Following a successful hometown screening of her film Letters From The Dead, filmmaker Arianna Martinez explains where the project goes from here.
Ever wonder about the life of a short film? How long do they take to make and what happens after the first screening? Are they destined to live out their days on a hard drive or live-on lost among the millions of other shorts on the internet? After seeing more than 30 New Brunswick-made short films included in the recent Silver Wave Film Festival lineup (more than 60 shorts in total), I was curious to learn more about the process so I reached out to Fredericton filmmaker Arianna Martinez.
Martinez is one of three filmmakers involved in the Fredericton production company Strike Pictures. Her 12 minute film Letters From The Dead recently screed at Silver Wave. The film tells the story of Abigail, a young girl who, after her grandmother’s passing, is still able to communicate with her through hardwritten letters.
As Martinez explains, the film’s development began two years ago as an idea for a story everyone could relate to.
“Letters from the Dead began in the fall of 2016,” said Martinez. “My partner Gordon Mihan and I began writing the story together. We wanted to write about something that everyone could relate to. Grief is one thing, but growing up is something that everyone has experienced. Trying to capture the world through the magical lens of a child was our ultimate goal.”
The film was one of several NB shorts to screen at the 18th annual Silver Wave Film Festival where it won a Silver Wave Award for Excellence in Art Direction. This hometown screening followed earlier screenings at both the Toronto Independent Film Festival and FIN Atlantic Film Festival.
“This particular screening was exciting because it’s easily accessible to friends, family, and the filmmaking community that we’re a part of, so the audience is more tender and open,” said Martinez. “The feedback I received after the screening was incredible. It’s an indescribable feeling when someone says that your art meant something to them; that they were able to relate to the story you were telling and that it made them feel. Awards are a great way to measure success, but positive audience feedback is invaluable.”
What’s next for Letters From The Dead? Martinez hopes to see the film’s festival run continue well into the coming year.
“Letters from the Dead will continue its run of the film festival circuit,” she said. “Next in the lineup is the Tampa Bay Underground Film Festival. I’ve submitted Letters from the Dead to nearly 40 festivals so far that take place from now until the end of 2019, and you typically hear back about two months before the festival runs.”
As Martinez sees it, the festival circuit plays a key role in developing any filmmaker’s career.
“Submitting to festivals is an integral part of growing as a filmmaker,” she said. “Making movies is all about telling a story to new audiences.
“Having your work screen at festivals is an incredible way to build your creative CV but also get your name out there. People you wouldn’t otherwise meet in the industry have access to your art, making it easier to network and build new relationships and connections. Also, having your film screen at festivals is a credit to your work. Festivals are often flooded with submissions, so if yours makes the cut it’s a testament to the quality of your work, which later helps with funding opportunities for future projects as funders are more likely to give money to artists who they trust will make quality content.”
Martinez is already looking forward to completing several future projects with Strike Pictures as well as preparing to work on an upcoming feature from fellow New Brunswick filmmaker Jillian Acreman.
“I have a few projects on the go right now. My production partners and I (Gordon Mihan and Lance Blakney) have just wrapped up filming Lance’s short film Velle to Want,” she said. “Now we’re gearing up to shoot Gordon’s short film Unofficial Selection this winter, and then my next short film Maya Eterna in the spring. I’m also producing Jillian Acreman’s feature film Queen of the Andes, in which we’ve received funding from Telefilm’s Talent to Watch program, and that will be shot next summer. We’ve got a very exciting year of film coming up.”
And if you were curious as to how many people it takes to make a short film, below the trailer you’ll find a list of just about everyone who played a part in the creation of Letters From The Dead.
Sasha Mais as Abigail, Sofie Mais as Molly, Tania Breen as Mom and Ilkay Silk as Grandma
Lance Kenneth Blakney, Arianna Martinez and Gordon Mihan
Arianna Martinez Gordon Mihan
Director Of Photography
Lance Kenneth Blakney
Lance Kenneth Blakney and Gordon Mihan
Visual Effects Editor / Colourist
Lance Kenneth Blakney
Ty Giffin, Ashley Phinney and Kaleigh Stultz
Lance Kenneth Blakney
Mathew Gracie and Cameron Lane
Jean-Michel Cliche Sharisse LeBrun
Sharisse LeBrun Arianna Martinez
Allison Brown, Nicola Clarke, Jean-Michel Cliche, Sharisse LeBrun, Sebastian Martinez, and Mostafa Shaker
Arianna Martinez and her dream team composed of Gordon Mihan and Lance Kenneth Blakney are all members of the NB Film Co-op. Her project was made possible with a Short Film Venture Grant from the NB Film Co-op and province of New Brunswick. Many of her crew were also NB Film Co-op members.