I sat down today in Thotplace’s interview room with independent filmmaker Mitch McLeod to discuss his current project, Novella, and the film-making process in general. You can contribute to, or simply follow the progress of, the making of Novella at IndieGoGo.
Thanks for joining us, Mitch.
Sure thing. Anything for the people behind thotplaces.com.
So, tell our readers a little bit about yourself. What are you doing? What are your goals?
I started out as an actor, doing theatre since I was a child. I got my first role on camera in a small web series, The Garage. You might know it. I had just developed my interest in being behind the scenes, and it was a great experience that introduced me to working on a set. Since then, I’ve acted and crewed on several independent projects, gathering connections and observing the process. Through trial and error, it’s led to my first feature film, Novella, which we plan to have completely shot and run through post production by the start of July. Afterward, we will be submitting Novella to Sundance Film Festival, along with several other festivals around the country, both large and small. In between the submission, I have been invited to direct three different short films over the course of the Summer, so it’s been an exciting year so far.
Wow, that sounds great. And so what is Novella about?
Novella is a cerebral drama centered around the character David Lorne, a successful American novelist in a world where literature is mostly viewed as a dead medium. To keep it short, the entire synopsis can be viewed on the IndieGogo page. For now, we’ll say it’s a film about obsession. A drama, a horror, a comedy, a love story, all wrapped together nicely in one 107 page script.
How’s the experience going?
Grueling. But we’re having a blast. This is a big film with a shoestring budget (though a shoestring may actually be nice at this point). I’ve been fortunate in the fact that I’ve been able to procure such an amazing cast and crew, who are all equally as passionate about the film as myself. It is being shot masterfully by my wonderfully gifted cinematographer Caleb Stephens, and stars Christopher Cassarino, Niko Red Star, Ashley Lenz, Arianne Martin, and Larry Jack Dotson, some of the best Dallas has to offer. We kicked it off by spending an entire week at a lake house in my hometown of Nevada, TX. Cast and crew shared bedrooms in one large house, and it was such a unique experience. For those that stayed for the entire seven day period, we became a family, working diligently on a project we all believe in. The rest of the shoot has been great, but I don’t think we’ll top the time we had at that lake house. That memory will stay with me forever.
What kind of equipment are you using?
We are shooting digitally with the Canon 5D Mark II. It’s a remarkable machine and it is a perfect fit for the style that we are shooting. In addition, we’re using various equipment that really just depends on who and where we’re getting it from on the particular day of shooting. Mark Hovland, an Associate Producer on the film, has been very kind in providing us with our basic needs and beyond for this project. Without him I shudder to think where we would be.
What are your thoughts on the independent film scene today? Do you feel the internet has made it easier to accomplish some of your goals?
I’d lean more towards the contrary. If you look back on the film industry 20, 30 years ago, it was an entirely different world. If you had any completed film, you could walk right into any major studio and show it to them in hopes of obtaining distribution. Now days it’s more of a community. So many people are doing it, and everybody knows everybody or at least shares a mutual connection. Anybody these days can shoot something and toss it onto Youtube. So in a way, it has made it easier in the sense that if you work hard on something, it’s not difficult to get it seen by a few people. However, on the flip side, there is so much going up these days that it’s harder to get somebody to solely focus on your project. Regardless, I find film to be the most terrific art form, so it’s a wonderful thing to experience so many people sharing the same passion. While I do hope to broaden my horizons and extend past Dallas, I do have a soft spot for the local independent scene.
What films have you been digging recently?
My top three films of the year were (in order) The Tree of Life, Drive, and The Girl With the Dragon Tattoo. But, to show that I’m not a pretentious elitist, I also enjoyed Crazy Stupid Love more than I’d care to admit. Mulholland Dr. is one that I frequently revisit as it is the one that inspired me to focus less on acting and more on writing and jumping behind the camera. And I also watched Horton Hears a Who recently. Not bad.
What do you say to your Republican opponents who claim you’re soft on Iran?
I just say they’re too hard on Iraq. (Get it? Hard? A Rock? That will be my bad joke of the interview)
Duly noted. Anything else you’d like to add?
Just my humble gratitude on being taken into consideration for an interview in any form. The narcissist in me loves to pass on my thoughts in a belief that people should hear them, but the realist tells me that nobody cares. Lately I’ve come to accept the midpoint. I only hope that this won’t hinder the attraction to your blog. At least you have the “Hunger Games” review.
Don’t remind me. Well, thank you for sitting down with us, Mitch. I really enjoyed the opportunity to pick your brain (and ask some questions at the same time). Best of luck with Novella and the IndieGoGo campaign.
You, dear reader, are highly encouraged to go to Novella’s IndieGoGo site and take part in something pretty cool. Be a patron of the arts. Be credited in a feature film! Go! Go!
Neither thotplaces.com nor Jeremy Kerns has any affiliation with Novella or IndieGoGo, only a desire to see someone’s dream come true.