I’ve mentioned a few times before that I make short films with a group called Robotic Flyers Productions.
Recently, the group decided to interview members and post the interviews online.
You can find my interview here.
For those of you who can’t understand someone speaking thirty words a second, here’s a transcript of some of the things I was trying to say:
The Biggest Challenges I’ve Had Making Short Films:
On one level, acting in The Other Side of the Cage was the most difficult part I’ve ever done because it was one [role] where I wasn’t playing myself. The character [Ivan Ghiul’ was based on some of my cynical side but I had to come up with a personality that was unusual for me, and James Stacy the director really helped me morph it into something very scary and unusual.
The comedies [we made] were also a little tough because as a writer I always want us to stick to the script and there was a lot of improvisation.
My Other Work:
I’ve written a lot before I came into [this group). Most of what I’ve done has been journalism, so I’ve written for magazines like Christian Communicator, Area of Effect, some e-magazines – US Represented among others – a lot of book review stuff. So a big part of what made this group so fun was the chance to finally get some of my fiction out there. I’ve done so much of the other stuff, but I wanted to start to get some of my more creative work out to people.
What I Brought to this Group:
If I were to guess, I think the big skill set I brought to this film club was the fact that I had some experience reading scripts and that I’d spent some time studying dialogue. I worked on a lot of projects where I’d say, “Okay, we have this piece of script, let’s just thinker this line a little bit so it sounds more natural” or “let’s format this script in this way so that it’s a little more readable.” That kind of thing.
My Favorite Projects:
My favorite project would be either be the first Secret Menu film or The Other Side of the Cage.
The Other Side of the Cage was a lot of fun because a lot of people got it immediately. I remember sitting down with the team when we read the script through the first time, and James Stacy knew what I was getting at almost immediately.
Secret Menu was a lot of fun because even though we changed the way I wanted it to work in the initial version, it came out so much better. My initial version was it was supposed to be two male characters, two gangsters, drinking coffee, but we filmed it as an all-female cast, and that suddenly rose it to a whole new level. That was just amazing to see, the nuances and the dark comedy that comes around when you have two female characters doing that story as opposed to two male characters.
Skills Needed to Be in a Film Club:
One skill that you really need to bring if you’re in a film club is a willingness to collaborate because at the end of the day even short films are kind of like Swiss watches: you need a bunch of pieces [coming together] in order to make it work.
There [also] needs to be a willingness to pick up new skills, to do different things, especially in the context of a really small film club because we’ve got limited resources. Everybody has to be willing to be everything.
Benefits and Challenges I’ve Gotten From this Film Club:
Being in [this] film club has definitely benefited me because it’s allowed me to gain new experiences and get some of my stories out there and to get a sense of whether I could do screenwriting full-time.
It’s challenged me in that it’s been a whole different ballgame than anything else I’ve ever done. I’ve had to deal with all the challenges that go with that – learning to work with people, learning to work with equipment, new situations.
On Limited Resources:
Limited resources in [a] film club can definitely be a challenge because there are things you wish you can do that you can’t. [When I write] I like big concept ideas, and I’ve had to realize I always have to scale things down.
But on the other hand, it allows you to come up with some creative things. Composer Jerry Goldsmith once said that having little money forces you to work harder, and I think that’s definitely been true of us. We’ve had to figure out “how do we make interesting stories when we only have two to three people, a small number of rooms available to us, and a couple of cameras?”
How Many Projects I’ve Worked On:
I’ve contributed to, I think six or seven projects.
I wrote or co-wrote both of the Secret Menu films, I was a little involved in The Magic Statue and then I wrote and co-directed The Other Side of the Cage.
NOTE: I forgot to mention it, but I’m also credited as a co-director on the second Secret Menu film. I also filmed a commercial for my book Sunrise Over Beijing with Robotic Flyers Productions.
Watch the full interview to hear other fun stuff