"My films can jump from drama to action and then to tragedy unexpectedly. Just like life"
Konstantinos Pateronis grew up in Elefsina, Greece. Since the young age of six years old, he has been fascinated by cinema and the different worlds and stories one can create through movies. His main influences are Theo Angelopoulos, Lars Von Trier, Oliver Stone and Francis Ford Coppola. He has attended the New York Film Academy in Los Angeles, where he earned his BFA in Filmmaking in 2017. Konstantinos has directed many short films both in Greek and English, including "All or Nothing" (2017), "The Last Funeral" (2017) and "Fatal Perfection", which recently won an Honorable Mention: Screenplay Short at LAFA.
Based on the Myth of Narcissus, Fatal Perfection is a story about Ancient Greece that couldn't be more relevant to our society nowadays. During the American Revolution and while the people fight for their freedom, Narcissus pays attention only to his beauty, without knowing that it can be fatal.
Konstantinos, it's a pleasure to have you with us. Congratulations on winning an Honorable Mention: Screenplay Short. For readers who aren't familiar with your work, can you please talk a bit about your background and what inspired you to get into filmmaking?
I am Greek and grew up in Elefsina. At the age of 8 years old, I went to the cinema for the first time, with my parents, to watch “The Patriot” starring Mel Gibson. I was so astonished by this great film that asked my father to take me to the cinema to watch it again and again! It was then that I decided to become a filmmaker! After my high school graduation, I came to the US to study filmmaking in California; the “Promised Land” for every filmmaker around the world!
What were some of your first steps in the LA industry, after completing your studies?
After graduating from the New York Film Academy in Los Angeles with a BFA on Filmmaking and after having shot my action short film “All or Nothing” among others, I made the decision to start writing multiple scripts based on the mythology, history and culture of Greece that I love dearly!
Let's discuss your latest award-winning screenplay, Fatal Perfection. You come from a Greek heritage, and the story is brilliantly written piece about a fascinating character in the Greek Mythology - Narcissus. What drew you to tell this story in particular?
To be frank, I wanted to write a script about Ancient Greece, but desired to connect it to nowadays and our society. It is known that every Greek myth has a teaching and a meaning. Narcissus was a man so obsessed with his own self and beauty that ignored the world around him. We can definitely –and unfortunately- see many people nowadays with Narcissistic tendencies and behavior and in my opinion, this results from the wide-spread trend of publishing pictures about our private moments and ourselves on social media, just to get the approval of others.
What research did you do before approaching the screenplay?
As I decided to take a more “modern” approach to the story and make it take place during the American Revolution, I had to research and learn all about it and the events that took place during that period, so that I will be as accurate as possible. In other words, libraries and US history classes became my second home for a while!
The protagonist of the story, Narcissus, is in love with himself. He quickly discovers that this has destructive, even tragic, consequences (without revealing too much about the end of the story). Although this is a mythological story, it is very relevant today with Selfi-culture and self-aggrandizement in social networks. Do you convey a message to the younger generation?
Definitely! There are more important things in this world than our beauty! Beauty is something that does not last forever!
There are many amusing moments in the story, which ridicule the characters of Narcissus and his father Cephissus. On the other hand, there is drama and action at the end. How do you walk on the thin line between different genres, without confusing the viewer?
All families share moments of laughter, drama, pain and happiness. Narcissus’ family is no exception to this and thus, there are moments of tension and sadness. Of course, there are also moments that make our protagonist look ridiculous, as he is greatly obsessed with his own image, making us question his sanity. Life is not linear and we can jump from happiness to sadness in no time and as this film is about life and the human weaknesses, its story has ups and downs. It can go from drama to action and then to tragedy unexpectedly! There just has to be a good reason to “change” the genre in order for the audience not to get confused!
The structure of your story is outstanding, as well as short and precise dialogues. How do you give a unique voice to each character? Are you using existing characters in your reality / past, or is everything based solely on the story in mythology?
Narcissus is an arrogant man that cares about his own beauty and hence, such a man cannot have a sweet behavior. Echo, according to the Ancient Greek myth was a girl that was in love with Narcissus and when he rejected her, she fell into deep depression, thus I tried to make her as sweet as possible for us to sympathize with her and understand her pain. In addition, as in the myth the father of Narcissus was the river Cephissus –which had a strong stream and would usually overflow destroying everything in its way- I longed to create this character as a strong and fierce man, who is short-tempered due to his son’s unacceptable behavior. Of course, there are characters I added in order to justify the time and place of the story (US,18th century) and for those I was inspired by people I have met in my life.
As mentioned, Fatal Perfection features some uniquely colorful characters: Cephissus, Liriope, Echo...Who is your favorite character in the screenplay, and why?
I have to say that the Grandfather is my favorite character, for he has a kind heart and although he knows his grandson’s behavior is unacceptable and insulting, he still tries to protect him out of love for him. I believe every grandfather has this unconditional love for his grandchildren!
Kseniya Yorsh is already attached as a producer. What's the next step? Are you getting into production soon? Do you already have any cast members in mind?
We got into production on October 20th and the actors casted are really talented and perfect for each role in “Fatal Perfection”. Michael Nelson and Sof Puchley, who played Narcissus and Echo respectively, did an amazing job along with the rest of the cast, who are Andrea Vakana, Anna Danes, Madison Spear, Nathan Bock, Steve Filice and Robert Donavan!
Walk us through a typical day in your life. What does your schedule look like?
My day is full and creative! As I am in pre-production of my next short film, which will be a proof of concept for my first feature, I have daily meetings with my colleagues and I am scouting for wardrobe and locations. Moreover, I write the script for the feature and am also looking for a production company that would be interested in collaborating on my new film.
What is the biggest challenge you're dealing with at the moment?
The biggest challenge I am dealing with at the time is to have in my hands a difficult and complicated script and direct it to a masterpiece.
What are your main career goals and what do you do in order to advance your career?
Two of my main career goals, among others, are to write and direct action films and also to be part of a production company that makes big productions.
Your previous project was Film Noir (All or Nothing- for which you won Best Film Noir at the Los Angeles Film Awards), and according to the new script you seem to have decided to explore new directions, places you have not yet reached. What style / genre would you most like to write?
I mainly write action films, but this time I would also like to explore the genre of tragedy through “Fatal Perfection”.
If you had an unlimited production budget, what would you do with it? In other words, what would be your dream project?
This is a difficult and enigmatic question, but I believe that I would make my greatest dream come true to direct a great action film!
Would you like to add anything or thank someone?
I would like to thank the Los Angeles Film Awards for the Honorable Mention that “Fatal Perfection” received and all my colleagues that helped me make this vision come to life!