2014 SXSW Filmmaker Profile: Sarah-Violet Bliss & Charles Rogers (Writers/Directors – ‘Fort Tilden’)

Fort Tilden‘: New York City’s secluded seaside nirvana where, like flies to honey, Brooklyn’s hip millennial set flocks on sweltering weekend afternoons for unbridled summertime indulgence. Amidst the vexing stagnation of quarter-life crises, Allie (Clare McNulty) struggles to prepare for the Peace Corps, while Harper (Bridey Elliot) awaits checks from her father to fund her artistic dreams. But the two friends quickly shun responsibilities for the day when a pair of good-looking guys invites them along for a carefree Fort Tilden afternoon. As the two young women board their fixed-gear bicycles and embark on a lengthy journey to the beach, they quickly realize that, akin to their confusing, transitioning lives, they neither know where they’re going nor how they plan to get there.

Anticipating the WORLD PREMIERE of ‘Fort Tilden’ at 2014 SXSW Film, we profile the film’s Writers/Directors Sarah-Violet Bliss and Charles Rogers. ‘Fort Tilden’ screens as part of the Narrative Competition program on Saturday, March 8, Sunday, March 9 and Friday, March 14 in Austin, Texas.

Find More Information & Tickets to ‘Fort Tilden’ at SXSW FilmHERE

What was the very first aspect of the ‘Fort Tilden’ script hat came to you in its conceptualization stage? Was it a specific character, setting, theme…?
The premise was the first thing we thought of – two inept best-friends trying to get to Fort Tilden Beach. We knew there was a lot of comedic potential in the simplicity of what should be an easy journey becoming very difficult. We were also looking for a story that would be possible to write and produce by the end of the summer.

Fort_Tilden_Sxsw_Narrative_Competition_1With a Directorial background in short film, how did the construction of the feature length ‘Fort Tilden’ script, as well as its ultimate execution differ? How did it remain the same?
You have to be very economical with your story in a short film and that practice really prepares you for writing a feature. We noticed that if you carry that discipline into the structure of your feature script, then you can afford to have more fun – there’s just more breathing room. But at the same time there were fun moments we had to cut because they weren’t in service of the story which was a process we were familiar with having made shorts.

From a visual perspective, can you explain what you wanted out of the Cinematography for the film? What was your first conversation like with its DP Brian Lannin?
Brian was involved from the very beginning, he developed the story with us. So we all shared an intimate vision of the film. We talked about how the geography of the film connected with their emotional journey – the color palate in particular begins bright and optimistic but when things get tough the photography becomes harsh and chaotic.

Fort_Tilden_SXSW_Narrative_Competition_2As Brooklyn based filmmakers, how do you find the general filmmaking atmosphere like in New York City? What aspects do you find to be the most positively-specific to NYC? Is there anything, in your opinion, that is still to be desired?
Because the film is primarily exteriors, we really got to capture the life of various Brooklyn neighborhoods. It’s a road trip through Brooklyn so you get a strong feel for the diversity of the borough.

Fort_Tilden_SXSW_Narrative_3On a personal level, what was your first introduction to film that made you want to explore the medium?
We both knew from a young age that we wanted to be story-tellers – Saturday Morning Cartoons were probably our earliest inspirations – not that we thought about them that way at the time.

Filmmakers that really inspire me (Sarah-Violet) are Christopher Guest, Sophia Coppola, Mike Leigh and Woody Allen – They all have a way of hit a beautiful balance of comedy and drama that I love.

I (Charles) feel like I always come back to what I was shown when I was young, which was the Marx Brothers and Mel Brooks. And I was a huge fan of SCTV growing up, even though my favorite films today are often dramatic.

In your opinion/impression, why is SXSW a natural destination for the World Premiere of ‘Fort Tilden’?
We always hoped it would premiere at SXSW. We knew it was the right fit, it has a vibrant young audience that appreciates the spirit of movies like Fort Tilden.  We’re so excited, we can’t stop packing.

Fort_Tilden_director_SarahVioletBliss_CharlesRogersAbout Sarah-Violet Bliss & Charles Rogers
Sarah-Violet Bliss and Charles Rogers are filmmakers based in Brooklyn who met at NYU Graduate Film school. They have each written and directed award-winning short films that have screened at festivals such as Telluride, Sarasota, and Aspen Shortsfest. Fort Tilden was conceived and produced last summer and is their first collaboration.

Facebook: /forttildenmovie
Twitter: @forttildenmovie



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