Who are you and what’s your filmmaking background?
My name is James Bachelor and I’ve been making movies since I was old enough to pick up a VHS camera. In High School, I directed a film nominated for Best Short at the OC Film Festival. I went on to pursue a BFA in Film Production with an emphasis in Directing at Chapman University where I made several more shorts. I graduated May 2014 with my thesis film Eli Over Darkness.
What are you working on right now?
I’m currently in the middle of working on a feature script which I’m pretty excited about. I’ve also started shooting some simple shorts to experiment in the genre of mumblecore, which has been fun.
What are you promoting?
I’m promoting my film Eli Over Darkness which tells the story of how Eli, a teen in the punk scene, struggles to cope with his chronic depression. When asked what genre the film falls into my brother (the writer) and I typically say it’s teen-realism because the goal in making the film is to portray teenagers and, specifically, the ways depression can affect them, as honestly as possible. I have had several friends growing up who I eventually learned were suffering from depression. What struck me was that these friends weren’t full of angst and aggression, as the media frequently suggests, nor did they seem helpless or lost. Rather, they were trying their hardest to be in the present and to enjoy moments with friends instead of letting the depression quietly eat away at them. I found their daily determination to conquer depression incredible and inspiring and wanted to capture that in a story on the big screen. That said the film is not all serious and there are still a couple laughs to be had.
What do you want the audience to take away from your films?
I hope that by telling stories through realism, audience members can relate to the characters on screen and maybe even see people in their own lives reflected through them. It would be great to know that in the case of Eli Over Darkness specifically, seeing Eli combat his depression might give people some encouragement to face whatever struggles may be holding them down.
What’s your favorite story from filmmaking?
There’s a fun bit in the film where the characters are trying to come up with a name for their band. It was early on in the shoot and so the actors were still getting to know each other, and the same goes for much of the crew. I decided to just let the actors riff and improvise. They came up with some pretty creative names and ended up getting the whole crew laughing. Everyone sort of bonded in that moment I think.
What are your wildest dreams for your filmmaking career?
I would love to be able to continuously improve in both my skills as a writer and director and go on making films for the entirety of my life. That would make me a very happy man.
What is something bizarre about you?
For years one of my favorite hobbies was painting miniatures. You build the little soldiers, paint them, and when you have an army completed you can play against your friends in a strategy war game. Painting such small figures takes a very long time but I always found it relaxing.
What currently inspires you?
I’m always inspired when I watch the behind the scenes features of a film or listen to the Director’s commentary. It’s one of my favorite things to do and really gets the creative juices flowing.
What’s your best advice for an aspiring filmmaker?
My best advice would be to just always be working on something, whether it’s a script or a short. The more you can be working on things, the more you will improve and learn as an artist.
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