by Brandon Enyeart
As I promised you last week, I bring to you my interview with Shannon Lucio (Filament Features) and Alex Knudson (Gantry Productions) where we chatted about their upcoming short film, “Consuming Beauty”.
If you haven’t seen the trailer for “Consuming Beauty” yet, CLICK HERE.
Brandon: So tell me a little bit about “Consuming Beauty.”
Alex: The synopsis, I can probably read it off of Charlotte’s book. In no particular order, the project started from my wife’s novel, Charlotte Zang. She wrote a novel on it. We were originally going to make a stop motion animation short film of just the opening scene, and Char- what’s her name? Shannon.
Shannon: He always confuses us.
A: I call my wife Shannon and her Charlotte all the time. I can never get it straight.
B: It’s like my grandfather. He calls me by my cousin and brother’s names. So it’s totally understandable.
A: (laughs) She was originally going to do just the voiceover for it, and it was going to be kind of a fun thing and it just kind of took off. One thing led to another and we were like, “Well we could maybe even make a scene of it. And then a short film. And then Kickstarter.” And then it just kept getting bigger and bigger, and that’s how we got here.
S: Yeah I mean I think when I read the novel I thought, “Wow, this really is kind of a dark fairy tale and it has a full, mythology to it. Sort of inverted Beauty and the Beast mythology. And so I felt like “wow this could easily be a movie.” It has a very cinematic feel to it when you read it too. Everything started snowballing to a point where we were like “Well then maybe we should make a short to make the feature.”
A: And everything I read ever is a movie in my head, so it wasn’t a stretch for me. It was just a matter of what kind of movie: stop motion or visual. And almost everything I write usually, I’ve directed. We adapted the screenplay together. But I’m drawn to very dark subject matter, and it’s like a dark fairy tale, and kind of in the old actually Brothers Grimm fairy tale, not like Disney fairy tale, like actual where kids are being cooked in ovens. I always describe it as having a little Beauty and the Beast, as in the original like French version of the film, but it’s a little darker and then with maybe a little “Picnic at Hanging Rock” and a little “Repulsion”. That’s kind of what drew me to it too, I mean it’s essentially about her (Shannon’s) character, Elodine, who awakes in a place and she doesn’t know how she got there. It’s a big vacant, broken down manor and her father had just passed away and she just kind of puts the pieces together of how she got there and why she’s there and who this mysterious man that summoned her there is. I don’t want to give it away too much but it’s essentially, – and I think you get a better sense of it in the book – kind of losing her mind.
S: Yeah, I mean there was so much good stuff in the novel, but in order to make a sort of an integrated short film there’s a lot we had to leave out and focus on the real heart of the story. But we’ll have more opportunities to play with that when the feature comes along.
A: Boom The feature.
B: I was gonna say, so yeah, so you mentioned this was supposed to be kind of the opening chapter, so is this a preview of more to come?
A: It is. The adapting of the novel to the short film was by far the most difficult process, I mean it took us like –
S: A long time!
A: …Like nine months probably. We went through 17 different drafts of the script and figuring out what to include, what not to include. But we did always make it with the main goal of kind of a cliffhanger and you know wanting it to be self contained so it works on its own, but still yet leaving people hopefully wanting more so we can bring it to the feature.
S: Yeah, it’s just a taste. It asks a lot of questions and really doesn’t try to answer them, because at the end of the day I mean I think you’re supposed to be left, hopefully, the audience member is left wanting to answer them by seeing more of it. So yeah, there’s a lot more to play around with it in the future, but you know all that process of whittling down the script, you know, we came from this place of the three of us having read the novel knowing it very intimately and getting it on paper for the first time, and of course, we have all the –
B: Right. I saw the trailer, obviously, you guys sent it over and I’m excited to see the whole film, obviously. It’s coming out fall of this year, right?
A: It’ll probably be done actually before then.
S: This guy, he’s incredible at how fast he can turn this shit out. I’m like, he’s just like a machine. He’s always working, always working.
A: We had our big, big main shoot in, was it February?
S: Yes, end of February.
A: Yeah, like a two-day weekend shoot, just jam-packed. How many pages did we do? Like 18 pages in two days? Which is kind of absurd, but it was all about making sure pre-production, where we just fucking knew everything: every shot, every storyboard and more than I ever had, because we needed to have that in order to get through as much footage as we can. Because we basically rented a big mansion in Hollywood that is in tact. Like, when we were searching for castles we saw a lot of like old school looking manors and castles, but then you would see inside and they’re all redone and remodeled and like that’s not what we want. We actually don’t even see the outside of the castle ever in the short. It’s all about the inside seeming like from a different time, like maybe 1800’s. And that’s one thing: Time is never defined. Nor is it really in the novel for that matter. I mean, that’s one thing I loved about the story is – things I’m drawn to are ones that always leave questions. They aren’t easily wrapped up for people. I can’t stand it, so there’s a struggle for me because I don’t want to give away anything ever, but then it’s like if you don’t give anything then it’s just confusing and I don’t want it to be confusing.
S: I think so too. I mean, at the end of the day I feel like it’s not to that degree, but it’s like we created a world that’s more along the lines of Labyrinth . Have you ever seen that movie with David Bowie?
B: I have seen it, yes, a long time ago, yes.
A: Tone much different.
S: Yeah, not as funny, but I mean in terms of that world is no time. I mean, maybe it’s the future. Maybe it’s the past. You don’t know. And we sort of created a similar vibe here.
B: So you (Shannon) mentioned that Alex works a lot, but you, Shannon, obviously are a workaholic as well from what I can tell. How did you manage to find the time for this? You’re obviously the main character. Is there more of a cast or are you really the only person in this short?
S: It’s a two-person story for the most part. Yeah. And it’s actually an interesting story about how our other character came to be, or not the character, but the actor I should say.
S: Yeah. I’ll touch on that in a second. You know, the cool thing about this project and us is, you know, we’re best friends. I’ve known this dude since I was 18-years-old and when he first showed me his wife, Charlotte’s book, we really got to, it was like every week pretty much we met and took the script a little bit further, took the production a little bit further, so this wasn’t something that happened overnight. I mean, through the whole process –
A: Almost two years.
S: Yeah…almost two years. So that’s kind of how I found the time. Plus I wanted to do it. If you want to do something you find the time. But yeah what was interesting about the other character who you don’t see in the trailer, you just hear. We actually had Eric Roberts attached to play that character.
B: Oh Really?
A: Which took a long time. Originally like I said things grew grew grew. When we originally did our Kickstarter we were like, “Oh, we’ve got a lot of friends that are great actors, both of us.” And we’re like, “You know, we’re just gonna do this.” And as it grew we were like, “Let’s really try to go after somebody.” So while we were working on the script we approached a bunch of different actors that anybody would have heard of or known and eventually got Eric Roberts to commit to it and –
S: Which is one of his idols since childhood so…
A: From, you know, early “Runaway Train” and “Star 80” and “The Pope of Greenwich Village” and whatnot.
S: Sadly… So we were supposed to shoot on a Saturday and then Thursday morning in the tabloids it was released that Julia Roberts’ mom died, which is of course his mom too.
S: And, you know, they’re calling us saying, “O.K. we’re going to try to work this out. Maybe he can come before the wake or whatever.” And then eventually we were like, “No this is not really gonna work like this. This guy just lost his mom.” And eventually they conceded that as well.
A: Well, it’s pretty amazing though and I give him all the credit in the world, you know. His mom passes away a day and a half before shooting and he and his wife, who he works with, were trying to make every effort and accommodation to still do this shoot around wakes and funerals and still try to like, “We can do a few hours here and here.” It was pretty amazing. I can’t imagine many people would be making that effort, especially for a shoot for a short film. I mean, I wouldn’t.
S: Yeah, I wouldn’t either. But it ended up working out for the best because, like you said, when we first thought about casting this, our good friend Christian Levatino came in our mind. We were like, “Oh my god-“
G: “He’d be perfect!”
S:- he would be perfect for this.” But then we thought, “No, we’re gonna try to get someone with more name value.” Blah blah blah. Well in the end we said, “Hey, Christian, you want to do it? You have two days.” And he’s like, “Done.” So he started watching all these documentaries. He started working on the character. And he-
A: Read the novel in, like, a few hours and he just came and destroyed it. We knew he would. It wasn’t a matter of if he could do it, it was if we could find somebody marketable, you know, as far as the business side of it, I guess.
A: But, it all worked out eventually.
S: Yeah, yeah it worked out for the best.
B: Nice, and now you mentioned your wife wrote the novel that you’re basing it off of. Is she – how much of it has she seen and is she happy with the final result?
A: She loves it. She made all of Shannon’s costumes and did all the design. Even from the trailer if you see like the interior of that bedroom she wakes up with cobwebs and just, you know – she created an amazing world. And as far as what she’s seen of the final cut, which I finished pretty quickly, she’s very happy. I mean, she’s extremely happy. Her very first time sitting and watching it she just was elated, which was like awesome for me and for her too, ‘cause she was worried, it was like she was portraying this character that she wrote and knows. Yeah, she’s very happy.
Editor in Chief of Lemonade Magazine
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