Friday, May 9, 2014

Shutterflies The Movie - Interview with Spencer Muhlstock and Hayes Walsh: "It All Started With Old Camera"

Go behind the scenes and into the minds behind the film Shutterflies in this interview with Director/Writers Spencer Muhlstock and Hayes Walsh.

The short film “Shutterflies” by Muhlstock-Hayes Productions opened at the Ridgewood Film Festival in 2013 and in 2014 gained the title ‘Best Student Short Film - High School"  at the Garden State Film Festival. It also won Best Short Subject at the Ridgewood Film Festival 2014. It is headed this spring to the Hoboken Film Festival.

This film was written, directed and produced by Ridgewood High School students Hayes Walsh and Spencer Muhlstock. The movie takes place mid-century and centers around the mysterious disappearance of a local man. It was shot in Ridgewood, NJ and in surrounding towns.

Hayes also stars in the film. Tony-award winning actor Christian Borle (NBC’s Smash, Sound of Music), also lent his talent to this award-winning film. The film also stars Rosie Gunther McCooe (Bad Parents, The One), newcomer and grade-schooler Lily Walsh who learned sign language for the part and Andrew Grusetski.

View the latest trailer on the Spatpro Channel here

I had lots of questions for these boys, beginning with, What inspired you to make this film?

Spencer:  A large portion of the idea honestly came from the main prop in the film; a 1960’s Hasselblad camera. I desperately wanted to use it in a film, for some kind of period piece. Hayes and I
always work so collaboratively by bouncing ideas off of each other, so when the idea of a young photographer in the 1960s came up, we soon constructed a complex murder mystery surrounding the main character. The time period intrigued us; there’s a particular filmmaking style/look with period pieces that we became hooked on. When people doubted that we’d be able to pull off a film that took place in the 60s, it just made us want to do it even more.

Hayes: We were driven to make this film because it was a do-able challenge. The story follows a teenager in the 1960’s, which is unlike anything we have done before. Although we were able to create this character, we still needed to make the film realistic to the time period. This challenge was what inspired us the most.

Spencer and Hayes remote shooting in Allendale, NJ
Suzee: What is your favorite scene and why?

Spencer: My favorite scene in the film is the climax- when the main character, Declan, witnesses a murder and stealthily captures it on his Hasselblad. I think the scene has a particular level of intensity to it that we’ve never been able to reach before. And filming it was such a blast, too. Even though it was extremely humid outside in the middle of August.

Hayes: My favorite scene of the film is Lieutenant Burns’ (Christian Borle) blue cap monologue. The lieutenant’s character was meant to be a creepy, powerful and corrupt cop, similar to Gary Oldman’s character in the 1994 film, Léon: The Professional. Christian Borle played this character with such brilliance that it easily makes the film for me. Having been the writer of his blue cap monologue, I can not imagine anyone who could have done it better.

Hayes: Christian Borle "plays the character with brilliance"
Suzee: What was the hardest scene to make and why?

    Spencer: The hardest scenes to film were by far the scenes that required us to work with real butterflies. If we had a real movie budget, we would have used visual effects to capture the butterfly interactions that Declan has throughout the film. But working with a $4,000 budget had its limits, and our commitment to the script forced us to raise and “train” 30 butterflies for production. Let’s just say that they were not very cooperative. Filming the butterflies was the toughest challenge we overcame during production because our “training” was not that good. But in the end, we made it work.

Hayes: The hardest scene to make was the “Klomburg Woods” murder and chase scene. The shoot was difficult because it is probably the most important scene of the film. It establishes the rest of the story, and couldn’t be messed up. The major challenges of this particular day consisted of hot weather, multiple camera set ups and tricky action sequences. The main fear on this day was that if we missed something, it would be incredibly challenging to schedule a re shoot date. We worked under a tight schedule and this was our longest day. Thankfully, we were successful, and we never had any major issues.

Suzee: What was the best part of making the film?

   Spencer: It’s truly hard to pinpoint the best part of making this film, because I really mean it when I say I enjoyed every moment of it. But overall, being able to collaborate with a great cast and crew was amazing. I think a director is one of the best careers in the world - you get to lead and work with such talented individuals and create something special together. Making this film was really the first time Hayes and I had been exposed to this level of directing. We got to work with friends who gave up their time to be assistants, a fight choreographer committed to his craft, a make-up artist, a sound guy, all of our family members, and a wonderful cast, including Tony award winning actor Christian Borle. I couldn’t have asked for a better experience.

The making of Shutterflies
Hayes: The greatest thing about making Shutterflies was the production leading into post production. The most exciting part of the creation of the film is being on set working with talented people, and getting something great. The second most exciting part is in the editing room, finally seeing the film come together in its final state. Another wonderful thing about filmmaking and Shutterflies in particular is seeing an audiences reaction. The moment I realized it was all worth it was hearing that applause and the Ridgewood Bow Tie Cinemas Premiere once the film concluded. It is a great inspiration to keep moving forward when you know you have fans who will support your work.

Suzee: What do you intend to do with the film?

Spencer: Now, we are waiting to hear back from some more film festivals. We just recently won a Best Student Film award at the Garden State Film Festival, which became the highest accolade of our careers. We are hoping to be able to distribute the film at some point in the near future. But if we can’t sell the film to any companies, we will proudly release it independently for the public to see. Because at this point in our filmmaking careers, it’s really about exposure more than profit.

Hayes: We intend to continue submitting the film to more film festivals. We are yet to hear back from some we have already submitted to. Shutterflies recently won for best Home-Grown Student Short Film at the Garden State Film Festival in Atlantic City. It was also featured in the Ridgewood Film Festival 2014.

Suzee: What are your next projects?

Spencer: Hayes and I are both going to continue making films. We aren’t exactly sure what our next project will be. We are in the early writing stage currently, trying to focus hard on junior year. When summer starts, we hope to make a few short films (around 10 minutes long) mainly for the purpose of film school portfolios.

Hayes: We are planning on making more films this summer. Confidential business :)

Suzee: If you could be a movie director, from past and present, who would it be and why?

Spencer: This is a tough one. There’s so many directors that I look up to: Wes Anderson, Quentin Tarantino, Martin Scorsese, The Coen Brothers, Paul Thomas Anderson, Stanley Kubrick and many more. I love their filmmaking styles and they all inspire me to achieve similar status in a few years. For example, the Coen Brothers are all about dark comedies, and I LOVE dark comedies. I think not knowing whether to laugh, cringe, or cry is a great emotion for an audience to feel. I also love rooting for anti-heroes; I love not being able to decide whether the main character is morally good or bad. But after all of this inspiration from all of these great directors, at the end of the day I want to be able to create my own style. Although I may adapt some filmmaking techniques from these directors, my dream is to be seen as a different and unique filmmaker.

Hayes: I have plenty of favorite film directors, but the director that makes the type of films I want to make has to be Paul Thomas Anderson. He is a writer and director known for Boogie Nights, Magnolia, There Will Be Blood, etc. He brilliantly tells controversial stories using his own version of classic filmmaking skills. He also has worked with many of my favorite actors, such as Daniel Day-Lewis and Philip Seymour Hoffman. Even though he isn’t a household name, I would still be him if I had to be an already established film director.

Suzee Asks Spencer:
Favorite Movie of all Time: While it is hard to pick just one, I’ll go with The Shining, just because I can watch it a million times and never get sick of it.
Favorite Show on TV: Breaking Bad.
Favorite Show to Bingewatch: Breaking Bad.
Favorite Actor and Actress: Christian Bale, Leonardo DiCaprio, Amy Adams, and Scarlett Johansson. 
Favorite YouTube Video: Anything with dogs doing cute things. That’s my soft spot.

Suzee Asks Hayes:
Favorite Movie(s) of all Time:(I can’t choose just one!) Magnolia, The Professional, No Country For Old Men, Cape Fear, Pulp Fiction
Favorite Show on TV: Breaking Bad
Favorite Show to Bingewatch: House of Cards
Favorite Actor and Actress: Robert De Niro, Daniel Day-Lewis, Christian Bale, Meryl Streep, Vivien Leigh, Jennifer Lawrence
Favorite YouTube Video: Puppy Christmas by devinsupertramp 
SUZEE warns: Do not watch this, you won’t be able to stop.

Thanks boys for the interviews! Remember me when Hollywood comes calling!

Visit Shutterflies on Facebook

For an interview with Christian Borle visit:

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