01st May2014

First Time Fest: Filmmaker Interviews

by Catherina Gioino

In our last few articles, we went over the First Time Fest and the closing night awards, so here are a few interviews we had with the filmmakers of their prestigious films.

Gesa Jäger, editor of Love Steaks

How does this feel?

I’ve been dreaming of coming to New York my entire life and I’ve always wanted to have a movie show in the US so this is a big dream for me.

Tell me about your film:

It’s a love story between two people who are very different and kind of crash into each other and try to be happy together and it doesn’t really work out. We shot it in a hotel. There are only two actors in it and everyone else is playing themselves. It’s like the hotel staff during their working time and we improvised most of the movie and I think it feels kind of intense just because it’s so real.

What were the challenges of making the movie?

I’m an editor so I can just tell you that from the editing point of view, I have seventy hours of material which is a lot more that you normally have for editing. The story, when they did the story, we kind of filled it up in the editing room so I didn’t know anything about the story and I just started editing the seventy hours of material and then we made up the story in the editing room. So that was my challenge.

Since it was all improvised for the most part, did you find it hard to choose which parts would be in the movie?

Since it was improvised, they were shooting each take only once so it was not a hard thing to choose, but it was hard to choose what parts of the take I would choose and I had to make many jump cuts which seemed wrong to me in the beginning but I got used to and it comes from the heart. The editing comes from the heart because you choose what you want to see and it’s got a great rhythm because I didn’t think about covering something. I just took what ws good acting and what the rhythm just came to me.

Mikael Berg, writer and director of Miss Julie

Tell me about your movie.

My movie is Miss Julie; original screenplay by August Strindberg which we have adapted into a screenplay with a multiple character story and we have transported into the 1920s instead of the 1890s as in the original play. We shot in Sweden and screened it there, and this is our first film festival in New York. It has been so interesting for us to screen it to a non-Swedish speaking audience since it’s in Swedish with English subtitles. We never know how people will react but we have gotten a good response from the American audience.

What were the challenges of the movie?

For me it was like seeing Strindberg as a national icon and doing his most well known play which was the scariest and most exciting thing about it. In 1951 there was a successful film of the play where the director won much acclaim for the play and since then, no other Swedish director had tried to do the play.

Marieke Niestadt, director of Bittersweet

Tell me about your film.

Bittersweet is a documentary two female boxers with Lucia Rijker who is the trainer for Diana Prazak who is an Australian female boxer who wants to become the best in the world. And to become the best in the world she has to fight the best in the world so she accepts the invitation to fight Frida Wallberg in Sweden to become the best in the world and six weeks before the fight is where I get into the story. It’s the story on the way to this fight and it’s all about the fight and when we get to Sweden, the fight itself goes completely wrong. So it’s drama.

What were the challenges of making the movie?

When I go for a story I always jump into the story and I’ll see what happens and once I feel the story is there- it’s hard to explain. I just get in there and there’s always behind everything so that’s what I like doing. I like getting there and getting the picture around and doing the real emotions of what I like doing.

Jayce Bartok, writer and director of Fall to Rise

Tell me about your film.

I wrote and directed a film called Fall to Rise and it’s a drama about one really unlucky lady who teaches girls about ballet- badly- and dances in a nightclub with puppets. And then about another lady who is a really famous dancer but blows out her knee and flips into motherhood where she doesn’t want to be. And these two women meet casually at a gala and they go on this journey and form this unlikely friendship where they discover who they’re really supposed to be and gain some redemption whether it’s in the dance world or by being sober. It’s a comeback film and it’s got some humor.

What were the challenges of making the movie?

Well my wife Tiffany produced it and we’ve been working on it for seven years. We tried to make it with some movie stars or some famous directors and we realized we needed to make it ourselves since it was our passion and so we crowd funded a little bit and took a few small investments. The challenge was raising two nickels. We raised $50,000 and somehow we raised enough to make it. So with movies these days, it was just getting enough money to get it going. And also trying to find the right people- so finding the right dancer who can also act.

You can learn more about the First Time Fest at their website.

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