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Paradise Falls follows two adventurous young boys, Sonny and Dirk, as they explore an abandoned mansion. The boys lose themselves completely by exploring the expanse of the mansion, but come upon a life changing entity attached to the property. We spoke with director Fantavious Fritz about his magical and strange film, screening as part of Short Cuts Canada Programme 4, which he notes is a curated from compiled influences.

Describe your film in 10 words or less.

Imagination.. survival… ghosts…friendship…. haunted mansion…jungle….. explosions….. paradise, falls

What inspired you to make this film?

Story wise I think Paradise Falls started with the idea for these two best friends, Sonny and Dirk that go on adventures together. I started writing a bunch of different Sonny and Dirk stories and Paradise Falls evolved from those. I’ve always idolized many of the characters from childhood adventure novels so I wanted to make something in the vein of a larger than life Tom Sawyer / Huck Fin adventure story set in the modern suburbs.

Beyond that, many of my friends are musicians and visual artists so I am always inspired by them and the ways they produce work. Something I’ve noticed about a lot of new art and music that I like in the internet age is that it’s very collage like. The work becomes almost a curation of an artist’s interests pasted together in different context and intent to make something new. Something will feel really familiar but at the same time totally original, unified but at the same time, like it’s flying in a million different directions at once. I see a lot of my friends’ works in this way and I was definitely inspired to be a part of that conversation with this film. In many ways I see Paradise Falls as a curated mess of some of my favourite films.

What was the best thing about production? Most frustrating?

The best thing was working with all my friends. Everyone who worked on the film was incredible, any problem that arose would always be met with positive attitude and that’s really important to have on a film set. As for frustrations, I think when you make a film there’s so many variables at play it’s natural to be second guessing things but my girlfriend Daiva who plays Eleanor in the film was amazing and very supportive. She also helped a hell of a lot coaching Allistair and Uri (Sonny and Dirk) before and during the production.

What’s the one thing you want people to know about your film?

That Sonny and Dirks’ adventures don’t end with this film..

The settings in your movie, particularly the mansion, are extremely beautiful. What qualities were you looking for when you chose the settings?

Well, chiefly we were looking for a place we wouldn’t have to pay for because we didn’t have a lot of money. The mansion was a big part of the script so Ben and Marianna (the producers) came up with this great plan to chat with a real estate agent and offer to do a high end real estate video for free in exchange for a few shooting days in a house for a short film project. It worked out really well and we actually found two locations, so all the exteriors were shot at a different house and both locations were way better than I had imagined, we got really lucky. I was thinking a lot about the space more in terms of how the kids would be moving through it, I really wanted there to be a lot of long hallways so we could shoot in a way where the house would seem much bigger than it is, almost maze like. I also wanted the front exterior to look like a real haunted house for the opening shot because that’s really what the story relies on at the beginning.

Your film is screening as part of TIFF  — what are you most excited about seeing or doing at this year’s festival? 

My parents are coming out from Calgary so it’ll be really great to hang out with them (shout out to my brother Duncan who’s in Japan). I’m really siked to check out Asphalt Watches in the Vanguard programme. Also Noah and Firecrackers playing in the shorts I’ve heard really good things about. I’m really excited to meet other film makers and watch a million movies.

Paradise Falls will be screening as a part of Short Cuts Canada Programme 4. Check the Festival website for details and showtimes.