The following is an interview with actor/writer Paul Pakler, who recently launched a Kickstarter campaign for his short film, “Living Room.” In this interview, Fanboy Comics Managing Editor Barbra Dillon chats with Pakler (who may or may not be her older brother) about his inspiration for the film, the talented individuals involved with the creative process, why Midnight Madness is the standard for all films to live up to, and how you can make “Living Room” a reality!
Barbra J. Dillon, Fanboy Comics Managing Editor: You recently launched a Kickstarter campaign for the short film “Living Room.” What can you tell us about the story and concept for the film?
Paul Pakler: Well, the easy way to explain it is: five people eat, sleep, work, and (of course) live in a living room. The questions that occur to you after hearing that sentence is what the film is about. “Living Room” is an Absurdist story (and I guess you’d put “story” in quotation marks). What makes something Absurdist is that it will deal with characters responding to a senseless existence; it will usually show the breakdown or ineffectuality of language and communication, and it will often use vaudevillian humor.
Are you asleep yet?
So, the film follows these five people over a handful of days. During that time, things happen, the characters change, and we, the audience, ultimately, hopefully reflect upon our own lives.
I’d say that the boring part of life is the longest part of life, and it’s the least-examined (in stories and popular culture) part of life. You learn about this part of life as you work your way through adulthood. One of the best encapsulations of this is in David Foster Wallace’s 2005 Commencement Address at Kenyon College. Check it out on Youtube.
BD: What can you tell us about the process of working with the creative team of the film, including the cast and the crew, and the contributions of these individuals?
PP: We are currently in pre-production, so I’ve only been working with our director, Chris Capelluto. It’s been great so far. We filmed out Kickstarter video together (with cast member Graham Powell), and that was a blast. Right now, we are looking scouting for a location, and soon I’ll begin rehearsals with the cast. I’m very excited for that, because the characters are written using very sparse dialogue, so each of us will have a lot of freedom to flesh out the characters. That’s always my favorite process in a performance. Also, everyone in the cast – Mia Crivello, Rachel Kenney, Jason Planitzer, Graham Powell – are really fantastic actors. (I’m in the cast, too, but I didn’t want to self-congratulate.) I’m excited to work with them.
BD: What encouraged you to use Kickstarter as a fundraising method, and how has the platform enabled you to provide further promotion of the project?
PP: Are the kids not doing Kickstarter anymore? Am I behind the times on this?
Chris is a graduate of NYU’s film school; he’s worked on a ton of projects, and he said that using Kickstarter for funding was what he likes to use. It’s been a few days since we put the page up, and it’s doing surprisingly well. People have been very generous. We’re almost halfway to our budget!
BD: How will the financial support from Kickstarter assist in the filmmaking process?
PP: Finding an available “living room” in New York City is waaaaay more difficult than you would think. It’s entirely possible that a lot of our budget will go to securing our location (Luckily, there’s just the one.), any rehearsal space we may need, lighting and sound, props, and also feeding cast and crew during the shoot. it adds up quickly!
BD: For our readers who may be interested in donating to “Living Room,” are there any specific donation perks that may pique our readers’ interest?
PP: Oh, we’ve got some great prizes in store for people who donate to the project, but they’ll just have to go to the Kickstarter page in order to find out what they are . . .
BD: Being that we focus on all things “geek” at Fanboy Comics, would you care to geek out with us about your favorite films?
PP: Two words: Midnight Madness (1980). It’s about college students in Hollywood who spend all night competing in a scavenger hunt. It’s pretty much the best film ever. It stars David Naughton (American Werewolf in London), Stephen Furst (Animal House), Eddie Deezen (Grease), Pee Wee Herman has a cameo, and it’s the film debut of MICHAEL J. FOX!
Midnight Madness has everything a film needs: disco, using the Griffith Observatory to watch a girl change, swimming in vats of beer, Hare Krishnas at LAX, miniature golf, Michael J. Fox . . . If you see this movie and love it, I can guarantee you’d be my friend for life.
BD: What is the most important piece of advice that you can offer to independent filmmakers who aspire to create their own projects?
PP: Get out there and do it. Talk to people. Whenever I’ve needed help, as soon as I start asking around, I quickly find people who can help me (or who know other people who can). Then, it’s up to you to help others. It’s very much like that movie with Kevin Spacey. What was it called? Where he learned to help people and the power of positive thinking and all that? Oh, yeah, Se7en.
BD: On that same note, which creators have inspired your work?
PP: Generally, my list would be so long, it would probably crash the site. For “Living Room,” I have to start with Samuel Beckett. When I read Endgame in high school, it blew my mind. Until that time, I thought plays were all musicals. I remember thinking, “Wait, you can do this?!” Rod Serling is amazing; not just The Twilight Zone, but his other teleplays – Requiem for a Heavyweight. Wallace Shawn – GO AND READ HIS PLAYS! Eugene Ionesco, Georg Buchner’s Woyzeck, Harold Pinter, Edward Albee, Jean-Paul Sartre, Stephen Foster’s music, The Marx Brothers, Woody Allen, 12 Angry Men, the cinematography of Boris Kaufman . . . I could go on and on.
BD: Lastly, what would you like to tell fans who want to learn more about “Living Room?”
PP: As we move into post-production, we will begin doing any and all marketing, submitting to festivals, etc. For now, follow me on Twitter or find me on Facebook. I’ll dole out information as things move forward.