Featured Filmmaker: Deborah Reinisch, Director of Short Film “Sure Thing”

“Short films are not inferior, just different. I think the short gives a freedom to filmmakers. What’s appealing is that you don’t have as much responsibility for storytelling and plot. They can be more like a portrait, or a poem.” – Jane Campion

Deborah Reinisch

Debbie directing actors on set

Throughout the festival, we have three different short film showcases, as well as several short films being shown before the full length features at each venue.  Deborah Reinisch – a film professor at NYU’s Tisch School of the Arts is one of the short filmmakers visiting Maui to presenter her short, SURE THING, a screen adaptation of Broadway wizard David Ives’ play. It screens today, at 3pm as a part of Short Film Showcase 2 at Maui Arts & Cultural Center.

With fascinating multiple takes, a la Groundhog Day, SURE THING dramatizes a chance meeting in a Brooklyn bistro.  A guy wants to sit in the one available chair, which is across the table from an attractive woman.  The repetition of coupling options is hilarious and wicked.

The film most recently screened at the Cannes Film Festival, and we were lucky to catch up with Debbie to find out more about the film, and what inspired her to take the story from stage to screen. 

Q: How did your film come to be?

A: I had been teaching directing and production at NYU Undergrad Film and wanted to get back to my own work, I had seen David Ives evening of short films ALL IN THE TIMING years ago and had never forgotten the opening play SURE THING. The writing was delicious and the play was a perfect scale for a short, self-financed film. David however, had a policy of never letting his plays be adapted for the screen! Nonetheless, I wrote to him and told him exactly why I was the one and only director for SURE THING. We met and he agreed. Turns out the only other director he’s let adapt his material is Roman Polanski. Polanski’s screen adaptation of David’s Broadway hit VENUS IN FUR comes out in July. I feel very grateful to share this distinction with Romand Polanski!

My company DBR Films Ltd produced SURE THING. We shot at the very end of July 2013 and completed the film by the end of the year. By the way, I hired 6 former students for the shoot–my professional crew had no idea these co-workers were recent graduates. Great fun!

Q: What was the most challenging thing about making this film?

A: The most challenging thing about making SURE THING was casting. The whole film is carried by two actors who must master David Ives brilliant language, keep the countless do-overs fresh and funny and bring a real humanity to what could be simply a funny gimmick in lesser hands. How lucky we were to find Luke Kirby and Gia Crovatin. I wanted Jimmy Stewart and Carole Lombard–and I got them both and more!

Q: What type of experience do you hope the film will bring to viewers?

A: I hope the audience has a joyous experience–I hope they laugh! But more than that, I hope they recognize themselves in this classic situation of meeting someone for the first time. Having gotten married for the first time later in life, I find this delicious story also very moving.

Q: What do you think our Maui audiences will appreciate about your film?

A: I hope the Maui audience finds in SURE THING a universal story told in an exciting new way.

Q: What is your connection to Maui? 

A: The funny thing is I came to Maui–to Hawaii– for the first time this past Christmas and fell in love with it! Maui had always been my husband’s favorite place on earth and he was eager to show me. So he was thrilled that I fell in love with Maui. Then, when my dear friend Saundra Saperstein (who had done publicity for the Festival for many years) saw my film and told me about the festival–and thought it might be a good fit–I was thrilled to apply. Needless to say, my husband and I are now thrilled to attend!


The Featured Filmmaker series is coordinated and written by the Maui Film Festival’s Filmmaker Liaison and Social Media Director Sara TekulaClick here to see all of the Featured FIlmmaker posts and be sure follow us on Facebook and Twitter to get live updates from the festival.