Lonely Wolf International
Film Festival 2022
Battle of Gaman steps between worlds. As reality and virtual reality begin to bleed into one another, our hero is left wondering if their morals will travel with them into this strange new place.
Hello Auryn, it’s great to get to talk with you, how have you been keeping after everything that’s been happening?
I live in Melbourne, Australia and we hold the record for most lockdown city in the world. But the strict policy has also had its benefits. We didn’t suffer a large number of casualties and I also believe the vast majority of us bonded as a community through this shared experience.
How have you managed to stay positive and busy?
Well, I am most positive when I am busy, so keeping busy hasn’t been an issue with the amount of work getting an indie film out into the world has involved.
Congratulations on your nomination at this years Lonely Wolf for Battle of Gaman, what does it mean to you to be at the festival with this project?
Thank you, I am honoured to be part of the Lonely Wolf community. When you embark on the festival route as an independent filmmaker, it can feel a bit like being a drift on the open sea. You live for those occasional signs of hope, in the form of judging status update / mass standardised notifications. Adrian Perez festival director of Lonely Wolf opened the comms up to a two-way dialogue, and truly did the legwork to build a community of lonely wolves.
How important are festivals like Lonely Wolf in championing and supporting indie filmmakers?
Festivals like Lonely Wolf shift the festival industry back to a place centred around the culture of filmmaking, instead of just the economics of it. That is not to say that it’s not a player on the global scale, it simple has its core values in the right order.
You have had an amazing festival run with Battle of Gaman, has it surprised you to get such an amazing response?
To be honest, I wasn’t sure what to expect from festivals, as my film doesn’t really fit into a festival category. Too artsy for short film, not abstract enough for arthouse, wrong type of violence for horror, and a solo student film without the schools financial or resource backing. Experimental seems to be where it’s found its home but even then, it’s not a perfect fit.
Can you tell me how Battle of Gaman came about, what was the inspiration behind this film?
Battle of Gaman is a short film based off a VR experience that mirrors a tortured mind. It becomes a social commentary on what you’d be prepared to do to stop being in pain. Battle of Gaman came about as an exercise in inspiring empathy.
What is the message you wanted to convey with Battle of Gaman and do you think you have achieved this?
Ultimately, the message behind Battle of Gaman is whether we are aware of them of not, we all have our own healing rituals to get through our own shit. Open your mind and it will lead to a sympathetic heart. Antidotally, people have told me after watching the film they felt seen and shared with me their own journeys towards healing – that has been the biggest achievement of this film to date.
Once you create your storyboards and begin production on your animation how close to you like to keep to your screenplay, do you give yourself much flexibility?
As a fantasy world, I was totally flexible and open to the possibilities unearthed in the editing process. The scenes are more like contained artworks, and as such, could evolve with other components of the story as it developed. Definitely not an approach I’d take with visuals based within reality.
What was the most challenging part of making Battle of Gaman?
Apart from waiting to film scenes during any COVID-19 lockdown restrictions lifts. The most challenging thing about making Battle of Gaman was learning to use After Effects, as a lot of the elements were shot on green screen and needed to be composited in many layers. This by far took the most amount of time, was the most frustrating, and inspired the most near ‘throw in the towel’ moments.
How different was your approach to making Battle of Gaman compared to you previous projects?
Battle of Gaman was a lot more personal than previous projects. I also had to take on many more roles than I usually do. So, as Producer/Director/Writer/Editor/Actor I really struggled with wanting to bounce ideas off team members, but only having myself to think things through most of the time.
Have you aways had a passion for filmmaking?
I’ve always had a passion for art, but it wasn’t until I was in my final year of high school that I found film. Since then, I haven’t stopped making films. That was twenty years ago.
Has you background as a Creative Producer-Director helped to inform the way you approach your filmmaking?
As a Creative Producer-Director I have worked for agencies and companies creating video content for clients for decades. There are certainly practices and skills that I take from that experience. However, making films for yourself is a different kind of investment than the business side of production. Well, it is for me anyway. You have more creative input, less money, and the weight of your own expectations to keep in check.
What was the most valuable lesson you have taken away from making Battle of Gaman?
Indie filmmaking runs off the economy of favours. Yes, I also paid cast/crew award rates, but the above and beyond required to get films like this over the line are paid for in hard earned favours. I cashed in years of favours to get Battle of Gaman finished. The lesson reiterated from this project is about filmmaker community. We help each other out to get each other’s passion projects made. Participate, lean a hand, get involved it all comes back around.
"You can be the director and still value what the assistants bring to the team. In saying that, productions operate under a hierarchy for a reason - do the work and earn your place on set."
Do you have any tips or advice you would offer anyone looking to get into filmmaking?
Leave the ego to Hollywood divas. Approach every opportunity with an open mind. Take on every role you ever work with respect for your fellow crew. It is a team sport. You can be the director and still value what the assistants bring to the team. In saying that, productions operate under a hierarchy for a reason - do the work and earn your place on set. Then you’re much more likely to be invited back.
And finally, what would you like audiences to take away from Battle of Gaman?
We are all fighting our own battles, often out of sight. Be kind to one another.