THE WORLD'S FIRST FRUIT ANIMATION FEATURE FILM. MADE WITH REAL FRUIT! A quirky, animated comedy-drama about a group of real fruit who face an existential crisis when plastic fruit are brought into their space. Much debate and division occur as they attempt to deal with this "problem" resulting in great hilarity and ultimately in a deeper understanding of the fruits' place in the order of things.
It was our pleasure to speak to Lallan Samaroo, the director of the film.
What draws you to filmmaking and the cinematic language?
I have stories to tell. Most of them are visual, pleading to be shown on the screen. When I write, I witness my characters, hear their voices, feel their emotions, observe what they observe.
I have co-/written a family-friendly fantasy adventure about one of the world’s most beloved characters; an historical epic based on a real-life incident; a social drama about underprivileged youths seeking solace through dance; a horror-drama based on Caribbean folklore; Fruitville, a comedy-drama animation; and a dark story about the challenges two gay men face in the Caribbean.
When writing these, I saw the movie in my head: actions, expressions, pauses, shots, transitions. I heard the characters’ voices, music, silence, Foley. I see what it will take to translate the story to film using the language of cinema.
For all the above, I am passionately driven to make films.
Do you believe in film schools or does making a film teach you more than film school?
Either can work. It’s about cinematic principles and application. You have to learn the principles to apply them; you have to apply the principles to learn them. Both approaches have given us great cinema.
What makes cinema stand out more than the arts for you?
Its expressivity, range and power. A page or several of a novel can be captured in one shot. Stories, from a humble one-room drama to a sprawling, futuristic, intergalactic epic, can be told with equal effectiveness though cinema. A good film captures a wide audience, immersing them in a new, vicarious experience. A realized film deeply impacts our hearts and minds, sometimes in unexpected and profound ways. I believe “Fruitville” can do this. I look forward to hearing what people have to say about it.
Did you choose a certain directing style for making "Fruitville" based on the script?
When I read a script, I seek the soul of the story (this goes beyond character, plot, or even theme), and then plan the directing style accordingly. The essence of “Fruitville” is natural, honest, even naive. Hence the style is direct, unobtrusive, natural. I let the characters be who they are, and let the story tell itself. Truth does not need a loud voice. I trust the audience to get into the fruits’ world and to have fun as they absorb the meaning of events.
How did you choose the cast and the crew of your film?
We used social media to reach out to the filmmaking industry in our country.
For the actors, we held auditions using “sides,” per industry norms. Key here is that we looked for actors who embodied the specific character and who took direction well.
For the crew, we also asked around and got references, held interviews and looked to past performance, interest and attitude. Those who did well in these areas got the job.
There was significant interest in our film because it was full-length, and because it was a unique experiment. It’s not every day you get to make a film that could define a new (sub)genre.
How did you fund your film and what were some of the challenges of making this film?
I did a short version of the film as proof-of-concept and then reached out to wealthy people I knew. I prepared a pitch to them with detailed information on all aspects of filmmaking and distribution to demonstrate that I had a real, practical plan. Luckily, some saw the potential of the film and invested.
Most of the challenges were mitigated by good planning, but there were two which required special consideration:
We used real fruit – this was the essence of the story and what makes it a true original – so there was always the challenge of the fruit aging, changing color, and so on. We had to micromanage our supply chain to ensure we could have continuity in our film.
When you are making a film in a small Caribbean country, resources – people, money, gaffer’s tape, everything - will always be limited. We therefore had to manage every element of the production tightly to ensure we could complete the film and make something worth watching.
Do you consider yourself an indie filmmaker and what would most be the most difficult thing about being an independent artist?
I consider myself a filmmaker. I have stories to tell. I am open to many approaches to filmmaking.
The most difficult thing for an independent artist is being independent while using someone else’s money. This requires maintaining a gentle balance between staying true to your vision and producing something that is sellable. The filmmaker’s attitude matters greatly.
What is the distribution plan for your film?
We are employing film festivals and other avenues to gain exposure and some contacts, and we are using old and new contacts to explore distribution opportunities. We are lucky in that we are getting nibbles.
What is your cinematic goal in life and what would you like to achieve as a filmmaker?
I have many stories to tell – most of them visual, begging to be told on the big screen. I want to create a body of films which are original and significant, and which also have wide appeal. Many of my scripts naturally lend themselves to this. I want to be known as a filmmaker who makes great films.
What kind of impact would your film have in the world and who is your audience?
Based on our screenings, “Fruitville” will appeal to a wide audience. Grandmas and kids loved it. Young, socially-conscious people were drawn to its environmental message. Animators thought it was an interesting and brave experiment. Comedy lovers laughed out loud at key points. Drama lovers could relate to the themes expressed. And to our very pleasant surprise, a group of young men (25- to 35-year-olds) loved the innate wackiness of the film.
We believe audiences will see “Fruitville” as a meaningful Caribbean effort and a brave, original film which creates a new (sub)genre. We think “Fruitville” will give people a good, fun time and will provoke discussion about many topics, such as how we face an unknown, what is our place in the order of things, and how we should treat natural versus manmade.