Your upcoming film Eyes Upon Waking - in a few words, what is
Eyes Upon Waking is about struggle, it’s about empathy
and it’s about hope. The main character, Taren,
faces psychological issues that push her to extreme
measures. The film explores the process of Taren facing
the darkness within her in the aftermath of two suicide
What was it that initially drew you to the
story, and to what extent can you identify with it?
A few aspects drew me to the project. Jennifer Scott’s [Jennifer
Scott interview - click here] passion
for the project is infectious and after speaking with
her about the project, I immediately knew I wanted to be a
part of its success. The struggle against
depression drew me to the project, as well. As someone who
has battled depression through creativity, it
was easy to find common ground with the film’s content.
The script handles depression and darkness in a
very raw and truthful manner while being very
did you first get involved with the project, and what can you tell us
about your producer/writer/star Jennifer Scott [Jennifer
Scott interview - click here], and what is your collaboration like
- especially considering this is Jennifer's passion project?
I have kept up with Jennifer’s work over the past few
years. When I saw she had a new script that she was
producing, I immediately reached out. We are both
extremely passionate about making films and our
visions for the project were in alignment from our very
first meeting. It is an easy collaboration. Jennifer is
very open and honest with herself and her vision.
you can tell us about your projected cast yet, and what will
these people bring to the table?
Right now, I can’t say too much about the projected
cast. I am very much looking forward to directing
Jennifer in her performance as Taren. The script is very
personal to her and the emotions are very real.
Other than that, I can only say that I am very excited to
be working with such a talented team.
How do you plan to
approach your story from a directorial point of view, and what can you
tell us about the intended look and feel of your movie?
I am very visual and I like to approach each project from
this perspective. The film largely takes place in
one location and we are developing a look that will
compliment the complicated emotional process that
Taren goes through in the narrative. I am focused on the
raw honesty of the performances. The script deals
with topics that are rarely dealt with in the mainstream
with such stark honesty. I want to push against some
of the taboo of talking openly about depression and
course, a movie like this relies heavily on locations - anything you can
tell us on that front yet?
Jennifer’s input and perspective are invaluable on this
front. As a producer, she is skilled at getting exactly
what is needed for the project. The fact that the film is
based on her experiences ensures that our locations
will be authentic and honest. Right now, we have locations
in L.A. and Arizona.
As far as I know, the film is
still in pre-production - so what can you tell us about the actual
schedule, and any idea when the movie might be released onto the general
We are gearing up to shoot the first 6 pages in mid-April.
We will use this footage to help get our final
funding for the feature. Ideally, we would like to go into
full-production in November of this year with it
heading to festivals in early 2015.
According to my information, as we speak you
have two ofther films in post-production, A Standing Still and Intertwine
- so you obviously have to talk about those!
A Standing Still is
my second feature film as writer/director. It will be released to
festivals this fall. I am
very excited about this project – I feel like it is the
most honest piece of filmmaking I have completed to
date. We shot at various locations around Oregon and
Washington State. The film follows a woman who
works at a Fire Lookout in a National Forest. She is
called back early to deal with some family issues and
has to face the dynamics that has led her to live a fairly
secluded life. We shot the film in Super 16mm,
35mm and HD.
Intertwine is a
television pilot created by Dylan Lawrence. We wrapped up in January of
this year. It is an
exciting and fresh drama starring some extremely talented
Portland actors. The producers are currently
shopping it around in Los Angeles.
you into filmmaking in the first place, and how did you actually learn
From a very early age I enjoyed photography and I have
been writing for many years. When I first got into
filmmaking, I was working in Seattle as a graphic
designer. I did design work for a local film center and in
return, I was able to take a few classes. I remember the
first time I heard Super 16mm film running through
the camera and I have dedicated myself to cinema since
that moment. It combines all of the great loves in
my life: Photography, writing, music, design. I taught
myself how to shoot Super 16mm and eventually
bought a digital camera. I made my own short films for
several years and worked on large budget projects
in New Orleans. These experiences expanded my knowledge of
the camera department and the process as a
whole. I attended Boston University’s Graduate Film
Production Program and since then I have been living
in Portland working as a filmmaker.
What can you tell us about your filmwork
prior to Eyes Upon Waking?
Eyes Upon Waking will be the third feature I will have
directed. In the past 4 years, I have been heavily
involved in 7 feature films, as well as several short
films and documentaries. I have had the great fortune of
meeting and working with several talented filmmakers.
Any future projects
beyond Eyes Upon Waking you'd like to share?
I have several projects that I am currently involved with,
including my third feature as writer/director that I
will be filming this fall. The film, Death
On A Rock, wraps up three films that I have made
and dying. I work with a very close team in Portland and
have promised them the next film will be more
I am finishing up Lost Division, a WWII feature for which I am the director
of photography and helping to
produce for director Edward Davee. It follows a WWII
chaplain as he faces the severe requirements of his
job and the war.
I just finished Brian Padian’s, The Black Sea, for which I was a producer and the
director of photography.
This drama will be ready for festivals in early 2014.
I recently finished shooting the feature film, The
Curio for director Dicky Dahl. It is an interesting
life tale that mixes personal documentary footage with the
In early 2014, there will be four Portland-based features
released to festivals that I have either shot,
produced, directed or some mix thereof. Along with the
directors I just mentioned, I have formed a
collective of Portland independent filmmakers called Great Notion. It is an exciting time to be producing
films in Portland, but I also am enjoying working in Los
Angeles and on the East Coast.
directing, you have also worked as a cinematographer on quite a few movies by
other directors - so what can you tell us about Scott Ballard, the
cinematographer, and your visual style?
I really enjoy cinematography and working with light. It
is a pleasure for me to focus in on the image and I
feel that I need both directing and cinematography in my
life to be fulfilled with a career in cinema. One of
the most exciting things about cinematography is
discussing and discovering the look and visual style of
each project. Each script, each story requires it’s own
visual feel. Working with the director to discover that
feel – discover how the camera can help tell the story,
to help expand its potential without distracting
attention from the narrative, is always exciting.
I am trained in both film and HD and enjoy using both. As
a cinematographer (and as a filmmaker, in
general), I like to have several tools to be able to tell
the story. Choosing a shooting format that is right for
the script is one of those tools. The choice of camera,
the choice of film or HD is, for me, a very valuable
part of the process of discovering the visual style and
look that each script demands.
How would you
describe yourself as a director?
For me, directing is principally about two things:
Interpreting the script and communication. As a director,
the most important thing for me is to have clear
communication with my cast and crew. In life, I am a
patient and attentive listener. I apply this to my
directing style, from casting through production. I feel I
need to listen to the script, the characters and then be
able to help facilitate the translation of the script with
the actors. By listening to people, I can learn how to
more concisely communicate my directing to those
with whom I work. In my experience, the most productive
sets and the most successful projects occur when
the ego is left at the door. I like to dedicate myself
entirely to the story’s needs.
Filmmakers who inspire
I am very much inspired by 1970’s American cinema and
foreign cinema. Bob Rafelson, Ingmar Bergman,
Michelangelo Antonioni, Yasujiro Ozu and Aki Kaurismäki
are all big influences for me.
Your favourite movies?
So many! 5
Easy Pieces, The Passenger, The Prophet, Hunger,
Notorious, My Life as a Dog – these are all
favorites that I have re-watched recently.
... and of
course, films you really deplore?
Feeling lucky ?
any of my partnershops yourself
for more, better results ?
The links below
will take you
I don’t want to incriminate myself! I will just say that
the films I love and enjoy are honest. Honest in their
approach, their content, their reasons, as long as there
is honesty in the film I cannot fault it too much.
website, Facebook, whatever else?
You can find my work at:
Anything else you are
dying to mention and I have merely forgotten to ask?
I really wan to express my thankfulness to everyone who is
supporting me in my filmmaking
career. I want to thank the talented team of people that I work with and
all those who support truly independent film and filmmakers!
for the interview!