Directing and producing an original feature is no easy feat, especially the first time around. For Film Production grad Chris Kummerfeldt Quiroa, the experience of producing Hunting Party was made easier by the talented team he had around him – a group of fellow Vancouver Film School grads he met during his intense year of study. Having just struck a theatrical distribution deal in Guatemala, and currently working on a regional deal for the rest of Central America, it’s safe to say that this team’s sense of collaboration has paid off.
Partly inspired by his youth in Antigua, Hunting Party follows three Guatemalan friends as they prepare for the “best night of their lives.” What they find, however, challenges their friendships and future.
We had a chance to ask Chris about his time at VFS, “Hunting Party”, and what’s next. Check out our interview with him below:
Where are you from originally? What made you decide to come to VFS?
Chris: I am originally from Guatemala in Central America. I had, at the time, some disagreements with my country, its people, and politics. I knew I needed to go overseas to find quality education that could benefit the Guatemalan filmmaking movement. It was beginning to grow at home but drastically needed foreign expertise in many areas.
After finishing Business Administration and studies in Economics, I wanted to change the course of my education but wasn’t interested in going through the whole four years an undergrad would require. Instead, I was looking for an experience that would provide intense hands-on training, and potentially put me back on the streets for work as fast as possible. VFS delivered that to me.
You graduated from the Film Production program in 2011. What was your biggest challenge? What was the best part about it?
Chris: My biggest challenge was financial. It was complicated for me to study for 12 months without being able to work, and only through many personal and psychological sacrifices did I survive with the help of friends and family. I had never before been put in a position of not knowing how to make ends meet. Those were tough learning curves at the time.
These hardships taught me a lot. I came out stronger having survived those Canadian winters, and found support in new friends who really cared for me. It built up my character, in a way, and also pushed me to a position where I had to create and focus on filmmaking.
What was your post-graduation journey like? Did you have a plan?
Chris: I was immensely lucky to find friends in class who soon became family -- my only safety net in Canada. Together we founded a production company, Warmland Films Inc. This start-up company became my priority during the three years I remained in Canada working alongside my peers and firm partners, the Avery brothers, and Darshan Rickhi.
We heard you directed the original film “Hunting Party” – congratulations! What is it about?
Chris: In short: it is about three Guatemalan friends and compadres who go out for the best (and last) night of their lives in Antigua. They hunt for love, cheap drinks, salvation, and fall in love with two foreign girls travelling through Central America. They are just as lost as the boys.
What inspired this film?
Chris: When I was young, I went out a lot in Antigua with my best friends. Many things happened in that quaint colonial town. This film is, in a way, the romanticized version of some of the events that marked our growing up in Antigua through all those nights of drinking and chasing adventures. We were sometimes irresponsible, and sometimes we simply yearned for something greater than our Guatemalan existence.
Can you describe the filmmaking process?
Chris: The script was much too ambitious for our budget and general capabilities; the whole process from preproduction to distribution has been a steep learning curve with immense challenges at every step. It couldn’t have been more perfect.
It made our young crew come together and prove that we were all capable of creating great things and beautiful films in Antigua, Guatemala.
What is the biggest lesson you learned while making “Hunting Party”?
Chris: Just push forward and never look back.
The film itself was impossible to make because of the many shortcomings that encompass making films in Guatemala. The odds were pretty much always against us. It is truly a miracle that we just finished theatrical distribution. To see your poster on the marquee competing next to multimillion dollar big studio productions is something out of this world. It only happened because of the dedication of hundreds of people believing in this film and being head over heels in love with the filmmaking art form and process.
Did you collaborate with any VFS alumni on this project? If yes, who and what were there roles?
Darshan Rickhi - 2nd Unit Director
Christopher Avery - Co-Producer
Björn Hermannes - Director of Photography
Andrés Castillo - Grip & Gaffer
Sean Avery - Camera Operator
Javier Arenales - 1st AC
Daniel Lopez - 2nd AC
Ritchie Lyon - Key Grip
Emily K. Rose – Lead female star as ‘Agnes’
Rodrigo Tejada Rubio – Graphic Design and Classic Animation
How did your time at VFS help you as a director?
Chris: It allowed me to network with some of the people who helped make this film happen. It taught me that filmmaking is not a vocation or profession. It’s a lifestyle.
When/where will this film be released? How can we see it?
Chris: We finished Guatemalan theatrical distribution yesterday after two weeks of wide release. We are currently going for regional theatrical distribution to the rest of Central America, and, of course, hope to be doing the festival circuit in a few months to finish what has been a beautiful run.
What’s next for you?
Chris: The same crew who worked on Hunting Party and I are already working and thinking about our next adventure together. I would love to come back to Vancouver but this time to shoot a feature. We are also playing with the idea of filming something in Old Havana in Cuba…maybe a horror film in Atitlán Lake?
Anything else you’d like to add?
Chris: The Hunting Party has been the best and most nerve wrecking thing I’ve ever done in my life. I can’t wait to do it again.
Thanks, Chris! We can't wait to see what you do next.