We bid farewell to the month of September, and this can only mean that we have a September winner, this time from the United States. The film is Velvet Farewell, the director is Micheal Eastman, and he was kind enough to have a short chat with us.
JL: Congratulations on the four awards, Michael! How has Velvet Farewell been doing in the awards department, until now?
Micheal: Thank you! It was amazing to learn that the film was so well received at your festival. To be honest, I did not expect it to do as well as it has. So far, it has won awards in every filmmaking category and has been accepted to double-digit festivals. Overall, it has been an exhilarating and humbling experience to have a film do so well on the film circuit.
JL: How did you come up with the idea for the film?
Micheal: I was looking at a post on a forum about a man who wanted to remember his recently deceased wife by learning how to make a lemon pie recipe that she was famous for. I thought, “what if instead, someone tried to bake something to try and forget?” Two days of self brainstorming and a day of writing later and the first draft of the script was complete.
JL: We loved the pacing, and the constant feeling that something was amiss. What’s the secret of successfully implementing a quality plot twist?
Micheal: Thank you for saying that! I wasn’t sure how the pace or twist would be received but so far audiences have been responding very well to it. I wanted to make sure the twists in this film were multi-layered and I think that’s why it has worked out the way it has. I wanted to have the first twist layer be accessible for the audience from the beginning. All options are immediately on the table and the relentless thriller atmosphere prevents almost anyone from thinking about the first layer too deeply. Eventually, all of the first layer options are disproven in some way and the deeper “WTF” moment becomes that much more powerful and shocking when it is revealed.
JL: Did you initially write multiple endings, or was this ‘the one’ from the very start?
Micheal: This was the ending from the start. The first draft of the script is pretty much what you see on the screen aside from a few corrections here and there. I wanted a haunting, ambiguous ending for the characters that would make people talk about the film after the credits rolled.
JL: How long did the shooting take, given the single location?
Micheal: Shooting took two days at the house and one day for the outdoors shots. We only had 5 people on set (including the actors) so I’m sure almost everyone wanted to kill me at some point with how exhausting filming turned out to be. I think overall, the tense filming 2. atmosphere helped immensely with the final product and turned out to be a blessing in disguise.
JL: What would you say is the most important thing you’ve learned while making Velvet Farewell?
Micheal: The most important thing I learned while shooting this film is to make sure and schedule enough people to work on the shoot! Everyone on set wore different hats and worked extremely hard to make sure the film was a good as it could potentially be. I am always looking to learn from my mistakes there were quite a few to improve upon if I am lucky enough to make another film.
JL: We were impressed by a wide array of things, but one of the highlights certainly was Maggie Bearmon Pistner’s performance! Have you worked with her before?
Micheal: Funnily enough, it was the main actor Sasha who I had worked with before and who was the one who recommended Maggie to me. After her audition I was sure of two things: #1 was that she was perfect for the role and #2 was that Sasha knew the script and story as well as anyone. The film would not be what it is without his amazing suggestions and contributions. I am very happy that you asked this question because Maggie’s performance is one of the things I am most proud of about this film. Jordan Valentine is the first main female character that I have ever written and I wanted to make sure she was as fierce and cunning as possible. I sent a few directing notes to Maggie before we shot the film and she took them and brought the character to a whole new level. I think the final character that you see is a combination of Maggie’s and my ideas that was fortunate enough to work out.
JL: Have you done any work for Velvet Farewell during the corona lockdown?
Micheal: Velvet Farewell’s post production was actually completed almost simultaneously with Minnesota going into lockdown so I was able to focus on entering it into as many festivals as possible. During the lockdown I have been mostly focused on finishing a feature length script that I am excited and confident about. Right now it is almost finished and I am excited to reveal it to everyone.
JL: Have you written any new scripts during the pandemic? Or are you further into a new project?
Micheal: The feature length script I am working on is called ‘Long Since Lost’ and it will be a psychological drama/dark comedy. At the moment, I am working on getting a portfolio ready to pitch it to any investors that will listen! Hopefully with enough perseverance and luck, I will be able to make the film up to its full potential.
JL: Thanks for the pleasant chat, Micheal! Take good care, and come back to us when you have something new to show!
Micheal: Thank you so much for having me! I wanted to thank your festival for receiving my film so warmly. Also, I wanted to thank Andrei C. Serban for his stunning review. To know nothing about me or my art and to produce a review that not only understands the film completely, but also puts certain feelings and emotions about it into words is incredibly impressive. I think when all is said and done, his review will be the definitive one for the film! I can’t thank him and your festival enough for it.