In oder to provide a platform where Canadians can learn more about our independent film makers, we’ve started a series called “10 Questions”. We’re reaching out to MIFF Alumni to give us their thoughts about Canadian film, the film making process and everything in between…
Our first is Sevé Schelenz, Director/Writer of Skew and runner up in last year’s festival. He’s been kind enough to kick off our series and give us some of his thoughts.
1. What is your favourite movie and why?
Wow, too much pressure. How can you have that “one” favorite movie? Impossible. By the time you say what it is, you instantly come up with another. So, I’ll give you five of my favorites. Jaws, Back to the Future, Star Wars – A New Hope, Terminator, and…and… Raiders of the Lost Ark. For me it’s all about story and characters. All these films have either amazing characters, thought provoking stories, or both. I think another criteria for judging your favorite movie is if you’d watch it again. And I don’t mean just once more, but again and again in years to come. I wouldn’t hesitate to watch any of these films again a year or even 20 years from now. They are instant classics and will definitely stand the test of time.
2. What drives you as a filmmaker?
I absolutely love working in film. I think it is really hard for creative people to live in a world where we need to go to work 5 days a week, 9 to 5, to pay our rent and do all the other mundane things – especially if that work is non-creative. For me, writing a film script is one of the hardest things to do. Yet that is what makes it one of the most rewarding things to do. I absolutely love creating a world that follows my rules and bringing characters in and out of it. Ultimately, I want to reach out to an audience and entertain them. I also need to write. I have so many stories and ideas I want to get down on paper that I would die disappointed if I didn’t. I think the biggest tragedy for any creative person is not trying. To be on your deathbed and say to yourself, “Well at least I tried” and even possibly failing is more rewarding than not trying. I have a message on my phone whenever I turn it on. It says, “Never give up.” I pass these three simple and most powerful words along to your creative readers out there. I urge them to live and die by this rule.
3. Who is your greatest influence and why?
I would imagine my greatest influence, as a filmmaker would have to be Steven Spielberg. In the top five films I noted above, he alone had a large part in three of them. Not only has he written, directed, and produced some of the most successful films of all time (both creatively and financially) but he’s had an impact on so many other filmmakers over at least the last thirty-five plus years. You would be hard pressed to find one director today who has not learned from Spielburg’s work in the film world. I would be really stoked to meet him one day and I hope to have a chance to work with him in some capacity.
4. What actor would you most like to work with and why?
Man, these questions are killing me. How can you pick just one actor! So many names instantly come to mind. Old school actors like DeNiro, Pacino, and Hackman would definitely make the top of that list. In their prime they were incredible forces to work with. Along this same line of amazing talent I would also include Gary Oldman, Liam Neeson, and Jeff Bridges. Now let’s not forget the amazing actresses out there as well – Meryl Streep, Cate Blanchett, and Judi Dench. I am also a huge fan of some of the lesser-known yet amazing character actors such as Bruce Greenwood, David Morse, and Angela Bassett. Okay, so that’s about twelve actors so far. Can I have them all in my Hollywood film? Although, even one of these actors would be amazing to work with, the reality is that I would want the perfect actor to fit the role that was written. It would be more important to me to have an actor that fits the character that I envisioned. Now having said all that, my true dream of working with someone in Hollywood wouldn’t necessarily be a well-known actor, but a director. I would kill at the chance to work with some of the greats and just be on set to discover how they put their …