First off is "My Left Hand Man" directed by Antonia Bogdanovich who is an avid reader of this blog and whose film has made some major strides at numerous film festivals across the country. We had a chance to watch the film and then had an amicable exchange with Antonia which I will remit to the best of my ability.
For the uninitiated (I believe there may be many, but soon there won't be), the film deals with Samuel, a young man, whose Shakespeare fanatic/alcoholic father forces him to recite Shakespeare in the streets while his older brother Beckett pickpockets. However, Samuel dreams of being freed from this life. Everything goes awry for Samuel and his family when Sam's father neglects to pay off some people he owes money to. This escalates in a Shakespearean climax if there ever was one. I'll let you use your imagination to figure out that one.
The film has been a pretty big success at the festival circuit where it has been/will be screened at the : Memphis International Film and Music Fest, West Chester FF (nominated for Best Female Filmmaker), Bootleg Film Festival, and Madrid International Film Festival (several nominations for the film). It recently won the New Jersey Film Festival for Short film.
According to Antonia, there are already plans to expand the film into a feature (which is certainly what I felt was the next step after watching the film) and a first draft has already been written. For obvious reasons, we won't go much into details about what the plans for the feature are, but it certainly makes for a film to keep an eye on when it is made and released.
Here is our conversation (SPOILER ALERT):
Reel Salazars: What drew you to this story? When did you start writing it? Particularly the Shakespearean aspect not only of the theme but of the way the story climaxes in a very Shakespearean manner. Was Shakespeare always integrated into the screenplay? Do you have an individual fascination with the Bard?
Antonia Bogdanovich: I wanted to write about siblings. I have 2 sisters and a brother. But I really wanted to dive deep into a story about brothers. The complexities of brotherhoods has always fascinated me - they can often be quite different than sisterhoods. So I really wanted to tell a story about brothers. I came up with a basic idea in early 2011. The youngest brother was always a Shakespearean street performer - but the Shakespearean climax was a natural progression as I further developed the concepts and as each draft progressed. I honestly wasn't thinking of any Shakespeare play when I wrote the ending. I felt that everyone needed to die for Samuel to truly be free from his oppressive life. I had a draft where the brother lived but than I really felt like Beckett (the older brother who dies) needed to be the tragic hero.
I do have an individual fascination with the Bard, but really I have read so many plays and seen so much theatre and film in my life that I think certain concepts resonate in my unconscious mind and they come to the surface for a purpose. My mother was dying when I wrote this and I think that I was trying to work some of my own issues out. I think that's what we do as artists, but I didn't really realize what I was doing until long after production has been complete.
Reel Salazars: I have noted that you have had a strong career in theater and that this is your first directorial endeavor in film. Why have you decided to take on film directing? What were the challenges of directing this film? What did you enjoy the most about directing the film?
Antonia Bogdanovich: I have directed a few plays. But I would rather say that I've been exposed to a lot of theatre. I probably saw my first play when I was five - I was completely taken by the experience. But I really have a strong background in film. I worked from age 18-29 on various films and in development. In order to be completely committed to directing film, I needed to get over any doubts I might have in regards to having a famous father who was also a film director. It needed to be organic and something that I felt I was personally really passionate about. I was able to discover my love for directing through directing theatre, so yes film directing came out of my experience in the theatre, but in order to step into the film medium - I really needed to be ready. Also, after many years of being a writer, I decided that I was the best person to put my own visions on the screen. So it really was a combination of things that made me realize I really wanted to be a film director.
The two things I most enjoyed about directing was working with the actors (I adore actors and I was also an actress so I understand them) and deciding where the camera should go and how I could tell a story visually. I feel like the camera is a "4th actor" so to speak like the "4th wall". And there is just so much you can convey with visually. I think it helped that I watched alot of silent movies as a child - I spent hours watching Buster Keaton and Charlie Chaplin - so I must have retained alot of that experience and brought it with me onto the set. Also, as a writer I visualize everything before I write it. So the scene actually plays out in my head before I write it.
The biggest challenge for me on this particular project was time - we didn't have enough time to get all the shots we needed, but the finished film turned out great. But on set I was concerned that we hadn't had time to get all we needed. But my editor is a genius so we were able to make it work quite well.
Reel Salazars: Are there any other projects that you are currently engaged in?
Antonia Bogdanovich: I have chosen to push a very special project as my feature directorial debut. It is a WW II film centering around a group of criminals who team up with the Polish Underground. I would say it's "Ocean's 11" meets "The Pianist". My parents, Peter Bogdanovich and Polly Platt wrote the screenplay for Roger Corman in 1968. Recently, my father completed a polish on the script - but it really didn't need much work. It is an amazing script, right up my alley, and I literally found it in my house in a drawer, collecting dust. When I read the cover page with both my parents names on it I nearly fell over. I read it almost immediately and was riveted from start to finish. It would be a dream come true if I was given the chance to make this film.
For more information on the film visit http://station8films.com/.