Honorable Mention – “Stolperstein” (USA)

Title: Stolperstein
Runtime: 8 min
Country: USA 
Director: Raymond Edwards
Placement: Honorable Mention
Competition: June, 2020

Synopsis: STOLPERSTEIN is about an elderly man (FRANK}, who wants to remember a human rights activist who suffered under the hands of Adolf Hitler’s evil Nazi Régime. But, his granddaughter (NADIA) doesn’t care about the past and has no interest in helping him with his installation tribute for a hero who sacrificed his life to secure our present-day freedom. Well, there is a deeper twist to this story, as we discover Nadia’s true fate. Or, could this, all, be the common signs of schizophrenia?

FILMMAKER Q&A – Raymond Edwards – Director/Producer

OR: What was the inspiration for your film?

RE: I’m a sucker for social, philosophical evocations that emote human sufferings, feelings of being violated and ways to motivate moral correctives. Here, I was presented with this monologue based on Martin Niemöller’s, “First They Came…” by the lead actor, Adam S. Ford. What was my response? Hell, yes!

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

RE: My first reaction was to turn this into a screenplay, where two actors could build a conflict of interest around an art installation, in commemoration of a hero who sacrificed his life to protect the victims of the Germany’s Nazi Regime during World War II.  It took me a week to bang out the First Draft. Adam (actor/co-producer) and I were location-scouting for something that resembled a cemetery or a place that was built on burial ground to set the mood for the installation. We bumped into some filmmakers who were thinking of filming their own project on the other side of these grounds. We, immediately, hit it off and then decided we’d join forces and make this short film. I had next-to-no budget but we were going to do this. It took two weeks to plan a strategy with our limited resources. I put a quick storyboard and shot breakdowns together, for my UPM. With diligent collaboration we managed to shoot the Principle Photography in four hours.

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

RE: I have a tendency to write, as if I’m writing for a feature-length film. There is so much I want to say in such a short time frame. Thus, I always find myself having to step away from the drawing board and return to the script as someone other than the writer. This helps me edit with an objective mindset. I then, strip away the fat, with the aim of. simplifying the paradigm, to keep the viewers engaged from beginning to end. 

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

RE: Money is always a challenge. You want to pump up your production value, but the budget constraints leave you with making decisions that don’t always square up to your original vision. But, the great thing about doing shorts, is the quick turn-around, the opportunity to improve one’s craft at an affordable cost and the autonomy over painting your own canvas, without the interference of a production entity breathing down your neck.

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

RE: We’ve all heard that keeping it short gives us a better chance of getting it submitted into the festival circuit. Yes, for first-time filmmakers. Keeping it simple with the least production costs, would be the best way to start. But, I believe once you have the hang of things, start challenging yourself to higher-end production quality. Of course story is paramount! I just finished a 8 min short and have now, written a 35 min short to produce, direct and act in. Am I afraid? you bet!