Filmmaker 5 with Brian Lonano and Blake Myers: CONTENT: The Lo-Fi Man

CONTENT: The Lo-Fi Man starts as a documentary about a beloved cult film, then turns into a YouTube video until it escapes into a dystopian sci-fi adventure, upon which it transforms into a body horror film resulting in a kaiju battle finale. Part sci-fi, horror, comedy, satire, midnight, cult, fantasy, it’s a genre-bending short from filmmakers Brian Lonano and Blake Myers.

CONTENT: The Lo-Fi Man is part of Midnight Madness #1 Shorts Block playing Saturday, August 12, 2023 at 11:59pm at the TCL Chinese Theatre #1 during the 19th Annual Oscar-Qualifying HollyShorts Film Festival. Making the film festival circuit, CONTENT won the Audience Award for Best Midnight Short at the Florida Film Festival, a Special Jury Mention at the Atlanta Film Festival and Best Short Film at the Chattanooga Film Festival. Classic Couple Academy asked filmmakers Brian Lonano and Blake Myers about the film.

Filmmaker 5.1:  CONTENT: The Lo-Fi Man starts as an homage to a beloved cult film. What are your individual elevator speeches about your passion for cult cinema?

Filmmaker Blake Myers

Brian Lonano:  Cult cinema is rough around the edges, unhinged, handmade, and full of passion. The filmmakers HAVE to tell these specific stories with any means at their disposal. They march to their own beat and I love them for it. Cult cinema defies the word “content.”

Blake Myers: Cult cinema is not hindered by rules or genre. I love it when a film can go beyond what you expect and make you think more about movies and storytelling. Since cult films usually push the boundaries, their budgets are also restrained, and within these circumstances real creativity is born.  

Filmmaker 5.2:  Your film is especially prescient given the current dialogue around AI and the ongoing strikes by creative talent. Did you intend that this film serve as a warning? What discussions do you want it to prompt?

Filmmaker Brian Lonano

Brian Lonano:  Not a warning per se, but we were nervous about the overuse of the word “content” and it replacing the words “film” and “cinema.” To a degree, I understand the use of the word “content” if you’re a CEO of a large media company who acquires films and drops them into their large streaming service buckets, but when I started hearing independent filmmakers calling their work “content,” I became alarmed. People work hard to get their films made and they should be treated as art. We were looking to get the audience to engage with cinema and filmmaking, rather than just flipping through a streaming service to see what there is to stream. It’s about the excitement of finding and being involved in movies. It’s why I am grateful to festivals like HollyShorts for curating work and showcasing them in a wonderful cinema.  

Filmmaker 5.3:  How did you assemble the cast and crew for CONTENT: The Lo-Fi Man. What was your collaborative process like in making the film?

Brian Lonano: We have been making films together for the past 10 years. Usually I would direct and Blake would production design and we would both produce. CONTENT: The Lo-Fi: Man was different as it was our most ambitious film yet. We came together to direct and were joined by the awesome and talented people we have been working with for years on other films. We really enjoy working with the same people because we develop a short hand on set and get an idea across faster and be more efficient. 

During the beginning of the project, I developed the script and storyboards, Blake built set pieces, costumes and props. We spent that time also working with our team on costumes, camera tests, and locations. We filmed on and off over the course of a year on weekends and edited the footage all along the way.  From the conception of the idea to putting the final touches on the sound mix and color correction, it took around two years to complete. Openness and a fluid communication of ideas have always been an important element of the collaborative process. 

Filmmaker 5.4:  You two are longtime collaborators and filmmakers. How did you arrive at the concept for this film and what were your various roles?

Blake Myers: Brian had the script for CONTENT: The Lo-Fi Man and, as with all our other projects, we started breaking it down to get a grasp on what it would take to accomplish this film. As we discussed the film we came up with many different elements that we could use to tell the story. Techniques like stop motion, trick photography, miniatures, and many more made this our most complicated project yet.

Brian focuses his attention on the script, actors, camera and post production, while I focus on the design, locations and physical effects. We have an open and constant stream of communication while making a film where we can discuss all of our ideas to make the best film. We would have a weekly meeting (sometimes two) for months before we shot anything to constantly tweak production schedules, the script, and ways to pull off tricks and effects. Our many years of collaboration were an asset to making this film a reality. We used every trick we have come up with to pull this one off and is of sorts a culmination of our life’s work to date.

Filmmaker 5.5:  What does it mean to you to have your film screened as part of the Midnight programming at HollyShorts? What are your biggest wishes for the audience experience?

Brian Lonano: We’re always excited when we get the letter of acceptance from HollyShorts. This will be our fourth time screening at the festival, our third time in the Midnight Shorts program and my first time attending in person. To me, the midnight shorts program is always where I want my films to play. Sure it’s late, but all the movies playing are going to be much crazier, unhinged and stranger than what you watch during the day. My big wish is that we have a packed theater, we get some big laughs from the audience and that people enjoy our film. In the past we’ve sent barf bags, posters and trading cards to promote our film at the festival, and this year I’ll be there in person with free stickers! 

Watch the CONTENT: Lo-Fi Man trailer

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