Tuesday 26 March 2013

Five Question Interview With Writer/Director GARY KING

Last year, at the Raindance Film Festival, there was a definite buzz about the film 'How Do You Write A Joe Schermann Song'. On top of that, a bunch of my friends told me that I just had to see it. And then, because I'm a stupid idiot who reacts badly to being told what to do, I skipped it. And then it went on to win Best Film at the festival. 

It seems that the writer/director, GARY KING, has forgiven me after all - and is now here to tell us a bit more about his movie. 

We missed each other at Raindance. I went and saw something else when I had the opportunity to see your movie --- I didn't like that film and yours went on to win best film! Tell me a little about what I missed and what your experience was like in the UK.

I'm sorry we missed each other. We'll have to change that on my next visit out there.

I like to think of our film as a realistic portrayal of the life of a struggling artist and how he deals with balancing relationships and artistic integrity, told through the backdrop of Broadway.  Audiences love seeing it on the big screen and always compare it to going to a Broadway show. I'm very proud of the songs and performances the actors all give.

My wife (Susie King), Christina Rose (lead actress) and myself truly enjoyed our London visit and screening at Raindance. It was definitely a once in a lifetime experience culminating in winning the Film of the Festival. We never expected that to happen. One of the best parts of the festival was meeting the festival organizers and programmers, the wonderful audiences and other filmmakers.

I love the trailer. Did you cut it yourself? I think it's really hard for trailers to capture indie films; because they don't tend to have those obvious moments like the bigger movies-- y'know, the car crashes and explosions. How was your trailer put together?

Thanks for the kind words. I did cut it myself.  To me, the trailer is a whole other art form where different rules and aesthetics apply.  Its philosophy and approach totally contrast the narrative long form. I definitely watch a ton of trailers and bookmark the ones that stand out to me. I studied. their structure, taking note of how many music cues there are, when dialogue is spoken, pacing, length of shots. There were two articles that served as great resources for me:


I think we're in an interesting era for film directors. A director can finish a feature and then go and do a short, as you're doing -- and then maybe work on something very different. The world is changing and the rules are constantly being broken. What has inspired you most about this era we're in-- and what has scared you the most?

I remember having a meeting with film producer Ted Hope a few years ago where he gave some good advice about not being stuck in one "format" of storytelling that could limit your potential audience reach. He suggested that along with features, not to be afraid of going back to short form storytelling; be it in film, a web series and/or other creative outlets.

I'm very lucky that following SCHERMANN SONG, I was approached to direct a short film.  At first, I was hesitant about going back to shorts having done features... but seeing many high-profile feature film directors tackle short films, commercials and other things it made me think twice about my attitude. And it's actually tough -- maybe even almost tougher -- to tell an effective story in a short amount of time, which was a challenge I welcomed. The problem with a lot of short films is the filmmaker is just dying to make a feature and its running time shows that. For me, having made features, I don't have that issue anymore, so my goal is to be short and sweet.

Kickstarter had only been around a year or so when you used it to fund your movie. Do you think you could have made the film without it? And where did most of the money come from -- was it friends, or strangers? Do you have any tips for people setting out to raise money by crowdfunding?

We were very lucky in that we had our campaign very early on where people didn't even know what Kickstarter was. I think literally there were less than 10 film campaigns when we did ours. Thankfully my creative team and I have a fairly large social media network, so we never personally met the majority of our generous backers. It was pretty amazing and humbling to get that kind of support.

The crowdfunding landscape has changed so much that I don't feel I can give proper advice on what to do. I can offer that one has to be very genuine and really show that they care about their project. I see many campaigns now where it seems that just by launching them online they expect money to come rolling in... and that rarely happens.

Do you think the success of your film has given you more opportunities? People have this idea of the 'big break', which I always think people need to be cautious about -- but I'd love to hear your views.

I've been making films for 9 years and feel that SCHERMANN SONG has just gotten my big toe in the door -- at least the doors are opening now.  Thanks to the film's success, I definitely have been meeting more and more people interested in what I'm doing now.

And it's a wonderful feeling to have investors come on board believing in the next project I'm planning to shoot this summer.  I have a long way to go to be where I want to be both career wise and creatively as a filmmaker. However, I'm getting paid to do what I love, so there's nothing better than that. 

Support independent film and Purchase/Rent 'How Do You Write A Joe Schermann Song'. It's available on DVD, Blu-ray, iTunes, Games Consoles, Netflix, and many more places. You can get the film HERE

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