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Randall Okita’s The Lockpicker Premieres at the New Jersey Film Festival on Friday, September 23!


By Al Nigrin

originally published: 10/24/2016

Randall Okita’s The Lockpicker Premieres at the New Jersey Film Festival on Friday, September 23!

Randall Okita’s The Lockpicker Premieres at the New Jersey Film Festival on Friday, September 23!

Here is my interview with The Lockpicker Director Randall Okita:

Nigrin:  Your film The Lockpicker focuses on an enigmatic teenager who struggles at home and at school in the wake of a friend's recent death. Please tell us what motivated you to make this very moving film. 

Okita:  We wanted to make a film about a young person trying to figure out how to be the hero of their own story. A teenager facing some challenges and trying to make sense of their world - someone who may not have the right kind of support and who risks falling through the cracks. This story is based on experiences that I've had, people I've known, and we wanted to bring the audience on a journey that might help them to understand and empathize with someone who gets to a scary or dangerous place. 

Nigrin:  The lead actor who plays Hashi plays his role really well. Can you tell us more about how you found him and how you came about casting him in the lead role?

Okita:  We searched high and low for someone who could illuminate our main character, Hashi. We needed someone who could portray a deep internal world, a world of conflict and struggle, but who said very little. We needed to move from scared for him to scared of him. We auditioned over 100 young people. When we met, by chance, Kiegian Umi Tang in the hallway of a high school we were scouting, all the light bulbs lit up for me and producer Jason Lapeyre. After months of talking about the special spark that this character had, we recognized it immediately in Keigian, he is one of a kind.  



 
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Nigrin:  Where did you shoot your film and how long did it take to complete.

Okita:  We shot our film over 35 days in and around Toronto. We were supported by partnered with many people in our community, including the wonderful family at Studio 835, an incredible arts studio in Toronto full of collaborators and developed a really unique partnership with a Central Toronto Academy, Toronto high school. 

Nigrin:  Please comment on why your film is shot with a very dark color scheme and with lots of handheld camera work.

Okita:  Our cinematographer Jackson Parrell really did some brilliant work telling this story, he is another singular artist who brought so much to this process. We worked to develop a look that moved between the reality of Hashi's environment and the representation of his internal world as it evolves, as well as showing how he starts to cannibalize his own memories and turn them into fantasies. 

Nigrin: Are there any memorable stories while you made this film or any other info about your film you can rely to our readers?

Okita:  We decided early on that we wanted to incorporate mentorship and community building into our production methodology. We budgeted and scheduled for it, and we hoped to find the right partners, mentors and students, but we didn't know if we'd be able to do everything we hoped to. It worked beyond our wildest dreams. To me, remembering the moments on set when we had dozens of students observing, helping, getting involved behind the camera... and so many more in front of the camera, it still moves me. Having learned over the years from so many mentors that I still look up to and reach out to for advice, and remembering how influential it was for me to be on set for the first time, this is such a powerful and important part of this project for me and I'm so excited to share it with the world. 

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Three terrific short films will precede The Lockpicker. Here is more info on this screening:



 
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Broken Tiaras - Dorothy Wallace (North Bergen, New Jersey) A cross between South Park and School House Rock, Broken Tiaras is a short, animated comedy about a group of avengers, known as the LadyBugs, who rescue little girls from an oppressive beauty pageant. 2016; 7 min. With an introduction and Q+A session with Director Dorothy Wallace!

Woman With Violin - Mariam Bakashvili (Hackettstown, New Jersey) An immigrant woman rushes to a violin audition, with the hope of changing her life.  2016; 19 min.  With an introduction and Q+A session with Director Mariam Bakashvili!

The Observer Effect - Eric Hayes (Princeton, New Jersey)  A student facing difficult choices about his future gets mixed up in a dangerous time-travel experiment. 2016; 36 min. With an introduction and Q+A session with Director Eric Hayes!

The Lockpicker - Randall Okita (Toronto, Canada)  In this superbly directed, acted and photographed feature film, an enigmatic teenager, struggles at home and at school in the wake of a friend's recent death. Poor and neglected, he resorts to stealing from his fellow students and dreams of an escape from the violence that threatens him and the people he loves. 2016; 105 min. With an introduction and Q+A session with Director Randall Okita! Co-sponsored by the Rutgers University Centers for Global Advancement and International Affairs (GAIA Centers)!

Friday, September 23, 2016 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

Jimmy John’s of New Brunswick will be providing free food prior to all New Jersey Film Festival Screenings!




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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