• Overlapping Scenarios Interview

    As a follow up to our recent review of indie film OVERLAPPING SCENARIOS, we conducted a brief interview with director Eduardo Miyar and writer Don Guarisco. You can check out our original review here: http://www.rockshockpop.com/forums/c...ping-Scenarios.

    Can you tell us about the genesis of this project?

    E.M.: The genesis for this project occurred sometime back in 2011. I was relatively new to the Tallahassee area and realized that Don (who I met through some mutual friends) was perhaps the only other aspiring filmmaker I knew in town. His blog, Schlockmania, had also made a big impression on me and I felt that we might be twisted kindred spirits in some sense. So, I proposed that we combine our forces and attempt to make a short film under a simple mandate that we use pretty much just one location (in this case, a remote lake house owned by my in-laws) and limit ourselves to working with three actors. Fortunately, he agreed to work with me and he then went off to cook up a rough outline for what eventually mutated into OVERLAPPING SCENARIOS.

    D.G.: I met Eduardo through a mutual friend and would often see him at her parties. I could always count on him for a nice chat about film and cultish ephemera. I was impressed that he could cover the gamut, discussing everything from Ray Harryhausen to David Lynch with passion. At one get-together, he approached me with a dream of a proposition: he asked me to write a short for him and said as long as it could be produced cheaply, I had carte blanche to write anything I wanted. Who could pass up an offer like that? I've had aspiring filmmakers request short scripts before and flake on me when it came time to film them but I had a good feeling about Eduardo. I gave it a shot and I'm happy to say it paid off to a degree I didn't imagine possible.

    Don, what was your inspiration for this piece?

    At the time I wrote OVERLAPPING SCENARIOS, I wanted to craft a script where the narrative constantly changes course on the viewer, forcing them to question their perceptions about everything they see. I'd tried to develop a few feature-length ideas in this vein but never could quite crack the concept. Eduardo's offer inspired me to see if I could make it work on a smaller scale - and this actually made it much easier to pull off. Using the limitations he and I came up with - the lake house as a primary set, no more than three characters - I was able to work out an outline in one afternoon and a full script in a matter of days. I used THE TWILIGHT ZONE as a guideline because that show was a masterful example of how you can explore ambitious ideas while anchoring them to simple settings and a small number of characters. As I tore through the script, I found its anything-goes ethos allowed me to reference a number of things I love: the slasher genre, David Cronenberg films, Wes Craven films, etc. It was one of my most purely enjoyable writing experiences to date.

    Eduardo, do you have a philosophy about acting? How do you put it into practice when you interact with the cast?

    I feel like my approach to acting is ever-evolving but I like to mostly take an instinctive approach when it comes to working with actors. Each actor arrives to the set with a different toolbox and personality and, hence, requires an individualized approach. It’s nice to first get a sense of them as a person and an artist to help them deliver at their full potential on screen. I try my best to do that before the camera starts rolling. One of the most important elements in a film is casting and it’s really important for me to feel like I get the right person for each part. I can usually get a good idea if an actor is right for a role based on other work I’ve seen them in. After that, I like to meet with them in person, if possible, and start a dialogue about the script and the role. This might happen over the course of a few informal discussions. During that time, I’ll get a sense of whether or not that person and I are in alignment or whether they will otherwise bring something exciting to the role that I couldn’t have foreseen. I love being surprised in that way. It’s very energizing when someone builds upon and improves your own ideas. It elevates everything. It’s one of the true joys I get out of filmmaking. Other than that, it’s essential for a director to make everyone feel like they’re in a safe environment so they can explore and do their best work. I really enjoy the process best when I feel that I’ve found the right person for the part and that I’ve done the best job I can to provide a great, fun sandbox for them to play in. If all those elements are in place, I then just try to keep out of their way and let them do their work if that’s how they operate best. Otherwise, I’m there to support them if they feel lost or if something’s not landing right. I help them find variations to what they’re trying to do and I propose new ideas when the moment is right.

    Eduardo, what was your relationship with the D.P. like when it came to designing the film's look?

    Carlos Miranda was the D.P. on this project and he and I spent a good amount of time together in prep compiling a detailed shot list. We made a few alterations once we were on set but we had a very structured, preconceived idea of how everything would be shot. Given the jigsaw-like quality of the storyline, it was pretty much essential to approach it this way in order to avoid slowing things down in production or otherwise shooting ourselves in the foot continuity-wise. For the majority of the film (the parts in color, that is) we decided to go for a pretty naturalistic approach. We did some camera tests with the Panasonic Lumix GH2 and figured out what our technical parameters were for it as far as lighting and exposure. Given some of the key plot points in the story, Bergman’s black and white films were necessary influences to draw from. “Hour of the Wolf”, in particular, was a major touchstone- one that Don and I discussed early on during his formulation of his script and later on in my discussions with Carlos. I think they both did a marvelous job.

    What are two of your biggest artistic influences?

    E.M.: That’s pretty tough to quantify but my gut is saying equal doses of Jim Henson and David Lynch.

    D.G.: My all-time favorite film is CARRIE - the original 1976 version. Stephen King was the first novelist I read as a kid: his deeply felt, unpretentious embrace of genre material made a big impression on me as well as his ability to sell the audience on the most outlandish concepts by rooting them with recognizable, relatable characters. That's something I try to do in whatever I write. Brian DePalma is my favorite director. He might be the best showman of his cinematic generation: no one can craft a suspense or action sequence the way he does. Also, it doesn't get mentioned often but he's a fantastic screenwriter with a knack for clever plot structure and witty dialogue (DRESSED TO KILL is a great example of both those skills).

    You got this in a few festivals - what was the festival experience like?

    E.M.: We’ve discovered that it’s pretty tough to program a short film of this length in the festival circuit- even within the niche horror/fantasy festival market. But we’ve had the good fortune to play at two festivals that kindly took a chance on us: TallyShorts (a great up-and-comer in our own North Floridian backyard) and Come To Daddy (a small Fangoria-hosted film/music event in Toronto). Though they’ve been our only festival screenings to date, we were very proud to take home audience favorite awards from each of them. That’s been very encouraging for us.

    D.G.: Eduardo has covered the nice side of things so I'm going to cover the more difficult side. Something I've learned from our experience with the festival circuit is that you must manage your expectations about what it can offer. Entering film festivals, even if you're targeting the genre-friendly ones, is the indie filmmaker's version of buying lottery tickets. Since you can make films so cheaply these days, there is a lot of competition, all the way down to the smaller festivals. Don't let that keep you from dreaming big but also be prepared for the idea that you might not get much in return for all those entry fees. Learning all this has made me appreciate our pair of festival appearances that much more.

    What would like to see happen with this? Any future plans you care to mention?

    E.M.: I’d love to see OVERLAPPING SCENARIOS have a continued life on the internet and for all the lovely, talented folks involved in its making find appreciation for the extraordinary work they do. This really was a labor of love. We lived on the sets out in the woods during the production. We’d wake up, have breakfast, and work really hard all day. At night, we’d have our dinner and all gather around and watch the dailies over a beer or glass of wine. It felt like going to a really fun movie-making summer camp for adults. As far as the future goes: we’re in post-production now on a new short film called PAGE-JUMPER, based on a new script by Don. It’s another reality-shifting puzzler but this time we’re taking it in a bit more of a pulpy sci-fi adventure route. Many of our collaborators from OVERLAPPING SCENARIOS are on the project again and we’re happily introducing some new talents into the mix as well. Valerie Jones is back as the lead. She’s playing a mousey data entry clerk who is accused of a most unusual crime by a shadowy government agency. We don't want to give away much more... but you
    can expect an unorthodox blend of sci-fi, action and mambo music!

    D.G.: Like Eduardo, I'd love for OVERLAPPING SCENARIOS to become a cult favorite on the internet. At our level of filmmaking, the one real reward you get is people seeing your work and engaging you with their responses. We've enjoyed the response we've gotten thus far and I hope we can keep the dialogue going with whoever wants to watch it. PAGE-JUMPER is the big source of future excitement for us right now. It's going to be a bear to finish as it involves a lot of special effects and some unique musical score challenges but we both feel like it's going to be worth it. We set out to make a crowdpleaser with this new project and we're both looking forward to bringing it into the world. I'm also staying busy with a few feature-length screenwriting projects and I try to post a few things every week at my blog Schlockmania. Thanks for reading about and (hopefully) watching our film.

    You can view OVERLAPPING SCENARIOS here: http://vimeo.com/92371491

    You can see the OVERLAPPING SCENARIOS trailer here: http://vimeo.com/115298011

    You can stay up to date on all of Eduardo's filmmaking projects at his Hodge Podge Productions website by clicking here: http://hodge-podge-productions.com/ or

    And you can read Don's film/music/pop culture blog Schlockmania by clicking here:
    http://schlockmania.com/ or