Updated: Nov 2, 2021
Shot on 35mm motion picture film, LA-based Director Carlos Asse’s short film Dark at Sea portrays a man’s struggle versus himself to find true meaning in his journey as a dancer. The film offers an unsettling exploration of frustration and defeat; and the externalization of one self’s addiction to success.
Carlos is a well-known director who has been awarded in a number of venues and festivals around the world and has been involved in non-profit organizations.
We caught up with director Carlos Asse to hear about the challenges and rewards of shooting Dark at Sea.
Carlos, can you tell us how Dark at Sea came to life?
The initial concept came to life after Paul Theodoroff, the cinematographer, and I were catching up and found out that we were both trying to explore a side of filmmaking that we had never approached or experimented with in the past. I wanted to create something different. A small idea sparked our interest and I developed it until we felt we had something worth creating.
What were the main themes and messages you, as a director, wanted to infuse in this film?
Dark at Sea started as a love letter to the ambitions and the payoffs that come with being a creative, and the sacrifices that it entails. I wanted to create something personal and abstract but that the general audience, and especially our creative community, could relate to and enjoy. I was hungry and passionate to create something from a vulnerable standpoint. Making this film reminded me that the persistence and self-afflicting nature of the human being is, however, what keeps us hungry for what’s left out there to conquer.
How did you approach your concept and ideas to actually shoot the short film?
Once this idea manifested and I shared my thoughts with Paul, we both knew we wanted to shoot it on 35mm motion picture film. This was crucial for the project since the theme and essence of the concept deals with self-exploration and how us, humans, tend to reject uncertainty, rather than embrace it. I was sure I wanted to make this one count, and shooting on celluloid was, in a way, making me experience the theme of my own film: detaching from a tangible and materialistic goal and forcing myself to appreciate what I was doing for what it meant to me, not what I could directly obtain from it in the end.
How did you go about directing Matthew, your main talent, to get the results you wanted?
The experience on set was really refreshing. I knew I wanted to approach this in a more conceptual way rather than straight-forward/tangible directions. Matthew was really open to it, too. He is very talented and smart, and he knew how to approach this project from the start and showed up on set with a clear idea of what he wanted to do. Matthew and I started brainstorming ideas for his choreography and together we shaped it until we had something that worked well for the concept.
What were some of the obstacles or difficulties you encountered while shooting this film, if any?
We knew from the start that shooting Dark at Sea on motion picture film was going to be a challenge. We really didn’t have many resources to get this done but everything happened organically. Paul and I met almost daily for a little over a week and produced it ourselves. We were able to borrow most of the gear from friends and our small crew came on board with the best attitude.
However, my initial concept was far more complex than what we actually were able to shoot. We ran through three different 35mm cameras until the last one finally worked. We were about to hit the 6th hour on set without a single shot done.
It was nerve wracking: failing over and over. What’s important is that we took a risk and we were able to make Dark at Sea exist, and it was so rewarding in the end.
Photographer: Yarden Lior