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Film Maker And Libertarian Feena Bonoan

What are your influences? Who or what inspires you?


Feena Bonoan: I was captivated by the magic of The Wizard of Oz when the film went from black and white to color. That magic that the audience gets to experience is my inspiration. It’s the oohs, ahhs and wows that drive me to do more and better.

Once you respect that the TV in someone’s home is a big black box of art on the wall, you realize most people’s black boxes are the largest single image in their entire house. You have to respect that it is a space for importance and art. I am not the type to disrespect the audience for the sake of convenience. For instance, I thought having a Starbucks cup on screen in the last episode of Game of Thrones was disrespectful because it broke the third wall for the audience.


How long have you been making films?


Feena: I have been a cinephile since I was a young child. I was a theatre kid in school, and that bleeds into film. I made my first films in high school. One of our better short films was a silent, black and white, crestfallen adaptation of the children’s book Alexander and the Terrible, Horrible, No Good, Very Bad Day. In our depressing, 30 min version Alexander drowns himself in a bathroom sink leaving a small scrap of paper with “everyone has bad days, even in Australia” scribbled.


I took a hiatus from films when I served in the military, and that afforded me the opportunity to go to college to study film. The Wall: Anti Posteriori was my final project in college where I demonstrated the craft from conception to distribution, and it led to several scholastic awards at Hawaii Pacific University, and short film awards in the movie awards circuit.


What else can you tell me about your short film The Wall: Anti Posteriori?


Feena: It was based on a dream I had about my time in the military, and most of the cast and crew were veterans. The film is loaded with timeless classics of procedural compliance, and the pressures of the rat race that everyone can identify with. The name is a take on Immanuel Kant’s categories of knowledge. A posteriori is knowledge concluded from experience.

It was written and filmed in 2018, and I had trouble getting folks on board with a film with a wall, as in Trump’s build a wall plan. Then, in 2020, with the pandemic at its height of control over everyone’s lives, The Wall: Anti Posteriori, with its mandates, was being shown around the world at film festivals. The film’s timing was a little too poignant for some. I had many rejection letters, specifically because the content instigates and evokes conflict.


What was the production process like for this film?


Feena: I wrote it thinking it would never be made. I thought I could never convince anyone to run and hit a wall, but I did. It took one day to write, two weeks to cast, costume, and plan the shoot, 3 days to shoot, and a year to edit. The film was turned in once in 2018 as an unbearable Beethoven version that could probably give those with epilepsy a seizure. Then I moved on, and I made a kids scary movie. I also had a short queer love story in the can for my final project that only needed a few pickups for post.


Then the pandemic happened. Film is all group work, and in 2020 we all had to finish solo, so I decided to dust off The Wall. I had been playing with The Wall for special effects practice over the summer after I debuted it. I had an idea to add the electricity feature to the film. Lightning bolts and electric hums broke up the dead air, and added more color to the stark white aesthetic. I designed the sound and the music, and I gave my voice for the cadence and song, which I always wanted someone else to do but couldn't get anyone serious to do it.


There were more ideas that didn’t come to fruition but are always on the table, like to add a radio DJ and to create commercials in the film for rolling chairs as the best night’s rest. This would give the audience more insight of the lives in this weird world where procedural compliance reigns supreme.


Do you create art with a specific message, or do you prefer art for arts sake?


Feena: I think the criteria for art is: does it leave room for, and evoke the audience to form their own interpretations? In order to get that movie magic, you have to evoke emotion with the audience, so I like both. I can appreciate fine craftsmanship with even the most practical. A realistic painting of a flower doesn’t have to say anything, no one is going to question if it is art. The ugly and the minimalist is where people like to question artistic credibility. and that is where it’s helpful to have a message. What I will never make is filth for filth sake. I am discerning my energy to other paths.


What is your creative process like? What tools and methods do you use to make your films?


Feena: I get an idea and start taking notes. I make a google drive and physical notebook dedicated to the project to start collecting ideas, plans, and to affectively collaborate with others. I am not too boujee with my tools, as long as it gets the job done right. For instance, a light is a light, but better to have dimmers and temperature. I use the Adobe suite to edit. I use VFX and SFX available for free on the internet, and I do use creator pieces that are behind paywalls too.


Sometimes I like to start with the music. I will use samples from other creators, like on Looperman, an internet based sample cloud that is free to use.


How long have you considered yourself a libertarian?

Feena: I have always considered myself a Libertarian. When I was in high school we had a classroom activity where we had to choose Republican or Democrat. That day the whole class room got to hear about America’s 3rd largest party, and I got detention.


What do you think the role of art should be in the libertarian movement?


Feena: We need to make Libertarianism cool, and we need art for that. The colloquialism goes: art imitates life and life imitates art. What came first? Does it matter? If we are serious about the libertarian movement, we should appeal more to the constant movement of Art.


Where can people go to watch The Wall: Anti Posteriori?

Youtube:


The Wall: Anti Posteriori


The Making Of The Wall: Anti Posteriori


 

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