After Der Ostwind
So after Der Ostwind, for a while I generated stuff for ESL’s. Like people, there was a guy I that hired me to come direct some things, either audio or actual dramatic type stuff. It wasn’t until like 2000, around there I started to get paid to write scripts. Then there was a company here, a local company called Arrow Storm came. There the whole thing is that they make these low budget fantasy films and sell them and make their money back in foreign sales and stuff like that. So they came and said we have this idea for a movie would you be interested in directing it.
To be honest, at that time I was kind of freaking out about whether or not I would ever make a feature. So that was like, Of course, I will make your feature, cause I just need to cross that threshold, ya know. So it wasn’t a genre I was really excited about. You know it was kind of fantasy and I wanted to do things like Der Ostwind. Kind of like an anti-war movie, you know, like had cool visuals and visual effects, but was actually about something very profound and deep to me. You know my first feature was a very fun, shoot-em-up with a guy fighting odds with a machine gun. It was not what I would have chosen. And I debated for a long time whether I should take the job. I had a friend who was like, your first feature is your first feature for the rest of your life. You gotta be careful. Ultimately I decided I needed the work and I needed the money, but I also just needed the opportunity and if I could just do my best that it’ll be good.
You know we made it and it’s a fun movie you know. It’s ridiculous. I wrote it and I directed it. It’s not my proudest work, but there is something I like about it. I definitely got in and found what I liked. It is very exploitative. Guns and Orcs ya know. I try really hard to make sure that everything I do is a step forward. So the next step is easier to take. That was kind of my first feature. It was a fantasy epic that we shot in like 15 days. It was a crucible. It was really, really hard. It had a lot of effects and it had a lot of practical effects. It taught me a lot. It opened my eyes from this whole student film thing where I could be very very particular. And who cares if I don’t get the film finished for another year. And then being hired and being under deadlines that were being put out. They had pre-sold the film so we had to finish it by a certain time which affected the quality of everything. It was a really good learning experience. I’m very grateful I had that opportunity to make it, but I had to learn. That was my big transition from working as a student filmmaker to being a professional where I can be hired.
That’s not to say I won’t fight tooth and nail to make the film as good as I can. And if the producers aren’t on board with that then there can be problems. But I feel like every director. No director should be like, alright, you know. I actually learned that. There was a couple of times the producers would come in and say we’ve decided this. And I said, alright, you make your bed you sleep in it. Then I learned that as a director no matter what happens I’m always sleeping in that bed. My name is the biggest name on that project from behind the camera scene. I just realized that I felt I had made a few concessions a little too easily that affected the quality of the work. But I got that done, and it moved me to the next thing.
The next thing I made the following year was a TV pilot locally produced. It was like a spec pilot. This guy financed it. It was his passion project. I was very much a hired gun to make that. Again I fought tooth and nail to make it as good as I could. Even if it is someone else passion project, it’s my life that I’m putting into it. So I need it to actually count. I don’t have the luxury of making a project and that it disappears off the face of the earth and nobody sees it. I at least need to use it for my real or something like that. So that was made, and it played at the international television festival in Vermont. I’m pretty sure it was in Vermont. It was very beautiful. We all went out to that. Again, unlike the Der Ostwind and the Promethean which I was submitting and promoting. For this project, I was the hired gun, and it was like hey you want to come out to this festival? Yea that will be great and so I went out to that.
And then recently, this last year through the Utah Film Commission I got hired to direct a feature that a company called MarVista made. They are out in LA. They do like 30 of these type of movies every year. They hired a producer who was from here, and she wanted to come back out here to shoot. So she came out, and they contacted the Utah Film Commission, and they said we need a film director from Utah. I was on the short list and ended up getting that job. We made it, and it just got sold to lifetime and airing June 4th. Again, like work-wise, it wasn’t something I would go out of my way to seek out, but it was a lot of fun. I liked it a little bit better because I’m a big Hitchcock fan. And it was cool to do a thriller. And try to figure out how to build suspense and all that stuff. And like I said I’m going to do my best because I need it to help me get closer where I’m trying to go.
What I’m working on now is I’ve written a couple of screenplays that have sold and we are trying to find the money for.
One of them is a really contained psychological thriller. In the vain of Hope and Water where people get stuck and are trying to deal in survival situations. Those kinds of films you can make cheaper. I am really trying to focus on getting it made because you don’t need a huge budget to do it. I have another project that is a bigger budget, but I am taking a step back. People haven’t come and offered me a job. If they offered me a job. If they offered me a job, hey come direct this feature I’d be like, let’s do it. I’m finding when I have these windows where I don’t have something I’m doing. They are really stressful financially, but I actually love them because I can work on my films. I can work on my projects and get things much further along. Which I feel, in the long run, will be more beneficial to me and my family then making Orc Wars or Step Sister. And by the way, both those titles have been changed. When Orc Wars were released in the US it was titled DragonFly, it’s on Netflix and Hulu. And when Step Sister was sold to Lifetime they changed it to You May Now Kill The Bride. Probably a better title. I don’t know.
Right now I am trying my hardest to move out from being somebody people hire to somebody who can generate my own content, but I also really love, I don’t know, there is a niceness to having somebody hire you. And they say, here’s the script and you say, I can interpret this however I want. Whereas if you write something and it’s your own, and it’s your baby, and there is only one way you can see it. There is a coolness to being a hired gun, a creative freedom that you don’t always get when you are doing your own thing. It’s weird. Obviously, I prefer coming up with my own projects and writing them and directing them.