Christopher Stollery

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Synopsis: A six-year-old boy brings home a piece of schoolwork that provokes his parents to question his sexual orientation.

How did the story for DIK come about? How close to home was it?

It came about through a few different things. One was when a friend’s son brought home a drawing from school and the contents of the drawing led them to believe that something inappropriate might be going on at school. The other part of the idea for the film came when I was at a dinner party with eight gay women. I became aware of a whole bunch of things having to do with men and women and sexuality. I mixed both ideas together and the result is DIK.

DIK has a real theater feel to it. Was it a theater piece?

No. It was written for film. I had worked with Patrick Brammall, who plays the Dad in the film, on stage and in TV and we've been mates for nearly ten years now. He has a particular style, a comedic delivery. When I was writing the piece, I imagined him playing that character. I don't subscribe to the idea that film is only visual, that it’s all about images and you've got to cut every line of dialogue and replace it with an image. I just don't think that's true nor do I see the point of it. Some of the great films I have seen have had fantastic and rapid fire dialogue. From the great films from the 1940s to modern day stuff like IN BRUGE. And I don't care if you put it on a stage or on a film, just as long as people enjoy it.

I've seen three of your short films: PRICK, FINE (a finalist in MANHATTAN SHORT 1999), and this year’s DIK. All are comedies. You always hope to make comedies?

Yeah, they all have a similar flavor to them. I think the short film tends to favor a comedic format. If you want to get into anything that is deep and meaningful, I think a feature has the rhythms that support that. However, every short film I see at festivals these days is trying to be some earth-shattering, significant-moment piece about growing up or death or something. But to my mind, ten-minute films are definitely a comedic structure.

Only 15 percent of the films submitted to Manhattan Short are labeled comedies and fewer than that makes us laugh. Why do you think that is?

For starters, I think it’s harder. If you are trying to make a comedy, people are required to be laughing at some point in the film or at the end. And if you don't achieve that, it’s very obvious. In comedy, you have to stick your neck out a bit. The audience has to laugh. It takes a certain amount of skill to do that.

What advice do you have for someone making their first short film?

Get the script really clear on paper before you start shooting. Don't wing it and think you can fix it in the edit or on the shoot. Also, compress it as much you can. Most short films I see are always about a third too long, and they have pushed the audience’s attention span past what the film and content really demands. Get the rhythm right and remember shorter is usually better.

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