Ever have one of those days where everyone and everything needs your attention? What a perfect short to start your week. Poor Morris is a bit overwhelmed. Check out UNDISCONNECTED now.
Carrie Certa is a seasoned line producer with six independent films, her most recent had her in Ethiopia for a film entitled “Difret” which made its world premiere at Sundance 2014 and won the Audience Award at Sundance and the Berlin International Film Festival.
In 2009, she made her directorial début with “SpyForLove” which landed her a Best Comedy Short nomination at her first festival showing. Since then she’s had a modicum of success with her other shorts “Smiley” and “Undisconnected” which was nominated for Best in the Fest and winner of Best Director. She has also won numerous awards for her writing with her dramatic work “Life After” including third place at Vail Film Festival.
Carrie has been actively pursuing her directing aspirations and is seeking funds for her first feature film “The Study of Happiness” which is a dramatic anti-bullying film she hopes to direct later this year.
What drew you to wanting to make this story? This script was actually part of a contest at a film festival. Four directors were selected to read all of the scripts that were submitted then we had to pitch to the writers our vision. The twist being that the writers chose their director! Each director had the opportunity to choose two scripts, I was so attracted to this script that I didn’t even choose a second. I spoke to the writer and told him how I wanted to expand on the story and the chaos of constant interruptions in our lives based on all the technology and he hired me right then and there! It was fantastic.
Who doesn’t get annoyed from time to time with constant chimes notifying them that they have a text, an email, a tweet, a Facebook message and so on. Now multiply that by smart cars, smart computers, smart TVs and so forth. It’s bound to drive you crazy and long for the days of ‘dumb technology’! I know that I have felt what Morris Gammon has felt more than once in this high tech age and learning to disconnect is extremely difficult once you’ve connected… thus Un-Disconnected.
What were some of the challenges in getting this film made and how did you overcome them? Budget. Surprised? Yeah. Money is always an issue when it comes to making any film, big or small. Of course, I was told it was “impossible” with all the greenscreen and SFX needed. I’m a Chicago Sicilian… don’t ever tell me something is impossible because I will show you just how possible it is! There were A LOT of special effect shots and a couple I ended up doing myself. We had no money to pay a professional to do it so I was lucky (understatement) that Lumeni Productions stepped in to do all the “smart car” (i.e. Overboard) animation. (Those shots alone should have cost me $30,000, a deal that wasn’t in place until AFTER we shot. I would never advise the “wait and pray” method but in this case, it worked.) I took a lot of ‘no’s’ in the process but, as you can see, a ‘no’ is not the end, it just means you have to make one more phone call until you get a ‘yes’.
Here’s a link to the BTS of the film.
What kind of camera did you shoot on? EX3, which was gifted to me as a prize at a film festival, so I didn’t have a choice in camera but very grateful and happy with the results.
How long have you been directing? I directed theater back in 1996 but didn’t make my first film until 2008. Film was always the goal, just took the scenic route to get there.
Did you go to school for filmmaking? No, I couldn’t afford film school so I have a degree in Theater at SIU-C. I was a resident stage manager in Chicago before moving out to LA in 2000 and truly started following the dream.
How many short films have you directed? Five short films total but have also directed music videos with Michael DesBarres and plenty of industrial videos. Practice, Practice, Practice! Doesn’t matter what genre, as long as I’m doing it.
Is there any one part of the process that you enjoy more than the others? The thrill of seeing it all coming together on the monitor is the best moment for me. A friend of mine, not in the industry, likes to come on my sets just to watch me get excited about a great shot. I have a hard time staying seated and not pumping an arm in the air or laughing at a perfectly delivered line. I am an active participant when directing and apparently, part of the entertainment for the crew.
I don’t like editing, yet I do it. I can’t afford an editor, most times. On my first film, the editor found a job just when I needed her. So on “SpyForLove”, I taught myself Final Cut Pro and just did it. (Good thing I am tech savvy or that film would still be stuck on a drive somewhere.) Not having an editor was the best thing that could have ever happened. Editing taught me what I did right and what I did wrong. If I can’t think of how it’s going to edit while directing, it simply won’t edit.
What is your top advice for first-time directors? OVER SHOOT. Don’t call cut at the point you THINK you’re going to edit, go a few lines past that point. It has saved me more than once. And don’t be afraid to do another take if it’s just not working. Trust your gut! And lastly, just do it. Everyone has a cell phone… start shooting. And don’t just direct but shoot, edit, act, etc and get to know every aspect of production, it’ll make you a better director.
Check out UNDISCONNECTED now.
To learn more about Carrie, check out her website: UrsaProductions.com