Open Projector Night Spotlight- Antonio Luna & Connor Kovack (OPN #24 People's Choice Award)

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Antonio Luna & Connor Kovack’s short film Video Limbo is the most recent Open Projector Night People’s Choice Award Winner. We sat down with the filmmakers to learn more about their work, inspiration, and future projects.

Who is Antonio Luna & Connor Kovack? Give us a short bio.

Antonio Luna is an emerging filmmaker from St. Louis, focusing on directing and cinematography.

Connor Kovack is an emerging filmmaker from Grand Rapids, whose main focus is production. They have recently graduated from DePaul University in Chicago, where they were exposed to the DIY and independent filmmaking movement, and incorporated this style and frugality within their films. Antonio has worked on a number of different films from animation and comedy, to experimental, trying to challenge himself with every project. During college, Connor produced several low budget shorts, and produced a feature. Antonio is currently based in Chicago and Connor now resides in Los Angeles; both focusing on building skills valuable to the entertainment and motion picture industry.

What is your favorite film(s) and why?

Antonio: One of my favorite films has to be Lawrence of Arabia. Just the grand spectacle of it and yet the deeply human and intimate story showcase all of the possibilities cinema has to offer. I try to keep an a wide taste in the films I view. I have recently become almost addicted to watching foreign films. I enjoy all types of genre films such as film noir, horror, and science fiction.

Connor: Anyone who knows me knows I have many favorite films. A film that always comes to mind when asked this question is Trainspotting. It is a film that showed me how art can be incorporated within storytelling. The film has everything, humor, great music, partying, life lessons, culture, high and low emotions. Let’s also not forget how relatable the main character Renton is.

Who and what inspires you to create?

Antonio: I am inspired to create the films I want to see. I am particularly inspired by filmmakers like David Lynch, Stanley Kubrick, and Alfonso Cuaron who make films that are personal to them, perhaps a bit controversial, and challenge the form of cinematic storytelling.

Connor: I use to look up to certain Directors and Actors, until I moved to Los Angeles. Now those who inspire me to create are close family members.

For those who haven’t seen Video Limbo. Can you describe the overall narrative?

There’s a lot that goes into the narrative, it’s hard to explain without sound confusing but we also don’t want to compromise the viewer’s experience of watching it and their own interpretation. The beginning set up is that of a thriller (like Rear-Window or Blow-Up) where a young man is obsessed with videoing his neighbor. As he spies on her, he discovers a strange entity is following her. He becomes entangled into a strange and possibly sinister world.

Can you tell us a little bit about the process of Video Limbo and why you wanted to make it?

This film was made for our final project in our capstone class. We both figured we should make a film for our final project. It is film school after all. With this one we wanted to challenge ourselves with a project that was experimental in narrative and content, yet followed the feeling that your were watching a film with an emotional arc. We wanted the audience to have felt a change by the end of the film, even if they find it hard to explain what they just saw. Because we had the deadlines in the class, we worked very quickly through every process, making sure every decision fit the theme and tone we wanted to go for. We also decided doing it with no dialogue, saving time, but more importantly, allowing the images and soundscape to tell the story.

Antonio Luna

Antonio Luna

Tell us about your first related film experience, what hit you and made you want to pursue the world of film?

Antonio: I used to make films all the time as a kid. When I got to high school, I met friends that were also interested in filmmaking and through that we started to get together and seriously create short films.

Connor: I remember in high school I took an AV class. I hated it, but knew I still wanted to work towards filmmaking. It helped me understand that I wanted to create films that differed from the usual.

Can you provide any advice to aspiring filmmakers?

Connor: Being a successful filmmaker, or an artist, you have to have a sense of entrepreneurship. No one is going to let you direct a film; no one is going to promote you to a producer. It doesn’t work like that within filmmaking; you need to create those opportunities for yourself. To do that, you need to have some business sense. That and get ready to deal with some strong personalities once money is involved.

Antonio: Connor’s advice is very solid. I think it is always a process of learning and growth. Whether it’s learning the technical skills to make a film, or more about yourself, the filmmaker, and the things that are important to you or what you enjoy doing. I would say to just keep challenging yourself and never let up having a creative spirit, in any aspect of your life.

Any future projects for you two? Anything on the horizon that you’re currently working on or would like to begin production on?

Antonio: I’m currently writing a new short. Another DIY project, this time more grounded in the film noir genre. I’m hoping to hone in my style a little more, keeping it experimental and surreal in many of the aspects.

Connor: I’m currently in the final stages of post-production for a feature I produced. I would like to make another DIY experimental short with the theme being homelessness. The only problem is that I little time these days.

Connor Kovack

Connor Kovack

If you were granted a large budget and could make your dream film, what would it be?

Antonio: I would love to make a grand sci-fi epic on the scale of Blade Runner or 2001. I am also attracted to the idea of making a historical film about the conquest of Aztec Mexico by the Spanish Conquistadors.

Connor: I have a lot of ideals for films, however if I had a large budget I would like to make a film during the medieval ages in Europe, similar to Excalibur, I find that aesthetic to be very pleasing.

Any words about Open Projector Night?

Connor: Unfortunately I was not able to visit, which is a shame as I from Grand Rapids. Antonio told me it was ran very well and enjoyed his time there.

Antonio: I was so happy to be able to attend and see all the different types of independent content from all over the world! It was an honor to be included with the other films and to be selected as the winner. I was excited to answer audience questions and enjoyed discussing my film with people who were interested. 

Please take your time to watch Antonio and Connor’s award winning film Video Limbo!
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