When I “borrowed” my father's camera at the age of ten and shot my first film, 'Attack of the Killer Grapefruit', I knew there was no going back. I learned then how to shoot for a low budget film and how to work with what you've got; while having a lot of fun with the process! For that film, I took a grapefruit from the kitchen, and used it to smash by little brother's toy cars... in the name of art (was my excuse to my parents)!
While I have been so fortunate to have a life that revolves around video and editing, I have had few opportunities to be as creative as I'd like. When I perused my Master's degree at George Mason University, I knew I had a wonderful chance to bring one of my short film ideas to life.
I wrote a script in 2012 entitled “The Great White Whale” in one of my classes. After submitting it to to a couple of script writing competitions and getting positive feedback, I decided I would attempt to make that my final thesis for the completion of my degree.
While enrolled in a fiction film class, I wrote and directed my very first film that had a real actor, and real crew people who knew what they were doing. However as a first time director... I didn't fully know what I was doing. I learned that my years of videography experience did not transfer 100% over to directing. With only one day to shoot the project, and days to edit to make the deadline for the project, I found myself having to adapt and cut parts of the story to get everything done in time. This changed the “feeling” of the film from being a comedy, to more like a psychological thriller. It also was an incredible learning experience, that helped me better prepare for my next film.
After working and adapting the script for 'The Great White Whale', scouting locations, story boarding, budgeting and being weeks away from starting production, it was brought to my attention that another film, with a very similar concept, had just been released two months prior. After watching the other film, I could't believe the parallels, and felt that I had no reason to make another version of what I thought once was an original idea.
I scrapped the entire project, searched my journal for other ideas, and landed on what was going to become ‘PreFlexia'. Years ago I had pitched a premise to Bart Johnson, the Director of Photography, about a character who wakes up to discover that everyone and everything is copying him in real time. He liked the idea and asked me to write it down and email it to him. We both liked the idea, but thought that it might be next to impossible to shoot, and also struggled to come up with an ending that would fit the movie. 5 years later he still had the email.
Working with that concept, the first version of the script was written within several hours. After submitting the script to my advisor and peers, the script went under 11 revisions in about a week. Given the subject matter of the film, and having multiple people copying the character in real time, it was a challenge to write the script and describe the scenarios. It was difficult to even reference other films that had a similar scenarios to this one. I also wrote the script knowing that half of it would be shot in my house, which made it easier for me to visualize the scenes.
With a few exceptions, I had never met most of the cast and crew prior to shooting ‘PreFlexia'. I was so incredibly fortunate to have the gifted talent I needed to be able to pull this film off with a tight budget, and a limited amount of time. I casted Smitty Chai as “Jake”, the main lead, and Alex Nuemeier as “Dillon”. I could tell Smitty was committed, and that he would take the time to work with all the actors, to make sure they got his lines and rhythm down perfectly. Incredibly we got most of the shots in 2-3 takes, for entire scenes, thanks to the dedicated rehearsing of Smitty and all the actors. Alex made Dillon a character far more comedic than I could have ever hoped for.
Graham Lawyer was originally going to be the P.A. for the film, but also showed great talent and passion. I asked him if could be the Assistant Director, and even though he had no prior experience, he did everything to make the film run smoothly. I truly think we wouldn't have been able to finish the film on time without him.
Bart Johnson, the Director of Photography, someone I've known since high school, recommended we use the Sony FS7. With him behind the wheel of the camera, he would translate and enhance the story boards, and be set up and ready to go in record time. That wouldn't have been possible without Koichi Take, a gifted gaffer who lit the entire film.
As to the rest of the cast and crew, I couldn't be more thankful to them. Everyone worked long hours, helping to put together what I believe to be an incredibly unique and fun film.
To sum things up, a director is only as good as the team he is able to assemble. I was so lucky to have a passionate and talented cast and crew that worked with me to pull off a tough task. Now we see how the audience feels about the film! This has been such a fun experience for me, and an experience that I've learned so much from. I can't wait for the next project.
Writer & Director of 'Project Genesis' & 'PreFlexia'
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Watch PreFlexia - Official Trailer
Watch Project Genesis - Official Trailer