Please tell us about your background. What made you fall in love with cinema? How did you become interested in filmmaking and what did you work on before making Kakure Baba?
I fell in love with cinema at a very young age. My father really loves western movies and I mean really loves them. Ever since I was a little boy, I would sit and watch old Clint Eastwood movies like Fistful Dollars and Unforgiven with my dad. That truly started my love for cinema. The funny thing is, I never really understood Western movies until one day, when I was maybe 12 or 13, I asked my dad, “why do you only watch Western movies all the time?” His answer was quite surprising. He told me “It’s the innocence of them. One, when there is a shooting, most times there’s no blood. Second, you feel every emotion in a Western, sadness, triumph, revenge, spitefulness and courage. Three, they are some of the best stories you can come up with.” What he told me not only enlightened me to see Westerns in a different light, but it also allowed me to see and most importantly understand the human emotion in cinema. I felt more compelled and more aware of these things watching tv shows and movies going forward. Thanks Dad.
Before working on Kakure Baba, I was mostly working on documentary, commercial and music videos. I felt that learning these different styles would prepare me for narrative cinema work.
Which filmmakers influenced you and your filmmaking? Which films, especially horror films, have affected you the most?
My inspirations vary so much, I’m a massive fan of Hirokazu Koreeda and the way that he makes simplicity speak volumes. His craftsmanship of such films as Nobody Knows, Like Father Like Son and Shoplifters taught me that you can do so much with little. As far as horror goes, Ari Aster’s work in Hereditary really opened my eyes to great cinematic storytelling in a horror film which is far and few in my opinion. Of course you have great horror films like Mother which is an unpopular opinion but I thought it was pretty phenomenal and then you have revolutionary black horror films that Jordan Peele has made that has inspired me to try my hand as a black filmmaker in this particular lane.
What are the themes/issues you try to reflect in your films? What, in your opinion, is the most important quality of a horror film?
The theme I try most to reflect in my films is that the characters are relatable to the viewers that watch them. An impactful character to me is one that 10 out of a 100 people who see them can say to themselves “yea, I know exactly how this person feels”. I do not wish to have unrelatable characters that are so far out of reach from the normal person that it may seem as some kind of fantasy of a lifestyle or mindset. That may be ok for some people and that is totally fine, but I do not wish for that to be in my films. The most important quality of a horror film is to have a “touch of humanity”. Shock factor and jump scares aren’t everything and to me, it’s kind of played out. A psychological thriller that makes you think over and over again to me, is the real scare.
Please tell us about the production and your experiences of making Kakure Baba. What are some of the challenges and difficulties you faced?
There were quite a few challenges that we faced while filming Kakure Baba. One being, getting a solid crew and team to formulate a solid plan on a small budget and in a very short amount of time. From pre-production to shoot day we only had a few weeks to prepare EVERYTHING.
This was incredibly stressful but I was able to gather an amazing team of grungy and hungry filmmakers who knew how to act fast and get things done on short notice. We shot the entire film in one day and were able to not only keep the actors energized (shout out to the little four year old girl who was an absolute rockstar on set all day) but also capture most of the dynamic images that we set out to capture.
The most difficult situation for me shooting this film was that I had to direct the entire film via FaceTime as I had caught COVID literally two days before shoot. This goes back to having an amazing crew and pre-production. My AD Earl Williams knew exactly what I wanted and what I expected on set and was able to take the charge as I could only be present on a small 6 inch screen. It was heartbreaking for me that I couldn’t be there but we made it work the best way we could.
What are the advantages and disadvantages of independent filmmaking and working with small budgets? Does it liberate the filmmaker or limit his or her freedom?
I believe the advantages for working independently and with small budgets is that you can really let your creativity flow. These are the situations where you have to really think outside the box, build connections that you never thought you could and put pieces of a puzzle together in the most precise manner.
Another thing is, it holds you completely accountable. If the movie is shit, that is on you, you can’t blame the producers, the casting directors, no one. If you aren’t telling a good story, then you’re just not telling a good story. Independent filmmaking MAKES you a better filmmaker. The disadvantages are the same as the advantages, you have to work twice as hard to make things happen, you HAVE to tell a good story instead of relying on amazing set design or big budget sound stages. You don’t have a gang of producers who can help solve your problems. It’s all on you.
In my opinion, independent filmmaking is liberating to a certain extent but it crafts you and prepares you for the big budget sets.
Tell us about your festival run. Have film festivals provided you with the experience and exposure you needed?
The festival run has been phenomenal. As this is my first film, I wasn’t expecting as much love or selections that I have gotten. I was so grateful that people actually liked the film we created and it has encouraged me and inspired me to continue on this path. I honestly am not thinking about the exposure it has given me, I’m more pleased with the inspiration that it has given me to continue to make films.
What was the reaction of those who watched your film? Was the feedback what you hoped for?
I have received positive feedback! A lot of people loved the characters especially the Baba and the way that the characters' human issues were relatable to those in the real world.
Please tell us about your future project(s). What are you working on?
I have three short films that I am currently working on. Two psychological thrillers and one action film that we just finished shooting and have now started the editing process. One film I’m very excited about in particular is Appleseed. I do hope that this film touches people in the way that it has touched me while writing it. I hope that I can do it justice.