Eric Kolelas by Stephanie Matti

Eric Kolelas by Stephanie Matti

Eric Kolelas is back in the director's chair for his brand new short film Hold: his third outing behind the camera.

As well as being in the director's chair, Kolelas has penned the screenplay and stars alongside Amanda Fernando-Stevens in the film.

We caught up with the director/actor to chat about the project and what lies ahead.

- Hold is your brand new short film, so can you tell me a bit about it?

Hold is about... I have just realised that it is really hard to talk about without giving it away. This guy lives in the post-apocalyptic world and has spent a lot of time believing that he is the only person; he finds out that he is not.

I wanted to play around with the human aspect of loneliness and what human needs as well. It really is about loneliness, what makes us us, the things that we need, and what happens when we don't have those things anymore.

- You are in the director's chair; you have penned the screenplay and take on the role of Him. So where did this project start for you? And what inspired the story?

There really were different sources of inspiration for me for this film; the first one was the location. I found this location near to my mum's house in Bedfordshire about two years ago now: we had been there for years and never knew that it was there.

When I saw if for the first time I was like 'this is amazing, I have to shoot something there.' For so long I have been messing around with ideas in my head for something that could be shot there. However, many of those ideas were a bit complicated, high concept, and way about my budget.

Last year, I went to a film festival and saw a movie that had the beautiful and the most awkward relationship. There was this intimate scene that was beautiful and awkward at the same time, and I tried to imagine what could bring someone to this situation. After messing around with that idea for a year, I had the script for Hold.

- Can you talk a little bit about your writing process? Do you start with character first and then the story? Or do you start with the story first?

With my very first film Fifty Pence, I had a basic concept of a guy walking in the street and I added obstacles to the guy's journey to make the story more interesting.

In the end, I had my script. I normally do work like that, but with Hold, it was different because I had the location first and - in some sense - I was trying to build it around that. Definitely, this time around that process was a bit different.

- We are always hearing about how difficult it is to get movies made in this country at the moment, so how tricky was it getting Hold off the ground?

I funded the whole project myself and the film was made on a shoestring budget. The way it was written allowed it to be cheap to make because it was in just one location and the shoot took us just one day: the film is only six minutes long.

The film is really just two scenes. In the UK, there is not a lot of money to go around to make films, so if you want to get projects up and running you really do have to find a way of doing that with what you have got.

If you can write something that can be done for cheap and have a lot of people who know what they are doing and believe in what you are doing, you can get stuff off the ground. The higher the concept gets, the harder it becomes to get hold of money and get things going.

- Hold marks your third short as a director, so how do you feel that you have developed as a filmmaker from Fifty Pence to now?

How have I developed as a filmmaker? I don't know. All of the films that I have done have been dramas, so I have stuck around in the same genre and not ventured anywhere else. Everytime I make mistakes in the filmmaking process I do feel like I am learning from them.

I would like to think that I am becoming a better filmmaker, but I guess the audience can only say that.

I am a very bad judge of my own work and I find it really hard to watch my own work after I have done it. I really do struggle to look at it objectively and make a judgement on it.

- What made you want to make the transition into writing and directing? And how have you found that move?

I actually started off with film. I went to university to study film, and once I finished that I was working on sets as a runner or a stock assistant.

Then I met someone who thought I would be good in a commercial, and I was just like 'yeah, why not'. It was fun and I was paid. Then I got cast in another commercial and continued to do that for a while.

That led me to think that perhaps I should take the acting more seriously. The filmmaking was always first, and then I just changed my priorities.

When I hit a wall with the acting - I wasn't really being seen for a lot of stuff and the stuff that I was being seen for wasn't exciting - and I just thought about making my own films while I was waiting for opportunities to come up.

- Amanda Fernando Stevens is on board as Her, so how you get her on board? And what did you see in her that you thought would be perfect for this role?

While I was getting the film together, a friend of mine suggested her. Mimi Vs was the wardrobe stylist on the film, and when I met up with her, she said she had a friend who was an actress. I was really keen to meet her and check out her stuff; I really liked what she had done.

When I met her, we found out that we had trained at The Actor's Temple, which I felt was a massive bonus because I understood her training and how she works as an actor.

Therefore, it was a lot easier for me to communicate, get stuff out of her, tell her what I am trying to do and influence her performance in much more organic way.

- You have already touched on the location and it really does have a very desolate feel to it. What were the challenges you faced working there?

The main challenge was getting the equipment down... it was in this massive chalk quarry. The main challenge was getting all of the equipment and everything down into the quarry to be able to film.

The location belongs to the Bedfordshire, Cambridgeshire, and Northamptonshire Wildlife Trust. I got hold of them, and they were fine about us filming in that location: the even sent someone down to the set to oversee everything and help with health and safety issues.

- And now that you have found success with short movies, how much is a feature film something that you are interested in?

It does feel like the next logical step. You see a load of indie films at the like of Sundance and Tribeca, and I feel like this is the next step.

I wouldn't want to do it until I have a script that I definitely want to make; I would rather have the script that I know that I want to make rather than doing it for the sake of making a feature film. I am very aware that it does need to go that way.

- Short films perhaps don't always get the exposure that they deserve but how important a format do you think short film is?

I think it is quite important but, like you said, it doesn't really get the exposure. I feel that it is only popular within the filmmaking community and people that are into the arts.

I think that it really exposes talent and new ideas. With the short form you can pretty much do what you want; the only constraint that you have is time.

In terms of the form and the style, you have a lot more freedom to do what you want; you can express yourself the way you want and tell the story the way that you want to tell it. You end up seeing a lot of interesting stuff that you normally wouldn't see if you went to the cinema to see a film.

Commercial films - for the most part - follow a certain format that we are all use to. With short form, you really do get a lot of diversity in storytelling.

- Finally, what's coming up for you going through the rest of this year both in front of and behind the screen?

In front of the camera, I am auditioning for some stuff and have been seen by some people. I am waiting to hear back from people; there is nothing confirmed yet but hopefully there will be something soon.

For the directing, I have been playing with making another short, but I do feel like I should write a script for find a script that I might want to make as a feature. The short of the feature will be next but I haven't decided yet. We will see where the wind takes me.

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