Updated: Aug 29
Behind the scenes of The Mitoté with the film's Director Frank Bennett.
Share a bit about your experience creating the Mitoté, from writing, what it was like co-creating, then actually filming.
The writing process for the Mitoté was much different from any other work I had written before. It all started after watching Tarantino’s newest film at the cinema. I was drifting off to sleep and there was one shot from the film that I particularly loved that wouldn’t leave my mind. Eventually the image had morphed into something distantly related, and a sequence began to form - a mysterious man walking down an empty street in black and white. I was intrigued with what I was seeing and the longer I stayed with it, the more it revealed itself. It was my very first taste of seeing a sequence for a film blossom before me and I felt sort of mesmerized and extremely inspired.
The next day Sita called to say she had an idea for a short film, and much to her delight so did I, although one with absolutely no plot or direction. It was only shortly after we sat down to discuss, we both realised that our ideas were the lock and key they each were missing, and there was an eruption of joy and excitement as we decided then and there we would make the film. We had no idea what we were getting ourselves into.
We then embarked on the writing journey together. It was such an exhilarating experience every time we spoke about our new ideas and discoveries, and there was a certain magic every time we did that seemed to bring our ideas to another level that neither of us could previously see. There is no doubt that this was the magic fertilizer that softly encouraged The Mitoté to grow. Between the excitement and the many eureka moments, the most captivating aspect of writing The Mitoté was simply witnessing the story continuously unfold, almost as if it existed all along, and was just waiting for somebody to stumble across it.
When it came to getting a cast involved and actually filming, the co-creation grew beyond the two of us, which was beautiful to witness. The people we chose to accompany our vision were incredible, and really the film couldn’t have been made with anyone else. They offered their absolute all to the story, and throughout the production each brought their own imaginations and ideas to the table, which was invaluable to say the least. I never imagined that filming and directing would be as fun and joyous as it was, as previously I had projected my fears and doubts onto it. Once again I was reminded that behind every fear is somethin g beautiful waiting to be embraced.
What was it like on set? What were some moments that stood out, whether in joy, doubt or funniness?
There was a certain energy in the air that couldn't be denied. It felt much like the shorter bursts of energy Sita and I would experience when writing together, but more prolonged and consistent, and spread throughout the cast. There was a mutual elated presence shared between everyone a lot of the time, with laughing fits being one of the main causes for delay (and mostly on Sita’s behalf), and there were so many hilarious moments, I just have trouble remembering them all. The funniest patch of the film to shoot was probably in the opening scenes, due to the absurdity of some of the characters. Finally seeing them come to life was equally ludicrous as it was joyous to witness. It’s actually too hard to even single out any moments of joy, as it was ever present throughout the filming, however the moments following the completion of each day’s shooting were unmistakably gracious and rewarding, often leaving me buzzing for hours with what felt like the essence of the film itself.
There were one or two moments when I fell into a pit of doubt, but the main time it happened was mid-shoot, towards the end of production. I won’t spoil the scene, but essentially it wasn’t going how I had expected it to and I started believing all sorts of nonsense my mind was throwing at me, like ‘I’m never directing again’, and ‘the film’s ruined’... I called a five minute break, jumped under a cold shower and powered through the rest of the night, and the scene turned out to be one of my favourites.
What was it like working with first time actors/ first timers in general? And being a first timer yourself?
I loved it. There is an innocence in trying something for the first time, and along with it comes a carelessness that allows for immense freedom. The fact that the cast had never acted before was a blessing for so many reasons, and one was that I didn’t have any pressure on me or projections of how to direct and how a director should act/work. And same again, the cast had no place of reference for how they should function as actors, which in turn left them completely free to be as they wished and act with no boundaries. But there is no first time actor - everyone acts for most of their lives, whether they are aware of it or not. You’ll act a different way around your friends, your boss, your parents, your kids. So in directing I would sometimes rather work with someone who‘s less aware of how and more aware of now, and being the character.
As a whole, the entire production was so makeshift it probably couldn’t have entertained anyone with much experience in the film industry. The binding glue was that everyone was on the same page, and everyone was equally prepared to step out of themselves and their comfort to make whatever it was, work. As I said earlier, we had no idea what we were getting ourselves into, and this fact was really beneficial in that we took on ideas and choices that were probably a little too ambitious for complete first timers, but paid off in the end. By throwing ourselves in the deep-end we learnt an incredible amount, came up with many unique methods and approaches to obstacles, and overall had a freer, less stressful experience than I think we would've had if the stakes were any higher.
Your opinion on rules and rule breaking in filmmaking?
Rules? There are definitely some parts of life where rules are necessary, but filmmaking is certainly not one of them. I’ve always squirmed a little upon hearing ‘rules’, so it comes to no surprise that I was not jumping in line to hear all the rules proposed for making a film. Being confined by any previous assumption on how something should be done seems foolish to me, and when it comes to art, being confined is the last thing on my mind. Basically, there are no rules in film, and if you think there are, the loss is yours.
What was one of your favourite scenes to shoot?
I would have to say the opening scenes in the deserted town. The whole shoot was such a fun adventure, and the town is so beautiful, especially in the early morning when we were filming. We camped out in the forest in the night, and because we obviously couldn’t shut the street off we had to wake in the dark of morning (like 3am), and convoy out to Nannup before too many cars started driving through. It was really exciting and special to see the first scenes of our vision come to life, and beautifully so.
It sort of ties in with my favourite scene… Nannup is such a beautiful little town with so much greenery, flowers, birds, and one morning we had an awesome smoke fog rolling through. But second on the list would be the location of the very last shot, which I can’t really go into any more details for obvious reasons...
The Mitoté will be released in May 5th, 2020.
For more insight into Frank's creative process and background see Part 1 of this interview!
To see more of his work visit his website ~ frankbennett.me
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