This is a transcript of SYS Podcast Episode 124: Writer / Director William Lu Talks About His New Film Comfort.
Ashley: Welcome to episode #124 of the “Selling Your Screenplay Podcast.” I’m Ashley Scott Meyers, Screenwriter and Blogger over at www.sellingyourscreenplay.com. Today I’m interviewing – Writer/Director – William Lu. William just finished production on his debut feature film which he wrote and directed, it’s called, “Comfort.” He’s got a lot of practical advice for anyone who’s looking to shoot their own feature film. So, stay tuned for that.
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I want to mention a free webinar that I am doing on Wednesday – June 8 2016 at 10:00a.m. pst. It’s called, “How to Effectively Market Your Screenplay and Sell it.” I’m going to go through all the various online channels that are available to screenwriters. And give you my unfiltered opinion of them. I get questions all the time about, “The Black List,” about “Ink Tip,” about which contest people think people should enter? I’ve tried pretty much every marketing channel available to screenwriters. And I’m going to share my experiences with you guys on the webinar. Again, this webinar is completely free. Don’t worry if you cannot make it to the live event. I’ll be recording the event, so if you sign-up, you’ll get a link to the recorded event after it happens. To sign-up, just go to – www.sellingyourscreenplay.com/freewebinar. Again, that’s – www.sellingyourscreenplay.com/freewebinar. And it’s all lower case and all one word. So, it’s just the word – freewebinar, you know slash freewebinar all lower case. I will of course link to it in the show notes as well.
So if you can’t figure that out, just find www.sellingyourscreenplay.com, just look for episode #124. And I will have them in the show notes with a link straight to it. Also, if you are already on my Email list, you don’t have to register for the webinar. I will be sending out the information to everyone who is already on my Email list. So, you don’t need to necessarily re-register for that.
A quick few words about what I’m working this week. I feel a bit like a broken record here. Every week I’m coming on and kind of giving the same update. The main thing I’m working on now is? At least pre-production for my crime action thriller, “The Pinch.” Which I have talked about. Now at this point, numerous times on the Podcast. I’m running my first casting session this week, to try and find my two main lead actors. Once I get those two actors in place, I will need those actors a lot of the time, pretty much every day of the shooting. Maybe one of the characters will be like ten or twelve days out of the fifteen-day shoot. The other character I will pretty much need all every single day. He’s the main lead in the film. So, I want to get those main characters cast. And then once I cast them I will kind of build around that. You know, there’s a wife role, but I have to make sure that, that wife role fits my lead. Just there’s chemical mystery between those two actors. So, the men and the ultimate of this script is these two guys in a house. So I’ve really got to spend a lot of time really making sure I find the best actor that I can possibly find for those roles. So, I’m starting out this Thursday, I’ll be running sessions all day. I’m also slowly filling in various crew positions. So that’s coming together nicely. You know I’ve been meeting pretty much everyone for the last few weeks. I’ve just been meeting with potential crew members. Trying to figure out, you know, what they want to do? How they can help? And getting those people on board. I’m also still looking for some more positions. I’ve rewritten the script to use one occasion four of the fifteen days, I kinda went back and rewrote the script. So I could use a townhouse that are free. So, I’m really trying to just get creative. And even if it takes rewriting the script to fit the location, that’s what I’m having to do. You know, because this is a micro-budget film. One interesting thing, I’m encountering dealing with lots of actors is? A lot of actors want to submit an audition tape. Basically the way that they, the system works? Basically, you send out the casting notice through this service called, “The Breakdown Services.” And they basically send it to actors. Which is like a site I just joined. And they also send it out to the agents and managers, the talent agent, talent managers. They get this breakdown, it’s then they’ll start the submit. I mean, there’s tons of actors in L.A. and it’s a micro-budget film. But we still got tons and tons of people submitting. So, then I basically went through, when, they have a night submission process where you can actually look at reels from most of the actors, lots of different head shots. So you can look at something that they’ve done, something they’ve been in. And people will cut together. And some of the actors will have 3, 4, 5 you know, little 30 second or one minute reels put together. It might be a comedy reel or drama reel? So you can click through and kinda get a feel for their acting style. So, that’s basically what I’ve done. I went though all the people who submitted for these two main roles. The role of Rob, and the role of Cane, those are the two main roles that I am casting for. As I said, there’s 30, and I just went through, you know, you look at the picture. And then you look at the picture of them, their head shot. It looks like, hey, it looks like someone who might be able to fit this role. Then you click down and you look at some of their reels. And I’d say 90% of the actors seem to have reels online. So then you can watch the reels, and then basically you schedule them an appointment for them. And so basically I went through this process with all of them, all these actors. And then you schedule an appointment, again, this breakdown service has like an interface, like online interface where you do follow all this. And then you schedule the actors. They have a nice way you basically flag the jacket with a number. And you say, “Okay, I want to schedule this role. And I want to schedule all the actors that were flagged with a #1 or #2. And then so, it basically just sends out Emails to every, all these actors in one fell swoop. And gives them all an audition times. And so that’s all working nicely. And they have a nice system set-up. So that’s great, that’s working very nicely. And then some of the actors have Emailed me. And that’s kind what I talk about now is? I, a lot of the actors, and I say a lot, I probably going to audition, you know, probably in the course of the day? Probably over 60-70 people. So quite a number of people. So, I sent out, let’s say, you know a lot of people probably won’t show up. So, if I sent out probably at least 60 for each role. So, I probably sent out about 120 notes. And I probably got five or six people responding back. Say, “Hey, I’m not in your like, and I sent in a video tapped audition. And you know, this is a micro-budget film. So, beggars can’t be choosers, so I’m happy to look at this video audition and see? You also upload your sides, so the actors can get the sides. I’m going to be reading three scenes which are about two pages each. So, I have about six and a half pages of the scenes these actors are going to be reading. And I’ve picked scenes that are Rob and Cane in them. So, it’s basically, I’m going to be reading two actors at the same Buttime. Just to get through as many actors as possible one that first day. So, anyways, people are Emailing me, saying, “Hey, can we send in a video-taped audition?” And again, I’m happy to do this. But, I thought it was just kind of interesting. You know, I thought there was a real parallel here because I get a lot of screenwriters Emailing me. Through Selling Your Screenplay, basically saying, “Do I have to move to L.A, to become a screenwriter?” And what you can tell from a lot of these people. And not all of them, there’s sending in Emails telling others. And some of them are just out of town during that audition. But I kind of get the sense that a lot of them even. They are not in L.A. They are just basically joined Actor Access. And they are submitting and then when they get chosen for an audition. They are like, “Hey, can I do an audition tape?” And I just think it’s sort of a parallel to a lot of these Emails I get from screenwriters who are living now outside of Los Angeles. Who think they need to move. And in this day and age, I suppose it’s possible to land a role by sending in a taped audition? But, you know, really think about it. Just the logistics of someone actually showing up for the audition. I’m going to get to shake their hand, look them in the eye. I’m going to remember them, even if their audition is you know, maybe not as good, or at you know the same level as the taped audition. You’re going to take and go with the person who actually knew the face – to – face meeting. I feel like a lot of those people You know, I think, again, I have to people that have to send in an audition tape, I appreciate the actors doing it. But I just feel a little bit badly for them because, I feel like they’re doing, they’re trying to do something that’s already super hard. Being cast in movies and TV is very, very, difficult And they are basically making it even more difficult. And I would say the same thing goes for screenwriting, but yet can you make it as a screenwriter if you don’t live in L.A.? Yes, yes you can. And it’s possible, but you’re doing something that’s moving to L.A. to be a screenwriter or actor, is very, very difficult. So, you take that part of the equation and it’s just exponentially more difficult. And I feel like a lot of these people are just playing at being a screenwriter or actor. Kind of not really making a real attempt. You know, sending in an audition recording. I guess it makes them feel like they are actually enhancing their acting careers. Again, which in some small way maybe is, and I guess it’s fine? If that’s the sort of path they are on. They want to feel like they are making in-roads. When in fact I’m not sure they really are? I mean, life is a journey, not a destination and all that. I definitely get that, so who really cares if ultimately you succeed or not succeed, if you are enjoying the journey. If your goal is just to have this cool journey and to audition and send in audition tapes. Then that’s great, because you are accomplishing that goal. But I suspect most of us do want to have some kind of results and some success. But I feel like it’s just, they are just spinning their wheels, sort of playing with themselves. Telling themselves, “Hey, I’m actually auditioning for this part in this movie.” When in fact, I don’t know if it’s real? And in some others that remains to be seen. I mean, I will look at these tapes and then I will see if the proof is in the pudding. We’ll see if any of those tapes are packed enough for me to really cast them. But you know, this being a micro-budget film, I don’t have any budget to fly them in and put them up. So, you know, unless they can pay for that? Then there really is no point. And I did say that to people, yeah, let’s, you’re welcome to submit an audition tape. However, there is no money. Some of the people said, “Yeah, well then this isn’t for me.” So, you know, most of the projects you’re going to get through something like,
“Actors Access” at a price. If you can’t be in L.A. or New York, or where ever there is action shooting. I just think it’s really limiting your chances of success. And as I said, the thing that limits to me and is sad is that they are not really giving themselves a real chance to succeed. And this isn’t really about talent, or luck, or anything. Now, it’s about doing a few simple things in this case, actually moving to L.A. and giving yourself the best possible chance of succeeding. And again, I would just, and the reason I am mentioning this on a screenwriting Podcast? Is, I would really push that out to screenwriters as well. Yes, can you succeed from outside of L.A.? It’s possible. There’s definitely people who have done it. Who can point to some examples and perhaps you can learn from those examples for your own situation. But, It’s going to make something that’s already difficult, you know, a lot, a lot more difficult. So, I’d say, really keep that in mind. Anyway, that’s pretty much what I’m working on, finding locations, crewing up, and doing some casting sessions. Again, the shoot date is July 9th 2016. So, I’ve really down to about the two-month mark. I’ve really got to start getting things locked up and getting things in place. Because that date is pretty much locked in stone at this point.
So, now let’s get into the main segment. Today, I’m interviewing screenwriter and director William Lu, here is the interview.
Ashley: Welcome William to the, “Selling Your Screenplay Podcast” I really appreciate you coming on the show today and talking with me.
William: Awesome, thanks for having me Ashley.
Ashley: So, to start out, maybe you can give us a little bit, a sort of an over view of your background? How did you get into the entertainment industry? And what were some of your first professional jobs?
William: Yeah, sure. I think I, back in high school I really enjoyed my English classes. And you know, grasp any opportunity to tell, you know, an original story or creative writing. And also during high school, whenever we had the chance to do video type of presentation. You know, an original short or whatnot? I grabbed at that opportunity. And I think so, you know, at the end of my senior year in high school I really felt, you know, I want to be a film maker, I want to study this. And you know, I went to UCLA, with the hopes of getting into the film program. And actually got rejected as an undergrad. Basically you apply at the end of the year. My Sophomore year, it’s a two-year program. So, you apply at the end of your Sophomore year to finish out your four-year stint at UCLA. Unfortunately, that didn’t happen. But, you know, I was still at UCLA. I was like, eh, I should go do something? And anthropology was the fall back. But, I still really wanted to be a film maker. And got the opportunity to get a degree in film and television production from my graduate degree at Florida State University. So, then, you know, I went all the way across the country to Florida State for my MFFA. And then came back to L.A. And back in L.A. like you know, my first jobs were you know, your entry level assistant positions. I worked one of my first gigs was, I was an assistant to one of the executives of at the SyFy Channel. And then, I you know, was an assistant over at a boutique talent agency. And then made the transition into another company that a lot of EPK DVD extra features. And then kind of worked my way into finally kind of producing my own content in new media. My first with Mishema, then Makers Studios.
Ashley: Okay, okay. Let me touch on just a couple of things.
Ashley: I get questions from people, like, how do you get those first jobs? Maybe you could talk about just the logistics of actually landing those first low level jobs? And especially at the agency? Because I think that would be a great training ground for it. Any screenwriter, is to get their low-level job at a boutique agency.
William: A, yeah, like well, I was fortunate enough, literally the first person who got me my gig at SyFy Channel, I was an intern at the SyFy Channel. And I was out of school, but he said, you know, California law, we have to be a student to be an intern at, you know, to get school credit legally. So, he said, hey, I do this all the time, just you know, sign-up at Santa Monica Community College. You know, and you can, you know, have this kind of special designated community college internship course, you know. Sign-up as a student there and then we can hire you there as an intern, we can take you on there as an intern. And after interning there for a few months, of you know. I guess he recognized that I was one of the top interns there. And he eventually, his old assistant left, so once that happened he hired me as his assistant. So, you know, really any advice, you know, get those internships, take advantage of when you’re either in school. Or you know, like kinda the side door area. A base, get into a community college so you can take advantage of those community college internships. And you know, it’s a very competitive industry, so just like, stand out as an intern, you know. Be happy to make those cups of coffees, and get the, make those coffees. And yeah, actually, the executive who was I was assisting for recommended that hey, you know, if you are serious about this industry. You should work at an agency. Just to know all the players, and also kind of agency. It’s all about, you know, the high-balling phone calls. And just, the stress level is just is definitely kind of a trial by fire to see if you’re cut out for this industry.
Ashley: I see, he just recommended you to somebody he knew right with these agencies?
William: No, actually, after I left him, you know. I just went in and randomly applied to an agency. And got in. Yeah, and then, it definitely play was a I experienced with the agency wasn’t, was actually typical I think? Of the Hollywood stereotype. A very uber aggressive a, you know, re: from “Entourage” type. It was just, a lot of yelling, and what not. We had to develop a thick skin.
Ashley: And he was a literary agent or a talent agent?
William: No, he was a talent, commercial agent.
Ashley: Yeah, yeah. So, were you writing scripts during this whole period? And starting trying to develop looks of your own material while you were working these jobs?
William: Yeah, I think you know, that the fun, you know, straight out of film school, you’re a little bit naive. But I actually, really, you know, look into it later. But, I really miss that naivety. It’s nice because you don’t know any better. So, you know, out of film school. You’re very bright eyed, and not jaded, Oh, I’m going to direct a feature in a few years. Yeah, every year I tried to make it a goal of mine to write and direct a short of my own. A you know, a wall bouncing being the day to day job to pay the bills.
Ashley: Yeah, yeah. So, let’s talk about those shorts? Those shorts are something I recommend a lot on the Podcast. A lot of people who come on the Podcast, they just done a feature film. A lot of them started out with a short. So, maybe we can talk about this, short for a little bit? You know, just some production team tips, and how you got there? How it was produced, and ultimately if you think, did they help your career any?
William: Yeah. One of, you know, I a first project out of film school. In the kind of nee of that. You know, infrastructure. I had written it, a feature length screenplay. For my, it was my final assignment essentially for my degree. And so I completed that. A lot of people in my class did, they had the opportunity to kind of do a little trailer for their feature. I didn’t get the chance? I forget why? If I ran out of time, or what not? But, I still had this completed script. Oh, man, I just decided, let’s, hey, let’s do what I didn’t get chance to do in grad-school was to make a trailer for that, that feature film. Which was a huge Lynx, it was so fine and I forget? A crew I hadn’t worked with before. And unfortunately, that project was never finished. And it was always kind of like you know. No, you don’t want to, don’t worry everyone has one of those projects where you never kinda completed it. And then it haunted you. And I think, it never been completed, it being valid. It’ll never happen again. And so, my second project, out of film school. I was fortunate enough, There’s a Los Angeles group called, “The L.A. Pacific” well, it was called, “The Visual Communication” But they are also, “The L.A. Organization that holds the L.A. Pacific Film Festival.” And they have this program, called, “Armed with, of which they selected ten applicants. And they funded a short for them. And then the short that they funded would be a part of their festival program later that year. And so, I applied and I was one of the ten selected and had a great experience on that as a project. Because of, you know, the requirements for the festival you had to complete the project. And had a blast with that. And you know, went to a lot of festivals with that short. And it definitely was encouraging. Because after that first project I was a little down in the dumps, you know. I had spent all this money and had nothing to show for it. But, with this short that I did for “Visual Communications” called, “Spy Mom’s.” You know, got to go to a lot of festivals. It was my first taste of the whole festival circuit. And it was just, you know, really encouraging.
Ashley: Yeah, yeah, yeah. So, maybe you can talk a little bit about the festivals? How many festivals did you submit it to? And how many did you ultimately end up going to?
William: Um, gosh, I think? You know, it basically played at most of the Asian American Film Festivals. That I want to say was probably, gosh, was at least a half a dozen. This was way back in 2005. And actually, they, the organization did a lot of work for me. They were like, “Hey, we loved your film!” And we thought it else would stay up at this other festival. Yeah, yes, so probably, you know, a dozen or so, festivals way back.
Ashley: And do you feel like, these shorts, do you think they feel like they moved your career along and ultimately gave or get you ready to write and direct, “Comfort.”
William: Yeah, absolutely, I kind of, you know, I approached the shorts like, you know, definitely stepping stones. After “Spy Mom’s” I did a much longer short. Fortunately, a much too long short, it was a 30 minute short. Which was a very difficult length to program. But yeah, I think, you know, shorts are, it’s weird, you know, unfortunately the market for shorts is quite limited. But, you know, definitely, you know, it is a great training ground. You, it’s about, you know, relationships you form with your crew members, and you cast members. I think the biggest thing is, a yeah, just forming those relationships. Because when you’re making your first feature film, there’s a lot of risk involved. And you kinda want to minimize that risk with known quantities like, crew members, or cast that you have worked with before.
Ashley: Yeah, yeah.
William: And then yeah, like my, the short that I did after “Spy Mom’s” was a
30-minute long action short. Which was very ambitious. But definitely after filming that one, I think I felt, this was pretty difficult. But, I think I’m ready now for a feature. So, yeah, it was definite, they were always helpful.
Ashley: Yeah, yeah. So, let’s dig into, “Comfort” for a minute. Maybe this to start out, you can kinda give us a log-line, or pitch of the film?
William: Sure. “Comfort” is about a late night courier, who, you know, does all these things, night deliveries through, through-out Los Angeles. And one night he does a favor to one of his clients. And he picks up a, his client’s dog from L.A-X. And they go on a whole bunch of food adventures across two nights in Los Angeles.
Ashley: So, where did this idea come from?
William: I think, a I just, the night has always intrigued me. And one of, the laws, a lot of the films I’ve enjoyed, like you know, “Before Sunrise.” You know, when you’re on vacation, you know, traveling in a foreign country and you’re meeting a stranger. And, I’m also a big fan of an old John Landis film, called, “Into the Night” with Goldbloom, and Michelle Pfeiffer and that you know, driving out one night and meeting a stranger. Those kinds of movies excite me, and I wanted to do, a similar story.
Ashley: Okay. Was there anything specific, like to your background? Like with the keys, story elements, is the guy is allergic to this sun? Was that something you had experience with? Did you know people with this condition?
William: No, I it actually just began as just I just really want to set a film predominantly at night. I was, I think, you know, for the early drafts when I was actually inbetween work. I just remembered just being on a very weird, was like a nocturnal schedule. You know, pretty unhealthy, with eating out very late at night. Being a bit of a night hawk. And so, I really wanted to set a film at night. And I think, that idea of someone allergic to sun. Stem from needing like a character narrative of excuse to set a film predominantly at night.
Ashley: Okay, okay. Let’s talk a little bit about your writing process? I’m just always curious, I got to see how writers approach, you know, screenwriting. And maybe take us through this script specifically. How much time do you spend, like, outlining your story, verses actually, you know, opening up “Final Draft” and writing scenes?
William: I think for me, it’s funny. Because I think my writing process in a sense. The entire writing process for me? Makes the entire making of the film process, if that makes any sense? That there’s a lot of pre-production time, development time. But then the actual physical part production is relatively short comparatively. So, I, yeah, the first draft was written years ago. Like in 2008, and I had literally just wrote, Vicky King’s, had a, “How to Write a Screenplay in 21 days.” It didn’t take me 21 days. But it was definitely a very accelerated schedule. Because I did force myself to write every day, as every writer should. But that draft was terrible. And then it was only recognizable, directed, big, huge major developments, serious development, or revision of the script occurred three years ago. And yeah, I think I spent, you know, a good, most of the time was spent outlining. I do believe in outlining. It’s a great road map, and you know, fall back. You know, if you find yourself stuck. So, I spent a huge amount of time outlining. And then, yeah, actual, when it comes to, you know, sitting down to “Final Draft.” That process is relatively quick I think? I feel it for me is, I devote the most time to it, you know, the outline and figure out structure.
Ashley: And what does a day, once you start writing, I mean, what does a day look like with you? How many hours a day do you typically write? And how many pages would be a good day for you?
William: Um, that’s a really good question? It really various, I think a, I get, I think, that the big thing is for me is like, writing. I, because it’s funny, I’m writing a book that are on the reflections on what I learned on while making “Comfort.” But I always make the analogy, writing is an awful lot like running. And you just need to just kinda develop the habit, of you know, forcing yourself to write. To sit down and write, also to run. Because when you’re not, it’s that start-up inertia that’s very difficult to overcome. And then for me, I think, and then you know, when I start out its, you know, I can set out to do a few pages at a time. But then, once the project’s taking on an inertia of it’s own. When you get that to that grade point where do they start writing themselves. You start plowing through because you realize there’s a great scene that I want. You want to get to that’s like, it’s two scenes after this next scene on my outline. Yeah, I can maybe do 20 at a time. But, yeah, you know, don’t, it’s like running, you don’t build up to those moments. At the first it’s like, you know, after running a mile, you’re pretty gased. But, you know, once you start running for a mile at a time? You can build up to, you know, 3-4. So, yeah, for me, yeah, it started out slowly I think. And then, but towards the end, you know, you’re racing towards the finish.
Ashley: Yeah, yeah. And then. So, this is an independent film, and I just wonder how much budget considerations came into play, while you were writing this? Did you know you were going to direct it? Did you know, sort of roughly what the budget was going to be? So, you had to, you know, make some choices that way. Or was it start out writing, just write it, and then cut it back as you start to get closer to production?
William: Yeah, it’s I think it was definitely budget conscious. I think it’s funny, and that was a lesson that I think I learned way back in film school. Where our professors were always kind of ingrained into our it was like, “Be conscious, be aware, of scope.” I mean, you can’t, and I do a gigantic historical epic in film school. When you have to do a five minute short, you know? So, I was definitely budget conscious. And you know, especially my first time out. I didn’t want to do, you know, a syfy extravaganza, a historical epic. You know, make a call for a thousand people, or extras or what not? So, I remember, I actually had a, I tried when I was living in West L.A. I had a neighbor who was a screenwriter. At the UCLA Professional Program, and he had this piece of paper over his computer. On one line, it’s a simple story, then the arrow pointing down to complex character. And I thought that always resonated with me, it was like, ya know? Okay, yeah, I think for my first time out, let’s hopefully tell over simple, boy meets girl, but infuse it with these, you know, three dimensional characters.
Ashley: One of the questions I had, that I get asked all the time is? Again, I’m kind of pushing people, hey write something low-budget. Go out and shoot, do a short. So, I make a point of that. So, there’s this one question I get is? Well, how do you know how much your film is going to cost? I was wondering if you could speak on that a little bit? And just give us some tips for how people can estimate, you know, what their film is going to cost? And even some practical stuff like, hey these things are expensive. And maybe there’s even some counter intuitive? Obviously we all know some big stadium scenes. Or at least period pieces, those are going to be expensive. But, maybe there’s some counter intuitive things that you found especially with this movie that these things were actually very easy to shoot. While, at least these things, you thought were going to be easy? But they ended up getting expensive or more difficult.
William: Well, it’s actually a great question? Because it’s really funny. Because I was telling Mark, Mark Hidleberger, my producer. A lot of times, like, oh wow, why is this film so difficult or expensive. Why is it so complicated, I thought, I was telling like a simple, you know, first date, you know, movie, boy meets girl. And Mark planned it out. And it was like, yeah, but you’ve got so many locations Will. And I think that’s, that was, you know, the one joke he said, he told me. Okay, maybe next time, just set your film in one location. You know, like a bunch of bank robbers, okay, a bunch of thieves like, get stuck in a vault. So, locations is one big thing that you can kind of reduce your costs of. If you keep it to a handful of locations, or one? The biggest thing that actually Mark mentioned to me was? Like, you know, the easiest way to cut your budget is? Is to cut a shooting day. Because every day of your production, you know, got 30 or 40 or so cast and crew members to pay and to feed. So, it’s true, to reduce those, that’s one easy way of cutting your budget. Of course, you know the, once you start cutting days. You know your page count increases, you know. We had a relatively short schedule I’m thinking of. We shot basically over 18 days. But we still had our relatively high page count. At about ten pages a day. And I think, you know, even maybe even one of twenty on one odd day. But I think, on average amount, ten pages a day.
Ashley: Wow, yeah, yeah, yeah. And I would be curious to get your thoughts on? Your, obviously this took place on almost entirely at night. I just had a friend who got on a shoot, and his movie was a lot of night stuff too. And he said to me, I’m never doing another night shoot! Because it’s like, basically like 6:00p.m. till 6:00a.m. everyday. Does that increase the costs do you think? Or does it make it more difficult for the crew, because everyone’s kind of, you know, working in the middle of the night. How do you feel about that? After doing essentially a movie that was all at night.
William: Yeah, I, it definitely is tough. I will say that, you know, Mark actually scheduled the whole thing pretty smartly. And because we did have some days. And we also had what was, we had interior scenes that were, you couldn’t tell, whether or it needed to be day or night. So, what, how works? The digital film we had, started out, you know, a work week, we had a five-day work week. But, you know, from the first few days, you know, we did start at a normal hour. Like 9:00a.m. – 10:00 a.m. call time. And then, you know, because of turn around, and because of our night scenes would be transitioned slowly into those, you know, 6:00p.m. – 6:00a.m. call times. And I will say by the end of the week, you are pretty fried. It is tough, I mean, the sad adage is, you know, the leading cause of death in this industry is? The drug use, I’m sorry that’s me, but people falling asleep at the wheel. They’ve worked so hard and so long. And just, you know, fall asleep at the wheel driving back from set. So, it is tough. Yeah, I don’t know if I would do it again? In terms of settings of a film, predominantly at night. It is very physically taxing.
Ashley: Yeah, yeah. And just exactly, you mentioned, I was watching the film. There was a ton of just different locations. When you were writing it, did you have these locations in mind? Were some of the locations like, well, I have a friend that has this location? So I know I’ll be able to get at that location? Is it, or were you just wrote it the way you felt it should be wrote? And then after the fact went and actually had to track down these locations?
William: It was a little bit of both, I mean, you know, I’m, I have a house. And we can use that as one of our locations. And then, the other locations, we pretty much scouted, and found. And fortunately in enough, you know, the area that I lived in hadn’t been in affected too much already by what I call CSI phenomenon of work, you know. You know, CSI has shot there, and you know, they’re as a huge hit on CBS television. They are able to pay for extravagant locations. But, you know, most, if not all the locations that we used were relatively recently priced. And they gave us a great deal to share.
Ashley: Yeah, yeah, yeah. So, let’s talk a little bit about your distribution plans for this? Have you started to submit to festivals, and get it out there? Have you started to contact distributors?
William: A yeah. We’ve submitted it to festivals and you know, got into like four now. So, yeah, we’re knee deep in the festivals days. My producer has compiled a list of distributors that he knows. And then we’ve also received inquiries ourselves. And then I think, we will, be keeping track of all of them. And we will plan for a distributor screening a week later, later this year, in there hopefully.
Ashley: Okay, perfect, perfect. And I always just like to start to wrap up the interviews by asking, how people can see the movie? Do you know what kind of release schedule you may be looking at? It sounds like it’s going to be a ways down the road before people can see it. But maybe at some of these festivals? We can talk about them when they are playing. And people can catch those.
William: Sure, I think the best, you know, check out our website, www.comfortmovie.com where we have all of the, you know, where the screening is, and what not. In terms of festivals? Basically right now in late April early May week at a couple of festivals coming up, in all the Asian Pacific Film Festival, The Disorient Film Festival, in Oregon. And then the Second Annual Benville Film Festival, in Arkansas. And then the, right now, we are just waiting to hear back from the other festivals we have applied for.
Ashley: Okay, perfect, perfect. And then the final bit of business, is just if you have a Twitter account, or a Facebook page, or anything you feel comfortable sharing. So people can just kind of keep up with what you’re doing? And maybe even mention if you have a Twitter or Facebook account for the movie, we can get that. I’ll get every thing wrapped and rounded up for the show notes. So people can click over. But you just tell us now.
William: Yeah, we do have a Twitter account, it’s also – comfortmovie and then we also have a Facebook page. And that one is www.facebookpage/comfortfeature.com. A, yeah.
Ashley: Okay, perfect, perfect. And as I said, I’ll get all that stuff and round that up into the show notes. So people can find them easily. William, I really appreciate you coming on and talking with me. I watched your movie last night, very well done, I really enjoyed it. So, I wish you all the luck with it.
William: Thank you so much Ashley.
Ashley: Perfect, perfect, we’ll be in touch.
William: Alright, bye Ashley.
End Interview – [040:53]
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In the next episode of the Podcast, I’m going to be interviewing Daniel Zurrilly. He’s another real hot source who’s making a ton of movies. He’s writing, producing and directing films. Look him up on Imdb, he’s done more than ten movies in the last five years. And he’s very opened to reading material from new writers. In fact, he gives out his Email address on the show. And invites writers to submit pitches to him. So, keep an eye out for that episode next week.
To wrap things up I just want to touch on a few things from today’s interview with William Lu. I hope his story is inspiring, to you. I mean, he’s another great example of a guy who is out there just doing and making things happen for himself. He’s doing shorts, he has done a bunch of shorts. Now he has done a feature film. My guess is he’ll just continue to work on projects and continue to push stuff out there. And that’s all any of us can do. I thought it was a great point about doing shorts that he made. And it’s not something I’ve really spent a lot of time talking about. I’m obviously a big proponent on it, of doing shorts. If you are a screenwriter, starting out. Writing a five-minute short film, going out and shooting it with your buddies. Even if that means shooting it on your IPhone. I’m a big proponent of this for a whole variety of reasons. But I really like one of the things William mentioned. And that was, in that you build a relationship with the various crew positions. That is so important and that’s really just another great benefit. Obviously if you are a writer, and you get it in the hands of a director or producer. Who goes and directs or produces the short. This is your networking with those people. But you are potentially be on set, you’ll be networking. Especially as a director, networking with these other crew positions: The sound guy, the camera guy, the back services person, the grip, the assistant camera people, the PA’s, everybody that’s involved with the production. You are getting to know them. And that’s going to be very, very, very, valuable. You’re going to know who’s reliable, you’re going to know who’s good at their job. You’re going to know who you want to work with again. And that’s really the key. I mean, and I’m falling into the same thing with my little micro-budget feature film. Is, I’m going back to some of these relationships that I have. I’m going back to some of the people I’ve worked with before. And bringing them into this mix. And that’s a great thing to know. Because when you’re doing a short and the thing bombs and you have a bunch of unreliable people? It’s probably not that big of a deal. If you never, as William said, he had one of those projects that he didn’t finish. And that’s part of the process. Doing a short, even if you don’t finish it. At least you will learn, who the reliable people on the crew are? Who are the good people to work with. So, maybe that second short, you actually get it done. And it’s actually half-way decent. Again, these are all baby steps. But that’s just so, so valuable. And hopefully, you know, you’re building up to shoot a feature film. But just learning along the ways. Learning how actors are going to interpret your words. Learning how a director is going to direct what you have written. And seeing the changes that are made in the practical sense. All these are things that are just great for the shorts. But, the thing that William mentioned, I think is also really, really important is? Getting to know this crew and network with all these people. I mean, once you’ve shot, like a ten-minute short. You know, you’re an eighth of the way there to a feature film. And so having these relationships in place when you go to get your own, to do your own feature film, is really, really, essential. Just jumping in and shooting any feature film without any of this experience would be very, very difficult. It would just make the process a lot more difficult. The chances of success would be a lot less, if you had no experience shooting stuff. And you try to do a feature film. It would be very, very difficult process. But, writing a 1, 2, 3 page short? And starting at that, is very manageable. And then working your way up.
Anyway, that is the show, hope you enjoyed it? Thank you for listening.