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Neal Dhand: Director, SECOND-STORY MAN

February 18, 2013

166286_617564069520_1952690_n1Q: Tell us a little about the origins of SECOND-STORY MAN, from concept to financing.

Second-Story Man was originally a short film.  The script was eight pages, I think, but it was obvious pretty quickly that that wouldn’t cut it.  I got a good friend of mine and fellow writer, Richard Jackson, to come onboard and co-write it with me.  Sometimes – more often than not – I feel like solo writing is better, but Richard and I were just coming off of a strong collaboration (a time-traveling serial killer dark comedy) so the transition into Second-Story Man was natural.

I had a clear idea of the tone from the early stages.  I knew that I wanted it to be cold and focused.  Richard and I talked about films like McCabe and Mrs. Miller, Le Boucher, and even Charley Varrick, but none for plot.  We were trying to strike that right tone.  He and I have pretty different character voices, so marrying our styles was a great process.  The hybrid voice (as I think only he and I would hear it) that resulted really works.

Financing was a long effort.  We originally intended to fund an entirely different film but things changed including scripts and budget and Second-Story came out as the clear choice.  In reality, we actually fundraised for something like two and a half years, though we only fundraised for Second-Story for about six months.

Luckily the time spent prepping the other project allowed us to hit the ground running on Second-Story Man when it came to everything post-development.

2Q: You have directed a few shorts, and this is your first feature.  What are the pros and cons of directing short films vs. feature length?

I’m not really sure if these are actually pros and cons or just differences.  I wish that making a feature meant I had more time for things like working with the actors and other creative parts, but it really didn’t.  I also wish making a feature meant that I had more time to shoot per-scene.  Not true either.  The biggest, and probably most obvious pro of making a feature is the complete immersion in the process.  It was run run run from day 1 of development with no time to come up for air.  I took time off from teaching and kind of disappeared into a cave that consisted of incessant emails, undercooked pasta, film-related nightmares and lots and lots of script reading and story-boarding.  This is all a pro.  Loved every second of it.

I can’t really think of any cons unless the idea of having your life taken over by an entity that has a life of its own is a bad thing.

3Q: What was your best and/or worst experience while making SECOND-STORY MAN?

Best is really tough.  There are plenty of generic but true answers. Certain scenes were really rewarding to see come to life, for example.  Those notwithstanding, my only half-joking favorite part of the production of Second-Story Man was likely when one of the crew members said that the set food smelled like a “hobo’s armpit” not knowing that the cook was standing right next to him.  And that the cook was my mother.  (Note: in my experience many hobo’s armpits smell delicious.  Sorry mom!)

4Q: Festival audiences often have to make hard decisions about what to see, and the catalog descriptions sometimes run together. In your own words, why should people see your film?

If you watch carefully you might find stray frames from I Spit on Your Grave, Porky’s and Ninotchka spliced in throughout.

Also, we didn’t use stage blood…

5Q: The current market for independent films is fractured, to put it lightly, and existing distribution models grow more ineffective with each passing moment. What are your hopes or plans for distribution?

Sell for $10 million USD or release a “Love Conquers All” version.

From → Interviews

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