Through the magic of modern technology, we discussed with Christopher the creative process and some of his thoughts on short film.
WSFF: In THE MAKER , are those real teeth? Who’s teeth are they?
CK: The teeth are cast in resin, but I do believe the puppet maker, Amanda Louise Spayd, made the original molds from real teeth!
WSFF: What inspired the story in your short?
CK: I have a classical music composer friend named Paul Halley. I was very inspired by his music and offered to make a music video clip for him. At the same time, I had also stumbled across the work of artist / puppet maker Amanda Louise Spayd, whose puppets I found haunting. Once I picked a suitable track from Paul's repertoire, I contacted Amanda and asked if she were interested in being involved in making a stop motion music video? Once she was on board, I wrote a narrative to the movements of the music that only involved one location and two puppets (in order to keep my budget down). The final narrative was so strong, we ended up with more of a "short film" than a music video and decided to hit the festival circuit. If you're interested in hearing the full version of the music from THE MAKER , you can go to Paul's website and download it for free here (click on the track called 'Winter').
WSFF: Do you have any advice for budding filmmakers?
CK: Yes, two pieces. Firstly, learn how to write great stories. Read The Writers Journey by Christopher Vogler, Save the Cat by Blake Snyder and buy Michael Hauge's CD, Screenwriting for Hollywood. Even though they apply specifically to feature films, the lessons they teach are invaluable and can be applied to shorts. Secondly, don't be afraid to cut scenes during your edit, even if you love those scenes, or they took you a week to shoot, or you may hurt someone's feelings. Too often I see good shorts that could have been GREAT shorts if they only shaved 5 minutes from their runtime (which I believe should be kept under 10 minutes for a short). A lot of director's like to cut their own material and aren't able to be subjective or are too attached to their footage. Make your film lean, cut away the fat.
WSFF: You’ve experienced lots of success with THE MAKER . What’s next?
CK: My Producer (and wife) Christine Kezelos and I have written a feature film version of THE MAKER . We answer questions like, who are The Makers? Why are they doing what they do? What exists outside of the workshop? We're currently in the process of pitching it to production companies in Los Angeles. If there are any feature film animation producers out there who are interested in chatting to us, we'd love to hear from them. They can get in touch via THE MAKER website.
WSFF: Tell us, what's your favourite short film?
CK: My favourite short film would have to be one I saw in 1996 and has most inspired me in my own filmmaking. It's called Shadow Puppets by Chuck Gamble and can be seen on YouTube here.