In a house by a river that lamented as it ran, lived a father, and his daughter, and the dog-headed man… A murder ballad. Having it’s North American Premiere in the Midnight Shorts section, we spoke to filmmaker Tomas Stark on A TALE BEST FORGOTTEN.
How did you first hear about SxSW and wishing to send your project into the festival?
I’ve known about SXSW for a long time because of my interest in music and movies. I have never been to Austin but love a lot of music coming from there, especially old punk like the Dicks, Big Boys and MDC.
Tell me about the idea behind A TALE BEST FORGOTTEN.
The film is based on a ballad by Scottish/American writer Helen Adam. I first encountered her poetry about four years ago and was instantly struck by its mysterious powers, its mix between horror, humor and beauty. This poem just kept intriguing me, and I knew I wanted to make a film out of it. The poem’s narrative makes use of time in a weird way as it keeps mentioning something best forgotten that has happened before the story began. We wanted to capture this mysterious quality in the film by using a single shot continuous tilt and letting things happen outside the frame. It tells a dark horror story but does so in quite a pretty way.
Who are some of your creative inspirations for this project?
I have many inspirations, but I guess gothic films that build on atmosphere like Picnic at Hanging Rock, Don’t Look Now or Night of the Hunter are a big influence on my filmmaking.
How did you put this together from a technical viewpoint? What sort of cameras/lenses did you use and/or did you have any creative challenges in making it?
We shot it with a long lens in falling dusk light, so we had a short time span to shoot in. With cinematographer Ashley Briggs standing up to his waist in the cold river, and a lot of the action happening in the same single shot. So much of the challenge was the question of timing, and the elements.
Being all virtual this year, what do you hope to get out of the virtual SxSW experience? And where is your project going next?
I am currently working on a feature length documentary on Helen Adam. It would be great in SXSW and could lead to some contacts that could be useful for the feature project, like American or British co-production, licensing or distribution.
What would you suggest to film festivals as a way to show more short films or make them more accessible to audiences across the country?
I like it when festivals have their own online channels and publish short films they like after they have made their festival rounds.
If you had one piece of advice to offer someone to get their start as a creator or filmmaker in the industry, what would you suggest?
Just follow your heart and be bold, and do things DIY if you must rather than sitting around waiting for financing. Filmmaking should be an adventure.
And finally, what is your favourite short film of all time?
A Day With the Boys by Clu Gulager.
This film and many others like it will be showing at the virtual South By Southwest taking place March 16-20th. For more information and to register for the festival, point your browser to www.sxsw.com!