El Dorado High School Video/Film Production graduate, Adam Gorny '17, and his film "Je Suis Humain" (named Best Short Film at this year's El Dorado Film Festival) were recently featured in the online publication Student Video News. Adam, a four-year Digital Media Arts Academy student at El Dorado, plans to attend Tisch School of the Arts for Film and Television at NYU next Fall.
You can check out the complete SVN article here: http://www.svnfilm.com/the-student-filmmakers/their-films/281-making-je-suis-humain.html
Here is the complete text of the SVN article:
The Making of: Je Suis Humain
Tell us about your background and family. How did you get started in the art of filmmaking?
I would say when I moved to California from Michigan back in the 3rd grade I was really exposed to the LA/Hollywood/Universal atmospheres and started getting into those classic movies as well as what was coming out today. It was not until the 6th grade when I started making movies with my family's videotape camera, which were almost always for a school project. In middle school there was no video program available to me, so I focused more on instrumental and vocal music. After being tired of not having a school video class, I decided to transfer to the school in my district that had the best video program, El Dorado High School with their Digital Media Arts Academy and partner organization FilmEd* Academy of the Arts. Ironically, I ended up not really making films the first couple of years as I focused more on music, academics, and just trying new things. There was even a point where I almost transferred to another school just to try something new, however luckily I stayed. Senior year rolled around and I had worked on a number of other people’s projects, so I decided to make some of my own. Most were done pretty independently and some never even made it to completion, however on bigger productions I really appreciated to hard work and skills of those also in the video program.
What was the inspiration for your film? The inspiration for “Je Suis Humain” (however you pronounced that is fine) actually came from a book I read freshman year, A Tale of Two Cities by Charles Dickens. After reading this incredible story, I wrote a variation using a lot of the same vehicles and ideas, but set it in WW2. Such things as a language barrier, a spy, sacrifice, someone doing something “magnanimous”, or even someone showing the power of humanity. Obviously, the film is far different and has many other logistics, but that was the main spark of inspiration. That variation of the story sat in my Google Drive for three years until I unwillingly pitched it in front of the video class January of senior year and people actually loved the idea. So, I put everything I had into this project and that short story I wrote freshman year turned into a 3 page script and then by version 10, a 9 page script and eventually all the resources were allocated and the film was shot over one weekend.
What type of equipment do you use? (Cameras, dollies, etc) Our main camera was the Panasonic Varicam and we also used the Sony FS7 both with Xeen Prime lenses. For the opening and closing shots a dolly was used and everything else was on tripod. We also used 8x8 and 4x4 solids to blackout the windows. The main lighting setup was just a china ball that hung directly above the table with a flicker switch. ARRI and Dracast LED lights were also sometimes used.
How do you budget/fund your projects? Is your cast and crew volunteer based? The cast and crew is all volunteer based. Some many was granted by the film class, however most of the costs came out of pocket.
Your film has an incredible style and tone. What was the art direction process like? I did a lot of research into what the soldiers, the family, and the house would look like and ultimately scouted around for things. For costumes, I looked around in costume houses all over, but ultimately ended up renting the uniforms from a kid who makes replica uniforms who we found in an online forum. The family’s outfits mostly came from Ebay. The house itself I found by scouring the internet and Google Maps one day after school after being convinced building a set would not work out as well. PD did a good job on this film as far as things for the table. Many of the props in the house were ironically already there such as the lanterns. In fact, there was no piano in the script until we scouted the location and saw it there. If only we had a classically trained pianist lead... o wait, we did.
What kind of research went into designing and building your sets? After researching how to build sets, asking for donations, and looking into the school's theater set supplies, I realized I either needed to bump up the budget or make the film simpler. I did both and the film was made easier and probably better because of it.
Did you build the sets in your film or did you film on location? The were allowed to film in the “Bacon” house, which is a part of the Buena Park Historical Society. It is a historical landmark that is fairly intact to how it was originally lived in back in the early 1900’s and fit the part for an old French farm bungalow. The outside scene was just filmed at our local state park where luckily it was green due to a ton of rainfall so it looked relatively Europian and not like sunny and dry California.
What was the most interesting thing that happened while on the set?Probably the most interesting thing on set was us not being able to get on set. The city official who was suppose to be there to let us in and supervise us was late getting back from a surprise cruse his wife took him on with all the other Santa Clauses. Yes. It was a surprise cruise from the wives of the men who dress up as Santa Claus for mall photos. Luckily, he showed up around 10am so it did not set production back too much.
What is your ultimate goal in film? What would be your dream job?My DREAM job is to make movies, so I guess I am livin the dream for now. But to do it full time and make a living out of it would not be too bad either. I like directing, but I LOVE writing and storytelling. Although filmmaking is what I want to do now, I am always trying new things and experiencing different stuff, so I can never be certain honestly.
Student filmmakers are faced with the decision to go to film school each year. What are you going to do? As of right now, I have decided to study at New York University, Tisch School of the Arts for Film and TV for the next 4 years. I may try to double major in business while there.
What kind of projects have you been involved in? Which one was your favorite? This one was definitely one of my favorites because I feel all the hard work that went into it really showed in the final product. Also, filming it went rather smoothly and it was great working with and learning so much from the different actors. Another favorite film of mine was a doc I did about an arts project in Detroit. Although it was no cinematic masterpiece, interviewing the artist and seeing his work broadened my perspective about art and the world. I also did a music video that again was not very good, but allowed me to learn how to use the camera better to visually enhance the story. I have also worked plenty of other people’s films either as producer, assistant director, production manager, and gripped a ton.
What’s next? Do you plan on making another film? If so, tell us about it.There is always something I want to make. Just whether or not I have the energy or resources to execute it is another story. But a story I thought would be cool would be another variation on this story ironically. I know, not very original, but I like it. It would be short, comedic, and very visual.Logline: A man who finds it hard to find love due to his stutter learns sign language and pretends to be dumb. He meets the girl of his dreams, but after receiving advice from a friend, he decides to let her know the truth at the wedding altar when he says “I do”.
What has been your biggest obstacle with your film or film in general? The biggest obstacle in film is that to be successful, you NEED people. Although you can make a film by yourself, to make it great you need to be able to rely and communicate with others. Although it was very difficult to produce the film, it has actually taken just as long to finish post-production. Though without all the right people in all the right positions this film would not have turned out as well. A favorite quote I like to remind myself of is “there’s art in making art”.
What advice do you have for students and teachers who are either just getting involved or are just developing an interest in film? Art is subjective, especially in filmmaking. My films are not everyone’s cup of tea and I feel the same way about other people’s films. I don’t get into festivals all the time. I wasn’t known as the best filmmaker in high school. Even now, especially now, I still feel in awe of the filmmakers I see. But you just gotta keep making things and make them for you and show your perspective.