TIFF 2018 Interview: DZIADZIO director Aaron Ries

“As summer days grow longer, 22-year old Stefania – who lives with her aging grandfather – begins to spiral into fantasy in this unpredictable and darkly comedic drama about intergenerational disconnect and malaise. Buckle up, Dziadzio is a 12 minute ride.” Director Aaron Ries on DZIADZIO which screens at the 2018 edition of the Toronto International Film Festival.
Congratulations on your film playing at TIFF! Is your first time here and are you planning to attend your screenings?
Thank you very much! I have been attending TIFF for several years as an audience member, in fact, in high school I attended the screening of CANDY with Heath Ledger, which set off a love affair with the festival. But this being my first time as a filmmaker is a completely new experience. I plan on attending each of my screenings, and enjoying the festival as much as I can.
So how did you get into this business? Talk to me a bit about how you got your start and what you have worked on in the past.
I started making videos about four years ago. My first foray was making short stop motion videos using time-lapse photography, and then later I moved into directing music videos and short documentaries. I became enamoured with the creative process of preparing and then directing video, as a way to both be creative and have a hands-on input to the work that you’re doing. This is my first short film, and I’m looking forward to making more.
How did this project come together for you? Give me a rundown from the preparation, to shooting, to post-production to now!
I wrote and re-wrote this script for some time, and had been picturing it in my head for several years in fact. When I finally decided to make it, I hooked up with several good friends and collaborators to bring together a really strong core team that would make this film – Jesse McCracken, Cinematographer, John Gallagher, Editor, Olena Decock, Producer and Jill Wilkie, Art Director. Then, we worked through the script working on a shot by shot basis, planning out the logistics of the production for several months. Finally, we shot in August of 2017 over a three day period with two days of principal shooting. Afterwards, we worked for several months in the fall of 2017 and early 2018 editing the film and bringing it together.
What keeps you going while making a movie? What drives you?
Mainly the fear of failing all of the awesome people who worked on this film! Everyone on the team gave a lot of energy, passion and creativity to the project, and producing anything less than the best thing we could was a terrifying prospect.
What was your biggest challenge with making this movie, and the moment that was the most rewarding to you?
Some of the most challenging things were securing the right prop / location logistics. Such as the house, the car, etc. Those things mostly came together in the 11th hour, and although we planned out how to get them, these things I learned take time. Not having either of those elements secured when we were two weeks out of shooting, with no ability to change the date, was pretty scary. The most rewarding part I think was the first time we were able to take several weeks off of the editing process, and then come back to the film with fresh eyes. It was in moments like those that we realized it was coming together and we were going to make it.
I’m about to get technical, but I would love to know about the the look/visual design of the movie; what camera did you film with, your relationship to the director of photography and how the movie was photographed.
We shot on an Arri Alexa. The Director of Photography is Jesse McCracken, who is an excellent filmmaker and friend, with an amazing eye for beautiful visuals, and shots that made our story more than the sum of its parts. Jesse has been shooting (and directing) for several years, and is definitely a talent to watch. His directorial debut, MOTEL, played at Hot Docs in 2017, and I’m looking forward to working with him again.
After the film screens here in Toronto, where is the film going to show next? Theatrical, online, more festivals? Any dream spots?
We have submitted to other festivals worldwide, and can’t confirm anything yet but should have more details to share soon. I would like to play this short across Canada, in the United States, and then the dream screening would be in Poland – given the Polish-Canadian element of our story.
We have a lot of readers on our site looking to make movies or get into the industry somehow. What is the ONE THING you would say to someone who is wanting to get into the filmmaking business?
I think just go out and do it, if you would like to, and to a standard that you are happy to; even the small things are worth putting a tonne of effort into, to ensure you get them as perfectly as possible. DO sweat the details.
And final question: what is the greatest movie you have ever seen at a film festival?
NIGHTCRAWLER at TIFF. Such a strange, off-beat, beautiful movie, that I don’t think I would ever enjoy quite as much as seeing it in a huge dark room with a thousand other people.
Learn more about the film: www.dziadzio.ca

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