Max Cohn, Ellie Sachs talk Proof of Concept – Tribeca 2023

Eddie Cohen (Will Janowitz), Chloe Cohen (Ellie Sachs), and Robert Cohen (Richard Kind) in Proof of Concept. Photo credit : Jonah Koplin.

Filmmakers Max Cohn and Ellie Sachs spoke with Solzy at the Movies about their new short film, Proof of Concept, premiering at Tribeca.

The short film is entertaining and very inside baseball when it comes to filmmaking. It is about an auteur filmmaker, Chloe Cohen (Ellie Sachs) who is trying to talk her father, Robert Cohen (Richard Kind) and uncle, Eddie Cohen (Will Janowitz), in to financing a short film. It ends up raising more questions than anything else. With a number of locations scattered throughout New York’s Upper West Side, Proof of Concept also manages to be a love letter to New York City.

Cohn and Sachs both write and direct the 6-minute short, in which Sachs also stars alongside Richard Kind and Will Janowitz. In addition to playing in the Misdirection short films program, the film screened prior to Chelsea Peretti’s directorial debut, First Time Female Director.

What was the genesis behind Proof of Concept?

Ellie Sachs: The idea really started with Max.

Max Cohn: The catalyst for Proof of Concept was anxiety. Of wanting to make a great short film, but also knowing that the odds of getting into a notable festival are terrible—even with a stellar story, great cast, and large budget. And after observing how many shorts are proof of concepts for bigger projects lacking funding, just feeling as if shorts are a hazing ritual filmmakers need to complete before making a feature. Eventually we had the epiphany to channel these short film anxieties into a short film.

What was the writing process like?

Ellie Sachs: Max and I are a great writing team. It’s really fun working together and we just generally crack up a lot.

Max Cohn: Ellie is an incredible writing partner. When we both laugh at something, or find something interesting, it’s a good sign.

How honored were you to be selected for Tribeca?

Ellie Sachs: I cried when Ben Thompson called!  I was in shock and so, so excited.

Max Cohn: I was stunned. And so relieved. As Native New Yorkers, Tribeca was always the dream home for this overtly New York movie.

Max, how did you decide that it was time to direct a short film?

Max Cohn: Ellie decided it for us. I was terrified of directing this. Ellie convinced me we could do it. I’m grateful she did. I am proud of the final product and feel like I conquered a fear.

Robert Cohen (Richard Kind) in Proof of Concept.
Robert Cohen (Richard Kind) in Proof of Concept. Photo credit: Jonah Koplin.

Richard Kind is absolutely perfect in the film. How much fun was it to work with him?

Ellie Sachs: Richard Kind is a total legend for a reason.  He has the best attitude and is so wonderful and silly and generous.  We had the best time working with him.

M: Richard is the GOAT.

This was a fun short film to watch especially given how inside baseball it is with indie filmmaking and film festivals. Did you consider making it longer?

Ellie Sachs: We wanted to keep it short and sweet.

There are several locations in this film. Did you try to fit more locations into the film?

Ellie Sachs: No! We didn’t want the locations to feel quick or rushed – and given the length of the film, we’re quite happy with the amount of locations we fit in.

Max Cohn: Emily Cohn, our 1st AD, as well as my sister, might’ve resorted to violence had we added any more locations.

What was the most challenging aspect of the production?

Ellie Sachs: We went so hard in pre-pro and had the absolute best producers, Kerry Mack and Luca Piccin, so production itself was an actual breeze.

Max Cohn: Just capturing everything we needed in such a short time across so many locations.

I know there’s a writer’s strike at the moment but are there any plans for a feature film?

Ellie Sachs: Yes, in the future! Stay tuned!

Proof of Concept holds its world premiere during the 2023 Tribeca Festival in the Short Films section.

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Danielle Solzman

Danielle Solzman is native of Louisville, KY, and holds a BA in Public Relations from Northern Kentucky University and a MA in Media Communications from Webster University. She roots for her beloved Kentucky Wildcats, St. Louis Cardinals, Indianapolis Colts, and Boston Celtics. Living less than a mile away from Wrigley Field in Chicago, she is an active reader (sports/entertainment/history/biographies/select fiction) and involved with the Chicago improv scene. She also sees many movies and reviews them. She has previously written for Redbird Rants, Wildcat Blue Nation, and Hidden Remote/Flicksided. From April 2016 through May 2017, her film reviews can be found on Creators.