Award of Merit – Failed State (USA)

Title: Failed State
Runtime: 38 min
Country: USA
Director: Brian Jackson
Placement: Award of Merit
Competition: September, 2020

Synopsis: When a C.I.A Operative’s team is killed in a failed mission in Yemen, he is forced to defend his burned warehouse.

FILMMAKER Q&A – Brian Jackson – Writer-Director, Lead Actor

GS: What was the inspiration for your film?

BJ: I was definitely inspired by the stories of heroism of small group survival situations such as the Lone Survivor incident and subsequent Pashtun villager selfless defense of Marcus Luttrell, as well as the team of Operators that rescued those under fire in the Benghazi situation as portrayed in the film 13 Hours.

GS: When did you conceive the idea for your film and how long did it take before it was realized?

BJ: I had been sitting on a rough draft of a short centered around a covert CIA team, but once the onslaught of the COVID outbreak and shutdown, I pivoted to a more reduced solo survivor story.

GS: What was the most challenging aspect of working in a short film format?

BJ: Definitely the scale.  I tend to dream up larger scale Feature length productions.  So the idea of cramming a 2 hour War thriller into an under 40 min run time, definitely requires some condensing of the 3 act narrative.

GS: What was the most challenging aspect of your production?

BJ: Definitely without a doubt the COVID restrictions as all of our Actors were remotely quarantined.  But I wanted the limitations of shooting the entirety on the iPhone from a remote setting to be the selling point of what dan be accomplished even during dire circumstances.

GS: Do you have any advice for first-time filmmakers?

BJ: Borrowing from Kubrick here, but “get out there and make a movie about anything that interests you.”  Despite the over saturation of lower production value content due to ease access to filmmaking equipment at our fingertips in this new era, think about the endless opportunities you have to make a film with a device you carry in your pocket everyday.  If you had told Spielberg when he was shooting on 8mm back in the day, that one day you would have a multipurpose phone that could shoot cinematic content and would fit in your jeans pocket, he’d tell you, you were insane.  So study the craft of filmmaking by studying films that interest you and you’ll be amazed what you can accomplish with the right lighting and creative energy.