We’re only a few days away from the start of the Raindance festival here in London, and we’ve been fortunate enough to speak with the director of one of the films on show.

Dean Peterson’s film, Incredibly Small, is making its debut at the festival and we recently posted the trailer to give you a good indication of what to expect and there’s something magnetic in what we’ve seen so far. The naturalistic flow of dialogue and some beautifully sun bleached shots tease what is sure to be a great film and Peterson talks about his process, Raindance and his take on the independent movie scene of 2010.

To find out more about the festival click here and Incredibly Small premieres on the 9th of October at 6.45pm.

HeyUGuys: First of all – what’s your story – how did you get here, to having your film appear at Raindance?

Peterson: We shot Incredibly Small last summer over the course of 14 days. It took me about 5 months, on and off, to edit the film and then since then we’ve been waiting until we found the festival that we thought would be best to premiere at. Raindance had always been on our list of festivals to apply to, and so when we got in we knew that this was a great place to unveil the movie.

Raindance is a mecca for independent filmmakers and those looking for the future of film – what does it mean to you to have your film debuting at the festival?

It’s a great honor to be playing at Raindance. I’ve seen their programming from previous years, and looking at the other films they programmed this year it’s obvious that it’s very important to them to select films that are risky and push the envelope of independent cinema, which I don’t think we deserve the credit for doing, but it’s nice to know we’re in good company.

What can the public expect from Incredibly Small?

You’ll laugh, you’ll cry, you’ll swear that the lead, Stephen Gurewitz, looks like a young Sean Penn.

Were you keen to improvise on set, or did you specifically stick to the script?

Improvisation was very important to me. The main thing I was looking for from the performances was naturalism. If I had written a line that felt clunky to the actor, I wouldn’t want them to stick to it just because I fancy myself a great bard. I wanted the performances to feel very organic and so I gave a lot of leeway. A lot of the actors were also writers themselves, so they continually brought great ideas to the table, and since most of them are much funnier than me I was in no position to turn them down.

What did you look for when you were casting – were you looking for actors to click, or did you want to find the perfect fit for the characters you created?

The relationship between Anne and Amir was very important. The actors had to click so it would be believable that they had been dating for a number of years, even though Susan and Stephen first met a day before we started shooting. Their relation physically was important too. Amir’s goofiness stems in part from seeing him in relief to Anne, who is more composed and mature. As for the other actors, I first and foremost just cast people that I was personally a big fan of before the movie. The main thing for me was that we cast people who were comfortable with improvising. So we ended up casting a lot of writers and filmmakers. I think there are like 5 filmmakers in the cast of our movie.

From what we’ve seen in the trailer the film has a very unvarnished, natural look to it, both in terms of production and character interactions – is this important to you as a filmmaker?

I do really like movies that have a naturalistic look to them. I wanted the film to be very clean and well lit. I also wanted to do a lot of handheld so that it would feel more personal, like we’re watching the home movie of this couple. I don’t think we even had a tripod on set. Set up time was also something I wanted kept to a minimum. I don’t like on sets when everyone is sitting around for 2-3 hours in between takes because the lights are getting set up. We tried to light the whole room so that we could move around with as little interference as possible and keep the momentum going from one set up to the next.

Which films, or directors, were influences on you and this film in particular?

The most marked influence on this film was probably Woody Allen. I watched Husbands and Wives and Manhattan a lot while getting ready to shoot the film. The opening scene in Husbands and Wives was particularly important to me and I used it as a reference point a lot of times for how to light and block scenes. Whit Stillman and François Truffaut were also very big influences for me as well.

What’s your take on the current independent film scene?

I think it’s one of the best times to be making independent movies right now. With all the technological advancements it’s never been easier. Digital cameras are getting so good, so cheap, and so small that you can shoot a feature on a DSLR with just a few lights and it will look great. I’m very excited by all of the low budget filmmaking that is going on right now, there are a lot of great filmmakers working today. That said, it’s relatively easy to shoot a movie today, the hard part comes when you actually want to get it out to the world.

What’s your next project and long term goal?

I am currently writing a new movie with two other guys about two traveling coffee salesman. Hopefully we can shoot it next year.

HeyUGuys wishes to thank Dean for his time.