How did you get inspired to become a filmmaker?
From an early age, I always enjoyed telling stories. It was a way to get attention, to be dramatic, or to bring meaning to otherwise mundane moments. This expanded into making home movies, mostly comedic in nature, with family and friends. In High School I created a film club with my best friend, and we went on to make a very terrible film that played on public broadcast. We thought it was amazing. My experiences with friends inspired me to continue in the field of film. We had so much fun. Additionally, my parents played a big role in encouraging my interest in film. As immigrants (one from Belgium and one from Cuba) their stories make me want to keep their history and heritage alive. I’ve always been drawn to documentaries in large part because of this, documenting human history and interesting characters. Not just for the preservation of heritage, but also in the ability for stories to inspire us to grow individually or to understand others.
What is your favorite part about the short film form?
Short films allow for exploration and experimentation because they typically require smaller budgets and less time. Short filmmaking helps you hone skills without breaking the bank. Telling a clear, strong story in short form is a challenge and helps build those necessary skills for longer formats.
Who were the people that supported the making of this film?
Death Loves Life , a short animated film we recently created, was made with support from my co-director/partner/wife and our company, Coat of Arms. All the amazing artists involved were also incredibly supportive and helpful. Art Director, Henrique Lira played a huge roll in shaping the look and story of our film. Ricardo Nilsson was a key collaborator both for honing our story as well as making sure all the animation was well done. Shawn Wilson, our sound designer also got involved very early in the process to help us. Rachel Yonda, Elaine & Kerrin Sheldon, Marius Kirsten, among many many others were extremely supportive. You can see a very detailed making-of blog here if you’re at all interested: http://www.coatofarmspost.com/animating-a-short-film-giving-death-life/
What resources do you use as a filmmaker? Music, locations, props, editing, crew, etc.
With an animated film, our resources were mostly software oriented. We used many Adobe products, including illustrator, photoshop, after effects and premiere. As well as ProTools for audio & music.
What is your next project?
We’re trying to raise funds for a live-action short titled, Good Intentions. And we are also in the middle of post-production on a feature-length documentary titled, Born in a Ballroom. These are our passion projects at the moment. We also are always working on various commercial and corporate videos for our business Coat of Arms Post Production.
The independent film business is a difficult one. What keeps you motivated? Where do you see the industry going in the future?
We love what we do. It’s not easy, but having the ability to be artistic, tell stories, and experiment technically keeps us motivated. It also helps that it’s a very family oriented endeavor for my wife and I as business partners and collaborators. We love working with each other, and finding ways to have fun. I think there’s a convergence of technologies right now that makes storytelling very interesting. 360 filmmaking, VR, interactive, experiential, among others. There are so many ways to immerse people in stories. I could see VR taking off in the near future, it’s really incredible when well done. But nothing will ever replace a strong story in narrative, sequential form I don’t think. Regardless of the methods used.
Which filmmakers, artists or individuals have most influenced your work?
Recently we’ve been very inspired by Ava DuVernay not just with her work, but all she’s doing for the filmmaking community. Producing great content, developing fellow artists. J. A. Bayona has been really inspiring as well. The Orphanage knocked our socks off, and we really loved his work on Penny Dreadful. We’re always inspired by anything these filmmakers do: David Fincher, Spike Jonze, Spike Lee, The Coen Brothers, Terry Gilliam, among many others. It also helps to have artists we work with who inspire us. From designers, to animators, to journalists, to directors. We feel very lucky to be surrounded by so many amazing people.
What advice would you give new filmmakers?
There’s so much that can be said really. But here are a few simple things to live by: 1. Be kind, to everyone: from the top to the bottom. One day a PA will be a Director or even your boss. And it’s just cool to be a good person. Nobody likes hiring assholes. 2. Don’t be afraid of anything: trying a cut, experimenting, or failing. It’s a difficult, scary thing to make art for the public, but even the most amazing performers often still get stage fright. You don’t have to conquer fear, you need to use it as a motivator. 3. Say yes to everything until it’s time to say no. Then say no to everything you don’t want to do. Early on, it’s great to gain experience, try new things, meet new clients and collaborators, and to put yourself out there. But after a short period of time, it’s important to find balance between the things that will help you grow and taking care of yourself and your family. We cover some of this in a blog we wrote about being a freelancer: http://www.coatofarmspost.com/its-a-freelancers-world-were-just-livin-in-it/
A detailed blog on making our animated short, “Death Loves Life” is available here (also listed above.)
We’d love to spotlight this short, but it isn’t in any Audience Awards categories at the moment (it doesn’t fit any current entry options): Death Loves Life An animated short. We just submitted a pitch video for the pre-production contest going on here. Check it out and give it a vote if you’re so inclined: https://theaudienceawards.com/films/good-intentions-by-zach-litwack-coat-of-arms-86415
Check out Coat of Arms Post Production.
Watch and vote for Good Intentions here.
This pitch is competing in the REELPITCH Challenge, Remember you can vote once a day for the duration of the contest for as many pitches as you deem worthy!
Aug 09, 2016 at 9:00am MDT (America/Denver)
Aug 18, 2016 at 9:00pm MDT (America/Denver)
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