Interview with Director Craig Thieman
Continuing our interest into the up and coming films looking for backers on Kickstarter, we discovered Craig Thieman’s “Love Letter”. We conducted a short interview with him to learn more about the film and its influences.
Q: Where did the idea for this film come from? What is your background in film-making?
A: I was trying to write a short film with just one actor…because that’s all I had available at the time. The challenge was ‘how do you create tension with just one character’. For me, the two most instantly compelling devices are sex and death. If either of these are imminent you can’t look away from the screen. So it made sense for me to make a story about a guy planning his own imminent, self-imposed death or suicide. (I thought it wise to avoid the sex for this film for obvious reasons) I made the short film with this idea and then developed it into a feature length film titled Love Letter with screenwriter Ethan Hunter. After we had the initial idea, everything else fell into place. It was just a matter of figuring out who this character was. All the other characters were created as our character evolved, each beating him up in a different, emotional, psychological, and amusing way.
I went to a school with an underdeveloped film department. We had to share a 8gb hard drive with another production group that kept erasing our project. Soon I left school and used all the money I could scrape up to start buying my own production equipment. I moved to Wilmington, NC because Frank Capra Jr. was president of the movie studio there and I was a huge Frank Capra Senior fan. I got a job working at the movie studio as a security guard. I opened my ears, jumped into everything I could and I really started to learn how this movie process worked. Since then, I’ve made lots of commercials and short films, but Love Letter will be my first feature film.
Q: How would you categorize your movie with regard to genre?
A: The film is a Dark Comedy.
Q: Who do you expect your audience will be? Who are you trying to reach out to?
A: Anyone who doesn’t mind their comedy mixed with a bit of violence is going to be into the movie we’ve been making. It’s really a fun outrageous ride. Teenagers, college students, people with a dark sense of humor and people who enjoyed Hot Fuzz, Shaun of the Dead, Dexter, or evil dead will love ‘Love Letter’.
Q: What is the draw for your audience? What issues does your storyline deal with?
A: The film is about a potential serial killer named Garrett who’s never really killed anyone. He doesn’t know how to kill people, and when he attempts he doesn’t necessarily succeed, but he does create really awkward situations. He thinks he’s a nice guy and has difficulty seeing why everyone is so mad at him. He starts out trying to kill just the one person, but life becomes complicated as he takes more hostages than he can handle. The story is about Garrett discovering he’s kind of a bad person. Our film is additionally unique in that it is told from the perspective of the bad guy. The film is a dark action comedy that builds to a chaotic conclusion.
Q: Did you draw influences for this film from other films? Which ones? Are there any specific directors you draw inspiration from?
A: I haven’t consciously been influenced by other films on this movie. That being said I do love the feel of Delicatessen, Amelie, Wristcutters: A Love Story, Buffy the Vampire Slayer (for television), and I love the pacing and majesty of Indiana Jones and Jurassic Park.
My biggest influences for this film would be Jeanne Pierre Jeunet, Joss Whedon, and Spielberg.
Enough great things cannot be said about Jeunet. His flair for the dramatic, art, and rich characters builds an incredible atmosphere. Joss Whedon plays his characters off of each other in a very unique way, hitting his audience with intense dialogue and then marrying it with well paced comedy.
If you are interested in seeing this film, head over to Love Letter’s Kickstarter and donate some money to help fund the production!