Your new movie Autumn Road
- in a few words, what is it about?
is about hauntings. Thereís no ghosts or exorcisms, but
there are plenty of people and places in the film that are haunted by the
past. And in a more literal sense itís about a woman (played by Lorelei
Linklater) looking for her lost sister colliding with these two troubled
twins (played by me) that run a small town haunted house. Someone
described it to me as a very elegiac film once, and that term has stuck
What were your sources of inspiration when writing Autumn
drew inspiration from all over the place, but a big one that I keep
mentioning is Ray Bradbury. Thereís definitely a ton of October Country
and Something Wicked This Way Comes DNA inside of
Autumn Road. I love how
equal parts wistful as well as tragic his writing feels. He had such a
beautiful voice on the page, and I remember telling myself that if this
film only lived as a script, as long as it felt in the vein of Bradbury
Iíd have succeeded. And someone brought up October Country to me the day
this movie was released! It felt amazing.
Do talk about Autumn
Road's approach to horror for a bit!
I donít see
Autumn Road as a horror
film, it truthfully fits as more of a drama with macabre iconography.
Which is just the pretentious way of saying itís spooky, not scary. The
old hearse, the owls, the haunted house, the spooky mask, and deaths, the
autumn atmosphere, the antagonistic brother, I obviously see the
connection to horror, I just donít think itís quite the same sandbox.
And I love that it feels outside of a genre box, things donít play out
exactly how a screenplay template would dictate and that was important to
me. I never wanted to make a horror movie (as much as I love the genre). I
was more focused on making something weird and unlike movies Iíd seen
before. Obviously that creates a few frustrated audience members that didnít
feel like they got enough scares for their buck. But if people agree to
meet this film on itís own terms, I think thereís still plenty of dark
delights for horror fans to chew on.
have to talk about your film's scarehouse location, and was that an
existing place or did you build it from scratch? And what was it like
pre-existing location. Graystone Manor was very generous to let us shoot
on location just after their haunt season. It was a beautiful horse ranch
that has been remodeled into a huge scare property and I loved every
corner of it. Seeing a haunted house with the lights on is such a wondrous
thing because you see it for what it really is, an elaborate art project
forged on pure enthusiasm. Thereís so much craftsmanship and quirkiness
and hard work that for the most part is meant to be shrouded in darkness
and strobe lights. My appreciation for haunts has only grown since filming
there. The haunt community is a wonderful place.
What can you tell us about your overall
directorial approach to your story at hand?
try to remain very open and collaborative as a director. I do a ton of
prep and then on set itís about just being present and ready for
anything. The relationship between acting and directing at the same time
is interesting. It creates this unique opportunity to guide things by
doing instead of just explaining. If myself or someone else has an idea or
gets inspired we can throw the script away and just go for it. It feels
very instinctual and playful, Iíd recommend it. The workload is more,
but who cares when itís the dream work?
play not one but two of the leads in Autumn
Road - so what can you tell us about Charlie and Vincent, what did
you draw upon to bring them to life, and have you written them with
yourself in mind from the get-go?
first focus with the twins was just getting them right on paper. At that
point, Iím just trying to write characters that I enjoy spending time
with and Iím not thinking of myself playing them. I wouldíve taken a
lot less risks with Vincent had I been writing solely for myself. The
simple answer is that Vincentís all external whereas Charlieís very
internal, and the more they suffer the more they externalize or sink into
themselves. Because of that, playing them was a joy because I got to
portray such a big spectrum of emotions and reactions. It was a dream for
me as an actor, but I also donít feel like Iím just writing to give my
acting career a vehicle. And on a technical level it felt dangerous
pulling off that dual illusion, like we werenít supposed to be doing it.
Movies like ours on our no budget scale shouldnít be able to pull that
off. But the fact that we did was a very thrilling sensation, one that
Iím still very proud of. Thank you, Parent Trap.
Do talk about the rest of your cast, and why exactly these people?
Linklater was my first pick for the role of Laura - so thank God she said yes. I
didnít know her personally, but I knew she was another Texas artist and
I had a gut feeling sheíd understand the intent of what we were doing.
She responded really positively to the script and Iím really happy we
got to show off colors to her acting that I donít think people have seen
from her before. A lot of the other cast members are friends, or crew
members, or real haunt actors (like Maddy Lea, who plays Winnie). I loved
the unconventional casting and getting to pull all these people into the
mix was lovely. Every actor in this has a story to how we reached them, I
could ramble on about it forever.
few words about the shoot as such, and the on-set atmosphere?
goal on set should always be to prioritize people. On a no budget film
like ours, itís a simple thing that a lot of people mess up simply
because they donít prioritize it. You donít have a lot of time or
money to throw around so you really need to make sure itís a place
people are happy to come to work at. The attitude of the leaders on set
trickles down fast. We had a great atmosphere, even in the trenches of
filmmaking, made up of people who were all friends prior and have remained
friends after. Being able to live in a big set piece like the haunt also
really puts people in the right mood and very directly shows them what
weíre working towards. Turns out haunted houses are a great bonding
you can tell us about audience and critical reception of Autumn
a quote by Ethan Hawke that I use as a bit of a mantra when Iím thinking
about the reception of film, ďmost of us really want to offer the world
something of quality. Something that the world will consider good or
important. And thatís really the enemy, because itís not up to us
whether what we do is any good. And if history has taught us anything,
itís that the world is an extremely unreliable critic.Ē Okay, maybe
thatís too long to be a mantra, but itís still true. And to piggyback,
I try not to derive much value from the way my art is received. My value
in terms of creativity comes from the process of creating, and thatís a
much more sustainable source of happiness than letting others dictate my
worth. But even still, I think the audience of the film will only continue
to grow with time. Itís a film that was made very genuinely and with a
lot of heart, and thereís a home for that kind of thing even if itís
not for everyone instantly. Small movies like this donít have the money
to reach the exact people they need right away, itís got to find them
organically and that requires patience. In the meantime, rolling stone
gathers no moss, you gotta keep making stuff.
Any future projects you'd like to share?
in post production on the next feature, The Wild Man, in which I serve as
writer/director/actor again. And I got to make it with a lot of the same
people from this one as well as some exciting new faces thrown in the mix.
Itís exactly what I want it to be. I feel very lucky to be in this
position, a position where the things I make feel personal and unique and
what I know, you initially entered the filmwork as an actor - so what made
you go into acting, and did you receive any formal training on the
not a trained actor. Or at least I wouldnít call myself that. I did
theatre growing up and some short films in college, so Iím certainly
passionate, but Iím not some Julliard prodigy child. But thatís what
is so fucking cool about making movies nowadays! Anybody can do it. If I
can do it, you can do it. Your cousin Bill can do it. Thatís exciting.
You just have to give a shit.
What made you want to pick up writing,
producing and directing eventually as well? And which job(s) within
filmmaking do you enjoy the most, what could you do without?
know it can come across as a bit self indulgent to take all the jobs, or
maybe like I have a control problem. But it came a lot more naturally than
that. I fell in love with acting at an early age. As a very shy, very
introverted person, acting was a necessary way for me to engage with the
world. Then as I got older, writing became my main form of expression. And
directing is a perfect way to marry the two. But really at the end of
the day, I just want to do whatever I can to support the stories I care
about, even if that entails doing 100 jobs at once.
can you tell us about your filmwork prior to Autumn
Road, in whatever position?
not much prior filmwork to talk about. I made Autumn
Road when I was 23, I
was a student before that. Most of my previous work was learning, making
short films, helping others when and where I could.
whoever else who inspire you?
Other indie filmmakers
always inspire the hell out of me. The smaller the budget scale the
better. Jim Cummings, the Duplass Brothers, Cooper Raif, Lynn Shelton,
Kelley Reichardt, just to name just a handful. Thereís a lot of great
movies and upcoming filmmakers to be praised out there, more than I could
ever see in a lifetime, but Iím trying anyway.
Your favourite movies?
Feeling lucky ?
any of my partnershops yourself
for more, better results ?
The links below
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love a lot, but one of my favorites that Iím most defensive about is 127
Hours, Cast aside. I think it gets unfairly reduced to the arm-cutting
movie in most discussions, but it was way more than that for me. Itís a
good-ass movie. This man was put into a situation where he has to
re-evaluate his relationship to himself, to his loved ones, and to nature,
in such a poetic and humanist way. Iíll happily die on this 127 Hours
... and of course, films
you really deplore?
sorry to disappoint, but Iím boring, and I canít bring myself to
deplore a film. People worked hard on these things, theyíre community
art. Why piss on that? Itís only going to be rainbows and sunshine from
Your/your movie's website, social
media, whatever else?
donít have social media for my movie. Should I? I probably should. You
can follow me on Instagram, I try to post updates about the movie and my