SHORTFILMTEXAS (SFT): What is your short film about?
DREW XANTHOPOULOS (DX): A young boy living in rural Texas constructs an adventure story incorporating family, friends, and the filmmaker. The boy is viewed through the lens of his imagined story as he both invents and enacts it. Blending elements of fiction and nonfiction, this short documentary is an unusual portrait of a 9 year old boy by way of his imagination.
SFT: How did you come up with the idea?
DX: I knew I wanted to do a piece that explores the division between fiction and documentary, but it was only when I met Jack, the young boy in the film, that it all clicked. His dad was showing me around their property (where the subsequent film ended up being shot anyway) for another idea I had and Jack was always in tow, in his own world. I remember it was September but he was always wearing a mish-mash of costumes; a cape, cowboy hat, and Olympic medallion all at once, for example. While his dad and I walked around and chatted about ranching, he’d always be off in his own world, playing with the what was around him and what he saw in his mind, and I wanted to capture that.
SFT: What did you film on?
DX: We filmed on a Panasonic HVX with a lens adapter, which worked just fine for this piece.
SFT: Tell me about your cast / crew.
DX: It was a small crew including Russell Bush on camera, Therese Tran doing stills, Tomasz Werner on sound, and myself directing as we went along. It was all shot in one day and from the hip, with Jack leading us through the story as we helped him tell it.
SFT: You mingle fiction and non-fiction throughout the film. How did this storytelling style come about?
DX: I’ve always been interested in the division between what is “real” and “unreal” and it’s a theme explored in all of my work: the idea that reality is your perception. Also, I don’t believe there is as clear a line between fiction and nonfiction, as the terms infer. Any detective will tell you that if you ask twenty people who witnessed the same event at the same time, you’ll hear twenty different accounts. I think that’s a beautiful thing, that simply because it’s impossible for any two of us to stand in the same exact space at the same time, our perceptions of the world are by definition, different. And yet amazingly, most of us agree on the fundamentals of how and why our world operates; i.e. the system of logic. I’m interested in the fine print of those agreements because it’s scary and confusing but somehow, makes the most sense.
SFT: What did you learn while making Western Brothers?
DX: It was my first lesson in letting go the reins of a film once it’s on its way.
SHORTFILMTEXAS (SFT): What’s next for you?
DREW XANTHOPOULOS (DX): I’m currently shooting a short adaptation of the Adam and Eve story called When We Fell that will be finished later this year. Here’s its synopsis: An adaptation of the Adam and Eve myth, When We Fell is the story of a young couple’s journey through three imagined worlds in which they play out childlike fantasies. As they spend more time together, however, the consequences of their game change drastically, and they are forced to choose between the paradise they’ve created together and each other.
WESTERN BROTHERS’ ADVENTURE STORY
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