Short Film Corner 2022
Costa Karalis & Jack Owen
A Colourful Red
May 24, 2022
Accepting a job for a high-profile client, an amateur photographer travels to Indonesia and becomes part of a plot affecting hundreds in the freelance industry.
Hello Costa & Jack, it’s great to get to talk with you, how have you been keeping after everything that’s been happening?
Costa: Hey! Thanks for talking with us. Things have been alright. Certainly been a strange few years but for the most part, we’ve been well!
Jack: Hello, I have been doing well.
Have you been able to remain positive and creative at least?
C: Absolutely. Getting work done and channeling the emotions and energy into meaningful creative projects has really helped me to stay positive and focused.
J: It was really tough at first, but with time and reflection I think I was able to make the best of the experience . I had the pleasure of shooting a number of quarantine shorts and watched a lot of great films.
What does it mean for you to be in the Cannes Short Film Corner with A Colourful Red and what do you hope to take away from this experience?
C: It’s a huge honour for us to have the film play at the Cannes Short Film Corner, especially alongside other fantastic shorts from all around the world. It’s going to be great to have the short play in front of an audience at Cannes. We’re excited to hear what audiences think. I’m also thrilled to meet the other short filmmakers at the fest and compare stories and learn about their pieces.
J: It’s really exciting to be a small part of such a legendary festival. I am hoping to attend a lot of screenings and meet some fellow filmmakers.
How vital are platforms like Cannes SFC in championing and supporting the short film format?
C: I’ve always been a fan of the short film format. I think that it’s a distinct form of art within the world of filmmaking and it’s so important that it be given a spotlight. The Cannes SFC is a really special place to gather together some of the best voices in short filmmaking and give them a platform to be heard on a global stage.
J: Extremely vital, I think short films are a great place to experiment new and unique ideas for filmmakers of all skill levels.
Can you tell me how A Colourful Red came about, what inspired you to want to make this Documentary?
C: Jack and I have worked together on narrative pieces before and after this doc but 'A Colourful Red' was our first documentary together. It sort of snuck up on us, in a really good way. I stumbled onto an article that outlined the story of the scam we covered in the doc. Basically, young and hopeful freelance creatives were getting conned into working for fake Hollywood producers on projects that didn’t exist. Jack and I are both freelance creatives and hearing this story sort of broke our hearts and fascinated us. We talked a lot about how well-thought-out the con was and how terrible it was that it played off of creative people’s ambitions. From there, we reached out to all the parties involved and decided to point our lens in the direction of the story.
Once you started filming A Colourful Red did you give yourself much flexibility with how the documentary was unfolding?
C: We knew that we wanted to include some stories from the victims of the scam and also the perspective of a reporter, who could frame the short’s final act in a more ‘investigative’ light and answer some of the looming questions the viewers might have. We interviewed so many people that couldn’t make the final cut. That was the toughest part. We would film dozens of hours of interview footage knowing that it would end up being a film that was around thirteen minutes long. The whole time we were talking about how hard it would be to cut it all down but we made a point to keep rolling on as many people who would speak with us regardless.
J: Yes a lot. We were really fluid and didn’t know very much about this scam at the beginning of shooting. As we investigated we found more details and it really inspired how we structured the narrative.
What was the experience like co-writing & co-directing this film together, how important is the collaborative nature of filmmaking when working on a project like this?
C: It’s almost impossible to make a film alone. Besides, some of the most fun to be had within the world of independent filmmaking is taking on meaningful projects with people you trust and can laugh with at the end of a hard day. As I had mentioned, Jack and I had worked together prior to 'A Colourful Red' and we had already begun to establish a sort of short-hand with one another. It was great to both have a similar idea of what the movie needed to be at the end of the day. Making certain we were on the same page about the end product informed every other decision along the way. I think that is the most important part of the collaborative process. Luckily, it’s one that comes naturally to us.
J: Costa and I have worked together for a little over 3 years now on a number of narrative shorts. I think that work history really helped us learn how to communicate ideas and build a really synergetic environment in both the field and the editing suite that this project really benefited from.
What was the biggest challenge you faced making A Colourful Red and what would you say has been the most valuable lesson you have take from this experience?
C: We drove across the country for this film. That was a huge undertaking but also just so much fun. At the time we were both based in Florida and a good deal of our interviewees were in L.A. Jack and I packed up his car with all the gear and took to the road. We also had a few in-person and virtual interviews to pick up along the way to L.A. so scheduling it all out and making sure we were in the right city at the right time was tough but fun.
J: We had to cut out several hours of additional interviews with several subjects after realizing it didn’t benefit the structure of this piece and didn’t explore any additional details of this scam.
Have you always had a passion for filmmaking?
C: Always. When I was a kid, I’d shoot just the worst films ever in my backyard with my friends on an old camcorder. It was so much fun though and that’s where the passion was born. I haven’t looked back since.
"I love taking everyday life and adding just enough of the surreal into it to make audiences step away from a piece with a newfound appreciation for the little details present in their own lives." Costa
How different was your approach to A Colourful Red compared to your earlier films?
C: As I mentioned, A Colourful Red was our first doc together and our approach to making films had to shift pretty early on within the development of the project. We’ve always been fans of the documentary format but we doubled down on watching every piece of documentary media we could find at that time. We wanted to dissect what worked in those films and what didn’t quite land for us. Ultimately, we realized that we have a newfound responsibility as documentary directors to not only present a compelling and emotionally valid story, but one that also made a point to stay true to the subjects it was presenting.
Is there any advice or tips you can now offer anyone thinking about making their first short film?
C: Don’t give up and make bold choices.
J: Shoot a short film as soon as possible with whatever you have and always remember to reflect on how you can make your next project better than the last.
Are there any other themes or film genre’s you are looking forward to exploring with future films?
C: We just wrapped up a short absurdist piece about anxiety, paranoia, and teeth. It’s called ‘Chipped’. I’ve found that the majority of my narrative work leans towards the absurd. I love taking everyday life and adding just enough of the surreal into it to make audiences step away from a piece with a newfound appreciation for the little details present in their own lives. I think I’m going to be playing around in that genre for a long time to come.
J: I am planning to continue to shoot narrative short films that further explore the experience of spectacle.
And finally, what would you like audiences to take away from A Colourful Red?
C: Be careful when freelancing. Be safe.
J: As we all become more accessible digitally, we must remain vigilant against those who wish to abuse that access.