Vancouver Film Festival 2012 Interview – BREAKFAST WITH CURTIS director Laura Colella
By Jason Whyte
Posted 09/29/12 06:50:00
“BREAKFAST WITH CURTIS is about a group of neighbors – five freewheeling bohemians who live in a triple-decker, and a couple and their teenage son Curtis who live next door. The movie starts with an incident that happened five years ago that left bad blood between the houses. It then fast-forwards to the present when their cold war begins to thaw, during what turns out to be a seminal summer for young Curtis. It’s a coming of age tale in a sense, but the focus is less on the boy, and more on the antics of the adults swirling around him. In this way it becomes more about everyone’s potential for growth, change, and having more fun in our lives.” Director Laura Colella on BREAKFAST WITH CURTIS which screens at this year’s Vancouver International Film Festival.
Is this your first film in the Vancouver International Film Festival? Do you plan to attend Vancouver for the screenings?
This is my first film in the festival, and I can’t wait to be there!
Could you give me a little look into your background and what led you to the desire to want to make film?
I wish I knew. I grew up heavily involved in theater, but once I discovered filmmaking in college, especially having the late, great filmmaker Raúl Ruiz as a visiting professor, there was no turning back.
How did this project come together?
I grew impatient waiting for a bigger-budgeted project to come together, and decided to figure out a way to make a film immediately, in the hands-on style I loved from my early years of filmmaking. I looked around at the wealth of characters and great locations in my immediate vicinity, and asked everyone living in my house and the house next door to me if they’d like to make a movie together. They were immediately on board and completely committed, and we had a fantastic time filming.
What was the biggest challenge in the making of this movie?
I was very fortunate to have two small grants to cover costs, and cast, crew and post technicians who donated their time, so the usual financial struggles were mercifully absent. The biggest struggle is getting it out into the world. Despite a collection of great reviews from its first few festival screenings, I worry about distribution, and getting the wider audience who I think would enjoy it able to see it.
Tell me about the technical side of the film; your relation to the film’s cinematographer, what the film was shot on and why it was decided to be photographed this way.
I shot most of it myself, but because I play a small role, I also had two others -- Aaron Jungels, my partner and also an actor in the film, and Jake Mahaffy, a wonderful filmmaker -- shooting sometimes. My first two features were in film, and this is the first major project I’ve shot digitally. I always cringed at the thought, but like many others, I fell in love with the Canon 5D Mark II. I teach 16MM film production at the Rhode Island School of Design, and shooting with the 5D almost made me feel like I was handling a Bolex. It had its quirks, but the results were gorgeous, and I was amazed to see how great the image looked on a huge screen when we premiered at the LA Film Festival.
Who would you say your biggest inspirations are? Any inspirations for this film in particular?
The artists I’m close to are usually my biggest influences, and whatever books I read before and during the writing process. This film came very much out of my home life though, and didn’t have any direct outside influences I’m aware of. I brainstormed story ideas with the cast, and tried to capture the spirit of fun and devotion to simple pleasures that we enjoy around here.
Please tell me some filmmakers or talent that you would love to work with, even if money was no object.
I’d love to work with cinematographer Christopher Doyle and Viggo Mortensen.
How important do you think the critical/media response is to film these days, be it a large production, independent film or festival title?
I don’t know. I hope there will always be a need for thoughtful and well-written film analysis.
If your film could play in any movie theatre or "space" in the world, which one would you choose any way?
I’d choose any place in a community where people are willing to go sit and watch something together in the dark.
No doubt there are a lot of aspiring filmmakers at film festivals who are out there curious about making a film of their own. Do you have any advice that you could provide for those looking to get a start, and especially for those with films in the festival circuit?
I think you have to love the filmmaking process and find your happiness there, and otherwise grow very thick skin!
How can people keep in touch with the film at this point in the festival circuit?
There is breakfastwithcurtis.com and as well a Facebook page for the movie.
And finally, what is your all time favorite movie and why?
Ah, the impossible question… I can watch 8 1/2 over and over. I love Wong Kar-wai’s HAPPY TOGETHER, Ruiz’s TIME REGAINED and more recently THE MASTER. But this isn’t a serious answer, because there are way too many!
This is one of the official selections in this year’s Vancouver International Film Festival lineup. For more information on films screening at this year’s fest, showtimes, updates and other general info, point your browser to viff.org.