Extraordinary Talent Interview with the Director Grant Carsten, for the Feature Film ‘Sanctuary Dream’ - Moscow Russia International Film Festival

Extraordinary Talent Interview with the Director Grant Carsten, for the Feature Film ‘Sanctuary Dream’

Sanctuary Dream is the winner of the “Best Film” category at the Moscow Russia International Film Festival.

Director Biography – Grant Carsten

Made a feature film that broke even $10,000 by donations. There is a 3% chance of making money/breaking even on any feature film. Only 1 in 10,000,000 people have ever completed a feature film in their life.

Composed 6 Film Scores (5 for shorts; 1 for Feature) + 1 Feature Film Score and 1 Video Game Score ready to create once the projects are complete.

Written, Directed, and Edited countless short narratives, documentaries, and even some avant-garde work since 2013.

Been a team player on three professional film sets (lots more semi-professional and amateur).

Knows how to use Red and Canon Cameras(Sony and Arri could be next).

Coordination and communication skills on any prep or film set are a plus!

Editing another Feature Film for a Friend right now(81 hours of footage).

All of this, despite my Autism,…

Film Director Grant Carsten

Hi, Grant! Thank you for your time and huge congratulations on the outstanding performance of “Sanctuary Dream” at the Moscow Russia International Film Festival.

1. You wrote, directed and produced the film ‘Sanctuary Dream’. What should the audience expect to see?

An authentic experience of Autism Simulation.


2. Tell us a bit about your background. When did you decide to become a filmmaker?

I decided to become a filmmaker after I failed in my Acting Career.

3. What are the directors that inspire you the most?

James Cameron and George Lucas: Jim for his films, and George for his development as a person 1970s – 2000s.

4. Where did you get the inspiration from for creating your story? What about your characters?

My own life. Despite the story being entirely fictional, many elements of truth were put into every scene.

5. What did you enjoy the most about working the film?

The potential to make a difference in the lives of Autistic Spectrum Communities and our futures.

6. Do you have any on set stories you would like to share?

If yes, I have already shared these stories on IMDb.

7. What advice would you give to someone who wanted to have a life creating films? 

Creating films will not get easier. It is something you should only do if you truly believe it’s all you can do to heal your soul,… or, simply make people happy through entertainment and be grateful for a union position.

8. When you’re working with your actors, do you like to leave room for improvisation or do you prefer to stick to the script?

Improvisation is fine if I can differ the purpose of each scene, which I do during Development and Prep. I know better than to make someone stick to the script when the script does not flow with their tongues. Especially when almost every actor in this film did not read and memorize their lines. I did; however, bring the lines down to 4 keywords from each character, each important to them in the scene and how it correlates with everything else. This is why the film worked. 

9. What is the message that ‘Sanctuary Dream’ conveys?

As an Autistic Individual, do not give in to the horrors that have been normalized for our community. People may resist, lie, misunderstand, or downright attack your right to become intelligent and/or intentionally obstruct your right to live happily based on your persona. 

You may be scared, jealous, humiliated, angry, or depressed through chronic trauma. Make sure you don’t give in to the strong emotional roller-coaster that regular people have scarred us through, maliciously or unintentionally.

Please adapt and overcome based on the way you learn so your masking does not endanger you. Do not lower yourselves to the mistakes of our community’s past, which is now destroying our future.

10. What’s next for you? What are you working on at the moment?

I’m working on short films involving better SFX/VFX/Sound FX/Lighting to make sure I’m ready to Film Part II and Part III of The Sanctuary Trilogy.

Director Statement – Grant Carsten

Though there are definitely films that depict Autism, almost all of them show viewpoints from the other side. ‘Rain Man’ and ‘What’s Eating Gilbert Grape?’, though powerful movies, depict Autism through what Tom Cruise and Johnny Depp see in Dustin Hoffman and Leo; ‘The Accountant’, though great, shows mostly the aftermath of an assassin who learned to cope with and hide his disabilities; ‘Life Animated’, once again great, is another autistic documentary which shows an overdose of the parents, and Disney Movies making sense to Autists is not new.

Forrest Gump (it’s implied) and Temple Grandin are exceptions, though it is clear the viewpoint speaks as a consultant rather than the feeling. This is where my film differs.

I’m not saying my motion picture is better than any of these. Far from it. All these movies are rightfully considered masterpieces and they should stay that way. What I am saying is that no movie which has depicted Autism has simulated what being Autistic feels like. That is exactly where Sanctuary Dream differs.

Whether it’s through the story or the technical stuff, Sanctuary Dream goes above and beyond in making sure its audience feels Autistic. The techniques include, but are not limited to — cinematography and edit cuts which create a sense of constant attack; strong color tints and slightly cheesy acting to give an unreliable narrator quality; and Music which states what could not be verbally or physically told.

Looking at the final result, I am proud to say that Sanctuary Dream is my first feature.

Connecting with Grant Carsten





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