Your new movie The Tent
- in a few words, what is it about?
Tent is about two people who have gone through an apocalyptic event deemed
The Crisis and have to figure out how to accept the otherís idea of
Tent beint a post-apocalyptic thriller (of sorts), is that a genre
especially dear to you, and some of your genre favourites? And what can
you tell us about your approach to the genre?
post-apocalyptic genre has always been an intriguing genre to me. I would
say some of my favorites have been the Mad Max series,
The Book of Eli,
and even The Road. Itís interesting because it's really a genre that
lends itself to raw character moments. It's something that can really
strip a human being down to their roots, and that's what I wanted to do
Tent. My approach to the genre, with The
Tent, was to really
strip away the set-up of The Crisis in favor of letting the audience focus
on the characters. I didnít want to explain what happened because that
felt more realistic to me. They wouldnít just naturally explain it if
they had been living it for quite some time. I also wanted to be very
sparing on details in general because of the nature of the story. I really
wanted the audience to ultimately decide for themselves what it all meant
versus laying out in a neat, simple way.
sources of inspiration when writing The
Tent - and as weird as this may sound, was any of this based on
huge source of inspiration was the film Signs. How Shyamalan handled the
threat of the aliens was so realistic and personal to that family. He also
didnít feel the need to explain everything, he really just leaned on the
information the family received through other people's interactions. It
was also very disciplined in revealing too much too soon, I loved that.
Another film that inspired me was Get Out. The layers of symbolism in that
film were SO deep that we now have websites devoted to deciphering what
everything meant. It was really important to me to allow that kind of
world building and hidden meaning in our props, sets, and dialogue. The
film itself, the 3rd act primarily, was very much based on a personal
experience of mine. I donít want to say too much as to not spoil it, but
some of those scenes at the end were almost verbatim what I experienced as
a young man with a loved one of mine.
Tent's ultimate resolution is a rather unexpected one - so was it
intended right from the beginning, or did you only come up with it during
resolution was always planned. I knew I wanted to take something very real
and build a very abstract story around it. However, with that being said,
the level and extreme it ultimately equated to was encouraged late in the
writing process by Tim Kaiser, who played David. He threw out an idea to
take it to an extreme and I initially turned it down. After writing it
though, I knew I wanted to move in that direction and so
began going back and helping to set that up a little better, without being
too obvious. Symbolism was the name of the game at that point.
Do talk about the main location of The
Tent for a bit, and what was it like filming there?
main location was all thanks to our executive producer Nancy Lynette
Parker. She had shown me several locations, and when we found that one, I
knew it was what I wanted. The only negative was it was truly out in the
middle of nowhere. We had to order portable bathrooms, run generators for
power, and at night, when it got dark, it REALLY got dark. It was great
though in adding to the feeling of isolation. The cool part was we shot
all of the internal scenes inside the tent on a stage, to better control
it. That seamlessness is owed to our incredible director of photography
Robert Skates. He really knew how light that and made it feel natural,
even on a stage.
few words about your overall directorial approach to your story at hand?
approach was to really focus on the characters. I knew I wanted minimal
angle changes throughout to really let the actors dig deep and not feel
too choppy. It had a MAJOR amount of dialogue and I have to really credit
Tim Kaiser and Lulu Dahl for hanging in there and really challenging themselves to
learn those lines. We would sit and rehearse a lot a few months before
shooting, and once we showed up to shoot, we knew already what we needed to
do and that really led us to improvise in moments when it felt natural.
While being the writer, I am not entirely married to dialogue, as long as
we get to where we need to be. I really tried to let them make those words
can you tell us about The Tent's
key cast, and why exactly these people?
had worked with Tim Kaiser and Lulu Dahl before on a short film, The Eulogy. They had
such awesome chemistry in that and I knew when I made my first feature
film, I wanted to bring them in on it. I didnít know I would be lucky
enough to get them as my leads. I wrote the film with Tim in mind. I knew
he could dig deep and really dedicate himself to that character. With
Lulu, she came on later in pre-production. She is the type that I
wouldnít even audition because I believe in her ability to bring a real,
raw energy to her characters.
Do talk about
the shoot as such, and the on-set atmosphere?
shoot was 14 days long. We knew we needed to move fast and yet slow down
enough for Tim and Lulu to knock those characters out. The crew was so
dedicated and they brought a creative energy to every issue we ran into.
From our gaffers and DP figuring out how to light everything, to our
script supervisor and assistant director keeping continuity in check, no
one ever seemed irritated. We knew we had a massive task in front of us
and we marched into it with a very positive outlook. Outdoor shoots can be
unforgiving but this crew made it feel easy.
you can tell us about audience and critical reception of The
people seem shocked at some of the twists and turns it took for sure. I
think the level of horror we set up and then somewhat pulled the rug out
from everyone is sometimes perceived as a cheat to a degree, but I can
assure you that I tried to lay as many breadcrumbs as I could along the
way to make it feel earned. Overall, I know the film will be for some
people and maybe not others and that's ok. Itís important to me that for
the people that really respond to it, in a positive way, feel like they
went on a journey through the eyes of David and that more than anything,
they understand where I was coming from as a filmmaker and a human being.
Any future projects you'd like to share?
have a script Iím working on that involves a similar level of
psychological suspense but itís much more grounded in reality than The
got you into filmmaking in the first place, and did you receive any formal
training on the subject?
have been into filmmaking for as long as I can remember. Iíve always
wanted to tell stories through this medium and I have personally been
impacted by this medium above all others. I do have a degree in cinematic
arts but a lot of that was studying films and writing scripts. I didnít
really begin learning how to build a film until I began making short films
on my own, making mistakes and having successes along the way.
What can you tell us about your
filmwork prior to The Tent?
filmwork prior to The
Tent was strictly making films for another
production company I helped found at a local church called By Grace
Productions. A lot of the material was Christian based content. From modern
day adaptations of bible stories to documentaries about recovery and
Tent was my first feature film, made by my own production
would you describe yourself as a director?
a tough question. Itís hard to subjectively look at yourself as a
director. I know I love collaborating with actors, cinematographers, and
the entire crew. I really do think some of the best ideas Iíve heard
have come from those cast and crew who are open enough to share. I also do
video production work as my dayjob, so I understand the stresses of
editing and getting good sound and then editing that sound. So I really do
understand most positions myself and I think that helps me to think about
ALL aspects prior to filming. I just really try to be kind and respectful.
These people CAN become like a family and I always want to champion that.
who inspire you?
wow, the first names that pop up are probably on everyoneís list, from
Spielberg and Fincher to the Coen Brothers and Carpenter. For this film, I
really leaned into learning more
about David Lynch and M. Night Shyamalan. I knew what I was trying to do
and I knew researching their films, most of which I had already seen, were
going to be helpful in achieving what I wanted.
Your favourite movies?
favorite movies are mostly horror or supernatural suspense. I love how a
movie can impact you in such a way that it can make you so scared you
canít sleep. That idea has always fascinated me and I always wanted to
explore that, to a degree, with a film of my own. I also really love hard
hitting dramas. One of my favorite movies of all time is No Country for
Old Men. The simplicity of the story is so deceiving because underneath,
itís probably one of the deepest pictures I have ever had the joy to
watch in a movie theater.
and of course, films you really deplore?
donít really like to label a movie as bad. I think every movie has
its time and place but above all else, its audience. Sometimes a
movie is not for me and sometimes it is. I have always been open to giving
any movie a chance to grow on me. That being said, there are movies that
have grown on me quicker than others, haha.
movie's website, social media, whatever else?
Feeling lucky ?
any of my partnershops yourself
for more, better results ?
The links below
will take you
can find our website for The
Tent at www.survivethetent.com, there are
TONS of cool easter eggs and extra content on there. We are also on Facebook as
The Tent Movie. Finally we are on Instagram as The Tent Movie
also. So come check us out to see tons of awesome content.
else you're dying to mention and I have merely forgotten to ask?
last thing I want to say is thank you for your time, it has been an honor
to be interviewed about a project that is so near and dear to my heart.
for the interview!