Sunday, October 16, 2005

Interview with Filmmaker Jeremy Osbern

FS: You have made over 40 short films and are now working on your first feature film. Please share with us your beginnings.

JO: My very first project was a video that I made at the age of 15. All I
had was a borrowed Hi-8 camera and no way to edit. I wrote a script that
was a comedy set in a church, and then dressed out the basement of a
friend's house as our set. I cast my friends and my family and I edited
in camera, even to the point that I'd have a character say their line up
until two words from the end. They'd stop. I'd stop the camera, change
angle, start the camera and have them say their last two lines. I was so
excited when that worked. Then, when the video was shot, I made simple
animated titles in QBasic on my computer at the time (I think it was a
386...yeah that old) and then taped them off the monitor. After that I
moved on to VCR-to-VCR editing, then non-linear editing, video to DV to
16mm and now we're shooting our current project on 35mm.

FS: Where does your passion for filmmaking come from?

JO: Ever since I can remember, I've been telling stories, reading stories,
writing stories, watching stories. I still write stories all the time.
Shorts, novels, screenplays. Filmmaking is one of the most fascinating
outlets for me as an avenue to tell stories. It's closest to our
sensorial perception of the world, and I think if you do it right,
people can relate more to stories told in that medium. But you have to
do it right!

FS: Speaking of passion, you wrote and directed a 16 minute short film
entitled "The Passion" that won many awards on the Film Festival
circuit and brought you acclaim. What can you tell us about that
project? What were some of the lessons you learned from that film?

-------------Poster from "Passion"

JO: I made "The Passion" while I was at film school at the University of
Kansas. It was this experimental, over-the-top dramatic opera that
featured two people in their underwear, relating their feelings and
fates to one another by writing them on each others bodies, and set to
tango music. We took a 30-hour production weekend and shot it on the
school's soundstage on 16mm. I sent it to festivals and people seemed to
like it. It premiered at the
Palm Beach International Film Festival, and
played before The Pianist, with Adrien Brody there, but when "The
Passion" showed, it was mainly old women in the audience. It was a sea
of gray hair, and I was kind of paranoid when the film ended how all
these octogenarians were going to react to half-naked twenty-somethings
dancing in a black void, but afterwards, they came up to me, and they
loved it. One of them said, "Your film touched me like I've never been
touched before," and then she smiled and walked out. I don't know if
I'll ever have a reaction like that to a film again. But somehow, those
little old ladies got some word of mouth going. It also probably didn't
hurt that a reporter from Aint-It-Cool News was there and gave it a nice

The most important thing I learned is that if you're an independent
filmmaker: send your work to festivals. Festivals hold so many
connections. They're absolutely invaluable for anyone wanting to work
outside of filmmaking hubs like New York or LA. Hell, everything at most
of the festivals I went to were made in New York or LA, so when I said I
was from Kansas, it even more so made my film stand out.

FS: You were born and raised in Kansas and went to school there.
Obviously is it close to your heart as you now embark on your first
feature film set in Lawrence and Kansas City. We are excited to learn
more about this latest project of yours, "Air."

JO: Kansas has definitely played a huge role in my life. Especially my
hometown of Lawrence, which is just outside of Kansas City, and home to
the University of Kansas. Lawrence is such an odd and weird town, and I
love it. It's home to people with blue hair, guys who spend more time on
stilts than not and people who walk their ferrets on leashes downtown.
The characters that comprise "Air" I'm sure are drawn from my
experiences in this area, and I think it makes them more organic. At
least I hope it does.

FS: What is it about? What kind of film is it? What are the nut and bolts of it?

JO: The film consists of three interweaving love stories that focus on
people who feel out of place in the world. We show this physically. The
world literally falls apart around them. We show in the film that
there's a rhythm in life, and when the characters aren't in sync with
that rhythm, everything around them starts to deteriorate. It's also a
musical, which aids in people suspending their disbelief as things catch
on fire and fall apart. We're striving to make the first modern musical,
and Steve Unruh, who's writing all the music for the film told me that
he hates musicals, but he can't wait for this one. Hopefully, that will
be the reaction across the board!

We're shooting on 35mm film, and we're shooting as money comes in. It's
a long process, but I think that by having intervals between shooting
dates, we're given the time to make sure all the details are right. We
want this film to be as best as it can. When we first set out to make

this, the Producer Chris Blunk and I said that we wouldn't allow
ourselves to make any compromises in the story or the realizing of that
story visually. And we still haven't.

FS: How did you decide to make this story? How many ideas were you
considering and what was it about "Air" that made it the one. Have
you second guessed or doubted yourself in choosing "Air?"

JO: The elements of "Air" had been in my head for years. I've written a lot
of screenplays, but these ideas kept coming back and I sat down and
wrote out the first draft in ten days. Chris read it, we revised it, and
knew this was the one we wanted to make as our first feature, and we
haven't second guessed it since.

FS: How far along is this project?

JO: We've finished two-thirds of the film. We're going to hold off on the
remaining portion until the Spring of 2006. Chris and I are getting a
lot of other work right now, both features and commercial work, so we're
going to plan during the Winter and shoot out the remaining third in two
weeks next Spring, when the leaves are green again.

Doug Kisgen and Granvile O'Neal having fun on the set of "Air."

FS: You have learned how important buzz can be for your projects. What
steps are you taking to create buzz for "Air." What else do you have planned to draw people to this project?

JO: We've actually received a huge response to the teaser trailer that we
put up on our website
(, which is exciting.
In the coming months, we'll hopefully have all sorts of behind-the-scenes footage up there too. We've done some pretty elaborate things for this film, prop-wise, logistics wise. Including melding cars together, lighting a car on fire, shutting down streets, rigging dozens of lights / sandbags to fall across a theater stage, having a restaurant catch fire, fill with smoke and having our home-made sprinkler system go off and soak our main actress, etc. I think showing some of that process will make people excited about seeing the end result as well.

To view the trailer to "Air" click here, Air Movie Trailer

FS: What kind of project would you like to make next?

JO: I have a lot of films that I want to make. It'll just depend on where
the cards fall, after we're done with this one.

FS: What is on the horizon for you?

JO: For "Air", I'm acting as Director and Director of Photography. I'm
getting a lot more DP gigs right now, so in the immediate future, I'm
looking to shoot as much as many projects -- features, commercials, etc
-- as I can until we finish "Air" and then get started on our next one.
And, as always, people can get the play-by-play for whatever we do, at
our website:

Thanks for talking with me, and best to you and your readers!


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