5Q's w/Chris Willett "Silence" Editor


SUNDAY BLOCK J | 1:00 pm

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

Silence is a quiet story about a woman courageously facing a difficult path after an accident renders her deaf. The story resonates with all audiences, especially those who've experienced injury, and we explore what it means to heal even when the injury itself can't be reversed.

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

With a name like Silence, it won't come as a shock that ours is a silent film. What will surprise you is that, unlike many more traditional films, our film is actually silent. The majority of the film is utterly devoid of music and effects and that absence adds immeasurable sympathy to our newly deaf protagonist. Viewers who enjoy this film in a theater context will walk away with an indelible memory of how a hush overcame the crowd and how it heightened their experience and, hopefully, enjoyment of our short.


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

I've been editing films since high school where I used them as a shield between my shy self and a bored sea of a peers whenever final presentations rolled around. Instead of droning on at the head of class, I could just press play and sit back. It was a really fun solution that I clung to immediately.

After editing my way through two rounds of college and a brief stint in the commercial world in Portland, OR, I made way down to LA and have been a full time editor ever since. My work can be seen on TV, on the sites of some of the internet's bigger names, and of course, at many film festivals. I'm currently spending my time helping out the visual effects team on the final season of a very large HBO show.

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

There are two that are tied for the top slot. Firstly, we were under extreme time pressure to make our short (we had 48 hours) and, out of a sense of integrity and respect, were committed to placing a really high priority on correctly portraying the deaf community. Adam Bradshaw, our producer, did what he does best and got us an absolutely exceptional ASL translator willing and able to give us all a crash course in ASL, both as a language and as a culture. I won't go into granular detail on what I learned here, but will say that I was deeply moved by the nuances in that community. I am sad to say that I had initially thought that ASL was strictly just a way to translate English to those who have lost or diminished hearing, but found that it was far deeper and richer than that. I highly recommend that people research it when they can.

Secondly, I am used to editing narrative films with a standard amount of dialog. I hadn't realized how much I rely on dialog to flesh out the narrative beats and help me build a skeleton before I begin to flesh it out and refine the details. One could say that I'm used to editing from the inside out. Normally, my process under the time constraints we had would be to quickly scan the dailies, grab the best takes of each line or moment, slam together an assembly edit, and then begin to refine. In Silence, there is no dialog and the moments are far too subtle to scan for, so I more or less skipped the assembly process and dove right in, scene by scene. In essence, I had to edit head-to-toe instead of inside outward. Tackling this challenge was a ton of fun and I'd describe my overall mood in the editing room as absolutely giddy. Editing Silence was an editorial exercise in allowing the story to inform my process and not the other way around.

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

This year is going to be an exceptional year for Silence. In 2018, the film competed against over a hundred Los Angeles based teams and came out on top, granting us the honor of traveling to Orlando to compete against filmmakers from around the world. If the best should occur in Orlando, Silence will then be headed to Cannes, which would be an absolute dream. So, if you've seen Silence and liked it, wish us luck! In the interim, Silence has been fortunate enough to find a home in festivals around the nation, and members of the team are hoping to attend as many as we can to support the festivals, the towns, and our fellow filmmakers.

As for me, once I wrap up my current project in visual effects, I'll return to freelance editing. Several of my friends and colleagues have awesome projects in the works in 2019, so I'm looking forward to seeing those come to fruition and hopefully helping out on some or all of them. And as we do every year, my friends and I will spend a weekend in the summer working on our next short that, hopefully, you can look forward to seeing in BSFF 2020!

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Matthew NothelferComment