"I hope that this short film makes people think about the current issues involving immigration&
Paul D. Bestolarides is an independent filmmaker/freelance videographer currently teaching at San Joaquin Delta College.
Michael Thygesen is a cinematographer/freelance videographer currently teaching at Futures Explored Workshop.
After several successful collaborations, Paul and Michael decided to challenge themselves with a periodic short film: "The Lightkeeper's Story".
Set in 1939's America, a lighthouse keeper discovers a refugee washed ashore of his cliff-side home. Both characters help each other out during the wartime struggles that threaten their identity.
The film won Best Fantasy and Best Director at Top Shorts, and was described as "beautiful in any aspect", by lead judge Roy Zafrani.
We asked Paul and Michael to join us for an interview, and met two artists who aim to create movies to further illustrate a heightened awareness, or at least make the viewers think.
First of all, congratulations on winning Best Fantasy Film and Best Director at Top Shorts. Let's roll back to the start: how did you come up with this beautiful, touching story? What was the inspiration behind it, and why did you feel this was a story that you wanted to tell?
Paul Bestolarides (Writer/Director) - I had originally written an earlier version of the story at eighteen and re-visited the script after being inspired by Virginia Woolf’s novel, ‘To the Lighthouse.’ The imagery of the lighthouse was a magical place full of enigmatic sublimity. I became more interested in exploring the humanitarian consequences of freedom, than its limitations. This permitted me to explore the themes of the enduring human struggles, without forcing the dogma of political bias.
Michael Thygesen (Cinematographer) - When Paul approached me with this screenplay I was excited by the magic and fantasy aspect of it set in a very real time in history. I knew it would lend itself to some unique visuals.
Born in Stockton, California, the distance to Hollywood is... not that far! And you developed an interest in movies pretty early on. What were some of your favorite movies, that made you excited about films?
Paul Bestolarides (Writer/Director) - My favorites list always changes as well. Some of my inspirational films are Wild Strawberries (1957), 2001: A Space Odyssey (1968), The Mirror (1974), The Truman Show (1998), and Magnolia (1999).
Michael Thygesen (Cinematographer) - Some of my favorite movies (which change almost daily) are Cinema Paradiso (1988), Taxi Driver (1976), Raging Bull (1980), Requiem for a Dream (2000) and Little Children (2006).
Are there any film directors whose work you admire?
Michael Thygesen (Cinematographer) - Martin Scorsese, Stanley Kubrick, Darren Aronofsky, Steven Soderbergh and many more.
Paul Bestolarides (Writer/Director) - Stanley Kubrick, Ingmar Bergman, Paul Thomas Anderson, and Alfred Hitchcock to name a few.
How did you get started? What were some of your first steps in the filmmaking world?
Paul Bestolarides (Writer/Director) - I have always appreciated movies, but could not afford a camera, or film school. I spent most of my time taking pictures with a 35mm photography camera, given to me by my uncle. Film allowed me to understand what I was manipulating and focused my attention to detail in order to truly value each composition. Once I afforded a digital camera of my own, I was constantly shooting videos and editing them.
Michael Thygesen (Cinematographer) - One of the only ways that I felt like I could connect with my Father growing up was talking about movies. He was always showing me westerns in particular and he would talk about the characters as we watched. Up until I was about 21 I was afraid to try filmmaking because I didn't think it was likely for me to be able to make a living doing it. Then one day, I just said, "why not" and never looked back.
Let's chat more about The Lightkeeper's Story. Can you talk about the challenges you experienced during the production, and how did you overcome them?
Paul Bestolarides (Writer/Director) - The primary challenges of shooting this movie were the time constraints. This movie was for my Master’s Thesis for the Humanities Program. We had only a few months to plan the shoot. The entire idea was built on risks, including re-creating two different time periods, costumes, VFX and acquiring complex locations.
Michael Thygesen (Cinematographer) - The biggest challenges were the locations. Trying to find a lighthouse that would let us shoot on their property and finding a small cabin that fit the WWII era. Then we had to get to those far away locations on our next to nothing budget.