Interview

«The Astronot» — Best Feature Film

 

Interview with Pennan Brae (screenwriter, producer) and Tim Cash (director)

Pennan Brae

Pennan Brae is a screenwriter, actor and musician. Based in Vancouver, BC, Pennan’s music has a vintage 1970s tinge employing lush string arrangements, roaming pedal steel guitar and a rich, driving beat. Pennan enjoys the marriage of music and film and has completed 20 music videos of his work, including pieces filmed in Bangkok, Osaka, Los Angeles, Oregon and Hawaii. His 4th release, ‘The Astronot’, features 11 songs that serve as a soundtrack for the accompanying feature film ‘The Astronot’, which Pennan wrote, co-produced, and acted in. The album and film was released in the Spring of 2018.

 

 

 

 

1. You are a musician, but why did you come to the cinema and decide to make the films? 

I had recorded music and then began doing music videos for the songs. It was a whole new creative process to be involved with filming these & it was very exciting and fulfilling. After completing 20 music videos though, I wanted to tell a longer story. That was the reason for moving into film.

2. How did you found the idea? How quickly did you write the script? Is there a biographical motive in the script?

I was doing a photo shoot with photographer Dan Jackson in Vancouver. It was for an album cover. I had an astronaut suit and I was going to be standing beneath a full moon. Dan suggested I hold a rickety, old ladder, implying that this character was someone who longed to fly to the moon but had technical limitations. That was when the concept of ‘The Astronot’ popped into my head. The script took about 4 months to complete with rewrites & editing. I suppose the biographical link is that when I was a kid I was fascinated by NASA picture books of the moon landings from the 1960s. The photography of the Apollo program era was captivating for a young mind & probably an old one, too!

 3. Why did you decide to play the main character yourself? Have you tried to find an actor for this role?

Part of it was budget and part of it was the desire to do so. I wrote the character and so I understood him from the inside-out. I also wanted the challenge and experience of doing it.

4. What are your plans for further promotion of the film? 

I would like to continue to submit The Astronot to film festivals. I had a really good experience at Euro Fest in St. Petersburg and would like to pursue more of that. I also believe in the story and would like to take the screenplay into a bigger scale production.

5. How did you find funding for the film?

My pockets are empty now! The project is self-funded and so I had to be mindful of budget. The good part with self-funding is one has control over the project and independence from corporate interests. The bad part is you are broke by the end of it.  But the good outweighs the bad.

6. You are from Canada, director Tim Cash is from the US. Why did you decide to work together? Is this your first collaborative project? Have you had disputes over about the movie? Do you plan to cooperate further?

Tim and I had completed many music videos together first. I’m a big fan of his work as a filmmaker and his talents in storytelling. I live in Vancouver BC and Tim’s in Bend, Oregon which is about a 9 hour drive. I’ve always loved Oregon; it’s a really beautiful State with a lot of geographical changes so there are plenty of interesting landscapes and backdrops to shoot. During the re-writing process, Tim advised on how to make the film better from his perspective as director. We have a plan for another film which we’d like to shoot next year.

7. What were the main difficulties on the set? Do you see any flaws in the movie now? 

We had a very small crew because we had a limited budget. So we had to work extra hard on set & take on additional roles to get the job done. Sometimes we would act out a scene and then would all contribute in the moving of the lights, sandbags & camera equipment to set up the next angle or scene. So that was extra effort but the sweat involved seemed to make everything more worthwhile. It was our first feature film, so there were plenty of lessons to be learned; it would be great to take that experience into the next project.

8 What will your next film be about? Would you like to try yourself in directing?

Our next film will have a superhero theme. I’m not that handy with a camera so I’ll leave the directing to the experts. Thanks a lot for the opportunity of this interview & the special time we had at the Euro Fest European International Film Festival. We all really appreciate it.

Tim Cash 

Tim Cash is an independent Filmmaker from Bend Oregon. Tim specializes in ultra-low budget films and music videos. Tim has made a name for himself in the industry as a camera op, producer, director and editor. Tim’s previous projects include «Two Wheels, One Planet», «Side Door» and Boom Varietal.

 

 

 

 

 

 

1. What does it mean to be an independent filmmaker in the United States?
I think Independent is a pretty broad term these days. It can be a 2 million dollar film or a 60,000 film like ours. But we have no distribution so that makes us Independent.
How did you become the filmmaker? 
I’m self taught. I had always dreamed of being a filmmaker but it wasnt until my early 20’s that the technology was available to start making films with a camera and laptop.
What do you do for a living? 
I’m a music video and commercial director/cameraman/editor and run my company Far From Earth Films from Bend Oregon
2. How did you choose the actors and why did you decide to play one of the roles? 
Penna Brae was our star from the get-go. The rest was about availabilty and timing. In order to make this film my family had to give alot of time. My wife who plays Sandy was a huge part of the film. We had a 28 day shooting schedule and without her help I dont know what we would have done. Most days there were just 3 people on set: Pennan Brae, myself and Yuvia Storm. She fed us, found locations, followed up with location owners. sent gifts and thankyou cards for the use of locations. Kept the kids happy and focused during filming especially Kiran my son who had a big part. Drove actors to locations.She was a huge help with set dressing and continuity and did all this plus much more and did it all for FREE! As far as why I decided to play the character of Walter we thought I would have  good chemistry with Kiran who is allready my son. It helped me find the character easier especially while trying to think of shots and all ther details on top acting.
3. How was the relationship with the writer and producer Pennan Brae? Do you plan to continue cooperation? 
Pennan and I started our relationship with music videos. I think we shot in the neighborhood of 10-12 together before working on the feature. I love him. During this film we worked together closely to make sure the overall feel of the picture and his character came across as odd and querky along with the scenery make for a film all its own. He allowed me to add a bit of my flare and action to the film and he ofcourse added his great acting abiltiy as well as an amazing soundtrack that really helps move the film quickly from scene to scene. We are currently working on pre-production of Pennan Brae’s latest brainchild SUPER FRANK. this one will be a short film!
4. Tell us more about the shooting process: how did you choose a team? Did professional actors take part in the film?
We didnt have the budget to hire professionals for the film. for most this was there first experience as an actor in a feature film. I was the production side of the crew. mostly gripping for myself as Yuvia and Pennan set up scenes and worked on dialogue..and alot more. When we shot the scenes I was in,  I had a friend Chuck Greenwood take over the camera.
5. How do the people in the US accept this film? Have the critics and industry professionals noticed your film?
Its still very early on the process. We are just starting to hear back from Festivals and we’ve won a few! Still havent gotten to see it on the big screen. if there is a fest near by we will defintily be in attendance.
6. What were the main difficulties on the set?
I would say that we were wearing so many hats. Between Pennan Brae, Myself and Yuvia Storm we were each wearing ten hats. by that I mean we had so many jobs and things to think about. Some days were really tiring. I personally was carrying alot of the gear so that alone was physically tiring then to shoot everyhting you need and then carry the gear meanwhile thinking of shots and feel and flow. Sometimes you miss things you cant get back.
7. Do you see any flaws in the movie now?
Ofcourse! lots! Nothing that was fixable in post-production unfortunately. Sometimes I wish I had slowed down a bit more and been in less of a hurry during filming. then I wouldnt have made the mistakes I made. Sometimes you get so overwelmed by the overall scope of the film it feels like a race to the finish.
8.  What will your next film be about?
Pennan and I are working on Super Frank about a wannabe super-hero and I’m also in pre-production of another feature film called Kingdom of Nothing. A post-apacalyptic kung fu movie set 500 years in the future.