Your new movie Escaping
Freedom - in a few words, what is it about?
Freedom is about two estranged foster siblings who attempt to reunite after
choosing opposite paths in life and how their interaction forces each to
take a hard look inside. Itís about being enslaved to an identity
versus who you really are under the surface. Vincent is a pastor
doubting his faith and struggling with his sexuality and his sister
Krystal is an actress and self-proclaimed hedonist who struggles with
the stigma associated with that label.
we continue talking about Escaping
Freedom, could you say a few words about your mini-series Letters,
and how it relates to your movie?
was so much fun! Patrick and I started working on that series while we
were developing the character Vincent. I was writing the script for Escaping
Freedom at the same time we were producing Letters.
It originally was just going to be this little experiment where we could
play with ideas and see what sticks, but as time went on it became more
and more a key part of the Escaping
What were your sources
of inspiration when writing Escaping
Freedom, and was any of this somehow based on personal
story itself is fictional, but the questions and themes are all very
much based on my own personal wrestling with faith, sexuality, and
identity. This movie is really the result of an existential crisis I
faced over the last 10 years or so.
To what extent could you actually identify
with the struggle Vincent's going through - or Krystal for that matter?
funny thing is, at the start of the film Vincent and Krystal are viewed
as polar opposites and yet they are both equally and fully me. The fact
that itís possible for that seeming contradiction to be true, I think,
is captivating. Itís an example of how complex humans are. In fact, I
feel like I can see myself in every character. Whatís really beautiful
to see is that once it goes off the page and you have another human
there to add themselves to the equation you see just how connected we
all actually are and maybe we find out something together because of
that. Itís amazing. Thatís my personal experience at least.
can you tell us about your directorial approach to your story at hand?
general, I like to exercise a lot of trust in both the cast and crew. I
think for a film like this when there are so many very private moments
that becomes even more critical. The actors knew their characters inside
out and what the whole story meant to them personally. Itís important
to give them the time and space to explore in a situation like this. The
actors were living those moments and finding their way through it just
like in real life. I was also quite literally always listening to some
ambient music on set. It helped me connect all the pieces in my head to
see if we were on the right track or not. Many times I would start the
day in the corner with my eyes closed just letting the story say
something to me while there is all this chaos of getting ready for the
day happening around me.
talk about Escaping
Freedom's key cast, and why exactly these people?
have no idea how this worked out so well. I really mean that. So Patrick
[Patrick D. Green interview
- click here] was obviously already involved. We had known each other for a while and
had wanted to work together. Kelly Godell we werenít familiar with. She saw
our casting notice and sent us a couple video auditions. I remember when
Patrick and I watched them we both felt certain we found Krytsal. We met
her at a pub here in Portland called the Bagdad. I donít really
remember saying much of anything. I just sat back and watched the two of
them talk about whatever naturally came up. I wanted to see how they
interacted with each other as themselves, first. If memory serves me, I
think we offered her the role within 24 hours. Thatís kind of how it
played out with a lot of the cast. We trusted our gut instinct. I feel
incredibly fortunate to have these people give something of themselves
for this story.
few words about the shoot as such, and the on-set atmosphere?
had a very large script with multiple locations and, I believe, 14 days
to shoot the majority of it. One of my goals was to make sure everybody,
cast and crew, was on mission well before we stepped onto set. Not just
that they were familiar with the script and their job, but that they
were passionate about what meaning they personally found in the story.
That might sound a bit like Mr. Obvious here, but it felt really
important. I wanted to make sure we had time to really explore while
having this massive page count on most days. Because of the visual style
of the film, set-ups really didnít take that long and we were able to
have a skeleton crew for the entire thing. I really like the intimacy
that was created because of that and I think you can really see the
resulting synergy in the final film. For being such an intense film, we
had some of the best laughs on this set, too. I think it was probably
kind of therapeutic for all of us.
you can tell us about audience and critical reception of Escaping
movie has only been out for a little over a week at this point and
Patrick and I are approaching this as a marathon, not a sprint. I think
12 months from now there will be a much fuller understanding of how
itís being received. That being said, so far we have been really
encouraged by the response. Audiences and critics seem to be catching on
quickly that this is more of an existential film than they may have
originally thought. It makes me really happy to hear people share their
feelings more on that than what would be considered the controversial
aspects or mere aesthetics. Not gonna lie, I enjoy it when they talk
about those too, but what really gives me life is seeing those heavier
conversations happen. I feel incredibly lucky to be playing some small
part in helping those take place.
Any future projects you'd like to
am writing a new script that I hope is the next feature. Iím holding
it pretty close to my chest at the moment, but Iím really looking
forward to getting more information out on it in the coming months.
There are also a number of other ideas all floating around at varying
levels of development. Find me on social media and Iím sure youíll
get more details. Yes, thatís a shameless plug.
What got you into filmmaking in the first place,
and did you receive any formal training on the subject?
grandfather was a painter and was my best friend growing up. He taught
me the value of art and was the one who made me believe I could have a
career in this if I really wanted it. I honestly thought Iíd be an
illustrator until around high school. I always felt connected to films,
but it wasnít until I watched Grand Illusion in high school that
things quickly shifted for me. I realized the power of subtext in
storytelling. From there I just started studying on my own and making
whatever I could. I could see how film is a beautiful amalgamation of
all these different creative disciplines and I just fell in love with
can you tell us about your filmwork prior to Escaping
2012 I released my first feature film, A
Tale of Delight
based on a 2010 short of the same name. We are actually in the process
of remastering the feature and having it available later in the year.
Itís a surreal feeling going back to earlier work. Before that I made
a number of shorts, but the majority of my work was for various
not-for-profit organizations and some music videos which I was fortunate
enough to have had some success in.
How would you describe yourself as a
cast and crew are probably better qualified to answer that than I am. I
like to think that I am a good listener and work hard to be in tune to
what each personís real life needs are in that moment and how it
relates to this fictional story we are telling. I hope the actors would
say I am trustworthy because they are often asked to go to difficult
places emotionally. I like to make sure each person on set feels equally
heard and empowered to give ideas with the understanding that my job is
to see the bigger picture and filter through those. I dislike calling
cut and often continue to roll while the scene plays out over and over
again. I enjoy roaming around while shooting and letting the actors find
their way. My goal is to only break that moment when there needs to be a
slight pivot in something or we have a technical issueÖ or itís
lunch. That oneís important. I think this approach creates a pretty
immersive style of storytelling that I look forward to developing as I
grow as an artist.
Filmmakers who inspire you?
find myself going back to Bergman and Tarkovsky
regularly. I like Aronofsky and Kurosawa a ton. Chaplinís delicate
balance of comedy and drama is a bar set so high that I think only
really meets it with any sort of consistency. Fellini and Lynch are two
artists who always bring you an otherworldly experience and I love that
about them. Steve McQueen and Michael Fassbender are one of my favorite
modern day creative pairings. When they work together you just know they
will hit it out of the park.
Feeling lucky ?
any of my partnershops yourself
for more, better results ?
The links below
will take you
Cat from Outer Space is the best movie ever made. Iíll fight anyone on
that. Actually, a filmmakerís body of work, especially those I listed
earlier, is what I am drawn to more than particular films. I enjoy
seeing how they evolve in craft and who they are as people.
... and of course, films you really
this a set-up? This feels like a set-up. Haha! I think films that I
struggle with the most try to be ďabout somethingĒ but have what
seems to be underdeveloped ideas and themes or they explore it from only
one perspective. When an idea is only looked at from one side, the story
more often than not is used for propaganda purposes, and for me that
betrays what I see as an artistís actual role in society.
Your/your movie's website, social media,
can currently purchase the film on Amazon Prime in the US and UK and on
Vimeo On Demand worldwide. We are adding to a number of different
platforms over the next few months, so stay up-to-date on social media or
On Demand: https://vimeo.com/ondemand/escapingfreedom
Official site: https://www.escapingfreedom.net/
Thanks for the