Parents have always struggled to connect with their kids, but Joe Otting is taking that to another level with his short film The Talk. About to have its world premiere at San Jose’s Cinequest and also available on Vimeo, The Talk details an eye-opening chat between a father (John Hoogenakker, Public Enemies) and daughter (Isabella Crovetti-Cramp, currently starring in USA’s Colony). LA Fan Cultures Examiner conducted an interview with Joe earlier this week to discuss what separates his movie from other stories about parenting, and the differences that come with making a short film.
“The father character doesn’t really hold back,” he said of what makes The Talk unique. “He’s a little aloof and doesn’t know any better, and sort of lets it all come out, and I think most parents would beat around the bush a little bit and not be so forthright with their answers or what they’re revealing to their children. That’s where I think this one is a little different.
“He lays it all on the line and [is] sort of oblivious in a way to what he’s doing or saying,” Joe continued. “He’s so caught up in himself. Then the daughter essentially becomes the adult in this and she turnes the tables and she flips his world upside down. Typically you don’t see that in parenting conversations.”
The Talk is also intriguing because it’s the essence of what one would expect from a short film. It’s not just the length of the project, but this is as intimate as filmmaking gets, with just two characters existing completely in one location. Did the relative lack of other characters or locations to work with make the shoot easier or harder?
“I really wanted to be in one location and minimal actors and really focus on the story and performance and making this cinematic world,” Joe explained, “and so in that way it’s easier, because you don’t have to think of logistics or multiple days of shooting and big company moves throughout days. But I think where the challenge comes, is in how you keep someone’s interest in one location.
“Essentially they’re at the table the entire time. That’s where the challenge comes and that I really like and really enjoy,” he said. “Not the challenges of how am I going to move 40 person crew and all of our trucks to a new location and be able to shoot all these shots in time. That’s a pain. These are great challenges, because you’re always dealing with character and story. My main goal was to make this entertaining and fun to watch. It’s not always easy when it’s so contained.”
What would he consider the strengths of the film?
“I’m super proud of the performances. I’m proud of the actors, John Hoogenakker and Isabella Crovetti-Cramp, because they did a phenomenal job and they brought this great script to life,” he told us. “I’m proud of the world we created. We just didn’t show up and say we’re going to do a couple shots and get this. It was a bigger idea in mind – I’m very proud of the overall tone and mood that the film takes on.
“I think what I’ve seen so far in terms of reaction is people have picked up on that,” he added. “They’ve picked up on the performances, but also this world [where] we are in one simple location having a conversation at this one table, where it’s still interesting to look at and watch.”
As a native of Chicago who shot The Talk in Illinois, Joe also spoke about the area’s re-emergence as a hotspot for film and television production. “It’s always been a wonderful place to be for many years and people in the industry have worked really hard to do that,” he said. “We’ve had shows off and on over the years but nothing ever really stayed. Now that there’s a big studio with giant sound stages, enough to handle five network shows and multiple feature films, that was a big part of it.
“Another big part of it, we have great crews and great people in Chicago and now we have a tax credit which has been a driving force behind all that as well. I think it’s a little different than any state having a tax credit, we have the the infrastructure and the crews to back it up,” he added. “I really think that’s why people in Hollywood caught onto that. It became a very viable location for all these big movies and tv shows, it’s just continuing to grow. It’s the best it’s ever been here.”
Having done everything from bigger features to commercials, he has a different definition of success when it comes to The Talk, which was much more a labor of love. “To me, the success comes from the reaction,” he told us. “The media reaction, like in the reviews that have been written, makes it all worth it. I was like okay, I struck a chord with an audience out there that’s good.
“And you sort of gauge it on your views as well. On Vimeo, we’ve been on there for a month or so, and it’s getting close to 200,000 views and over 5,000 likes. That’s another way I sort of gauge it and go okay, we found an audience and it’s going to keep growing,” he reflected. “It’s not like an Adele video that gets 100 million views but for something that had little knowledge and picking up and taking off like it has, to me that feels good. I feel successful.”
The Talk will have its world premiere next week with multiple screenings at Cinequest in San Jose, CA: March 4 at 10 p.m., March 6 at 3:45 p.m. and March 11 at 4:30 p.m. More information about the festival and the screenings can be found here. The film is also available online via Vimeo.