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SxSW 2016 Interview: AMERICAN FABLE creators Anne Hamilton & Kishori Rajan

by Jason Whyte

"AMERICAN FABLE is a fairytale thriller set during the 1980s rural Midwest farm crisis about a courageous girl living in a dark, and sometimes magical world. When 11-year-old Gitty discovers that her beloved father is hiding a wealthy man in her family's silo in order to save their struggling farm, she is forced to choose between saving the man's life or protecting her family from the consequences of their actions." Director Anne Hamilton on AMERICAN FABLE which screens at the 2016 edition of the South By Southwest Film Festival. Producer Kishori Rajan also joins us for this interview.

I am thrilled to hear AMERICAN FABLE is showing at SxSW! Is this is your first time having a movie show in Austin?

Anne Hamilton: Yes! This is my first feature and my first time showing in at SXSW. It's such an honor. I keep pinching myself.

Kishori, I hear you are back at SxSW this year! Tell me about what brought you here last, and your favorite aspects of the city.

Kishori Rajan: I had a chance to come to SxSW in 2012 with a movie called GIMME THE LOOT, which was a great experience. It was my first time in Austin, and I remember loving the tacos and warm weather.

Talk to me a bit about how you got your start in the industry and your previous work!

Kishori: I studied film in my undergrad years at Columbia University, and interned a ton during that time as well. After college, I worked on feature sets, mostly as a Production Coordinator or Line Producer, and then as an Associate or Co-Producer, before developing a slate of projects of my own to lead Producer, which I am currently working through now. I also worked as a Development Executive at a financing/production company, which exposed me to a lot on the industry side. My approach in the beginning was pretty much to just say yes to anything that was coming my way, and identify people I liked to work with. I learned pretty fast that it's important to have a community of good folks around you, in order to make the long hours worthwhile!

For you, Anne, I was wondering how this movie came together for you?

: I had this image kicking around my brain of a girl field dressing a deer in her barn when a strange man from the city pulls up and they somehow know each other. That's really where the heart of the story came from and so much was there. I also knew I wanted to direct my first film in the Midwest, where I'm from, so I reached to friends and family for help.

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

Kishori: Coffee, always. And tequila when we wrap.

Anne: Being on set it the best thing in the world. You sort of fall in love with everyone and it is such a heightened experience. And there is nothing like a nice glass of scotch at the end of a hard day.

For both of you, what was your biggest respective challenges with making this movie?

Kishori: From a logistical standpoint, the area we shot in was very remote and had extremely limited cell and internet reception, which made certain practical matters difficult. That said, we had an amazing community of local farmers and people in the towns of Kent, Stockton and Pearl City, Illinois. These were people who let us borrow vehicles, condors and countless other items; people who gave us access to their homes, their pets and their families; people who cashed in personal favors in order to make sure we were taken care of. We simply couldn't have made the movie without them, and I'll always be deeply grateful.

Anne: The settling was really important and I spent a year scouting to find the right place, which happened to be three hours from the nearest airport with only gravel roads. It was perfect, but pretty challenging too. And every day was rewarding. I know that sounds cheesy, but it was. When you see that other people care as much as you do about the movie I think that's when you know you have got something extraordinary on your hands. It's the story, but it's also the team that lights that inexplicable spark of magic.

I am about to get technical, but I would love to know about the visual design of the movie and how it was photographed.

Anne: We shot on the Alexa on mostly 18 lenses, which is the widest in the Leica set we had. Cinematographer Wyatt Garfield and I worked very well together and by the second week I was able to trust him completely. We used a lot of stedicam and jib work and used the movement to create reveals and sweeping images, all contributing to the haunting vastness we wanted to capture in the movie. Bret and I also worked closely on color choices in the film; every color has an intention behind it, and every character has a color that no one else has. Like the green on the walls in the house show the dark magic of the slio creeping in. There's a lot of stuff like that in the movie if you look for it.

What are you both looking forward to the most about showing your movie here in Austin?

Kishori: Having Austin audiences discover our two young acting leads Peyton Kennedy and teenage actor Gavin MacIntosh in particular; they do incredible work in the movie. SXSW is better than most fests at identifying and respecting the tastes of younger crowds, so I hope audiences discover and love them as much as we do.

Anne: Austin is where I got my start in film, working on THE TREE OF LIFE as an intern. It's sort of like coming full circle, seeing my first movie play here. Also, I can't wait to visit the Salt Lick!

If you could show your movie in any theater outside of Austin, where would you screen it and why?

Kishori: This movie takes place against the rural farming crisis of the 1980s, and also showcases the beauty of that part of the country really well. The midwest is often overlooked as a market for independent movies, so I really hope to get this movie in front of Midwestern audiences as much as possible, in theaters in particular.

What would you say to someone who was talking or texting through a movie?

Anne: Technology and communication are great, but if you are addicted to them you can't experience other things in life as fully. Give yourself the gift of experiencing the film you chose to see.

We have a lot of readers on our site looking to make movies. What is the ONE THING you would say to someone who is wanting to get into the filmmaking business as a piece of advice?

Kishori: Your reputation is everything in this business, so strive for kindness even when things go wrong. And find a hard skill that makes you employable outside of just directing/writing/producing!

Anne: Making a movie isn't for the faint of heart, so you have to have a thick skin and believe in your vision even when no one else does. There will be dark times, but do your best to surround yourself with good people who understand, love and support you. Never, never, never give up!

And finally, what is the greatest movie you have ever seen?

Kishori: There's this really terrific, and under-seen movie called NONO THE ZIGZAG KID that I saw at the Toronto Film Festival in 2012. It's an incredibly joyful and beautifully designed movie from a director named Vincent Bal. I slipped into the screening room by accident, which made the viewing experience that much more surprising and special.

Anne: My favorite indie movie is probably Brazil. It's so creative and beautiful and at the same time so dark.

Be sure to follow the progress of AMERICAN FABLE by visiting!

We hope you enjoyed this SxSW filmmaker interview in our interview series for our site. To see the entire series click on the Live Report sidebar on your right. We will have interviews posted all throughout the festival so be sure to visit us often for more coverage!

This is one of the many films screening at the 2016 SXSW in Austin, Texas taking place March 11-19. For more information on this film screening times, point your browser to or use the SxSW GO App for Android and iOS.

Jason Whyte,
Twitter: @jasonwhyte / Facebook: jasonwhyte / Instagram: jason.whyte

link directly to this feature at
originally posted: 03/06/16 07:15:04
last updated: 03/06/16 07:32:35
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