Raindance Film Festival 2019
A guy makes a bad first impression when he meets his girlfriend’s family as they gather at her grandfather’s deathbed.
Hey Tim, thanks for talking to The New Current, how is everything going?
Of course, happy to chat! Things are well.
You recently directed "Crosswalk The Musical: Aladdin" for The Late Late Show, did you have any apprehensions about pulling something like this off?
There was certainly pressure going into that project. Crosswalk The Musical has been a pretty successful series for that show and I just wanted to stay true to every video that came before it. Luckily, most of the crew had worked on these videos before so I felt like I was in good hands.
What was the experience for you creating such a unique, fun & original segment?
Working on a Crosswalk segment is a pretty wild experience. It moves incredibly fast. We shot the whole things in 3 hours and we only had Will Smith, Mena Moussand and Naomi Scott for 2 of them. We just prepped the hell out of it, scheduled everything down to the minute and then just adjusted on the day as there’s so many uncontrollable factors. But it was really surreal and satisfying when it all came together and we had 9 cameras pointed at four of the biggest names on the planet riding a forklift magic carpet in the middle of a crosswalk with real drivers watching.
As this is going to be the UK Premiere for Milton, are there any nerves ahead of your screening?
I’m really excited for Milton to be screening in the UK but I’m on the other side of the planet in Los Angeles so it’s hard to feel nervous about it.
What does it mean for you to be at the Raindance Film Festival?
Raindance has been on my radar for years. I’ve just been waiting to submit the right project to them. I’m really happy it worked out with Milton.
Milton won multiple awards at the Aspen Shortsfest & won Vimeo Staff Picks Award at SXSW, did you ever expect to get this type of attention for your short?
When I first made Milton I was very proud of it and thought it had a lot of potential at festivals. Then it was rejected from the first ten festivals I submitted to so I kind of lost confidence in it. I figured it was rejections from here on out. Then it got accepted by SXSW. That gave it a second life as other festivals started to accept it and some even reached out asking me to submit to theirs. It was a total 180 in a matter of weeks and just showed me how random the acceptance process can be.
Tell me a little bit about Milton, how did this film come about?
Milton was based off of a personal experience where I witnessed my wife’s grandmother pass away in a nursing home. I had to break the news to the family as they were off to the side catching up with each other. It was a surreal thing watching someone take their final breath. When reflecting on that experience years later, I saw a lot of potential for making a dramedy short based off that premise but exaggerating the characters and the situations.
What was the inspiration behind your screenplay?
Aside from the experience itself, I was inspired by Curb Your Enthusiasm. I thought it would be fun to make a meek version of Larry David and put him into a Lifetime-movie-type-scene where he puts his foot in his mouth and upsets a family he’s trying to impress at the worst possible moment.
What has been the most challenging part of making this film?
The biggest challenge with Milton came with finding the location. Since it was based off of a personal experience I really wanted to shoot in a real nursing home. My production designer, also my wife, and I scouted multiple facilities around Los Angeles but there were too many uncontrollable factors that we worried could jeopardize the shoot. Then a producer friend of mine suggested a studio in Canoga Park that had a hospital room set that we could alter. It ended up costing me a lot more to shoot there than I had budgeted but it was worth the convenience, control and the look we were able to achieve.
Have you always had a passion for filmmaking?
Yeah, my passion for filmmaking started when I was in middle school. I rented WCW vs. NWO on Nintendo 64 from Blockbuster and started taping the screening with my dad’s videocamera and doing commentary with my friends. It evolved into other silly stuff like that but then got more serious when I got into college making short documentaries for PBS and making sketch comedy for YouTube when it was just starting out.
"With Milton though, I learned how beneficial shooting in story order can be if your schedule allows it."
How much has your approach to filmmaking changed since your debut film?
My approach varies from project to project so I don’t think I can say that my overall approach has changed since Milton. Making something like Crosswalk The Musical requires a totally different approach than Milton. I end up just picking up on little things that I add to my filmmaker tool-belt and depending on the circumstances of the next project, I know how to do things better. With Milton though, I learned how beneficial shooting in story order can be if your schedule allows it. It was so freeing instantly know the emotional place of each character and how to build on it while being flexible to adjust without worrying how it would cut together in post.
What words best describe Milton?
Uncomfortable. Death. Ill-timed courage.
Do you have any advice for any up and coming filmmakers?
Aside from the obvious of just making much stuff as often as possible, I’d recommend listening to the podcast ‘Just Shoot It’. It’s a pretty rad podcast hosted by Matt Enlow and Oren Kaplan, two directors from LA, where they interview different directors, writers, producers, executives, editors and actors. It’s pretty inspiring and insightful. Also, I may be on a couple episodes.
And finally, what do you hope people will take away from your film?
I just want people to laugh at my short and tell me I’m doing a good job. PLEASE TELL ME I’M DOING A GOOD JOB!