Why did you choose to make a silent film? Interview with filmmaker, Orson Cornick.

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Interview conducted by Leeds Beckett University Business School journalism student, Rachel Johnston. The Northern Film School at Leeds Beckett is the official education partner of the 2021 Harrogate Film Festival.

Orson Cornick is a filmmaker from Surrey, England where his parents ran a hospital for injured wildlife. Cornick has been a vegetarian since the age of 8 and has created a variety of films over the past few years.

Cornick created the 4-minute enviro-fiction film back in 2019. The silent film ‘CHOKER’ shows a woman falling from the sky onto a sunny beach, choking, whilst being overlooked by those around her. Until a mystery man drives at top speed to save her.

This raises the question – why are environmentally conscious films usually documentaries? Cornick wanted to grab the attention of his viewers by creating confusion until the last moment.

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Why did you choose to make a silent film?

I wasn’t very happy with the dialogue in my last film. I wanted to do something that had no dialogue, and that was completely without words. Not even one. I wanted to focus on the concept, the idea, and look at the music and cinematography.

The actress you see in the film is Italian, so I also wanted to make it work around that.

How did you come up with the idea for Choker?

I was driving with my wife and children in the back of the car and I just said, I've got this idea. She loved it straight away, it was originally called Choke.

I found the title Choker a bit more three dimensional. Choker being the fact that she is actually choking and Choker as in it's upsetting. The actress also wears a choker whilst on the beach. It took on a life of its own, I suppose many short films do.

What inspired you to think of this idea?

The inspiration just came out of nowhere, but probably because I have a background in animal rights.

I call this film Enviro-fiction. There are a lot of environmental documentaries out there, but I don't think many films trick the audience and educate them without knowing. I wanted to give the audience a thriller. Something that would make them think ‘wow’.

How did production go?

Choker probably took just under a year to complete. It doesn't seem like it, but the editing of the film was one of the biggest challenges.

When the Land Rover hits the water and it sprays water over the kids on the beach, that wasn't a lucky cut, it was planned. Although the horses going behind her weren’t planned! It took a long time.

It was a very difficult film to get right in the edit, but I'm pleased with it now.

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Orson Cornick

Why should people watch Choker?

People should watch it because you can expect the unexpected. And that's pretty much how the environment is now.

It is a roller coaster of four minutes, where you have no idea what's going on. Suddenly, in the end, everything clicks into place, and you realise what's happening. It shrinks the audience and I love to trick the audience.

What are you going to do with the money that Choker makes?

We are donating the money to help other birds in that situation. It just felt like the right thing to do, I didn't want to take a penny, even if I did pay for this with my own money. We want to be transparent with the money we make, and how it will be given away.