Your new movie Suburbanite
- in a few words, what is it about?
Suburbanite is about making decisions and then having to live with the consequences.
In life, whether big or small, decisions really shape our time and
enjoyment of whatever life develops out of those decisions. So itís
about putting someone in a position where the decisions really have a
cause and effect and see what happens.
What were your
inspirations when writing Suburbanite?
are two main inspirations with Suburbanite. Iím a big noir thriller fan,
both in films and paperback. Thereís just something about jaded or
broken people that you both love and hate interests me. And second, would
be more the actual behind the scenes logistics of films that you hear
about in a lot of first time director films such as the always mentioned
Tarantino Resevoir Dogs, or Rian Johnsonís
Brick. The way that people
had to be creative to use their money wisely and prepare for long periods
you actually identify with any of the lead characters of Suburbanite,
still not sure who the lead character of the film is (laughs). I think
that I identify with all three leads as one character and see myself
reflected in all of them. With John (Joe Nemmers) I see a family man, that
I envy a little, with the steady job, frantic-less life. With Mack (Jodie
Moore) I see a little bit of my passive aggressive, sometimes
disappointed, and yet humor filled personality, as well as the more
introspective side. And with Rick (Frank Mosley) I see the bizarre over
the top personality that I sometimes imagine other people see when they
look at me.
As far as I know, this is your debut feature
film - so how did the project fall together in the first place?
It is my first.
Suburbanite began as just spec job.
A director/producer/mentor/friend of mine asked if
I could write a simple script that could be shot with the fewest amount of
people, cast, budget, locations, etc. Three weeks later was the rough,
then three years later we talked and he gave me the go ahead to make it on
my own. After a couple redrafts while working as a lighting technician for
a living, a failed online funding campaign, and then a car wreck that paid
for principal photography (basically I just didnít buy a new car after
mine was totaled), we hit the ground running.
can you tell us about your directorial approach to your story at hand?
Itís important to be flexible. But at the same time have a plan. If there is no
plan, no forethought, then itís wild west shooting from the hip. And
when you have barely enough money to shoot for 11 days with a 90 page
script, and a very small, but devoted, cast and crew, there needs to be a
plan that is realistic and achievable.
We had some amazing meetings, the cast and I that is, over Mexican food,
coffee, greasy spoon breakfasts, and phone calls where a lot of the
rehearsing happened. Sometimes even reading the script and finding the
little ticks, and the moments of silence, the looks, the repetition. On the
day, there werenít a lot of questions or working things out. We had
discussed ways to play the characters, and after a take one or two would
adjust nuances to allow the actors to breath in those moments. It really
helps when you can trust your cast, and be confident that they are playing
the part from the heart.
least for me, Suburbanite
does have a humourous trait to it - would you at all agree, and if so,
what can you tell us about your movie's brand of comedy?
It definitely has some slapstick humor with the amazing Bob (Max Hartman).
But its amusing how we all seem to know someone that just never gets it,
and tries so hard to seem like they get it. It needed something, and
your never sure when you write something you think is ďfunnyĒ if it
will translate. The majority of the humor comes from the actorís honest
representation of awkwardness in these moments. Jodie Moore has this great
humor in darkness that shines through in real life that he brought to this
Rick (Frank Mosley) although is definitely a bit more warped and in tune with
my own off humor. Frank was so good at flowing with some of the unnatural
wording, and coming up with his own twisted sayings, that Rick just feels
off. My favorite line still that he adlibbed, at least I donít think I
came up with it was ďCheer up buttercupÖĒ while stroking Jodie
Mooreís face. Kills me every single time.
is set mostly in a garage - so do talk about this location for a bit, and
what were the advantages and challenges filming there?
The garage, oh the garageÖ Actually it worked out great. A dear friend
basically read the script and then decided I needed to shoot in his
garage, so he cleaned it out over a weekend, or two, and we began walking
through the paces.
With short schedules, time is your mcguffin. By not having to leave once we
moved in the garage until we were done there, it allowed us a mostly walk
away set like being on a stage. The exterior did not match what we needed,
so we let the windows blow out, but under control. It definitely boxes you
in and makes you think of creative ways to cover your scenes. It was
almost a ballet. Letting the story move from one part of the garage to the
other opening the world and characters up. Most of the props in the garage
were just the things that didnít get moved out before we started
filming, so perfect spot. Only downside was the car didnít fit, so
itís trunk basically hung out the garage door the entire time we shot in
there. Giving us a 180 world to shoot in.
can you tell us about your key cast, and why exactly these people?
This castÖ what an awesome group of people. I met Jodie Moore years ago, and
we kept bumping into each other on movies. He was always acting, me
lighting, and we just developed a fun friendship. When the new drafts
began, he just came to mind and fit right into the spot of whom I would
love to see in the role of Mack.
Joe Nemmers and I met on a television show that shot in Dallas, The Good
it was a slapstick action show. But Joe showed a lot of heart when guest
appearing on the episode, and we ended up hanging out at the season's wrap
party, and got to know each other during an altercation after (long story
that ends less exciting than it begins). During that altercation I saw a
father figure, someone protective, and someone that could be dangerous,
and it just clicked for me that he could make John real.
And Frank, I believe I met when he was doing a Gary Oldman impersonation on
another comedy television show that hasnít been released yet. He has the
ability to play normal characters really well, but he also plays the
quirky and disheveled ones a little too well.
Once we all started talking the characters and fleshing out the details, it
just all clicked. I canít imagine anyone else having played these roles
now, because they just felt as close to real as I could have hoped.
Max Hartman, Frank Mosley
talk about the shoot as such, and the on-set atmosphere?
For the most part it was industry friends and family, and the personal
relationships between all of us kept things lighthearted. Despite our
breakneck 10.5 day schedule everyone came ready, and if I remember
correctly we only had one super long day that I think ended up around 14
hours. The others seemed to be 10 or less. I think the first two days we
ended at 8 hrs.
Iíve always enjoyed a set where people know when itís time to work, and when
to laugh. Some sets are just so filled with tension and it's no fun.
I remember during the bar scene at the beginning of the movie, when Mack
(Jodie) hands Rick (Frank) the manila envelopeÖ I believe Jodie had photoshopped either his head or Frankís head on a picture of a female
body builder. So when Frank opened the envelope to check the contents
during the take, he got an eyeful of that. He laughed in character, which
was great, but it has this sincere quality to it.
I think also at one point Joe Nemmers put on some ridiculous 4th
of July sunglasses and Jodie was able to continue performing through it,
but his facial expressions again made it in the movie.
$64 question of course, when and where will the film be released onto the
is releasing it November 15th domestically. I have not received
all the details yet. And then I guess, on the foreign side, Acort
International has it out in a few East Asian countries, and hopefully
more on the way.
Any future projects you'd like to share?
I am ready for anything. Lately been taking some opportunity to works as
cinematographer. I love lighting and working that side of the camera just
as much as the directing side. Iím just making a living doing one while
funding the other. Itís been great just learning and getting
opportunities to stretch my experience. I think having been around
lighting and shooting helped me organize Suburbanite
in a very efficient
Specifically Iíve been re-drafting a couple noir drama thrillers, more complicated
than Suburbanite. It would be nice not to stay in one location for so long
on the next one.
But there is also a cartel movie, a western, a sci fi, and you name itÖ
thereís a script. Most of the scripts that are written and those still
in development, are character studies. People that you love and hate at
the same time, or at least hate decisions they make but still love them.
Iíd love to do more ambitious work, but for the time Iím still
learning what my voice is saying, subconsciously and purposely.
I think Iím more interested in pushing myself further with the next film
and being able to let go of a few responsibilities so I can focus in on
the actors and lighting. Getting time to really develop a visual language
along with the performances has really become a desire of mine.
far as I know, you entered the filmworld as a lighting technician, so do
talk about that aspect of your career for a bit! And how did it prepare
you for directing your first feature film?
Itís amazing. A college buddy referred me to a Dallas Tx, rental house. MPS,
awesome people, and I basically knew nothing and they took me in. After a while I needed some more challenges, thank you attention deficit disorder,
and just eased into set work as a technician. It just kind of steamrolled. Had some great chances to work under amazing
key grips, gaffers,
and even some awesome ASC cinematographers. In all this Iím watching,
listening to what directors are saying, watching art department work, and
the problem solving. Listening to everything, absorbing everything.
Getting to work as both a grip and electric, key grip and gaffer,
sometimes camera operator, and a few times art and even boom op has given
me a very broad learning career.
I know that Suburbanite
would not have been possible without those
experiences, both the good and bad ones. Sometimes the bad ones teach you
the most. What no to do, is so much easier to learn out there than what to
do. Because sometimes what to do is this analogousÖ is that the right
word, I think it isÖ analogous mythical creature. Because you donít
know if it works until you see it. But you definitely know if it doesnít
work while your watching it happen.
I think it has also given me a great respect for everyone, and an interest
in communicating with everyone.
What can you
tell us about your filmwork prior to Suburbanite,
in whatever position?
all over the place. I love it all. Fast and Furious 7 was ridiculously big
and the first major movie I worked on, Ainít Them Bodies Saints was a
dream come true literally, and dozens of indie films. Itís been such a
great ride. It does feel weird; I donít want to sound egotistical so
itís hard to talk about your work experience. IMDb makes it easier
because you could just look up my name. Me listing out some favorite ones,
and more widely known ones just feels weird.
Filmmakers who inspire you?
a mix of directors and cinematographersÖ
(of course) with his amazing ability to combine so many genres and film
references. And his dialogue, oh my goshÖ
Roger Deakins (cinematographer), if you donít know him you should.
Young (cinematographer), get to know him!
Boyd (director/cinematographer), one of the most amazing men I have ever
met and had the pleasure of working for.
Villeneuve, Ben Affleck, Shane Black, Rian Johnsonís work on Brick was
utterly awesome, Alex Garland, John McTiernan, Richard Donner, J.J.
Abrams, Michael Slovis, David Fincher, Guy Ritchie, Robert RichardsonÖ
and the list goes on.
Kiss Bang Bang, Brick, Momento, Resevoir
Dogs, Prisoners, No Country for
Old Men, Nightmare Before Christmas, Face Off, Die
Hard(s), Lethal Weapon(s), Indiana Jones,
Star Wars, Warrior, Jackie Chanís career!!!
Lol! 13 Warriors, David Fincher's career!!! Bad Boys 1 and
... and of course, films you really
Feeling lucky ?
any of my partnershops yourself
for more, better results ?
The links below
will take you
I kind of have this thing for finding something good within every movie.
Because I feel like almost everything has things to teach, even if itís
what not to do. I guess movies I didnít like, but I thought were
genius might be a better question. I did not enjoy Napoleon Dynamite at
all, but I recognize its amazing impact on people. I donít necessarily
like Michael Bayís newest stuff as much as the old, but I think he is an
amazing filmmaker that gets some amazing stuff. Episode 1-3 of
depressed me a bit, but I still found the effects amazing.
Your/your movie's website, Facebook, whatever
website yet, but we are on Facebook.
Anything else you're dying to mention and I have
merely forgotten to ask?
support your local indie filmmakers, and reviewersÖ lol.
Thanks for the interview!