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A filmmaking first! FunMill produces two films during Cleveland’s 48 Hour Film Project

FunMill founders Josh Miller and Kinsley Funari

Any filmmaker who has endured a 48 Hour Film Project knows the contest is something of a marathon sprint: a race that requires incredible endurance, tons of planning, constant movement and military precision to pull off. At least if you hope to win either audience accolades or a coveted prize.

It’s a challenge for even the most seasoned professional. So imagine making two.  

“I wanted to shake things up,” says Kinsley Funari, a 48 Hour Film Project vet. “This year, I found myself working with a team I knew collectively could pull it off.  I kinda didn't ask permission, I just paid the fees and registered the teams and apologized later.”

FunMill Films founders Josh Miller and Kinsley Funari
FunMill Films founders Josh Miller and Kinsley Funari

Funari had help. Her partner in crime, Josh Miller, came along for the ride. Together, Funari and Miller are the foundation of FunMill Films.

“Kinsley approached me, telling me that I had no choice in the matter,” Miller says. “I was fully in from that moment. Also knowing that she, of all people, could do it.”

The result? “Intuitions,” a dark tale of mistaken identity, and “Zero Intuitions,” a slapstick take on the making of “Intuitions.” Better still? Comedic payoffs from “Zero” in “Intuitions,” including a decision by the lead actresses to share the lead part and a crew member ruining a pivotal scene by showing up in frame.

That’s not all. 

The two films represent the first time in Cleveland 48 Hour Film Project that one team submitted two films for consideration, according to Brian Jeffrey Bowers, 48 Hour Cleveland producer.

They're in rare air globally, as well.

"Entering two films in a single city is rare, indeed," says Mark Rupert, CEO and Chief Creative Officer, 48 Hour Film Project. "It is more common for a team to compete in multiple cities in a year. We've had some teams compete in eight or more. But very uncommon for a single team to make two films. I would estimate that out of 5,000 teams that compete each year, globally, fewer than five submit two films."

And they picked up a handful of awards, including Best Film - Honorable Mention, Best Ensemble Acting, Audience Choice and Best Writing.  

We recently sat down via email to chat with Funari and Miller about the competition, filmmaking and what brought them together.

Film editing 'Zero Intuitions' for the Cleveland 48 Hour Film Project with Kinsley Funari
Editing 'Zero Intuitions'

Midwest Movie Maker (MM): Tell me a little bit about yourselves. Where'd you grow up and, if not in the area, what brought you to Cleveland?

Kinsley Funari (KF): We were both born and raised in Cleveland.

MM: What do you do when you're not making movies? 

KF: I own a preschool in Strongsville that I've been running for two years. I specifically knew I wanted to own a business so I could make my own hours and have more time dedicated to film.

Josh Miller (JM): When I am not making movies, I am thinking about making movies. I also work for the Cleveland Clinic In the ENT department.

KF: He's not lying - he just surprised me with two new scripts this week alone!

MM: How did you each get into filmmaking? What inspired you to make movies?

JM: I have loved creating since I saw The Graduate when I was 11. I made home movies with friends in the backyard. I earned my degree in film directing, acting and production from Coastal Carolina University.

KF:  I've always been an artistic personality, I graduated with a degree in interior design. I started off as an actor and never ever thought I had a place behind the camera. Just this past few years I started dabbling in writing, directing and producing. Just like acting, I caught the bug, and now I can't see myself acting in any other films other than the ones we create ourselves.

MM: Favorite part of moviemaking? Do you consider yourself more a producer? Writer? Director? Actor?

KF:  I used to only consider myself an actor, but the more and more hats I try on the more and more I realize I like all aspects of filmmaking. My ultimate goal is to be a jack of all trades and master that. I want to start teaching myself to edit. That's my current interest.

JM: My passion has always been acting. However, the moment I directed my first scene I was hooked. I would love to pull a Tommy Wiseau and write, direct and act in a feature, but that is miles down the road.

Shooting FunMill's drama entry, 'Intuitions' with Robbie Barnes-Kyriakides
Shooting FunMill's drama entry, 'Intuitions'

MM: How'd you get involved in the 48? What's your history with the competition? 

KF: I've done this competition before, probably about four or five times, and I've always had it in the back of my mind to do something crazy. This was the year I knew I had the team to do it with.

JM: My history with the 48 is funny, because, fresh out of college, I was cast in my first film, and it was a 48 Hour Film Project. 

MM: Making two films in 48 is quite a feat. Kinsley, you mentioned you'd had this in the back of your mind for a while. Walk us through what made you want to take on this added challenge?

KF: About five years ago, I felt like I had done enough 48s. Enough of the same old, same old.  I had been on different teams, run a team, tried to be on two teams in one year, and I was getting a little bored with it. I wanted to shake things up. 

My original idea was to convince two power house teams to join forces, but everyone was turning me down. So I shelved the idea and stopped bugging people, mostly because I didn't want anyone else to steal it.  

Eventually, this year I found myself working with a team I knew collectively could pull it off. I kinda didn't ask permission. I just paid the fees and registered the teams and apologized later.

JM: Kinsley approached me, telling me I had no choice in the matter. That she was putting in for two 48s in one project. In my mind, I was in from that moment, knowing that it has never been done before. Also knowing that she, out of all people, could do it. I was honored to be able to help direct something that hadn't been done. On another note, 

KF: Josh is right, He had no choice in the matter. I needed the best partner I could have, and I got him.

FunMill's 'Zero Intuitions' picks up four awards from the Cleveland 48 Hour Film Project
FunMill's 'Zero Intuitions' picks up four awards from the Cleveland 48 Hour Film Project

MM: Tell us about making both. Two different teams? Same team? How did you pull it off?

KF: I registered two different teams and put them under aliases. Then I immediately messaged Brian and Janice, our Cleveland 48 producers, and notified them of what was going on. 

I approached Josh and told him I needed a partner in this - and thank goodness he was on board because I couldn't have done it without him. Funny enough, Josh and I realized we make a really good team, so this is how FunMill Films was born, officially.  

We did the entire weekend with one team though.  James Neyman, our DP and editor, is simply the best. He shot and edited both films AND I even convinced him to act in our comedy. He was a natural!  

MM: Did you know each film would reference the other going in? Or did that come out when you got your genres?

KF:  I knew that going in, I had to have a handle on what we could control before kick-off. I knew we needed to lock down and write around our location, wardrobe and our cast. We used my house as our only location, I made sure our cast was locked and that they all brought as many wardrobe pieces as possible, and that they were all plain and solid.  

The most logical way to shoot both was to create two stories that could be filmed on the same timeline - so that's how a "real film" and a "making of" became our dominating idea. Then we just kinda filmed like a ping-pong game, back and forth chronologically through our scripts.

MM: Would you have tackled it differently if the genres you pulled from the hat were Western and Musical? What were you thinking going in and hoping for?

JM: We would have tackled it as best we could, and if it didn't turn out to our standard, we would not have submitted anything. The genre that we hoped for we got.

KF: We went in hoping we'd get some form of comedy and something we could spin into a drama - and I don't know how the heck we did it, but we pulled Dark Comedy and Drama.  Couldn't have been any better. If we had gotten Western or Musical, I wouldn't have been nervous. Josh is a brilliant music producer, and we also had John Rokas on our team, who is also an amazing musician. I would have just dumped it all on them. (laughs)

MM: What makes a good 48?

JM: Utilizing the resources and talent you have access to. Try to think of something that has not been done before.

KF: Agreed. I'm always most impressed by the films that bring something exciting to the screenings and get everyone talking. Think outside the box.

MM: Taking part in the horror competition?

KF: I am literally trying my damndest to convince Josh and James to do one more with me while we have the momentum, but sadly they aren't biting. I'm not giving up yet, though! I'd love to attempt the horror competition with a four-man team - Josh, James, John and me.

JM: Undecided.

KF: *eye roll*

MM: From your filmography, it seems as though horror is one of your predominant genres. What draws you to telling scary stories?

KF: Horror is actually not my favorite genre. I just love making movies with people I love, and I seem to surround myself with people who love horror. My favorite is comedy, and I've got a few scripts in the works. Horror is a fun time, though. I'm growing a soft spot for it.

JM: I feel that horror has become so mainstream, yet untapped on the endless amount of sub genres. I think there is so many feels and styles that haven't been tapped into yet. That's what I'm interested in. Making something new and different that makes people say, “Wow, that was a new experience.” 

MM: What other genres do you like working in?

JM: I love comedy. I think you can let an artist really breathe and create a role. That moment when an actor is riffing and really is feeling it is the magic of cinema to me.

KF: Ditto. I love comedy, and, like Josh said, I feel, as an actor, comedy really is one of those collaborative genres where the writer, director and actors all bring different takes to a story. And that's the beauty that brings it to life and makes those iconic comedies so funny and memorable.  I'm also a sucker for psychological films. I love when something makes me think or throws me for a complete loop.

MM: Advice for filmmakers involved in the 48 or just wanting to make a movie of their own?

JM: Just go out and create. Don't make excuses on why you can't because right now is the perfect time to create films. Anyone can make a movie. You carry the ability in your pocket every day. If you are passionate about telling a story you should have people around you that want to do the same thing you just have to ask.

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