As part of a new series titled “Film Feature”, 15 Minutes Max spoke to students who submitted videos to the 2017 competition. The following interview is with Sam Grant, a student at Skidmore College in Saratoga Springs, New York.
We hope you enjoy reading this as much as we did talking to her about her film, Operation Suckerpunch.
So, you go to Skidmore… What are you majoring in?
My major is Theatre. We’re a pretty small school so we unfortunately don’t have a film major yet. Hopefully it’s in the works, fingers crossed! We do have a great film and media studies minor, though.
This was the product of a film class? How did your professor structure the course?
The class was independently run, so the teacher wasn’t like “Alright, this is a camera…” It was much more, “Here’s a camera and go.” From conception to presentation I’d say this project took about four months, with a pretty lengthy workshopping process.
Did you write the script?
Of the 3 of us [in my group], I was the writer/ director. We then had a sound designer and a cinematographer. The writers would get together and write independently, come back and workshop, break up and come back together. In the end each group ended up with their own individual scripts!
What in particular inspired the films style of humor?
As far as the writing goes, I’m a sitcom junkie! Skidmore has a lot of great improvisation and sketch groups. Sarah, the girl who played Casey, is in a sketch group and is really great at getting a group of people together and saying “Alright, have fun, generate some ideas.” She was actually the one who told me to then use that little bit of improvisation to inspire something on the page. So yeah, improv. definitely played a role in that.
I also like watching shows that don’t have a laugh track or don’t rely on background music to make a point. Shows like The Office, Parks and Recreation, Girls and Thirty Rock have those dead moments in between without relying on a recorded audience, or anything else to emphasize their point.
If you had to pick your favorite movies/directors, what would your top choices be?
I love Almost Famous, that’s one of my favorites. Anything Kristen Wiig is in, too. She does a lot of great indie movies. I like a lot of period pieces. Those old-timey movies like Mildred Pierce or China Town. I think those are always good to watch on a rainy day. I lean more towards comedies than dramas.
Who are your favorite comedians at the moment?
I think John Mulaney is awesome! I also think Hasan Minhaj and Ali Wong are killing it.
Anything else you’d like to share?
This was a great chance to move into class environment where I feel a lot of us were coming at this with the approach of “Oh, I’m interested in movies! I make things in my spare time,” but none of us had done something this collaborative before. This was a really great chance to not only work with a team of three, but to work with a whole crew. Within the class, whenever we were not acting as our designated role [director, cinematographer, etc.], we would then support the other groups that were busy making their own films as their film operator or their location scout. We would really fill in the blanks wherever was necessary, and that sort of “all hands on deck” attitude was just really helpful and really infectious. When it came down to it, it was an awesome lesson and I think we’re all ready to jump back in at some point down the line.
But wait, there’s more! Sam explains the films cinematic inspiration and how improvisation played a role in her script writing.
Listen to the interview here.
To watch Operation Suckerpunch, visit https://goo.gl/2yR6zY.
Sam used a Canon EOS 5D Mark IV to film, and Final Cut to edit.