Did you find it easy to trust people as you muscled your way into the industry?
I had a lot of good luck when I started. My career was kind of blessed for many years so I wouldn't call it 'muscling my way in.' Like in anything, you trust people who you can trust. I trust my friends.
Everyone else, I trust them about as far as their interests are in line with my own.
Anything else is kind of foolish and setting yourself up for getting screwed.
You are currently in the throes of producing and directing feature films. Are you able to turn your hand to doing anything else in the industry if needs be, or are you trying to concentrate as much as you can on producing and directing?
I started as a screenwriter which I did for many years, directing when I could. When writing and directing alone stopped being an economically viable way of supporting myself, I taught myself how to edit. And that's a real trade which is always useful. Turned out that editing was really fun. I loved it. And lately, that's mostly how I've been paying the bills.
You recently made a movie called 'Death Valley', appropriately enough set in Death Valley. What was the plot of the movie and how did the shooting go?
Shooting was fucking cold. We actually shot most of the film outside of Albuquerque, New Mexico on the Zia Pueblo Indian Reservation. That is the High Desert, like 5200 ft. And we shot in December. So it was real fucking cold. Windy, it snowed. Half the crew got sick. My lead actor broke his collarbone. The desert is a hard place. It was a pretty rough shoot, but we banged it out.
As for the plot - I grew up in LA going to Raves out in the desert.
Sometimes they were three, four hours away in the middle of nowhere. You call a number, which leads you to a map point which is usually some gas station in the middle of nowhere. Then you get a map which sends you another three or four hours out into the desert.
And after getting lost, eventually you stumble onto some party out in the middle of nowhere. Some of those parties were shit. But some of them were absolutely life changing. There was always a sense that this was the wild - anything could happen. And lots of weird crazy shit did.
'Death Valley' is a survival thriller about four friends from L.A. who go out to a rave in the desert to celebrate their friend's birthday. One of them has Mescaline and they all take it. They trip out of their minds, and that night they are too fucked up to drive, so they find this cave and crash out there.
When they wake up in the morning, they find that they are the last ones there.
And their car battery has been stolen by some desert kids.
A confrontation ensues, which escalates into a gun fight, and becomes a battle of attrition in the desert between the city kids, and a desert biker meth gang led by a sociopath played by the always genius, Dash Mihok.
Do you find that actors and actresses approach you, or is it usually the other way round?
The material rules. If the project is good, actors and actresses want to be involved. The other way is to partner with an actor and develop something together which is what I'm doing right now.
Are you currently working for any specific film company, or are you working independently with total self-control over projects?
Independently. But not really for the noble reasons you say. Independent cuz no one's hiring me right now.
Do you find the act of pitching ideas to film agents a simple or difficult process?
That's a good question. I haven't really pitched for a few years, but I spent many years
pitching and have gone through a lot of different emotions about it.
I used to hate it. I treated it like a show - like theater. And that's half of what it is. You have to sell the people in the room the story.
But also, and somewhat more importantly, you have to sell the people in the room on you. And people who can do both, are very successful. I was occasionally successful. To answer your question - I found it difficult. If I pitched now, it would be much easier.
Are there any people currently working in Hollywood who you really admire?
I used to work for director Lawrence Kasdan. I admire him a great deal. I learned from him how you get the best from your people by treating them with respect. He's a very decent man.
I admire the work of many different people.
What are you presently working on?
I'm developing a low budget comedy with a friend of mine. We're writing the role for him to star. The intention is to write something that we can get funded and shoot ourselves.
What are the best and worst things about being involved in movie-making?
The worst: there is no security. There is no weekly paycheck. There often is no health insurance. You are only as relevant as today. It is a constant hustle and if you lose your flow, it can beat you down. And like in 'Adaptation,' there's always this little voice in the back of your head saying, 'I'm washed up. The gravy train's over.' There is nothing like a serious creative block to fuck with your entire way of being.
The best: shit, you're making movies. What better job is there than that?
Miles Cain, once a Hull resident, is a superb singer-songwriter who is now based in York.
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How are you doing?
Pretty good, thanks!
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Eric who? Eric Bogosian!
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