42 Seconds of Happiness is an award winning feature film directed by Christina Kallas and produced by Emmy nominated Allison Vanore. In this episode we talk about their long journey to bring this unique film to life. Both of these talented women had a ton of insight into making a film and getting a film made. We hope you enjoy this episode as much as we did.
We are improvising on love: all of us, all the time.
About 42 Seconds of Happiness
FEATURE NARRATIVE INDIE DRAMA
A circle of thirty-something friends reunite for a weekend away to celebrate the same sex wedding of a member of their group. Yet, despite their best efforts to behave themselves, a series of surprise plans, unexpected arrivals and exposed secrets lead to an explosion of drama that, coupled with the flammable combination of hurt feelings, unresolved tensions, and lots of wine, cannot be contained.
Somewhere between classics Big Chill and A Woman Under the Influence, 42 Seconds of Happiness is an intense yet lighthearted look at love, fear and infidelity in marriage and relationships. It combines an unusual perspective paired with an extremely unique filmmaking process which is part scripted and part improv, multi-protagonist, and multi-screen.
WRITERS IMPROV STUDIO
The Writers Improv Studio focuses on the art of improvisation as a method for writing, applying Kallas’ signature method of blending improvisation and emotional structure theory which aims at the mergence of actor and character.
The studio functions as exploration space for emotionally immersive and collaborative storytelling.
During the workshop members of the cast perform impromptu scenes from the storyworld, which Kallas sets up in front of the other actors who in turn participate via a technique Kallas describes as emotional doubling. This enables a different kind of interactive involvement deepening the work with the characters and preparing the actors for the concrete approach better than classic rehearsals or readings might do.
Our mission is to show how we are connected and share knowledge (cognitive and emotional) on a level, which is beyond our understanding. To enable a deeper look at what love is with most of us and what we actually mean, when we say we love somebody – and to open the way for a deeper understanding of the Other’s emotional state/position and through that for true compassion and self-actualization.
Over a year and a half, Kallas workshopped her screenplay with the actors (filming and releasing the workshop sessions as episodes on YouTube). These stories lead the way to the next and final chapter (and Kallas’ ultimate goal) – the feature film 42 Seconds of Happiness.
This film was shot on a shoe-string budget over just 5 days of production.
In my films I am experimenting with narrative form, multi-protagonist, sometimes nonlinear structures, in an effort to allow, emulate an experience that is as close to experiencing reality as one can get. The workshopping part of the process and the naturalistic performances are important in that sense, as is the choice of camera work or the multilayered soundtracks or indeed my experimental use of split screens. The most important element however, is how the narrative is structured: I see it much like when we join a party as a guest and need time to orientate ourselves to how everything and everyone are connected and then suddenly, after witnessing a key moment, we understand more and retrospectively what we have experienced and why we have experienced it that way. I am intrigued by how cinematic narrative is evolving beyond the traditional story format, and how it influences the way we perceive reality. What I am interested in, frankly, is what’s beyond, above and underneath what we call reality.
– Christina Kallas, Writer/Director
Producer / Director / Writer | IMDb
- Allison Vanore is an Emmy-nominated producer of hit digital series Vanity.
- Feature film credits include award-winning films Daddy (Breaking Glass, 2016), Love in the Time of Monsters (Indican Pictures, 2012), and Hopelessly In June (Phase 4, 2011).
- Digital Series credits include Vanity (2015-), Gringa Latina (2014-), Producing Juliet (2013-14), Anyone But Me (2012-16), Cost of Capital (2012), and SOLO: The Series (2010-11).
- Vanore is published in the book Thriving in Hollywood!: Tenacious Tales & Tactics from Ms. In The Biz and is a contributing writer for MsInTheBiz.com.
- She taught Producing Independent Film at the Los Angeles Film School from 2012 – 2015.
- From 2004 – 2008 she was the Director of Creative Operations for boutique interactive design house Georgopoulos Design Environments with clients such as Disney, Sony, ABC, Imagination Games, Yahoo! and Nissan.
- Vanore is frequently asked to speak at conferences, festivals and events on such topics as Producing Indie Films, Women in the Industry, and Digital Series.
- She just completed shooting a second film with Writer/Director Christina Kallas called The Rainbow Experiment (currently in post-production).
Director / Writer | IMDb
WRITER / DIRECTOR
- Christina Kallas is a writer-producer for film and television, book author and professor for film.
- From January 2005 through January 2014 she was the president of the Federation of Screenwriters in Europe (FSE), the European equivalent to the Writers Guild of America.
- She is a voting member of the European Film Academy and of the German Film Academy.
- Screen credits as writer and/or producer include the feature films Mothers (2010), selected as a Best Foreign Language Film entry at the 83rd Academy Awards and for the Panorama at the 61st Berlin International Film Festival; The Commissioner (1998), starring John Hurt and Armin Mueller-Stahl, selected for the Official Competition of the Berlin International Film Festival; I.D., a Polygram film production (1994); Liebe Lügen (1997), winner of the First Film Award at the Munich Film Festival; as well as several German language TV movies and Best TV-awarded series.
- In 2010 she relocated to New York City where she founded the Writers Improv Studio.
- Kallas is teaching at Columbia University’s and Barnard College’s Film Programs since 2011. She has taught at the German Film and Television Academy Berlin (1997-2007); the International Film School in Cologne; the Scuola Holden per le Techniche Narrative in Torino, Italy; The New School for Media Studies; and The Goldberg Department of Dramatic Writing, Tisch School of the Arts at NYU.
- She is the author of six books about the creative process in her three writing languages, including Creative Screenwriting: Understanding Emotional Structure and Inside the Writers’ Room: Conversations with American TV Writers (Palgrave/Macmillan, 2010 and 2014).
- 42 Seconds of Happiness (2015) is her debut feature as a director. She just finished shooting her second film as a director, The Rainbow Experiment (in post-production).