November 14th, 2015
Writer/Director Aaron David DeFazio talks to us about his exceptional short film, Knives.
Hi Aaron! Can you tell us something about yourself? How did you get interested in making movies?
I’ve wanted to be a movie director before I knew what being a director meant- and I’m still learning. Growing up as an only child in New Jersey, I wore out VHS tapes from the rental store down the street, and looked forward to watching anything I could get my hands on. My parents had great taste. By the time I was in high school my dad would drive us into New York City to see foreign films at Film Forum. If I recall correctly it was as the Criterion Collection was just starting out, so restorations of Kurosawa and Fellini films were essentially being screened for the first time in a long while. I didn’t understand everything going on, but I was able to trace their influence on the Woody Allen and Speilberg movies I grew up with, and resolved to learn everything I could. Like I said, I’m still learning.
Knives has a very nostalgic feel to it, the film seemed to have a very 90's vibe of a lazy-summer job that won't exist in the present day. The colors of the film, the titles are also supposed to remind you of 80's thrillers, etc.
I have a broad set of influences, so sometimes they boil to the surface in different ways. This film deals with various genre elements. I wanted to try and make the vibe of Knives to feel like the sort of movie the main character would himself enjoy. My thinking was, as Ryan’s investigation progresses, the film would take on more elements of a thriller film. We were lucky enough to shoot this project on film, so part of the ethereal feel of the project comes from that.
The idea of a serial killer who works as a knife-sharpener by day is very creepy. What was the inspiration for it?
I remember first encountering a knife sharpening truck in Brooklyn while attending college. The noise it made was ominous, and I thought such singular devotion to that craft was somewhat unnerving. I’m fascinated with crafts that feel distinctly industrial and seem to be holdovers from a previous time, like watchmakers, locksmiths, and so on. My step-brother was a shopping-cart collector a few years later, and he had mentioned that a knife sharpener had started parking in his lot and sharpening Knives. I thought the confined crucible of a boring summer job would be a perfect setting for a short film.
The last few images of the film are weighed with a lot of meaning, but also a lot of sadness. How did you want us to leave the world of the film?
As you mentioned in your question earlier, the film is charged with a certain nostalgia. All films have a sort of selective memory and have to choose which moments are important to show, which moments should be memorable. Hopefully this film feels like it’s has a certain hindsight, a wistful memory that will never add up for Ryan. Just as he feels he must have been wrong all this time, he’s confronted with another impossible clue. We’re always confronted with things we can’t understand, so sometimes we ignore them.
We loved Knives and are really looking forward to your other work. What are you working on next?
I have a feature film script that I’m trying to get made, this time more of a proper horror film. In the meantime I’m toying around with a few more short and feature film ideas, and doing my best to be a resource to my collaborators and helping them make their projects however I can.
Aaron's film is featured on our website this week. You can see it here.