While trying to survive the worst drought in history, a family of farmers force their youngest brother down a path of destruction; betrayed and left for dead in an unfamiliar land, he must survive, endure and seek the revenge he deserves.
Hi Frederick, many thanks for talking to TNC, how are you doing?
Of course. I'm great, thank you!
Your latest film Desolate opens on Friday, are you looking forward to it being released?
Extremely excited for the release! A lot of people worked really hard on the film so it’s very exciting that it’s coming out. There’s a theatrical release also so you can see it on the big screen as well.
Do you get nervous ahead of a film coming out or are you able to not be to fussed by it?
Not nervous, more excitement. All the hard work has been done so now audiences can finally enjoy the film.
Desolate won Best Achievement in Filmmaking & Audience Award at Mammoth Film Festival 2018, what did it mean for you to get this type of recognition for your film?
It was the first time showing the film to an audience, so that was pretty intense for me. I did the best job I could have done, and believe in the film. So to get that recognition of the audience enjoying the film, there is nothing better. I felt as though all of the hard work had paid off. A lot of people worked very hard on this film and it made me very happy that we did it right and the audience enjoyed it.
Can you tell me a little bit about Desolate, how did this film come about?
It started with me and my friend Jonathan Rosenthal talking about making a film. We had both been filmmakers for years but had never worked together before. We were hanging out one day and started talking about what was next. Since we both didn’t have anything lined up, we discussed working together and decided that we were going to write an original script and went from there.
What was the inspiration behind this film?
There was a severe drought going on in California at the time which sparked a conversation about the films setting - a world where there were an extreme drought and a family dealing with that situation. What they would do if their livelihood was at risk? If they couldn’t provide for their family anymore? And finally, what they would do to survive.
"If your team understands what you want, then they will take it to the next level."
What was the most challenging part of bringing this film to life?
Finding the right locations that fit the world where the biggest challenges. We had to make sure the world felt desolate and dry since it was years into a drought. We had a specific look we wanted - dry golden rolling hills and farm land, but not desert. There are golden hills all around California but they don’t necessarily have a ranch on the property or people don’t usually live on the land. We would see a property that was perfect but it wouldn’t work because there wasn’t a ranch house or barn where the scene would need to take place. When we were scouting, we would drive all day looking for potential locations and knock on doors to see if anyone could point us in the right direction. When we finally found a location that looked promising there would be something that wouldn’t allow us to get the wides we wanted. On the other side of the property, there would be modern houses or something that didn’t fit the world and we wouldn’t be able to have gotten the wide shots you see in the film - we had to keep looking to find those perfect locations that checked all our boxes. When we finally found the locations we were looking for, they were so far out in the middle of nowhere that it would cut into our filming. Some locations were an hour or two away from the hotel we were staying at.
Have you always had a passion for filmmaking?
I have. I grew up on the east coast and film has always been an integral part of my life, since I was a child. It’s the reason I moved to California, to pursue film making. I’ve been producing films for over 10 years now and I’ve always wanted to direct. After directing Desolate, I have even more of an appreciation and passion for film and filmmaking.
How much has your approach to the way you make your films changed since your debut?
Every film is a new experience and a new lesson. While I consider my approach to be the same, it’s more about what I learned making this film and the lessons it taught me are invaluable.
Is there any advice you wish you had been given when you started out?
Not everything is going to go as planned, but sometimes that works in your favour. So roll with it and be flexible while maintaining your vision.
What would you say have been the most important lessons you’ve taken away from making this film?
So many elements go into making a film and not every element comes together at first. However, if something is not right or how you envisioned it, then don’t settle. Make sure you get it right and if it’s not right, then work to get it to that point even if it takes longer to make. You spend so much time and resources on a film and to not get it to the place it should be, or how you envisioned it when you set out to make it would be a shame. Even when you think something is not perfect, do your best and get it out there, each film is a new lesson and it will make you a better filmmaker the more film experience you have, you never stop learning.
How important is the collaborative nature of filmmaking for you?
Collaboration is everything with filmmaking! The only way to make a film is to collaborate - the better the parts, the better the film. It’s key to hire people that have similar tastes and ideas - the film will be better because of that. If your team understands what you want, then they will take it to the next level.
This film was the most collaborative film I have ever worked on. We were all in these remote beautiful locations together having a good time on a really hard and aggressive shoot. It was amazing, everyone was so close and we would all go back to the hotel after a day of shooting and we would all still hang out and I’m talking all departments, all cast, everyone. It was amazing!
And finally, what do you hope people will take away from Desolate?
I set out to create a film that held the audience's attention visually and emotionally but kept them entertained and guessing. As long as people come away from the film feeling that, I’m happy.