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ON SCREEN
Shorts Program 1
Friday, April 4 @ Angelika
Saturday, April 5 @ Angelika

As part of this year’s Shorts Program 1, the films SATELLITE BEACH, DIG and JACK’S NOT SICK ANYMORE each offer up inspiring stories where things nevertheless don’t turn out as planned. Directors Luke Wilson, Toby Halbrooks and Chloe Domont offer insight into their projects below.

In SATELLITE BEACH, Dallas-born actor Luke Wilson plays Warren Flowers, an engineer responsible for overseeing the safe transport of the space shuttle Endeavour from Los Angeles International Airport to its new home at the California Science Center. Co-directing with his brother Andrew, Wilson shot the film during the shuttle’s actual 12-mile journey in October 2012. The half-hour short is equal parts character study, man-on-the-street improv and documentary.

DIFF: Aside from growing up watching shuttle launches on TV, what inspired you to make SATELLITE BEACH?

SATELLITE BEACH

SATELLITE BEACH

LUKE WILSON: I came across an article about the actual guy in charge of moving the Endeavour, and he seemed real over the top, super dedicated. I told my friend Steve Eckleman (also a Dallasite) about the idea and he loved it. After lots of big budget films, we liked the idea of doing something smaller and doing it exactly how we wanted to do it.

DIFF: The film follows Warren (you) as he himself follows the shuttle through the streets of LA, weaving through crowds and yelling instructions at pedestrians and police. How would you describe him?

LW: Warren means business. He is a guy who knows everything about the shuttle. He seems kinda obsessed. My idea was he has a kid’s dedication, like a kid who knows every single Dallas Cowboys stat.

DIFF: But we soon learn there’s something off about him. Warren isn’t what you’d call an honest narrator. How would you say Warren differs from Luke Wilson?

LW: There are probably a lot more similarities than I’d like to admit. Delusional … obsessed. I have a lot of empathy for those kinds of people, passionate and looking for some sort of direction.

DIFF: In the film, parade-sized crowds of people gathered to celebrate the shuttle’s move. A lot of them seemed to recognize you as you filmed, while many did not. How was the experience filming on the streets?

LW:Yeah, a lot of cops did double takes. It was just me in a shirt-sleeved shirt with a tie and a clipboard, acting like I was in charge. I could see people’s faces like ‘God, this guy is unraveling.’ The cameras we were using were really small but high quality, so it was really unobtrusive.

We didn’t have any permits or anything. I kept waiting to get stopped. I would get recognized here or there, but everyone was so focused on the shuttle that I wound up looking like I was actually working on it.

DIFF: How much of the story was decided beforehand and how much was improv?

LW: We had a rough idea about Warren before hitting the street. But part of the fun was not really knowing. I’ve never really worked on something like this. Usually you have a script, shoot it and it’s over. But this was really experimental, guerrilla-type filmmaking.

DIG

DIG

In DIG, a vibrant short by Dallas filmmaker Toby Halbrooks, a young girl named Jenny spends a hot Texan afternoon watching her father dig a hole in their backyard. As neighbors start to gather and someone calls the police, this seemingly-innocent situation turns tense, and Jenny is the only one left to stick up for her father.

DIFF: The shots in DIG are very bright, warm and familiar. Can you talk about the overall look and feel you were going for?

TOBY HALBROOKS: I always wanted the film to be a bit brighter, and more colorful than a lot of what I’ve been seeing lately. We didn’t really have any lights, just used bounce cards and reflectors. Even inside we didn’t light anything. I wanted it to feel natural, but to also embrace the colors and fecundity of the life surrounding my house.

DIFF: At first we see Jenny curious and skeptical about what her dad is up to. But soon she is his only supporter. What makes her believe in her dad when others don’t?

TH: After spending an entire day watching him, she has come to appreciate what he’s doing. Even if she doesn’t understand it. Also, she doesn’t like other people picking on him. Through her eyes, it’s her dad, and it’s none of their business.

DIFF: When was the last time you helped someone dig a hole? Figuratively, of course.

TH: I’m in the middle of doing it now. Even if it’s just emotional support, people desperately need each other to do almost anything.

JACK'S NOT SICK ANYMORE

JACK’S NOT SICK ANYMORE

Winner of Best Narrative Short film at the New Orleans Film Festival, JACK’S NOT SICK ANYMORE is an intense family portrait painted by director Chloe Domont. The beautifully-shot short follows Naomi, the daughter of an ailing man named Jack and his unfaithful well-to-do wife. After her mother shamelessly parades her new lover in front of the family, Naomi takes drastic measures to help Jack reclaim his will to live.

DIFF: In this film, we get a complicated snapshot of Naomi’s life with her parents. After becoming seriously ill, how has Jack turned into a shell of his former self?

CHLOE DOMONT: Jack has been sick for so long that he’s become comfortable in his sickness and therefore afraid of getting better.

DIFF: Actor Richard Riehle (Office Space, Joe Dirt) fits perfectly into the role of Jack, in many cases saying so much with only his eyes. Had you imagined him playing this role or did it fall into place?

CD: Our casting director brought Richard Riehle in for an audition. I cast him based on both his performance and experience. He was very present and brought something new to each take.

DIFF: Is there a blurred line between caring for someone in need, pitying them and dehumanizing them? What allows Naomi to see these boundaries with her father?

CD: Naomi has taken care of father to a point where she now feels has been detrimental to his recovery. She believes that babying him stunted his growth, and so she takes extreme measures to show that his recovery is still possible. Naomi suggests that he is playing the part more than he needs to, and it’s time for him to take responsibility for himself if he wants to keep the family together.

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