‘LET’S BE FRIENDS’
Shorts: THE EDGE LANDS
SUN NOV 18, 17:00 HACKNEY HOUSE | 9 min | FREE
Be careful who you pick on, you never know what that lonely kid with a stuffed toy may have up his sleeve.
Hey Ryan, thanks for talking to TNC, how is everything going?
Hi, I'm doing well! Thank you for the interview opportunity.
Your short film Let's Be Friends will be screened at Fringe! Queer Film Fest this November, what does it mean for you to be at the festival?
It's really exciting, this is the first film I've directed that's screened internationally, and it's a fun ride.
How important is it for LGBTQ+ films like yours to have a platform like Fringe! Queer Film Fest to be screened?
The ability for artists like me to share their work with like-minded people is invaluable. My short film, Let's Be Friends, has largely found its place in horror/genre festivals, but I think the horror in my film comes from a different place and with a different tone than the usual horror film. Finding a new audience that has a deeper understanding of my perspective has been incredibly rewarding and affirming.
Tell me a little bit about Let's Be Friends how did this film come about?
Let's Be Friends is the second film I directed for my Masters of Fine Arts thesis at the University of Connecticut's Digital Media and Design Program. During my time as a grad student, I founded the UConn Film Club, now UCFilm, a campus-wide organization dedicated to original digital cinema production. I oversaw the production of 7 student films, involving over 50 club members, producing and teaching workshops in filmmaking.
What was the inspiration behind your screenplay?
The root of the idea for Let's Be Friends has been churning in the back of my head after many years of working with children in local education programs and firsthand seeing how boys change emotionally in late middle school. Beadie, a boy’s doll that is corrupted into a monstrous form by a bully, represents a sensitive emotionality that many boys learn to hide when coming of age. I wanted to use an absurd concept, a fantastical world, to make comment on the societal pressure to become a man, and the complex decision to label some childhood emotions and behaviours as dangerous.
What were the biggest challenges you faced making Let's Be Friends?
A big challenge associated with this project was the use of puppetry and practical visual effects. The ratty, sometimes gooey texture and natural movement of Beadie were inspired by The Thing, Pan’s Labyrinth, Little Otik, Alien, and Evil Dead. The design of the puppet was a multi-stage process: from the initial design to fabrication, to detail. Every movement of the puppet and other practical effects were tested on camera before the shoot. Four versions of Beadie were built to achieve the transformation and movement, and extensive rotoscoping was used to remove the rods, wires and hands from each shot.
Have you always had a passion for filmmaking?
I was involved with theatre from a very young age. When I started playing with my dad's video camera when I was in middle school, I was immediately fascinated by the level of detail and control video/film offered to dramatic storytelling.
"Filmmaking is all about creating a community with great communication."
How much has your approach to your films changed since your debut film?
I've written, directed, filmed and edited over 300 films and video shorts since the age of 12, starting out by posting on YouTube under the production name 'GBT Productions'. In the early days, everything was created almost solely by me. Since I began working on shorts at my University, I've adopted a much more collaborative approach to directing- with writer's rooms, group discussions and open editing sessions.
And finally, do you have any advice or tips for any fellow filmmaker?
Filmmaking is all about creating a community with great communication. Everything hinges on that, and it's the piece I see a lot of artists struggle with the most. I'm going to share two important quotes about filmmaking and communication that I think is relevant.
"It's ludicrous to think people work for you: 'a film by...' doesn't exist. Directed by, maybe, but it's a film from a collective, a group of people whom you consult and seek your counsel and advice and vice versa, too."
- Xavier Dolan
"The more you need people to agree with you, the less open you are to what they think, feel, and believe. You cannot share with them because you are trying to change them, and they cannot share with you because you are not listening."
- Gary Zukav