I want to try my hand at it”.

Eric Simonson

Eric Simonson

 

INT. STUDIO – MORNING

ERIC Simonson (55) is about to amaze you somehow. You feel it straightaway as he says hello with a coffee cup in his hand and quietly talks about his diverse ongoing projects. Theater, TV, Cinema. It’s peculiar, but this variety in itself is not a surprise. He’s one of the few directors that experienced the privilege of being nominated to Tony, Emmy and Academy Awards, winning one in the category Short Doc. The surprise is that he keeps on managing projects in all three fields. Trying, experimenting, taking a challenge. His short film We know you have a choice (trailer at this link) is currently being screened at numerous Film Festivals around the world and will be screened at the Miami Independent Film Festival 2016 Annual Event next June. Like his director, this film is uncommon. We want to know more about Eric’s experiment.

 

INTERVIEWER

Hi Eric. We know you have a choice shows a very original setting and structure. How would you briefly describe it to people who haven’t seen it?

 

ERIC

Oh, it’s a comedy short film. A successful career woman meets her match when she takes on the complexities of technology and so called customer service. If you’ve ever questioned your life existence after an awful customer service call, this fun and funny short is for you. But We Know You Have a Choice isn’t a typical comedy. It’s a one woman rampage against modern technology and three people she can’t see.

 

INTERVIEWER

(shaking his head)

Oh no, it’s not typical. Always the same face on the screen every second of the movie. Yelling, freaking out, taking the audience to the edge. How did you come to this choice of creative limitation?

 

ERIC

I wanted to try something challenging. With the protagonist’s face on screen all the time you can’t cut to anybody else, you can’t compress time. There’s no escape. Not so many films with these traits.

 

INTERVIEWER

Where did you find the inspiration for this story?

 

ERIC

Ha! In real life! My wife makes a lot of nice customer care calls!

(laughing)

Well, I wanted to explore this clash between personal and impersonal. It’s a desperately frustrated woman’s against the impersonal communication that permeates our world.

 

WKYHAC - Poster

We know you have a choice – Poster

 

INTERVIEWER

And it works. As the woman struggles the audience gets deeper into her frustration.

 

ERIC

Yes, we used some expedient to represent this descent. As the crisis gets worse the nighttime falls. And the use of camera is changing: in the beginning the camera is static, then it starts moving as she loses control.

 

INTERVIEWER

Talking about the camera: which technology did you use? Was the development of the movie expensive in terms of time and resources?

 

ERIC

We used a Sony digital camera, we had a very good Director of Photography, Derth Adams. I think shooting would have cost four times as much ten years ago. The film was shot in a very filmic way and it was fast: two days for filming, two months for editing and postproduction. But I wasn’t working only on this project. I started with Theatre, so I got used to develop ten projects a time to get a living.

 

INTERVIEWER

So you still follow Theater and TV projects?

 

ERIC

Of course! As a stage director I’m going to direct the play The Shining by Stephen King. We’ll be opening in Minneapolis soon. I keep on writing for TV. For example, scripts for National Geographic and HBO, even though the TV shows I write are not necessarily developed after they go through the chain of command. Well, with this short film I wanted to develop a project beginning to end and see the result.

 

INTERVIEWER

Which is the main difference between directing in Theater and films?

 

ERIC

I think that my main task as a stage director is that of drawing out the best from the actors. Once the play starts the director could even walk away. While in Cinema the film is under the control of the director. Theater is more of an actor’s art. Cinema is more of a director’s art. You can manipulate shots, meaning, emotions. I wanted to try my hand at it.

 

INTERVIEWER

And we hope you’ll try to write and direct also a feature film! What’s next for your career?

 

ERIC

We hope to bring We know you have a choice to as many Festivals as possible. My team and I have already completed a second short film, House of Stairs, which will be beginning its festival circuit soon. We’re now gearing up for short film number three to help us raise money and awareness for a feature project.

 

INTERVIEWER

What is your opinion about Film Festivals?

 

ERIC

As I said, it’s now easier to make a film. Anybody can make a film. This is good, but this also means that it’s harder to emerge. Well, Film Festivals cover an important role. The best part about Festivals is meeting other likeminded and talented filmmakers. They give us a place to connect and talk about our art and hopefully meet future collaborators. It’s also great to attend a Festival and meet the programmers and directors who want to screen and share your project. There’s nothing better. If you want to emerge, your film has to be seen as much as possible.

 

INTERVIEWER

And we love Festivals too. Good luck for your future Eric, we’ll be expecting great things from you.

www.ericsimonson.org

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Next Film Festivals

FestivalLocationEvent datesDeadline
Miami Independent Film FestivalUSA - Miami, FLJuneEach month
Brooklyn Film FestivalUSA - NYCJune 3-12March 7th
Fantasia International Film FestivalCANADA - MontrealJuly 14 - August 02May 1st
Venice Film Festival - La BiennaleITALY - VeniceAugust 31 - September 10Line-up announced at the end of July
Camden International Film FestivalUSA - Camden, MESeptember 15-18May 27th (Late). July 1st (Extended)
Santa Fe Independent Film FestivalUSA - Santa Fe, NMOctober 19-23July 1st (Late). August 1st (Final)
United Nations Association Film FestivalUSA - San Francisco, CAOctober 20-30May 26th
American Film FestivalPOLAND - WroklawOctober 25-30July 15th
Show me ShortsNEW ZELANDNovemberApril 15th
Black Nights Film FestivalESTONIA - TallinNovember 11-27September 15th
Sundance Film Festival 2017USA - UtahJanuary 19-29 2017Submissions open in June 2016. Deadlines by September 23rd or 26th
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