This week we are talking to Hunger director, CJ Barnes. Hunger is a short film being shown at the Bridgslaughter Horror Film Festival on 15th June at The Cobblestones.
We asked CJ what made him pursue filmmaking and he told us,
“I have always had a love for film, which I feel was really born out of wandering around mom & pop video stores when I was a kid.
“Probably not surprising, I always found myself gravitating to the horror section as 80’s horror always seemed to have the most interesting VHS boxes.
“I started writing screenplays when I was 16, in high school, but the idea of filmmaking was a pipe dream.2
“It was only in recent years that the concept of actually making films felt possible. Once you removed the aggrandisement of Hollywood on the process, the possibility opened up and then I suppose I was just waiting for the right idea to come along.”
He told us about the roadblocks that he faced when he started out,
“Time and money were the main problem, I would imagine a lot of indie filmmakers would agree on that.
“Surprisingly, getting a cast and crew together was easy, but finding the time and the funds to do it was not.
“Once we started down the path, however, knowing the ins and outs of production was a steep learning curve and you begin to realise how many things you didn’t consider on a first film.
“Thankfully, we were able to adapt, and the outcome ended up being pretty good”
When asked about his greatest achievement to date, he replied,
“I am constantly surprised at the response we’ve gotten from Hunger – A Short Film.
“I was certainly proud of what we did, but its reception has been mind blowing.
“When we travelled overseas to a couple of festivals, the audience was so engaged and the number of questions they had, and positive comments was really humbling.
“It’s the first of what I hope is many films down the track, but I will always look at this little film as my greatest achievement because it will be where it all started and to see it go this way from start to finish has been outstanding.”
When asked how he came up with the idea of Hunger, he laughed,
“It was actually a joke I made while waiting for a coffee.
“I have some vegan friends who I had gone out to dinner with the previous night and, for anyone who has done the same, them ordering at a normal restaurant can be painful.
“I made a crack about vegan zombies and someone said, ‘I’d watch that.’
“So, I challenged myself to write a script.
“Then I threw it out there to our lead and she was onboard.
“From there, it took off and more and more people wanted to be involved.
“The idea evolved as we went through pre-production and we truthfully had no idea what kind of a film we were making until we started editing. I don’t know that it stayed as funny as the initial concept seemed, but it came off well.”
When asked about his cast and crew, he told us,
“I work at a hotel, so finding a good-looking cast ended up being pretty easy; most of them are colleagues.
“The crew was a bit tougher. I work in Audio Visual, so equipment was easy to come by and I had two employees that came on board to do camera and sound, but I had to tap into friends to get the rest of the crew sorted, which was minimal. Everyone was happy to lend a hand and be part of it.
“I have always had an affinity for horror, especially in the 80’s and 90’s and especially the practical FX.
“Once I had the zombie idea, then it was about learning how to do the FX and makeup (I’ve never done FX makeup and did all of the makeup for the film).
“There were as many failures as there were successes, but sometimes failures can result in something successful. In the end, I think those aspects looked good, and once that was out of the way, it came down to performances, which were all terrific.
We asked CJ about the greatest moment in his film career and he said,
“It was winning the Carolinas Engage Art contest last November.
“Hundreds entered and our short film Armor won first place. Second to that would be our short film Civil playing the Asbury Park Shorts Concert three years ago alongside Oscar winning live action short films.”
When asked about his favourite film, he said,
“Saving Private Ryan by Peter Spielberg, I love everything about that film, and every time I watch it, I’m reminded of why I want to do this.”
We asked Andrew which filmmaker has influenced him the most? He replied,
“Our first showing of the film at a Friends & Family premiere. It was a massive rush to get everything sorted, rendered, and downloaded right up to an hour before we showed.
“We had about 70 people in attendance and when we rolled, it was such a wild feeling. Here is something that we made, created and for me, something that I conceived and brought to a satisfying conclusion.
“I was so proud of that.”
To finish off we asked CJ what advice he had for new filmmakers and he said,
“Get out there and do it.
“Write a simple script and go out and film.
“To paraphrase James Cameron, ‘Just get out there and film something, anything. Now you’re a director. The rest is just negotiating budget and salary.’
“It’s true. The technology required to create film is so readily available that all the excuses I told myself at a young age are non-existent.
“An iPhone and a gimbal can be used to create great films.
“Also, surround yourself with people who buy into your madness. I was so fortunate to have people who supported the process. The attrition for cast and crew was zero. The same people worked on the film from start to finish.
“You may have a thousand great ideas, but you cannot do it on your own. Get a good group together and let them help you.”
Keep an eye on Bridgwater News as we meet some more of the filmmakers, trailers of the films and the schedule for the event.