How did you get inspired to become a filmmaker?
It all started when I saw Raiders of the Lost Ark and I burned out our VHS copy of it. As I grew in my love for cinema at a very young age I began analyzing in depth films such as Ben Hur, Lawrence Of Arabia, The Ten Commandments, My Fair Lady, and The Sound Of Music, these films I studied in depth, and really just fell in love with the medium. My film library has grown extensively and that is why I make films, so that I can honor those who have come before me in this beautiful medium we call film.
What is your favorite part about the short film form?
I believe the short film form is excellent because it is such a director medium, it has so much to do with the director. By saying that, on feature’s, on big budget films, the director can be almost separated from the crew and exclusive from the sweat and physical labor. This is good, because the director at that level has earned his stripes, however with the short film form, it is almost always a director and a DP having to get down and dirty in the shots, rush to get things done, and there is just this sense of anticipation and excitement with making a short film, and I feel audiences can feel that energy when they view the final film.
Who were the people that supported the making of this film?
My parents, those around me, Old Tucson studios was a huge factor. When I came up with the idea, I thought there is no way they will let a 22 year old come and shoot a western short film out at a real live western movie set, but when I sat down and pitched the film they were all in and gave us the support we needed. The actors and crew of course were essential as well to making this film happen.
What resources do you use as a filmmaker? Music, locations, props, editing, crew, etc.
We used Adobe Premiere, at the skillful editorial hands of Won Novalis and Dylan Giovanetto. We used pro tools and logic for sound mixing as well as the musical score being written, conducted, and mixed by the master Ryan Baker. Old Tucson Studios was our primary location. Ian Miller was our incredible director of photography and painted such beautiful images using all natural light. We had an armorer named Amos Carver who brought his A-game, bringing period correct prop guns and blanks, and even gave us the oppurtunity to work with a squib! Austin Buchanan, our lead, deserves all the credit with casting and wardrobe, the man is a stud!
What is your next project?
Our next project as a studio is gearing up and receiving funding to create No Sunday West Of Newton as a feature. Our feature script is finished and just going through the rewrite stages. Buffalo and Mustang Studios is taking on commercial work as well as other short film work in order to pay the bills, however our goal at the moment is to do all we can to get this western made into a feature film. We believe it is a story that needs to be told and if we are able to get the right talent for the leads we can take what we did with the short film and increase those efforts tenfold.
The independent film business is a difficult one. What keeps you motivated? Where do you see the industry going in the future?
My love of film keeps me going, along with His blessings from above. I believe in hard work and taking on every project as if it will be my last, and I surround myself with people of the same mindset. I am a fan of film as a singular art piece and that it must be treated as such, not as a stepping stone to a next stage in life, not as a piece that will look good on a reel, but instead a singular piece and vision created to give an audience a feeling that they can have with them every time they view the picture.
Which filmmakers, artists or individuals have most influenced your work?
I am heavily influenced by William Wyler, John Ford, Orson Welles, Hitchcock, David Lean, Ingmar Bergman, Spielberg, Malick and Tarcovsky. I have so many more directors that I really obsess over but those are the first that come to mind. In shooting the western I stuck primarily to the westerns I believed to be shot with Frederic Remington in mind, because I love the wide. My DP, Ian Miller, is getting very good at being able to compose a scene in a wide, which really gives me as a director, the freedom to really block my actors, and to say what they are feeling with their bodies as opposed to their lips. Posture is key with actors, and I feel with today’s films we are so tight and close, and we have good faces, but with directors like Joel and Ethan Coen, and Paul Thomas Anderson, they are bringing audiences to the realization that the wide is just as powerful as a closeup, they just need to be used correctly.
What advice would you give new filmmakers?
Films of the past are always your greatest textbook. I struggled in film school with a professor who just would not teach out of a love of film, though he had one, it was not evident in his teaching. He would stick to books and theories when in order to understand how to fully grasp a form, whether it be blocking, direction, you need to see it first, then you can theorize all you want to, but not until you have diagramed the final piece. In order to truly create and mold film into what your vision is, you need to know the language in order to speak it. So watch films, every one you get a hold of, watch it and try and think what the director had to say to get that tear, to get that look, to feel that emotion.
Our film is dedicated to the loving memory of Wyatt Lamar Belle, who made this film absolutely incredible. I met the four year old boy my first time visiting Old Tucson Studios and when I saw the kids beautiful blue eyes I knew that I needed to have him in the film. The kid was an absolute joy to work with, he was the most pure and innocent creature I had ever met, his family told me that they never asked him to pray for dinner because they said the food would get cold. Little Wyatt passed away back in March in an awful accident. I was absolutely devastated when I got the news. When I attended the memorial service, I remember a sense of peace in the large barn full of almost 200 people coming to honor the young cowboy, and I remember hearing the words that will never leave me, and that was that his dream of being a cowboy movie star had come true. I don’t know what the big man upstairs has in store for my film future, although I know as a 23 year old man, that there are some moments in our life that help us realize we aren’t doing what we are doing just because we love it but because we were made for it. I keep a photo of little Wyatt with me everywhere I go and he is a constant reminder of why I am in film and why I keep fighting for the joy set before me.
Follow Buffalo and Mustang Studios’ career here.
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