The 12th Annual deadCenter Film Festival boasts a list of short film programs that each explore little slices of life audiences are usually afraid to talk about: loneliness, aging, and disappointment. Director Amir Motlagh captured a glimpse of all of these experiences through the eyes of the sole character in his narrative short "35 Year Old Man." The film is about a guy named Greg whose birthday just passed and, as the synopsis explains, "Yesterday, he bought a toaster and cleaned the fridge."
I recently discussed this short with Motlagh and not only learned how he is able to keep making films in a fickle distribution landscape but also why the deadCenter Film Festival continues to be among the 20 Coolest Film Festivals.
The animated elements seem to evoke the notion of Greg's life passing by quicker than he thought it would. Were they meant to depict a greater meaning, such as aging faster when our lives lack passion or purpose, or is the animation merely a reflection of the main character's discontent with how his life turned out?
That sequence is definitely open to interpretation. It certainly tries to evoke the passing of time, but it's also there to show a lack of control when true despair shows itself. The cartoonish elements contrast the starkness of the situation our character finds himself in. Life for Greg has been a comedy of errors, but he probably cannot sense anything but dread, since he is stuck deep in its elusive pattern.
Have you attended deadCenter Film Festival prior to making "35 Year Old Man"?
No, this will be my first time if I attend. The plan is to go, but work might keep me from it.
Why did you submit this short film to the deadCenter Film Festival?
The strength of a good friend's recommendation. I have heard nothing but great things about deadCenter and their treatment of filmmakers and the films they host.
When comparing feature length films to shorts, which types of films do you enjoy making most?
I enjoy the process the most, so the distinction between a short and feature doesn't really exist once you are absorbed in the process. Of course, the feature is a more ambitious and satisfying undertaking overall. I would like to be doing a feature a year, but it's a difficult proposition. Hopefully, with my next film, that becomes a reality.
Filmmaking is an expensive path for many writers and directors producing films independently of Hollywood. Seeking a return or breaking even on a film is a common goal among many filmmakers. Yet, your films are often available for online viewing. How have you managed to make a living while also being able to continue to make more films?
I've had great support along the way, but the direction I'm heading is different then the one I've paved. I guess you find a way to make it work for you, if that's what you really want to do. At this point, since my company owns most of my works, I can put them online. I was tied into some distribution deals over the years, but most expired in the last couple years, and I'd rather have the work accessible to those who find interest in them.
I also don't have any desire in getting tied up with the past. I'm certain most of the new work I'm in development on [is] not going to have the same model of distribution, since the new undertakings have a vastly different scope and objective. However, for shorter, more personal projects, I cannot think of anything better than the access the Web provides.
"35 Year Old Man," written and directed by Amir Motlagh, is screening in the deadCenter Film Festival's "Rated 'R' for Ridiculously Awesome Shorts" program on Saturday, June 9, 2012, at 7:30 p.m. and Sunday, June 10, at 8:15 p.m. Both screenings are being held at the IAO Gallery in Oklahoma City, Oklahoma.
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