Christopher Carter Sanderson

Christopher Carter Sanderson is the Founding Artistic and Producing Director of NYC's celebrated pioneering immersive theatre company Gorilla Rep. BFA NYU, MFA Yale. Fulbright. NYShakespeare Lifetime Achievement Award. Best Director Berlin Underground Film Festival, Best Director Western Canadian International Film Festival.


1.   Your project has entered in our festival. What is your project about?
William Shakespeare's Hamlet is about identity, revenge, will power in all of the ways that make Shakespeare the most produced writer in the US.

2.   What are your ambitions with your project?
Hamlet will bring Shakespeare to millions of new fans. My goal is for Hamlet to propel our VOD channel which now features my first close-up Shakespeare film Macbeth and my goal is for more to follow Hamlet's success. My goal is for our channel to become a part of a larger streaming service after each film releases worldwide in theaters.

3.   Tell us something about your shooting? What pleasantly surprised you?

I was pleasantly surprised at how easily our actors fit into shooting this way because so many of them tape auditions in such a similar way.

4.   For what group of spectators is your film targeted?

I was delighted to hear that our way of making films makes audience members feel like they are in the front row of a world-class performance of Shakespeare in every scene. I believe deeply that everyone can benefit from these films and that is why I make them. People who like reading novels and great literature will loves these films, perhaps especially Hamlet. Sometimes I think that the subscribers to The New Yorker magazine are our core audience. We also have a small audience of professional actors who feel that watching our films of Shakespeare help prepare them for their own performances of Shakespeare's work.

5.   Why should distributors buy your film?
Shakespeare is the most produced writer in the US by several orders of magnitude every year. Distributing Hamlet will take advantage of that, and each film we add to the list will increase the value of the back catalogue. We've already seen Hamlet festival attention reflected in our VOD numbers for Macbeth. We have a wealth of media attention to add to the marketing mix.

GORILLA REP HAMLET poster rough pictured L to R Lynda Kennedy as Rosencrantz Henry Austin Shikongo as Hamlet Bruce Barton as Guildensternpng

6.   How would you specify your work? What characterizes your film?
I produce and direct the highest quality award-winning films of Shakespeare 100% in close-ups in the modern 9/16 aspect ratio of TikTok and Facetime for projection on the big screen, computer screen, and smart phone screen creating an unprecedented intimate experience of Shakespeare's fantastic works. It's like the cast are your besties video calling you to jam the film for you. This is a pioneering new way of making films characterized by extraordinary acting providing a deeper experience and understanding of Shakespeare. Shakespeare's Hamlet contains all the elements of drama, tragedy, and comedy. It is what makes it great, and my films show this a new and deeper way. This way of filming brings that intensity to audiences in vivid detail. Hamlet gives its audience al of the conflicts the iconic character Hamlet faces in an intense, clear, and electrifying new way. So much of that is down to rising Canadian film and stage star Henry Austin Shikongo's incredible performance. It is not to be missed. He's amazing as Hamlet.

7.   Why did you decide to become a filmmaker?
I made my first three-minute film at the age of nine to bring an intense and beguiling story to the screen. In that case, it was the story of a bunch of stop-motion clay soldiers slaughtering each other and being fried by a clay wizard. The desire to tell stories with a hallmark intensity has continued to drive my work. And like Baz Luhrmann and Sergei Eisenstein, I've worked fluidly and successfully between stage and screen for decades. Film and theatre inspire me to new heights of achievement in each other.

8.   Who is your role model?
David Lynch. My meditation practice started when I was 14 and I have a published translation of the early sayings of the Buddha. The audio book of that features actor Luke Howland who will play the role of Derby in my upcoming film of Richard III, by the way.

9.   Which movies are your favorites? Why?
My favorite movies are an eclectic bunch, and they all share that intensity I am striving for. The Wizard of Oz, David Lynch's Dune, Die Hard, Constantine, The English Patient, The Wah-Wah Diaries. There's a long list. All with strong protagonists, poetic and deep writing, and unique stories filmed well and with great style.

10. Where do you look for inspiration for your films?
The performances of great actors – both stars and solid, accomplished, professional working actors – are my greatest inspiration. I aspire to create saturated, intense worlds in films that are worthy of their talent. Many actors who are great stars now have inspired me long before gaining fame.

11. Which topics interest you the most?
Semiotics, dramaturgy, spirituality, organic chemistry, and music theory, I guess. After Shakespeare of course. Topics for films? I like topics so intense that they require great language to be told.

12. What do you consider your greatest achievement in your career?
Successfully producing and directing so many shows and films that have made audiences happy is my greatest achievement as an artist and producer. The applause and audience appreciation seem like my greatest accolade. My single greatest achievement so far? Hamlet. It's epic. The Lifetime Achievement Award from NYShakespeare wasn't bad either!

13. What do you consider most important about filming?
Deep honesty and complete authenticity. It has really got to be your own story in every way to be a good film.

14. Which film technique of shooting do you consider the best?
Mine, of course: All close-up in the 9/16 aspect ratio. Ha ha! Well, I think "typage" is an underrated technique. Everyone knows that Eisenstein coined the term "montage," and everyone uses that technique. He also invented "typage" and it is an effective way of adding authenticity to narrative film. I cast an actual Episcopal priest in Hamlet to play the priest and he delivers a very real performance. This is typage.

15. How would you rate/What is your opinion about current filmmaking?
I rate current filmmaking very highly and I think we are living in a renaissance of filmmaking, especially fueled by the major uptick in quality episodic TV which gives us great competition.

16. What can disappoint you in a movie?

There are exceptions, but I really hate knowing the ending before the film even gets started. I hate feeling like material has been added to a film to pad the running time. And I despise producer cuts that distort a film's artistic integrity. I probably produce to have final cut, if I'm honest.

17. Who supports you in your film career?
Big happy audiences. Also, a variety of government grants, foundation grants, individual donations, and individual investments. Actors willing to take a share of ownership as part pay are a great support. Hamlet was in part funded by PPP loans to my non-profit company and my for-profit LLC. Emotionally, I am supported in my work by my dear, patient wife and our son, and a big list of amazing actors, designers, and editors. Our ITASE Press Representative Sharon Ellman is an absolute rock of support for my work.

18. What are the reactions to your film? (opinion of spectators, film critics, friends and family)
Raves. Enthusiastic and positive reactions to my work are the rocket fuel that keeps me going. I have been so lucky to have so much of that. From rave New York Times reviews (two by chief critic Ben Brantley), articles in mainstream media like Vanity Fair, to dedicated audience members reaching out with their own reactions, I have been strongly supported for decades. Since my work is so often about making new forms, this is all real life-giving affirmation.

19. Have you already visited any of the prestigious film festivals?
I'm very optimistic about the Quinzaine des Cinéastes at Cannes for me and Hamlet this year. We've screened Macbeth in NYC's NewFimmakers and it led directly to our VOD success with it.

20. What are your future plans in filmmaking career?
My future plans for my filmmaking career are to keep damn busy! I'm currently in pre-production for Richard III starring genius Filipino actor Josh Spafford and featuring legendary Filipino actress Roselyn Perez as Richard's mother the Duchess of York. I'll be completing at least one feature film a year of the rest of my life, God willing. My plans are to complete the Shakespeare canon in this exciting new form. I have a Western, an adaptation of Ibsen's feminist masterpiece Hedda Gabler, and three original scripts in the works to work on between Shakespeare shoots. Look for all of them in theatres near you on big screens, on our own boutique Gorilla Rep VOD channel, and on major streaming services.