On February 13th 2014, a group of young and eager filmmakers gathered to showcase the fruit of their 24-hour film challenge. It was not so fruitful. However, amidst the relatively Mickey Mouse submissions were a few gems, most notably Futurity Lost by Alexander Mann and Maikol Pinto. In just 24 hours, Mann and Pinto managed to create a cerebral short with clear Noir influences, and very passable CGI. Along with a well-constructed premise of a man surviving the apocalypse, it was quite the accomplishment.
Recently I sat down to talk with these young filmmakers, to discuss what makes them tick, their love of film and their plans for the future.
Ariel Fisher: Futurity Lost was, hands down, my favourite of the entire competition. However, you didn’t take home any awards. Were you worried that the film might go over some people’s heads? And is there anything you would change?
Alexander Mann: Well, […] there’s a certain level that everyone’s expecting.
Maikol Pinto: The only reason why it could have gone over their heads is because there wasn’t enough of it. There was a lot of empty space, and it was subtle. Even in terms of audio, there was a lot of empty space.
AM: And there are a lot of things we would change. Even as soon as we submitted it, we knew there were a lot of things we wanted to change. We […] just didn’t have time.
MP: With regards to whether or not the film was overlooked, I guess when it came to it, the reward in and of itself was just getting the film on the screen. That’s all I cared about. Realistically I knew I was never going to win any awards, period, in any festival.
AF: Why do you say that?
MP: I wouldn’t say it’s because of lack of confidence over what my team […] or what I would make. It’s the worst end of it. It’s like a lack of confidence in the audience.
AM: It’s more of these thinkers rather than … it’s not a Michael Bay production. “Whoa shiny shiny! Explosions everywhere!” I was watching the Maltese Falcon recently, and I guarantee a lot of people my age wouldn’t be able to watch that film. It’s very slow. It takes a certain patience to be able to go through it and follow it, and see those subtle things.
MP: I guess it also goes back to there being no point. I can never make comedies. I guess because I […] hate comedies. I don’t know why. I won’t be opposed to trying something new and funny with my friends. But if I have to be serious with myself, and expressing myself, I’m going to go with something totally out there and weird. And because of that, I knew that those kinds of films always get overlooked, no matter what. They get forgotten at the beginning, and then maybe twenty years later there’s a resurgence. Happened with Blade Runner…
AF: Was that the movie that made you want to be a filmmaker?
MP: No. Well, not necessarily, because I already wanted to be a filmmaker at that point. I was 18 when I saw it. But it was the one movie that showed me what kind of films I want to make. Before then, I was debating if I wanted to make action movies? Do I want to be Michael Bay? Do I want to be Tarantino? Spielberg? I didn’t know who I wanted to be. Then I saw that movie, and knew that was who I needed to be.
AF: So what was the first movie that made you want to be a filmmaker? And what was the first movie that made you love film?
MP: The one movie that I’d say made me fall in love with movies … it’s one of two, because one I don’t have much recollection of, but I know it happened. […] I was so young. That was Metropolis. I would watch that movie as a 4- or 5-year-old on tape all day. I don’t even know why, I just liked it. I would watch it non-stop. The other one that I do really remember watching was Batman (Tim Burton’s). I would complain to my parents when Batman wasn’t on screen, I wouldn’t want to leave the theatre.
I guess my earliest memory […] of watching a film that made me want to make film… I don’t know if it’s the direct catalyst or the only catalyst, but it was a big catalyst. [W]hen I was 5 or 6 years old, my Dad made a short film. I just remember that I knew what he was doing, that he was making movies, and putting it together. It’s only now, in more recent years that I got really into filmmaking, that I appreciated what he did then. He made a short film with my mom. Kind of like a one character thing. They did it in a populated area. They travelled to Italy, so my dad wanted to intercut some footage of my mom in Venice with some footage here. And I guess that’s one of my earliest memories that I have of feeling like “I want to do this, too!”
AF: Are your parents filmmakers, or was that as a hobby?
MP: My dad will kind of do it on the side, but they’re not primarily filmmakers.
AM: And for you, Alex, same question. So what’s the first film that made you love movies? First film that made you want to be a filmmaker? And also the first film that made you want to be a composer?
AM: That is definitely Nightmare Before Christmas that made me fall in love with film. I used to watch that all the time as a kid. I loved the music […] and the animation. It was really cool when I went to MoMA in New York, and I saw the Tim Burton exhibit. In terms of composing, I think it was Koyaanisqatsi that really got me into it with Phil Glass. I’m a really big Phil Glass fan.
AF: And the first film that made you want to be a filmmaker?
AM: There are a few. Pi was one of them. Memento was one of them, as well. Also … it happens again and again. I mean, I saw There Will be Blood recently and it completely revitalized it. I’m a huge P. T. Anderson fan. I think he’s one of the best in the industry right now. And, again, I just love that he started using Jonny Greenwood, the guitarist from Radiohead, who did the soundtrack for The Master and There Will be Blood. It has to do with music, […] and my interests, too. When I was younger, I was more into acoustic music, whereas now I’m fully submerged in the electronic realm. It’s just endless.
That’s why I got into film originally. When I was younger, I was primarily a visual artist. I did a lot of painting, drawing, and then I got into music later on. Also, I really liked photography. So this is just the platform that you can use all of those skills. […] Futurity Lost was about a 50/50 mix. My girlfriend […] says I’m trying to be a Renaissance man, or something. She keeps asking me why I don’t just pick a focus. I mean I’m learning animation right now, and Java, HTML 5 and all that stuff.
[…] I’m pushing this guy (Maikol) all the time to make more films because I want to score them. I find the best way to do it is to work on little shorts. I’m starting to work on some music videos, and I’m putting together a live show soon.
AF: So what’s the end goal? Is this a career path for both of you?
MP: That’s the endgame for me, yeah. […] It’s the only choice. I really want to go all the way with filmmaking. I remember I would tell my friends at work about it, and they would look at me like “isn’t that really hard? Aren’t you going to be poor? Will you ever make it?” I never worry about that. I’ll make films, and if I’m good enough people will pay me for it. Otherwise, I’ll figure it out.
AM: At this point, I’d be happy making a living with my music either way. I know that a lot of composers make a lot of money doing video game scores now.
MP: Hanz Zimmer’s done some stuff for Call of Duty …
AM: That’s the one industry that hasn’t really taken a hit financially, which is why so many composers have gone there. Ideally I’d just like to make money doing something with music. I mean, if it’s scoring films, I’d love doing video games, I’d do TV, jingles, whatever. I don’t care how it comes, as long as I can do music and not have to worry about anything else.
MP: I guess that counts for both of us. So long as you’re doing what you want to do that’s all that matters. I make jokes about it with my friends about being a poor artist. Early on I would tell myself “If I could make a movie, how would I make it?” My parents would encourage me to develop my own style. [They’d tell me] don’t worry about how good it is or how bad it is. Figure out your style. It’s not about if you have the most expensive camera or the biggest teams. All those years growing up I focused on style. Now, not that I’m a master by any means, but I feel very confident that I can tell a story in an interesting way. That’s what sells a movie. Well, it could sell a certain movie.
You can find Maikol Pinto on Twitter, and at his website, as well as Alexander Mann on Twitter, and his website. You can also take a look at the website for another project of theirs, Memoria, which was submitted in competition at CineCoup. Mann is currently working on a performance series that will showcase his musical compositions with Pinto’s cinematic style as a companion piece. Dates have yet to be set, but will be published as soon as the series is made official.