Q&A with Hardcore Indie Filmmaker David P. Baker – Part 1
Right after I started Filmmakers Notebook and checked out Twitter I began following and paying attention to David P. Baker. I found his sense of humor refreshing and his candor about “Mission X” entertaining as well as informative and have continued to watch his journey as a filmmaker. So, now with his current projects underway in both the UK and in Oklahoma with Nikki Alonso and Oklahoma Ward, I thought it was a good time for a Q&A with David, which I hope you will find as enjoyable reading as I have writing about him. Part 1 begins below.
What has been the most challenging part of creating the HARDCORE INDIE project for you?
The toughest part was probably making the leap without the net, as I went to the states without any production cash to make SCREEN. The hardcore indie documentary campaign on kickstarter provided enough cash for me and my girlfriend to get there.
We could live in Tulsa, feed ourselves, and afford to pay our bills in the UK for three months. However, there wasn’t any cash to make SCREEN, just the documentary about the film.
We have no commitments, mortgages, kids, so we could take that leap, but that was still the toughest part for me. It was really outside the comfort zone. Oak, Nikki, and Oak’s parents could not have made us more welcome, but living in someone else’s home for that long was the toughest part for me. I’m a loner. I can go weeks without talking.
Have there been any unexpected surprises since you’ve come to Oklahoma to work on SCREEN and CRAWL?
Incredible heat (100-120), a tornado that was very close by, and I almost saw Oaks studio burnt to the ground! The heat was the worst, but even the locals said it’s the worst they have ever had. It certainly affected the shoot, as most of the movie was either in a firebird with no air conditioner or at the drive-in theatre in horrendous heat.
Now that you’ve made films in both the UK and in Oklahoma what are the biggest differences making movies in each location?
I have also shot in Las Vegas in the past, so I had some experience. I shot a movie all over Vegas on film. I don’t think many movies are made in Tulsa, so even a small indie film is quite a big deal, so I got a lot of help.
The light and landscape is so different from the UK. A good part of this film is a road movie. You can’t really do a road movie in the UK. One, it’s not very long, and two, it’s dark, wet, and miserable most of the time. I like the natural light you get in the US.
On a whole, I just found people to be more helpful, excited about movies in the US. If you say you are doing a movie there, it’s like “Cool, go for it buddy!”
In the UK, it’s either “How the f*uck are you going to do that?”, or people are jealous because they think your life I’d great. I am generalizing of course, but it’s pretty much like that.
If another filmmaker were to look for people online to team up and produce with like you have what advice would you give them?
Spend at least a year online getting to know each other. Me and Oak (The other filmmaker) are very different, but we still knew each other enough to live in the same place for three months. It wouldn’t have worked otherwise.
Also, we never really teamed up on each others projects. We were not directing or producing each others projects. I think making these two projects happen at the same time helped to motivate us. We all got something from the partnership on this project, but it would not have worked if we interfered with each others projects.
If you are going to team up creatively, then I think it has to be because each person has strengths they can bring to table that the other does not have. It could so easily be a disaster. Don’t try and team up if you think you can spread the workload. It still takes the same work ethic and commitment if you are part of a team.
Summarize your thoughts about what it’s been like working with Oklahoma Ward and Nikki.
We communicated for a year online before we started this, so I knew they were motivated and talented people. That’s the great thing about social media; you can see the bull shitters after a long period of time. They turned out to be who I thought in many ways, but we are still very different people. We have similar ambitions, but also different.
Nikki is a very good actress, and could potentially be a great actress. I have seen many talented actors, but that alone means nothing. Nikki has it all, she is a package. She pushes herself, she’s very motivated, very web savvy, and she gets things done. She’s also helped made CRAWL happen. She is making her career happen. I never heard her moan once in the tunnels of CRAWL, or during the tough conditions on my film too.
Oak is also totally dedicated. He’s like myself in the sense that he could make very very personal art based movies, but he has woke up to the reality of this business. He took a 360 with CRAWL, and has made a simple high concept genre movie to kickstart things, like I am doing with SCREEN.
I don’t like speaking for other people, so I don’t want to say much more. We got on great, never had a fight, but we are not going to be joining up forces in every other project. We have different types of movies we want to make, but this was a positive experience.
Aside from horror what other genres you are attracted to?
Almost every genre. I think I am a personal filmmaker that wraps their personal films in a genre. I want to do a western, sci fi, hit man flick. I like filmmakers that are versatile. Ridley Scott jumps all over the place. Kubrick was always different. I want every project to take a 360 from what I have done before, just like I have done with my last three films.
In Part 2 we’ll find out more about David’s plans to remake “Mission X” as well as more of his thoughts about different aspects of filmmaking. In the meantime, follow him on Twitter @davidpbaker.