Interview with “Sundowning” Writer / Director: Frank Rinaldi World Premiere Slamdance Film Festival January 22 and 25, 2012

Luis Pedron: What was your inspiration in writing and filming this provocative film?

Frank Rinaldi: The idea for Sundowning was conceived following the death of my grandmother, who had lived with dementia for ten years. I wanted to know how she experienced the world during her final days, so I imagined my own perception of life with dementia. Sundowning is the result of these imaginings.

Luis Pedron: How did you discover your actresses?

Frank Rinaldi: I am very close with both actresses Shannon Fitzpatrick and Susan Chau. Shannon and I met while we were undergraduates at New York University. We have collaborated on each of my short films. Susan and I were classmates in the NYU Singapore graduate film program. The three of us developed a strong creative bond over the years, and casting them in Sundowning was a natural extension of our relationships.

Luis Pedron: Who were you influences as a filmmaker?

Frank Rinaldi: There are many influences that have guided my development as a filmmaker, including neo and hyperrealist, structuralist, science fiction and experimental films and video art. A few of my favorite filmmakers are R.W. Fassbinder, John Cassavetes, Chantal Akerman, John Carpenter, Steve McQueen, Ida Lupino, Rob Schmidt and David Cronenberg.

Luis Pedron:  Did you have some scientific research about dementia and the
inventions mentioned in the film?

Frank Rinaldi: Yes, absolutely. The preparation for Sundowning was very, very research intensive. I read a lot of books and medical literature that I probably didn’t fully understand, and I consulted with doctors who specialize in human neurology.

Luis Pedron:  Pls talk about your success in crowdfunding through Kickstarter. What were the incentives you gave the backers?

Frank Rinaldi: Kickstarter is a great resource for independent filmmakers. We initiated a fundraising campaign that lasted about two months, during which time we plastered social media networks and local publications with announcements and solicitations. The campaign was a success. Backer incentives include DVDs of the finished film, pictures, posters and producer credits for the big donors.

Luis Pedron: How are you prepping for Slamdance?

Frank Rinaldi: Our goal for Slamdance is to pack the theaters during our screenings (1/22 and 1/25 at 8pm, 255 Main St…). Sundowning is a film that is kind of difficult to explain, so we’ve exerted much effort on describing it in a way that will entice and intrigue an audience. We’ve reached out to many film and art publications like you for coverage. We’ve also made posters and business cards.

Luis Pedron: What are the different marketing ploys you are doing for your
festival experience in Park City?

Frank Rinaldi: We are working with Ross Clark at Sacks & Co. New York to generate publicity. Ross is gifted, and he has done an excellent job of getting editors, film critics and media people to pay attention to our weird, unique film (not an easy task). Also, Slamdance has been very generous with the amount of attention they have paid to Sundowning. It is a festival that believes in its programming, and they are proud of the films they show. They want you to know about the New Filmmakers, and they work hard to get the word out. Josh Mandel, a senior festival programmer, has mentored us through the sometimes-treacherous pre-festival minefield.

Luis Pedron:  What are your advice to filmmakers out there in pursuing this
filmmaking dream?

Frank Rinaldi: Drink lots of coffee, work very hard and make honest films. At first, you may encounter rejection, but don’t give up.

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Director Bio:

Writer and director Frank Rinaldi received a B.F.A. in Dramatic Writing and Cinema Studies at New York University, and an M.F.A. in Film Production at New York University’s Tisch School of the Arts, Asia. His work navigates the boundaries between character-driven narrative and experimental filmmaking. He is interested in investigating how non-linear techniques and devices can be incorporated into storytelling and conversely how storytelling can facilitate experimental agendas.  His short films have played at the Independent Film Festival Boston, Rooftop Films (New York), Milwaukee Underground Film Festival, and Philadelphia Film & Music Festival, to name a few. His short film, Funny Guy, received the Grand Jury Award for Best Experimental Short at Slamdance Film Festival 2009. Sundowning is his debut feature film.

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