Your new movie The
Aviation Cocktail - in a few words, what is it about?
We liked how you summed it up in your review Mike, “The
drama, tight thriller and PTSD, all rolled into one, and it works rather
splendidly thanks to a
narrative buildup that reveals more and more facts only gradually,
doesn’t try to explain too
away, and ultimately creates a puzzle that looks almost certainly a whole
lot different from
you might have expected. And add to that a very solid directorial effort,
a very competent
cast, and of course some wonderfully authentic sets and props, and
you’ve got yourself
pretty good movie!”
were your inspirations for writing The
I had heard some stories about my grandfather and his aviation history,
them, adding a little Coen brothers flair, and there you have it. I was
really motivated to write
of some personal stuff.
How did the project get off
the ground then?
Nice aviation pun! Well, the project first ‘took off’ when we came
while location scouting. The city was extremely excited to work with the
offered localized incentives to offset some production costs through their
board (gas, lodging, food, etc.).
Aviation Cocktail being a period piece, what were the main
challenges regarding finding the right locations, right props and costumes
... and where did you get all those wonderful vintage cars and that
There were great locations around Valentine and our production designer
made them look even better! We had a wonderful location scout in named
who was extremely helpful and generous with her time and knowledge. We
enough to hire Carole Zacek as our costume designer. Aside from the police
car that was
by the Denver Police, the cars belonged to locals in Valentine. I can’t
the film wouldn’t have been possible anywhere else. It’s an extremely
film friendly city!
1949 Stinson Voyager belonged to our good friend Dennis Lacy who aside
from being a
pilot is a fantastic guy.
As far as I could tell, quite some scenes
of The Aviation
Cocktail were shot in the snow - now what challenges did that
It was quite challenging to get the permit to dump that much snow on one
though the hardest part was waiting for a snow storm that big. It didn’t
photography, or even in state (Nebraska), but Colorado was scheduled to have
what we did was trailer the hero car from Nebraska to Colorado, park it
and waited for the
Luckily the weather gods smiled upon us.
David, what can you tell us about your overall
directorial approach to your story at hand?
Everyone has a first film, right? I went for a naturalistic approach and
tried not to have
shots draw attention to themselves. Honestly I was faced with the problem
of coverage on a
basis, we were on an extremely tight schedule. I’ll do some ‘I’m a
director’ shots on the
your collaboration like during the shoot? And what can you tell us about
your past collaborations ... and how did the two of you first meet,
Fighting, shouting and then telling each other good night.
Plus we have a similar sense of humor and believe that if you’re not
having fun on set,
doing something wrong. Did we have fun?
Of course. And we met online. True story, nothing weird just through a
Resource Guide. It was in regards to another film, but it’s still funny
to tell people
Especially in cowboy country.
In all seriousness, we both had the same goals in mind and were able to
individually to achieve them while on set.
What can you tell us about your cast, and why
exactly these people?
Keeping with our Colorado roots, we wanted to hire locals and showcase
are lots of talented people outside LA and we auditioned hundreds. Similar
locally in Valentine. Basically if someone is the character, they’re the
Do talk about the shoot as such
for a bit, and the on-set atmosphere?
Just like-minded people working together for a common goal. I mean, making
a movie is
work and requires everyone to pull together as a community. And as with
any shoot there
a few bad apples, but being in the middle of nowhere makes it easy to kill
them off quickly
bury them in a ditch. Really though, everyone is giving 100% for long
hours and at times stress
levels can boil over. Everyone was extremely professional and it’s good
to know when to take
A few words about
audience and critical reception of your movie so far?
As far as theatrical, we’ve had some great reviews. People genuinely
seem to like it and we’ve
been approached with questions at many film festivals. It won Best
Narrative Feature at the
Trail Dance Film Festival (2013).
Positivity abounds on VOD as well. User reviews rate it as a 7.1/10 on IMDb and a 4.4/5
future projects you'd like to share?
David R. Higgins
We’ve been working on a Fury 2 script.
Actually we have been developing a feature Western and hope to shoot it in
It’s the untold true story about an American outlaw and if we don’t
get it going soon I
lose my mind.
What got you into
filmmaking in the first place, and did you receive any formal education on
Early on in school I found it much more fun to do video projects over
and the ‘short films’ went over pretty well with fellow classmates.
Later on I got a
in film production from the University of Colorado (Denver), but I learned
the most from
life, on set experiences.
Same. It just seemed like the only job that was really worth it. If MI6
calls, I might take a
but for the most part there’s nothing more rewarding than taking
something you picture in
brain and sharing it with others.
What can you tell us about your filmwork
prior to The Aviation Cocktail, in whatever position?
I tried to work in every department, especially camera, before tackling a
feature as writer/director.
In many ways it allows insight into what different people need to make the
I’ve worked in various crew positions (professionally )for about a decade
Now that I have the directing bug, it’s all I want to do.
I have worked primarily in television and this was my first go’round on
a film this size.
writers, producers, whoever else who inspire you?
Kubrick, Peckinpah, John Huston, Kurosawa, Robert Altman, Hemingway,
McMurtry, Johnny Cash, David Bowie, Nick Cave, mom and dad...
I would say family as well but in the industry I think Bob Evans, Eastwood
and Wayne. Really
anyone who has the balls to make an indie.
That’s a tough one. It’s kind of like asking which child is your
favorite in front of your children.
What I do have is a rotating Top 5. It can change with my mood, or the
weather, or the wind.
So as of this year, on this day, at this time and in no particular order:
McCabe & Mrs. Miller,
The Shining (Kubrick version), Ikiru,The Last Picture
Show, The African Queen.
Both of us grew up in the West and love Westerns. Also, anything with Will
... and of course, films you really
It’s difficult to hate too much, knowing the vast amount of work that
goes into any film. Of
course I can’t say I’m a big fan of Adam Sandler movies made in the
last 10 years or so...
The Aviation Cocktail.
Your/your movie's website, Facebook, whatever
Feeling lucky ?
any of my partnershops yourself
for more, better results ?
The links below
will take you
We are really supportive of other indie films so like us and we will like
Anything else you are dying to mention and I have
merely forgotten to ask?
The more reviews, tweets and follows online we can get will really help us
to boost the film’s
exposure. If you like the film, we urge you to spread the word about it so
that we can
to bring you more stories like this.
Again, a big thanks to Valentine, Nebraska and all our family, friends and
fans for their continued support!
Thanks for the interview!