For Halifax’s Paul Kimball, the 2014 Atlantic Film Festival is more than a place to showcase his recent work: it’s a return to the spotlight after a four year break.
At the 2010 festival, Kimball premiered his first feature, Eternal Kiss. It’s the story of a filmmaker who sets out to make a documentary about people who believe in vampires and ends up being the target of an actual vampire. Despite making it into the festival, Kimball says that he sees the film as a personal failure. The production had a number of problems and the final product wasn’t what he would have liked it to be. These problems included personal issues that Kimball himself was going through at the time and not having enough resources to work with during filming.
“It was kind of a perfect storm of bad luck and bad decisions,” says Kimball, “One of my great regrets about Eternal Kiss is that everyone worked very hard on it and it didn’t work. Maybe that’s why I went away for a while, you feel like you let a whole lot of people down.”
He says that he needed to take a step back and reevaluate his approach before tackling another project, which is what he’s done with The Cuckoo in the Clock and Roundabout. “You pick yourself up, learn from something like that and then do better next time by not making the same mistakes,” he says. He also realized that he needed to listen more and be more collaborative when filming.
After looking at went wrong with Eternal Kiss and developing a few more story ideas Kimball decided to send one of his scripts for a film called Rubicon to Andrew Sewell, a producer in the United Kingdom.
“I just wanted feedback, but he loved it,” says Kimball. He says Rubicon requires large budget and is a larger production. Therefore, Sewell asked Kimball if he had another story that could be done with a lower budget while funds were raised for Rubicon.
Kimball showed Sewell The Cuckoo in the Clock, a story about temptation, jealousy and secrets that focuses on lovers Lara and Eve who on the run from the mob and Nick, a man who takes care of the house they hide out in. The story was greenlit and was soon followed the second film: Roundabout. Roundabout is about radio talk show host, Leda, who is haunted by her best friend’s death and begins to experience events that make her question reality.
“I put the training wheels back on,” says Kimball about his newest films adding that both productions went smoothly.
Even though The Cuckoo in the Clock and Roundabout are playing back-to-back at this year’s festival Kimball says this wasn’t planned. The Cuckoo in the Clock was completed in December 2012, but post-production took a bit longer than Roundabout, which was filmed earlier this year. As for the schedule he says he didn’t have a say in that, as the festival organizers’ choose which films air at what times.
Although he says that this coincidence adds to the overall viewing experience, as the films complement each other thematically. “Both Roundabout and The Cuckoo in the Clock are about the human condition at their core, he says. “In the case of Roundabout, the central aspects being examined are guilt and the capacity for forgiveness, whereas with The Cuckoo in the Clock it is jealousy and greed, but it’s all getting at the same thing: examining who we are as human beings.”
At the end of the night, when both films are finished, Kimball hopes that the audience not only enjoys his work, but that they find both The Cuckoo in the Clock and Roundabout engaging.
“I want my films, whether they succeed or fail to touch hearts and minds,” he says. “Then, hopefully the themes, the characters, the dialogue and all that other stuff will engage their mind so they’ll walk out and have questions and conversations.”
The Cuckoo in the Clock will be screened on September 18 at 7:15 p.m., followed by Roundabout at 9:15 p.m.