|Gay Wellington filmmaker Chaz Harris’ short film Broken Glass is a modern day fairy tale, about an abused boy whose life changes forever when he encounters a mysterious creature in the woods. He tells us more about the short and why he is giving half its proceeds to charity. You can rent or buy the film online through Vimeo here
What inspired Broken Glass? In June 2011, I went to see the J.J. Abrams film "Super 8" and on the way back from seeing it, I decided I wanted to try my hand at fantasy and make a short film that truly best represented the kinds of films I grew up wanting to make. We ended up premiering the film with "Super 8" thanks to Paramount seeing the film and giving us permission. After writing the first draft, I realised I had created a character isolated by bullying both at school and at home - that caused me to start researching domestic abuse and an article a few weeks later stated that NZ has one of the highest rates of domestic abuse in the developed world. That told me that the problem wasn't just a minority issue, and became the drive behind getting this film made.
What do you hope people take from it? I hope it's a story that people can learn or gain some awareness from. I don't believe in trying to educate an audience, but if you try to entertain them and hope they learn something in the process then that's all anyone can ask.
How did you manage to fund it? And who pitched in with time and skills? We had a combination of our own money invested, some crowdfunding using PledgeMe, some cash sponsorship from coffee brand Mojo and some private investing individuals. A lot of other companies helped out with equipment such as Rubber Monkey allowing us to use the RED Epic camera which was also used to shoot "The Hobbit" trilogy and many more listed on the credits.
You’re giving half of what it makes to domestic violence charity Shine? Yes, short films rarely make any of their money back anyway but we held a premiere and said that anything left over from ticket sales would go to charity. We also thought it made sense for a significant amount of the on demand sales to go to charity as well - because we didn't just get Shine on board as a gimmick, they endorsed the film at script stage and we truly believe in helping to try and make a difference, even if it's in a small way.
If donating some money to charity and getting an entertaining short out of it at the same time helps in some way to encourage that, then great. Shine also offer support to those in the LGBT community where other organisations may turn them away or not be available to them, so that was also something I appreciated.
Tell me about making it available for people to rent/watch online, that’s really cool! Vimeo On Demand now offer a service to sell your work online direct to the audience. We had been receiving outstanding feedback and reviews from people about it, and yet festivals kept turning us down. I was beginning to hate my own movie and think I was one of those completely oblivious filmmakers who thought their film was really strong and everyone was secretly thinking it sucked.
We did get encouraging feedback from one festival though, they said the film was too commercial and had a Spielberg-esque vibe. They may have seen that as a criticism, but I don't have a problem with that. I have a heavy Spielberg influence about my style and we were aiming to capture some of the same magical vibe his films, which I grew up on, had. The story is totally different, but I wanted it to make people feel that way about a film again and a lot of the feedback we have had seems to have confirmed we achieved that aim. I figured, if it's too commercial for festivals it must be worth selling! haha.
What’s next on the cards for you? I'm currently in the process of trying to raise seed development funding of about $30-$50k to hire a Line Producer to budget and pay a leading international Casting Director to attach some major cast for a Sci-Fi/Horror/Thriller film we've developed called "End of Term" starring one of my leads from "Broken Glass" Rachel Roberts. If we can get the stars on board to finance the picture then we want to get that made in Wellington later in 2014. We've released a teaser trailer online for it earlier this year: https://vimeo.com/70273734
Other than that, promoting "Broken Glass" and hoping I don't go bankrupt by giving half the proceeds to charity! haha! Jacqui Stanford - 10th December 2013