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Selective Focus: Lance T. Karasti

Lance Karasti has been making independent films for several years, experimenting with techniques for shooting, writing and different ways of approaching the entire filmmaking process. He’s an active enthusiast in the arts in town, and he’s preparing for another variation in style and process for his current project. This week he tells us about his films, and his fundraising campaign.

LTK: I am an independent feature filmmaker. I am currently developing a style of filmmaking called “hypernaturalism.”

I started developing this style halfway through shooting my 2016 project Artificial. Artificial was being shot with a traditional process but I found myself rewriting the scenes every morning before shooting. By the halfway point I just told the actors to stop worrying about the scripts and be prepared to come up with stuff on the spot. While a part of this was due to realizing a lot of my written dialogue was amateur, it was mostly because it had become necessary for the authenticity of the narrative. As written, the film was about stuff I didn’t know and hadn’t experienced. The process of shooting it was like adapting it into something honest and reflective. Rewriting the scenes everyday had caused me to change the course of the film so much that completely improvising was the only way to adapt to the thematic shifts.

Trailer for 2016’s Artificial

I knew for my next feature Hyper Dark, I wanted to continue this improvisational process for creating long-form ultra-realistic scenes of social situations. The idea was to create a thriller where the underlying anxieties of normal social situations are heightened by the paranoia and experiences of the protagonist. Improv is the only way to have dialogue that life-like.

Hyper Dark Screen Shot

The combination of improvisational dialogue and shooting in HFR (high-frame-rate) is what I’m calling Hypernaturalism. HFR is a newer format that essentially means the camera is capturing more frames-per-second than normal. This creates a smoothness to the motion not normally associated with cinema. It was my goal to create scenes that felt more like watching a living photo than a classic film.

I made short films throughout my childhood. I graduated film school in 2010 and have been making movies and working as a freelance videographer ever since.

Frankly, it’s difficult to explain what I’m making. Most of the technical boundaries we are pushing are just not that widely understood or marketable yet. We don’t have famous actors to put on posters. I prefer to keep the movie’s plots cryptic.. All of these factors and more make it difficult for festivals to program our work, distributors to buy it, and for audiences to even know it exists.

Working as a gamemaster at Solve Entertainment for a number of years instilled in me the absolute joy people feel when being rewarded for seeking out a mysterious challenge. A vast majority of our players had never tried an escape room before. Everyone loved it, even if they didn’t win. A key reason for this is that we would never explain what they would be doing in the room beforehand, even if they asked. The entire experience was meant to happen without any pre-empting. (Besides safety rules.) Many people didn’t even understand they were about to be in a timed game. This meant players learned what they were doing, only by doing it. Only through engaging could they understand what was happening. By not altering the players expectations we allowed them to be guided and rewarded by their natural curiosity. All of this is what I’m attempting to replicate with my filmmaking. What we’re doing is so new it’s best to just let people experience it.

As Morpheus once said, “Unfortunately, no one can be told what Hyper Dark is. You have to see it for yourself.” (More or less.)

The reward for me is audiences having genuinely fulfilling new experiences with my films. I want them to feel good about having taken a risk on how to spend their time.

Trailer for my previous film Hyper Dark

Crowdfunding video for our next project

You can check out most of my work for free on my YouTube channel. And you can buy our newly release Hyper Dark with a $10 donation to our next film Hel.

I am currently crowdfunding our next project Hel. Hel is about a society that discovers they are inside of a simulation. Five vignettes follow several interconnected characters as they attempt to cope with the approach anniversary of the discovery. This project will be used to continue developing Hypernaturalism.

If you’re in a place to help out, a $20 donation at indiegogo.com rewards you with our previous film Hyper Dark, and Hel when it’s completed.

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