Meet the Finalist: Chris Kastelanac, "Cheers to Reunions"
Tell us about yourself, and about Cheers to Reunions.
I’ve always loved movies but up until a few years ago I never actually thought about getting involved in making them. That all changed when I saw a screenplay for the first time - from then on it became an obsession for me. I read books on screenwriting, took online courses and workshops, and eventually, after writing a feature and a couple shorts I decided it was time to start filming something. So I took more workshops on all the different areas of film-production, and at some point during all of that this movie was born. Cheers to Reunions has two main storylines: one of the main character, Jade, a newly-sober alcoholic who runs into an old-flame, isn’t able to cope with everything that comes along with that, and eventually relapses; and the other of Rachel, who does the opposite character arc of Jade, coming into recovery in rough shape and having a complete and visual change take place by the end. Leading up to making this film, two of my close friends had lost their battles with mental health/addiction and I had gone through a breakup, all within a six-month period, so thats kind of how all of these topics came together. Other than it being a way for me to cope with my grief, this film was an experiment putting everything I had learned up to that point to the test.
Share a memorable moment you experienced working on this project.
One of the most memorable moments for me was during the argument scene at the restaurant when Tiffany accidentally broke her wine glass on the table. She managed to keep her composure and finish the scene, and that’s the take we ended up using.
Name 3 collaborators that you'd take with you to any other project.
I don’t think there is anyone from this project I wouldn’t work with again, but if I had to choose just three people they would probably be Tiffany Blom, Chayla Day, and Sergey Maydin.
3 tips you’d like to share with aspiring artists in your field:
Some tips for anyone looking to Produce and Direct their own material: Choose a story that you are passionate about and hire people who share your enthusiasm for the project. Also, keep an open mind and remain flexible in order to get your project over the finish line - there are some things you will have to compromise on (unless you have an unlimited budget), but try do it in a way that doesn’t dilute the essence of your story.
What do you hope to achieve in your career in the next 5 years?
IOver the next 5 years I’m planning to make 4 more short-films and eventually a feature film.
Cheers to Reunions is nominated for Best Narrative Short of the Year at the New York Film Awards.