Why do you make movies?
Throughout my life, I've tried my hand at being a musician, graphic designer, painter, and novelist, but it wasn't until I found filmmaking that I felt I had discovered the thing that would combine everything I love into a single form of expression. Writing and directing films and commercials is the only thing I want to do when I wake up and go to bed and all the other awake and asleep times.
What story do you want to tell?
I want to tell the story that seems like it should be able to happen but can't happen. I want the story to be heavily coated in loving and trying relationships, interesting characters, obstacle, and intention. And if I can wrap it in some sort of intriguing sci-fi element, then maybe I've done something good in the world.
What’s your story?
I've always loved stories. But more importantly, I loved movies and television and the stories I saw in the small theater in the town where I great up, or on the box in our living room that was always on. I gravitated toward the fantastic. I played Dungeons and Dragons. And I've always loved the idea of people being able to do things people can't actually do. Eventually, I settled on music, playing in many rock bands as well as the marching band, but I went to the cinema and the video rental place down the street as often as I could having no idea I could make movies for a living.
Upon graduation from college with a degree in creative writing, I pursued the dream of being a professional musician. And after that dream chewed me up and turned me into existential matter, I decided to write a novel. And I started painting. I wanted to reboot my life and find something new to pursue. Around this time, I discovered a fun little competition called the 48 Hour Film Project, where people make films in 2 days (writing, production, and post-production). After doing my first one, I fell in love with this form of expression. It wasn't until I made my 4th film that I realized I could make movies any time I wanted to - not just once a year for a competition. And this is when I started striving to become a filmmaker, not just a hobbyist.
What do you want to achieve in your craft?
I want to constantly get better. I'm always watching and breaking down films in hopes of improving my craft. I'm listening to podcasts and taking classes and reading books to find ways to improve everything I do as a writer and a director. I would love to reach a point where I'm fully supporting myself and my family by making only films. And I wouldn't mind just scraping by, but really having some success. But that's not my main motivation - I just want to make the best stuff I can and improve every time I have an opportunity to create.
What message were you trying to relay with Other Versions of You?
As humans, which includes most of us, we tend to get stuck. And we can make a change - but that change usually comes at some sort of cost. And often along the way, we get lost in our quest for something true or lovely or fulfilling. When we wake up every day, we have a choice to try to be awesome and do good - and there are people and forces outside of ourselves that will often give us a nudge in the right direction. We just have to be willing to receive it and then do the hard work to capture that unicorn that may or may not be waiting for us.
What was your vision for Other Versions of You when you were making it?
I wrote the novel this film was based on in 2011 days after wrapping production on my first feature film. After converting it to a screenplay and then spending years figuring out how we were going to get the film made, my vision was to make the biggest and the best version of the film we could, regardless of the budget. I wanted the characters to be endearing, the sets to be vibrant and magical, and the story to pull those characters through the various universes until we found the most fulfilling ending. We filmed so many endings. Our audiences deserve to see the best outcome, and we let the story tell us where we should take it. I credit our team for working tirelessly to uncover all the best stuff from this story, and I'm thankful for all the notes we received that helped us find the goodness. A director's vision is only as good as the quality of people he or she surrounds themselves within the process of making the film.
What would you tell a young person with aspirations to be a filmmaker?
Making films is one of the most difficult and rewarding things you can do, at least in the arts. It's not rocket surgery or saving kitten limbs, but it is a grind. You have to be willing to work so, so hard. If making films is the only thing you think about every moment of every day, you may want to try your hand at being a filmmaker. Get on as many sets as you can. Learn what all the positions are and try your hand at several of them. Watch films. Study films. Being successful in the business is a combination of hard work, talent, luck, relationships, and hard work. Oh, and don't be an asshole.
What has been your biggest struggle as a filmmaker?
Finding the balance between commerce and art. I have several unfinished scripts in various folders I'm dying to finish, but as a freelance director, I'm constantly looking for commercial work, working on a commercial, or on postproduction for a commercial. This isn't a complaint. I'm very happy I get to make a living directing and being on set. It's just that making money often becomes more important than preparing the next film.
What do you see as the biggest struggle going forward?
Getting Other Versions of You made was quite a feat. I think getting the next film made will take a lot of time and effort. And I look forward to those moments and that opportunity.