Raoul Dysell and William âSonny’ Sonbuchner have just taken a gamble to become full-time film producers in South Korea. Roll the Dice Pictures, their film production company has completed it’s first feature film, Amiss, and Simon Slater was at a screening to catch up with them.
Your film is called ‘Amiss‘, can you explain the title?
Raoul: Amiss means that something is out of place. The films presents three different characters, whose lives are intertwined by the suicide of Anna Choi, and Anna’s father, who interrogates them as to the nature of their relationship with her.
Sonny: There is something, not quite right, with each of our central characters and we learn something about them that is beyond what we might expect.
The tagline reads ‘You have no idea who you are.’ What does this mean in relation to the themes of the film.
R: I’ve always wanted to tell stories about seemingly normal characters who are thrown into arduous situations and find out who they really are. By overcoming obstacles, defeating demons both good or evil, people can do things they never thought were capable of in the first place.
S: It means that given the right circumstances, none of us can really predict how we’d react in a given situation.
When you had the idea to make a feature film, did you honestly think you could achieve it? What was the end result you were originally hoping for?
S: Absolutely. We would not have begun this journey if we didn’t have every intention of seeing it through to the end. One day, Raoul and I walked to my apartment where we’d meet the other two writers involved with the film at the time. We suspected that one or both of the other writers may have to pull out of the project and Raoul seemed a bit disheartened and uncertain of the future of the film. I told him that no matter what, he and I would go on to complete the film together and we did. We were originally just hoping to have a feature film under our belts, even if just âtechnically’. Instead, we’ve come up with a film and a story that we couldn’t be more proud of.
We learned we can overcome a barrage of seemingly insurmountable obstacles, crawl through 500 feet of shit and come out clean on the other side.
R: The film surpassed our original vision, as it was not supposed to be anything more than a portfolio piece where four writers wrote four unified segments for a single narrative and then directed each other’s segments, chipping in $500 each. After two of the writers dropped out, Sonny and I decided to stop limiting our scope and not think about the budget and just go for it, making it the most ambitious thing either of us had ever written. And then we had to make it. I don’t think anything will ever come close to matching the vision we had for it in your head exactly, but Amiss came pretty damn close and we are very proud and surprised by how good the end result was. We had very limited resources and relied mostly on our wits as independent filmmakers and the amazingly talented cast and crew we were blessed with who all did it as a labor of love. And love, I think, is how it all came together. Loving the project and never giving up, even when all the odds were against us, when the budget ran dry and people and locations dropped out at the last minute and it seemed liked we’d never finish it. As long as you remain positive and have a clear vision of the end goal in mind, you will achieve it. That isn’t philosophy – it’s science.
What did you both learn about yourselves as individuals now that the film is completed? Do you know who you are now, to any degree?
S: We learned what it is to become the kind of people capable of completing a project with hundreds of moving parts. We learned we can overcome a barrage of seemingly insurmountable obstacles, crawl through 500 feet of shit and come out clean on the other side. That may be a little bit of hyperbole. We learned how to work with actors and crew in an effective, meaningful way. We learned how to focus on the result we desired, rather than stewing in the issue at hand. We learned when to let go of people and when to embrace them and how to do either effectively. Most importantly, we learned how to work together and share a vision. Through Amiss and other professional projects I’ve become a better version of myself and much more confident in my ability as a director.
R: I’ve learned how to become a better communicator and to trust people more, as before Amiss, I was hesitant about entrusting elements of my first feature film in the hands of others. I’ve also learned, or rather, had it reaffirmed within myself, that I am where I belong. This thing, filmmaking, this art, is where my heart is, and I don’t ever want to do anything else.
What films and/or directors were influential in creating Amiss?
S: Let Raoul answer this.
R: Definitely Akira Kurosawa’s Rashomon, where a single terrible event is recalled from differing points of view. But in Amiss, the characters tied up and being interrogated are unaware of the fate of the girl at the beginning. As far as we are concerned, personally, the filmmakers that influenced us most when making Amiss were Korean director Bong Joon Ho, from a visual perspective with special reference to Mother, and Christopher Nolan, from a storytelling perspective, as Memento and The Prestige are our two favorite mystery films with twist endings, and Amiss is a mystery film with a hell of a twist ending.
The lead actor, Allan Choi, seemed to inhabit the role perfectly. How did you find him and will either of you be working with him again?
S: Allan is an angel who fell from the sky and into my crappy living room one Sunday afternoon for an audition. He has wholeheartedly embraced this project in every conceivable way and I’m sure Raoul and I will both work with him in the future.
R: Allan Choi was a stroke of luck. He was the first person who auditioned for the role of the father, and we pretty much had already cast him before the other auditions – he was that good. I believe he is the best actor in the film, as he has to inhabit four different characters: the typical drunk, the overarching villain, the stern father, and the sympathetic family man. All of these, I think, he pulled off effortlessly for his first feature film. Allan is also a remarkable storyteller and we have become very close after making Amiss. Actually, he has joined my production company, Roll The Dice Pictures, as a creative producer. So far we have completed two feature film scripts together and are busy writing a third, which I hope will be my next film.
What are your ambitions for this movie in regards for it’s exposure to a wider audience and do you anticipate future screenings? If so, where can people stay updated on them?
S: Next, we’ll work from the top down. First, meeting with distributors, then sending the film off to festivals until it finally finds a home.
R: Of course, as first time filmmakers, we hope our film gets picked up by a distributor and widespread release, but we also know that it’s not a perfect, studio produced movie and has the flaws that come with indie film production. Having said that, we are proud of the film and believe that it has an original and compelling story, strong performances and looks very good. We hope that it gets accepted by some festivals and gets enough exposure for a distributor to want to pick it up. Our goal is for people to see the movie. A film is nothing without an audience, and showing it to people is the best reward for making it.
For more info, visit the Amiss Official website at http://www.amissmovie.com