It was in college, when I abandoned the medical school track and started taking film classes that I knew this was my destiny. But even earlier in high school I would make little films whenever I could as final projects instead of writing a paper or making one of those awesome[ly lame] explain-er poster things.WMM:
Did you study anywhere in your field? Where? Any notable stories/experiences/peers/
When I got to Los Angeles, I did the one year program at the LA Film School. It was a brief intro to the town and how film production and the industry worked. It was helpful from a nuts a bolts perspective, but didn’t do much to educate the artist side of me.WMM:
What else do you do besides your craft? Day job?
KU: I’ve had many odd jobs over the years – real estate agent, cookie delivery guy, photographer, editor, and now I run a handmade leather goods business. All over the map really — something to pay the rent while working on film projects.
WMM: What is the lowest budget you have worked with? Highest?
KU: The lowest budget is zero, and I’ve done a lot of that. The highest budget I’ve worked with so far is still close to zero – on Lonaconing we had a couple grand. I directed and produced a 110 minute web series that we only had about $8K to work with. Not ideal. That project is just about wrapped up and we’re ironing out a deal to sell a version of that show to a major TV network. So sometimes working for nothing can be worth it, if it gets you to the next place.
WMM: Describe your first foray into professional film making/acting? First screening? First show?
KU: I guess we need to define “professoinal.” I mean, was Sex, Lies and Videotape “professional?” What about “Mean Streets?” Making money and making art don’t always intersect, especially in the beginning stages of a career. So if we define “professional” as making money – I can’t say that I’ve made any money as a director yet. I’ve made things that I am very proud of, but nothing that pays my rent yet. Probably the closest thing would be a spec commercial I made for $200 that won a contest and was awarded a couple thousand dollars that I paid the crew out with – maybe that counts. But then that commercial was shown at Nascar events and on billboards in Asia, and I didn’t see another penny. So perhaps not.
WMM: What is the most stressful situation you have found yourself in as an artist? Most rewarding? Most memorable?
KU: I made a short film for a competition a few years back, and it was hours before the deadline. I received a cut of musical score back from the composer and was listening to see if one note I had made had been implemented. When it got to that part and it had not, I slammed my fist on the desk. The hard drive containing my film jumped about 3 inches, crashed back onto the desk and click… click… click… click… I spent the last 6 hours before the deadline piecing the film together from what I could recover from that hard drive, barely making the deadline. I remember calling my wife and telling her I was pretty sure I was having heart palpitations. That was the most stressed I’ve ever been. The film won the contest and that lead to many other opportunities, so taking a few months off my life expectancy might have been worth it in that instance.
WMM: What are your current project(s)?
KU: We are just finishing post on a 10 episode web series (110 minutes) that I co-produced and directed. It looks like we might have it sold to a TV network, so that could be great. Lonaconing is the short film that is playing the festival circuit now and is being well received. I’m editing a music video art / documentary project I shot in New York in 2012. I have spent months outlining my first feature film and am just starting the actual writing of that, which I am very excited about. I’ll try to raise money for it when the script is done, but if I have to shoot it for $20K, then that’s that and I’ll find a way to make it happen. Lastly, I’ve also teamed up with a couple other writers to develop two other features and a short film which I hope to direct as well. Helping other people with their visions is almost as rewarding as trying to communicate my own.
WMM: How has (if at all) WMM influenced / shaped / supported you with this process/project?
KU: Quite simply, WMM was the reason Lonaconing happened. The script was written for a deadline they imposed, I met Keith (the writer) because I saw the script read and thought “I gotta find a way to direct that.” And then we were able to shoot it because of the funding WMM organized. It was a WMM production from top to bottom.