At Tropfest NYC 2012 it was a little dog named Elvis who stole the show and almost won first place. More than 10,000 film enthusiasts braved the almost unbearable New York City heat and squeezed onto the Bryant Park lawn to watch the finalist’s films. Each short film had to be seven minutes long (or less) and include a bagel, which was the Tropfest Signature Item (TSI). The event offered programming for almost eight hours and included lots of dancing, eating, and of course film watching.

Matt Hulse‘s film Elvis: The Lonely Hunter of Circle-Beach, was a crowd favorite and won the director third place. The short film with its animal documentary style showcased a future New York City, which humans no longer inhabit, and instead bagels roam and hide from their predator (in this case the very adorable puppy Elvis). Portable spoke with the director and he revealed his inspiration and how he managed to make the film on a $1.59 budget.

Portable: We read that the budget for the film was $1.59. How did you accomplish this?

Matt Hulse: $1.59 is the price of two bagels from the local store in Noyack. Although I may have forgotten to include the tax.

P: What was your inspiration behind the film?

Matt Hulse: I was dog-sitting Elvis (the dog featured) for a few days and I decided to improvise a short film with him. He was very biddable and inspiring. Bagels have a life of their own too; I was just lucky to be in the right place at the right time, with the lens cap off.

P: Where did you film? How do the locations affect the story?

Matt Hulse: Circle Beach, Noyack, Long Island NYC. Out of season the beach is mostly deserted. This gave me an opportunity to shoot the beach as if it were devoid of human life or impact. The location is key to the world that I created with Elvis’ assistance.

P: What kind of films can we expect from you in the future?

Matt Hulse: I’ve been making films for over twenty years. This one brings together my love of animals, improvisation, wry humour, landscape photography and stop-frame animation (in this instance, rolling bagels). This is the second film I have made with a dog. My debut feature Follow The Master features a beautiful, lively lass called Tippy. Maybe I’ll focus on animal films. Or maybe bread-related films. The former seems to have more mileage. In 2012 I will complete my second feature about a profoundly deaf cyclist nicknamed “Dummy Jim” who cycled solo to the Arctic Circle from Scotland in 1951. There’s a gorgeous website here: dummyjim.com.

P: Did you create this movie specifically for Tropfest or did the submission come later?

Matt Hulse: Yes, created from scratch for Tropfest.

P: What was your favorite part about making this film?

Matt Hulse: It emerged with relative ease in front of my eyes, like a surreal poem, with the help of a dog called Elvis. Life doesn’t get much more magical than that.