5Q' w/Zakary Hallett "Beneath the Skin" Director

Beneath the Skin (22 min) dir: Zakary Hallett


#1: Can you describe your movie and why somebody should see it in less than 280 characters?

Beneath the Skin explores the individuality within us all and our desire to be ourselves in an environment designed to make us all the same. The blend of surrealism and everyday life makes you consider whether or not you show your true self to the world each day.

#2: What do you want the Borrego Springs Film Festival audience to know about your film that isn’t obvious from its title?

This film was written and made during my senior year of university, during a time when a lot of people around me didn't seem happy with the direction their life was heading. I couldn't understand the willingness to settle and accept a life decided for me, and I was inspired to share my feelings in a manner that everyone could relate to through the story of Beneath the Skin. Myself and four other directors each made a short film in the span of three months, helping each other with each film and working together as a creative collective. I skipped classes, ignored far too much schoolwork, and had the time of my life as I helped my friends bring their films to life and also had their help creating mine. While being removed enough to capture feelings everyone has at some point or another (or all the time), this film will forever be a preserved representation of a period in my life in which I really discovered who I want to be.


#3: What is your movie making background?  Tell us about yourself.

While I don't know what started it, I've been interested in filmmaking as long as I can remember. Starting when I was 7 or 8, I played around with cameras and recorded what often ended up being sketch-style comedy films with my friends, first on VHS tape edited all in-camera, then to digital camcorders and finally cinema cameras as my interest grew. Since I was in high school, I knew all I really wanted was to be a filmmaker, but I was too afraid of the lack of stability to commit to that as a career. But, after consistently spending much of my free time on new film projects with friends for the better part of four or five years, I committed to a Cinema Studies major at the end of my second year at Oakland University (only after switching between six other majors).

I learned all I could from the analytical side of film studies and applied it to the way I handled filmmaking, constantly growing my skill set. Just before entering my final year of college education, I started a film production company called Qualia Creative with other directors who were just as committed as I was. Within a month of graduating from Oakland University with a bachelor's degree in Cinema Studies, I moved to Los Angeles with the other members of Qualia. We continued to create as often as we could, focusing 100 percent of our time on filmmaking.

I still continue to focus my time on film content, treating each day as a new lesson in filmmaking and striving to become a better storyteller with every shot of every film.

Photo 4 Outside_Door.jpg

#4: What was the biggest lesson learned in getting your film made?

Beneath the Skin was my first true short film as a director. I had filmed various things for years, never with a plan or script and never really finishing a project. Beneath the Skin was a turning point, as I took the craft much more seriously and enabled myself to follow through with what I set out to do. I developed the project with a few fellow filmmakers during the months beforehand, in the middle of day-and-night shooting schedules of their own short films. I received a lot of great help from some incredibly talented people, and I made the film I set out to make.

I learned a lot about filmmaking and even more about myself, both as a filmmaker and as a person. I learned how much work it takes to not give up. And I learned that the effort you put in off screen shows up on screen, and is almost always worth it.

I also learned that filmmaking has to be personal. Even if the story doesn't deal with exact situations you've personally dealt with, it inherently is made from your perspective of the world. Because of this bond, each film not only will reflect your perception, it absolutely should reflect that.

Photo 2 Drawing_Face.jpg

#5: What does the future hold for your film and you?

So far, Beneath the Skin has been shown in film festivals in a few cities across the United States as well as in London, where it won Best Soundtrack at the Little Wing Film Festival. My hope is to show as many people as I can while I develop new projects and continue creating and learning as much as I can.

Photo 6 BagCam.jpg
Matthew NothelferComment