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Lonely Wolf International
Film Festival 2022 
Interview

Nathan Crooker  
#NoFilter
lonelywolffilmfest.com/Tickets
May 5, 2022

Beth, an insecure twenty-something, becomes obsessed with an insidious filter, leaving her to question true beauty.

 

Hello Nathan, it’s great to get to talk with you, how have you been keeping after everything that’s been happening?

 

Thanks for taking the time to chat. I’m very well, thank you. I have spent a lot of time with family and friends while reflecting and working on the stories I want to put out into the world through my new company Ghost Gang Productions.

 

Have you been able to remain positive and creative at least?

 

I always try to stay positive as it fuels my creativity. I've been very busy. I am in pre-production on a feature I wrote and will direct this year called Play With Me. I also recently acquired worldwide distribution for a feature film I created and produced in 2019 called Isolation. It is an anthology that weaves together nine tales of terror, following isolated citizens in cities around the world as they confront their darkest fears in an attempt to survive an increasingly deadly outbreak. It was shot around the world at the height of the pandemic and features 11 different filmmakers, including Larry Fessenden (Depraved & The Last Winter), Bobby Roe (Houses October Built 1/2), and Dennie Gordon (Jack Ryan & Legion). I also created a TV show that I am very excited about with a writing partner that is making the rounds.

 

You have had an incredible festival run with #Nofilter with multiple nominations and wins, did you imagine you would get this type of response to your film?

 

It's funny because I originally was not going to submit  #Nofilter into festivals. I intended to make #Nofilter as just a proof of concept I could shop around to get a studio like Blumhouse interested in turning it into a feature film. Then I thought it would be great to try and get into at least one festival close to home to have a premiere of sorts for the cast and crew.   The film got such a great response that I decided I should give it a full festival run. All the nominations and wins have been an added bonus because they recognize all the hard work my team and our lead actress Kelly Lamor Wilson put into making the film.

 

Congratulations on having #Nofilter at Lonely Wolf, what does it meant to you to be part of the festival?

 

Thanks so much. Yeah, it's incredible to be part of the Lonely Wolf festival. I have heard so many great things about it over the years. I am truly honoured to have #Nofilter in this year's festival. Adrian and the team are really amazing. They are so passionate and caring. This means a lot to us filmmakers.

 

How important are festivals like Lonely Wolf in championing and supporting indie filmmakers?

 

It's essential for us as filmmakers. We are all coming up, hoping to get our big break to make our feature or just get our names on the scoreboard. Festivals like Lonely Wolf help get us noticed. They give us the exposure to make it to the next level. They also allow filmmakers to come together and build strong relationships. I've become great friends with others in the genre world through these festivals. Believe it or not, we help each other out. An amazing camaraderie is built coming out of festivals like this.

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Can you tell me how #Nofilter came about, what was the inspiration behind your screenplay?

 

Sure. During the pandemic, I saw so many of my friends using filters and getting hooked. It started out as something fun because people were bored, but then it morphed into an obsession for some people. They would use these filters in everyday life, with their kids, friends, and family in every picture they posted. This new version of themselves was getting so much attention they erased their old selves. But when people like me started to see this was indeed an obsession, some folks became critical on social media. I was not one of them.  I saw many of my friends slip into a deep depression because of this. As I researched more, I realized it was a systemic issue called Snapchat dysmorphia. I found that some men and women would even take it to an extreme by bringing screen grabs of themselves with the filter to plastic surgeons and say, “I want to look like this.” The whole thing was disconcerting to me, and I wanted to bring awareness to the issue. I hope this film makes people realize none of us are perfect, but we are all beautiful in our own unique way, and we should celebrate that.

What was the message you wanted to convey with this film and do you think you have achieved this?

 

We need to stop letting social media influence how we act, look and feel. None of us are perfect. Not even the celebrities / influencers we choose to follow or are served up by some sadistic algorithm. These people are only accelerating this depression train along the tracks. We need to live in the moment and not get trapped in our phones. 

 

When working on a film like #Nofilter how close do you like to keep to your screenplay once you start shooting, do you allow yourself or your cast much flexibility?

 

We did stick to the script for the most part. I cut one scene during shooting and had to do a bit of a rewrite on the day, but I feel this helped streamline the film. I am very open to being flexible, whether with the dialogue, the blocking, or the camera angles. In fact, I find the more relaxed I am, the more creative I can be because I am open to possibilities. After all, I can always say no. But I can be this flexible because I map everything out beforehand in pre-production. So knowing I have the safety net of this roadmap to fall back on, I can deviate with confidence.

 

What was the hardest scene for you to film?

 

Believe it or not, it was matching the shots of Kelly filming herself using the phone as if she was live recording her filtered selfies. You see, we shot all her filtered selfie videos in one day. Each of these setups had its specific lighting and angle. We then had to replicate the light and angle for each scene when Kelly would be seen using the phone to record herself. This may only make sense to me, but it was difficult, especially when time is not on your side.

 

Have you always had a passion for filmmaking?

 

Ever since I watched Creature Double Feature as a kid. I was obsessed with these stories and the creatures. I wanted to create something that was this exciting. So when my dad got a VHS camera, I just began shooting little movies with my siblings that I would edit in camera. Then at night, I would get my family to gather around the TV to watch the film. There were not Creature Double Feature, but man did I get the bug!

 

How has your approach to your films changed since your debut short film?

 

That's an interesting question because my debut genre short was quite different from most filmmakers. I made a movie called, Playback, which was only three minutes and completed in one continuous take. Since then, I have moved on to a more traditional approach in the sense that I shot coverage. I don't think my process has really changed, but I know that I want to push myself as an artist with each new film I make.

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"I am sensitive to their craft. I know how to make them feel safe, which gives them confidence in themselves and in me."

Does your background as an actor help you build closer connections to your actors?

 

Being an actor myself helps me build a strong rapport with my actors. I am sensitive to their craft. I know how to make them feel safe, which gives them confidence in themselves and in me. This confidence then turns into trust which allows for a very dynamic working relationship between me as the director and the actor.

 

Are there any themes you are looking to explore with future films?

 

I have written a lot, and I find there is one theme that pops up repeatedly: identity. I'd like to continue exploring this theme as it is universal and has so many layers.

 

Do you have any advice to offer fellow filmmaker?

 

Do what intimidates you the most, and don't be afraid to fail.

 

And finally, what would you like audiences to take away from #Nofilter?

 

Instead of taking selfies, take a minute to look into a mirror and love who you see. That is the person that can influence the world.