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An Interview with Matt Sullivan, director of Sobrevivo

by Dale Pierce

September 2014

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You are the director and co-producer of a new film titled Sobrevivo. What can you tell readers about this film?

 

First I want to thank you for the opportunity to be a part of this interview. Sobrevivo chronicles the struggles of a woman in a post-apocalyptic world. When April and her boyfriend's safe-haven is compromised, the two must flee and search for a new place to call 'home'. After nearly losing her fight for survival, April in taken in by a trio of strangers. While the world outside of her new home is perilous, she begins to recognize that the dangers existing inside may prove to be deadlier and even more sinister.

 

How did you come up with the title?

 

The title is actually a Spanish word meaning "I Survive".  Dena Schumacher, the writer and co-producer, didn't want to title the film "Survival" or "I Survive," and thus "Sobrevivo".  I think it has some mystery to it, if you don't speak Spanish, and that's what I liked about it.  

 

The premiere for this film is coming. What do you anticipate the response to be?

 

I can't say how people will feel about the film, however, I would like viewers to note the craft that went into this film, especially for the budget. The film was funded through Kickstarter, raising $12,250 on the crowd funding website. We pulled out every favor imaginable to make this film. We borrowed equipment, asked friends to help as background actors, crew and even featured zombies. I think for the budget, the audience will be very surprised with the cinematic value of the film. Personally, I'm very proud of all aspects of the film, including sound design, editing, music, make-up, and lighting. It doesn't look like a film that was produced for $12,250! 

 

Dena Schumacher was the writer and co-producer of this project. What was it like working with a partner of this type rather than on your own?

 

I couldn't have made this film without Dena. She is an incredible resource for energy and dedication. The filmmaking process is long and arduous; there were plenty of times where I needed an extra push, and Dena was there to deliver that for me. While Dena and I called on many people to help make this film, it was essentially the two of us at it's core. I think that the film reflects our passion to make this the best that it could possibly be with the resources we had. 

 

Do you have a webpage for your company or about the film?

 

Yes!  You can visit the official website @ www.sobrevivofilm.com. There you can find links to our trailer, Facebook, Twitter, IMDb and other news on the film. 

 

You have started sending out press information and such about the film. What has the feedback been like?

 

To be honest, we just started sending out press releases and information. This is our first online interview and we are honored to be taking part in this! 

 

The film is being shown at Shriekfest which has always been helpful to independent film, no?

 

Denise Gossett is as important to independent horror as anyone out there. To run a festival for 14 years (and do it well) is no small feat. Working with Denise has been an absolute pleasure. In summary, she "gets it". She knows the time and energy that is put into any film and she has the utmost respect for all of the filmmakers that are fortunate enough to take part in her festival. While we haven't even met in person, I already feel like I have a strong connection with her. Dena and I are so excited to finally meet her in October.

 

Do you plan on sending the film to other festivals?

 

Absolutely. The plan is to see how the film is received by the horror community first and then cast our net to the wider world of film genres.

 

What other marketing strategies do you have for the film?

 

Right now, film festivals and a good online presence are our plan. I want people to know that we are excited about this film and pleased to talk about our experience making it. I highly encourage anyone interested in finding out about the project to contact us at info@sobrevivofilm.com

 

Many independent films have been sleepers that emerged as big hits. What do you think constitutes a good to great indie film?

 

I think what makes a great indie film is the craftsmanship of the film: from storytelling, to acting, to sound design, we have spent an incredible amount of time fine tuning this film. It's all also about overcoming your obstacles; with no money, you're faced with many pitfalls. You have to be creative in both your financial planning as well as your aesthetics. Great films are able to accomplish both.

 

Likewise there have been many productions that have left a little to be desired. What constitutes a bad indie film?

 

First and foremost, in my opinion, is your story. Without a good story, an indie film is shooting itself in the foot. You have to engage your audience and leave them wanting more.

 

As a director what do you look for in actors?

 

As a director the thing that I look for most in an actor is courage. Acting is tough. That's why I choose to direct. It takes a lot to go out everyday on auditions and get shot down. You're putting yourself out there for anyone to peck away at you. That's pretty brave. But when you take it one step further, and really put yourself in your character's shoes, that's what is truly impressive. We were so fortunate enough to have the wonderful actors that we did in this film which was brilliantly cast by Lexie Pregosin. This production was particularly interesting because the characters on screen are such awful people, while the actors playing those characters are some of the best I have ever worked with. It was amazing to see how they would go from point a to point z with regard to their demeanor. You wouldn't go within 1,000 feet of their on-screen persona, but off the set, they'd be the first person you would call up to grab a beer! 

 

Do you give a lot of leeway to the actors or take a more dictatorial approach?

 

I think you HAVE to let actors find themselves in their roles. Your job as the director is to help them find it. But in the end, they are the ones who must internalize it and embrace it. If it's not believable to them, it certainly won't be believable to your audience. As the director, you are that person's shrink, helping them weave through the complexities of those characters and rationalizing their thoughts and actions. 

 

Do you have any other projects in the works?

 

Absolutely!  We have several scripts that are either completed or are in the works. We love so many of them that it's difficult to decide which one to go with. Right now, we are working up an idea about a hotel that doubles as limbo, in which its inhabitants must face the decisions that they have made in life and as a result, be judged either by themselves, or a greater power. Another script we have focuses on a young family whose daughter creates an imaginary friend that lives in a shack outside their new home. But as the family comes to realize, he's not so happy about the new tenants. We are currently looking for producers and investors for the next project, so if you fit the category and you like this film, please consider contacting us at info@sobrevivofilm.com

 

Do you have a preference for producing, directing or other activities in film?

 

I really enjoy directing the most. I love the idea of creating new worlds in which our characters and audience can be completely immersed in. The creative side of production has always been where my interest lies. But when you are making your own film, often times you are forced to produce it as well.

 

What is your own film background? Did you study at a school or academy or learn on your own?

 

I've been obsessed with films since I was 3 years old and always wanted to be involved in filmmaking. I went to Emerson College in Boston where I received my bachelor's in visual arts. From there, I went out to LA where I worked on several different television shows on various networks. It was hard to find time to work on my personal projects and it wasn't until recently that I was able to dedicate the necessary time to producing this film.

 

Do you have any interesting behind the scenes stories to tell about the making of this film?

 

Oh, maybe the time when we wrapped production and on the last night, our makeup artist took it upon herself to dump the entire bucket of fake blood on me, much like you would see Gatorade on the coach of the winning Superbowl team!  That, well, that was a good one. I'm still trying to figure out a way to get her back!

 

I do not want to create any bad blood or competition with your crew by putting you on the spot, but is there any specific actor you have worked with that shines through on film?

 

Honestly, I'm so thrilled with all of their performances. I would have to say that it was an absolute pleasure working with Rachel Napoleon who will undoubtedly be seen in hundreds of other productions throughout the years. She is one tough cookie. We really put her through the ringer and she always came out smiling. Her ability as an actor is fantastic. I always believed her in every take and that was huge. This was not an easy shoot by any means. People worked very hard and for that I am eternally grateful.

 

In the same light, what do you think constitutes a good or great actor?

 

I think a great actor has the ability to remove him- or herself from their personal life experiences and the way that they would typically handle things. They immerse themselves in the world of the character, going out of their comfort zone and creating memorable roles in which they take risks. Playing it safe can work. But it's not what makes for a "great" actor.

 

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There are many other points we could touch on, but this is a short interview. Is there anything we missed you would like to bring up?

 

I think it's important to note that we had the best cast, crew, and post production team that I've had the pleasure of working with. Their dedication to this project stands out and hopefully reads well on film. We could not have done this without them.

 

Closing comments?

 

Making this film has been one of the most exciting, exhausting and inspiring events in my life. While it took a lot out of me, it also required the help of hundreds of other people, including our cast, crew, family, friends and donors. I want to thank each and every person who contributed to this film and believed in what Dena and I were trying to accomplish. You made us very proud and we hope that we can accomplish the same for you with this film. Thank you from the bottom of our hearts.

 

Thanks for the interview!

© by Dale Pierce


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Thanks for watching !!!



 

 

On the same day
a Burglar wants to kill you
and your Ex wants
to make up ...
... and for the life of it,
you can't decide
WHICH IS WORSE!!!

 

A Killer Conversation

produced by and starring
Melanie Denholme
directed by
David V.G. Davies
written by
Michael Haberfelner
starring
Ryan Hunter and
Rudy Barrow

out now on DVD

 

 

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