This is my second year at the Anthem Film Festival; when I registered I received the typical conference bag of goodies. To my delight, this bag include a DVD of The Conversation, the film that stood out most in my mind from year one.
The Conversation, by Korchula Productions, does what most people might think is impossible. It discusses philosophical principles, while being charming, amusing and entertaining. And, despite whatever intentions you may have had, it makes you think.
I had a conversation about The Conversation with its director and co-writer Courtney Moorehead Balaker.
Courtney, what was the inspiration for The Conversation?
The Conversation was inspired by a Socratic conversation our executive producer Chris Rufer has with people with the goal of getting them to think about social principles in a way they probably hadn’t before.
How long did it take to write? Film? Edit?
We took great care in the development and scripting phase, so that process was a couple of months. Principle photography was four days and the editing phase spanned a few months since we did several focus group screenings during that process, making minor adjustments along the way.
What was the biggest challenge you faced?
Our biggest challenge was finding a way to make an intellectual conversation about a philosophical concept visually interesting. Since the piece is very dialogue-heavy, we wanted the vignettes you see throughout to keep the viewers’ attention and help avoid letting the film feel static.
Was winning at the Anthem Film Festival helpful to The Conversation and your other films?
Winning the “Best Libertarian Ideals” and the “Audience Choice” awards were very beneficial to our mission with the film. For one thing, it was the very first time the film screened in front of an audience, so we were of course curious as to what type of response it would get. So we were very pleased that overall, it was well received. Winning the awards created opportunities for us to meet people who were eager to help us get the film into the world.
Can libertarian filmmakers get their films to a mass audience or are they destined to just be shown to small groups of other like-minded individuals?
If libertarian filmmakers stay focused on compelling storytelling and characters that are both intriguing and relatable, then they have a much better chance of appealing to a wider audience. Even if the piece is ‘idea driven’ there still needs to be a great story. High production quality also helps enormously. It’s important to choose or create projects that can be made within the reality of one’s resources. It’s very difficult to compete with main-stream Hollywood films if the writing, acting, and cinematography are sub-par.
What films/projects do you have in the pipeline?
We are currently developing a libertarian-themed narrative feature and a feature documentary about free speech and comedy, which features Adam Carolla. We are also in the middle of shooting a comedic web series called “HOA” about a young couple who purchase their first condo just before the housing bubble bursts; soon after they learn that they’ve thrown their life savings into a strange community run by busybodies and petty tyrants. We also have two television projects in the works, including a reality TV series that Discovery Studios has just optioned.
Socrates would be proud. For more information about The Conversation, check www.HarmonyandProsperity.org.