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Problem of Evil

The run for this film has ended.

Thank you to all the fans that supported this film!

Problem of Evil

Ethan Kogan, Jessica Silvetti
2013, 84m, drama, experimental

PROBLEM OF EVIL focuses on the inner circle of a modern day religious cult, touching on the topics of unquestioning faith in a higher power, and the timeless themes of love, loss and redemption. Utilizing dramatic improvisation throughout the entire film, this independent drama evokes a cerebral and meditative state, proudly adopting the artistic moniker of 'contemplative cinema' or 'slow cinema.' While production budget may classify it as a niche film, the main theme of questioning one’s faith applies to a wide audience.

Produced by: Ethan Kogan, Jessica Silvetti
Cast: Hemky Madera, Cynthia Ettinger, Jessica Silvetti, Jarreth Merz, Ethan Kogan, Aly Mawji
The 3-week run for Problem of Evil ended on Jun 1st, 2016. Thank you to all the fans that supported it!
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Fans of this film

  1. ethan kogan
  2. ruben rodriguez
  3. sylvia sedo
  4. jonathan green
  5. diane n eckstein
  6. william hayes
  7. jessica kaiserman
  8. whit spurgeon
  9. sherri kogan
  10. robert kogan
  11. katherine mcbride
  12. andrea daniels
  13. joseph leonard
  14. anna christopher
  15. john burton
  16. jermaine cheeseborough
  17. nicole moe
  18. frank smith
  19. martha mendelsohn
  20. linda berghoff
  21. dennis zanatta
  22. taylor knowles
  23. jaque flattery
  24. alexander richardson
  25. sarah morales
  26. ana isidoro
  27. francesca avellino
  28. laurel newmark
  29. eduardo paez
  30. melissa silvetti
  31. travis richardson
  32. aaron kogan
  33. montserrat bueno
  34. juan carlos rodarte cruz
  35. joseph coleman
  36. rodolfo urrea
  37. natalia silvetti
  38. manuel martinez
  39. whitney stanley
  40. leticia rodriguez
  41. jacqueline soletzky
  42. evelyn tenorio
  43. helaine melnitzer
  44. segio vargas
  45. diana calvillo
  46. sapna gandhi
  47. anna silvetti
  48. ramon caudet
  49. nicole haner
  50. carina sedo
  51. valerie green
  52. chris sampson
  53. maria silvetti
  54. mauricio sarabia
  55. lynette coll
  56. Add Your Name Here

The Ten-Day Interview

10 questions with Problem of Evil director, Ethan Kogan, Jessica Silvetti at the half-way mark.
Saturday, May 21st, 2016
  1. 1 Hi Jessica & Ethan! Thanks for being a part of our 2016 Spring Festival. First, what was the initial seed that made you want to make Problem of Evil?
    Initially, we set out to make a film that would feature us both as actors. During this time we were both frustrated and tired of waiting in a casting line to have a small chance of being a part of someone else's project. At this time, we were also heavily involved with The Actor's Gang theatre company in Los Angeles. The training there had a heavy emphasis on improvisation. We used that to our advantage and set out to make a dramatic film that had a strong basis in improvisation.
  2. 2 You two both directed this film. How did you divvy up the responsibilities and why?
    The responsibility all came out of necessity and it was definitely a team effort. Prior to filming we would discuss the scene in detail and what we wanted to accomplish within it. When one of us was acting in a scene, the other one directed. Most of the time, whomever was directing was also camera operating and monitoring sound.
  3. 3 You both wrote this film as well. What was your writing process like and how long did it take to complete the script?
    Since we decided to go the route of dramatic improvisation, our "script" became a 110 page bible containing character backgrounds, scene breakdowns and insight into cult leaders and survivors. Our writing sessions became intense discussions on religion, faith and what it means to believe in something or not. We jotted down notes in the process and the final script is what you see on screen.
  4. 4 This film follows a documentary filmmaker and all the footage of the film is from the documentarian's point of view. Why did you decide to make that choice?
    Seeing as this was our first foray behind the camera, we had limited technical experience when it came to cinematography and composition. We knew that for 90% of filming, one of us would be behind the camera so we embraced our budget limitations and decided to make the camera another character. Using a documentary look was also the best way to tell the story since it is told through our main character’s point of view.
  5. 5 You both act in this film too. Did you take turns directing each other? Which one of you needed more takes?
    Before each shoot we thoroughly discussed how the scenes would work logistically and were prepared for all scenarios. When one of us was in front of the camera, the other was behind at all times. We always kept a very open dialogue and were able to give over to one another while we were in front of the camera so we could focus on being present and in the moment as actors. As far as who needed more takes? We were pretty equal.
  1. 6 This film follows a documentarian as he looks for the leader of a cult. Why do you think we're seeing more films about cults and religion? Is it just a coincidence or do you think there's a reason for it?
    Throughout time, faith and religion have played such a big part of people's lives. Whether one identifies with a particular faith or not, everyone still has their own belief system. Most people, at some point in their lives, find themselves questioning what their purpose is and the overall meaning of life, particularly if they are confronted with a traumatic event or have generally lived a difficult life. This makes films about cults and religion intriguing because we follow characters who are at a crossroads and we can see why a religion could be comforting to them, or in extreme cases, why a person who is completely lost could find a cult appealing. Our story focuses on these different characters and how they are affected by their beliefs or lack thereof: the lost soul who truly needs to believe in something in order to survive day to day; the dismayed believer who feels they were fooled and are now in exile; and our protagonist who's been hit by a terrible loss and is questioning his own beliefs.
  2. 7 What's the film that made you want to become filmmakers?
    J: This is a hard one, I can’t say it was only one film. One that comes to mind is Like Water for Chocolate; it’s a beautiful story, wonderfully written and acted, and visually striking. This film made a big impression on me when I was growing up.

    E: Honestly, it's Problem of Evil. I never knew how suited I was to being behind the camera until we made this. Sure, I could list my all-time favorites and all those I admire, but until you actually pick up a camera and shoot, you'll never really know. I resisted it at first, but since then I've loved every minute of being a filmmaker and haven't looked back.
  3. 8 What was the biggest challenge making this film?
    The biggest challenge was our budget and lack of experience. Together we had over a decade of acting experience, but we had never entertained the idea of putting a feature film together. And, in doing so, probably experienced every textbook issue known to man! It was a lot of work. From packing gear, loading the cars, operating camera and sound to editing the whole film, we learned a lot. It was hard as hell and definitely worth it!
  4. 9 Can you each tell me which scene is your favorite and why?
    J: I love the scene when Jason and Ara meet, this was such a great scene to film. Jarreth Merz, who plays Ara, was amazing to work with and just completely open to trying anything to get what we needed. We were like kids playing make believe; we had a lot of fun that day. The visuals of this scene are really nice. The simplicity of it and yet the emotional depth that we see on both the actors faces, makes this one of my favorites.

    E: Mine was with the character of Ruth (played by Mary Eileen O'Donnell). She came in, not really knowing what she was getting herself into. She was a bit nervous about improvising, but once we started interviewing her in character, she dove into Ruth's very detailed childhood history and it was eerie and exciting. The look in her eyes, like she was reverting to her own childhood had me captivated.
  5. 10 What's next?
    We're currently in post-production on an independent television pilot, IN ABSENTIA. It's an anthology series in the vain of The Twilight Zone, Black Mirror, and The Outer Limits. At the moment we're working with some talented composers and a colorist to finish it up. Hopefully you all will get a chance to see it on TV screens in the not too distant future!
  6. 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.
    Ben Hicks

Festival Partners

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