WMMer Douglas Knox has ridden the roller coaster that is Hollywood and experienced the kind of riveting success and in turn, colossal failure that monumental biopics are made of. From humble roots to musical semi-stardom to stumbling upon an enviable deal with the USA Network and back through the rigor of the indie world as a writer/director, Knox gives us an unflagging portrait of his professional and personal life. His fascinating (and unapologetically verbose) story intrigues, inspires, and serves as a testament to his tenacity, talent and unwavering commitment to art…
WMM: Where are you from, what is your background, and how do you think that informs what you do as an artist?
DK: I was born in Seattle, Washington and was raised in Kelso, a small town sitting on the Washington-Oregon border. We lived in the middle of nowhere in a time when there were only three, single-screen movie theaters in town. My father was a school principal and my mother was the minister of our church. Being raised in that environment, there was no swearing, alcohol or R-rated movies. It was a very confusing environment to grow up in. Once I got to see how the rest of the world lived, it fascinated me. As I got older, I had to literally force my personality out into the open and lose the fear of judgment from my parents because I was never going to be what they wanted me to be. It had a definite effect on my entire life. It has also made me draw a definite line between what is and what is not appropriate for children. I would never write a role for a small child in an R-Rated sex drama. Ever. In my opinion, if the kid isn’t old enough to see it then they shouldn’t be in it.
WMM: When did you know you wanted to pursue your craft(s – because we know you to be a multi-hyphenate) as a career? Were you supported in your dreams?
DK: I started off as a musician, taking piano lessons at five and eventually picking up the bass at age 10. My parents were very encouraging of my being musically inclined, but as far as a career, that’s where it stopped. I was told it was just a dream and that I needed to be more realistic. One thing people do not know about me is that I actually used to be an actor. I started off in school productions in both junior high and high school, but it was my final production in high school where I got my first taste of directing. It stuck ever since.
And then there’s writing. When I was in seventh grade, I wrote a short-story about the school burning down and how one student (the fantasy version of me) tried to save the other students. One of my English teachers wanted it published in the school newspaper. When it was released, I came under fire for portraying the teachers as ineffective and my dad was put on notice that the principal died horribly (my dad was principal at the RIVAL junior high). I started writing my first novel at 15 but pretty much abandoned that endeavor by the time I was in college.
During college, a band I was playing in went pro. We got out on a club circuit that played the entire west coast. The tour lasted a year. It was one of the greatest times in my life. Just imagine sex, drugs, rock and roll and then watch “Fear and Loathing In Las Vegas” a couple times and you’ll get a hint of what that period was like. After going through several different bands (pro and amateur) I ended up getting lured into playing in an Alice In Chains Tribute band called “Facelift.” I played with them for a year and half and eventually we broke up. When AIC’s singer Layne Staley died, the local radio station tracked down our singer and asked him if he could get us beck together to play the memorial. With only two rehearsals we ended up performing outdoors, in the rain, in front of 7,000 people (my biggest single audience). It was the last official live show of my career.
When I wasn’t touring with bands, I made my living working in video stores. As an original executive-level employee of Hollywood Video, back when they had only five stores, my job was to build the store libraries for new locations and coordinate their opening. Under my watch, they expanded from 5 to 25 locations and opened their first locations in other states. During the Hollywood Video days was when I saw “Reservoir Dogs.” There was something about that movie that said, “You can make this,” and I became obsessed with the idea of making my own films. By this time I started studying screenwriting and now, with my encyclopedic knowledge of films from my years of watching every movie I could get my hands on, I was ready to give it a shot as a pro. I still had so much to learn.
To sum up, was I supported? In my music? To an extent. In my acting? Sure, but not enough to make it a career. In my writing? Very much, but it was never perceived as more than just a hobby. In my filmmaking? Well, that’s been all me.
WMM: Did you study anywhere in your field? Where? Any notable stories?
DK: Almost none of my education has to do with my career. I started as music major in college, then switched to History. Eventually I landed in psychology a year before my band went pro. I began my education of movies during college as well. My girlfriend at the time worked in a video store and we’d bring home stacks of movies every night to
devour. It was during this time that I discovered my love of the post Hayes Office period of filmmakers; Martin Scorsese, William Friedkin, Francis Ford Coppola, Michael Cimino, and Brian DePalma. I literally spent around four to five years watching nearly every single movie I could get my hands on. I read books about the history of cinema
and studied the techniques of the masters. I wanted to make movies like Taxi Driver, Deliverance and Dog Day Afternoon. I couldn’t get enough of these movies…still can’t.
As I said with writing, it was all DIY. I read books and then promptly threw them away. Probably the most influential book I ever read was “How To Write A Screenplay In 21 Days.” It’s a stripped down Syd Field primer on how to formulize your script and get from beat to beat. If you are a natural story teller, then this book is for you. If you’re someone who’s struggling to find your craft, I’d suggest bigger books that I can’t remember the titles of. My writing became something that was borne out of all the movies I ever watched, mixed with my own desire to tell stories.
But the most revelatory point in all this came when I was writing my third original script, “Conversation Piece.” I was telling a semi-autobiographical story of two women who I knew in my life. Although in the film it is all told as if it is in the past and done with, they were actually sitting in the room with me, watching TV, as I wrote the final scenes. Basing these characters on two REAL people and having them around me while I was writing, made the script sing in ways that none of my other scripts I had written up to that point had ever done. It’s no mistake that it was my first option and the first real film I ever directed.
DK: What else do you do besides your craft? Day job?
For Hire. I’ve had many odd jobs but for a brief period of time, I was fortunate to have a development deal with USA Networks that lasted a year and I also wrote for the hidden camera show “Spy TV” which was on NBC between 2001-2002.
WMM: What would you consider the high point of your career?
DK: Professionally it would have to be when I had my USA Development deal. Several years before I had written a script called “Greatest Hits.” Amongst the people I worked with, it was considered my best work. But for the first few years that I was in the business, I only had a couple independent producers I dealt with. They never paid me a dime for anything and none of them wanted to read “Greatest Hits” because it was an “indie” and they wanted something they could take to a studio. Finally, this one producer got a hold of it and he handed it off to another producing team who optioned it. We spent the better part of 6 months re-working and revising it. Then, when I happened to be in L.A. visiting friends, I got a call saying that they wanted me to meet a manager named Larry Shuman.
Mr. Shuman took me to lunch and told me that he loved the script and really felt that it could be a great calling card for me. He pretty much sang my praises the whole time and was angling me to sign with him. The thing is I had no idea who he was. To give you a hint, Shawn Ryan, the creator of shows like “The Shield”, “Terriers” and “The Unit” was his assistant back then. When we got back to his office building in Santa Monica, we stepped into the elevator and he asked me, “So, are you interested in me representing you?” I said, sure. He said that we should go up to the office and he’d have papers for me to sign. Then he quickly added, “By the way, I showed ‘Greatest Hits’ to some people
I know over at USA Networks and they loved it. They are eager to meet you.” I wasn’t even his client and he’d already started the process of getting me what would be the biggest deal of my career. Within a short period of time, I met some producers from the network and they had me pitch them some ideas.
Problem was, I wasn’t a TV writer. I wrote features. In fact, I didn’t like television back then. I didn’t watch ANYTHING on TV. I was totally out of my element. Eventually the producers gave me a book to read and asked me to draw up a pitch based on the book. I worked diligently on it (back up in Portland) for a month then drove back to L.A. for the big pitch meeting. The development VP at the time was David Eick (showrunner of Sarah Conner Chronicles among other shows). He didn’t like our pitch. He killed it and we walked back to our office with our tales between our legs. We stood in that office staring out of the windows that overlooks all of Hollywood and just stewed. I then mentioned one of the earlier pitches that we’d discussed. The producer suddenly had an ear for it. Within minutes he was excited about it. He ran to Eick’s office and asked if we could get 15 minutes at the end of the day. Eick agreed. We spent the rest of the afternoon working up the entire pitch and perfecting it. We marched back into David Eick’s office and pitched a show about a bunch loser superheroes; a ragtag bunch of sidekicks and characters with powers that were almost worthless and how they were to band together to save their city after all the “good” super heroes quit. Eick loved it.
Over the next week, we wrote up a one page synopsis of the series and it was kicked up the ladder. It got to the president of production, Stephen Chou and he loved it. He took it to Barry Diller. For those of you who don’t know who Barry Diller is, he took over Paramount in the mid 1970’s after Robert Evans left his post. He was considered one of the most powerful men in Hollywood throughout the 70’s and 1980’s. He ended up taking over USA Networks in the 90s and shepherded it through some tough times. He was responsible for trying to make it a legitimate network with original programming ahead of TBS and TNT. When we were there, they had shows like “Jack of All Trades”
and “G vs E” in production. Diller is a legend in this industry. Diller killed our show. He hated the concept. However, he recognized that we had some talent and agreed to sing me to a “blind development deal” – in other words, we had a deal, but the show would be decided on later. It was unheard of for an unknown writer to get this kind of deal. Everyone was talking about articles in Variety and Hollywood Reporter; talking about how USA was taking this “big risk.”
At the same time this was happening, Greatest Hits was taken to William Morris, Endeavor (they were separate entities at the time) and Innovative Artists. All three agencies wanted meet with me. I was advised by my manager that should really consider Innovative. The meeting with them was something right out of an episode of “Entourage.” I was taken in a room, given whatever I wanted to drink (even if it meant an assistant ran out to buy it) and sat on a comfortable sofa while the entire lit department sat on uncomfortable chairs and gushed over me about how much they loved the script. They talked about their favorite characters, quoted it back to me and made a lot of promises. After they filed out of the room, I was told by my manager that if I wanted to be repped here, I had to sign a contract and I had to choose one feature agent and one TV agent. My manager really pressured me to go with them, so I did. One of the biggest mistakes I could have made.
As I went to work on the new pitch ideas, the agents hammered out the terms of my deal. For what it was, it was generous. It would be 4 years before I would see a million dollars, but I was confident we could do it. We kept stalling on the pitch, none of the ideas we had were working. Then one of the other producers in the building came to us
with an idea. Without getting me in too much trouble, USA owned the contract on Dwayne “The Rock” Johnson. This was right before “The Mummy Returns” was released and before he had made “The Scorpion King.” They knew he was going to become a big movie star. They wanted to lock him into a TV show as well. They pitched me an idea that would be a half-hour action comedy starring him. I balked. It was like something out of the Coen Brothers’ “Barton Fink.” And a half hour action comedy. Who does that? However, it was the idea everyone else, especially the USA
suits, liked. It was approved by Barry Diller and we set to work.
This entire process, from the meeting with the manager until it was all over was slightly over a year. Most of it was sitting around and waiting for drafts of the pilot to be approved. The notes we got were endless and ridiculous. I knew about midway through the whole thing that we were never going to make it. Then I found out that part of my
deal included that every episode of the show I wrote beyond the pilot, I would get $50K for. So, without their knowledge, I started writing episode two.
Now, right here it is important to point something out. I still had “Greatest Hits” and no one, especially the producers who had originally optioned it, were doing anything with it. I also had a BOX of about 15 scripts that were completed and another 20-30 that were in development. I knew the writing was on the wall with the USA show. I called my agents at Innovative and set up a meeting. I walked in and plopped this box down on their desk and said here is every word I have ever written. While were waiting for this USA thing to pan out, let’s go get the next project. Innovative wouldn’t touch any of it. They all wanted to wait. The Variety and Hollywood Reporter articles vanished as well. Suddenly, no one wanted to push me anymore. They wanted to see if I was going to deliver with the USA show…and I knew it was in trouble. What I didn’t know was the reason why they were cooling their jets; my deal had happened right around the same time that Troy Duffy famously flamed out over his film “Boondock Saints.” Suddenly,
everyone was being very wary of “newbies” who were being handed revolutionary deals. I was completely unaware of Duffy and his antics. I didn’t find out about this until years later.
The problem with USA at that time was their shows weren’t hitting a chord with mainstream audiences. They were cult shows at best. One day, Barry Diller flew to Prague to visit the set of Jack of All Trades. He was upset with what he found. A lot of wasted money and what they shot wasn’t all that great. He demanded to see all of the pilots that were currently in development. Since I started working on episode two of the show, I started to get a better feel for how it was going to work. I was feeling a lot more confident about our chances, but the pilot wasn’t “ready.” I was told to send it to them right away so they could forward it to Barry Diller. I begged for one more week. They refused. We sent it in. One week later, I was driving to L.A. to start production on “Conversation Piece” when I got the call that USA had dumped our show and that my deal was to be liquidated. I got paid for all the money I was owed, but that was it; no second chance. Most of the people involved with the show changed jobs and it was over. To make matters worse, my agent and manager stopped taking my calls. I worked with some producers on another set of shows but none of the pilots or pitches caught on. The original producers who optioned “Greatest Hits” faded into obscurity. That script would get optioned two more times and never produced.
You are thinking: “That was the high point of your career?” Well, by Hollywood standards, yes. I was repped by a top tier agency, a name manager and had scored a deal that was unheard of in Hollywood history. For one year, I was going to clubs and parties. I walked a couple red carpets (real ones, not the fake shit anyone can walk on now), dated a couple of rising actresses and even got to have lunch with one of my favorite comedians and pitch him a script I had written with him in mind. I was given VIP status at the Laugh Factory and met Jay Mohr (who was interested in starring in Greatest Hits), Paul Rodriguez, David Alan Grier, John Fugelsang and Bob Sagat (who was actually an extremely nice guy). I lived “Entourage” for one year. However, from the moment they approved the show, I knew it was destined to fail. It was a half hour show, action comedy, starring a wrestler, on USA Networks. No matter how much I hammered at my agents to get another deal going for a film or TV show, they refused to listen. They wanted the USA show to be a hit…THEN they would sing my praises.
I learned a lot from this experience. A lot of mistakes were made in that year and I will never make them again. However, the main thing to remember is that when success comes your way, you need to STOP and realize the moment you’re in. It could end tomorrow. You need to enjoy it when it lasts and not treat it like it will last forever.
There are a lot of people in this world who would kill for your success. So, enjoy it. Be grateful for it. Be kind to people on the way up because you will pass them on the way down.
WMM: What is the lowest budget you have worked with? Highest?
DK: The lowest budget film I ever did was called “Rockbody.” It was a silly, live action roadrunner cartoon of a film shot with my friends after hours at the corporate offices of Hollywood Video. Didn’t cost a dime. As far as low budget is concerned, my favorite low budget experience was on a short film I did called “The Woman Beside Me.” We shot an action sequence, a chase with gunfire, outdoors, near the 110 freeway and down the street from the police academy with no permits. We had a black man chasing a white woman with a gun. We had gunfire, some fake bullet strikes I concocted, and even some blood effects. It took us a total of three weekends to film it and the whole sequence itself cost on $75 (whole film was closer to $1000). Although it was primitively done, considering what we pulled off, I am extremely proud of it.
Highest budget was for my first film, “Conversation Piece.” I’m still not sure what the actual budget on it was because the producer kept all that from me so I wasn’t stressing about it. My estimation was $15K. Although I appreciate what the producer was trying to do, I also felt like we had wasted a lot of that money on things that were not needed.
WMM: Describe your first foray into professional film making? First screening? First show?
DK: My experiences on my fist film “Conversation Piece” are the stuff of legend. I actually wrote a book about it and then shelved it because I figured I’d have worse experiences to talk about. There has been much said about my relationship with the producer of this film and I would like to take this time to publicly state that I do not blame him for the outcome of that film. The only thing he did was make a general announcement on the first day of filming that this was my “first time directing” and that the whole crew should “help me out.” His heart was in the right place. However, what happened was to cause the crew to think they knew everything and I knew nothing. From the very first shot, I was in battles with my DP. These conflicts raged all throughout production. Problem was, I had a feeling (since this was a non-union shoot) that if I truly stood up to the DP and became an asshole about things, then he’d walk off the set. The producer assured me this wouldn’t happen. Sure enough, on the last day of production, the DP and I almost came to blows and he walked off the set. The producer got him back but he was uncooperative for the rest of the day.
Later, when I was screening dailies, I found that on one of the most important shots of the day, one that he and I clashed over, he never rolled the camera. It just so happened to be one scene where a monitor was not available and I had to trust him 100%. It made the scene completely unusable. We didn’t have access t the location again. As a result, it made the climax confusing and that ONE SHOT caused the film to get shelved in post. Although there are rough edits of scenes out there, the film has never been screened in its entirety. I hope that someday the producer will give me the master tapes so I can digitize them and maybe do my own cut. The film was never screened, obviously. Although it is still considered one of my best scripts, it is horribly outdated. We all have “bad first films.” Mine was a doozy.
WMM: What is the most stressful situation you have found yourself in as an artist? Most rewarding? Most memorable?
DK: It’s really hard to say because I think every production comes with its own set of stresses. On “Conversation Piece” it was dealing with a crew that had mutinied because we decided to scrap the sex scene. On “The Woman Beside Me” it was filming a chase scene near the police academy without permits. On my comedy pilot “Flushing Guppies” it was not having the locations locked down and a deadline to have it done rapidly approaching. On my web series “Miss Casting” it was shooting three days a week for 10 weeks, writing, casting, producing, directing and editing 27 episodes…and doing it all by myself.
The most memorable and rewarding part of my career is something no one will ever see. In the late spring of 2007, I started adapting a film project called “Afraid” into a TV series. I got the first four episodes done and then started branching out into uncharted territory. I talked to a very close, dear friend of mine, Tabitha Durham, about doing table reads and possibly filming scenes fro the show for a demo. Together we started casting the roles in the first four episodes. During this period, my inspiration for the characters grew with every actor I met. Through these actors, the characters came to life. I suddenly knew who everyone was just by looking at their faces, talking to them over
coffee or hanging out and partying with them. Minor characters suddenly had major stories. It all exploded. Most of all, one of the roles was for me to return to acting. I had resolved that I was going to be a part of this and I was going to lead by example.
In mid/late summer of 2007 we had the first table read. We read episodes 1-4. It was a huge success. Word had spread that this was not just sitting around a room doing a table read, but they were, as Tabitha called them, “acting Olympics.” By the time we stopped, I had written a total of 36, one-hour episodes and we’d done table reads for 24 of them. The cast had become like a family. However, the realities of getting the show made the way we wanted without a lot of network interference was pretty dim. I shut everything down and started working on other projects that could be pitched instead of “Afraid” to build a track record that would afford me the power to have final cut. Still, the
development period and the table reads of “Afraid” in 2007 is still considered one of the highest moments of my personal life.
Most of all I treasure the time I spent with Tabitha. She was my right hand through that whole period. She was there for 99% of the casting and read every single script the moment it came off the printer. She gave her comments when she felt they were needed but for the most part she was the best muse I ever had. Although she has moved away from L.A. and really exists on the fringe of all this madness, she still reads my scripts and still does as much as she can to encourage and inspire me. There are not many in this world like her.
WMM: What are your current project(s)?
It’s kinda hard to name them all. However, what we’re focused on right now is a series called “Beauty School” that we’d like see get on Pay Cable or Digital Delivery. We’re pitching it as “Entourage” meets “Breaking Bad.” The subject matter, the best that I can disclose right now, concerns three white, college educated rich kids who get involved in a very sleazy business that they think it would be cool to be a part of and make them a lot more money. It’s a way for them to keep the frat parties rolling 24/7 and get even richer in the process. However, what they don’t count on are all the nefarious elements of the city (real drug dealers, human traffickers, the Mob) trying to set up shot within the walls of their relatively respectable establishment. The entire first season is written and we’re out to several production companies as we speak. Really, all we need is for someone to either finance the pilot or the first season and we’re ready to go.
I’m also working on a series of films that are a side-line to “Afraid.” They’re called “Don’t Forget Me” and deal with the dark side of human sexuality. Each of the cases explored in the films are heavily researched and the audience is walked through them Rita, one of the main characters from ”Afraid.” Even though they are stand-alone films, they all tie together. They are written to be low-budget festival pieces and so far the scripts that are in circulation are getting rave reviews.
WMM: How has (if at all) WMM influenced / shaped / supported you with this process/project?
DK: The main thing WMM has done for me has allowed me to become part of a community rather than be a solitary figure in a bubble. For the past ten years or so I have had a great support system that has been there for me and cheered me on. However, I started to feel like some of them (not all) were only singing my praises because they were hoping I would put them in my projects. We Make Movies is a group of relative strangers. They have their own things going on. It is, for the first time, a place where I had to dip my toe into the Jacuzzi and show them what I could do. I’ve never been a “joiner”, but in the time I have been around WMM I have been very impressed with the level of talent in the room and the positive force they strive to be.
WMM: Who are your biggest influences?
DK: This list is crazy. I’ll try to keep it short. As an actor, I have always admired Steve McQueen and of course the one-two punch of Pacino/DeNiro. However, I really feel I identify with Spencer Tracy the most. He always said, “acting is the easiest thing to do in the world. Just don’t get caught doing it.” As a filmmaker, I’m blown away by Martin Scorsese and the Coen Brothers. As a writer, I have to say the Coens, but I am heavily influenced by novelist James Ellroy (L.A. Confidential, American Tabloid). Even when I am not writing a thriller or a cop piece, I still use his rapid fore, no-frills style of writing to handle my stage directions. Less is more. It gives the other artists room to breathe. I also like Elmore Leonard (Get Shorty, Out of Sight) and John Steinbeck who wrote my favorite book of all time, “Of Mice and Men.” Lastly, I want to mention George Clooney. This guy came from out of nowhere to be one of my biggest heroes in the industry. He’s made so many films I love not only as an actor but as a director and a producer. He and I truly have a lot in common when it comes to our taste in films.
WMM: What are your top 5 films? Who are your favorite 5 actors? Top 5 directors? Top 5 pieces of lit?
DK: Films: Godfathers 1 and 2 (I’m counting them as one movie although I like 2 better), Once Upon A Time In America, The Deer Hunter, Dog Day Afternoon and JFK. Actors: Al Pacino, Robert DeNiro, Spencer Tracy, Steve McQueen and Russell Crowe Books: Of Mice and Men (Steinbeck) American Tabloid, The Cold Six Thousand, White
Jazz (all Ellroy) and Easy Riders and Raging Bulls by Peter Biskind. An honorable mention is The Kid Stays in The Picture by Robert Evans, which is the only book I have read more than five times. I used to own the audio book as well and can do a pretty good impression of Evans as a result. Music: Pink Floyd, Rush, Queensryche, Tool and Queen.
WMM: What is your favorite project you have worked on and why?
DK: Although it has never been filmed, I have to say “Afraid.” For all the reasons that were mentioned earlier. I learned a lot when writing it. When I started developing “Afraid”, it was about applying cases I’d studied in school and over the years on my own, and applying them to the narrative. However, I started to run out of solid cases and needed new storylines and “events. So, I just started pulling stories out ones I had heard from friends, family and myself. One of the most embarrassing sexual experiences of my life is in there and everyone thinks I made it up. At the time, as much as I was having the time of my life writing and performing with these amazingly talented people, I was also going through a very painful period in my own private life. I decided to vent my rage and frustrations through these characters.
WMM: What would you change if you could, about your career trajectory?
DK: Shortest answer of this interview: started earlier. I spent almost the first HALF of my life (at the age I am now) focused on becoming a professional musician. I didn’t even begin to get serious about writing and filmmaking until all of that had run its course. And what made things worse was I let personal things get in the way and distract me from my goals. No one has ever “mentored me” to get me where I am. I was living in Portland when I got my development deal at USA Networks and that was by dumb luck.
WMM: Any advice for fellow filmmakers, writer, actors?
DK: Get the fuck out. Just kidding. Let me break it down by craft.
For writers: Stop trying to be cool and start being real. Confess everything about your soul but do it in metaphor, atmosphere and imagery. Stop trying to write the next blockbuster. Unless you’re in the establishment, that’s a brick wall that will take forever to scale. My script “Greatest Hits” which is the one that is still considered my best and
got me my USA deal was the first time I just wrote to make myself happy. I wasn’t trying to be cool or shock people (which is usually why I write). I just had this idea that I liked and I wrote it in a stream of consciousness fashion. Then I never re-wrote it until somebody paid me to. And that new draft sucked ass. Write for yourself. No one else
For filmmakers/directors: A lot of the above applies. But I am going to say two things to you that will make a huge difference in your experiences on set. 1.) Actors are people and you should always treat them as such. I have seen too many directors and crew treat their cast like another piece of equipment in their quest to tell the story. Screw that.
They are human beings and they have to be handled as such. 2.) Any time someone says “don’t worry about it”, fire them. This is what got Sarah Jones killed on the train trestle in “Midnight Rider.” This is what got Brandon Lee killed on “The Crow.” Whenever I’m planning a shoot, I leave NOTHING to chance. You cannot walk on a set and “wing
it” as I have seen many other directors do. You have to prepare. You have to know exactly what you want that day. Your actors MUST be rehearsed. Everyone must know what their instruments are and what the notes are because filmmaking is like conducting a massive symphony orchestra. One person’s instrument goes flat, the whole piece gets
ruined. Leave nothing to chance. And if it happens, do not point the finger at them. You’re the director. The blame falls on you. Take the responsibility that is yours. People will respect you for that.
Actors: Simply put, this is a job. Auditions are JOB INTERVIEWS. Showing up on time, sober and ready to work is mandatory, especially on my sets. I’m a fun guy and I love to kid around, but when the camera rolls you better be ready to give me everything you got or I will send you home and replace you with someone who wants the role more
than you. I have dealt with way too many actors who see this as “fun”. It is. But for me it’s my fucking life. Also, remember, if it weren’t for the writer writing something and the production team gathering all the crew and equipment and food and money, there would be nothing for you to do or you would have to do it all yourselves. Respect that. I want actors who are ready to work. Filmmaking is a team effort. It’s not just about you looking pretty or handsome and saying words. It’s about a family coming together to tell a story that (hopefully) we’re all proud of. I don’t say “action” unless I love what I am working on. I need everyone on that set to love it as much as I do.
WMM: What is your favorite thing about WMM? Why do you come?
DK: Other than what I mentioned before, I have forged so many great friendships that blur into professional ones as well. I love working with people I like and We Make Movies has introduced me to a lot of people that I am now very proud to be collaborating with.
WMM: If you were stranded on an island for 6 months, what 5 items would you wish you had on your person?
DK: I have to have the biggest capacity iPod/MP3 player on the planet with a solar power charger so it never dies. A copy of John Steinbeck’s “East Of Eden” because even though I know it backwards and forwards and love the 1955 film version, I have never read the book (I have asked for it for Christmas repeatedly and no one ever gets it for me). A fully charged satellite phone because…well, duh. I want to get off the island
eventually. A surfboard (I haven’t surfed in years and want to do it again). My guitar.
WMM: What’s next for you now?
DK: Sleep. Always sleep. Still plugging away on “Beauty School” and “Don’t Forget Me.” Trying to find that elusive investor or investors who want to throw some cash into a film project. We have several projects that are on the low end of the spectrum (less than $350K) and sit in genres that could be very successful. Just. Waiting. On. Money!
WMM: Describe yourself with 3 adjectives.
DK: Creative, Sarcastic, Passionate
WMM: What, other than your craft, brings you joy?
DK: Obviously music. I would love to get into another band and play again, but it would have to be the “right” situation. I’ve wanted to put together another Alice In Chains tribute band, a Supertramp or Peter Gabriel era Genesis tribute band or a band that is all originals, but closer in tone to Tool or Dream Theater. I also love to travel and never get to. I love to play baseball and golf, watch movies and great TV shows (like The Shield, Breaking Bad and Six Feet Under). I love baseball and golfing as well. Other than that, my life right now is all about the career.
By Sapna Gandhi