Award of Merit – “Look Up!” (USA)

Title: Look Up!
Runtime: 10 min
Country: USA 
Director: Monty Wolfe
Placement: Award of Merit
Competition: June, 2020

Synopsis: A misanthropic teenager manipulates those around him in search of attention and affection.

FILMMAKER Q&A – Monty Wolfe – Director/Producer/Writer/Editor

OR: What was the inspiration for your film?

MW: I initially set out to combine a teen comedy with an art film – a sort of John Hughes meets Fellini. As I wrote the script with my budget in mind, I constrained the action to a single location – a therapist’s office – and found inspiration in the plays of Neil Simon (and also New Yorker magazine cartoons). My particular niche is gay-themed stories, so what I ended up with was a surreal gay Neil Simon teen comedy. 

OR: When did you conceive the idea for your film and how long did it take before it was realized?

MW: I finished and premiered my previous film Treasure in November of 2019, and after that, I immediately started working on Look Up!. Principal photography took place over a weekend in late February and I shot some location pick-ups the day before the nation went into lockdown due to the Covid-19 pandemic. It took me around a month to edit the film, but sadly, we haven’t been able to premiere it in a theater due to the quarantine. Altogether, it took around 4 months from conception to finalizing.

OR: What was the most challenging aspect of working in a short film format?

MW: At this stage in my career, I prefer the short film format, but if I have to think of a challenging aspect, it would be that I have far more to say than can typically fit into a short film. 

OR: What was the most challenging aspect of your production?

MW: Time. When most of your cast and crew are volunteers, when a few of your cast members are new to film production, and when everyone has to get back to jobs or school, the most difficult aspect of production is getting things done in a timely manner. It’s about prioritizing and determining which shots are worth spending a great deal of time shooting over and over again to get everything perfect and which shots will go completely unnoticed by the audience. 

OR: Do you have any advice for first-time filmmakers?

MW: Your cast and crew should be people who love making movies – and people you love making movies with. Make sure to surround yourself with positive, knowledgable people. I am very lucky in that I have a small pool of reliable and skilled film people whom I have worked with on a half dozen short films. We trust each other, we know how to communicate with each other, and we have a lot of fun hanging out with each other. 

Also, make it about each day and each shot. While the final product is very important, make sure that you enjoy the process.