Young Filmmaker Interview: Kris and Kurtis Theorin

DadminFilm World, Young Filmmakers

Carol Nguyen cover photo

Name: Kurtis Theorin
Age: 22
Hometown: Landenberg, Pennsylvania
Company Name: Something’s Awry Productions
Random Facts About Me: Two of my toes are webbed together on each foot. No, they do not help me swim better.
One sentence about why I make films: I like to tell stories and this is the best way I have found to express myself.

Name: Kris Theorin
Age: 18
Hometown: Landenberg, Pennsylvania
Company name: Something’s Awry Productions
Random facts about me: I have a twin brother named Nik. Technically, I am older… by six minutes.
One sentence about why I make films: From storyboarding to editing to VFX, I enjoy each and every part of creating a film.

Links to the Theorin Brothers’ Work at Something’s Awry Productions
Short Films:
Gumball
Alien Communications
Retreat
The Call of Farqunglu

Commercial Work:
A Jarring Encounter (Promotion for Legos’ line of Jurassic World toys)
Kitchen Counter Showdown (Promotion for SMG Studios’ mobile game Thumb Drift)
Loctite 60 Second Glue (Commercial)
Captain Sparklez Turkey Terror (Short for YouTube celebrity Captain Sparklez’s channel to promote Tube Heroes)

1. Can you give us some background on how you first got into filmmaking?

Kurtis: Our filmmaking started out as silly home movies and basically just kept going up from there. I did some little things like messing with LEGO’s (not stop–motion) and doing things like flying my grandma’s dachshund to create “Super Beanie”.

Kris started making stop-motion films with LEGOs and he got pretty good at it. I suggested that it might be a good idea if I were to write a script for one of his animations. The resulting video won a stop-motion contest on YouTube, which we were both excited about.

We started creating more films together and we became decently large in the LEGO stop-motion community. The videos continued to get better and better. Eventually they started getting into some film festivals and we decided to try doing some more live action shorts. That turned out pretty well and we are now in the process of making more live action films. We also are making commercials.

Doing stop motion animation taught me about set design, lighting, staging, and shot composition. With LEGOs, you’re able to create whatever crazy story you can imagine.Kris Theorin

2. I find it very inspiring that the two of you are a brother team. Can you tell us about how that collaborative process works? What are the benefits to working as a team? The struggles?

Kurtis: Sometimes you’re blown away by what the other person has accomplished. Sometimes you want to strangle the other person.

We have very complementary skill sets. I’m good at coming up with creative ideas and writing, and he’s good at technical things. Our mom’s also good at organizing, without which we wouldn’t get anything done. The important thing is to have patience, know your differences, and make sure we each have the same vision for the project. It’s definitely tricky but we wouldn’t be able to accomplish the things we do without each other.

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Photos from the production of the Theorin Brothers’ latest film, Encore

3. Can you tell us about your experience with LEGOs… the animating, the LEGO movie, teaching, etc?

Kris: For me, LEGOs are really what got me into filmmaking. I started out doing little stop motion animations with the LEGOs and basically went from there. Over the last eight years, I’ve made over a hundred LEGO shorts ranging from ten seconds to fifteen minutes and while we’ve all branched out into other forms of filmmaking, it’s still something I actively do. It really is the best way to get a start in filmmaking.

Doing stop motion animation taught me about set design, lighting, staging, and shot composition. With LEGOs, you’re able to create whatever crazy story you can imagine. The pieces to create a sci-fi LEGO epic are just a short drive to a Walmart. Over the years, I’ve also been honored to have worked on several promotional videos for the LEGO group. Making videos for Jurassic World or the LEGO Club are really what I love to do.

4. Although you are young you are already getting work. Can you tell us about your experience with freelancing and how you took your first steps into getting your first film job?

Kurtis: We found a LEGO Superheroes short movie contest on a website called Tongal. It’s a great site where companies can put out a call for filmmakers to make commercials for them. We’ve been doing a lot of work through Tongal and have been able to make a good number of contacts in the advertising industry with those we have done work for.

You won’t get anywhere if you just think about what you want to do. You have to go out there and just do it.
Kurtis Theorin

5. Any projects you are working on now that you can tell us about?

Kurtis: We are about to make a short film meant to look like a YouTube live stream. It is about a YouTube musician and singer duo. One of them is touring the other’s new apartment. As the tour progresses we see that the female singer is still unsure how to handle the musician who is moving away from her.

6. Do you have any stories about unexpected or surprising things that have occurred on a production of yours?

Kurtis: We were once about to shoot a civil war campsite scene in a field when someone decided to have a rock concert on the other side of the river from us. That certainly required some impromptu relocating.

7. What’s one piece of advice you’d give to a young filmmaker who wants to start taking her or his first filmmaking steps?

Kurtis: Grab a camera and film something. It won’t look like a professional movie nor should you plan for it to. Experiment. See what creative things you can make just with the resources available. Seriously, you won’t get anywhere if you just think about what you want to do. You have to go out there and just do it.

Kira Bursky

The Interviewer

About Kira

Kira Bursky, the founder of Big Little Filmmaker, is a nineteen year old filmmaker who has been pursuing her dreams for the past six years. A graduate of the Interlochen Academy of the Arts where she was a student of the school’s filmmaking program, Kira was a 2014 National YoungArts Finalist as well as a Presidential Scholar in the Arts Semi-Finalist and received the top prize for Best Overall Film at the 2014 All American High School Film Festival for We’re Okay.

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