Saturday, January 19, 2013

Road to Sundance 2013: Palimpsest (short), directed by Michael Tyburski

Michael Tyburski

Palimpsest Production Still

Palimpsest Production Still

Tell us about your film.

"Palimpsest" (Shorts Program 5) is a film about the subtle forces at play in relationships and the tangible remnants of memory. Peter, a successful house tuner in New York City, meets Ellen while consulting on her apartment. As a house tuner, Peter offers his clients a unique form of therapy that examines minute details in living spaces that sometimes reveal more about a person’s past than they intended.

What inspired you to make it?

Ben originally wrote an outline for a much longer story involving a character in New York who has many different unique jobs. The house tuner being one of them. We took that one aspect of the character and turned that into the working draft for our short story. We're both very fascinated with the mostly subconscious audio landscapes that make up our daily routines, and building a story around that idea was very intriguing to us. 

What do you love about your film?

There's a fair amount of ambiguity in our story, and I like the idea of it opening up more questions than answers. In a good way. 

How long did it take you to make your film?

We shot the film over 7 days during a not so rare July heat wave in New York. We prepped the script for several months prior, and edited throughout the fall.

How did you finance your film?

Ben and I both work together on commercial jobs, and we both set aside a portion of our personal funds to finance our fiction piece.

What was the most challenging part of the filmmaking process and how did you overcome it?

Honestly we didn't really hit any real roadblocks with the film. Ok, we did all get ticketed once for shooting in the subway without a permit, but in terms of real challenges it was probably more in the writing process, and just trying to tie together loose ends. Once you wrangle a talented group of people together, it's mainly just about getting everyone on the same page creatively and then just keeping everyone hydrated and cool in the summer heat.  

Tell us about your experience getting into Sundance. 

We did everything people warned us against…we submitted to the VERY LATE deadline, and also submitted a short film with a longish running time. The odds were against us, but I guess we should put the credit to the programmers for being so thorough with their selection process (and liking our film). 

If you had to make the film all over again, would you do anything different?

I don't think there's ever been a scene or a shot that I've looked at after months of editing and not wished that I could do it a little bit better or change one small detail. But at the end of the day, I think it's important to walk away at a certain point and be satisfied with what you were able to make under the war like circumstances that is typically film production. 

What’s next for your film? Do you have distribution? If so, when and how can people see it and if not, what are your hopes for the film?

Right now we're just going to ride out the festival run for a bit and try to get as many people to see it in theaters while it's still possible. We're developing the story into a feature script. People finish the film wanting to know more about our characters, and that seems like a solid indication that the project has some authenticity and resonance. We want to explore this further.

Can you provide any advice to other filmmakers who dream of getting their films made and into Sundance?
That's a difficult question. We'll tell you in about 10 days.

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