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Peter and the Colossus
2014, 120m, drama, family, fantasy
Rachel, a young woman who was estranged from her family for several years, returns home to take care of her little brother Peter after the sudden passing of their parents. Ever since the traumatic experience, Peter refuses to speak, making a social connection with anyone extremely difficult. Between work, finances, and trying to handle her own love life, Rachel finds connecting with Peter just as much of a challenge. Things change when Peter turns to the forest near his house as a means to escape the real world, where he forms an unlikely friendship with a giant that lives there.
10 questions with Peter and the Colossus director, Mitchel Viernes at the half-way mark.
Wednesday, May 11th, 2016
1Hi Mitchel! Thanks for being a part of our 2016 Spring Festival. First, what was the initial seed that made you want to make Peter and The Colossus? Thanks for allowing me to be a part of it! Peter and the Colossus was a total passion project that I worked on during my last semester of University in New Zealand. The moment of inspiration for the story came when I was walking through a forest on a hike. I'm a bit of a daydreamer, and an image came in my head of a little boy walking on a path with this tree monster next to him. From there, I knew I wanted to develop a story out of it.
2This is the first family film we've had so far on our site. Why did you decide to make a family film and what attracts you to that genre? I don't necessarily feel attracted specifically to the family genre, but I knew that I wanted to tell a story that could be appreciated and enjoyed by a wide age bracket. Theres aspects of the story that both adults and their children can enjoy.
3There are a crazy amount of special effects in the film. Can you tell us about the different techniques you used to create these effects? For the tree giant in the film we had a suit built by a local artist Vanesa Furnari, who's worked as a set dresser on many films and tv shows shot in Hawai'i as well. We shot a man in the suit against a blue screen to composite him into all of the shots, and the giant's eyes were a friend of mine's that we shot and added in afterwards.
4This is your first feature film, how did you know you were ready to tackle an entire feature and what prepared you? In all honesty, I didn't know if I was actually ready for it, it was a bit scary. There were several people who told me this was a bit overly ambitious and that maybe I should develop it as a short film first, but I had a gut feeling that I just needed to make it a feature. I've definitely learned a lot from making it, and there may be things now that I would've done differently, but I don't regret it at all.
5You wrote this film as well. How long did this script take you and what was your process like? From the initial spark of inspiration I started planning out a story for the film. I started with jotting down different events and scenes that I could see happening in my head, and made a basic skeleton of how I wanted the story to progress. From there I made out a big timeline on a poster board where I figured out the order of things that would happen in the story, and then when I thought it all flowed well I cranked out a draft. I work best when I just type out whatever pops into my head without stopping, even if it's absolute rubbish, cause I can always go back and change things up. I went through several drafts until I got to the final version of the script, and overall it was about a year in the making.
6Casting a child as your lead is something many people say not to do because it's too difficult working with child actors. What was your experience like and why did you decide to make a film with a child as the lead? I knew that I had to make the film with a child lead because thats what the initial inspiring image that popped into my head was of, a small boy and his giant monster friend. The casting process took a while and I really didn't find anybody that I felt truly portrayed Peter in the way I imagined. It was actually a family friend who's son played Peter in the end, and he did absolutely fantastic. My mother had mentioned him to me as an option to think of when I was searching for an actor, and he ended up being perfect.
7What was the biggest challenge making the film and how did you get through it? The biggest challenge of making the film was definitely having to wear so many hats in the production process. As a super low budget indie film, I couldn't afford to have a large crew the whole time. For larger scenes like the talent show in the end or the scenes at the school with lots of kids, friends of mine were gracious enough to volunteer their time to help me out.
8What's the film that made you want to become a filmmaker? I don't think that there's a specific film that I remember watching that gave me that "Aha!" moment where I knew I wanted to make films. I always loved movies, but I really knew it was something I wanted to do when I was given a sony camcorder for my birthday when I was 10 and I started making films myself.
9I'm a huge fan of Godzilla movies and any big monster movie. How do you feel about those films and what made you want to make one? It's funny because I never really thought of "Peter and the Colossus" as a giant monster movie from the beginning, but I guess it is considering there's a giant monster in it. One blog I remember dubbed it as the "first Hawaiian Kaiju film" which was really interesting to me. I'm a huge fan of the old Godzilla movies though, I grew up on renting VHS tapes of those films from the library down the road from my house.
10What's next? I really don't know for sure, part of the bad thing with me is I'm horrible at the whole business/PR side of the filmmaking game. I just know how to make a film when I have a story in my head that I'd love to tell. I'm in the process of getting DVD's made as I know a lot of people want to buy a copy. I may try to send it out to more festivals in the future, but I'm currently starting to pursue producing some other stories that I've been aching to tell for a while, so you're definitely going to be seeing more films from me in the near future.
About the Interviewer: Ben Hicks
Ben Hicks is a writer/director and co-founder of Fandependent Films. Ben is currently working on making Fandependent Films awesome and is finishing up his first feature film entitled Kids Go Free to Fun Fun Time which was selected for the 2017 IFP Narrative Lab.
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