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South By Southwest 2014 Interview Ė YAKONA directors Anlo Sepulveda & Paul Collins

YAKONA - At SxSW 2014
by Jason Whyte

ďYakona is film shot from the perspective if a riverís memories and dreams. A visual journey from the spring fed source of the San Marcos river to the sea. The reveals the riverís interactions with man and the natural world throughout history. Will human destroy this natural wonder or become its protector?Ē Director Anlo Sepulveda on YAKONA which screens at this year's South By Southwest Film. Co-director Paul Collins also joins us to talk about the film.

Is this your first SxSW/Austin experience and are you going to attend your screenings?

Paul: This is my third SXSW attendance and my second as a filmmaker. Yes, I will be attending both of the screenings.

What do you guys love the most about showing movies in Austin and Austin in general?

Anlo: I live in Austin and premiered my last film OTIS UNDER SKY at SXSW 2011. The thing I love about the Austin film scene is that fellow filmmakers are generally very supportive of each other. Also, the Austin Film Society and SXSW provide an excellent hub for filmmakers to orbit. They really support filmmakers and I think that vibe permeates through the Austin film culture.

Paul: Austin represents indie filmmaking at its best. There isnít any pretension or superficial barriers to get a great indie film out in the Austin film scene. The Austin Film Society is big contributor to that success. Plus,Whole Foods has a great seafood eatery. Itís the freshest fish you can get in Texas I think. They will cook to order and the price isnít half bad.

[i[Tell me a bit about your backgrounds and how you became a filmmakers. Also what have you worked on in the past?

Anlo: I really started making films in High School with my buddies. We made dumb buddy cop films with lots of guns and squibs. Then I photographed all my friends films who were at UT film school. My first feature was OTIS UNDER SKY.

Paul: Born and raised in Canada, I have always been inspired by the raw beauty of nature and captured its essence through the lens for over fifteen years. After graduating with a BFA in Art and Design from Texas State University and collaborating with Anlo Sepulveda to help produce Otis Under Sky, an official selection at SXSW 2011, I began to pursue filmmaking and produced many shorts, music videos, and marketing videos for Texas State University as a fulltime employee. Inspired by the beauty of the river and the language of image, I teamed up with Anlo and others to take on the ambitious task of telling the story of the San Marcos River in the timeless universal style of pure cinema.

How did this whole project come together from your perspective?

Anlo: My friend Paul and I have talked about doing a documentary on the San Marcos river for 11 years but never had the means to buy underwater camera gear. Then the prices came down with the DSLR revolution. Paul purchased a Canon 7d and an Ikelite case and started shooting as I was finishing up Otis. He showed me the footage and I was blown away. We decide to pursue and three years later here we are at SXSW with YAKONA.

Paul: The project really came together from a talented team of friends and volunteers who cared a great deal for the river and the future of the community of San Marcos. We couldnít of made this film without the support of the community.

What was the biggest challenge, or challenges, in making the film?

Anlo: Sticking with it for three long hard years. And carrying gear. Thatís really what low budget filmmaking is...carrying gear.

Paul: The biggest challenge, for me, was sticking to it. Never giving up when times were tough or not moving forward.

If you had to pick a single favourite moment out of the entire production, what would it be?

Anlo: Getting that underwater shot of the snapping turtle trying to eat a duck was pretty awesome. Just witnessing nature in its rawest form was just amazing. And then actually realizes that you did press record and got it.

Paul: My favorite moment of this production was learning to scuba dive and access to a scientific protected natural resource.

What keeps you going while making a movie? What drives you? How much coffee?

Anlo: I love telling unique stories in a unique way and having it resonate with people. Simple as that. Impossible though without coffee.

Paul: Believing in your original vision and not feeling discouraged by other peopleís criticism.

I would love to know about the technical side of the film, your relationship to the director of photography, what the movie was shot on and why it was decided to be filmed this way.

Anlo: Paul and I directed and shot the film. We shot with a Canon 7D on L glass overcranked at 60fps. The look gives the film a dreamlike look that really gives you the riverís perspective.

Paul: This allowed us to have a relatively great quality image at the fraction of the cost of a specialized underwater camera.

What are you looking forward to the most about showing your movie at SxSW?

Anlo: Man, I canít wait to see it on the big screen with full sound design, score and color. I canít wait to see how people respond to it. Iím hoping minds are blown.

Paul: I look forward to showing the film to an international audience so they can see how special the San Marcos River is.

After the film screens at South By Southwest, where is the film going to show next? Anywhere you would like it to screen?

Anlo: We canít wait to have our San Marcos premiere. It will be really great to bring back to the community. It really is there film as they supported us through our Indiegogo campaign.

Paul: We will screen the film locally in San Marcos shortly after SXSW but we are also hoping that it can screen at Hot Docs in Toronto and at the Marfa Film Festival.

If you could show this movie in any cinema in the world, which one would you choose and why?

Anlo: Pretty much anywhere outdoors next to a river. We are planning to screen the film at or near the four major springs in Texas, hopefully with a live score by our composer Justin Sherburn.

Paul: Because I was born in Vancouver I would like to see this film in the Vancouver International Film Centre!

What would you say or do to someone who is talking or texting during a screening of your film?

Anlo: Not cool man.

Paul: GET OUT!
There are a lot of up and coming filmmakers both at SxSW and reading our site. What would you want to tell them if they are aspiring to become a filmmaker?

Anlo: Latch onto the ideas that resonate with you. Everything starts out as a small kernel of an idea. If you stay true to that idea and to yourself, more than likely your film will resonate with others.

Paul: Pursue your dream and your vision and never give up no matter what obstacles come before you.

And finally, what is the single, greatest movie that you have seen at a film festival?

Anlo: A good but impossible question to answer. Too many great films!

Paul: I would have to say CAVE OF FORGOTTEN DREAMS by Werner Herzog.

This is one of the many films screening at the 2014 SXSW in Austin, Texas between March 7-15. For more information on the filmís screening, point your browser to

Jason Whyte,
Twitter: @jasonwhyte / Facebook: jasonwhyte / Instagram: jasonrcwhyte

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originally posted: 03/08/14 03:34:43
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