Interview with Davide Carta on working on ‘Hole’

‘Hole’ is a short film by a group of Sydney Film School Graduates. It raised some of its funding through the 2013 IAB pitching competition. SFS blogger Tom Earls sat down with the director Davide Carta to talk a bit about the process of developing the film.

T: Hi Davide, great to see you. Are you ready?
D: Yeah, of course, just hurry up.

T: Alright then, where did ‘Hole’ come from?
D: Well the short version of it was I was really trying to find a simple concept for a film and I really like the idea of a guy just doing an action and having the audience trying to figure out exactly why he’s doing it.

I ended up with a guy who just starts digging a hole for no particular reason whatsoever, and a community of people around him are taken by it.

T: Was there a natural progression in your head about how it would go?
D: Yeah, in terms of his character and where he would go. I quickly realized that I couldn’t just have him digging for no particular reason. There had to be something to instigate it. We tried to do, or say a lot of different things and I think most of that is still in the film to some extent.

T: You got a lot of support from a lot of people, both on Pozible and at the IAB pitch. Why do you think that is?
D: I think the support that came from Pozible was really based on the fact that we had a really fantastic crew assembled, and we pitched it mainly to family and friends. Because of the SFS community, which is already a very close community of people, I think we managed to tap into a group that wanted to support a film.
T: But there are lots of films that are crewed almost entirely by SFS grads. Why did people get behind this one?
D: Not to sound too over-zealous. But I think the crew that was assembled was extremely strong. So that’s one thing.

I (also) think the trailer that we shot did a lot – even though it was very simple –to show people what could be done on a very small budget with high production value. We presented an idea in a very slick and new way that was different to most of the projects that you see on any crowd-funding sites. It wasn’t someone talking to camera trying to pitch you their story.

IMG_1026 (1)
The crew on location in Hay, NSW

T: What did you do to improve that, besides the trailer? Was there a lot of work in getting it out there?
D: Yeah, definitely. Getting the idea out there, working with (the Producers) Adam (Grubner) and Clem (Oldfield) who began to contact a bunch of industry advisors. We did a bunch of talks for Pozible as well which got us a bit of a kick. We managed to reach out to some private investors as well, which was good.

Then the IAB pitch came along as well, so I think once we won that we got a bit more recognition and it got a bit more of a name as a project that was on the up and up. People were willing to see the success of the pitch and say ‘okay, well they’ve got five, let’s see how much more they can get.’

T: The trailer was very simple and evocative, and it stuck to your original idea without giving any of the story away. Is that the most effective method?
D: I would say that most trailers today give away all of the story. I’m a really big fan of some of those old-school, minute-and-a-half teaser trailers you know?

T: Do you think that’s why people connected with it?
D: Yeah, because I think that it didn’t promise anything huge, and it gives the audience a lot of room to breathe and think and get taken over by the simple things.

For a project of this scale, there’s no need to sell the story. It’s a short film, you know? It’ll be condensed and shortened story that hopefully people watch instead of piecing most of it from the trailer. I think it paid off. In the future, I’ll definitely go for something similar – even though the film is drastically different from the trailer now – we were still writing the script. I think that kind of trailer is the kind of trailer that I’m interested in, it’s also the kind of filmmaking that I’m interested in.

Davide on set on location for ‘Hole’

T: What advice would you give to the next “Dave Carta” trying to get his or her project up through the same means?
D: Starting with Pozible, I think specifically relating to the SFS community, it’s a brilliant way to get funding to make the first little jump. When I graduated (from SFS), I was under the impression that if you write a script and it’s good enough, you know, there are people that are willing to give you money. Obviously I wasn’t that wide-eyed. That’s just not the case. So to find a platform or to tap into a platform where, instead of talking to a suit at a table, you’re talking to your friends, you’re talking to the people that are actually going to crew the film as well, you have a better opportunity to sell your idea and people are more willing to help you out in that way.

That being said, I would gladly give fifty dollars, a hundred dollars to a project with a similar crew, similar people, similar graduates because it’s all about supporting the community and the films being made by that community. Pozible is just a really good avenue to go down. I think it’s very hard – I wouldn’t just chuck something on there without really thinking about it – but if done right, you can actually generate a fair amount of your budget to make a film.

The other big thing is you create an audience with crowd funding. You create who’s going to watch the film at the end. It’s very reinforcing. People give you money so there’s this sense that you don’t want to mess it up. You want to try even harder to make a better film. There’s more pressure on you, and that’s always a good thing. It keeps you driven and it keeps you on a straight path.

T: Always?
D: Personally, I work better under pressure. When you come out of film school, there aren’t deadlines anymore. There aren’t script deadlines, there’s no screening that you have to show up to. Sometimes it’s good for writing, but to actually produce the thing, you want to have a good timeframe to get it done. That’s another great benefit.

T: So you would do it again?
D: Probably. I would probably try to pick a film that had more of a universal appeal. Not heavily relying on friends and family. There’s only so much that people are willing to give and support, and after a while they might get tired of Davide Carta asking for money on the internet.

T: Do you have advice for people pitching to the IAB?
D: It’s a great means to get some funding. It’s also a good process of just pitching –you’re constantly pitching yourself – so to be able to do it in front of, at first, a panel of five or six people, and then to do it on a stage… it’s again, that pressure thing. It makes you up your game. And to do it in front of someone like Emile Sherman, that’s very encouraging when he says “yeah, it’s a good project, I like it.”

Any graduate who’s got a project come mid-July, I would recommend to do it.

Screen shot 2013-11-26 at 1.10.51 PM
Davide, Adam Grubner & Clementine Oldfield pitching at the 18th Sydney Film School Festival

T: Do you expect Emile Sherman to see the film?
D: I don’t know. According to FilmInk, he’s the second most powerful man in the Australian film industry.

T: Really? Who’s the first?
D: Baz Luhrrman, I think.

T: Really?
D: Yeah.

T: Wow.
D: Polite smile.

T: Who would win a fight between a Lion and a Tiger and why?
D: I don’t know enough about Lions or Tigers.

T: You’re a creative, make something up.
D: Well…. The Lion is categorized as King of the jungle right?

T: Yeah, but Lions don’t actually live in the jungle. Tigers do.
D: Right… I suppose I’d give it to the tiger. Primarily because from what I see of Lions, they’re usually just sitting around, whereas Tigers they’re doing things, y’know? Tigers are do-ers. Lions get shit done for them

T: Great, Thanks Dave!
Get away from me.

T O M   E A R L S

You can catch the film and a Popcorn Taxi Q&A with the crew at the 19th Sydney Film school Festival on December 10 at 3.30pm – Chauvel Cinema, Paddington.

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