Your movie The Nest
- in a few words, what is it about?
is about a horrible and terrifying force of nature, how three
people deal with it, and how one woman tries to control and exploit it.
How did the project
come into being in the first place, and what got it off the ground?
just decided to stop thinking about making movies and start doing it.
The first step was to write it. Then I did the storyboards and found
Kendal Miller online. He saw the boards and was very interested in
shooting it. My friend Davidson Cole, who was already an
accomplished director, helped me plan the first stages of pre-production,
put it bluntly, why bees, and is any of the film based on personal
experiences with bees (might be a stupid question I admit)?
at all. When I was a kid I was sitting in a friend's driveway and I
was suddenly dive bombed by a huge and very loud bumblebee. I dashed
into the street with a pounding heart. I've been terrified of bees
ever since. I read somewhere that to write effective horror, you
have to tap into your own fears.
In story at least, The
Nest is rather reminiscent of 1970's grindhouse animal horror - a
genre at all dear to you? And what were some (other) sources of
inspiration when writing The Nest?
have always enjoyed those old creature shows. I remember a lot of
them playing on television. There was one called Grizzly, and
another one about a scientist who turns himself into a cobra, with
transformation scenes that I remember to this day. And of course
there were all the killer bee movies that came along when the real killer
bees were getting a lot of press. But there was also a comic book
story complete with over-sized bees I cannot find anymore.
talk about your film's look and atmospheric camerawork for a bit if you
I wanted to combine the sepia tones of the Kansas
scenes in Wizard of Oz with the tonal qualities of
Sleepy Hollow. We
were fortunate to have overcast skies for most of the exterior shooting
and that really helped soften the light. Kendal Miller and his crew
were essential to achieving the look. He went to great lengths to
control the light, and he had some brilliant ideas for moving the camera
and economizing the angles I had in mind.
Your little movie boasts some pretty impressive
special effects (including a horse being devoured in full gallop) - so
obviously you have to talk about your effects work on The
Nest for a bit?
Part of the motivation for
this project was to give me an excuse to create some memorable visual
effects. I was captivated by the craft of special effects the moment
I learned about the making of Star Wars. Of course nowadays it's all
digital, but the tech allows me to do this kind of thing at home. My
career in the game industry prepared me for all the CGI work this project
required. I'll say this though: It took a long long time to do
all those effects. Every shot in the well and most of the vehicle
interiors were green screen. Next time I'll build more sets and get
a process trailer.
What can you tell us about
your cast, and why exactly these people?
These folks all
looked and acted the part in auditions. They are very skilled
actors, quick studies, and true professionals. I was lucky to find
them and they all remain good friends.
Jennifer Scott [Jennifer Scott
interview - click here], who played Raven is also a producer and is helping me
with the final stages of post production and is formulating our plan to
take the movie to the public.
main location - how did you find it, and what were the advantages and
disadvantages of shooting there?
Ah, that was the
Riviera Roadhouse in Gardner, Illinois. I did a little internet
research and just drove out there one Sunday. The folks were happy
help and a pleasure to meet. Unfortunately a year later after the
owners sold the property it burned down. There was really no
disadvantage to shooting there. We had to do very little set dress.
It was almost perfect as it was. One great advantage was we had built-in
catering for the crew.
What can you tell us
about the shoot as such, and the on-set atmosphere?
could scarcely have gone better. Kendal Miller already had a group
of trusted crew members who were very capable. He recommended Fred
Glander for AD and between the three of us, we were able to stay on
schedule. Members of the cast and crew said the atmosphere on set
was more relaxed and pleasant than any film they had worked on previously.
I think we were lucky to have a group of very decent yet professional
people gathered together at one time. Everyone made valuable
contributions and we had fun. It also helps to provide good food!
$64-question of course, when and where will the film be released onto the
We are about to do a major overhaul on
the sound. Once that is done, we'll make some choices on how best to
make it public. I anticipate a limited number of festival
submissions to begin with.
Any future projects you'd like to
I have three or four scripts in the early stages
of development. Two of them are very ambitious visually. One
is definitely a creature project. The other is sci-fi. But I
would prefer to make my next project more of a serious character-driven
story. I also have a few documentaries in mind.
got you into filmmaking in the first place, and did you receive any formal
training on the subject?
Growing up in the 70's and 80's
did it for me. It seemed like every month there was at least one
movie that would fill me with wonder and ambition for days. Maybe
it's just part of being older and more critical, but I rarely get that
feeling anymore when I leave the theater. All of my training in
proper filmmaking has come from reading and experience. I studied
art in college, so that exposure to the painting masters has influenced my
What can you tell us about your
filmwork prior to The Nest?
some experiments with a super 8 camera in my youth, there is little to
mention. I did a commercial as part of a contest for Heinz ketchup
just before doing The Nest. Before that, I did a lot of
storyboarding, animation and production for game cinematics. In my
first job out of college I did a good deal of animation and FX on some
television shows for Discovery Channel, National Geographic etc.
far as I know, you're currently working as a VFX artist for a video game
company. Now what can you tell us about this career of yours, and how does
creating effects for video games compare to creating effects for movies?
I mentioned above, there are certain parts of the game experience that
call for cinematic presentation. I have been in that industry for
well over a decade, sometimes as a cinematic artist, sometimes as a VFX
artist. VFX in games is generally anything that is not either a
character, a set or a prop. So you make the fire, water, lightning,
smoke, weather etc. And of course you can't just load the scene with
millions of particles like you can in film. It all has to perform in
real time. But you learn to do a lot with a little and that lesson
actually helps make film effects more practical.
would you describe yourself as a director?
I think it's
critical for a director to be a good listener. A movie set is the
ultimate collaborative environment, so I try to make the objective of a
scene clear to everyone involved and let them bring their talents to the
fore. It doesn't matter who has the best idea. Whichever idea
will get the best performance and picture on screen is the one to adopt.
I also try to give actors something they can actually play rather than
telling them how to feel. I want to avoid over-directing an actor so
I plan ahead of time what I will say if I see the scene going in the wrong
effects artists, whatever else who inspire you?
and Burton for pure direction. Brad Bird for animation. Larry
Kasdan, David Milch and David Mamet for writing. The old school
effects guys like Muren, Tippet, Edlund, Harryhausen, and Dykstra are the
ones that inspire me to this day. It was so much more interesting
when you actually had to shoot a model or a puppet, use mirrors, smoke or
whatever to get the image on screen. That was real problem solving.
No Country for Old
Men, Jaws, Paris Texas, The Empire Strikes Back,
Halloween, Back to the
Future, The Remains
of the Day, Deadwood (TV), Blade Runner, Death
Proof, Ed Wood.
... and of course, films you really
Too many to remember so I have forgotten them
Your/your movie's website, Facebook, whatever
Anything else you are dying to mention and I have
merely forgotten to ask?
No sir. Thank you very much
for the interest in the movie and the opportunity to answer these
Thanks for the interview!