Your upcoming movie Extended Release - in a few words, what
is it about?
Extended Release is a story about Tim, a recent college
graduate, who moves across the country to escape the haunting memories of
his best friend Brendan's death. Tim struggles from the same drugs that Brendan
overdosed on. When Tim gets to a new place, meets new people, he is forced
to face sobriety and leaving his best friend for the second time.
What? You'll have to watch to see what I mean.
With Extended Release being about
substance abuse - is that anything you have (active or passive) experience
with, and what prompted you to make a movie on that subject?
is a national drug epidemic happening right now. I'm not sure what's
triggering it, but there have been more deaths recently to drug overdoses.
It has been affecting my home state, as well as many others. It's such a
powerful subject for me. Personally, I don't have a substance abuse
problem, but I am very familiar with the strain it puts on family
relationships, friends, and loved ones. I've seen first hand people I
love struggle with addiction and it's something I want others to see. This
story opens up addiction discussion but also lets people know they are
sources of inspiration when dreaming up Extended Release?
have been sitting on this story for a while. Originally the characters
were different age and sex, and there were more familial ties involved.
After brainstorming with a friend on a set one day, we bounced around some
ideas that really helped shape the plot. The trans-atlantic side of the
story was inspired during my own move. I have only been living in LA a
year now, but when I first moved here (and started really writing) it was
a really big adjustment. It's lonely at first. I think that really helped
me shape Tim's struggle. When you're alone, little things don't seem so
little anymore. It takes a lot of strength just to make it through the day
when you're isolated.
talk about the intended look and feel of your movie for a bit?
look and feel of Extended Release is something I've put many hours into. It's a very
introspective piece, so we're inside Tim and his thoughts a lot, but I
didn't want it to have that Twilight Zone-feel. I think the scariest part
of the human brain is how real things can seem when they're not. Tim
is coping with the loss of his best friend and also substance abuse, but
his interpretations of his daily life and struggles are completely real. I
haven't locked down what I'm shooting on yet, but I love the Alexa (who
doesn't?). However, there is something beautiful about a Canon C300. That
image is just superb and it's so easy to move around. It really frees up
ideas as a filmmaker when you can put the camera any place you want with
Jarrett Ricker, Ben Whitehair
you can tell us about your projected cast yet, and why exactly these
Our cast is going to knock your socks off. We
held three casting sessions. We probably went through close to a 150
people. I've been asked if it was a challenging process. The quick answer:
no. The long answer: yes. Of course it's challenging- you want to find the
perfect actor but also don't want to compromise your vision. When Jarrett
Ricker [Jarrett Ricker
interview - click here] walked into the room, it was instant. One of my photographers and I
exchanged glances as he set down his water. "This LOOKS like
Brendan." And he can act? I wanted to offer him the role right then
and there. The same thing happened with Ben Whitehair, who plays Tim. He
walked in with confidence and when he did his read, I had goosebumps. He
literally took my breathe away, after looking at his resume I was really
shocked. He had been in a lot and had amazing representation. I felt so
honored to have him. It was challenging to go through so many people, but
when I found them, I knew instantly they were the one.
As far as I know, you're presently running a
fundraiser for Extended Release - so what can you tell us about
your fundraising efforts?
I decided to choose Kickstarter
instead of IndieGoGo or GoFundMe because of the exposure. It's all or
nothing. Looking back now, I probably would have gone with IndieGoGo so I
could have kept whatever I made. Not because I want to make a knockoff
version of the film, but because sometimes grants and fundraising can't be
done in a month. I'm in talks with a lot of organizations who are
interested and we are in talks with funding, but that stuff doesn't happen
overnight. Certainly not in the 11 days remaining. I have reached out to
hundreds of rehab centers asking for an underwrite, I have made hundreds
of cold calls, and I have sent out press releases which have gotten
me some exposure. It's challenging because exposure doesn't necessarily
translate into Dollars. How can I make my campaign successful? How can I
make it so people feel compelled to contribute. Substance abuse is a
serious topic for me, but how do I convince others of this? It's been a
marketing challenge. It would be nice if I threw a Kickstarter up there,
put my feet up, and watched the money come in each day but that's NOT how
it works. I have put more work into this than anything before. We have 72
backers and are about halfway to $15,000. We have 11 days left. It's
daunting, but I haven't lost faith.
Once your funds are raised,
what's the schedule? And any idea when and where the film might be
released onto the general public yet?
question right there! I have a shooting schedule, a line budget, rental
agreements drafted, but it's all tentative. It's hard to get ahead of
ourselves because we still have 11 days left of funding and we're only
halfway there. If we're successful, I would like to shoot in
September/October, and have it out before Christmas. I want to try my hand
at the festival circuit but also looking into other forms of distribution
projects beyond Extended Release?
Absolutely. I just
finished a feature that was top 5 in the California Women's Film
I have a meeting on Monday regarding it. The script is still in
circulation, but I hope to have it coming down the pipeline as soon as
possible next year.
What got you
into filmmaking in the first place, and did you receive any formal
education on the subject?
I loved to film as a kid. My dad
had the big Sony camcorder that my friend Charlie and I would make horror
films with. We'd be down in the basement for hours. There wasn't editing
software that I had access too, so I remember trying to edit on the
camera, rewinding and filming over it to make effects. Then Windows Movie
Maker came out. I made music videos to all of my favorite songs. I took a
video production class in high school and made one awesome thriller short.
My teacher said after that how I should seriously consider filmmaking as a
profession. I went to UNH and studied Communications with a concentration
in Media, and a film minor. We didn't have a big film program so anytime a
production would come through the area, they'd reach out for some
film students wanting to work for free. My professor would send them my
way. It gave me a lot of on-set experience and exposure I am so thankful
What can you tell us about
your filmwork prior to Extended Release?
I've made a
few shorts before with no budget. They were with acting friends in the
theater program, or anyone I could get my hands on. I'm constantly making
content, but this is my first project with a small budget. I have been
working on sets for a while. I am the post production coordinator on Mr.
Robot on USA right now, and worked in post on FX's Justified. I see
production from start to finish and have worked on many sides of the
spectrum. I have done reality TV to features, to broadcast TV, I love
all the different styles and it's been one giant classroom for me.
would you describe yourself as a director?
I'm very open to
suggestions. I think it's imperative that an actor feels like they can
suggest things and take risks. Just because I have something playing out
in my head a certain way doesn't mean that it's the only way. I'm also
very aware of people's feelings. I think it's one of my strengths. I am
very good at connecting with people and I think that will translate to my
work. My characters will be real and honest and I think that's the most
who inspire you?
In how many characters?! Hands down Scorsese is
brilliant. I have seen Taxi Driver probably 10 times.
Rear Window is my
favorite Hitchcock movie, and I am so shocked at his filmmaking with the
technology he had at the time. That in itself is inspiring. Stanley
Kubrick's Clockwork Orange is bizarre but entrancing and that was the
point. I think stylistically his work is very beautiful. Birdman was
mind-blowing, and I am now completely enthralled with Alejandro
Inarritu. It would be a dream come true to meet him. Lastly - can you
really argue that anyone could have directed Jurassic Park BETTER
than Spielberg? He's a legend!
Your favourite movies?
Taxi Driver, Rear Window, Birdman, Brazil, Volver, Scary Movie 3 (I'm
and of course, films you really deplore?
Plenty, but I
plead the fifth.
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for the interview!