Director Biography – Chino Saavedra (WHERE DARKNESS LIES)

Chino Saavedra is a Director and Editor born and raised in Spain. He graduated from Sydney Film School in 2009, and since then he has directed multiple music videos, including Comiendote a Besos from Spanish Singer-Songwriter Maria Rozalén. Where Darkness Lies is his directorial debut in narrative form.

Director Statement

The idea for this short film began as a proof of concept for a TV show I have been developing with my writing partner, Miwe Valle Parra. However, it quickly took a life of its own. I intend to explore human behavior, especially after a traumatic event, even if self-inflicted, and how these events will always be a part of you, re-defining who you are. It’s not a journey of forgiveness but ownership and acceptance.

Director Biography – Adrian Powers (BROLGA)

Adrian Powers is an Australian film director, editor and screenwriter. Several of his films have screened at film festivals across the globe, including the 69th Venice Film Festival, where his film ‘Scruples’ screened as part of a special collaboration between YouTube and Sir Ridley Scott, and during which Scott commented that Adrian and his fellow filmmakers were “all clearly talents for the industry to watch”. In 2013, Adrian completed work as co-director and editor on the WWI feature ‘Forbidden Ground’, which was released worldwide (including distribution in the US through Lionsgate Entertainment). He has edited ten feature films, including ‘Skin Deep’ (officially selected for the 2014 Austin Film Festival), ‘Embedded’ (officially selected for the 2016 Sydney Film Festival), ‘Zelos’ (officially selected for the 2018 Gold Coast Film Festival) and ‘Rip Tide’ (released worldwide on Netflix in 2018). Additionally, as both an editor and director, Adrian has worked on hundreds of corporate videos, TVCs, music videos and documentaries, and frequently helps to produce content for some of the biggest brands in Australia. His latest short film, ‘Brolga’, premiered at the 2019 Sci-Fi Film Festival, where Powers was awarded the George Pal Award for Best Director (Short Film).

Director Statement

Brolga is science-fiction short film set in a society which has collapsed, yet still possesses a few determined souls intent on preserving what remains. I was particularly interested in reflecting upon Indigneous and Non-Indigenous Australian relationships and attitudes in the piece. As such, the film contains references to the Dreaming stories of the Murriwarri clan of New South Wales, as well as breathtaking paintings from Indigenous artist Michael Connolly (Munda-gutta Kulliwari) of Dreamtime Kullilla Art. All of these elements were respectfully used with permission.

The film was shot in various locales around NSW, including the Richmond Vale Train Museum and Ball’s Head Reserve, North Sydney. Establishing and landscape shots were filmed in the Chernobyl Exclusion Zone in Ukraine.

Director Biography – Justin Daering (PROGENY)

Justin is passionate about science fiction filmmaking. He believes sci-fi stories encourage us not only to empathize but also to be curious and wonder. Justin started directing when he was ten years old, borrowing a video camera and dressing up his basement to look like a mad scientist’s laboratory. His continued interest in film led him to The University of Wisconsin where he received a BA in Cinema Studies. In 2009, his short film THE SHADOW OF THE NIGHT was featured in film festivals nationwide and in 2011 his micro-budget feature FRANCESCA premiered at the Wisconsin Film Festival. Justin has an MFA in Directing from the AFI Conservatory, and has worked as a director’s assistant on films including THE ACCOUNTANT and JANE GOT A GUN, and the television series THE AMERICANS.

Director Statement

I love the ooey gooey stuff.

ALIEN. THE FLY. Even GHOSTBUSTERS has its fair share of goopy slime and bodily transformations.

A story (like a body) can take many forms. A drama about truckers who are abused by their company is interesting, but put it in space and throw a deadly Alien into the mix, now it’s fun. Observing the way drug abuse destroys relationships and cripples the addict can be moving, but make that addict a six-foot-five arthropod and now you have my attention. Grad students make a breakthrough in science but the world continues to doubt them? Okay… The breakthrough is that they can catch ghosts — I’m in!

So I could tell you a story about how the ruling class takes advantage of hard-working Americans, about how they manipulate us through coopting popular narratives and shaping them to suit their personal and economic interests. I could tell a story about how the greatest systems of control utilized by the wealthy are the ones that are self-enforcing, about how they trick us into trying to succeed within the system by allowing just enough of us to achieve the appearance of wealth to maintain the myth that it’s possible for everyone. But Eisenstein covered that base almost 100 years ago, and frankly it was a little dry then too.

I’d rather tell you about the alien’s grotesque insertion appendage, the greasy gestational sac it discharges and the fibrous, invertebrate tendrils that tear open the flesh at the nape of your neck to wrap around your spine and integrate themselves into your nervous system, sucking the life force out of you to feed itself. There’s a story that is shocking, disgusting, and appalling.

And above all, fun.

Director Biography – Patrick Lewtschanyn (PNEUMA)

Patrick grew up in rural Michigan and began making short movies with his cousins at a very early age. Film school was a natural choice for him. He graduated from from Columbia College Chicago with a focus in cinematography in 2005 and has began working for multiple production and post houses. In 2012 Patrick decided to go freelance and founded Loose Cannon Films. He has been recently focusing more on short films while maintaining an advertising career as a director and DP.

Director Biography – Alex Farias (ANIMAL HEADS)

ALEX FARIAS is a 23 year old Los Angeles based filmmaker and director from the Pacific NorthWest. At age 18 she turned down enrollment to Tisch for her Bachelor’s degree to backpack overseas for two years. Upon returning home she began working in production. Since 2016 Alex has transitioned into the camera department, worked on 10 feature films, completed a screenwriting certificate at the University of Washington and a summer screenwriting intensive at NYU Tisch, directed two short films (“Animal Heads” and “Tempo”) and wrote two feature scripts. One of those scripts, “Georgia” has been finalist (top 25) in the ScreenCraft feature screenplay competition and her other script, “The Other Side”, won best feature at the Harlem film festival. Alex is passionate bringing media and art to underrepresented communities. She volunteers with foster youth organizations shooting video content and most recently directed a stage show through HomewardLA with a cast of eleven actors which went up at the Odyssey Theatre in Los Angeles as a benefit for the Midnight Mission on Skid Row. The organization raised 125,000 for the homeless community in the greater Los Angeles area.

Director Biography – Ilya Abulkhanov (ARXIV/ARCHIVE)

Ilya V. Abulkhanov is a Russian director, designer born in USSR, based in Los Angeles. While pursuing an auto-didactic approach in the attempt to consume / produce the world differently, he makes (dis)organized notes, (re)arranges desires and (dis)orientates expectations.

Most recently his work for Mill+ includes the music video, Rihanna ‘Sledgehammer’, the creative direction of the opening film title sequences for ‘X-MEN: Apocalypse’, ‘X-Men: Days of Future Past’, as well as the ‘Zoolander 2 Trailer’ and the opening film for the video game ‘Destiny’. Some of his earlier work includes the 2009 OFFF Opening Film, creative direction of Display Graphics and Holographic Interfaces for ‘Iron Man II’, the opening title sequence for the film ‘Married Life’, as well directed live action broadcast packages for the MTV Video Music Awards, MTV-Movie-Awards-2009, the Movie Awards, and MTV Network Rebrand. He also collaborated on the design and animation of the opening credits for ‘RocknRolla’, ‘Iron Man I’ and ‘The Incredible Hulk’.

Ilya also draws science-fictional characters and takes pictures. Aside from contributing to the culture industry outsourced by Hollywood he applies a trio of cynical, hypocritical and ironic strategy to survive.

Prior to living in Los Angeles, Ilya studied media-theory & film and worked as an editor in Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia from 1999-2005.

Director Statement

Something is missing. Yet, I would briefly describe the film as a certain kind of delay; a delay of narrative, a postponed continuity. I was interested in making a film that is both orienting and disorienting, frustrating and welcoming at the same time. This, in turn, I suspect, would allow the audience to enjoy making sense of things, because far along down the line, I think, we find enjoyment in producing meaning. In this sense, the film is playing with desires.
Having said that, one would say that any meaning itself is directly connected with the imaginary as well as its capacity to relate and shape a meaningful reality. Ultimately, what we dream of and desire is a byproduct of the conditional surroundings we find ourselves in. Which perpetuate and manifest the various ways we imagine these dreams; whether or not they are dreams of exodus, utopian accomplishments or the defeatist aspect of the seemingly nightmarish banality of the everyday.
If we change our surroundings, perhaps our dreams would change as well. If we change what we dream for, perhaps our surroundings would change as a byproduct of our insistence on this imaginary environment.

I thought it would be nice to make a film in which a protagonist from a future, whoever it might be- would be forced to dream a little. What if, the brain would produce a dream, what if one neuron combines with another and produces a protein surplus that could be the beginning of something new. The real meaning of that surplus could hang in the unconscious, as the assembly of processes recorded in one form or another and stored in some kind of an ARXIV/ Archive. Regardless of the usefulness of the archive, there would also be a possibility to dream for another world.

Director Biography – G.S. Leitgeb (THE SECRET BOX)

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Having directed numerous music-videos and commercials, THE SECRET BOX marks the international Drama Short-Film Debut for Austrian creator G.S. Leitgeb – with his current feature film in development, pursuing the same vibe, pace & colour. Following in the footsteps of well-known masters T. Burton, G. del Toro and W. Anderson, G.S. Leitgeb combines his work as writer, designer and director – moulding a fictional world filled with adventure, fantasy & mystery. Garnished with a sense of slapstick-comedy as the cherry on top. Inside the Dublin & Vienna based World-Building Studio KTC®Slingshot, he’s leading a Team of Creatives formerly involved in The Hobbit, Alice in Wonderland, Penny Dreadful or A Series of Unfortunate Events – offering services for writing, design and directing.


Director Statement

This journey about discovering something hidden, ancient and buried, with its secrets only waiting to be unlocked, feeds our universal hunger for curiosity. Its stories, characters and objects move us back to the days where we used to hang out in treehouses and spent hours dreaming up dangerous adventures, only to come home late – dirty and bruised, but a tick wiser. Those happy days where fantasy and imagination ruled our world, and emotions were floating so effortlessly.

With its quirky designs, its eccentric characters and its twisted story-lines, THE SECRET BOX triggers our senses for retro, nostalgia and playfulness; inviting us to experience the world through the eyes of an innocent kid.

To go into great detail during the process of writing & development was vital for the creation of an authentic and wide-spread world. It doesn’t stop with the characters and stages. Fictional bodies, organisations and objects needed their own branding and identity – such as the ‘Peltzer Publishing Group’ – a fictional distribution company that runs a newspaper and is in cahoots with the secret Can Society. Or the company Straussman Werke Gmbh, which is dealing with all kinds of scientific gadgets in providing the equipment for The KTC® Time Jumper Program. When building a timeline from 1600 towards 1985, all of these things needed to be thought through to finally connect them with the events happening on The Secret Box.

The entire making of The Secret Box involved around 60 international Creatives plus 20 additional heads who worked as consulters in the back. For such a short format entertainment which is as complex as it is new, with all its different media-channels and story-parts, that is a lot of people to be held together. Right on top, you constantly have to keep an eye on not to loose focus of ‘the bigger picture’.

Director Biography – Janne Kasperi Suhonen (DIVE ODYSSEY)

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Janne Kasperi Suhonen is a Helsinki-based freelance photographer and film maker. He graduated from the Lahti Design Institute and specializes in underwater filming. Janne is perfectionist and occasionally impatient commander. In order to achieve the goals, he pushes the team to its’ extreme. As Janne is the camera operator he plans the shoots and leads the team during the under water filming. His enthusiasm strengthens the bond among the others.

He is Co-founder of the Divers of the Dark dive team and Co-author of ‘Divers of the Dark’ book. Janne is responsible of photography and video for all the Divers of the Dark team movies, commercials, books, and magazine articles.

Director Statement

Dive Odyssey is a tribute to loved hobbies, diving and sci-fi movies. But what is the common nominator between these two things justifying this project? For me, the connection has always been evident. Cave dive is a visual experience in three dimensions, a flight into the inner space.

From my childhood, I remember all the weekends at my grandparents’ house, far in the countryside. Along with fishing and carpentry, I got to watch movies on television in the evening, something I wasn’t allowed to do at home. One particular time was when I was 8 years old and saw Space Odyssey 2001 for the first time, grandpa dozing off in the chair next to me. I didn’t understand much about the movie, but I watched hypnotized all the same. The challenging and open-ended climax wouldn’t escape my mind for a long time.

The strength of the science-fiction genre is in the ability to address challenging social or personal problems without restrictions. At best, the utopias or dystopias create a shell inside which it is easy to focus on the underlying subject – without the usual constraints set by the real world. In addition to Space Odyssey 2001, other movie classics that have greatly influenced me include Solaris, Phase IV, Rollerball, Silent Running, Blade Runner, Alien, Soylent Green, Man Who Felt The Earth, and Zardoz.

The project is a confession of love for diving. It has given me so much. Friends. A new direction for my profession as a photographer. Experiences that no other person has seen or experienced before me. Lost wrecks. Natural cave after thousands of years in the making. Sights underground lit and photographed in a way that no one before me has been capable of.

At first, diving in caves wasn’t something I was looking forward to doing. I enjoyed the countless details of wrecks. In comparison, diving inside the dark and cold stone didn’t seem very inspiring. But all that changed in an instant when I first dived into the Ojamo limestone mine. The surface water was murky, but when going inside, the water turned crystal clear. After a few fin strokes, I entered the K-5 mining hall which is big enough to hold a 10-story building inside it. In the middle of the hall, I could no longer see the walls, the ceiling, or the bottom. I felt like flying in space. I had to use all the power of will to move forward. It all seemed so alien and intangible. It was like stepping out of a spaceship and taking a spacewalk.

There was no turning back. I wanted to go deeper and further.

Sharing these experiences has been the primary driver in all my diving related film productions. In media, cave diving is often presented as a hobby for people with a sure death wish. It is also seen as an extreme sport that is run by a small group of enthusiasts. The public interest is mainly taken in situations where lives are lost. This is personally experienced when working in the Diving into the Unknown film project. Dive Odyssey tries to show the other side of the sport, the beauty, and space-like environment and experience.

Director Biography – Frankie De Leonardis (FLOATING)

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Frankie De Leonardis is an Italian/Argentine director living in Barcelona. He’s been on the industry since 1997, mainly on tv title design and advertising direction. He’s won several awards including NY Advertising Festival (2011), European BDA Promax, ADCE, Laus for his work in advertising and title design.

Director Statement

This is my first ever cinematic project. It’s been a lifetime dream to become a director but life went some other way. I decided it was time to follow one’s dream and invested everything into this shortfilm.

The film talks about acceptance, denial with a bit of humor. It also talks about things being different than what you expect. A russian astronaut being gay with a loving husband and a child to return to is a small detail that is unthinkable in the current policies of Russia. Sometimes things are just not what you expect and that does not mean they are wrong.

The production and post production was extremelly hard. Most space films, and series, do not make their characters float for a long period of time or they just don’t do it at all. That’s because it is a huge challenge, expensive and hard. We achieved these goals in just two days of shoothing, and four months of post production.

All the Best,
Frankie De Leonardis

Director Biography – John Carlin (ECHOES

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John is the director of horror shorts ‘Exposure’ & ‘6 Feet Under’ and the award winning Sci-fi-Fi ‘The Way Back’. ‘ECHOES’ is the fourth collaboration with the writing team of Paul Skillen and Aaron Gray. John has been working as a director in the television industry for 17 years and directed the Irish language drama ‘Seacht’ for BBC and TG4. He also wrote and directed 12 episodes of the factual drama series Marú for TG4. Most recently he filmed, edited and directed the factual documentary series Ireland’s Great War for BBC and RTE.

Director Statement

ECHOES was first developed back in 2015 when the writers, Paul Skillen and Aaron Gray finished a feature length script called THE SILENCE. The decision was taken to produce a concept short film thematically based on the ideas within the feature film and ECHOES was born.

What I found interesting with the story was the unique take on human weakness – our ability to destroy our own kind for personal gain. The film is based around the idea that “spheres” have been sent throughout the galaxy by an alien life-form as a defence mechanism. These spheres have been located on planets that form a ring of protection around their own extra-terrestrial planet as they fear the consequences of humans finding them. These spheres are capable of heightening the destructive side of any human that comes into immediate contact with it, leading to rage, insanity and ultimately death to all those that encounter it.

I have previously worked with Paul and Aaron on three short films (EXPOSURE, 6 FEET UNDER, THE WAY BACK). We have a common interest in telling dark tales that have a deeper meaning. We have similar tastes in horror and science fiction and always work as a team to deliver a twisted story that can be read on different levels.

My own inspirations in preparing for ECHOES were varied and included “TAPE” by Richard Linklater ( a claustrophobic tale of 3 old friends meeting up in a motel room) to Paul W.S. Anderson’s dark sci-fi/horror “EVENT HORIZON”. What interests me are character arcs that all move in different directions to each other. This is something that is evident in ECHOES.

When developing ECHOES as a short film it became clear early in the process that we were attempting something bigger than we had tried before. We had to design and build a complete “space train” set, something that was going to eat up a huge chunk of our budget. It was integral to the story and needed to be something that could be a working set yet still give us a sense of confinement and claustrophobia. The next important question I had to ask was how could I best tell the story visually – what could I bring that would lend itself to the character’s plot of losing control. I decided to shoot the film with a slightly unconventional approach – using three different methods.
The first was the filming method. I shot the early scenes on a mixture of tracks, sliders and tripods. This created a sense of stability. As the story progressed I gradually began adding more and more handheld camera work until the final scene that is completely handheld. This gave the illusion that everything was gradually losing control.

I imitated this same technique in the second method by applying the similar approach to the actors. As with my first method I gradually allowed the actors to re-act rather than deliver exact lines over the duration of the film. All the early scenes were verbatim from the script but as the film moved on the dialogue got looser. This gave the feeling of naturalism that I was looking for and something the actors relished.

The final visual aid I used to create the impression of loss of control was the grade. I applied a grade that gradually gets “sicker” as the film moves through the scenes – each scene slightly greener and more distorted than the last.

Due to the cost of the set build we had to condense our shoot into 2 days. We shot scenes at a fast pace giving the entire film more energy. The actors and main crew stayed in the carriage for long periods of time. We actually felt like we were on the journey we were replicating.

What I hope audiences get from ECHOES is something that changes their opinion – something that starts one way but gradually twists their perception. I also hope they feel claustrophobic – there is intentional reason why we stay on board the shuttle throughout – to keep our audience captive and a part of the journey. They should hopefully question the meaning of the sphere and who Goudine is, why she isn’t affected. These are the questions that Sa’im would also ask and that’s who the audience should be rooting for. He is the lynch-pin of the story. Someone who has to make the decisions, who has to understand what or who is good or evil.