Indiewire invited AFI FEST directors to tell us about their films, including what inspired them and the challenges they faced. The festival runs until November 13.
Riley Stearns is from Austin via Los Angeles, and he’s presenting his first feature, called “Faults.” The indie thriller tells the story of a young cult member named Claire (Mary Elizabeth Winstead). Her parents, concerned, hire a man (Leland Orser) to try to reverse her brainwashing; he kidnaps her. The ensuing conversation will keep you on the edge of your seat. The film was picked up by Screen Media Films, and it will see a March 15 release date in theaters and VOD. One interesting detail: Stearns is married to Winstead, star of “Faults.”
Here is Riley Stearns, in his own words:
Biggest challenge in completing this project?
“For ‘Faults,’ the biggest challenge was the timeline. We shot in 19 days including a whole day of pre-lighting our motel set. Not only that but I was cutting with our editor, Sarah Beth Shapiro, for a few hours every night after we wrapped, on our day off and also during lunch. Needless to say, I didn’t sleep much. This isn’t all that unusual for an indie though and I’m not looking for sympathy, I promise.”
Did you crowdfund?
“We didn’t crowdfund. Everything was through Snoot Entertainment who produced the film.”
What camera did you shoot on?
“Arri Alexa w/ Zeiss Super Speeds and a vintage Toshiba tube camera.”
Advice for first-time filmmakers?
“Make as many shorts or whatever you can before jumping into a feature. That said you’ll never really be ready to director your first feature, you just sort of have to do it. Also, don’t forget to eat or eat more than you normally would on set. I lost ten pounds while shooting ‘Faults’ somehow and by the end of the shoot people were basically handing me stuff to eat in between takes.”
Did you go to film school?
“I went to UT in Austin for a year as an undeclared liberal arts student. After that year I applied to the film program but didn’t get in so I dropped out and moved out to LA. Sometimes I wonder how my filmmaking would have been affected by film school but in the end I’m glad I got to figure it out on my own.”
What films have inspired you?