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Moment Invitational | How This Was Shot | Jakub Blank

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| Jakub Blank
July 13, 2018
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We launched a film festival dedicated to the mobile creative, “The Moment Invitational”. 11 filmmakers made heartfelt, visually juicy short films with their phones. They each proved you can create incredible work with the devices we use everyday. We got to sit down with each filmmaker to learn just how they did it!

Jakub Blank’s cinematic body of work holds a compelling, loveable grit similar to old school experimental films found in your grandfather’s basement. “Harmony of Silence” delivers an exquisite story told with thrilling, dark visuals and a surprise ending. Audiences were left with a sunken stomach at the edge of their seats; it takes a special splice of horror to move us in such an authentic way.

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The phone has limited low light capabilities, how did you combat and/or embrace that when shooting your film?

Yes, the phone was giving us some troubles especially cause I decided to shoot all of it at night without any lights that were not practical. We lit up part of the living room with “moon” light to give it that blue glow and just shot everything as properly exposed as we could - but I also love the grainy vibe in videos so we just embraced that when getting it colored, I told my colorist to just go for it and make it super grainy, going for that 16mm simulation.

How did you go about capturing the suspense theme? What do you think made your film so scary?

My whole film was built like a hill that you climb or a slide that you go down haha whatever you want to feel. I was hoping to build an experience that doesn’t release until the end, something strange happening on the screen, something that is off putting until the screen goes black and you’re left with that old man’s face stuck in your eyes. I think the film wasn’t as scary as I wanted it too but it definitely kept you at the edge of your seat and that’s something I enjoy while making little shorts.

How do you combat negative stigmas against horror/suspenseful films as being taken seriously?

I don’t, I think we shouldn’t take anything too seriously especially horror films…

Where did you go about finding your talent/props etc…? Where did you find the actor who played the the villain?

So the talent search is always the hardest it seems, especially shooting this film in Charlotte, North Carolina without a very great pool of actors its tough finding the right people and/or even getting to know them before the shoot. For this film my producer reached out to some talent agencies and we had a few people in mind so they made videos with their parts and that was that. Props are usually found in Salvation Army… . As for the villain, his name is Skip and Skip has been a part of a few projects before this one, but he actually just appeared one time for a music video shoot I was helping on. The producer posted a craigslist ad for an old man that can dance, and Skip called, so now he’s the go to old man.

As you have put it, you like making “weird” films. What draws you to that over making a traditional “non weird” film?

I guess I don’t realize that something is weird when I make it so I just make it and then people tell me it’s weird, so I guess my brain is messed up… haha. I try to listen to my mind and heart, that kinda sounds really dumb but I think the only way to create is to do it from within, even if it’s terrible or whatever, that has to be what draws me to the non-traditional ways, just something inside that has to come out, not sure what that is yet.

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What’s harder? Getting started or being able to keep going?

Being able to keep going is hard and painful, I feel like looking ahead just gets me super overwhelmed that’s why I just try to put my head down and keep moving.  

When you feel creatively drained, what do you do? How do you stay fresh?

When I feel creatively drained I uninstall instagram from my phone and limit my ability to look at others and what they are doing, I feel like that kills me, looking around and feeling like everyone is just sprinting right past you… I try to remember that it’s the long game.

How would you define your style? What makes your stand out?

I’m trying to figure that out right now… I think I would call myself a maximalist rather than a minimalist, like the idea that more is more not less is more hahah.

“Harmony of Silence” is compiled of unique, fresh focal points and range of motion. How did filming on a smartphone help or hurt you vision for this story?

Using the phone was real fun, trying to find unique perspectives, seeing things little differently was much easier with the phone. The size and the ability to mount the camera basically anywhere was amazing, I especially loved the BeastGrip cage - it allowed us to control the position and gave us solid mounting points on the iPhone.

How has filmling on your smartphone impacted your work for Moment’s Invitational? Do you expect to more of people’s use of  accessible technologies, like phones, in this industry?

I think the biggest thing for me coming out of the invitational is the lack of excuses, the idea that I don’t have a good enough camera is just gone and I am just left with my ambition and drive to make things. Phones are definitely going to be used more and more, the quality is getting better and and clients want things faster so people will have to use what they have and everyone has a phone…

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Director’s Notes:

DIRECTOR/EDITOR: Jakub Blank

PRODUCER: Kaley Blank

DP: Andrew Bradford

1ST AC: Elizabeth Coggins

SOUND: Christian Stropko

GAFFER / KEY GRIP: Anthony Alvarez

GRIP: Dylan Hahn

MAKEUP/HAIR: Mary Taylor

COLOR: Jacob McKee

SCORE: Zane Callister

BTS VIDEO: Evan Norris

BTS PHOTO: Colin Cassidy

 

TALENT

DAD: Michael Scott Thomas

MOM: Chloe Zeltounian

BABYSITTER: Bethany Pryor

VAGRANT: Skip Simpson

BABY: Asher Mattingly


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