“I Often Joke That I Eat Elephants For A Living:” A TDQ Q&A With Director Brad Douglas

Brad Douglas

Brad Douglas, living the dream. Wearing all the hats! No, not real hats. Read the article.

This week’s TDQ Q&A is with writer/director/producer Brad Douglas. Brad spoke to us about his latest project, “Bestment,” all the hats he wore while making it and the joys of making movies in Oregon. Here is this week’s TDQ Q&A with Brad Douglas:

The Daily Quarterly: What made you want to be in show business?

Brad Douglas: I grew up in small town Oregon with my grandparents. It was a pretty sleepy existence for a kid. I watched a lot of TV and movies and was enamoured by the medium. Spent some time doing back yard 8mm stuff and eventually video, but it has always been something that I love. Maybe because of the glamour of doing something you love for a living but mostly the process of creating.

TDQ: Who was your favorite writer/director growing up?

BD: I didn’t really pay a lot of attention to who wrote and directed films until I was in my late teens working at a video store. That was in the 80s so the regular suspects like Scorsese, Carpenter, Spielberg, etc. were prominent names that I associated good films with. I still don’t know if I have a favorite, but there are several that are damn good at what they do.

TDQ: What was your favorite movie growing up?

BD: I really loved “Saturday Night Fever” when it came out and also “Every Which Way But Loose” with that God-damned ape LOL. Then came “Star Wars”….need I say more?

TDQ: What was the best advice you ever got?

BD: My grandmother always told me to bite off more than you can chew and keep chewing. How relevant is that to the movie making world in a nut shell?

TDQ: What was the worst advice you ever got?

BD: I had some pretty negative Nellie’s in my family that told me I was foolish to think I could ever get into the business. If I would have stayed in that small town and listened to that s—, I probably never would have, but I didn’t and neither should anyone who believes in themselves.

TDQ: Who are your influences?

BD: That’s a great question that has many answers. I’ve looked at a lot of work from all types of directors over the years and for sure do have an influence on my creative. However, no one film maker is all 100% all good or all bad. For example, Spielberg teaches you to drive the movie with the story and the audience will forgive weaknesses, Lynch shows you how to mind screw your audience and not be ashamed that it makes no sense, Kevin Smith shoves a wild premise right down your throat (“Red State”) and like it. By learning successful elements from each you can essentially create a movie like a good soup. And everyone loves soup.

BradDouglas, <em>Besetment</em>

Look at how many times “Brad Douglas” appears in that credit block! That’s a lot of hats! No, not real hats. Read the article.

TDQ: Tell us about the latest movie you directed, “Besetment”

BD: I was living at a mountain resort in Oregon when I wrote it. It started out as a short but I just kept writing and pretty soon it was feature length. The story of an unemployed girl in a small town had a lot of relevance at the time. I had visited the town of Mitchell, Oregon earlier and decided I wanted to make a movie there so I intersected the two and ended up with “BESETMENT.” It’s a disturbing story that could very well be true I guess. I mean what’s really scary in life? Monsters or deranged people? I say the latter. I wrote the role of Mildred specifically for Marlyn Mason who in my opinion kills it! She took the movie to a whole other level. Abby Wathen came into my life on another film that fell apart so we were trying to do something else that summer and I just so happened to have the script on my shelf. She was a hell of a trooper through some pretty uncomfortable conditions. She was just what the role needed and I’m so glad she made me make this movie! I really enjoyed using a lot of characters along the way and a very diverse locations list. That’s the beauty of Oregon. Pick a location and write a movie around it rather that the opposite. There are many to choose from and you don’t need a back lot studio to do it. Plus the people are very welcoming of filmmaking, unlike a lot of Californians where they’re sick of it. And trust me, it’s not hard to get LA actors to spend a month in Oregon. It really is beautiful.

TDQ: You also wrote and produced “Bestement.” Did you find it a positive experience wearing so many hats on a project, or do you think it’s easier to just have one single role in making a film?

BD: I’m not going to lie, writing, producing and directing is an enormous amount of work but I did it out of necessity. Especially directing. I often joke that I eat elephants for a living and there’s a lot of truth to that. Thank God I had such a good cast so I could just concentrate on fundamentally shooting the film. I made some mistakes that I deserve to be pointed out for, but that’s what first films are for and I learned a ton. Near the end of fimling, Chuck Greenwood (DP) and I were really clicking and when we started the next film in December of this year we picked up right where we left off. Producing is super important and though I have a lot of support from my producing crew I am involved a lot. Pre-Production is crucial for principal to work. I haven’t written any more scripts mainly because I’m so busy in production. But it’s a love hate job. Maybe I’ll write the sequel to “Besement.” I think there’s enough there for it. Let’s see how the public likes the film before I lock myself in my head for a month LOL.

TDQ: What project are you working on next?

BD: I produced and directed a film in December called “Between the Trees,” written by Sam Klarreich, about a guy having relationship troubles taking his buddies up to a remote hunting cabin where they find out the real troubles are in the trees that surround them. It’s another twisted little flick. I am also in development on a script about the dark side of horse racing. Veteran writer, Michael Kane wrote it and Abby somehow got a hold of it and sent it to me. I have been racing thoroughbreds for most of my adult life so it seems like a good fit. It’s drama though, so we’ll see. Dramas scare me!

TDQ: Where do you see yourself in five years?

BD: Ha. Check with me in 5 days. Seriously, though I hope to knock out a couple films a year as long as we keep getting distribution and it pencils. The business changes so much year to year that it’s hard to see if this is going to be a viable endeavour and for how long. Let’s hope so because I’m having a blast.

Check out Brad’s Facebook page.