Short films are haikus at Vail Film Festival
April 1, 2009
VAIL, Colorado “-Producer/director Joey Boukadakis’ newest short film, “Dinner With Raphael,” is screening at the Vail Film Festival Friday in Vail, Colorado. So far the reaction to the film has been good, he said.
“Hopefully we don’t peak too early, but being at the Vail Film Festival right out of the gates is definitely a major thrill for us. Now if I can only get one of the hosts of ‘The View’ to publicly condemn the film, I will know we have truly made it,” he said.
1. Vail Daily: This is the second short that you’ve produced, written and directed. What did you learn from last time that you applied to the process? How was it easier, and what was just as hard?
Joey Boukadakis: The two shorts I’ve made couldn’t be more different from a production perspective. My first short film, “Rushers,” shot for seven grueling, exhausting, pain-staking days on 35mm film in over 20 different locations. It demanded a massive crew, tons of equipment, hundreds of actors and extras, and required me to all but sell my kidney and a significant portion of my lower intestine to get it made. “Dinner With Raphael,” on the other hand, we shot digitally, in one location, featured a small number of actors, and finished all in one day (not including rehearsal time or art decoration or time spent begging Richard Riehle to be in the movie). But regardless of the scope of any project, it’s always a challenge to bring the script to life in the most compelling, lively, and unique manner possible. That and also not to seriously maim and/or kill anyone in the process.
2. VD: You’ve worked on both shorts with your brother, Paul, and both films are about brothers. What’s the process like working together, and how does your relationship inform the projects?
JB: I’ve been a fan of my brother ever since we bought him on blue-light special at K-mart so many years ago. While growing up together in refugee camps throughout Oklahoma, he and I became very close through robbing stagecoaches and hunting buffalo. Paul’s a really funny person — a subtle, great actor, and not too bad on the eyes either (at least that’s what the women seen leaving his room every morning tell me) so it’s a total pleasure to have him involved with these projects. Plus, my parents told me they wouldn’t help finance them unless I included Paul in some way. I’m just kidding. Not really, though.
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3. VD: Why didn’t you cast yourself as your brother’s brother this time, but stayed behind the camera instead?
JB: While I’ve always enjoyed acting, I consider myself first and foremost to be a writer/director. I knew for “Dinner With Raphael” I wanted to focus on directing a great ensemble of actors and really dedicate my energies on making the situation and relationships pop on screen. Additionally, the Raphael character needed to be played by an actor with a more “distinctive physical frame”… in other words, I was just too ridiculously good looking for the part.
4. VD: As a writer and director, what do you get to do in making shorts that you wouldn’t be able to with features? What do you get to learn or experiment with?
JB: A studio may let you make a comedy about two mid-20s brothers who, in order to capture the fleeting glory of their youth, pretend to be college freshman to go through fraternity rush and get a bunch of free beer and girls … but probably not. A studio will definitely not ever let you make a feature about a guy with a sociopath brother who thinks he is a Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtle. So the fun of making shorts is that you get to tell stories which may be a bit more unorthodox and eccentric for mainstream audiences, but which still attract a niche of people who really enjoy them. Whereas features films are the novels of filmmaking, short films get to be the haikus.
5. VD: How did your background working on music videos as a writer help lead to directing? And how did it help you in writing screenplays?
JB: The main thing I’ve learned as a music video director is how to write for a budget. When you submit a music video treatment to a music label, you’re expected to be able to produce exactly what you say you can for the predetermined budget they’ve provided. While my imagination may tell me to include a legion of flying unicorns that shoot laser beams out of their eyes in a video, the budget may tell me to reign in the extravagances and maybe just go with a single flying unicorn that shoots laser beams out of its eyes. Or maybe the unicorn is blind in one eye, therefore only requires a single laser beam? This is called creative budget management.
6. VD: You’ve worked with Nickelodeon and for video and commercial production companies. What’s different about working on your own shorts, versus working on those types of projects?
JB: This is a good question as I’m sure many artists struggle with the work they do for others (to pay the rent, bills, their bookie), versus the work they do for themselves (the reason we get up in the morning, aside from letting the dog out). It’s a joy when these two notions fuse together, but more often than not, they don’t. So, when I’m working on a project for someone else, I try to do the best I can, while also keeping in mind that I will ultimately have to answer to whoever is paying. … Plus I’m essentially getting paid to do what I love so I shouldn’t be acting like some high strung primadonna about the film noir lighting I was trying to achieve for a Taco Bell commercial.
The short film “Dinner With Raphael” will screen Friday at 2:30 p.m. at Cascade Theater in Vail. Visit http://www.vailfilmfestival.org for more information.