Thursday, June 30, 2011

Manuel Da Silva on “The Unleashed”

What was your filmmaking background before making The Unleashed?

MANNY: I took some courses in the mid 90's regarding film technique, but I’ve always felt that working on set and with actors to be very intrinsic. It’s about practice and having a clear vision of what you’re looking for. Watching a lot of movies also helps! To this day however, I have always come back to three books as being very useful in the creative process: Acting for the Camera by Tony Barr, Film Directing: Shot by Shot by Steven D. Katz, and Directing by Michael Rabiger.

How did you work with the screenwriter to get the script ready to shoot?

MANNY: I like to be involved in all aspects of the creation process, so I worked very closely with the screenwriter on The Unleashed. Even before starting the writing process, I had a clear vision for a scene I liked to call “The Piano Scene,” and this provided grounding for the writers and me. We shaped the story together. Ultimately, I had them on set everyday in order to have the film remain as faithful to our original vision as possible.

Can you talk about how you raised your budget and your financial plan for recouping your costs?

MANNY: Haha… a good director never reveals all his secrets! I will tell you this though: having a great team who is willing to work hard and work together is invaluable.

What kind of camera did you use to shoot the movie -- and what did you love about it and hate about it?

MANNY: The entire film was shot on the Red-One Camera. It’s the same camera that was used to shoot the new Pirates of the Caribbean film and others like Wanted and The Social Network. I love the quality of the camera. It has five times the resolution of an HD camera, and in my opinion, is right up there with 35mm. The only downside I found about using it was that the lens and light setup is a lot longer.

Can you talk about the sound design for the movie and how you achieved it?

MANNY: A company called Eggplant Music and Sound Design here in Toronto did all the sound design. It was a rigorous process to get all the sound right, with the producers and myself getting together to add and test different sound layers. In the end though, this is the work that needs to be put into a film to make sure everything is as it should be. We started around January 2011 and finished late April, early May.

What was the smartest thing you did during production? The dumbest?

MANNY: I always tell everyone who asks, the smartest thing a director can do on set is to keep a fun atmosphere and make sure the cast and crew are having a good time. It makes for a great experience, and if everyone is happy, the project will ultimately turn out better. I would have to say the biggest mistake I made on set was keeping everyone working 27 hours straight one day. I’ll never do that again… haha.

And, finally, what did you learn from making the film that you have taken to other projects?

MANNY: Always fight to make the film as good as it possibly can be. Never settle became the motto for this project, and I feel that it definitely shows having watched the end result.

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