South By Southwest 2019 Interview – OTHER SIDE OF THE BOX director Caleb J. Phillips

“Literally, it’s just about two people opening a box, and their lives going to hell. They become trapped in a bizarre, rule based, home invasion. It’s about fear of the unknown, and how little it takes to be make us feel unsafe.” Director Caleb J. Phillips on OTHER SIDE OF THE BOX which screens in the Midnight Shorts section of SxSW Film.


Welcome to the amazing SxSW and congratulations on your movie playing here! Are you planning to attend SxSW with your film?

Hell yes we are. We’re pretty nervous, We didn’t think our tiny movie would go this far. When I told my DP Laura Jansen that we got into SxSW, she was like, “Wow, who would have thought!”

How did you first hear about the short films at SxSW and wishing to send your film into the festival/conference?

Most of my favorite short films have been in SxSW. Off the top of my head NIGHT OF THE SLASHER a few years back, which was just great. I love the selection of films that have come out of this festival, and I really wanted to be a part of the same thing.


Tell me about the idea behind your project and getting it made!

I have always been terrified at the notion of seeing someone looking in at you, from outside your window, at night. It’s a super simple, but really effective fear. You’re not safe, but not yet in danger.  Once we had the script done, my co-writer and star, Nick Tag and I set up a modest Kickstarter fundraiser to try to make the production at least possible. We then got a small tight group of filmmakers together, and drove up to the bay area where our location was. We spent two days shooting the 15 minute film, and it was, probably too much. Speaking only for myself, I think it was more than I should have handled.

Who are some of your main creative inspirations for this short?

Probably H.P. Lovecraft. Cosmic horror. I love being just as curious as I am terrified. I think he does it really well in his horror fiction. I also like Philip K Dick, mostly for how he paces his short stories.


How did you put the short together from a technical viewpoint? What sort of cameras/lenses did you use, and any creative challenges in making it?


It’s a 15 page script, and we elected to shoot it in two days, because we were morons, with very little money. It was just so much material. I knew it was going to be around 40 set ups a day, so my DP, Laura, figured out a way to pre-light the whole house with lamps and china balls. This let us spend around 5-10 minutes on each set up. I still don’t know how we did it. I didn’t think we were going to make our days. Pretty sure she didn’t either. We shot it on the Red Dragon, with Zeiss ZF.2 lenses.


After your short screens here, where is it going next? Anywhere you would love to show it?

We’re waiting to hear back from Tribeca. I think that’s really it. I’m really anxious to get it online.


If you know of anyone around you wanting to become a filmmaker, or even put together shorts, what would you suggest to get their start?

I mean everyone says it, but just shoot. Shoot a lot. The actual practice of making a lot of bad movies is incredibly important.


And finally, what is your favourite short film of all time?

THE VOORMAN PROBLEM directed by Mark Gill, Staring Martin Freeman and Tom Hollander. Oscar nominated too, I believe. It’s incredibly well paced, and just fascinating to its core.


This is one of the many film titles playing at SxSW 2019. For more information on this and any other title playing in the festival, point your browser to http://www.sxsw.com/film!

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