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Drake Woodall’s beautiful experimental film Soot premiere’s at the New Jersey Film Festival this Saturday, September 15, 2018.


By Al Nigrin

originally published: 09/12/2018

Drake Woodall’s beautiful experimental film Soot premiere’s at the New Jersey Film Festival this Saturday, September 15, 2018.

Drake Woodall’s experimental film Soot premiere’s at the New Jersey Film Festival this Saturday, September 15, 2018. 

Here is my interview with Drake:

Nigrin: Your beautifully eerie short film is about a woman who waits for the return of her long absent husband Henry. Please tell us more about your film and what compelled you to make it? 

Woodall: Well, I wanted to use my first post-grad summer to make a film.  I rummaged through old pieces I had written until I found a short story that seemed practically adaptable. Practical in this case meaning for little money and with little to no crew.  Thematically, I was compelled by the story’s perversion of expectations; it’s a bizarre case, but the feelings are relatable. Whether through misdirection, paranoia or ignorance we’ve all been on the receiving end of an unwelcome surprise.  So in all, it seemed like a good story to experiment with as a new filmmaker.  

Nigrin: Your film reminded me a bit of the atmosphere found in David Lynch’s Eraserhead? Are you a fan of his films? 

Woodall:  Of course, David Lynch is an inspiring artist.  I know Lynch’s work very well, but it’s his dedication to the surreal and his dreamlike world-building that inspire me more than his work itself.  

Nigrin:  The actor who plays the woman is really great. Who is she and how did you decide to cast her?    



 
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Woodall:  I met Elizabeth Fisher while studying prose fiction at Appalachian State University.   We didn’t speak very much during the course, but her writing was dark and experimental and I didn’t forget that. I contacted her several months later asking if she’d like to act in my film and after a few meetings she was onboard. 

Nigrin:  The location selected for your film is perfect. Where was your film shot and tell us more about how you shot your film there?

Woodall:  The bedroom portions of the film were shot in my single bedroom apartment in Boone, NC.  I converted my bedroom into a set and lived in that room for several months.  I covered the walls in charcoal to replicate smoke damage, dyed my sheets to create the “silhouette” and even set up their wedding photo.  Living in that environment forced dedication and spawned a lot of creativity.  The rest of the film was shot at my parent’s home and on their surrounding property.  A previous location was secured and filmed at for several nights, but due to a shrinking budget and conflicting schedules we were forced to scrap all of that footage.  I’m extremely grateful to my family for allowing me to invade their space and finish the film. 

Nigrin:  The cinematography, the soundtrack are also stars in your film. Tell us more about these.

Woodall:  When I decided to adapt the short story for the screen, the first thing I did was draw up a detailed storyboard. I nailed down the general aesthetic and art style long before picking up a camera.  I have a photo background, but outside of constantly watching movies I don’t have a film background.  I butchered that storyboard with notations on camera movement, lighting direction and action.   A lot of that direction made it into the final cut, but lots was lost while experimenting.  I’m new, but I’m sure that’s normal.  

As for the score, it was recorded with my own instruments at home.  My aim was for it to be sinister, but environmental through the incorporation of on screen objects (the chimes, piano, and clock). If my memory serves me correctly, it consists of a mix of piano (the one featured in the film), drums, electric guitar, electric organ, wind chimes and a clock’s chime.   I later slowed down and controlled the pitch of the instruments and objects in order to achieve a darker, more haunting sound and match the action. 

Nigrin:  Are there any memorable stories while you made this film or any other info about your film you can pass on to us?



 
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Woodall:  I sold my car to purchase the camera and my director’s chair was a spray-painted cinderblock. 

Here is a link to the EBTV Interview I did with Drake a few weeks ago:

Soot will be followed by another great short It’s A Mess and the World Premiere of the feature film The Luring. Here is more information on this screening:

Soot -Drake Woodall (Brooklyn, New York) In this beautifully eerie short film, a woman waits for the return of her long absent husband. 2018; 14 min. 

It’s A Mess -Frank Prinzi (New York, New York) It’s a Messis both a modern-day fairytale, and an ode to the solitude of New York City.  As it enters the night-worlds inhabited by a  homeless man with a troubled past (played by Vincent D'Onofrio), and by two young sisters with a dark secret, it unfolds as a study of the loneliness that comes from knowing that innocence and evil are separated by a fine mist that dissipates after sunset. 2018; 29 min.With a Q+A Session by Director Frank Prinzi!

The Luring -Christopher Wells (Brooklyn, New York)  In this compelling psychological thriller, a man tries to recover a lost memory about something that took place on his tenth birthday. Unbeknownst to him, he was found that day in a non-responsive state, which resulted in an extended stay in an institution. Psychiatrists call this state dissociative amnesia - a loss of memory due to a traumatic event - and Garrett will soon learn that some memories are best kept forgotten. 2018; 109 min. With a Q+A Session by Director Christopher Wells and Producer Brian Berg as well as members of the cast and crew! Co-sponsored by the Rutgers University Cinema Studies Program!

Saturday, September 15, 2018 at 7:00 p.m.


Voorhees Hall #105/Rutgers University


71 Hamilton Street, New Brunswick, New Jersey


$12=General; $10=Students+Seniors; $9=Rutgers Film Co-op Friends


Information: (848) 932-8482; 
www.njfilmfest.com

 

 




Albert Gabriel Nigrin is an award-winning experimental media artist whose work has been screened on all five continents. He is also a Cinema Studies Lecturer at Rutgers University, and the Executive Director/Curator of the Rutgers Film Co-op/New Jersey Media Arts Center, Inc.



 
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