It’s Tuesday, which means it’s time for a SHORT BREAK! Check back on the second day of every week for another awesome short film and a quick chat with its director.

Straight from its successful run at the 2011 Sundance Film Festival comes “The Hunter and the Swan Discuss Their Meeting,” a hilarious little gem from writer/director Emily Carmichael. Shape-shifting swan people, dessert sushi and actual romance in one eight-minute package? You had me at “swan people.”

Here’s a little film festival secret for you: the hardest thing to find are shorts that are both funny AND good. This one is definitely both. No surprise there, as Carmichael is also responsible for the genius “Ledo and Ix” series, which is about the ennui of two characters in an 8-bit video game. You can check out all five episodes here.

Check out the film and then scroll down for my e-mail Q&A with Carmichael.

Where did this story and these characters come from? Is there more?

Growing up I would always page through this Time Life book of “Faeries and Elves” which has the story about the swan women. I was at my parents’ place one weekend, and I started looking over the book and wondering what would happen if she asked him that question, “How did you know which one was mine.” So, pretty simple as far as inspiration goes.

There are two distinct ‘worlds’ in the film, each with a unique look. Can you talk about how that developed?

Well the thing I thought was fun to explore was of course the contrast between the mythic story and then having them discuss it at a normal contemporary Brooklyn dinner party. Ben Richardson, the cinematographer, used all sorts of diffusion and other fancy camera things to give each world a really different feel. And of course Elizabeth Stewart and the dancers who play her swan sisters —Patricia Norowol, Christina Reaves and Faye Lim — do a lot to make the scene beautiful!

Being funny on film is very hard — what’s your secret?

I think it’s pretty much exactly like other kinds of directing. You start with a scene in your head, where characters are saying and doing certain stuff (or this is how I do it, anyways, maybe there are some crazy advanced methods I don’t know about) and you try to think why the characters are doing the stuff in that way, and then that’s what you tell the actors. You tell the actors the things that cause the stuff. Then you (And really, should I be saying any of this? It sounds so elementary.) listen and stay open to what the actors are giving you back, ask yourself why they’re doing the stuff in the way that they’re doing it, given the things that you gave them, and you use that to learn more about the way in which the stuff should actually be done. And if it’s comedy, the stuff is funny. But the things are usually sad.


By Jon Korn

via  The Bay Citizen.