"I want to make people feel they are part of the story"
Konstantinos Pateronis grew up in Elefsina, Greece. Since he was 6 years old, he has been fascinated by cinema and the different worlds and stories one can create through movies.
His latest film, All or Nothing, won three awards at LAFA: Best Film Noir, and two honorable mentions: Student Film and Actor (Aaron Konicek).
In the following interview, Pateronis takes us back to his childhood in Greece, where he made his first steps as a story teller, shares his vision and thoughts about realistic films, and has some great advice to aspiring filmmakers ("Chase your dreams to the end of the world!").
Meet a super passionate artist who has never thought about being something other than a filmmaker.
You grew up in Elefsina, Greece, and from a very young age, you were fascinated with storytelling. Can you share a bit about your journey and how it led you to Hollywood - how did you become a filmmaker?
It all started when I was eight years old. It was summer and my father took me to the movies for the first time. We watched “The Patriot” starring Mel Gibson and I got fascinated by the fact that I was watching a film, which showed something that happened a few centuries ago. I felt like I was traveling back in time and I wanted to do it again, so I went to the cinema five more times to watch the same film! After that, I knew that I wanted to be a filmmaker! I started asking my father, where I could study filmmaking in Greece and he was not sure, so he told me that “Hollywood” was the place, but it was in the United States. It was then that I set a goal to study filmmaking in Hollywood and I would do anything to achieve that!
Who are some filmmakers you look up to, and what is it about their work that you find inspiring?
My two most favorite filmmakers are the Greek Theo Agelopoulos and the American Oliver Stone. The former’s films were artistic and the greatest example of Greek cinema. He was using long shots, shooting mostly wide shots and close-up and thus one can both see the “world” he was creating in every detail and also can relate and come closer to the characters. He would mostly direct films about the human relations, our society and Greece, which is why I fell in love with his films. As far as Oliver Stone is concerned, I watched his film “The Doors”, when I was eleven years old as I was –and still am- obsessed with the Doors. After watching that film, I felt that I had met the band personally and I was a part of their life. Under no occasion I felt that I was just watching a movie! Then, I watched “Alexander the Great” and was so happy that an American made a movie about Greece and one of the most important Hellenes to have ever lived. Since then, I have been watching his films religiously! Those two have been a great inspiration to me as I want to make films that are masterpieces like they did!
When did you move to the Los Angeles? How do you like it?
I moved to Los Angeles in the summer of 2012 right after I graduated from high school. I must say that I fell in love with this city and due to the fact that the weather is similar to the Greek weather, I felt like I never left home!
You earned your BA in filmmaking at NYFA. What was the best takeaway from the school? Do you feel the training you received prepared you well for the industry?
The best takeaway from the New York Film Academy was the knowledge I received on the craft of filmmaking and also the blessing to have been taught by amazing filmmakers, such as Mr. Bruce Macwilliams and Mr. Nick Ozeki. Their teachings and support, prepared me well for the industry and also became a trigger for me to succeed and do what I have been longing since I was eight years old!
Your newest film, All or Nothing, just won three awards the Los Angeles Film Awards- Congratulations! How and when did you come up with the story? Where did the inspiration come from? Are the characters of Jim, Nikos, Steve, John and Mark based on real people? Is this based on personal experiences?
I had been writing “All or Nothing” since I was still in High School as I was inspired by my close friends and the things he had seen and experienced. Thus, the characters are based on them and myself. Of course, we never got in gunfights, but we saw them around us in our small hometown!
Why did you feel this was an important story to tell?
Through this story, I stress the importance of having real friends, who will always be by one’s side no matter what. My best friends and I are like this and I can say that they are more like my brothers than my friends!
What was your writing process like? Did you write many drafts? Did you receive feedback from anyone?
The writing process was fun overall, but stressful as well, for I really wanted to make no mistakes. It took me twenty long drafts, but I really showed only five to my teachers and peers, who were giving me feedback.
What did you want the audience to take away from All of Nothing? And what were some of the reactions you received so far?
“All or Nothing” is an ode to real, pure friendship! From the very first moments one realizes that. In other words, I want the audience to perceive and understand Euripides’ quote: “Friends show their love in times of trouble, not happiness”! My friends know that, just like Achilles and Patroklos!
Is this your first collaboration with producer Alexandros Lampsos? How and when did you meet and start working together?
This was my first collaboration with the producer, Alexandros. We met through common friends and started working on the film about six months before production. It was a great and important lesson to me on how to collaborate with producers as I had been producing my own films until then.
How did you recruit your creative team, such as DP, Editor, Sound Designers?
The producer suggested most of the crew, as he had worked with them before and this was proven to be such a smart move. They all worked hard and I am really thankful I had them on board as they helped me make my vision come to life!
What were some of the ways you communicated your vision regarding the look of the film to the Production Designer (Yana Rusanova) and Makeup Artist (Sara Urdell)? Both did a wonderful job!
All I said to the Production Designer and the Makeup Artist was that I wanted this film to be in the raw form of realism! Then, they did their magic and ultimately an amazing job!
What were some of the highlights of making All of Nothing?
The most important highlights of making this film were the collaboration with the stunt coordinator, Adam Gomez, who is a US Army Veteran. I asked him for the fights to look realistic, just like in real life, and through his own experience, he choreographed them. In addition, the final day of production, we were shooting in Lancaster, where the winds were pretty strong. This not only slowed us down but also gave us some great moments of laughter, as the winds took all the papers of the Assistant Director and she had to chase them around and also they were that strong that throw down the director’s chair with me on top!
Looking back on your production process, is there anything you'd do in a very different way next time?
Honestly, next time I will not let myself keep rewriting the script up to the week of production. Although I was changing small details, it made it hard for the producer to keep track on what we were going to shoot. All artists are known for not ever being satisfied with their work, though…
Tell us something most people don't know about your work.
I try to create realistic films that will make people feel that they are part of the story rather than just the audience.
If you weren't a filmmaker, you'd probably be a....?
This is such a hard question! I have never thought of being something else than a filmmaker. Maybe, I would be a poet, but who knows?
Last year, you completed two more short films: The Last Funeral, and Fatal Perfection. What's on the menu next? Are you planning to direct a feature?
My next film will be about the life of my grandfather, who I lost two weeks ago at the age of 98! He took part in the Second World War and the Greek Civil War. When I asked him, what he did during the civil war he said: “I was shooting in the air and on the trees and I was praying that no bullet would get me! I could never hurt my Greek brothers!”. To me, he was a real Greek and I believe everyone must learn his story… This film will be an Epos to my grandfather!
Is there anything you wish to add?
I would like to give a word of advice to the younger ones that have dreams similar to mine or even different ones: Chase your dreams to the end of the world; until the sun blacks out and you will succeed and even if you come across obstacles and hardships, learn how to overcome those and never ever give up!!!