Given enough time, everything deteriorates. Trapped within a distortion of time, unravelling his fragmented memory, a man comes into contact with a woman living in real-time who reveals the truth about him. Echoes was one of the short film projects which was discovered by the film programmers of the online competition and fest of Toronto Film Magazine. Anthony Kalmeta, the director of Echos has stated that the film is a layered puzzle that, depending on how you arrange its pieces, deconstructs how relationships are created and maintained. For this first layer of the film, Anthony wanted to stay true to the relationship at the heart of the story and infuse it with visual representations of physical and emotional separation.
Anthony Kalmeta is a 22 year old Polish-American film director, screenwriter, and editor based in Southern California. He began his professional career as an editor, with work encompassing TV shows, music videos, documentaries, and a major motion picture. His first short film Overcast (2020), distributed by ShortsTV, went on to win various awards, including "Best Director" at the UK Film Review Festival. His directorial work consists of short narrative fictions that are rooted in psychological concepts, exploring themes of memory and cognition. His next project is a feature length urban psychological thriller. It was our pleasure to collaborate with Anthony on this interview at the Toronto Film Magazine about his film, Echoes.
What was the inspiration behind creating Echoes?
One of the main inspirations of the film was the idea of how memory is created through associations. On a visual level, Echoes communicates how these associations are fabricated and how they can be lost, damaged, or changed. The film becomes an exploration into how we use our environment, and other people, to create meaning. These ideas are present in the visual story and are hinted at through the dialogue.
How was the shooting process?
It was a very tough shoot, we shot the film in December of 2020 and followed strict COVID-19 safety protocols. Our production designer Alexa Cha had to frequently change the set between takes to get the desired cross-cutting effect for the film. Our assistant director Dylan Quintero fought to keep us on track, we had a very short window for daylight sequences, and without his hard work the film would've run into major issues.
One of the biggest assets we had on the shoot was our actors. Dane Oliver saved us an immense amount of time with his fantastic work ethic, dedication, vocal talent, and incredible physical acting skills. Without Dane, the film simply wouldn't have worked. Melanie Abernathy was effortlessly talented in her role as Ava, she was able to expertly blow through scenes in such a short amount of time. Chase Blanchard, similarly, was a joy to have on set and only needed a few takes for a very pivotal scene.
Most importantly, my director of Photography Isaiah Walk was the glue that held us all together. He was extremely concise with his camera team, paired with our incredible gaffer Khoi Nguyen, and nailed the look of the world in every setup. We're honored that he was awarded best Cinematographer, he did remarkable work that really shaped the film into what it is.
How did you start making films and what was the first film project you worked on?
I started making films when I was 5-years-old using my dad's video-cassette camera. I went on to create Lego stop-motion animations, some of which I uploaded to YouTube, as well as action clips featuring my close friends through elementary and middle school. I didn't realize it at the time, but those early experimental videos were my first lessons in filmmaking.
When I was seventeen, I worked as an assistant editor on a feature film - it was my first real film project. The film was an action-drama and had a few notable stars and a relatively small budget. I gained insight into the industry, storytelling process, and how an editor processes and arranges footage. It was a big eye-opening experience for me.
What genre of filmmaking are you looking to work on and why?
The genre I'm looking forward to working on are crime-mysteries. I've always loved detective narratives and the way they develop character, tension, and tone; it creates an expectation and uncertainty that's very captivating. The genre is like a labyrinth in the way it delivers information to an audience. It provides a world of possibilities that you don't typically find in other genres.
What is the most challenging aspect of being an independent filmmaker?
The hardest part about being an independent filmmaker is balancing work with a personal life, it's hard to know when to break away. After a while it gets very mentally taxing.
How challenging is it to fund indie films?
It's challenging to fund a short film because there's a small amount of monetary return unless you have a big name attached or it's a part of a larger pitch. It's slow in the beginning, but it's all about creating momentum and consistently improving your craft.
Please name three of your most favorite directors. How have they been influential in your work?
My favorite directors are Christopher Nolan, Denis Villeneuve, and Michael Mann. Without going into too much detail, I'm inspired tonally by Denis, his style is very subtle and emotionally impactful. Michael Mann, especially with his film Collateral, has a kinetic storytelling style that touches on so many emotional and philosophical ideas. On the other hand, Christopher Nolan has an incredible way of experimenting and establishing new ways to tell stories. I'm sure many people are very inspired by their work.
What is your next film project and what are you currently working on?
My next project will be a short film titled Concurrent, a crime-drama with an emphasis on character. It's a film that'll be very different from my previous two films, but it still operates within the same realm. After that, I'll be moving into pre-production on my first feature.
What is the distribution plan of the film and did the film receive any screenings or was it featured in festivals?
We're currently in the submission process and figuring out the best way to distribute the short film. We'll most likely self-distribute the film on Vimeo or on our website.
Why do you make films and what kind of impact would your work have on the world?
I want to contribute to the world of narrative filmmaking, creating films that are layered and inspire discussion.
Trailer of Echoes: