Director Daniel Sorochki’s latest film ‘Check Please’ has been collecting accolades for Best Film, as well as awards for Sorochkin’s Direction and Screen Writing. Having garnered awards during the films festival run, it has now been selected to play on Short of the Week. Check Please stars Matthew Porter (30 Rock), alongside Bryan Manley Davis, Jacob Trussell, Amelia Brain and Emily Dennis.
How did you come up with the story line for “Check Please?”
The idea of Check Please came to me as I was trying to think of a short that is contained to one location. When brainstorming for a location, a restaurant came to mind. I then asked myself what is the most dramatic or exciting thing that can happen in a restaurant. The best idea I thought of was a marriage proposal. And since storytelling involves conflict, I thought it would be fun and funny if an engagement ring ends up at the wrong table. I decided to build the story and characters around that concept.
What got you into short films?
I started making short comedic film in my military unit in the Israeli Defense Forces. It made me fall in love with the whole process of filmmaking. My films were screened at my unit’s conventions, in a theater for the hundreds of soldiers in my unit. It was really satisfying to hear all the laughter during the screenings and the positive reactions of soldiers after. The soldiers used to love my films because they brought comic relief from our everyday work.
What other projects do you have lined up in the future?
I’ve directed a half hour comedic TV pilot called Shady Pines. It’s about a crazy nursing home.
I’m planning to submit the pilot to festivals and try to find distribution for it. The writer/creator of the pilot and I collaborated on writing the outlines of all the rest of the episodes of season one.
I directed a short mystery-drama called Lola and Dallas. I’ve started sending it to festivals. It’s about an unusual pair on the run that are forced to find solace through each other when home is not an option. I’ve also started sending it to festivals.
I also wrote a short script called A Grain of Sand that I’m super excited about. The short will serve as a proof of concept for a feature script I’m developing.
You’ve done several short films already, would you ever move on to features?
Absolutely. That’s my goal. I’ve already written two features and I’m planning to push them forward and try to make them in the future. I’m also open to collaborating with writers, and directing scripts that I haven’t written. I’ve already directed a short and a TV pilot that I haven’t written. I love the collaboration with writers, as it brings the story and themes to great new levels.
How did you come to work with Amilia Brain, Bryan Manley, Emily Dennis and Matthew Porter? And what as a director attracted you to choose them for your film?
I casted everybody through regular casting sessions I directed. When I saw Bryan Manley Davis and Amelia Brain in the callbacks, playing the lead couple together I knew I had to cast them. Clicking immediately, they made me feel like they were a couple for real and for a long time. As for the bratty Hannah character, I had no doubts. Emily Dennis cracked me up in the audition. She was an easy pick. For the antagonist Mike, I casted a great actor, but unfortunately, for personal reasons, he had to drop out. I quickly started looking for a new Mike, watching dozens of reels online, until I saw Jacob Trussell’s reel. He came to audition and was clearly perfect for the part. I was really lucky I ended up having him as my Mike.
As for the waiter character, Stephan, my course of action was clear. I initially invited Matthew Porter to audition for the lead character, Ben, because I wanted to see a range of options for Ben’s character. As soon as Matthew opened his month I knew he was brilliant, but not the right casting for Ben. I decided that I’m going to skip any Stephan character auditions and offer it straight to Matthew.
What would your reaction be if you ended up in Ben’s situation?
That’s a funny question. I feel like I would have much faster got my ring back from Mike, any way possible. Probably not caring so much if I ruined the engagement surprise for my girlfriend. Then I would explain to my girlfriend what happened. I’m not married, but hopefully if that situation were to ever happen to me, my girlfriend would have found the whole situation ridiculous and funny, and would have forgiven me for ruining the surprise.
You’ve been selected for the “ Short of the Week” program. How do you feel about that?
I was very excited when I heard about my selection for Short of the Week for two major reasons. Firstly, I follow Short of the Week’s films and they screen only amazing films. This was another confirmation that my film was in that kind of caliber. Secondly, Short of the Week’s platform gets its films a large audience, which is the reason most filmmakers make films, and definitely why I make them.
Thinking back on the success “Check Please” has had, what do you think it was that has made the short such a success?
I’m sure different people like the film for different reasons. I personally think that a key part to its success was how much the film is universally relatable and funny. Also, the story tackles a topic that is very common in the world – the feelings, stress and excitement that a marriage proposal brings. Those, combined with the theme of one’s need to stand up for himself, make most people able to understand and feel connected to the protagonist and his girlfriend’s struggles.
You’ve been in selected for quite a few film festivals, do you have any advise for starting filmmakers?
Film festivals are very tricky. I still haven’t figured out myself what is the best approach to them. All I can say is what everyone else is already saying: make a good film.
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