Thursday, October 1, 2009

21 Questions with writer/director John Darko

Interview is conducted by Marc Martinez a current student @ Mt. San Antonio College. Marc is a writer who has taken an interest in the entertainment industry. Enjoy.

1. First things first, you’re in the movie business, what turned you on to the industry?

Well the industry itself is an ongoing battle; you can be making a feature film one day and be writing in solitude the next. It's a give and take, which I constantly fight with. Now, what got me into the art of filmmaking is a different story. Six years ago when I completed my first script 'Damaged People' I immediately felt a satisfaction, I was unknowingly documenting my life story. Of course to a certain degree but nevertheless I felt redeemed. Having gone through a string of bad relationships at the time; screenwriting was my only way to cope. I was hooked since then.

2. As a child was there anyone you looked up to that helped influence you to do what you do?

Yes it was the TV set in every room and the countless times I've rented movies. My parents have definitely contributed to the positive effect of my upbringing but I would say it was more of a trivial notion that got me into creative arts.

3. When you start on any project, what’s the thought process? Is there some sort of routine you go through or is it all second thought?

When I'm on set things seem to flow in a spontaneous action. This is because I trust the people I work with, so there's many times where I can change a scene based on suggestion. I believe it's the collaborative effort of many that makes a film dynamic. Writing is another process completely; one where I hide in a cave, only surfacing when something is finished. Everything I do is based on some form of spontaneity; it keeps me on my toes; as it should.

4. Do you consider what you do as art? If so, why?

Well it's not like I'm selling cars now, is it? Not that there's anything wrong with that but I create, form and mold...just as a painter or say an architect would. At the end of the day art imitates life, I'm just trying to make things more interesting.

5. You just finished work on a upcoming movie called “5 Ways to Split Apart the Day”, what did you do for that film and what was it like to work on it?

I co-wrote the screenplay, produced and soon-to-be directing the project. It's been a strenuous up-hill battle but worth every minute. Ask me this question again when the film is completed.

6. Have there been any days where you just felt like quitting this profession and trying out something else?

All the time but you can't have the sweet without the sour. Well actually you can, but it's always better when you overcome a set back. They say; our greatest glory consists not in never falling, but in rising every time we fall.

7. I’ve seen that you’re a writer, producer, director, editor, graphic designer and cinematographer. What motivates you into taking on so many different aspects of the industry?

Trying a bunch of things previous to finally hitting something successfully. When I decided to become a filmmaker, it came as a no-brainer. Film can focus on every element imaginable, down to poster design to cinematography and finally post-production; where an eye for color or an ear for music and score can contribute greatly to the story. It's a multi-faceted art form and when it's done well, you won't be able to see the many layers of creativity. You see a good movie.

8. Is there anything about being such a diverse professional that the public might not understand?

Absolutely, but I hope people will connect to the material I create rather than the person I am behind the camera. This is reserved for the people who are genuinely trying to make a connection. All are welcomed to inquire though, be my guest.

9. Would you consider any of these aspects of the industry art forms?

In one way or another it is all art.

10. With the amount of work and skill it takes to be in any part of the film industry, is it all worth it to you?

Every second counts and I am grateful for all of it. I'm doing what I want to do; I'm proud and content with the progression. The hard work is nothing compared to the positive outlook you get when you wake up in the morning. I'm excited to work, that in itself is enough.

11. Just to mix it up a bit, what are you thoughts on the entertainment industry as a whole and their place in the world of art?

Depending on your definition of art, anything can be a candidate, right? Personally there are aspects of the entertainment industry that I don't agree with like reality television - but it entertains me, so I can't really complain. I guess my gripe; if any, would be with the way society is connecting to the shallow type of programming available. Art? Maybe...but there's definitely a fine line to the obscure and we're ALL guilty. Good times.

12. Radio, what’s your take on the current state of it?

How are we going to communicate when Zombies take over the world? The revolution will not be televised, so save those old radios. Until the day we have cars that can drive themselves and a TV set in every vehicle, radio will survive.

13. Have any top five favorite artists?

Paul Thomas Anderson, Martin Scorsese, Salvador Dali, Hayao Miyazaki and "Emo" Kermit the Frog.

14. What are some of the worst experiences you’ve ever had on a film?

Not getting enough sleep prior to call time. Being tired when you have to work a twelve-hour day sucks! Also when people bring their unexpected attitudes to set, and going over budget and cutting scenes to allot for time can suck as well. So get your sleep, screen your crew, shoot on time and drink plenty of water. Sunscreen is also a pretty good idea.

15. What are your thoughts on the current state of the film industry?

I think we're doing well, especially in the light of our current economy. Investors are more cautious on what they spend but that doesn't really affect the viewers all that much. Take a film like 'The Dark Knight' which had the biggest opening in movie history, TDK was released when the proverbial shit hit the fan, everyone was expecting the numbers to be mediocre at best, but look what happened...TDK made financial history in a shit storm. Regardless of what's going on in our economy, people will go to the movies! Where else can you escape into a foreign land with singing Penguins and dancing high-school kids? Everyone has his or her escape and film has been the ideal medium for it.

16. What about art? Is it safe or doomed?

Safe, unless our Government pulls a Fahrenheit 451 on us, props to Ray Bradbury for that one.

17. Have any particular favorite projects you’ve worked on?

I'm fond of it all. No lie.

18. Any upcoming projects?

Actually yes; I'm writing and producing a few other films, as well as directing a documentary and a TV show. There is a comedy/zombie/horror film I'm working on this very moment that is exciting to say the least. It is based on an existing franchise, but I have to be discreet on the title. Don't want to shoot myself in the foot. Nevertheless the fan-boy community will be very happy when they hear the news. The show in which I'm series director is called 'Push' and is centered around the days in the life of an amateur skateboarder. It premieres in a few weeks so I'm very happy about that as well. 2010 is shaping up to be a promising year, for sure.

19. What is your dream project?

To work with any of the top five people I had just mentioned and hopefully one day I can successfully replicate the 'Back to the future' delorean and transform it into a functional time machine!

20. Do you think the Internet will end up making Radio and Television obsolete?

Heck no. Youtube is great and all but you can't ditch the experience of watching something on your amazing plasma, more so with film - there's an experience you get when going to the movies. You can't get that from the Internet.

21. Any final words?

Live long and prosper, oh and follow me on twitter isn't that what everyone says nowadays? Have faith in yourselves. I'm out. -JD

John Darko

Executive Producer, Co-Writer and Director of "5 Ways to Split Apart the Day"

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    James William said...

    Very Nice interview..
    Its soo enjoyable..

    peter said...

    thanks for this post about John Darko. was nice to learn sth new abt this guy! great job!

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