The filmmaking duo behind Deacon’s Mondays, Lowell Frank and Destin Daniel Cretton (featured right).
Student film festivals are often hit AND miss, but every once in awhile you get lucky and see a gem. This year’s 5th annual International Student Film Festival Hollywood, held at the Beverly Garland Holiday Inn, was no exception. If you don’t know who Beverly Garland is, she’s a longtime actress who played a role in one of my very favorite sequels, Christmas Vacation 2: Cousin Eddie’s Island Adventure, a true holiday classic. Apparently unfulfilled as an actress, she decided to operate a Holiday Inn with three of her four children. I like to pronounce her name with a New York accent…Bevahly Gahland. Just try it. Bevahly Gahland once rode a horse through a community gahden. What I’m getting at here is that this was an interesting venue for a film festival, but lets get back on track.
Normally you can tell the quality of a festival based solely upon the refreshments provided. The 5th annual International Student Film Festival Hollywood had a couple bags of baby carrots and a few water pitchers on foldout cafeteria tables. A bit shy of something you might see at Sundance. I didn’t know if these were Trader Joe’s carrots or if they were organic, but there was no dip provided so I didn’t bother. Needless to say my spirits were dampened, but not soaked.
I attended a couple different programs and sustenance aside, the festival was a nice event that gave student filmmakers a chance to have their work seen and critiqued by others. Luckily, the comedy screening provided a genuine treasure of a short, something I wasn’t expecting after slogging through some initial snoozers. The short was titled Deacon’s Monday’s and follows the story of a lonely landscaper who accidentally kills a bird and is overcome with guilt. Through an unconventional friendship with an older woman he comes to terms with his own humanity. This film was funny, whimsical, and heartfelt. Afterwards, I caught up with half of the filmmaking duo behind Deacon’s Mondays, Lowell Frank.
Me: First of all thanks for your time I really enjoyed your film.
Lowell Frank: Thanks.
Me: Have you been taking this film to other festivals? What kind of response has it been getting?
LF: So far Deacon’s has been doing really well for us. Its gotten into about 18 or 20 festivals. We’ve won five awards so far. Audiences really seem to enjoy it. A couple of the awards have been audience choice awards.
Me: I was impressed by the quality of the production. What was the budget on Deacon’s?
LF: The total budget on Deacon’s was about $2,500 which for an 18 minute super sixteen film, considering some of the things we did, is pretty low.
Me: How long will Deacon’s be showing in festivals. What is the typical shelf life of a short film?
LF: Generally a festival run of a short film is about a year to a year and a half. The shelf life is a little different than a feature because it doesn’t have as much marketability. We’re in talks with an internet distributor for it. It will always be a good show piece or a good calling card which we can use indefinitely.
Me: Something that stood out for me was the score and I saw that Greg Laswell (an L.A. based musician) did it…how did you start working with him?
LF: He scored our first short film and we went to the same University and had mutual friends in San Diego. He’s a good friend of ours.
Me: How long was the process from the initial concept to the finished product?
LF: The initial idea to completion took about four years. But it was put on the backburner for two years. We did 6 projects in between the filming of Deacon’s and the final sound mix. One of the six projects was a feature length documentary that HBO picked up and aired as a father’s day special and now has international distribution. So we were really busy with that while we were trying to get Deacon’s done.
Me: What was the title of that?
LF: It’s called Drakmar and its about a 14 year old boy involved in Medieval reenactment which focuses on his in game life and also his home life. Eventually he and his brother are reunited with their estranged biological father.
Me: I really appreciate your time one last question…Can you recommend a film that’s out now in theaters?
LF: I can recommend a film that will be out soon. I had a chance to see The Kite Runner at the Savannah Film festival and I thought it was extremely well done. I have a soft spot for any film that can effectively make me cry. You can check out the trailer for Deacon’s Mondays as well as the aforementioned Drakmar at flagpop.com.