Is today an exciting time to be in the film industry?
Today is an immensely exciting time to be in the film industry! The digital revolution picked up a few years ago, then the advent of 4K put digital on par with film in many ways; but those cameras were (and still are) tens of thousands of dollars. But this year that all changed. There are now cameras that cost less than a flat screen television that can do what a hundred thousand dollar camera can. That opens up an entire world of possibilities for independent cinema and film makers breaking into the industry. Film making, in essence, has become much cheaper-and the competition more fierce. These days you better have a style that stands out or you get left in the dust.
Tell us a bit about your background in film.
I started film making when I was around 13 years old. I was making little SNL type sketch comedies on a web cam! That continued into something bigger while I was in the military. In Iraq when I shot and edited a music video about my company’s deployment (set to Metallica’s Turn The Page cover). That’s when I realized I wanted to be a professional film maker. I reenlisted, got a bonus check, bought my film equipment and got started. I wrote, produced, directed, shot and edited (and acted in) my first feature film – The Brannigan Account. I did all that in order to find what part of the process I liked the most. Turns out, it was the writing and cinematography. I went with that and now have etched a name for myself here in Wilmington as a cinematographer.
What is your film RUN about?
RUN is the beginning of my version of the werewolf film. I asked myself “Why does the werewolf thing have to be a curse? Why do they have to change at the full moon and all that stuff? Why can’t they just be a big, terrifying, uncontrollable and unstoppable monster?” I went with that. As far as plot, the short film is simple. Some animal control experts (Charles, Alyssa and Garry) are sent into the woods with a veterinarian (Maggie) to investigate some animal attacks thought to be by a rogue mountain lion. Upon arriving, they find out that an elderly woman (Hughes) has been attacked. After they talk with Hughes…they find out that it was definitely not a mountain lion-and that they better figure out a way to catch the culprit fast lest they become the next victims. It’s not long after that the wolf will finally rear it’s beastly face…and without giving too much away-we will just say we are planning the most intense and awe inspiring werewolf attacks ever filmed. That’s just the short film. In a few weeks we are going to reveal our plans and synopsis for the feature that RUN will lead into; which is also something that has never before been done with a werewolf film. We’ve checked.
Where did you get the idea for the story?
My idea for the story was just make a raw and intense werewolf film. No magic stuff. No explanation-not even a transformation. It’s all been done so much we’re desensitized and expect it now. And not only that, I wanted to do it with cinematography that could blow your mind. It’s a simple story that leaves a lot of interpretation; Where did the wolf come from? What happens after the credits roll? The short story doesn’t need that explanation, but again-the short is a supplement; a prequel if you will-to the feature. I CAN give away something about the feature now though-remember Zack Snyder’s Dawn of The Dead? 28 Days Later? What did they do that made zombies scarier? They RAN. What’s worse than a pack of zombies running after you? A pack of werewolves. 3 times as fast and powerful.
Are you a meticulous planner when you make movies or do you like going with the flow?
I’m in the middle here. I plan a good bit with story and vision-but in my experience with indie film; that all changes when you’re on set. So I have a loose plan all the time and ready to make changes when necessary. And I also like to have a backup for a backup. That said; there is one scene in this film-the final scene. It will be blocked out with our stunt coordinator a month ahead of time. We are building breakaway props. We’ve got a multitude of stunt men and crew and camera equipment. We will rehearse for a full day with the “crawl, walk, RUN!” concept. Then we shoot-and we have ONE CHANCE to make it work because it’s a single, long take, tracking shot. Think of Alfonso Cuaron’s Gravity or True Detective. If you’re a fan, you know how amazing long takes can be-and that’s the type of stuff I live for in this business.
Do you have a particular film making style?
Someone likened my writing to a mix of Quentin Tarantino and Elmore Leonard (huge compliment), visual style to sort of a mix of Michael Slovis (Breaking Bad) and Shane Hurlbut (Act of Valor, Need For Speed). So…I guess mix those together and you have some crazy mix of dark comedy dialogue and very dramatic cinematography. I do a lot of handheld. I hate equipment. It gets in the way and steals a lot of the freedom of myself and the actors-which also means I freakin’ love natural lighting. All in all, when I’m writing or shooting, I always ask myself: “Does this stand out?”
What are some of your interests outside of film?
I’m a metal head. I’m always listening to some Five Finger Death Punch, Metallica or Godsmack. Or classical music. Yeah I know. Weird. And I usually try to stay fit-not as much time as I used to have but I like to run. I also go bowling every Monday and I’ve gotten pretty good. But even more than that; I’m a video game nerd. If I’m not film making I’m playing Grand Theft Auto or Metal Gear Solid. I don’t play online so don’t ask my screen name. I’m a single player kind of guy (what can I say…I’m a writer-I’m a stickler for story and character).