TELLING A STORY VISUALLY COMES EASILY TO ME, AND I CAN INCLUDE THE TINY DETAILS BY SIMPLY CHOOSING A PIECE OF SET DRESSING OR COSTUME?
3rd Papaya Rocks Film Festival Online | 22-28 Feb 2021
One special Sunday, a young boy learns the secret of Grandpa’s special paper airplanes. And a little bit about life, too.
Hi Zack thank you for talking to TNC, how are you holding up during these very strange times?
Thanks for having me! I’m holding up about as well as anyone can expect. Being in a small NYC apartment for 9 months definitely has its challenges, but I’m fortunate in that my family is healthy.
Has this time offered you any creative inspiration?
Well, I didn’t write 6 feature film scripts, but that’s not to say I didn’t accomplish anything. I repainted my bedroom! Being away from sets for an absurd amount of time, I was able to have more conversations with other filmmakers and people I respect, as well as having the time finally watch some films that have been on my list for too long.
Congratulations on having Paper Dreams selected for the 3rd Papaya Rocks Film Festival, what does it mean to you to be part of such an amazing lineup of short films?
I’m looking forward to seeing the stories my colleagues are telling in their films, and there is something to be said for being able to watch them from home!
Can you tell me a little bit about Paper Dreams, how did this film come about?
Funnily enough, this wasn’t ever supposed to be a film. I filmed the content as part of one of my other films called “The Last Flicker,” which is about some filmmakers who unintentionally start a film festival. This was just supposed to be one of the films that was submitted films in the movie! But while figured out the shots to show, a story came to life, and I figured if nothing else it would be a nice collection of clips to have of my dad and nephew spending time together.
What where the biggest challenges you faced bringing your film to life?
Well, I was working with 2 non-actors with no crew or any of my usual gear. (My dad and nephew were actually great, I just have to give them a hard time.) I had just gotten a new camera and only had one lens, so there was a bit of a learning curve with that, too. I had to make do with practical fixtures, sunlight, and a very old tripod.
Looking back is there anything you would have done differently on this film?
I’m actually really happy with how it came out. A little more light in one scene, or not having to cheat a shot would have been nice, but I think it holds up nicely. And it seems you do, too!
Where did your passion for filmmaking come from?
I started off as an actor and always enjoyed telling stories. Not like telling stories at a party—I'm terrible at that. But being part of telling a story, and eventually I learned that I could do that behind the camera as well. Telling a story visually comes easily to me, and I can include the tiny details by simply choosing a piece of set dressing or costume. I’ve also found that my acting background helps me translate the techno-babble of a shot into a clear direction for my actors.
What has been some of the best advice you’ve been given?
That’s a tough one. Other than encouragement to not take no for an answer, one thing pops up in my mind. My uncle/godfather has a way of looking at mistakes--particularly costly ones--as “tuition;” as long as you come away having learned something and possibly improved, it was simply an investment in your own education.
"While it’s not my style to try to make my audience uncomfortable, it’s wonderful to leave an audience thinking."
Should filmmakers continue to push the boundaries of the films and stories they want to tell?
Of course. While it’s not my style to try to make my audience uncomfortable, it’s wonderful to leave an audience thinking. Challenging yourself as a filmmaker or audience member is a great way to grow.
Do you have any tips or advice you would offer a fellow filmmaker?
Always have more batteries and memory cards than you think you need!
And finally, what do you hope people will take away from your film?
I hope people walk away from the film with a smile, even better if it reminds them of their youth and times spent with loved ones.