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Q&A with the short film director of the Kickstarter project, 'NUMB'

I was lucky enough to ask a few questions to Daniel Gras Pujalt, the director and writer behind the Kickstarter of the short film "NUMB." I became interested in the project because of it's storyline and it's a period piece in the 40s. So I contacted him, and asked a few questions, to know more about his film.

A piece of concept art from the short film
"NUMB"

The short film is on Kickstarter, so take a look: "NUMB."

If you still want to know more, just read these questions I've asked and read Daniel's answers. I think they will answer all of your own questions, and you'll get a good glimpse on this intriguing project.

1. First what gave you the idea for your short film, "NUMB?"

Well, I think that everyone loves a love story. But, I was also really interested in telling a story like this during the 1940s. It was such a complex period in our history. It was a time when people were restrained in so many ways and yet experiencing so many complex emotions, most of them related to the war in Europe. I really wanted to focus on the spirit of hope that was set against all of the hardships of that time to tell this love story. Additionally, my last project in Brazil was set in a similar time period. The experience stimulated my decision to set my story in a similar period.

2. Is this your first short film? Do you see yourself doing many more like this or in other genres?
This is my first official short film. I created student films while I was studying, but this is my first professional film. It’s a bit scary, but I have total confidence in my vision, cast and crew.

I definitively see myself working on more period time pieces, especially those that give an unexpected insight into the past. I began my career working in the art department of a Brazilian TV channel and that gave me a tremendous love for these sorts of projects and the characters involved with them. It’s totally fascinating to learn about how they lived, what they dreamed about, what frustrations they had, and how they loved. I like to write characters that I imagine are familiar to me, it’s like fantasying about how my grandmother fell in love for the first time.

3. For people who don't know about your film, can you tell them a little about it?
The story centers on a young couple and the unusual love story that develops between them. Both share an infatuation, but neither has the courage to act on it. Even once the heroine makes the decision to overcome her fears and make a bold move, things don’t turn out exactly as she expects. But that’s when destiny lends a hand.

4. As a fan of period pieces I have to ask, how strongly do you feel about accuracy in period movies?
Accuracy it’s essential. As a storyteller, I need to transport my audience and take them on a journey. They have to feel connected to the people and the places and forget they are seeing sets and costumes. It is my job, and the job of my crew, to make it totally believable. That kind of care and attention to detail adds layers and texture that enriches the story. I personally, don’t feel comfortable on a set that does not portray a historically accurate atmosphere. That’s why we have had almost four months of research into pre-production for the wardrobe, hair and make-up, props, location and every other detail related to the visual storytelling.

5. I write about classic movies, so here's a question, what 1940s movies do you think could be close to your short film?
I think there are a few films for a few different reasons. The film perhaps closest in spirit might be 1940 full-length American romantic comedy film "The Shop Around The Corner," directed by Ernst Lubitsch and starring James Stewart and Margaret Sullivan. Like our story, it is a tale of secret love and missed connections. From the perspective of visual tone, I think that much of the 1942 full-length American thriller, "Cat People" directed by Jacques Tourneur and starring Simone Simon, echoes the tone I want to achieve with "NUMB." It has been a really helpful tool for us to study the costuming, the locations and the crowd scenes, as we design these elements for our own film.

There is another movie, a beautiful Russian film called "Ballad of a Soldier," directed by Grigori Chukhrai and starring Vladimir Ivashov. The film was shot in 1959, but portrays the story of a soldier in World War II and is a beautiful love story that happens over his three days off from the front line. It’s a poetic, optimistic and somewhat sad story about how even during the most terrible times people are willing to find the good.

6. Let's talk about Kickstarter, which people at the moment can donate for "NUMB." Do you have any advice for other directors thinking of using Kickstarter? How has your experience been so far?
Honestly, the experience has been wonderful! I have been so touched by how lovely and generous everyone has been. I encourage anyone who is thinking of trying it, to do it. The key is harnessing your community and finding every way possible to get the word out. It’s also about spreading the word that every little bit helps. You don’t need to donate a $100 to make a difference. A donation of $10 makes a difference. A Facebook post makes a difference. A tweet or an email to your friends makes a difference. Anything you can do will ultimately make a difference.

If you are a filmmaker and want to start a project on Kickstarter (or want to fund any project for that matter) you have to put the work in and create a Facebook page, a Twitter account, a cool video to tell you story and then reach out on all those sites and through every other avenue open to you every day to spread the word, every day! Keep talking it up! That’s key! Kickstarter is a great platform to present a project, but you need to understand that this it is an exchange. These folks need to feel invested in you and that means that need to care about you and what you’re working on.

7. Last but not least what would you like to personally share with the readers?
It has been my dream to make this film for several years and I am so grateful to have a chance like this. A few months ago, I thought I would not have an opportunity to make "NUMB" and it truly broke my heart. A friend of mine said, “Why don’t you start a Kickstarter campaign? You’ve put so much work into preparing to make this film. Don’t give up!” I didn’t know anything about Kickstarter at the time, but with the help of some great friends, I was able to launch the campaign. And I can’t tell you how exciting and gratifying this journey has been. I am so excited and touched by the generosity and encouragement I have received from so many. As a filmmaker, the opportunity will also afford me the chance to create opportunities for so many other artists and film professionals.

So that's the end of the Q&A interview. Once again check out their Kickstarter if you're interested in helping out this project, also check out "NUMB's" official twitter page. Last but not least, thanks to Mr. Pujalt for taking the time to speak more about his short film.