Roy Arwas on Short “Comrade Crunch”

Film, Roy Arwas, Short Film


“In doing so, I hope that the piece will be sunk into the audiences’ subconscious as if it were a memory for them, instead of just another movie they came to watch to pass their time.”

 Honey Wagon Confidential: Where’d the idea for this film come from and when did you decide to pursue it?

Roy Arwas: The film didn’t so much come out of the blue. At Gearmark.TV we are 6 filmmakers, each experienced in his own field of the filmmaking process. The company has made a promise to make 12 short films in 12 months, and the month that was coming up was the month we have decided for me to direct something (February, 2016).

So Alexander Crews, one of the head writers in the company, has been wanting to write a script influenced by the world of GTA where the city is completely shrouded in corruption and violence. In the midst of this terrible place, the main character has the very simple goal of trying to eat his favorite cereal for breakfast. I, being a lover of absurd dark comedies, said it was a great idea, and after a day of brainstorming and talking, we came to the idea that the Cereal was Victor’s way of trying to relive his happier childhood memories before his parents were murdered.

HWC: What were some stylistic choices you were sure to include?

RA: When I went into the script and analyzed it, I was trying to find my connection with it, and when I did. I found a lot of challenges and things to try to achieve. The film, written like an absurd comedy, was crucially needed to be believable. So the biggest challenge was to make a cereal as important as the life of a child, or in our case, the memories of Victor’s childhood (happiness). I felt the style of the piece would be what makes the piece come together as a whole. So, firstly, we shot it like a drama, natural lighting, no high key. Sound wise, I wanted to audience to hear, and in turn, feel, what was going on inside Viktor’s head, and it took 48 hours inside a room with the amazing sound designer, Alfonso Cano, to be as detailed as possible with every single beat of the piece to make it have a feeling of angst and disturbance when needed. The score, as well, was used to emphasize how dramatic and tense the piece was, regardless of its surface topic. And finally, the acting, it was crucial to make sure the audience believes that the film had nothing to do with cereal, hence each character was developed to deal with inner conflicts that audience may not even know of, but in the surface, it came across as way more than a cereal, but a life or death situation.

HWC: What would you like to work on in the future?

RA: My main goal in life is to find the heart in any piece, in any genre I do, and to make sure it isn’t solely there to entertain, but it is exploring a theme which means a lot to me and the people involved, regardless of whether the audience sees it (hopefully they do), I want to make sure that my future projects all have a meaning and a heart to them. In doing so, I hope that the piece will be sunk into the audiences subconscious as if it were a memory for them, instead of just another movie they came to watch to pass their time.

HWC: How’d you get into filmmaking?

RA: Filmmaking has been a part of my life ever since I moved to England in 2007 when I was 12 years old, my parents both worked in Pinewood Studios as production travel agents, and I always came to visit them at the office, which is where I was introduced to film sets. I started doing visual effects with my little brother with our home cam, and then, I realized I came about to make more and more films the more I struggled in life, be it bullied, or going through a rough patch. Film has become the perfect distraction from life, my obsession, while also a way for me to vent and explore situations that will solve whatever issue I had in life at the time. Film helps me grow as a person and as an individual, because each film has its own challenges, and different cast/crew members that give different perspectives, which teaches me a lot.

HWC: You attended film school. What was the most valuable information you learned while there?

RA: Film cannot be taught, it can be strengthened, so I wouldn’t say I learned much from the teachers. But Iearnt a lot from who the teachers were and their mentoring and advice have been substantial. I would have never ended up where I am today without the 5 people I have met in school. We started Gearmark Pictures as soon as we graduated and we learned and grew stronger together.

I would strongly advice people who attend film school to network, to be open to criticism, and choose who they get criticized by, and who they could grow around. Also, if the school provides equipment, it would be beneficial to go out there regardless of classwork, and shoot with those you feel most creative with, and learn together.

HWC: Any advice to filmmakers just starting out?

RA: Make films, all the time, don’t be scared to fail, because each failure is a lesson, and we all learn something. In my experience, no film has ever gone smoothly when shot, and that’s the most exciting part, the problem solving, always turns out to make the film better than it was planned to be.

HWC: You’ve produced, edited, directed and written films. Do you prefer one to the other? If you could only choose one, which would you choose?

RA: While all of those jobs were beneficial to me in my creative growth, I’d pick directing over all of them. Directing is something I have always been attracted to, and it is something that I would consider a necessity in my life, as it is the only way I can express myself and my thoughts. I love telling stories through the collaboration of amazingly talented people, and I love pushing the limits of how we tell stories visually. Directing is not only a job for, it is a way for me to explore and learn about the world we live in, in story, and in reality.

Check out more of Roy’s work here!


Suggestion of the Week

Animation, Powerpuff Girls, Suggestion

A little cartoon never hurt nobody! Join Blossom, Buttercup and Bubbles as they fight crime and kick booty in Townsville…

“Sugar. Spice. And everything nice.These were the ingredients chosen to create the perfect little girl. But Professor Utonium accidentally added an EXTRA INGREDIENT to the concoction…. CHEMICAL X. “

Watch this cartoon off Netflix!

Alexandra Hetmerova on Short Film “Mythopolis”

Alexandra Hetmerova, Animation, Film

“In contrast with other mediums, everything is possible in animation.”

Cilect Prize winner, Alexandra Hetmerova discusses her short “Mythopolis” along with her approach to animation…

Honey Wagon Confidential: Mythopolis and your animation have a really unique look and feel. Who are some of your biggest inspirations?

Alexandra Hetmerova: The inspiration is always changing. It depends on the film which I’m doing at that time. When I started developing the style for Mythopolis I was inspired by UPA Films. But I can say that I am big fan of Estonian animation – Olga and Priit Pärn, Kaspar Jancis, Kristjan Holm, Ülo Pikkov, and many other great Estonian directors. All of them always surprise me with new work and it’s always very smart and funny.

HWC: How did you develop your style? Did schooling assist in this or was it mostly independent?

AH: I think it’s more independent, I am trying to make every film bit differently. Michaela Pavlatová acted as a kind of mentor for Mythopolis. If I had a problem, she always helped me solve it. She is great.

HWC: How long did Mythopolis take to make? What was the moment you were most frustrated in making the short? 

AH: I spend, I think half of year maybe more on script, and half a year on animation. I animated everything by myself in TV Paint, but my friends helped me with coloring. After that compositing, editing and sound, so all together one year and two months. It was a long time without any holiday, I worked most of the summer, so maybe that was the worst. But I enjoyed the work.

HWC: Did you write the script for Mythopolis as well? Where did the story line come from?

AH: When I was working on my previous film Swimming pool, [there were also two Greek mythological creatures (Centaur and Mermaid)], I found out that Medusa has potential to be a great hero for some other film. After that I started to write a story about her. But it wasn’t very good-not until I added more creatures. All of them have characteristics which fit perfectly into the final story.

HWC: Your characters all play distinctively different roles. How did you ensure each character was so different?

AH: All the characters in the film are from Greek mythology. I tried to mix together their known stories and transform their characteristics and how their lives would look like in the context of the world today.

HWC: Why did you choose animation as a medium?

AH: Since childhood I’ve loved reading fiction stories. I admire all who are able to write literature.Before FAMU I studied graphic design in high school. I enjoyed traditional print graphic technics, but then I started experimenting with animation. I fell in love with it. I’m not so good at writing but through animation I can tell stories without any words; just with pictures and movements. I adore creating stories for animation.

HWC: Do you think animation offers something other mediums do not?
AH: In contrast with other mediums, everything is possible in animation.

Check out more of Alexandra’s work here!

Suggestion of the Week

Film, Jules Dassin, Suggestion

Night and the City (Jules Dassin)

Start off your Wednesdy with some Dassin…

“That such nihilistic nastiness is remotely entertaining is a tribute to Dassin’s frantic, expressionistic portrait of London’s sickly underworld and Richard Widmark’s hysteria-laced performance. And even then, the fact that it’s this breathlessly exhilarating is something of a small cinematic miracle.”

Harry, a second-rate con man promotes an aging Greek wrestler. But his plan goes awry when the wrestler dies and everyone points the finger at Harry. Hiding out in a riverfront barge, Harry sees his grand ambitions spiral into a nightmare of fear and desperation…

Watch this flick and read more off Criterion!

Patrick Muhlberger on Short Film “Pop Music”

patrick muhlberger, pop music, Short Film

“I grew up between a Blockbuster and the local library and I just fell in love with stories. It’s pretty much that simple – I read a lot of books, watched a lot of movies, and had parents who encouraged me to try to express myself. Also, I was terrible at sports.”

We sat down with Patrick Muhlberger to discuss his new short, “Pop Music” among other things…

Honey Wagon Confidential: You shot on a RED. How did you like this? Would you shoot on it again?

Patrick Muhlberger: I did like it. I really enjoyed the extra resolution we had shooting 6K, which came in handy a lot during some of our slow motion scenes or if we ran behind on the shooting day and ended up having to punch in on footage to cheat mediums as close ups. In general I find RED footage a little sharp, so we worked to soften it up a bit and had a pretty distinct LUT on the camera and monitor during the shoot. This helped me get a better idea of what the final shot would look like, rather than trying to guess based on the RAW files. We had these beautiful Panavision Primo lenses which really brought a lot of great qualities to the picture.

HWC: Sound has a huge role in this film. How’d you get in touch with the composer, Seth Earnest, and what was your angle on the sound?

PM: Seth and I met a few years ago when we were both working at a digital company in Los Angeles. I walked in on him trying to recreate some pop song for a parody video and I was immediately impressed. I hired him to work on a few commercials and he knocked the music out of the park. I remember he mixed the sound of a train into one of the scores and it blew me away. I had written POP MUSIC and was looking for a composer so I wrote him a long messy email asking him to be a part of it and he read the script and jumped aboard. I kept a google drive full of pop songs and music references for the piece, along with a document outlining what I liked about them. We used this as a backbone for both building the final pop song but also the overall score of the piece. Basically we looked at tons of examples and references, and then I just let Seth take it from there.

My whole view for the piece was that Trevor’s character was trying to turn his reality into the heightened world of a music video. So Seth and I looked for places to emphasize that with the music and sound. We decided that Trevor’s soundtrack would be more of a garage rock/BikiniKill vibe, but once he really learned his lesson from Jessie, it would evolve into the more standard pop music that plays during the climax. Writing it up, it all seems pretty complicated and messy, but I swear it made sense to the two of us.

HWC: Where’d the idea for this film come from?

PM: I was stuck in traffic listening to a ton of top 40 radio. And I was frustrated with the content I was making – commercials or kids videos – because I didn’t feel like any of them were an accurate representation of my voice. So I tried to write something that represented me, and this is what came out. I had a ton of visuals I wanted to play along with, I was listening to a ton of Katy Perry, and in general I like stories about youth and love.

HWC: You wrote and directed “Pop Music.” Is it hard to keep perspective on a project when you’re so involved?

PM: Yes, definitely. I have a close group of friends who I constantly show my work to, hoping that they can make sure I steer it in the right direction. But I had times where I questioned my choices, or the script, or the directing – and it was moments like that where I had to relax and trust the preparation. Also, this was a purely personal project, so when I started to question the “right choice” I tried to just lean in to my instincts and hope that it would result in a final product that I loved.

HWC: This film has a really unique style. How’d you go about achieving this style and what were some elements you knew you wanted to include?

PM: Once it was established that we’d be seeing the world through Trevor’s point of view, it gave me license to really just go crazy with some of the style. I knew I wanted the piece to reference a lot of music videos, so I made a giant folder of inspiration and then tried to see what would fit. For example, the “ghosting” effect as Trevor storms the house is from the Clubfeet “Everything You Wanted” video.  There is a light effect during the flashback from a Doogan O’Neil music video for HAIM. Some of the visuals during the climax were taken from videos by people like Joseph Kahn, DANIELS, and Saman Kesh. The text projections behind the singing were influenced by Kanye West’s SNL performances.

HWC: Who are your biggest inspirations? 

HWC: Why’d you get into film in the first place?

PM: I grew up between a Blockbuster and the local library and I just fell in love with stories. It’s pretty much that simple – I read a lot of books, watched a lot of movies, and had parents who encouraged me to try to express myself. Also, I was terrible at sports.

To check out more of Patrick’s work, head over to his site!

Leah Shore on SXSW Selection, “Old Man”

Animation, Leah Shore, Short Film

“Sound is just as important as picture and vice versa. They should be treated as equals. Sound is an art in itself and you can tell when it is done well.”

Leah Shore on animation as a medium and the importance of sound…

Honey Wagon Confidential: You put a lot of emphasis on sound in your work, especially in your earlier work like Boobatary. Why do you feel that sound is so intrinsic to a film? What do you consider when making decisions regarding sound?

Leah Shore: Sound is just as important as picture and vice versa. They should be treated as equals. Sound is an art in its self and you can tell when it is done well. I prefer to make my own sound/help with the mixing process. My composer, Fritz Myers is a very talented musician and mixer and we sometimes even make music together.

HWC: Your recent short film, Old Man, revolves around Charles Manson. What type of research went into this and how did you go about weaving this information into a film?

LS: First of all, the audio you are listening to is my obsessively edited version of the audio. I was given access to hours of phone conversations between Marlin Marynick and Charles Manson.  It took me about three months to edit it down to the five minute version you are listening to. It is a logical thought that makes sense to me and ends perfectly: Manson going to get some mail and walking away.
I purposefully did not research Manson too much. I wanted to reflect on the audio alone and try not to judge him. I wanted to make something that was raw and wasn’t like any other Manson-themed films.

HWC: Where did the inspiration for Old Man come from?

LS: I was fortunate to have my undergrad thesis Meatwaffle compete at the Sundance Film Festival in 2010. There, I met Producer/Entrepreneur Chris Barrett.  He came up to me and said, “I saw your film. It was awesome. I know someone who is friends with Charles Manson and I think you two should make a film.” Then, I was introduced to Marlin Marynick.  We hit it off as friends and collaborators. I was also introduced to my EP, Carl D’Andre, without whom I wouldn’t have been able to make the film.

HWC: Do you feel animation offers anything that other mediums don’t? 

LS: I just think it is a different medium in which we can convey a meaning, story or art, just like live action. I suppose it is a great vice to use if you do not have live action or need to completely make up an image, like in my film Old Man. It is technically an experimental documentary; we did not have Manson’s image, so I had to fabricate that.

HWC: What is the hardest part of working with animation and where do you see the medium going in the future?

LS: Perhaps on how time consuming it is as opposed to live action. That and how sometimes you have to work with a big team to produce maybe thirty seconds. I think the medium is infinite. I love Oculus and what they are doing with film and animation. I cannot wait to see what develops with that, interaction and filmmaking.

HWC: Do you have any advice to filmmakers just starting out?

LS: Make as much as possible and keep producing. There is always time to make a film.

HWC: Are you working on any new projects?

I am trying to produce three films, two live action and one animated and pitch three TV shows! I guess things really do come in threes?

HWC: You’re based out of Brooklyn. What is the community like there for film? Do you find it supportive? 

LS: It is the most supportive community. I love all the filmmakers, artists and weirdos here. Thank you Brooklyn! I am a lucky lady to have found you.

Check out more of Leah’s work on her site!

Suggestion of the Week

David Wayne, Film, Suggestion
Wet Hot American Summer (David Wayne)

Wet Hot American Summer (David Wayne)

Quirky, sweet, with just the right amount of teen angst. Catch it at Nitehawk on the sixteenth!


“But if you have reached that stage of life when the opportunities for short-sheeting your counselor’s bed or sneaking a frog into someone else’s underwear are not as plentiful as they once were, then this sloppy comedy may be a pleasant reminder of days gone by.”


Set on the last day of camp, Wet Hot American Summer follows a group of counselors and the chaos pursuing them as they try to complete some unfinished business before the day ends: pent-up sexual frustrations, post-traumatic stress, pending separations, and a talent show.

Watch this off Amazon or read more off the New York Times

Ariel Martin on Short Film, “The iMOM”

Ariel Martin, Film, Short Film


“Making short films is so desperately unglamorous that to have people watch and hopefully enjoy your work is a genuine thrill.”

Catalina Film Festival winner Ariel Martin sits down with us to talk about his new short, “iMom”.

Honey Wagon Confidential: Your ‘iMom’ feels so much like a robot. How’d you go about planning the style of this character?

Ariel Martin: Obviously there are many great characters through cinema to draw on. I sat down with actress Matilda Brown and talked about where on the spectrum of ‘roboticness’ the iMom would sit. Haley Joel Osment’s character in Spielberg’s A.I. felt like a really interesting meshing between human and machine, and built on this idea in rehearsals.

HWC: How’d you get into filmmaking?

AM: I made alot of coffees for other people. Then I got a lucky break at 20 when I won a grant that funded my first short. On the back of my first short I managed to build a career directing TV commercials for other people’s ideas. I’m burning to make more of my own projects where there’s no client sitting behind me.

HWC: Your films have run in the festival circuit. What’s it like having your film screen in other countries? Was there one festival you preferred?

AM: Having a film at a festival is the closest I’ll ever get to feeling like ‘I’m with the band.’  Making short films is so desperately unglamorous that to have people watch and hopefully enjoy your work is a genuine thrill. And they give you a lanyard. Aspen Shortsfest and Austin Film festival are both absolute killer festivals for filmmakers.

HWC: What’re your plans for the future?

AM: I’m making my next short in the Ukraine, based on those kids that free-climb old abandoned cranes and Soviet structures. I’ve also got a feature in development.

HWC: How do you keep perspective on a film that you are both the writer and director of?

AM: Other than ads, it’s the only way I’ve ever worked. Only recently have I realised the value in feedback from trusted people.

HWC: You can only watch one film for the rest of your life. What do you choose?

AM: Oh that’s easy. Scorsese’s Taxi Driver.

Check out more of Ariel’s work here!

Suggestion of the Week

Classic, Film, Gone With the Wind
Gone with the Wind, Victor Fleming, George Cukor, and Sam Wood

Gone With the Wind (Victor Fleming, George Cukor, and Sam Wood)

A story so classic it hurts. Gone with the Wind earns the title of top grossing movie of all time…

“The sheer arterial force of the film’s storytelling can’t be denied. On the big screen, the huge exteriors and skylines ablaze have a dreamlike, expressionist quality. It is strange, mad and operatic.”


The film follows a young southern Belle (Vivien Leigh) through the Civil War and Reconstruction, not leaving out of course, some messy love affairs with two of the time’s most striking men (Leslie Howard/Clarke Gable).

Watch this flick off Amazon or read more off the Guardian!

Jefferson Stein on Short Film, “Tumble Dry Low”

Film, Jefferson Stein, Short Film

“But, I think it was when I realized that the films weren’t real; that the stories were made up by people, that was the moment I wanted to learn how to make them. And I’ve been trying to do that since.”

Honey Wagon Confidential: You wrote and directed “Tumble Dry Low”. What was this experience like? Do you prefer one to the other?

Jefferson Stein: I’ve written each film I’ve directed and I’ve only written one film which I didn’t direct. For my process so far, it’s been important that I generate my own material. Since it takes a long time to make a film, I need to connect to it on a deep level or I lose interest. Although, I would be open to adapting stories from other mediums in the future. This film was always going to be a small project, but I ended up having to shoot and edit it as well. I even got to try my hand at making some of the music which was a blast.

HWC: Where did the idea for “Tumble Dry Low” come from?

JS: I approached this film in two parts. First I thought, what’s the most painful thing I can think of that could happen to me and what are my biggest fears? I came up with a list, and chose my mother dying. At the same time I had been compiling a list of unique places that I knew I could gain access to film at for free. When I had my location, I came up with these characters and wrote the story. The trailer became a motif for isolation, and we sort of crafted the story around what we had access to. At the trailer rental place, I offered to take pictures of the owner’s trailers for his website to get a discount cheap enough for afford to rent the trailer. That’s low budget filmmaking for you.

HWC: What got you into film-making?

JS: I owe it to my parents for getting me into film. My parents love movies and when my mother had me, she took off from work to stay at home with me. She would record movies that played on HBO onto VHS tapes and cataloged them in a truly massive library of films. There was even a rolodex with all the movie titles so you could look up the number and find it on the shelf. I’m the oldest of four, so after three more kids, the collection started to get pretty big. When we were all growing up, during the summers and after school we would watch them. But, I think it was when I realized that the films weren’t real; that the stories were made up by people, that was the moment I wanted to learn how to make them. And I’ve been trying to do that since.

HWC: In 2012, you directed “The Animal”. What have you learned from then and how did your process change when making “Tumble Dry Low”?

JS: The “The Animal” was a student film. It was a painful process. I did it in my first directing class in film school, and I was required to make it in a specific way. That way, was not the way I wanted to make it. In the end, I was brought into the head of the department’s office and he said to make it they way the teacher wanted, that I needed to learn this way of filmmaking. He said that my next film could be made the way I wanted, that this was the point of the class. I ended up getting to keep one shot I had originally planned; the shot you see in the trailer. Looking back, I’m immensely thankful for this experience, and that it happened in film school when the stakes were low. The pain of seeing a project completely get away from me and the disappointment in its result, has taught me the cost of not being true to myself.

HWC: This film has been a part of the festival circuit. What was this experience like and what did you learn from these festivals?

JS: I had an amazing experience on the festival circuit. The best part was meeting fellow filmmakers and seeing their films. Festivals are kind of the R+D of the indie film world, and it’s great to see the newest stuff. It can take years for some of these films to get onto theaters and VOD or for shorts to be released online. I liked doing the Q+A’s after the film screened. It was great to see people engage with the film and bring their own life experiences into the discussions. I never expected any of this, so it’s all been great.

HWC: When directing a commercial do you focus on different aspects as opposed to when directing a narrative short?

JS: So far commercials have been a different animal. But, I think what clients like about me is that I approach the spots from my filmmaking background. I ask questions that maybe they aren’t thinking about. It’s a very collaborative process and I like to be a part of it. It’s also surreal seeing it on TV.

HWC: If you could only watch one film for the rest of your life, what would you choose?

JS: 2001. That film means a lot to me. Every time I watch it, I see something new, and it has this feeling to it that I haven’t seen in any other film. The way the mise en scene, camera movement, and music works in unison; the characters and the setting; it all comes together in a beautiful and unsettling way. I’m a huge space nerd too, so that might also have something to do with it.

Check out more of Jefferson’s work here!