Howdy there, my name is Aldous Davidson and I was fortunate enough to have my film, How to Greet the Dead, be chosen as one of the five finalists for Interpretations 1.0. Looking back, I can honestly say the Interpretations experience had a major impact on my life. Multiple people whom I met for the first time on that film set became some of my closest friends. Future jobs came from the relationships formed on that set. It’s been six years and I still consider How to Greet the Dead to be the most personal film I’ve made to date and the one I’m most proud of. You can check it out here or below if you’d like!
As I recall, when I first heard about contest 1.0, I was excited for multiple reasons. There was certainly the excitement of competition. Everyone in NYC seemed to know about it and so many of my friends and acquaintances were keen on entering. Actors were directing their own submissions and directors were being asked to act. Everyone seemed to be getting in on it and in multiple roles, in front of and behind the camera. The sense of community it brought was evident. It was very cool. Very inspiring. Very competitive. There was also that ‘nervous energy’ excitement that comes from making a film. I had probably not picked up a video camera in over a year prior to this. I was itching and needed a reason. This was perfect. To once again create something of personal cinematic worth; to gather up a cast and crew; to produce and direct a film again. That was exciting!
To my total surprise, my film was chosen as one of Interpretations 1.0‘s five finalists. After getting the email, I marked out big time and celebrated by jumping around my apartment, yelling ‘Yes!’ over and over at the top my lungs. It was a humbling honor. As a filmmaker, you question if your vision and your story and your themes are as up to par on screen as they are in your mind. This was validating. Some of the perks: I got to attend the San Diego Asian American Film Festival, where the ceremony and screenings took place. I shared a stage with Daniel Dae Kim. I cracked jokes with Danny Pudi. I brunched with David Henry Hwang and Iris Yamashita. I carried around a cool trophy all weekend. All this and I didn’t do it alone. Your fellow finalists are there at your table and at the parties too and at brunch and they’re super cool and creative and you’ll still talk to them and meet them for drinks many years later. It was very much a contest worth entering and I look back upon that time with extreme fondness.
If you need anymore convincing, here I’d like to make a short aside as to why Interpretations, in my personal opinion, is the “filmmaker’s” film contest and far superior to the more abusive 24-hour, 48-hour, 72-hour film fest contest. Truth be told, being forced into a crunched time limit is not conducive to good filmmaking and asking me to write, direct, produce, shoot and edit a film in 48 hours is ridiculous. I’m sleeping 15 of those hours just to function as a decent human being! With Interpretations 2.0, you have until June 17th, which is two and a half months from announcement! That’s more prep time than most television shows get. That means the quality of submissions will be higher which makes it that more exciting for the viewer. If I’m gonna watch multiple entries of any film contest, it’s gonna be Interpretations.
My advice as a past finalist would be to spend the next three months writing and re-writing the scenes in which those lines of dialogue play. If I had filmed the first draft of How to Greet The Dead, I would have never been chosen as a finalist. My original draft had my protagonist visiting a nondescript, alien world somewhere in the vast reaches of space. In a later draft, this alien world evolved into “the other side” or “the afterlife”. This location change motivated the story to change and as a result, it became a more interesting, specific and personal film. You never know when that spark of creativity will occur so keep re-reading your script and re-writing your script while you still have the time. Also, make sure those 4 lines of dialogue don’t feel forced. It can be the hardest thing to do but it’s so important. Unnatural placement of dialogue will take the viewer right out of your film.
Good luck and I look forward to watching your film!