INTERVIEW: Brian Lonano Has a Collection of Short Films on Arrow Player Out Now

This interview was conducted by our very own Justin Harlan for Cinapse in 2019 to promote Brian Lonano’s shorts collection on Arrow’s streaming service. Brian’s films and Brian himself are always mainstays at our annual festivals, from Sinema Challenge entries to world premieres.

I’m what you may call a “trash filmmaker.” I make films that tend to be low/no budget and feature ridiculous creatures and concepts. Some might find my work to be strange, others may find it challenging, and most find it to be stupid.

When I was a kid, I knew I wanted to do something creative with my life. I was interested in puppets , drawing and making people laugh. But it didn’t solidify in my mind that I wanted to be a filmmaker until I saw Jurassic Park at age 10. After I saw that, making films was all I was interested in. Though we couldn’t afford to buy a camcorder, I found ways to create stories and my parents bought me a lot of books about filmmaking. Once I got to college and had access to cameras and equipment, I made over 40 short films in that time.

Back in 2014, my wife Tori and I were attending the Florida Film Festival where one of my films was screening. We got our badges and walked to the parking lot and there I came across a strange totem on the ground that looked like a crow. Tori was creeped out and told me not to pick it up… but I did anyway because I was curious. I joked that because I didn’t listen to her, my hand was cursed by the totem and transformed into a crow. I yelled out “CROW HAND!!!” and we both laughed and said, “that would be a fun movie to make.” Funny enough, a year later after the film was completed, the film screened at the Florida Film Festival where a person came up to me and said they lost their keychain in the parking lot the year before…and his keychain looked like a crow!

The short film is a great way to experiment with ideas and make something outside of the traditional three act structure. Films like CROW HAND!!! and Gwilliam work perfectly as short films. I tried to elaborate them into features but it falls apart for me. I lose interest. A feature could be in my future someday but I really need to find the right idea and be in love with it. But most of my ideas I imagine as short films.

It might be fun to do a “pod people” type of film with podcasters replacing people. They can point their finger at a normal person like in the 1970s Invasion of the Body Snatchers but instead of shrieking, they thank a sponsor.

It’s the greatest compliment I could ever receive for one of my films. But I am sorry she threw up.

I’ve got a music video that will be premiering online later this month. And I’ve got 3–5 short films I am working on! Lots of stuff coming!