Your company Midnight
Prestige - how did it come into being, and what's the philosophy
I know Chris [Chris Gierowski
interview - click here] already provided the literal account of naming the group, but
basically we have been working together on each other's projects since
college. There was never a name or anything back then. We went to a very
small, "do it yourself" kind of film program at a university that
most people go to to be engineers or pharmacists. So there weren't exactly a
lot of resources at our disposal, so we came to rely on each other every time
we had projects to do for class. It was great to have that, since it's hard
enough as it is to make a movie, let alone make one in just the span of a
semester while also balancing a full course load. Now, it's a good way to keep
in touch with each other that feels a lot more real and productive than
occasionally liking each other's Facebook statuses or something like that.
We've also all grown more as storytellers, so the branding of sorts is a way
to try and reach a wider audience. And that I guess is what led us to this
interview in the first place.
What kind of talent does each of you bring to the table? And where
do you see your own strengths and shortcomings?
Murder in my Hallway
I'm trying not to repeat too much of what the other guys may have
already said. But I would like to add that I think we all succeed at doing
a lot with very little. That comes from the aforementioned "do it
yourself" training we went through in school. As for shortcomings, I
don't really feel like any of us have completely honed our craft yet to
the extent that we would like. But that's what makes continuing to work
together great. We keep pushing ourselves and each other to be better,
while also having a lot of fun. Hopefully it continues to pay off in the
can you tell us about your typical Midnight
Prestige-shoot, and what's the collaboration between the lot of
you usually like?
Much like the Vin Diesel-less second
chapter of the popular franchise, I would say that our typical shoots are
"2 Fast" and "2 Furious". We have a blast, there is a
lot of improvisation and winging it going on since we're usually working
with a pretty short window of time. Chris [Chris
Gierowski interview - click here] and Steve [Stephen
Snowden interview - click here] usually bring a lot of
great energy, while Nate and I are perhaps the more laid back and
calculated ones, even though Nate is obviously skilled at playing the guy
who freaks out all the time. I like to shoot, so I tend to have my hands a
little more full with that. And I enjoy the looseness of our shoots and
trying to keep it looking interesting on the fly. Basically we all kind of
pick each other up in one way or another.
Any on-set anecdotes you'd like to share?
On Sadie Jane I was kind of proud of myself
for coming up with a very low cost, low tech solution to add some
supplemental lighting to the bathroom that was supposed to only be lit by
candles. I gaff taped a bunch of orange holiday lights to two pieces of
white styrofoam board and we squeezed one in by the sink and hid another
on top of the shower door. The lights bounce off the reflective surface of
the white board nicely for a decent soft source. I recommend that everyone
rip it off sometime so I can feel like I did something good that helped
out other people who have no budget or professional lighting team at their
favorite was during February
4th. There's a moment where everything is
starting to escalate and go haywire and all of a sudden a loud pounding
sound can be heard. It was coming from the neighbors in the apartment
below, who were banging on their ceiling because we were being too loud.
You can actually notice us pause for a brief moment, and then we just went
with it because it was a very long uninterrupted take and it fit the story
and totally worked! It was a nice bit of free sound design.
talk about the company's films you've worked on as such for a bit?
More? Ok, I'm not sure what else to add that I didn't already say… so
I'll say something quick about the evolution of technology and how it
continues to make our projects possible. Even as we graduated from college
(not that long ago), HD video was very much in its infancy, now it's
something we all have on our phones. The equipment we learned on in school
became outdated the second they handed us our diplomas. An expensive video
camera that we were all excited to shoot on back then is now surpassed by
the movie mode on my DSLR. It's pretty astonishing what can be done and
everything will keep evolving. So there's never going to be a point where
anyone stops learning. I think this really frees people up as filmmakers
now and we'll all continue to benefit from it. If we were friends 30 years
ago, unless someone owned a Super 8 camera and some sound equipment, we'd
be screwed and never able to make these movies with each other.
future projects you'd like to share?
Well, since no
one seems to be asking us to write Ghostbusters 3 (yet), we're going to
plug away at this collaborative script that's tentatively titled The
Monsters. We're basically each writing a few scenes, continuing
where the last person left off, and then passing it on. I am convinced
that the first draft will be an absolute train wreck! But it will
hopefully be a fun train wreck. So far, the challenge of going in where
the last person left off and trying to one up what he just did with the
story and twist and turn it in different directions has been at the very
least a good writing exercise. Who knows if we'll ever have the time and
money to get together and make it, but for now it's something fun to keep
us working together.
In October, the
four of us will all be in the same place once again for a week, which
means another movie will be made! I think it'll be our best one yet.
There's also a
short film outside of the Midnight
Prestige "umbrella" that Nate
and I are involved with. He's the lead actor in it and I was the
cinematographer. We just wrapped shooting and it will hopefully be cut
together soon. I can't say too much, but it's basically a comedy that
delves equally into the zombie-Christmas-hating your job genres. Though
they weren't out here to work on it, I'm sure Chris and Steve will both
approve and I thank them for their support in advance.
When it comes to
making movies, you have done pretty much everything, writing, directing,
producing, acting, editing - so which do you enjoy the most, and what
could you do without?
cinematography/camera operating aspect of it is definitely my favorite at
the moment. Though I don't always have the time or resources to make
everything look as polished as it maybe could, I enjoy the challenge of
accomplishing something with what little we have. I like to think that
eventually it'll make it that much easier and I'll be far more prepared
when I do find myself in a larger budget project situation.
directing is enjoyable for me as well, though with Midnight
kind of all do a little bit of each. The good thing about that is that if
I'm not really having any story ideas at the time (like with Sadie Jane),
one of the other guys (in that case, Nate) can usually get things going
and then it'll kick me into gear to follow along, trying to add whatever I
can to expand their ideas and tell the story - through the visuals or
dialogue, or whatever. I think this applies to all of us in our own way.
We all kind of
forced ourselves to be actors for each other back in school, because once
again, we didn't have much at our disposal! The theater department was
kind of small at our school as well, and they'd always be busy doing
plays. Toledo, Ohio isn't exactly the hotbed of aspiring actors that Los
Angeles is. We couldn't just throw a stone and hit someone who wanted to
act in our movies, so they would usually just cast me and then throw
stones at me anyway, just to test my reflexes and because it helps get me
I could do
without editing though, I find it tedious and I don't really have the
patience. I'm too active, which is why I'm more into the actual shooting
process. The other 3 guys are all better editors than me anyway.
You of course also have to talk about Schlock
Shock Radio for a bit, and what's your role in that project?
That's Steve's brain child, though we all have fun being a part of it.
For me, it's as simple as Steve sending me a script and telling me which
character to play and kind of what type of voice he's looking for. I'm
never sure if what I'm saying sounds good and I have no formal voice
training at all. Most of what I record and send to Steve is my first take
after a basic read through of the script. I know how that might sound, but
I think it works - it gives things a more natural, spontaneous vibe and
I'd like to think that back in the days of the radio dramas we're paying
homage to, they'd often have to work on the fly and go with whatever
script they were given.
never seems to stray too far from the horror genre - pure coincidence, or
is this a genre you're at all fond of, and why (not)?
I am the one in
the group that was never typically that big of a horror aficionado, which
is part of why they all think I'm the pretentious one. That's where their
ideas tend to generate and I usually just go with it. Maybe I'm just being
outvoted without realizing it? One of these days I'll convince them to
make a black and white French New Wave homage or something just to even
things back out.
appreciation has grown over the years for horror thanks to these guys.
It's also a genre very much with its roots in the kind of low budget, do
it yourself world that we inhabit. I think when you have a small cast and
maybe just one or two locations, story ideas tend to gravitate towards
things in the horror and psychological thriller realm. Plus, they're just
fun to make!
would you describe yourself as a director/writer/actor?
Orson Welles, but much skinnier and with none of the talent.
who inspire you?
Anderson is my favorite. I've also been inspired by the Coen Brothers,
Edgar Wright, Scorsese, Kubrick, David Lynch. I know we've all mentioned
David Lynch at this point, but it's with good reason.
In college, I
was really into studying the French New Wave (there's one guy in every
film program… I was that guy) and always found myself inspired by those
filmmakers. Not necessarily in terms of content, but they were really the
pioneers of the whole "do it yourself" thing and making
something fast and fresh with what little resources you have. So I think
that spirit is very much there with me and the rest of the group in what
we do, even if they think I'm pretentious for saying that.
Your favourite movies?
Eternal Sunshine of the Spotless Mind, There Will Be Blood,
The Graduate, Rushmore, The 400 Blows, Raising
Arizona, Blue Velvet, Paris Texas, Back to the
Future. I could go on for days but I won't.
... and of course, films you really deplore?
Feeling lucky ?
any of my partnershops yourself
for more, better results ?
The links below
will take you
It's harder to deplore films once you've tried making one and know how
much effort and hard work really goes into it. But I'd say that anytime
there's some kind of hack-y studio movie that's just a cliché recycled
story over and over again and you can tell nobody really gave a shit and
was just there to get their paycheck, those are the films that are worth
deploring because there's no heart in them.
Your/your company's website, Facebook, whatever else?
I defer to Chris on this one [Chris
Gierowski interview - click here], because it's late and I literally can't
remember where he put everything right now.
Anything else you are dying to mention and I have merely forgotten
Just to say thank you for your support.
Thanks for the interview!