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by Nigel M Smith
November 8, 2013 11:10 AM
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How I Won Canon's Project Imaginat10n Contest: Meet the Filmmaking Family Behind 'Dominus'

One of the photos used to inspired "Dominus" David P.

[Editor's Note: All filmmakers want to be noticed and contests are one way to make that happen. But what does it take to make a film that wins? This is part of a series of five articles that profile the winning directors of Canon's Project Imaginat10n and how they created their incredible short films. To learn more about Project Imagination, please go HERE.]

Arrius Sorbonne's short "Dominus" is a family affair. Written by Sorbonne's sister Ellesse Sorbonne Balli, shot by her husband Nathan Balli (who also served as the editor and visual effects head) and starring other family members, "Dominus" was filmed in just three days on a miniscule $400 budget -- remarkable, considering the film's sci-fi nature and broad scope.

Upon first coming across David Pritchard's photo "Plague Doctor Mask Portrait," the team became immediately fascinated by the concept of if a mask could never be removed, and what would initially cause that to occur. That, coupled with what's going on in North Korea, inspired the central conceit: What if masks were used to keep prisoners of war inside psychological barriers?

The Short's Official Synopsis: The great sickness first took the old and the infirm. Now it takes the impulsive. Strict obedience and the Dominus have preserved us.

The Short:



How They Won the Contest: It all came down to selecting the right photos for inspiration, Sorbonne stressed. "We just wanted to find something that other people would be afraid of," he explained. "We saw people were already choosing other photos. We looked at the mask and went, 'Where can we get that?' That scared away a lot of the other contenders."

Advice to Other Directors Trying to Make a Break: "Try to do something original," Sorbonne said.

Lenses Used: Canon EF 24-70mm f/2.8L USM, Canon EF 70-200mm f/4L USM, and Canon EF 100mm  f/2.8 USM.

Indiewire has partnered with Canon's Project Imaginat10n, the first film festival inspired by your photos.

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1 Comment

  • MJ Brewer | November 9, 2013 2:00 PMReply

    The shoots were perfect and the actors were nothing short of amazing, considering facial expressions could not be utilized, but the emotion was there. The only issue plaguing me was how they nourished themselves with the masks on and how their clothing remained for so long. They were wearing jeans instead of drab strung together pieces of fabric.

    All-in-all, for as short as the time was spent in filming and the effects managed to bring it to life, it is clear as to why this was the winner. An entire movie from front to back in ten minutes is exceptional. Congratulations. What will you do now?