Thursday, October 5, 2017

Chris Kentis on "Open Water"

Why did you decide to do a digital feature?

CHRIS KENTIS: That was the whole reason we wanted to do the film. We were really excited about the technology that was out there, and truthfully, kind of inspired by the Dogme 95 films. We just wanted to get out there and experiment with this new technology.

Right after we made our first feature, Grind, which was made in much more of a traditional way -- we had a crew and shot on 35mm and all -- our daughter was born. So we were excited about trying to make a movie in a very different way. The idea of working without a crew, the idea of being able to take our time (which meant working on weekends and vacation times), being able to include our families. Also the idea of collaborating with actors in a certain kind of way.

We were really anxious to try to make a movie in a different way, to try to stretch and challenge ourselves creatively.

You said that being able to take your time was important. Why? What's the advantage of taking your time?

CHRIS KENTIS: The first advantage of taking our time was that I was able to work full time and help finance the film. Another advantage is that movies tend to be rushed, especially if you look at the things coming out of Hollywood today and the schedules.

Ironically, two of my favorite filmmakers were not very prolific: Stanley Kubrick and Terrence Malick. I think there's a lot to be said for taking the time to get it right, and I think most films don't really have that advantage. It's a process of refinement.

How tough was it to keep the ending the way you wanted it?

CHRIS KENTIS: Not tough at all, because that was the whole point of the project. To not have to answer to anyone. None of the choices were made because they were the most commercial choices; they were made because this was the film we wanted to make.

Because the film was based on a true story, that was going to be the ending from the get-go, from day one. Now the specifics of what happened to her evolved during the course of the process, but there never was going to be any other ending.

To the credit of Lions Gate, and all the distributors that were interested in the film at Sundance, it was never questioned.

I'd say that the majority of people really responded to and loved the ending, and yet there's this perception out there that you always have to have a happy ending. It's interesting how that happens.

In the 70s, I think it was more common for the main character to end up dead, even in a romantic comedy often the main character would end up with a tumor and die. That's the other extreme.

The whole impetuous behind this story was when I read about the true incident, it deeply affected me, and so it was to try to capture that. To have the audience have the same kind of emotional response that I had when I read the story. You can't help but ask, 'What if that were me and Laura? What if it were us?'

Our hope was that when people watch the movie is that, hopefully if the audience is with the movie, they'll ask themselves, 'What if that were me? What would I do in that situation?' and experience it that way.

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