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Lucas Tommy Youkhana & Isaac Rathé On Web Thriller ‘Bunny’

Lucas Tommy Youkhana & Isaac Rathé On Web Thriller ‘Bunny’

There are an estimated 500,000 online predators active every single day, so odds are you or someone you know has encountered one. If you haven’t, odds are you’ve probably tried online dating before, and discovered how equally strange and dangerous those encounters can become. In other words, the internet can be a sketchy place, and we’re all very aware of that. This is a notion that Lucas Tommy Youkhana explores heavily in his debut short Bunny, a slow-burn thriller that recently saw a limited digital premiere via the Tommy Gun Pictures YouTube channel and we had the pleasure of sitting down with Lucas and co-producer Isaac Rathé to discuss the film’s production following the premiere.

Evan: “The first thing that caught my attention was the music. The jazz/classical score is really unique and feeds into your interpretation of the material, especially in the first half of the film. How did you decide to go with this style of music; was it planned or something you thought of in post-production?”

Lucas: “It was something I decided to do after shooting; I had a lot of different ideas but it was tough to find music that would fit such a weird narrative, because this was really a film that I experimented with. It’s very outside of my comfort zone on how I like to write and shoot a movie. So with that in mind, I tried to do it in a way where all the tracks fell into the same genre, with the exception of two, because you just *laughs* wouldn’t be listening to classical music at a party.

Evan: “Yeah, that definitely makes sense.” *laughs*

Lucas: “So with the exception of those two I kept it to classical, and I like to kind of think of it as a classical album that you’re experiencing as you watch this film because it’s driven by a singular person’s voice. Also classical music really does play with your head, as you put it, and kind of just make you uneasy or unsure. I tried to play with this effect by sort of distorting it, slowing it down or delaying it a lot which allows it to sort of coincide with Flynn’s psyche as it begins to shift around during the film. It helps that classical music is one of the friendliest genres to this sort of thing, where you can really mess with it and still get a sound coming out the other side that’s…”

Evan: “Coherent?”

Lucas: “Yeah, exactly. I’m just really into classical music as well and enjoy listening to it while I write, so this was a bit of a personal taste thing also.” *laughs*

Nick: “During the first half of the film there’s no dialogue heard outside of Flynn’s inner thoughts and the music, even when we see interactions between himself and other characters it’s always Flynn telling us the story. Was the plan to always have the music paired with Flynn’s inner thoughts driving the film?”

Lucas: “We recorded everything fully knowing it was going to be silent in the final film and narrated by Flynn, so we almost shot it like a silent film where the expressions drive the interactions. It was also super nice knowing any loud sounds happening around us weren’t going to be an issue; we could talk all we wanted and I could give directions without having to mask my voice in any way, so it allowed me to really be there for the actors when they needed me. This choice also gave us a lot of freedom while editing so that music overpowering character dialogue or annoying ambient noise wasn’t ever a problem we had to worry about.”

Evan: “That leads perfectly into my next question, which is when choosing this style of pairing the narration with music overlaying most of the scenes were you inspired by anyone or was this simply a choice you thought would play well with the story you wanted to tell?”

Lucas: “Hmm, that’s a good question.”

Isaac: “From a producer standpoint I loved this choice because it definitely made everything so much easier, so I think it was sort of a happy accident.”

Lucas: “Yeah, it was super nice to not have to worry about a lot of the aspects of sound that we would’ve had to otherwise. That being said when I was writing the script I knew I wanted it to be silent, and I wanted the narrator to carry out the whole thing. I hadn’t seen that really, where the character’s inner psyche kind of carried the viewer the whole way through and you’re only listening to that central voice. This was also sort of a personal challenge as this is a writing style that’s very much outside of my comfort zone, I like to work with a lot of heavily focused dialogue and very slow burn scenes between characters so for this I wanted to do something really different with my writing. Having it be completely silent allowed me to kind of write out poetry in a way and just really hone in on the thoughts of Flynn since it’s all you’re focusing on as the viewer.”

Evan: “It’s really cool how sometimes stylistic choices also become “happy accidents” as Isaac called them, which seems to have been the case here since structuring it this way allowed you to express the vision you wanted to while also making it easier on you guys while shooting and in post-production.”

Lucas: “Yeah it was daunting going into editing my first film with this kind of length, and I was also teaching myself to use an entirely new editing program so I was thankful for some of these choices during that process.”

Evan: “I guess to follow up on this, did you have any particular influences? Any specific films or filmmakers that inspired you on this project?”

Lucas: “Aside from the Black Mirror episode “Shut Up and Dance” and how it portrayed itself, I didn’t really have any other films or directors I took from for it. I just tried to kind of do what I thought was best for the film and how I envisioned it. There is one scene where Flynn’s in the bathroom in front of the mirror losing his shit that was sort of inspired by Todd Phillips’ “Joker” in the sense that it’s a very private moment you share with the character when no one is watching, so it makes you feel really uncomfortable.”

Nick: “That’s also how I feel about the inner thoughts narrating the story, he says things that he may not necessarily have said out loud, so you’re getting that very private view of it.”

Evan: “It is sort of darkly intimate, isn’t it?” *laughs*

Lucas: “Yeah, exactly.” *laughs*

Nick: “I’ll have to re-watch it knowing how it ends and look for the things I missed along the way.”

Lucas: “I love hearing that because I really wanted to make a film that’s re-watchable; that’s my favorite kind of movie where when you watch it one time it’s effective but when you watch it again it’s even better because you notice those details and clues you didn’t pick up on the first time around since your senses are heightened by knowing where it’s going.”

Evan: “I agree, I definitely need to re-watch it too because I like that aspect as well. Well I guess to close out here, what are your plans for the film? I just want to give people an idea of where to look out for it.”

Lucas: “Well we’ve gotten a couple of acknowledgments from festivals already, Phoenix Shorts gave us a semi-finalist grade and we won an award at Niagara Falls Film Festival for best first-time director so I was honored to receive that. We’ve submitted to some online and physical festivals so we’re anticipating getting into at least a couple of those, and we plan to follow the festivals up with an online release of some sort, likely on Amazon Prime.”

Evan: “Well we very much look forward to your future endeavors, and are excited to see what you decide to tackle next. We’ll have to get you guys on the podcast sometime and have a more long form discussion about movies.”

Isaac: “Oh for sure, you’ve got to get us on the podcast sometime.”

Lucas: “Absolutely, that sounds like a lot of fun.”

Bunny follows Flynn (Daniel Cabraja in his debut role): an odd, lonely, possibly unstable guy who has just been dumped by his girlfriend Kate (played by Katherine Docherty) and sets out into the world of online dating in a quest to find true love. Flynn isn’t exactly an expert at relationships as you’ll quickly learn, and through the process of searching for romance you’ll see him have a fair share of ups and downs before the film’s final twist assaults your senses. Keep your eyes out for Bunny to hit festivals soon, followed by a digital release.

In the meantime, you can watchlist it on Letterboxd (https://letterboxd.com/film/bunny-2021/) and follow Lucas on Twitter (https://twitter.com/LTYVintage) for updates!