A glance at the state of film suggests that nothing much has changed in recent years. We’re inundated with sequels, prequels, spin-offs and remakes every single year while Hollywood makes more money with the same movies for the same audience over and over. This makes indie filmmakers and short film purveyors all the more important to our society.
Which brings us to Bologna.
Chris has been making films for over 20 years with an education in screenwriting, has screened films at theaters and had a hand in a commercial. Also a lover of comics, Chris is an avid comic book reader and lover of all things X-Men. Bologna is his latest short film to hit the scene, premiering here tomorrow, which took over six months of shooting and pre and post production to be completed. Needless to say Chris has a lot to say about film so let’s dig in and pick this man’s brain.
AiPT: So let’s get started, you’re a short film aficionado at this point with dozens of shorts produced over the last 20 years. Most of these were made for fun, so tell me, what drives you to do it?
Chris Hassan: 20 years? Am I that old? Actually, I looked into when I made my first film (with the gigantic family camcorder) and it was 1991’s “The Arctic Adventure.” So, I’ve been making films for 23 years.
I think the number of years I’ve been making films is essential to answering this question, as it’s almost second nature to me at this point. Some people feel compelled to write their thoughts in a journal, knit a sweater, get a tattoo or go on a road trip. Sometimes, I just feel the urge to make a film, and before I know it I’ve spent six months making a 10-minute comedy called Bologna.
It’s funny, on the final few days of post-production, my life was essentially wake up, go to work, come home, Bologna, go to sleep and repeat. While this repetitious routine was exhausting, I was driven to finish the film and share it with the world.
AiPT: I know you’re a big comic book fan. Have comic books influenced your films or filmmaking process?
CH: Absolutely! Before I ever made films I wrote and drew my own comic books. I’ve always preferred the combination of words and images to just words alone. While I can’t pinpoint a specific comic writer or artist that has influenced my films, I think the storytelling techniques used in that field have been ingrained in my brain and just come out when I’m creating storyboards – which are essentially comic panels, right?
AiPT: It appears you edit, write and direct. Hell, you even star…what do you prefer?
CH: While watching a story come together during the writing and editing processes can be exciting, I’m going to have to go with directing. Only because the latter two activities are typically me alone in a room, whereas directing means collaborating with the actors.
There were so many times during the filming of Bologna where I was just in love with what the actors were doing with their scenes and dialogue. I’m astounded by what’s unfolding in front of me and totally forget that I wrote the scene because they’ve made it their own.
Acting is fun but it definitely stresses me out, as I’m focused on directing myself and delivering the lines at the same time. There’s a scene I alone appear in at the end of the film and I deliver a single, five-word line of dialogue, and I ended up doing 30 minutes of takes.
AiPT: Bologna is an anthology, which is a first for you. Why an anthology?
CH: Hm, I don’t know if I’d call it an anthology. As it was unfolding, I began to think of it more as a concept album. It’s a series of scenes that can stand on their own, but also reflect an overarching theme. Some are long, some are short and each follows its own vibe – like songs on a record. I’m excited to see which scenes resonate the most with people…it’ll be similar to how people discuss their favorite tracks on an album.
As for the why…I’m not sure. This format was just the best way to deliver the story I wanted to tell.
AiPT: What would you say was the hardest part of production with this short?
CH: Without a doubt the actors’ schedules. In college, I could easily bang out a film as people were always looking for fun stuff to do. Now, everybody’s older. They have full-time jobs, they’re married, they have kids, they have laundry–making films is not their top priority. So it’s especially hard when you have to get four people’s schedules to align to do a single scene.
With that said, the cast of Bologna was incredibly dedicated to the film and it definitely shows in their performances.
AiPT: Do you like to eat bologna?
CH: I only eat fried bologna sandwiches. If you’ve never had one, you can follow an interesting take on the process in the film’s opening credits. However, I ate so much bologna while making this movie that I plan to take a very long break from it.
AiPT: Any plans for the premiere?
CH: There’ll be a small screening for any cast members who want an early look, then the entire world can enjoy it when it goes live on AiPT. In the New Year, I’d like to take it on the road for a few small-scale screenings with other filmmakers and expose it to different audiences. I’ll also see what festivals are coming up. Honestly, right now I’m just focused on getting it out there – people have waited long enough!
AiPT: Let’s do some fun ones. If there were a holiday in your honor what would it celebrate?
CH: Chris Hassan Day, aka Creative Day. People don’t go to work and students don’t go to school and instead dedicate the day to creating some form of art.
AiPT: What’s your favorite method of procrastination? Temptation? Vice?
CH: Procrastination is horrible, as are vices and temptations, right? I’m not playing favorites with any one of them!
AiPT: If Hollywood made a movie about your life, who would you like to see play the lead role as you?
CH: Well, I’d lobby hard for a chance to write and direct it so Hollywood gets the story right! And of course I’d cast myself.
AiPT: What comics are on your pull list right now?
I’ve read the main X-books consistently since just before the Age of Apocalypse began, whenever that was. I gained entry through the cartoon and worked hard to play catch-up with the entire X-universe. I’m really enjoying what Bendis is doing and Cyclops was always my favorite character so I love how central he is to the Marvel Universe these days.
I think Silver Surfer is just such a fun and inventive change of pace – love the art! Slott also does a great job of keeping Spider-Man interesting from one month to the next. I’m enjoying the Superior Iron Man concept for however long it lasts. Everything else I read in trades – I just don’t have the space for single issues.
I just finished the Forever Evil hardcover. I’m not a fan of the New 52 concept, but there’s no denying that Johns’ series was a fun and addictive read. Next, I’ll be catching up with Invincible with volume 9 of the Ultimate Collection hardcovers.
AiPT: A lot of great books. Thanks for talking to us Chris!
CH: Thanks for the opportunity! Hope everyone enjoys the film as much as I enjoyed making it!
You can catch the short film premiere tomorrow December 17th right here on AiPT.