Youth filmmaker Charles Blecker reflects on his Golden Gate Award winning short Epitaph about a brooding boy who prepares a proper burial for his pet and finds a kindred spirit in the cemetery.
Epitaph played in the SFIFF57 Shorts 7: Youth Works program. It is a Cinema by the Bay film.
What was the inspiration for your story?
The idea that became this film is based on something that happened to me when I was about five years old. I discovered that the giant, imposing waterfall built next to Yerba Buena Park was in fact dedicated to single man: someone named Martin Luther King who, apparently, not only had a giant temple dedicated to him, but was so great that there was a whole day of the year named after him. I knew immediately that this was goal that I must strive towards. I began attempting to make my own memorial, which resembled a rudimentary pillow fort with a picture of me on top. Alas, like most of the efforts of my early years, it proved entirely fruitless, outside of giving me the a funny story to add to my slowly growing repertoire. Six years later, when I told the story in Film Workshop, it was suggested I make a movie out of it. I figured it might be fun idea so I decided to write a treatment.
What do you see as the greatest challenges for filmmakers today?
The biggest challenge that stops filmmakers from making movies is a lack of resources. It is almost impossible to make feature length film without a great deal of money. Even most so-called independent films are backed by one of the many independent branches of well-established Hollywood studios. This makes it more difficult for films that lack backing from a producer to compete with these types of movies.
What new opportunities are making the biggest difference to your filmmaking process?
The biggest advantage I have gained in recent years is meeting a group of talented people I can rely on to help me create my projects. I have had great teachers at the film program at SOTA and at the Film Workshop that I go to every Sunday. One of the greatest myths of filmmaking is that films are a single director's vision. Making a movie is one of the most collaborative art forms there is and you have to work with people you can trust. The Film Workshop helps me keep focused on my projects and continues to push me to keep going.
Describe what impact Bay Area filmmaking community support has had on your film.
I wouldn't have been able to make any of my films alone. The organization that first taught me how to make movies was Film Workshop. It also introduced me to many foreign and obscure films that I would have never seen otherwise. It gave me access materials, like cameras lenses and editing equipment, to make my films and also introduced me to other young San Franciscan filmmakers. Film Workshop also provided me with mentors, which have been incredibly useful as it gives me people to bounce ideas off of and steer me in the right direction. I highly recommend it to anyone who wants to make films and is willing to work hard.