By Jayjay Epega @DGirlJay
“The supreme art of war is to subdue the enemy without fighting.”
― Sun Tzu, The Art of War
It is telling how the above quote very simply sums up the powerful message that resonates right through Max Chernov’s beautifully directed short BLOOD BROTHERS.
From the start, you are drawn in and captivated, even held on a knife’s edge from frame to frame, by this story of human trials and endeavor. Powerfully shot, the premise of BLOOD BROTHERS tells the constantly gripping story of a young British soldier, who deserts his battalion in the heat of World War I and seeks refuge in a nearby barn only to find something that is very much unexpected and possibly life threatening. The emotions that are run through include, fear, anger, understanding and then resolution …. The short takes on a journey all too common in the human psyche…. so many emotions in one sitting, suspicion, anger, mistrust, hope, anxiety, friendship, loss. The theme of the short highlights good morals and hope, during a time of danger and threat – which resonates so heavily right up to the present day.
Cameron Cowperthwaite (Paul) and Robert Dylan Bare (Charlie)
It is indeed an engaging, genuinely moving short and is so highly recommended a watch. The movie has already done the rounds of the festival circuit including LA Shorts and HollyShorts. It has been recently released by Shorts International Ltd – ShortsTV who acquired the film and have theatrically distributed it.
To garner further in depth insight into this wonderful story it was delightful to be able to put some questions to the Director Max Chernov :
Max Chernov pictured with the crew
- What was the inspiration to make this short? Is it your first film?
They always tell you, for your first film, to do anything you want besides a period piece or a war film. But, I decided to do both. Writing and directing my first film as a World War I period piece, I made sure to focus on the authenticity needed to properly tell the story.
2014-2018 marks the 100-year anniversary of First World War. WWI was a monumental turning point in modern society, ushering in a new age of geopolitics. Over 65 million men, from over 40 countries, were mobilized as a result. The trench warfare was deadly. An estimated 17 million men and women were killed during the four-year period.
How could one wrap their head around this unfathomable sense of loss? And for what? The grey area was staggering. That is when I started to tap into an inspiration of mine: World War I poetry. Poets such as A.E. Houseman, Rupert Brooke, Carl Sandberg, and others captured this surreal sense of disillusionment. Delving deep into their poetry, I found issues of nationalism and morality that are still pertinent today.
- What was your own personal knowledge/how did you learn more about this war that took place 100 years ago?
History has always been a passion of mine. It is one big story, after all. To me, the most interesting part of this story is not the statistics, but the humanistic account. Through an investigation of primary and secondary documents, I found this period of history extremely fascinating. There was no clear cause of World War I and soldiers were sent to fight solely on the agenda of nationalism. The average soldier’s age was 19, only one year away from my own age during the time of production. Being the same age writing the film as a soldier in World War I really helped me further understand the shock and magnitude of the situation.
- How did you cast your actors in the role?
As the film centers around two young soldiers, casting was an integral part of the process. I worked with casting director, Caroline Liem, to find the perfect actors for the film. We started with a wide selection of actors and started to narrow down our Charlie and Paul. Once we got down to a number we felt comfortable with we began doing chemistry tests, where we assigned different pairings of our favorite actors with each other. I find chemistry tests essential to any movie, but this film especially. Blood Brothers is an acting centerpiece and I feel Robert Dylan Bare (Charlie) and Cameron Cowperthwaite (Paul) build off each other and really shine in the film.
- How long did it take for you to pull this film project together?
I came up with the original idea for the film in February of 2016. I played with different ways to best approach the difficult subject matter and honor the real-life heroes of WWI. By around April, I had a script I was comfortable with and I began pre-production with my producers, Nicole Falsetti and Jean de Meuron. We spent nearly three months prepping for our 3-day shoot in late June. Seeing that we couldn’t afford the trip abroad to actually shoot in France, we replicated it in Santa Clarita valley. Our director of photography, Bruce McCleery, did a fantastic job constructing the beautifully textured visual style of the film. Temperatures reached over 105 degrees Fahrenheit, and our actors were dressed for a European winter. They were real troopers! After shooting we had about three months of post-production where we worked with stellar teams such as Skywalker Sound, Remote Control Productions, and Rock Paper Scissors.
- The feelings of suspicion, hope and loss are a constant theme in BLOOD BROTHERS…. Is this something you feel is still prevalent today?
That’s a great question. Those themes were important in constructing my story and I definitely feel they are relevant for today’s society. History always repeats itself and I believe the travesty of World War I serves as a warning sign in today’s environment. The influx of young scholars, poets, artists and others whose lives were cut short fighting for a war they knew nothing about is incredibly harrowing. I hope my film humanizes this loss of innocence and the meaningless of war in the past, present, and future.
- One is transfixed watching this story unfold…. What do you hope that the audience takes away from it?
Blood Brothers explores the ambivalence of war. The arbitrary borders between deserter and soldier, brother and enemy. I hope my film shines a humanitarian light not only on the tragedies of World War I, but also on our current political landscape. Decisions are usually gray, not black and white, even in the movies.
BLOOD BROTHERS (2017) | A Film by Max Chernov
Released & Distributed by Shorts International Ltd – ShortsTV
Logline: When a young British soldier deserts his battalion in the heat of World War I, he must seek refuge in a nearby barn only to find an unexpected threat.
Awards & Recognitions
*ShortsTV presents Short Films From Around The World: BLOOD BROTHERS
Film Festivals & Screenings
*Official Selection 13th HollyShorts Film Festival 2017 (Competition), USA
*Official Selection 21st LA Shorts International Film Festival 2017 (Competition), USA – World Premiere
Website – http://www.bloodbrothersshort.com
IMDb – Blood Brothers
Film Shortage – Short Film Trailers: Blood Brothers
Short of the Month – Blood Brothers Trailer
Read more of Jayjay Epega’s Features here: http://epegamedia.pressfolios.com/