Thursday, 11 August 2011

Interview: Kenton Bartlett & Jonathan Arturo

Earlier on, we've shared on an independent feature film Missing Pieces by Kenton Bartlett (which you can read about it here if you've missed it previously). It was a piece that felt different from any other with its non-linearity and to be honest, I probably didn't do it enough justice with the prior film article. There's just so much more to analyse beyond what we've covered and a close reading will have to be done in order to study Missing Pieces in detail.

You can attain a well-rounded perspective by checking out other reviews by great film critics here as well.

A close reading will probably be best left to the brilliant minds of film scholars, so with that in mind we thought it will be great to go further by having a conversation with two of Missing Pieces' filmmakers to provide an in-depth angle to the film instead. Hopefully their insights rendered will become the missing pieces to our pondering thoughts.

We're honoured to gain the rare opportunity to speak with two of the prominent filmmakers behind Missing Pieces: Kenton Bartlett (Director, Producer, Writer) and Jonathan Arturo (Cinematographer, Associate Producer)

KB: Kenton Bartlett
JA: Jonathan Arturo

  • Some of us have seen your first feature film "Missing Pieces" that revolves around a kidnapping to foster love between two strangers. Could you share with us on how did this story/idea come about and if it was inspired by perhaps your own personal experience?

    KB: The idea for the script first came out of a set of parameters: a story that includes big outdoor locations, at least four storylines, many characters, many locations, and a marketable thread (i.e. kidnapping). After figuring out the basic premise, the gaps were filled with plot-hole plugs and filtered versions of personal events/dialogue from my life that people might be able to connect with.

    As far as the story about love between strangers, when I wrote it I was single and was trying to give myself a bit of a pep talk and work some things out. I do not however, have any personal experience with kidnapping.

    • We see a lot of elements of nature and less of urban regions during Daylen and Maggie's time together in solace. Did nature mean something to you personally and does it represent something that you'd like to relay to the audience in Missing Pieces? Also, do you think nature helped to foster the romance between them?

      KB: To be honest, the idea for shooting outdoors so frequently comes down to budget. The sun is a great light, and it’s free. The earth has some pretty wonderful set design if you can find it. So, the idea from the beginning was to shoot outside as much as possible and to incorporate cinematic landscapes to add production value.

      I think the main thing that fostered the romance between them was finding someone similar. Often times, it’s hard for lonely people to find other lonely people to connect with. The outdoor locations and cinematics are a little bit of a gimmick to get to people to watch the movie, but the heart of the story is just basic human connection and finding light at the end of the tunnel.

      As far as our world today, I think a lot of people are guilty of isolating themselves inside and on a computer (myself included), and maybe the movie could serve as subconscious encouragement to go outside.

      • How has Missing Pieces defined and/or shaped you as a Director/filmmaker over the 3 years of production?

      KB: It’s really worn me down. It’s also created an opportunity to make every mistake in the book and realize what not to do.

      • Any tips of advice to budding filmmakers who might be viewing your film and be inspired by it?

      KB: Create. Create. Create. Just make stuff. Whatever resources you have at your disposal at the moment, use them and create. Don’t come up with excuses about money or equipment. You can make something today, and you better do it. Don’t try to be successful. Make something you’re proud of, and success won’t matter. Also, watch a lot of movies, listen to commentaries, read filmmaking magazines, and watch behind the scenes. Don’t be intimidated. “Directors” are just people creating stuff… like you.

      • Lastly, we know you're planning an upcoming feature film titled "When It's Cold, I'll Keep You Warm". Can you share more with us about it at this moment?

      KB: When It’s Cold has been a bit of a therapeutic output for the lows of making Missing Pieces. We’re ready to start casting When It’s Cold and get it rolling, but we can’t do anything until we find financing. It would be great to have Missing Pieces out in the world and start working creatively again, but getting Missing Pieces into the world is proving quite challenging… So is financing. A few months ago we had financing in place for When It’s Cold, but the money was fraudulent, so we are back to the daunting task of finding money again. Only this time, we are slightly more discouraged. That’s part of it though. Most aspects of filmmaking don’t work out, but the trick is to keep on trucking.

      • We've seen your brilliant photography in Missing Pieces as the cinematographer, it was amazing. Tell us more about your visual style adopted in this film and if there are DPs whom you are inspired by.

      JA: I love to capture images that are present naturally. Its exhilarating to discover existing beauty whether it be in a room lit with a single shaft of light streaming through a window or a mountain range at sunset. For Missing Pieces I basically tried to make the shots look as natural as possible. Exteriors were shot with the unfiltered sunlight and the aid of reflectors, while interior lighting schemes were always motivated by practical lighting fixtures. For the style of the film and anything I work on in general I draw inspiration from Roger Deakins, Robert Yeoman, and Emanuel Lobiestski just to mention a prominent few.

      • Is this your first time making films as a Director of Photography? Also if you could share with us some of the notable difficulties you faced during production.

      JA: It’s my first feature film, and it was also my first time working with a Red camera. The biggest difficulty was the ultra small crew size. On most occasions we only had 3 crew members which included myself. So DJ, Kenton and I had to do pretty much everything. Sometimes we received help from local film enthusiasts which made the day a little easier. It was also a treat on the few days when we had a steadicam or crane operator.

      Also while I wouldn’t call it a difficulty we had the constraint of a small and fairly industrial lighting kit. Kinoflo was gracious enough to lend us a few lights for a majority of our shoot, but the rest of our lighting was done with predominantly china balls and fixtures from home depot.

      • We learnt that you've shot Missing Pieces on a RED ONE camera. Any comments on that camera system and if you'd recommend it to budding filmmakers with budget constraints as compared to say, HD video DSLRs?

      JA: It’s a really nice camera in my opinion. I know there are many different opinions on the Reds imaging quality and how it compares to film and its effect on the film making process. But I like it and would use it again. DSLRs are great too, especially for filmmakers with small budgets or if you need to “sneak” a shot. And when it comes down to it, a camera is a storytelling tool so your results will predominelty depend on how well you use it.

      • Any tips of advice to budding cinematographers who might be viewing this film and be inspired by it?

      JA: Shoot! And then watch movies and try to figure out how they achieved the lighting that you like. Watch behind the scenes features, read American Cinematographer, get on sets and watch how other people light, and visit Roger Deakins! And always stay curious.

      • Lastly, we're not sure if you'll be reuniting with Kenton for his next feature film. So can you share more with us on your next project at this moment?

      JA: We’re working on finding funding for “When it Cold” on which we’ll be working on together again. I can’t wait!

      That concludes our conversation with the two filmmakers behind Missing Pieces and we hope you'll like it. For those who've seen Missing Pieces, we hope their input above has enhanced a better understanding of the film. Likewise for aspiring/budding filmmakers, they've also provided invaluable tips of advice that you should really highlight in note.

      Visit Missing Pieces official site and Facebook page for more details and be sure to check out its trailer on Youtube here as well!


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