«The Astronot» — Best Feature Film
Interview with Pennan Brae (screenwriter, producer) and Tim Cash (director)
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 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.