Monday, October 15, 2012

Interview with The Company of Thieves, Director Shilpa Sunthankar. The movie screens Saturday, 10/20/12 at Noon.

The Company of Thieves, Director Interview

Shilpa Sunthankar
PushStart Productions/ Seeta's LLC

 “The Company of Thieves”
Saturday, October 20, 12 pm, Theatre B

In the ever-present battle of good vs. evil, a lone thief, Dex, seeks vengeance after he is left for dead in the woods by his partner. So he makes a fast deal with the Devil and goes on a mission to kill his partner and get his loot back.

"The Company of Thieves" is the story of a thief who deals away his soul and sets out for vengeance against his own partner. You've described it as a modern Western with elements of a spiritual thriller. The Western genre is clearly linked to the modern crime story. What is your feeling about these genres and why did you want to make this type of movie?

I love this question.  I’m very inspired by westerns, particularly the story of a character’s hard task surpassing the vast American landscape with an ultimate goal- a goal that's rarely cut-and-dry, it’s always morally questionable by today's standards.  It's the same in crime stories, they're about people doing bad things.  I think in the age we are in, there are a lot of gray areas, and in these genres I have the freedom to throw characters into obviously good or evil situations, and sort of challenge the viewer's position in that dichotomy.

In Thieves, the result is a story about a man and his relationship with right and wrong, his persistence in following a bad direction, no matter what signs he’s given, what other options he has in his life. And don’t we all do similar things, even if they’re not so critical?

Besides, I got to do some gnarly blood work on screen, and who doesn't love that?

The idea for The Company of Thieves came out of another project, your feature-in-development “Seeta's Demon.” Tell us about that.

Seeta's Demon is my first feature.  It is another dark vengeance story, an Indian American thriller.  It's about three characters, Indian and American, who put aside their differences to unite and take vengeance for the woman they love, who has been brutalized by a serial killer.  Actually, The Company of Thieves came out of this feature- we had a core team of folks already on the feature and we decided to make a short showcase piece with the same vengeance themes to help with financing the feature.  We're currently seeking a financing and producing team for the project.

There is clearly a lot of talent involved in this movie. How did you go about assembling your team?

There were a handful of folks already involved in Seeta's Demon who were very interested in putting Thieves together; a few of those folks being our D.P. Shawn Sundby, Hank Harris as Dex, and Samrat Chakrabarti as Sanjeev.  Beyond that, Shawn and I made inquiries among our contacts in the Oregon film industry to get some really talented folks in the rest of our cast and crew; since he and I have worked in the industry for years, we were really lucky in finding some really great people who put in a lot of great work for very little return.  I think it says a lot about the Portland film community that they would come together for an indie project like this.

What's the story about the car? It even has its own listing in the film credits?

Kathryn the 1971 Dodge Charger is no lady to be taken lightly.  She's bad ass.  She's just got such a great look with that old-school muscle car body, that patina, that rumbling engine, of course she was going to be in my movie.  She also had a role in Chel White's feature Bucksville that year.  My husband, Ben, and I have owned her for years- trust me, if you owned her you'd probably make parts for her in your movies too. :)

What are your influences as a filmmaker? What advice do you have for filmmakers starting out?

I'm strongly inspired by characters who do things I wouldn't do, and so I like films that depict those stories.  I guess that means I'm not a murderer and that's good.  I think my Tisch School of the Arts education shows in my work too.

My first advice for any filmmakers starting out is to just do it.  Life is short- you're never going to have enough money, time or help, so just pick up a camera and get some friends and start filming.  After your first one, you'll know how to move forward on the next one.