We’ve made things even bigger this year at Nitehawk’s second annual Shorts Festival, adding a new midnite screening of twisted, darker and challenging fair that’s appropriate for the hour. While the rest of the filmmakers participating in Shorts Fest will have their chance to shine at post-screening Q&A’s, the late night crowd won’t get the chance.

But! These guys deserve to be heard too, so we reached out to some of our Shorts Fest Midnite participants to talk about their projects, what to expect, and their favorite late night movie experiences.


Short: “Brute”
Filmmaker: Bonnie Black & Julia Grinberg

1. How did your film come about?
Bonnie Black: Brute was made during our senior year of college and served as my senior thesis. Julia and I knew we wanted to work together on writing something that I could direct, and we always went into it with the intention of developing a film that was a bit darker and unsuspected for a couple of female filmmakers.

Julia Grinberg: Bonnie and I had been classmates and close friends throughout college, but this was our first intensive collaboration on a project. A strong female character was important to us, as well as a story that rose above the cliche. I think we were both at a point, both creatively and emotionally, where we were ready to put out something edgier that might make people feel uncomfortable.

2. What was your inspiration for this project?
BB: I went to see Seven Psychopaths [Martin McDonagh’s 2012 black comedy – Ed] and absolutely loved the character of Zachariah… He tells a story about breaking into a house, finding a girl held captive inside, falling in love with her and saving her… Building a short influenced by that concept seemed really feasible both story and production-wise. We decided to build a story where we put our characters in a situation that even some criminals would be uncomfortable with and make them come face to face with a bigger evil. It sparked an interesting moral dilemma and putting young hooligan-esque kids into that kind of a situation also brought up this sense of invincibility which I think is really universal for young adults…

JG: I loved that idea of creating heroic opportunities in unlikely characters, and interrupting a normal routine with a twist of fate that changes everything.

3. What’s the best story from your shoot?
BB: I think when Julia got offered drugs at the gas station is pretty peak.

JG: It’s true. It was our longest shoot day, and the midnight pizzas I ordered had already come and went so I headed out with our editor, Alex, to the only place that was still open. Exhausted, but wired, I grazed the aisles till I was approach by a twitching convenience store employee who thought I might not be finding exactly what I needed. I gave him a smile and said no thank you. We were a bunch of college kids from Philly, believe me, we were already well-stocked. It was also here that I bought a last minute, but very important prop, a choco-taco.

4. What’s next for you? Do you have anything you’re working on that you’d like to talk about?
BB: I’m out in Los Angeles now where I work as a creative directors assistant and production supervisor for a small studio. I’ve been helping write and adapt a short story we got from Dennis Lehane into a short film we hope to shoot in January. The story is super dark and cerebral and Kafkaesque so it’s been a really exciting collaboration for me.

JG: I’m at Washington Square Films, an independent production company on the Bowery. I’m working as an assistant in their management department helping to get a lot of talented writer and director’s projects into production.

5. What’s your favorite midnite movie experience?
BB: For my 13th birthday, a bunch of my friends and I dressed up and went to the midnight showing of Rocky Horror at Clearview Cinemas in Chelsea.

JG: Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows – Part 2. I was in LA for the summer, and a group of my closest and nerdiest drew lighting bolts on our foreheads and filed in line. We were, at the time, transitioning into adulthood, and we were all sort of closing a chapter of our childhood together. Bonnie was abundantly cooler at 13, then I was at 20.