How did you hear about the Expecting Goodness Film Festival?
Palmetto Pictures participated in it last year with the film Pretty Pitiful God. We had such a great time that we decided to take another crack at it.
What is your background? Where are you from? What do you do for a living?
I am born and raised in Columbia, South Carolina. I went to University of Texas at Austin for film and came back to Columbia after graduating. I do freelance videography for a living and make movies with Drew Baron, O’Neal Peterson, and Brooke Ensign as Palmetto Pictures.
How did you become interested in filmmaking?
I was heavily involved in theatre in highschool. During rehearsals for a show, a friend and I started shooting our own mockumentary with the rest of the cast for fun. This silly little movie, shot to pass the time offstage, awakened a passion for film that has burned stronger ever since. Throughout the rest of highschool, I continued making movies and hosting premieres of the films created. I still enjoy performing in plays, but filmmaking has become the thing that drives me.
What is it about your assigned story that really grabbed you?
Happy Hour is one long monologue given by a woman at a bar. The story is simple, but the character presented is incredibly complex. There are alot of truths, contradictions, and sadness all welled up inside her. I related to her and I think alot of other people will as well… Plus, Palmetto Pictures enjoys shooting at bars.
What was the biggest creative challenge in adaptation?
Film is a visual art built around rhythm so it can be tough to pull off monologues effectively as they tend to be static in nature. Since Happy Hour is one long monologue at a bar, the challenge was to figure out how to deliver it in a way that appealed to cinema’s strength and not it’s weakness. A visual story arc was developed to embellish the monologue and give the character more dimensions.
What was the hardest logistical challenge you faced making your film?
Time, Time, and more Time. There was never enough of it. We wanted every shot to look great and to not make any compromises. I’m proud to say that whenever time ran out, an alternative was always found that ended up being better than the original plan.
What’s the most gratifying part of being a filmmaker?
Making a movie is a lot like climbing a mountain. It’s one long, arduous journey you spend months preparing for and even less time making. Still, you get to go on this adventure with a bunch of friends and it’s exhilarating to reach the top of the mountain with them. You come down with a bunch of memories and a movie forged from blood,sweat, & tears to show people.
What was the biggest lesson you learned from this process?
You should always come onto set with a visual plan, but it’s also important to not blind yourself with it. The location often offers a better alternative than what you see in your head. The improvisations made on the set of Happy Hour actually ended up being some of the best shots in the film.
We were running out of time to pull off all the shots before the bars closed. So at one point, we had three different scenes being set up, at two different bars, at the same time. There was people running ninny nanny everywhere between the bars with all different sorts of equipment/props/e.t.c. going every which way. It was a gigantic game of leapfrog that I’m sure was an enjoyable watch for all the bar patrons.
Any advice for young filmmakers looking to get started?
Make movies of course, but save yourself alot of time, and develop an understanding of cinematic language. Hitchcock is a great place to start. He was very generous with his knowledge of film theory. Pick up the grandpappy of film books, Hitchcock/Truffaut and watch the films that these two masters discuss. After you get the basics from Hitchcock, immerse yourself in another well regarded director. Watch the director’s films and read interviews where they discuss how they constructs their films. With each master director you study, your understanding of cinematic language will grow and you’ll soon have a large vocabulary to use for your own film.
What does it mean to be a South Carolina filmmaker?
I love being a South Carolina filmmaker. Moviemaking is so rare a thing here, that people are always very supportive and wish to lend a helping hand. Locations are relatively easy to come by, so Columbia, in itself, has become this giant sandbox to make movies. I’ve met plenty of other awesome Filmmakers who are also creating great work as well. There isn’t this fierce competition that you find in the big movie production cities where hundreds of filmmakers fight for a shred of screen. Instead, you have these unique festivals like Expecting Goodness, 2nd Act, and Indiegrits, that welcome SC filmmakers with open arms and treat them like rock stars. So ironically, South Carolina’s greatest strength is that it isn’t known for filmmaking. It’s fostering a set of filmmakers dedicated to their craft out of love not fame, untainted by outside influence, and that’s where innovation comes from. Since the cost of living is so low and locations range from mountains to the beach, South Carolina is this very fertile ground for filmmaking and I see it flourishing.