Tuesday, June 02, 2009

AFF Filmmaker Follow Up with Tara Samuel

Do you ever get reminded of  favorite film and say that "Ugh! Such a good movie!" line out loud? Yeah us too.

And then do you wonder to yourself, "Where is that writer/director? And what are they doing now?"

Yeah, us too. As anticipation rises for the fast-approaching 2009 festival, the AFF office has been wondering about its alumni even more.  

AFF recently caught up with Tara Samuel, writer and director of the 2006 narrative short "Find". Check out the interview below in our first installment of "AFF Filmmaker Follow Up". 

1. Tell me about your short film that screened at the festival.

"FIND" was my first ass-kicking lesson in storytelling.

As I wrote "FIND", I was (and still am) SO excited about the subjectivity of time, space and quantum mechanics - that when we arrived on set and began shooting, I couldn't yet see that our script was actually an infinite - albeit earnest - series of philosophical debates. A screenplay - not so much.

In the editing room, my brilliant musician husband Matt Flugger chopped footage, built special effects and composed original tunes for "FIND"... as I hemmed and hawed over the order of the scenes.....and over what my story even WAS. "FIND" put our marriage vows to the test.

After cramming together unsatisfying cuts to meet festival deadlines and driving my husband to drink, I finally realized (divine intervention?) ...that I needed to lose about half of my Socratic meanderings, and get to the point: the emotional heart of the story.

Then everything clicked. "FIND" was accepted at 9 festivals.

What a lucky journey. "FIND" was my film school. What started as a 15-minute string of esoteric (delicious) questions..... ended up as the 9-minute story of a time-traveling 10-year-old girl bent on getting her dead father back.

2. Do you have a favorite moment from your time at the festival?

Top Five Moments at the Austin Film Festival:

1. Getting invited to screen at the Austin Film Festival and meeting imaginative, supportive, innovative Film Program Director Kelly Williams.

2. The actual screenings; I still keep in touch with several brilliant and inspiring filmmakers we met in Austin - Lucas Millard, Hope Dickson Leach, Adam Kreps, Joe Leonard, Keith Stevenson & Neil McGowan, Chiemi Karasawa.

3. Pitching the feature length version of "FIND" to a panel of esteemed producers (and meeting Richard Bever!) Terrifying and life-changing.

4. Listening to Sidney Pollack speak. What a gift.

5. Arriving late to the Awards Brunch -  to be greeted by the hushed whisper of a new filmmaker friend: "FIND was nominated for Best Narrative Short!"

Tara at the 2006 festival along side filmmakers Lucas Millard, Toddy Burton and Seth Kaplan.

3. Not too long after making "Find", you moved from Canada to L.A. How did that move change you as a filmmaker or your career?

It's funny - I actually think that it doesn't matter where you live; only that you zero-in on doing what you love. But as it happens, I 'zeroed-in' here in L.A., and am therefore meeting the sharpest, warmest, most inventive people I've ever come across. "FIND" was invited to screen at the Austin Film Festival within the first few months of landing in L.A. - so Austin will forever hold the cherished place in my memory bank of 'Where the Journey Began.'

4. Do you think film festivals are good venues for short filmmakers? Why or why not?

Heck yes! Go GO to film festivals with your films! Make more films, and GO AGAIN!  Thanks to Austin and others, I continue to find my kindred spirits, fellow revolutionaries and my future collaborators.

The Austin Film Festival in particular accomplishes something very special - it engenders in its participants a feeling of complicity and togetherness. A feeling of common purpose. First time filmmakers and veterans alike - we all feel a collective sense of magic....and are bolstered at the Austin Film Festival! And I must say -  there is always a trickle-down from the top. The creators, directors and staff of the Austin Film Festival make this festival one of the world's best.

5. What are you working on now?

I am at the moment I am writing a screenplay with celebrated filmmaker Ishai Setton (The Big Bad Swim) - he will direct, I will act; I am co-producing a feature film written by acclaimed Canadian screenwriter Jon Rannells in which I will also act, and I am collaborating on a feature film project with award-winning L.A. theatre director Deborah LaVine.  Gotta get back to Austin. Gotta.

For more on Tara, please visit www.tarasamuel.com.

It's not too late to enter your film!

Regular post-mark deadline: June 3rd

Late post-mark deadline: July 3rd

Very late deadline: July 15th

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