On September 10th, The Tunnels podcast editor Spenser Williamson had the opportunity to talk with UTV Studio’s Producer, Eric Lynch, about his involvement at NAU, the 12-day shooting of his film Faerie in the forest, the magic of audience reaction, and his current film project Hare-th.
Spenser (S): We’re excited to be here today with Eric Lynch, current Producer for UTV Studios and Director of the award-winning short, Faerie. Thanks for coming in.
Eric (E): Of course, thanks for having me. It’s beautiful in here.
S: Have you been here since the remodel?
E: I haven’t. It’s my first time. I’ve never been in the room.
S: Cool. Cool. So before we get into the work you’ve done with UTV, tell us a little about yourself. What are you studying at the university?
E: Okay. My name is Eric Lynch, I am a Creative Media and Film/Communication Studies double major at NAU with a minor in Spanish, and I consider myself first and foremost a filmmaker. I utilize my com studies courses to benefit my work with film, specifically with the roles of directing and producing.
S: You just mentioned that you took on an additional major to help with your directing and producing. Do you consider yourself a director first and foremost or has there been a shift recently?
E: Good question. Good question. I was definitely a director coming into school, but I think the desire to see producing done well has pushed me in the direction to take on more logistical responsibility, and therefore has guided me into my current position as Executive Producer. It’s a totally different brain than directing, but I’m a com and film guy so it definitely works for me.
S: Let’s take a step back. For those readers who don’t know, what is UTV Studios?
E: UTV Studios is a fully student-run, in-house production company on campus. We produce original, short-form fiction content. What NAZ Today does with journalism, we do for a fiction film. What KJACK does for students running a radio station, we do for a fiction film. We have every position imaginable at UTV: a full production team, a sound department, lighting, art, and camera. We also have marketing, accountants, producers working behind the scenes, a writer’s room, graphics and film festival department, as well as a programming department responsible for scheduling and airing shows on the TVs located across campus.
S: That was great, thank you. Interviewing in the projector room grants us some perks. One being a giant projector. Our studio technician Mac has been screening the film Faerie throughout the course of our interview, and I’d love to take a moment or two to talk about it because correct me if I’m wrong, but this is one of the most recent films produced by UTV.
E: Yes. Yeah, one of two. We did Anita, a film directed by NAU Alum Mariah Jones, and Faerie, which was nominated for a Rocky Mountain Emmy a few weeks ago. We’ll find out late next week what happens.
S: Cool. Cool. We’ll be rooting for you, and we look forward to hearing what happens there. When you were coming down to the studio, you probably saw that we had some—
E: Giant awesome posters from Faerie.
S: Yeah. Yeah. We couldn’t resist, and we knew you were coming in, so we just had to throw them up.
E:*Laughs* I appreciate it.
S: Tell us a little more about that experience because from my understanding Faerie was a massive project.
E: Faerie by far was the biggest production I had ever been on. From start to finish, if I don’t count the tremendous amount of preproduction work where other scripts and ideas were developed and sifted through, this film really came together in less than five months. From the script being locked to premiering at the festival was less than five months, which is insane considering that it was a 27-page script, which ended up being a 27-minute film and included a tremendous amount of costume design.
We built a full working monster prosthetic for this film, filmed 12 days straight in a forest, had multiple locations, held a marathon editing session to finish the film on time and I scored the whole film in less than two weeks. It was an incredibly stressful experience, but what I loved about it and why I continue to love filmmaking is it is so rewarding to have a singular focus on something so creative. The creative endeavor is worth the stress to pull that off and see the final product and to see literally dozens and dozens of people come together and take credit for this amazing product.
S: When I saw the film this spring at the Orpheum it was a cathartic experience.
E: Yeah, the story is full of great characters and unexpected twist and turns and we have a great reveal in the last twenty seconds of the film.
S: I remember the ending. That is when the hammer really drops.
E: Yeah, and I’ll never forget that moment in the theater because there were some audible gasps and afterward there were people who were sitting through the credits who were like, “Wow that’s what happened.” I guess that’s how we knew the story worked. The audience was able to sit through a 27-minute short film without it feeling like 27 minutes.
S: Awesome. Awesome. Do you have anything else you’d like to say about Faerie, or would you like to move on and talk about your thousand and one other projects in the works?
E: I’d like to mention Dana Kamberg, who was and is the Production Designer for UTV Studios. She was the one who single-handedly created our monster character for Faerie. Without Dana, this film would not have happened. She is truly talented and without her, this film would not have been possible. But now moving ahead, we have Dana Kamberg working on our next big project, which is even more art heavy.
S: So another collaborative project between the two of you?
S: And a thousand and one other people reprising their roles in UTV.
E: Yeah, there are many returners from Faerie coming back to work on our next film, which is currently untitled, but will be the first-ever stop-motion film produced at Northern Arizona University. This is a huge project that will be taking place over the next year, which is crazy because it is half the length of Faerie script-wise, but we will need twice the amount of time because that is the time needed to pull off this project. The amount of art production that needs to go into this and the time needed to film will be *Beat* intense. *Laughs* But in a good way.
In my research, what I found is that the only people who do stop motion projects are crazy guys who spend ten years in their basement, or full production studios who have millions of dollars, and UTV fits into neither of those categories, *laughs* but arguably we are trying to be in the latter category because we have a budget, we have dozens of people, we have the time, and this is the right moment to do a project like this.
S: Now I know that you are keeping the plot of the film under wraps right now, but can you tell the audience anything about it?
E: I’ll give you the main theme of our film. Hiraeth is a Welsh word with no direct English translation but can be most closely defined as a deep longing for a home that no longer exists.
S: Okay. Okay.
E: I know, it’s a little heavy, but the main theme is explored through a tragic love story set in deep-space between our two main characters, Wesley and Olive.
S: I’m excited to see it this spring at the Orpheum. Thank you for coming in.
E: Thanks for having me.