David J. Ferreira is a go-getting film-maker whose drive, determination and passion spurred his faith-based short film, Evade.
Having started as a church community project, the short film snowballed as friends and industry professionals came onboard… turning it into a little big war drama about a generational curse.
Spling was asked to give feedback on the latest cut of Evade and decided to get more detail from Ferreira about what inspired the short and the film’s journey from inception to final cut.
How did you get into film-making?
I was about 9 years old when I told my mother I wanted to be a director or an actor or a baker or an architect. But as I grew up, all of that went out the window, so I think my journey started a bit differently than most.
The spark was ignited about 10 years ago. I had spent the past 7 years writing an historical novel about the life of the biblical King David, and my publisher asked me to make a short video in which I spoke about the book. That’s when the bug bit and I began working more and more in film.
What’s Evade all about?
Evade is set in the early 1980s and is about a pilot on a surveillance mission, who suddenly comes under enemy fire. As the pilot executes evasive maneuvers, he begins to see visions of his life, and the lives of his parents and grandparents.
In a moment of hyper clarity, he realizes that a generational curse has been driving most of the pain and destruction in his life and he has to make a very important decision to save the life of his son.
What inspired ‘Evade’?
Evade was born out of a time in my life where I felt stuck and very unfulfilled, even though I had achieved much success in my career. I cried out to the Lord and journeyed with Him about this, and He simply told me to work with what I have.
I wanted to create films that inspire and motivate change. So I set out to start making a small short-film with a few people from my church. One thing led to another and the film became a very big production with a cast and crew of 50 plus industry professionals.
This is an ambitious “big short” film, was it always going to be on this scale?
Haha… not in the slightest. I set out to make a quick and stirring short film for my church, and the idea was to write and produce it in a couple of weeks with members from the congregation. The Lord had other plans.
The story deals with a fighter jet pilot… Did the looming Top Gun: Maverick sequel have any bearing on the choice? Which other films did you draw inspiration from, in any?
When we started writing the film, there wasn’t that much hype about the new Top Gun movie, but when we were filming, it had made the rounds and the team was very excited about the new film. I am excited and can hardly wait for it to be released. I can’t say that I had a specific film in mind. I do love history and war dramas, and I believe that subconsciously a lot of great filmmakers inspired my work in Evade.
How would you describe your writing process?
For Evade, it was different. My church group met and we created the beats for the film and then I set out to write the script. I wrote the script very quickly, and if it wasn’t for the support of several people, both professional filmmakers, and laypersons, the film would not have been what it is now.
Did you derive the screenplay from personal experiences?
Thank the Lord, no.
As a faith-based film, what do you hope to achieve with Evade?
I hope that the film will ignite a conversation between family and friends, and get them to look at their own lives, and consider if there is anything that they need to repair or change before it might be too late.
You made the short film on a limited budget, any tips for other filmmakers trying to get their work out there?
My biggest advice would be to just do it. Don’t sit on the dream. Go out there, grab your cellphone, get a family member to act and shoot on a cool location and enter it in film festivals – whatever – just begin working on the dream.
Build working relationships, learn from industry leaders, be humble and doggedly, and consistently hone your skills. And most importantly, enjoy making movies.
The VFX are impressive, given the parameters, was it always going to feature so strongly?
Yes. Because I worked full time in VFX on several big-budget American films and series over the years, I always wanted the film to have top-level VFX. It’s a passion of mine, and I was blessed to work with an amazing artist, who helped bear the load of such a massive task.
You worked with some fresh acting talent… what were some of the challenges and triumphs?
I think the biggest lesson for me as a first-time director was how to engage with actors and control their nerves. Some of the inexperienced actors were amazing in their auditions, but when it came to all the lights, camera and crew bearing down on them, they became nervous and started to over-think and analyze the characters, and it shows in the film.
Communication is so key. Also, identifying when an actor is over-stressed and a quick 5 minute break is needed to refocus before you try again. Admittedly, when the dialogue in the script does not work, that also has a big impact on the performances. Skilled actors make it work, but first-time talent might struggle with that. So for me, this was as much a learning curve as some of the fresh actors.
What was the atmosphere like on set?
Emotions ran high, and several people began to cry as they watched the takes. The story has such a powerful and universal message and touches at the core of so many people. But apart from that, it was amazing.
Everyone was so professional, friendly and the cast and crew went above and beyond to get this film made. One person in particular on set, Sven Vosloo, was such a driving force as he brought decades of experience with him and carried a lot of the load.
What are you hoping to do with Evade and where to from here?
I’ve entered Evade into several film festivals, and from there we aim to do a wide release on social media and look at possible broadcasting opportunities. I want the film to go out far and wide and inspire people and ignite conversation.
We are currently developing an app, where we will release high-quality, original Christian content for free. Then there are some new feature films in development that I am very excited about.