1Q: Tell us a little about the origins of There Will Be No Stay, from concept to financing.
In 2008 I wrote a 13 part documentary series intended for television called “Dichotomy of Death.” Each episode would explore different facets of execution and explore the dichotomies in and surrounding the practice. The first episode out of the gate was called “To Kill The Killer,” focusing on the journey of the executioner. That episode is now the film called “There Will Be No Stay!”
The financing was a bitch as it is for most independent filmmakers. It is the most extreme version of hoop jumping I have ever endured. If I found an executioner, we would be funded. I found two and nearly lost them because the hoops never stopped piling up ahead. I had simplified my life to a degree that I could still pursue the film full time and take low paying production gigs on other people’s films while learning the craft of producing and coordinating as I went. Ultimately, someone stepped up with 10k, then another, then I was able to make a concept trailer, and then gather the rest. We shot it in a guerrilla fashion dollar by dollar, location by location. A bad ass team of private and very trusting investors backed it.
2Q: There Will Be No Stay has done quite well at other film festivals. Will you be less nervous now at Cinequest? Does this process ever get any easier?
Cinequest will be our second festival. It is absolutely surreal to work on something for so long and then watch people watch you birth it! Every person I see walk in the theatre I want to run up, hug them, and thank them for being there. I’m too tired and exhilarated to be nervous I think.
3Q: What was your best and/or worst experience while making There Will Be No Stay?
The best experience I think is still going strong. My relationships with Terry, Bax, and all of the incredible people that made this film possible. I am a total jack ass at heart so while the subject matter is intense, I tried to keep a light and super positive set. We spent a lot of time laughing believe it or not.
The worst…hmmm. When I wasn’t writing, I was spending a lot of time watching crime stories, researching executions, methods, everything, every day, death, death, death. Additionally, I was hearing very personal stories from the victims’s family, the family of the condemned, and mostly from the executioners who have now become my family. It is such a heated topic and we have conditioned each other to take sides, divide, etc. Being present at an execution (exterior) watching people chant for the death, chant for the life and ultimately standing in opposition of each other was difficult. Meanwhile, we are strapping someone to a table. I can’t unsee or unhear any of it. Time for vodka and popcorn!
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?
The film tackles a highly controversial subject, but it is explored from a completely different perspective: that of the executioners. In some states they still wear a hood. The only executioners I could find during my search were made public only after killing themselves. From their journeys to, through, and out of the “job” we give these guys a platform to share their stories which are beyond compelling. While it sounds insanely dark, I have had several people tell me that they have to see it again right away. It always surprises me and it’s always humbling.
5Q: Time to pre-plan: You just won the Oscar for There Will Be No Stay. Give us your acceptance speech.
“Where is Ashton Kutcher and his hidden camera crew??”