An Interview with Fantavious Fritz

By Claire Milbrath

Fantavious Fritz is quiet and has a long thin smile like the Cheshire Cat. When we first met I told him he seemed to always have some kind of inside joke going on with himself. After we parted ways I discovered his photography and films, both of which were thoroughly cinematic and underscored with his particular sense of humour. Today his ambitious new short film Paradise Falls premieres at TIFF so we got together to talk about it. Watch the trailer for his new film and enjoy a collection of his photographs below.

Do you identify as a filmmaker more than a photographer?

Maybe somewhere in between. I think I would identify as a visual artist. I just choose the medium that best suits an idea; sometimes it moves and sometimes it doesn’t.

Is Paradise Falls your first short?

It’s actually my third short. I had another film at TIFF last year called Tuesday, and before that I made a much more experimental short called KOSMOS. I think Paradise Falls is my first larger scale production though.

It seems like such an ambitious project. Did you shoot it on 35mm film?

We wanted too! We didn’t have enough money this time, but we did shoot on 16mm kodak stock, which I kind of think has the look of older 35mm from the 70’s. The grain is really nice in the new 16mm stocks; I really hope it sticks around… I will definitely shoot film as long as it exists.

There’s something nostalgic about the film, and actually in your photos too. Both seem like they could’ve been shot decades ago. Do you feel attached to the past, or feel you belong to another time?

Hm, that’s interesting. I don’t think so actually. I think I really belong here in the futureā€¦ but I do have a fondness for specifics from other times.

There’s a handful of homages in your movie, is that something you do intentionally?

Haha ya for sure. I think in a lot of ways when I began Paradise Falls I wanted to make a film that celebrates film. I was watching a lot of New Wave and a lot of Kubrick when writing and shooting the film. The short has it’s own existence and it’s own world but I think it’s also a collage of homages to my favorite filmmakers. Vive le cinema!

Paradise Falls feels like a classic bedside tale. Is storytelling something you feel strongly about, or was it just this film in particular?

One of my favourite professors always told me stories are evil. It’s funny, I’m actually not a huge advocate for narrative, but I wanted to experiment with this film. I wanted to put a big idea into a small package so that it almost felt like you had watched a feature film after 17 mins. I also want to make stories that people can follow – accessible art that can be seen on the surface, but may be coming from a higher concept when you look a little deeper. In this way I think the ‘fairy tale’ framework is a cool way to reach a broad audience while still being able to say something. At it’s core Paradise Falls is commenting on suburban sprawl, but I think it can also be taken as a joy ride.

Watch the trailer below!

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