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|Written by April Yorke|
|Tuesday, 08 December 2009 00:00|
A battered, tan suitcase is all David J. Garfield needs to make a thriller. The Suitcase, the writer-director's first feature, follows four different people whose everyday existences take a decidedly interesting turn once the eponymous valise comes into their lives. But The Red Violin this is not: the Salesman (Garfield again) likes to make more than the intended use of a pizza cutter. While prepping for The Suitcase's upcoming DVD release, Garfield chatted briefly with (Cult)ure about the ins and outs of turning shorts into a feature.
(Cult)ure: Can you give our readers a little teaser about the plot?
David J. Garfield: Well, The Suitcase is a Hitchcock meets Twilight Zone kind of film where we get to follow the strange outcomes of different owners of a cursed suitcase as it gets passed from owner to owner. This allows for different short stories to be told with the underlying premise of The Suitcase itself being the main object consistent with each story.
Did the short story approach make The Suitcase easier to film?Making a string of shorts that come together as a full feature is not only cheaper to make as it takes less time overall, and easier on an independent budget, but it also allows for more time to plan, rehearse, etc., between segments as you no longer need to worry about the previous cast and things like continuity with people's looks changing over the months. Mainly using a new cast and new locations for a short shoot lessens the workload on a particular set of actors which makes the end result much better and, yes, easier to film.
This is your first feature-length film as writer-director. How was the experience different than creating a short?
Well, we set out to make four short films and tie them together making production a bit more affordable. However, when it came to the actual "tying" from one set of cast members to the next, it became apparent that a feature is much more difficult -- like, scheduling all the necessary characters from each segment to work on a particular day together to get the transition from one to the next. It was much more challenging overall. Also, in post it took almost a year to complete after we wrapped principle photography as far as editing, sound mixing, and scoring the film correctly. We also have found that releasing the movie on a DVD and keeping it in high quality was a bit more challenging with a feature due to the film length. It's easier to get a short onto a DVD with high quality, but a full movie you tend to need to sacrifice some of the quality, and we didn't want to -- so with special encoding software we finally got it all worked out.
The trailer has a very "in a world where . . . " throwback feeling about it. Was that a conscious decision in promoting the movie?
Yes, we wanted to present the film trailer in such a way that reminds one of those older '80s and '70s movies. According to our ratings and comments on YouTube, many people really liked this approach.
A lot of horror movies and thrillers feature an inanimate object whose origin or contents are unknown. Which, if any, influenced The Suitcase? How do you turn an everyday object into an implement of doom?It's funny because my fiancée, who stars in the film, also worked on the recent release The Box with Cameron Diaz -- and we thought it might be similar while we were shooting the film, but the idea was not derived from any other movie per se. Rather, the premise of making short films tied together by an object was borrowed from another independent filmmaker who had made a movie about an antique car and showed the families' different stories owning this particular car. I felt that an old antique suitcase could tell a lot of stories and hold its own story within it, which is how I came up with using it as the 'cursed' object in question.
How did you get hooked up with Suitcases4Kids?
We were approached by Angela Perry (owner of the biggest Boston casting company) who informed us that Suitcases4Kids would like to run a promotion with us to help the charity and our theatrical release. As I feel strongly about creating value with my work -- being the founder of GameGuideDog.com (a non-violent children's software game company and game help website) -- the Suitcases4Kids charity was also a cause I wanted to help, and I felt it was a good way to give something back. We offered free popcorn in return for any donation, and the results were truly great as we helped a lot of children with our film.
What exactly does Suitcases4Kids do?
Suitcases4Kids.org helps bring much needed traveling gear to children in foster care and thousands of homeless kids. During this economic crisis, many youngsters, even in their teens, were made homeless and sent their way but still have to go to school. Embarrassed by their situation, they hide in alleys, and many travel with their belongings in trash bags. I was able to collaborate with the organization on bringing anonymous help by having them put postings in schools with a phone number if they needed the help.
The Suitcase will be available on DVD and video-on-demand December 15th via Amazon (US). Details can be found www.SuitcaseMovie.com. For more information about Suitcases4Kids, visit suitcases4kids.org.