5 questions with Ellis director, Nolan Cubero at the half-way mark.
Monday, July 17th, 2017
1Hi Nolan! Thanks for being a part of our festival. First, what was the initial seed that inspired you to make Ellis? Hey! Thanks for having us as a part of the festival. Ellis is loosely based on some true events that happened. My mom told me the basic story one time. Some of the events had happened to people she knew of. When she told me about it, it just blew me away with how awful it was. I remember thinking it was the saddest story I'd ever heard. She told it to me a while ago but it always stuck with me.
2You wrote the script as well. How important is a good ending to you and how closely do you stick to the script while shooting? I think endings are really important. In real life, I have often told people stories about things that have happened to me that I found interesting, but if there's not a satisfying ending to the story, people get pretty annoyed and they feel like you wasted their time. I feel like a lot of modern stories, tv shows especially, set up tension but it never pays off in any kind of meaningful way. I'd like to avoid doing that in stories I tell. I chose this short over other ones I could have made because I felt like it had a strong ending and something I hoped audiences would react to.
Usually I stick to the script while shooting, but for this we didn't really, at least not in the dialogue scenes. Most of those scenes were improvised by the actors on camera.
3This film goes into a very dark place. What do you like about films that deal with darker subject matter and why did you choose to make a film like that? I guess something being dark is never really on my mind. I think more about how the story makes me feel. This story moved me a lot when I heard it and I thought it would move other people. But to be honest, I was surprised by how many people reacted negatively or were bothered by the darkness of the short. Some people have had some extreme responses to it that I didn't expect. But I guess people have different approaches to art. I like what Kafka said: "If the book we're reading doesn't wake us up with a blow to the head, what are we reading for?" I watch movies and read books to be moved. This story moved me and I made it because I thought it would move other people as well.
4There's a gruesome shot in this film that looks incredibly realistic. Was that all done by your sfx makeup artist Lior Molcho? If so, how long did it take to create it? Yeah that was all done by Lior. A few weeks before the shoot, our main actor went over to Lior's workshop and Lior took pictures of him from every angle so he could make the dummy look like the actor. Lior then showed up on set the day of with everything pretty much ready to go. He had some prep work he had to do on set but we were stunned how good it looked as soon as he brought it out of the car. We were really lucky to have him.
5What's next? I have two feature scripts I wrote I'd like to make. One's a thriller about a deaf kid starting high school. The other is a crime drama about two brothers in a Latino gang.
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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