HFF: What is your film about, and how did the project come to be?
SE: Our film is about a girl in high school dealing with what to her is the biggest decision she’s faced: asking her dream date to prom. We noticed last year that very early in the year — it was still winter — people were talking about prom and the anxiety about being asked/asking people, and it inspired Zach and me to make a film.
HFF: What was your role in the production?
SE: I co-developed, and co-wrote Chris; and I also starred in it. Zach and I made Chris as one of our projects for Film II class.
HFF: Why did you submit to the Heartland Film Festival? Have you been to the Festival before?
SE: We submit to the Heartland Film Festival because we were visited in class by Julian Higgins, the director of the short film Thief, and he talked about how awesome Heartland is, so we really wanted to try to go. I’ve never been to a film festival before — I couldn’t attend the festival where Chris screened this summer, so I am super excited to be able to attend the Heartland Film Festival.
HFF: This year’s tagline is “Shift Your Perspective” – what lasting effect will your film have on moviegoers?
SE: We hope our film will help people look at every day life in new ways. Sometimes things we think are not a huge deal really are a big deal: like prom.
HFF: What has inspired you to become a filmmaker?
SE: I have always loved movies. They have had an enormous impact on me, so I want to try to create similar experiences for other people.
HFF: What is something that you know about filmmaking now, but you weren’t told when you started your career?
SE: I now know that it is important to start with bad ideas. When I first started filmmaking, I kept telling myself that I had to come up with a good and smart idea for a film, but I now know that we’re supposed to start with bad ideas, even ridiculous ideas, and then we collaborate and work hard to try to make them just a little less worse. And if we do that enough, eventually, we get something that starts to be pretty good.
HFF: What are some of your favorite movies? What’s your favorite worst movie (you know it’s bad, but still love it)?
SE: Some of my favorite movies include The Breakfast Club, The Shawshank Redemption, A Few Good Men, Little Miss Sunshine, The Spectacular Now, and Silver Linings Playbook. My favorite worst movie is probably She’s the Man; I know that movie too well.
HFF: How many film festivals has your film been a part of? What do you like the most about the festival experience?
SE: Chris has been accepted into 9 festivals, although it has only played in one of them so far because the others are happening soon. Since Heartland will be my first festival, I don’t know what I love most about the festival experience, but I can’t wait to find out.
HFF: Heartland Film Festival moviegoers love filmmaker Q&As. Let’s say a Festival attendee wants to earn some brownie points—what is a question that you’d love to answer, but haven’t yet been asked?
SE: I love it when people ask me questions about acting. I loved playing Jenn in Chris because she is so different from who I am in many ways, but I wanted to find the ways we were similar, too. So I would love to answer any questions about acting technique, and why I made certain decisions when playing Jenn. I’d also love to talk about working with Zach as a director, and what it was like to play a role I’d co-written.
See Chris in the High School Film Competition program the 2014 Heartland Film Festival:
- Friday, Oct. 17 – 6:45 p.m. at AMC Castleton Square 14
- Sunday, Oct. 19 – 2:30 p.m. at AMC Castleton Square 14
- Tuesday, Oct. 21 – 6:45 p.m. at AMC Castleton Square 14
- Friday, Oct. 24 – 6:15 p.m. at AMC Traders Point Showplace 12