UBC student, Lucas Hrubizna, takes the stage at this year’s Vancouver International Film Festival by showcasing an original piece known as Hard Card. This is his first proper narrative short film and it has already been showcased in major film venues such as the Montreal Film Festival.
Christine Kim got to catch up with this exceptional film student and ask a couple of questions about his masterpiece, Hard Card, and life as a film-maker.
Christine: So, the film revolves around a senior who rigs a bingo game in order to fund a very needed medical operation. Can you tell our readers a little bit more about what they should expect from the film?
Lucas: Expect 15 minutes of discomfort.
C: What inspired you to create a film about such a specific event as that of a senior rigging a bingo game?
L: I can’t say there was a specific person or event that gave me the idea, but I grew up in Alberta and spent time in small towns where I always had the surreal feeling that something dark or bizarre was happening behind the facade of normalcy. I wanted to unpack that sensation and figure out how to translate it to screen. I think the interplay between the really low-stakes nature of bingo and the high-stakes nature of imminent death was a way for me to explore this gulf between the mundane and the absurd.
C: What themes and motifs are most evident throughout the film?
L: The film isn’t really grounded thematically so much as it is situational. Desperation, death, contradiction, the interior vs the exterior – these are all themes that are present, but that were never intentionally driving the narrative. If anything, bingo functions as a motif to talk about the chaotic nature of success and failure. One can only have so much control over their eventuality.
C: Tell us more about the background story of making the trailer for Hard Card.
L: Hard Card is so much about atmosphere and tension that it is difficult to fully explain in words, so we made a trailer that would say it for us. I didn’t want to use any images that spelled things out narratively, just flashes of scenes that would give a sense of the created world and the tone of the film. The voice-over is supposed to come with some ambiguity as well, but acts to tie all of the discordant images together with a single thrust.
C: What was your favourite part of directing Hard Card?
L: Seeing a physical manifestation of my ideas in front of me was one of the most exciting things I have ever experienced. Not a lot tops that feeling. When we had finished scenes and they had gone as I had imagined, or I realized that what I was seeing was better than I had anticipated, there was an energy that I can’t fully explain.
C: Hard Card, if I am correct, is your directorial debut. How does it feel to have made your debut as a film director and what goals or aspirations, as a film maker, do you feel you have still yet to accomplish?
L: It’s my first proper narrative short film but I have done some documentary work in the past. Having moved a film from conception to final cut is a strange feeling because making bigger films suddenly seems within the realm of possibility. It is also a really humbling and good feeling to know that people are interested in watching something that has fallen out of my brain onto the screen. I guess moving forward the most concrete aspiration I have is to work with longer forms like features.
C: So, everyone’s really wondering it. What’s your favourite film and why?!
L: This is my least favourite question because I start panicking and weighing the merits of my favourite films until I am less certain than I was before the question was asked. But one film I find captivating every time I watch it is the documentary American Movie (1999). It is incredibly funny, full of characters you couldn’t write, and really captures both the excitement and torment of trying to make a film at the ground level.
A short interview Lucas did during the Montreal Film Festival – https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=XhF4NyssJ5M