12 or 20 Questions: with Derek Price
Derek Price is an award winning filmmaker based in Ottawa, Canada.
At the 2011 Digi60 Film Festival, he won the Spirit of the Festival Award for his films “Divorce” and “First Date“. Many of his short films have played at film festivals around the globe including the Digi60 Film Festival, the Ottawa International Film Festival, No/Gloss Film Festival and Montreal HorrorFest at the Montreal Comiccon.
At the 2012 Digi60 Film Festival he produced the film “Relapse” which won Best Film, Best Director, Best Actor and Best Technical Quality.
In 2012, Derek began a project called Ambition 2012 where he wanted to complete 12 short films in the 2012 calendar year. He recently completed this project which ranges from short films to music videos to web series episodes.
Derek is currently in pre-production on a web series and feature film for 2013.
DEREK’S OTHER LINKS
Say Ten Productions on Vimeo
1. What was your first movie watching experience as a child in a theatre, and how did it affect you?
I can’t quite recall what my first movie watching experience was but I do remember watching Empire Strikes Back a lot when I was a kid. We didn’t have cable so my dad would come home every day with a new VHS rental under his arms.
2. What are your top five films, and why?
My top five films are: Empire Strikes Back, Terminator 2, Shaun of the Dead, Batman and Fight Club. Empire is my favourite movie because even now I can put it on at any time and watch it from beginning to end. T2 is an excellent sci-fi action film, but also pushed the boundaries of film and the concept of robots and machines. Shaun of the Dead marries comedy and horror so well. I’m a huge Batman fan and Michael Keaton was the Batman of my youth. I’m also a big fan of the more recent Batman films, but this one is a classic. Fight Club was one of the first films I studied as I made the move from music to film. I really enjoy David Fincher‘s style.
3. What was your first movie making experience, and how did it change your life?
About 13 years ago a friend of mine wanted to make a short film and asked if I wanted to help out. I thought it would be cool to check it out and was immediately hooked. I started writing. I was in a band at the time so the idea of combining audio and visual elements to tell a story really appealed to me.
4. How long have you lived in Ottawa/Gatineau? Knowing that you’ve shot several of your films in the Pontiac, how does geography impact on your film making, if at all?
I grew up in Shawville, QC, about an hour outside Ottawa, until I was 15 when I graduated from high school. I moved to Aylmer to go to college. Once I moved to the city I pursued music and film more. I do tend to write for the locations I know so in that way I think geography effects my film making. But overall I choose to film in the Pontiac and Ottawa because I love this place. Even when I moved to Montreal for 7 years I still came back home to make my films.
5. Does race or gender make any impact on your work?
Race and gender don’t really impact my films. I tend to write stories that interest me, and my film making is the same way.
6. Where does an idea for a movie usually begin for you?
There are many different ways that a film begins in my mind. It can be something as simple as a line of dialogue, as was the case with “Frost”. Sometimes it can be a concept, as was the case with “Super”. Or sometimes it can be a shot, as was the case of “Distance”. And sometimes it can be about an emotion, as was the case with “Pieces of You”.
7. Do you have any themes behind your work? What kinds of questions might you be trying to answer? What do you even think the current questions are?
Generally I write and work with relationships. I find that human stories about love and interaction are extremely interesting to me. They feel the most real. I also do love sci-fi, horror etc… but my heart lies with stories of the heart. I guess the questions I’m trying to answer is why do we love, why do we hurt and why do we die.
8. Are you a director working on a number of projects that end up combining into a larger project?
I would say no, but my Ambition 2012 project was like that in a way. In 2012 I endeavoured to make 12 films in 12 months. I’m happy to say we were able to do it, though it wasn’t easy. We shot an episode of a webseries as one of the projects, but besides that my films aren’t connected. They might be about similar themes, but the characters are different.
9. Do you like attending screenings of your own work?
I’m ok with watching my own work, but it is stressful. However I do enjoy getting together to watch a bunch of local shorts on a big screen. I think it’s good for the film community.
10. Do you find the process of working with other collaborators difficult or essential (or both)?
Both; although in my experience it has been more essential then difficult. Film covers the entire spectrum of storytelling with audio and visuals. I think having the right people to help you achieve your vision is extremely important.
11. After directing all of your projects for Ambition 2012, as well as others, and helping out on a number of other projects in various capacities, do you find the process of making movies harder or easier now?
I wouldn’t say the difficulty has change, but more that I know how to better achieve the things I want to do. When I first started writing I focused on including things I could do in a production. No elaborate sets, camera shots, makeup etc., as I didn’t know too much about it. The point of Ambition 2012 was to practice the process of making films and producing them. It was also important that I tried to use different people both in front and behind the camera. I feel I have a better understanding of how it all goes together.
12. When was the last time you ate cashews?
13. What is the best piece of advice you’ve heard (not necessarily given to you directly)?
14. Do you work in multiple areas: film, television, web, or are you focused in one area? How easy has it been for you to move between areas if you do? What do you see as the appeal of the various formats?
I work mostly with short films that are published to the web and submitted to film festivals. I found that preparing films for theatre display was a learning experience. I’m not a super technical person so I’ve had to learn that side of the process as well.
15. How does your most recent project compare to your previous work? How does it feel different?
I think that recently I’ve taken some chances with films I probably wouldn’t have made a year ago. I feel much more confident to tell difficult stories, and I feel like I have the knowledge to do them justice.
16. Robert Rodriguez said, “Low budgets force you to be more creative. Sometimes, with too much money, time and equipment, you can over-think. My way, you can use your gut instinct.” How does this apply to your film making experiences? How does working within tight restrictions (time, money and talent) force you to be more creative? What have been your lowest (and highest) budget films to date?
Generally I run with a budget of $500-$1000 for each of my short films. That includes everything from gear to food. Luckily we haven’t had to compromise on talent as Ottawa has some really amazing people to collaborate with.
17. David W. McFadden, a well known Canadian writer, once said that books come from books. Do movies come from other movies? Are there any other forms that influence your work, whether nature, music, science or visual art?
Music is a huge influence on my film work. Often I will find a piece of music for the tone of the film and share that with the cast and crew so they can see where I want to go with the piece. I also use photography to visualize the look of a film and share that with my collaborators.
18. What other films and filmmakers are important for your work, or simply your life outside of your work?
19. What was the last great film you saw? What was the last great book you read?
20. What are you currently working on?
Currently I am in pre-production on a webseries and a feature film which I hope to film in 2013.