You know how every once in a while you come across a new song or TV show that hits you just right and you have to run out and shout about it from the rooftops for everyone to hear? Well, this was me when I came across Alex Kyrou‘s little kickstarter-that-could for his short film White Awake. I was instantly grabbed by his admission of being attracted to stories and films that touch on emotional authenticity and what goes on behind the mask so I had to reach out and learn more about Alex and his project.
While his Kickstarter has reached its goal (and then some), I want to help get one final push in its last hours to truly make it something special – I can feel its potential! Plus, I gotta pimp a fellow Greek. ELLA!
“White Awake is a short film about innocence, loss, and the social masks we wear. It is a touching visceral story about connection and the depths and obstacles of confronting emotion.
Joshua is a successful accountant who seemingly has everything. Intelligent, refined. But he isn’t whole. During a therapy session, he recounts several stories about his hoarder friend Robert who lives with his wife and adopted son. The boy, like his father, has grown up with a love of collecting things; for the father it is a love of collecting pennies and for the boy it is a love of collecting shells.
While shell-hunting on the beach, the boy unexpectedly discovers the fossilised remains of a seahorse, something Joshua doesn’t reveal to his therapist. And he is finally confronted with a question regarding his story: “does it mean something to you?”
Despina: First of all, I have a thing for titles so I have to know about the story behind White Awake. Where did it come from?
Alex: Initially I came up with the title of White Awake because I liked the play on words. The first draft of the script I wrote a long time ago was about an insomniac and “White Awake” was really fitting. However, the script for the short has changed completely, and now the title links to the name of the lead character Joshua White and him ‘awakening’ to his past. (Love it!)
D: In your video you mention an interest in emotional honesty and how people respond to any given situation. As the writer, what was the inspiration for that within this story? Anything in particular that prompted it or the characters?
A: The inspiration stemmed from my observations of how people tend to live without emotional honesty. I’m a person who tends to wear his heart on his sleeve, and am perhaps overly sensitive to other peoples’ problems. I find it interesting when people live in a closed-off way, not really facing up to the issue at hand, and that makes for interesting fictional characters and good storytelling that relies so much on subtext. The family history of the lead character, Joshua White, is really an amalgamation of some of my own personal experiences.
D: What is your experience as a writer? Are you a storyteller first or were you drawn to film for the media aspect (cinematography, sound, etc)? Where’d the filmmaking bug come from?
A: First and foremost, I’ve always been an avid cinema-goer. I routinely visit the cinema to watch films of all genres, but primarily dramas. Decades of watching films has given me the bug to produce my own work which first began at film school in Canada, followed by writing narrative treatments for music videos which allowed me an outlet to explore concepts and tell stories solely with visuals. I’ve now reached a point where I’m ready to make dialogue-driven films.
D: You also mention you’re drawn to films that resonate with you on an authentic, emotional level. What film(s) has/have made the biggest impact(s) on you in this way and why?
A: The film that made me want to be a filmmaker was Magnolia. I remember watching this in the cinema at 16 and being emotionally overwhelmed at the time. I hadn’t seen many films up to that point that presented authentic characters’ hardships in such a raw and operatic way. In fact, Paul Thomas Anderson’s filmography has probably been the single biggest influence on me growing up not only for his writing approach and for being an actor’s director, but also for his aesthetic style. (Nice!)
D: You’ve managed to get some talented collaborators on this project such as Cinematographer James Westbrook, Costume Designer Rebecca Tredget, and Colorist Jason Moffat, how did that magic come together?
A: From my years of directing music videos, I’ve managed to develop some amazing creative relationships with crew members and actors, some of which were really keen to collaborate on White Awake. Not only are these people talented, but they have integrity and passion which I feel is almost more important to me in an industry that is overrun with egos.
A: I specifically wrote the part of Joshua for Hainsley Lloyd Bennett who was the lead in one of my music videos. I was struck by Hainsley’s sensitivity and intelligence towards his craft, and equally impressed by his love of film. I thought he would be the ideal actor to lead a raw drama.
D: Other than making a great film, what is your ambition for the finished product?
A: I’d love the film to be shown at a major festival such as Toronto, Sundance, or Cannes, but I know competition is fierce. Ultimately I’d like the film to find its audience through whatever avenue that might be. Lately I’ve noticed a growing popularity of short films gaining mass viewership on websites such as Vimeo, and that is certainly something I might explore in the future.
D: Any other films/stories/projects on the horizon?
A: I do have an idea for a future short film, and possibly a feature, but right now they are just ideas and will need to be fleshed out.
D: In a perfect world, where would you like to see yourself in 5 years? 10 yrs?
A: In five years, it would be a dream to direct a feature length film that I had written. Storytelling is, and always will be, my passion, and I will continue to be actively making films.
Alex Kyrou and his past projects, including his music videos, can be found at SixtyClicks.com.
Thank you for taking the time to discuss your film and good luck! Please keep us up to date on your progress.