5 questions with One Times One director, Christopher Bell at the half-way mark.
Thursday, January 26th, 2017
1Hey Chris! Thanks for being a part of our festival. First, one of the best films I saw last year was your incredible feature, The Winds That Scatter which stars Ahmad Chahrour. I heard this short was a subplot in that film that didn't make the final cut. How difficult was it to cut out of the film and why did you decide to cut it out? Thank you. It's a pleasure to be on Fandependent again!
The original cut of Winds was almost 3 hours, so... some things needed to go. This particular subplot survived many cuts but ultimately I ended up killing it. I loved the material, obviously, but I think it really was its own thing and didn't necessarily affect the main narrative. Also, there was some concern over Mike's drawings of certain cartoon characters... like, maybe we'd get in trouble. But eventually you realize that nobody cares - it's such a small film that nobody is going to come after it and start asking questions.
2When and how did you realize you could turn this discarded subplot into a short film? It was kind of random. I used to be a very bad sleeper, so I came up with the idea one night as I was "tossing and turning" in bed. Winds was such a long, exhausting process - it took almost 2 years to shoot and the editing process was another 2 years (in reality it was a lot of "hurry up and wait" from people who are no longer associated with the project). So the short was likely born from me being creatively frustrated and bored. I think "One Times One" is even a bit closer to what I thought Winds would be - slower, no music, etc. Anyway, I always loved the last scene in the park. I'd think about it from time to time and it felt like a really strange, beautiful ending. Then I realized that all of Ahmad and Mike's scenes together (along with some other cut material) could make an interesting short. The idea of an entire film solely being about the friendship between an Arab man and a white man seemed pretty potent.
3 Mike D does a wonderful job at playing a man who lost his arm in a truck accident. I imagine it would be a little difficult casting someone without an arm because you don't want them to feel like you're casting them to exploit them. How was that experience for you and what was it like working with Mike? I try to work with people that generally aren't seen in movies. Indies are especially bad at representation, I think. But there's a fine line between representation and exploitation. Working on Winds and other things lead me to Edward Said's book Orientalism, so I'm aware that there's a history of "other-izing" people of Middle Eastern descent. They're primitive, backwards, can't speak for themselves, and so on. I try to curb that by making things as collaborative and open as possible. The best you can do is, as much as you can, let the person speak for themselves. Collaborate, don't be authoritative. Be open. And I think that should go with any performer you work with. With Mike, he thought acting in a movie was a fun thing to do. We were open with each other and we wanted it to be an honest thing -- not something mined for drama or sympathy.
4In the film Mike D has a job as a knight because they need a guy whose arm can be cut off for the show. Mike also likes to draw. Since your performances are so good in your films, I'm just curious if you take details from the actor's lives and incorporate that into the film, or if all that stuff was written for him? Thank you! Those two elements were written, actually. I try to do a combination of both fiction & non-written elements that may link to a grander idea/theme/metaphor and real-life qualities/hobbies/etc that bring the real world into the movie. In Mike's instance, the story of losing his arm was what really happened to him. Also, he loves dip.
5What's next? My next feature, "Incorrectional," is finishing up sound design/mix and should be on the gatekeepers' plates soon. Film Pulse hosted my lark of a short "The Expanded Universe," so if you want to see a cat freak out while Star Wars plays in the background, then boy do I have a film for you.
Aside from that I have a number of short films that I'll release throughout 2017: "Mohammad So-and-So," "The City Is Like A Character In The Film," "And By We I Mean Me," "This Is Our Movie," and "Left."
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.
The film with the most fans wins $1,000
For 2017 we are moving on from screening feature films and will be showcasing shorts.
For our Winter 2017 Festival, we are giving away $2,000 in prizes to the top three films.
The film with the most fans.
The film with the most views.
Our favorite film.
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