Film Courage: Where did you grow up?
Jonas Odenheimer: I was born and raised in Recife, Brazil. Recife has a tropical climate throughout the whole year and I lived by the beach. I’d open the door to my house and the sea would almost come in. The neighborhood I use to live in, Piedade, was a quiet and nice place to grow up. I made lots of good friends there, which I still keep in touch with today. The problem with Brazil is that it’s a very violent place sometimes, you can’t really walk the streets at certain times or walk alone in certain locations. Recife was even named the “most violent city of Brazil” once. Thanks to that, I’d also spend a lot of time at home watching movies while growing up. It was my way to escape reality sometimes and I think thanks to these conditions and my staying inside, I developed an interest film. Filmmaking was non-existent in Recife back then: no studios, no schools, nothing, but I’d always mess around with my mother’s camera and force my sister to act something out for me so I could film it.
Film Courage: Which of your parents do you resemble most?
Jonas: I resemble each of them pretty much the same.
Film Courage: What were your plans after high school?
Jonas: I wanted to travel the world and meet different cultures and hear various life stories. I did start traveling the world when I was 20 and never came back to live in Brazil again, just to visit friends and family. For the past 10 years, I lived in France, Spain, Switzerland, Thailand, Portugal, USA and finally came to London, where I reside now. I wanted not only to know but get to live in different places and experience them to the fullest, not simply as a tourist but more as a traveler.
Film Courage: Did you go to film school?
Jonas: I did some film workshops for 2 months, but never went to film school. I graduated from a Business / Hotel Management school but my main goal was always filmmaking. I had to graduate from a more “down to earth” institution so my parents wouldn’t kill me. Once I graduated though, I started working almost immediately for an independent film studio in Thailand, where I was living at the time. That was the best “film school” for me, working on actual movie sets and with amazing award winning filmmakers, not with wanna-bees like me at the time.
Written and Directed by Jonas Odenheimer.
Film Courage: Favorite mockumentary film?
Jonas: My favorite mockumentary is Classroom 6, of course. Besides Classroom6, The Blair Witch Project was the most inspirational. ‘Blair’ is one of those love it or hate it films, but I remember watching it for the first time and thinking it was an actual documentary. They did a whole campaign on the internet as well which made everyone go crazy thinking the whole thing was real. It was a really unique filmmaking experience.
Jonas: Classroom 6 was actually inspired by many ghost stories I collected from several websites, blogs, vlogs, etc. It was also inspired by the true story of a student and teacher that went missing in a small town from Brazil. People had all sorts of weird theories about it and I decided it would be a good idea to make a movie about it, adding ghosts in to the equation.
Film Courage: How long was the idea floating around in your head before you started writing CLASSROOM 6?
Jonas: Not long. I pretty much thought about it and started writing the script soon after. I was new to the US and was living in Glendale, CA at the time. I used to take a night class at this weird looking, old school building. I was sure it would be the perfect location for a horror film and also a very easy location to get. I decided to do a bit of research on ghosts, spirits, portals, mirrors and Classroom 6 was born from the whole thing.
Film Courage: How long did it take you to write the first draft? What about rewrites?
Jonas: Classroom 6 was written in 3 days or so. The second and final draft took a bit longer, like a week or so and changed drastically from what it originally was due to our budgetary issues and also due to the fact that we couldn’t shoot for long hours in the school location.
Film Courage: How many people did you share the script with during the writing process?
Jonas: Not many people. I received many good ideas from my wife (then girlfriend) Lidia, and besides her I shared it with some of the film’s producers who gave me some not so great ideas. In the end the script changed a bit, in pacing, number of characters. I think it worked out for the best in the end.
Film Courage: How long have you been planning the film? What went into the pre-planning?
Jonas: Not long. When I first saw the school building where we shot Classroom 6 I knew immediately I wanted to shoot something there, I just didn’t know what. Once the idea came to my head, the whole pre-planning process took roughly 3 months. I wrote the script on September 2012, we ran casting sections and selected the actors after that. At the same time I was doing the re-write and adjusting it to fit our film’s budget which I was provided and securing location and crew members. By December 2012, I was shooting the film.
Film Courage: How long did it take to finish it?
Jonas: The film itself took only 3 and a half days to shoot. It was really hectic but we made it (!!!) The worst part for me was post production. I had a bit of a fallout with some of the film’s producers, who later removed their names from the film. There were edits, re-edits, re-re-re edits and so on. This all took one extra full year of work until we had one version everyone was happy with. Classroom 6 was officially finalized by early 2014.
Film Courage: How did you calculate what the budget was going to be? On IMDB is states $5,000. How did you keep costs so low and still have a fantastic film?
Jonas: The budget was originally going to be much more. But in the end, it all came down to the fact that I really wanted to do a film and it’s hard to have people investing on you when you have no other work to show. I had some good short films which won awards but that wasn’t enough to bring a decent sponsor in. Nobody believed in me. Eventually I said I’d do a full feature film for no more than $5,000 and I did it. I got a bargain on the (sole) location of the film, managed to find six very talented actors in the auditions and got a few crew members that I had worked with in the past to work for symbolic pay and finish the film.
Film Courage: Is CLASSROOM 6 the first feature that you’ve made?
Jonas: Yes it’s the first. I had done short films in Thailand and US as well, but Classroom 6 was the first full feature I did.
Film Courage: How did you offer the lead actress Valentina Kolaric the role?
Jonas: Valentina went through an audition process like all other actors of the film. For her particular role, it was vital that she was a good screamer. After hearing her scream over and over again, I knew she was the right girl and offered her the role. No one could scream as well as she did 🙂
Film Courage: Where did you shoot the film/secure the locations?
Jonas: The film was shot in Glendale, CA. I used to take a class at the location and it made things easier when asking to film a project there. 95% of the film was shot at the school location and the rest in a friend’s house.
.Film Courage: What camera(s) did you use? How did you know you had the right camera to film this story?
Jonas: We used 4 different cameras; a Nikon D800, a Canon 5D and Canon 7D and the main action of the film was shot with an old Panasonic HVX-200. I honestly did not know if I had the right camera, but I know I had the right DP; Derrick Sims. Derrick could shoot with an iPhone and make the film look as if it was shot with a Red Epic. He had shot one of my short films before and I knew he was the right guy for the job. I could have given him an Apple and he would shoot a movie with it. That’s how good he is. He’s so good I had to tell him to “take it easy” and make the footage a bit “shitty” because it was a found footage and all.
Film Courage: Where is CLASSROOM 6 currently available to watch?
Film Courage: Did you submit CLASSROOM 6 to film festivals? Do you believe in festivals?
Jonas: I did and it even won an award at the Fear Fete 2014 in Mississippi. I do believe in festivals, although I never believed Classroom 6 was a “festival movie.” It’s more entertainment than an artsy film, as are most found footage films. You’re not going to see any of them being praised in Cannes, and I didn’t really want to put it in a small, good-for-nothing festival either. I put Classroom 6 in a few genre festivals in Austria, US and Brazil, where it was shown. The thing with festivals is that there are way too many of them these days. In USA there’s a new festival being created every day almost, and I didn’t want Classroom 6 being featured in the “around-the-corner film festival.” It’s hard to find the right one for your film, and if you put in the wrong one, you’re wasting your film’s premiere status. Many distributors don’t like that. They are expensive, too. The bad film festival costs as much, if not more, than putting your film into Sundance or other well known festivals.
Film Courage: Have you encountered a paranormal experience?
Jonas: I have experienced very bad dreams followed by a brief paralysis when I’ve awoken. That’s all I’ve experienced.
Film Courage: What’s the best and worst job you’ve ever held?
Jonas: My best job was at Universal Studios, working for a company called Captivate Entertainment (Makers of the Bourne Identity franchise). It was a dream come true working inside one of the biggest studios of the world and I was exchanging ideas with some of the industry’s top creative minds. I also managed to see many top notch productions like Fast and Furious 7 being made. The worse job was in one of the many hotels I worked for throughout my life. Hotels demand too much of you and give very little in return.
Film Courage: Biggest supporter in your life and why?
Jonas: My wife Lidia always supports me in everything I do since the day I met her.
Film Courage: Favorite line from a movie that sums up your life or outlook?
Jonas: “Life finds a way” Jeff Goldblum (Ian Malcom) says on Jurassic Park. It’s my answer to all unanswerable problems.
Film Courage: Brazilian film endings versus US endings? Any difference in storytelling, style or results?
Jonas: I think in general Brazilian films are more realistic than US-made films. I like Hollywood films a lot, but they can be very fantasy driven and exaggerated sometimes. Brazilian films on the other hand, lack the fantasy and entertainment of some American films and tend to be more of a portrait of Brazilian society. I like both equally. Depends a lot on the film.
Film Courage: What is your most valuable asset?
Jonas: My cast and crew are always my most valuable assets.
Film Courage: If you had a million dollars, (aside from making a movie) what would you do with it?
Jonas: I’d start a film company and make more movies 😛
Film Courage: Where do you find serenity?
Jonas: I always find serenity through cinema, watching a good movie. I like going on my own sometimes. But if the movie is bad then it’s a waste of time and serenity is the last thing I find there 😛
Film Courage: What’s next for you creatively?
Jonas: I am finishing up a documentary I did in Brazil and I am also working on my next horror/thriller film, which I hope to start shooting sometime next year. I am currently looking for a producing team for said project. There are many ideas already on paper/script format after that.
ABOUT THE FILM:
CLASSROOM 6 is an upcoming Documentary Film which will follow a TV crew spending the night locked inside a school building rumored to be haunted by an unknown presence.
CONNECT WITH CLASSROOM 6: