Award of Merit – “Reus” (Australia)

Title: Reus
Runtime: 12 min
Country: Australia 
Director: Kerrod Nolan
Placement: Award of Merit
Competition: June, 2021

Synopsis: A man in white takes a drive in the night, thinking about happy memories, only to forget he’s driving, hitting and killing someone. This causes the man to suffer a surrounding inner and outer turmoil that follows him in the dark and light, in the form of a deadly cycle that repeats itself, over and over again. He can’t seem to escape, but will do anything to try… no matter the cost.

FILMMAKER Q&A – Kerrod Nolan – Director, Producer, Writer, Editor, Composer

OR: What was the inspiration for your film?

KN: I have an insane appreciation for Denis Villeneuve, Christopher Nolan and David Fincher. A vast majority of their works manipulate reality in authentic ways, but not without necessary purposes. Villeneuve masterfully hides unsettling undertones, Nolan manipulates time to catch audiences off guard, and Fincher doesn’t have any filters on whatever subject matter he discusses. I wanted to capture a mixture of the three, whilst bringing my own thing, to stand out. Before this film, I had done mainly absurd (and sometimes crude) satire comedies, and I wanted to reinvent myself with a story I have needed to tell for ages: ever since its inception. It was a passion project, and to this day, I believe is currently my best work. My greatest risk, and with that, my most ambitious.

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

KN: Initially, it sparked from a nightmare, but it’s only loosely based; being the whole “running over yourself” moment. However, from that singular moment, I realised the deeper meanings that could be interpreted and adapted from it. There’s a lot of self-reflection, harm and realisation that often people are their own worst enemies instead of someone else. It had to be a never ending loop with an undertone of a violent personal cycle, hence why time is manipulated in this story. Not many things are more frightening than seeing yourself in front of you from another life. It questions whether you have a destined fate or you either have the chance to change your life with insight you never had before.

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

KN: Trying to make an emotionally engaging story in such a short period of time. Although, I do believe it crafts a necessary skill in a filmmaker; that being filtering out the filler. If someone starts out with a feature, they have much more time to spread out a narrative and could potentially get away with a few filler scenes. That same rule does not apply in a short: if a scene is filler, it will take a lot more time out of your narrative, and you need absolutely every single second. And honestly, that can be enough to pull an audience away from the immersion and emotion completely.

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

KN: Trying to get all the little things together on the logistical side. Being a major project for film school on a limited budget and not having another person dedicated in the producer role, was extremely stressful. A lot of aspects were pulled out and people left last minute all within the days before the shoot was scheduled to start. With all that, I somehow I managed to pull it all together and make what we now know as ‘Reus’. I cannot deny that once I locked off the film and finished it, there was an intense burn out that came immediately afterwards; which is every artist’s nightmare.

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

KN: Have a dedicated producer and additional production crew who work solely on the logistics and legalities of filmmaking. That way, the creatives (director, writer etc.) can work exclusively on crafting a story with full artistic focus and not have to worry about certain on-set components going wrong. I have unfortunately seen many of my former classmate’s shoots cancelled, simply because they didn’t have someone else as a producer to focus on the logistical things (permits, approvals, call sheets, etc.). A lot of filmmakers take it for granted how much time it takes to manage the workplace/set organisation of productions, and it often shows in the final product.