1. What is the genesis of The World We Make?
The story started with initial writer and producer, George Escobar, who approached an executive producer he knew with the idea. The exec producer had an interest in the material thematically. They started to build the team with another producer and started developing and casting the film. I was brought in later in the process by the lead producer, Ken Carpenter, to do a re-write and direct the film.
2. Did you have writer’s block on The World We Make screenplay? If so, how did you get over it?
I had to re-write it quickly, so there was no time for writer’s block. ha ha.
I don’t like the concept of writer’s block. Maybe the better way to say it is that I can get “good writing block”. But I don’t solve that by not writing. As the quote says, “You can’t steer a ship that isn’t moving.” I almost always start a writing day with a page goal and a write to that goal – even if it’s junk. Usually that junk is a starting point for something better. I find most professional writers just force themselves to write something and trust it will eventually get good because they have put in the years of work to become skilled at their craft and trust the process. I just have to punch the clock and have the discipline to write something – even if I don’t like it. I find the process of putting words on the page unlocks ideas that I wouldn’t get by just sitting around thinking.
3. What is your favorite line from The World We Make?
I honestly think my favorite line would be the action lines in scenes where there is no dialog. One of my favorites is a scene at the end of the film where Thomas (Gregory Allan Williams) comes to a peace about his son’s interracial relationship. I love it as a filmmaker when you can communicate something with character’s actions without relying on dialog. Those are often the most challenging scenes to write and it’s a joy when they work on screen.
4. Where and when do you write in general?
I’m a quiet space guy. No coffee shops for me. I have a quiet office with a view of a forest and a good sound system. When I write can differ greatly. I have learned to not be picky about the environment or time because sometimes you need to write in the middle of night in a hotel room, sometimes on set at lunch, and other times you get to write from the comfort of your office. Most typically, I’ll try and get to the office around 7:30 and I’ll write as much as I can before the calls and interruptions start. My ideal day is writing all morning until mid-afternoon and then I’ll spend the rest of the work day doing research or catching up on other aspects of the film.
5. Could you give a fun fact about your experience working with Caleb Castille and Rose Reid?
Caleb and Rose were both fantastic to work with on this film. One interesting thing is that they are both very good at what their characters were pursuing in the film. Caleb is an excellent football player and was apart of the Univ. of Alabama football team before he chose to pursue acting full time. And Rose is a talented horse rider who used to barrel race and did all her own horse riding in the film.
6. What recently moved you?
I recently directed a film that we shot in Ireland, and I was moved by the talented musicians playing traditional Irish music in the pubs. So beautiful and soulful.
7. Which screenplay of yours took you the least amount of time to write?
I’ll assume you mean the first draft (because the re-writing never feels fast). I have one in development called “My Real Life Summer” that I wrote in just a few weeks. It is a really fun script filled with middle school banter that came out of the brain rather quickly.
8. What movie have you seen that made the most influence in your life?
There have been several. But I would have to say in very tangible way that seeing “The Power of One” as a kid inspired my interest in wanting to help with some of the issues in Africa that later led to post graduate fellowship at the University of Cape Town in South Africa and a degree in African studies.
9. If you have your own talk show, who would your first three guests be (besides me, of course)?
10. Do you recall the very first short film you ever did?
Definitely. After 2nd grade, my father took me to a pawn shop to buy a Super 8 camera so that I could spend my summer doing stop-motion animation with my models and Star Wars figures. I ended up with a 3 minute film at the end of the summer – 1 frame at a time.
My first legit short film happened was when I was 19 with a close friend I met at film school. He and I literally did every role from camera loader, to lighting, to wardrobe, set dressing and oh yeah, directing. I mainly remember how tired we were. I guess it paid off, because we are both making a living directing, writing, and producing now.
11. If a self-published author is seeking a screenwriter, how would one get you or any experience screenwriter to read his or her story to see if it would make a compelling movie?
I think having a 5 to 10 page summary/treatment is very helpful. Rarely does a working writer, director, or producer have several days to devote to reading a self-published book. But if an author can write a summary that gives a good sense of the book that can be read in 10-15 minutes, then that greatly increases the chances that a filmmaker will give it a read. At that stage, it’s usually more about the premise and if that filmmaker can get that premise funded. The author would be well served to explain to the filmmaker why their story would put butts in seats at the theater, or be attractive to click on while someone is surfing around in Netflix.
12. Could you give a sneak peek about your next project?
I just finished shooting the feature “There You’ll Find Me” in Ireland that I wrote and directed. It’s a comedic romance with lots of heart about a young woman who goes on a college exchange program to Ireland and ends up meeting one of the biggest young movie stars in the world. The cast was amazing and shooting in Ireland was delightful. I’ll be in post the rest of the year and we expect to release it in 2020.
13. What’s your motto in life?
It would probably be something carpe diem-ish.
Make the most of each day. Experience every moment on the journey deeply and pursue the epic life.
I want to get to the finish line exhausted and spent because I took advantage of every opportunity to have joy, love, and grow to be the best version of myself.
14. Last question, what piece of advice do you have for aspiring directors starting out?
Learn everything about everything. Take the time to experience life first hand. Travel, study your quirky interests, learn history and classic literature, befriend people different than you, play hard, use your talents to serve others, etc. Eventually you will learn the technical aspects of filmmaking, and then it becomes far more about understanding humankind and the world, and having an interesting perspective. All with the aim to tell authentic stories that move people.
I truly appreciative to Brian Baugh for giving up his time and energy to take on my interview questions. You should give The World We Make a try right now. It's available on Netflix, DVD and digital. You can also watch it through amazon if that is your preference. So, that is all for now. Thank you for reading this and I hope to see you tomorrow for next interview. Take care!