Malibu Taetz Interview
Director Malibu Taetz's short film Accidental won Best Student Film at OXIFF2019. We caught up with him to chat about the film.
Where did the inspiration for the film come from?
The inspiration for Accidental sort of came out of my experience as a French horn player sitting in the back of the orchestra. Often times you just play the “pah” in the “oom-pah”, and sometimes you have to wait through hundreds of bars of rests. But when the moment comes, and you contribute just the right notes at just the right time to the hundred instruments around you, I think the French horn can be the most beautiful sound in the whole orchestra. When you’re counting those rests you have a lot of time to think. And I got to thinking that human beings are kind of like French horns in that way. Though your part may seem insignificant sometimes, and sometimes you have to wait — everyone has something essential to contribute to the symphony that is life.
The producer Marlio Herrera and I discovered we both had similar experiences of sitting in the back of orchestras, in our first year of film school. We talked about making a film that would share these experiences — but we’d do it like an adventure story, with the daring crossing from one side of the orchestra to the other. It was a lot of fun imagining the comedic, wordless situations. I didn’t think we would actually make it at first because, you know, we needed a symphony orchestra.
Do you have a writing process?
Accidental was the first film I both wrote and directed, and so far every film has been a little bit different. Since Accidental has no dialogue, I began by just listening to the music and imagining scenarios around it. I would run through these scenes with producer Marlio Herrera and executive producer Michael Thoma, who would help me hone them into a cohesive story. A Vancouver concert band which I played in allowed us to come in during several of their rehearsals and take pictures while I acted out various scenes. These pictures became the basis for the storyboards of the film, and we also collaborated with a number of storyboard artists from the 2D animation program at Capilano University. I guess you could say we approached Accidental a lot like an animated film.
How did you get the film made? Financing, casting etc.
Accidental was made just after my 1st year of film school at Capilano University. Marlio and I pitched to the school faculty so that we could use their equipment over the summer. We had some funding from the Kelowna Film Society, and the rest we had to raise ourselves. We cast based on silent performance — by giving the actors a situation and playing the musical score for them. David, Kevina, and Rob just blew me away with their inventiveness, and I learned so much about silent performance by just watching them.
The most challenging part, though, was putting together the orchestra for the film. When I first told Marlo about the story, I didn’t think we would actually make it, because we needed a symphony orchestra to film with. But Marlio basically insisted that we were going to make it anyway, so we called up every orchestra in Vancouver and went and spoke to the musicians of as many of them as we could, during rehearsal breaks. I remember an hour before filming being terrified whether any of them would show up. But in the end we had more musicians than we could fit on stage. I had to climb up a ladder to call out to all of them while filming — just like an old silent film director. It was very exciting!
What was your OXIFF2018 experience like?
OXIFF was the premiere of Accidental, and my first festival outside of North America. Co-producer Joshua Vanderlinden and I felt very warmly welcomed and were amazed at the beautiful surroundings of the festival. Everything was within walking distance, including our house, and some of the best experiences and meetings happened when walking from one event to another. Cassandra (our volunteer coordinator) was very helpful in navigating the city, and went out of her way to suggest places to see in Oxford when not attending one of the screenings. Josh and I got to meet and know a lot of people from around the world, whom I am still in touch with. I have enjoyed the OXIFF film festival experience more than any other so far.
What is next for you and the film?
As a result of winning the Best Student Film award at OXIFF, we were able to get a 2-year distribution deal for Accidental. During this time we will continue to submit to festivals, and afterwards we will make it available online. We’ve also screened at the Liverpool Film Festival and the Cannes Short Film Corner. Josh and I have already completed our second film Return to Sender, and we plan to release DVDs of both of them in 2019. We’re already planning our third film, to shoot this May, and I’m really looking forward to working with the same team again, and hopefully to continue to submit to OXIFF each year.