Spotlight: An interview with Konstantinos Pateronis ("Fatal Perfection")
Konstantinos, it's a pleasure to learn more about your creative journey! As a past winner at LAFA, we're excited to see your excellent development as a storyteller and a filmmaker. In one of our chats a couple of years back, we were talking about your screenplay for Fatal Perfection, and it's wonderful to see it coming to life! Before we begin, could you please introduce briefly yourself? Where are you from, and what were some of your first steps into the world of storytelling?
I am from Elefsina, Greece and started my first steps in my filmmaking career in 2011, when I wrote and directed my first two short films ”20th Century Fox” and ”Too Broke to Live”, while still in High School. In 2012, I moved to Los Angeles to attend film school, where I ended up shooting the short films ”The Last Funeral”, ”Poetic Blues” and ”Favela”. After my graduation in 2018, I wrote and directed my award-winning short film ”All or Nothing”.
Let's talk about Fatal Perfection, your latest cinematic work. How did you come up with the idea to tell this story? What was the inspiration? The logline obviously hints the tale of Narcissus…
”Fatal Perfection” is based on the ancient Greek myth of Narcissus, the man that fell in love with himself. I first came up with this idea in 2017, while reading a book about the ancient Greek myths with my good friend and my associate producer Amber-India Bourdon. While reading about Narcissus, I got a notification on my phone that someone had uploaded about five selfies with hundreds of ”likes” in the first few moments! A couple of minutes later, this happened again with one of Amber’s friends. I realized at that moment that many have narcissistic tendencies due to the excessive use of their social media and felt the urge to make a film that will convey a strong message about it. People nowadays, find bigger importance to their virtual self rather than the real world around them!
Why did you choose to place the story in the United States, during the American Revolution in particular?
Narcissus’ story can be found in every era, age and country of the world as unfortunately, there are many that believe their image is the most important thing. Hence, Narcissus in ”Fatal Perfection” cares more about himself than the significant events that take place around him, like his compatriots fighting for freedom and independence!
What are the challenges in re-creating the world of the American Revolution?
Specifically, in terms of set decor, custom designs and more? How did you prepare for this shoot?
As I wanted to stay true to the pronunciation and language of use in the 1700s, as well as the wardrobe, I brought a linguist and a dialog coach on board, who did an excellent job. In addition, I spent endless hours consulting with my costume designer, Gratannia Pandjaitan, researching and creating look books for the costumes based on the fashion of the 1700s and the social status of each character in the story. This was, of course, a great challenge, but as I had a strong, professional and hard-working team behind me, we overcame any obstacles and our mutual determination made us collaborate perfectly to bring Narcissus’ story to life!
Can you tell us a bit about your casting process? As a director, how do you know when you've found the right person for the part?
Most of the times, I request for self-tapes from actors and then call those I am interested in for an audition. In ”Fatal Perfection” I took a different approach as the characters of Narcissus and Echo had to be extremely good-looking according to the ancient myth. Thus, I narrowed down my selection of the actors based on the looks in addition to their talent. Moreover, as the characters of Narcissus and his sister, Aphrodite, had to be twins, I had to also take this factor into account while casting the actors. As a result, extremely talented actors like Michael Nelson (Narcissus), Sof Puchley (Echo), Madison Spear (Aphrodite), Steve Filice (Cephissus), Anna Danes (Liriope), Nathan Bock (Captain Jackson), Andrea Vakana (Nemesis) and Robert Donavan (Grandfather) came on board and gave excellent performances.
How did you work with the actors to refine their performances?
Each character has specific traits that not only justify their behavior, but also their wardrobe choices. With that in mind, I broke down the script based on actionreaction and strengths-weaknesses and rehearsed with the actors and the dialect coach. On set, I gave plenty of freedom to the actors to improvise and directed them based on this or I triggered certain emotions by asking them to react as if they were in different situations. This allowed their creativity to flow freely and they all delivered great performances.
What is your favorite thing about being on set?
The whole creative process! I love the fact that different artists come together in a crew to collaborate and create. All working as one! It would be foolish to deny that filmmaking is a collaborative process! In addition, I not only love directing different actors on set, as it is obvious, but also all the problem-solving that comes with the making of a film.
Can you talk a little bit about your approach to the music in the film and what was this process like?
I can say that this was one of the most fun parts of making ”Fatal Perfection”! On this film, I collaborated again with composer George Karpasitis after ”All or Nothing”, who is really talented and experienced in scoring music for films. We had sessions in his studio for a couple of months and experimented both with ancient Greek and classical instruments in order to ”marry” the Greek elements with the American ones, resulting in the final score of ”Fatal Perfection”.
What message were you hoping to convey with Fatal Perfection, and how was it received by audiences so far?
As we saw in the story of ”Fatal Perfection” there are more important things than one’s image and also, as we see in Narcissus’ ancient myth, sometimes beauty can be a curse rather than a blessing. After the film’s premiere, the audiences have reacted positively and perceived the message conveyed in it as crucial and essential. I remember someone approaching me in the theater referring to ”Fatal Perfection” as a wake-up call and surprisingly, deleting their instagram account right after.
You're a relatively young writer and director, yet you have quite a lot of accolades under your belt already which is very impressive! What are you most proud of? What are some memorable moments in your career so far?
Every day on a film set is memorable, as I am living my childhood dream of being a film director! I would say I am equally proud of all my accomplishments and even the failures, as they drive me to improve, overcome and succeed. Of course, I get great joy from seeing my films win awards as it is a recognition of all the hard work I have put in every single one of them.
Do you have any advice for up-and-coming filmmakers who wish to follow your footsteps? Can you take us through a typical day in your routine, what do you recommend to do and not to do, and how do you balance between your career and personal life?
Never stop working hard for your dreams and you will definitely succeed! In order to do that, though, one must take a really good care of himself! My typical day starts with working-out and reading at least two chapters of a book, for I strongly agree with my ancestors in the notion of ”healthy mind in a healthy body”! This gives me the ”fuel” I need to keep going with my day writing scripts, scouting for possible future shooting locations and watching films to improve my directorial skills. Sometimes this routine can be challenging when it comes to having a personal life, but the balance comes with setting your priorities as ”work hard, but also live”!
If you could choose a super-power (a filmmaking superpower), what would it be?
I think, I would choose the ability to convince an assistant director to give you additional time for experimentation with more shots, when we are running short. This is usually impossible, but I believe every director longs for this ”superpower”!
What's next for you, can you talk a little bit about your upcoming projects?
After the completion of the script for my next short film ”Salvation”, I am currently finishing my first feature titled ”Grandfather” and am also writing a trilogy based on ancient Sparta and its warrior-citizens.
Is there anyone you wish to thank, or anything you'd like to add?
I would like to thank all those who supported our fundraising campaign for ”Fatal Perfection” and also my assistant director Savvas Christou, who not only put a great amount of hard work, but also was my biggest support throughout the preproduction and production along with my associate producers Ambre-India Bourdon and Alexandru Andrei Stejar.
Where can our readers follow more of your work?
One can visit my personal website at www.konstantinospateronisfilms.com.