Ivan Kander, 32, of Silver Spring, MD “did a little dance” when he found out he got into DC Shorts Film Festival. His short film, Getaway, is an Official Selection at this international, critically-acclaimed film festival. It’s playing until this Sunday, September 17th in venues all around DC. We sat down with Ivan to ask him about his filmmaking, Jewish upbringing, and what he recommends doing at the festival….other than seeing his film, of course!
GatherDC Staff: Tell us a little bit about yourself.
Ivan: I’m a freelance video producer and motion designer. I write, curate, and edit for Short of the Week, the best place to watch free narrative short films on the web. And if you need an awesome video made for your company or organization (live action or animation), I’m your guy.
GatherDC Staff: What is Getaway about, and what was your inspiration for making it?
Ivan: The film revolves around a couple determining what they mean to each other. The audience is forced to wonder, as the sun sets, if their relationship will make it another day. After making my previous short—a viral Spider-Man/Miles Morales fan film complete with stunts, VFX, and a big crew—I wanted to do something that was simpler and character focused. Getaway is the result: a single, unbroken take with two people talking. It’s a character driven piece with minimal crew and even less distractions. I wanted to find out if I could tell an interesting story without all the cinematic “tricks” that allow you to manipulate an audience’s emotions. There’s no musical score to remind you to feel sad, no close-up cutaways to remind you to focus on an actor’s facial expression. The hope is to capture the moment in a relationship that it starts to fall apart.
GatherDC Staff: Is DC a good place to be a filmmaker?
Ivan: Absolutely! Obviously, the network isn’t as big because it’s not New York or LA. But, that also means we feel more like a family. Everyone is often willing to work together and help one another out to make something cool, especially amongst the indie film crowd. Some of my best friends are fellow film-people in the area.
GatherDC Staff: We see you did a film about Rob Jones, which was narrated by Gary Sinise. That’s kind of awesome. How did that happen?
Ivan: Rob is my best friend. We both grew up Loudoun County, VA. He’s also the most inspirational person I know. He lost both his legs serving as a Marine Corps. combat engineer in 2010. During his recovery back home, I started to document his life. The result is a 30 minute profile piece called Survive. Recover. Live, which won the Sgt. William Genaust Award from the Marine Corps. Heritage Foundation. After the completion of that film, Rob decided he wanted to challenge himself even further while also raising money for Veterans charities by cycling across the country on a stand-up bicycle. So, I made a follow-up doc about this particular journey.
GatherDC Staff: How do you connect to the DC Jewish community?
Ivan: I grew up in Waterford, VA and had to travel to Winchester, VA to go to synagogue. Now, I’m active in the DC Jewish community, but not as much as I’d like to be. I’m a member at the Bender JCC of Greater Washington, but currently not attached to a particular synagogue. I go to their family Shabbats, various events, and, of course, use the gym and exercise facilities.
GatherDC Staff: So, what are your tips for people who make a trip to the DC Shorts Film Fest?
Ivan: I’d highly encourage people to go to the mixers and parties. It’s a great way to meet people and forge connections that can often blossom into rewarding, creative relationships. I met my current screenwriting partner at a small short film festival in Nevada. You truly never know who you’re going to meet.
GatherDC Staff: Complete this sentence…When Jews of DC Gather…
Ivan: The food is always good!