Welcome to the first Filmpunch Featured Member interview! We plan on picking a new member from the community every month and get all up in their stuff in order to gain a little insight on who they are and what they are up to.
October’s Featured member is Kyle Bailey. You may recognize his handsome bearded mug from a guest blog post we featured a while back on his experiences on the set of Olan Roger’s Pop Rocket. Kyle has been with Filmpunch since the very beginning and has been a huge support and help for Andy and I in various ways throughout the last year. He has graciously agreed to be our guinea pig this month. So let’s get to know this Kyle Bailey, shall we?
Can you tell us a little about yourself?
My name’s Kyle Bailey. I grew up in southern NJ. I’m a 4th year Film student at Asbury University. My favorite color is blue. I love pizza. I have Type 1 Diabetes.
What got you started in filmmaking?
What got me started in filmmaking? What got me started was a complete and utter mistake on my part. Originally, when I came into college as a Freshman, I was a Music Education major. For most of my life, I’d been that kid in middle school and high school who sort of did everything (except sports). I sung in choirs, did school plays, had decent grades, was friends with everyone, and generally had an all-around good time with myself.
I’d been told by so many people to focus on my musical abilities, and that when I got to college, I should major in something music-oriented. After talking to my parents, my friends, and my teachers, I decided to pick music education, partially because my music teacher in High School had a big impact on my life, and partially because it seemed like a safe bet.
I was wrong.
Music Education is one of the hardest majors at any school, but it’s especially difficult at my university. I didn’t know that coming into Freshman year, and I immediately started to struggle with my workload. It was terrible. I couldn’t keep up with anything, and I felt like I was drowning.
So, I sat myself down and decided that I needed to switch gears. I still wanted music to be a part of my life, but I didn’t want it to be the focus. I ran through what I enjoyed doing most in my spare time, and one of my first thoughts was watching movies. To this day, there’s nothing I enjoy more than sitting in a darkened theater, popcorn in my lap, friends by my side, watching a movie I’ve never seen before. It’s fantastic.
Strangely enough, my university has an utterly fantastic Media & Communications program. Seriously, if you’re at all interested in becoming a Film student, check out Asbury University. There’s my one and only plug for my school.
So, after taking two days to really think about it, I switched my major to a Media & Communications track, with a Film & Production Emphasis.
I’ve never looked back.
Do you think it’s necessary to attend film school to have a successful film career?
Nope. If you look at some of the most revered, celebrated filmmakers today–Tarantino, Cameron, Fincher, Nolan–many of them never went to a film school. One of my all-time favorite quotes comes from Tarantino, and I’m paraphrasing but it basically says something along the lines of:
“I didn’t go to film school. I went to films.”
Simply watching and trying to understand films is one of the most effective ways to become a better filmmaker, in my mind.
However, there are benefits to going to film school that can’t be denied. Being able to surround yourself with other filmmakers of varying levels, and to be around a culture like that, is an inspiring place to be. Everywhere you go, every class you take, every conversation you have at 4AM on your hall will help shape the way you create films, whether you know it or not.
Also, going to school allows you to make friends. It seems simple to state it that way, but being at a school will give you opportunities to make life-long friends who will support you and stand by you when you want to create a film you’re passionate about. Some of those friends will even be your most trusted allies, your go-to DPs or ADs or PDs or Producers or Actors.
But I think the biggest thing that going to school for Film has taught me is an appreciation for film history. I never would have gotten interested in Film Noir had it not been for the American Cinema class I took my Sophomore year. I never would have known about the advancements in camera and audio technology from the early 20th century to the present. I never would have known about the Kuleshov Effect, or the Dogme 95 movement, or how the French New Wave and Truffaut inspired an entire generation of filmmaking that can still be felt to this day.
Having an appreciation for the past is the only way to make a better future, and that holds true for film.
Do I think everyone needs to go to or should go to film school? Nope. If it’s not in the cards financially, don’t do it. If you just don’t feel like you need to be at a school for something you can pretty much teach yourself how to do, don’t do it. If you hate school, don’t do it.
But if you’re willing to stop and wait for four years, and practice your craft, and learn from other students, and make mistakes when it’s OK to do so, then look into going to film school. Just make sure to pick the right one.
What do you find inspires you the most?
Watching movies is probably the easiest answer for me, but that doesn’t make it any less true. Watching a good movie, one that understands it’s own elements and can take you on a journey seemingly without effort is so inspirational to me. It pushes me to make better films, to tell better stories.
If you could be a part of any production/movie, past or present, what would it be and why?
I’d like to have been a part of the team that Christopher Nolan built when he made his first film, Following. I’d like to have been able to see how he managed everything on that production, from beginning to end, and to see how he’s grown from that point.
What has been your most memorable moment so far in your journey to be a filmmaker.
My most memorable moment is actually my worst moment. I was making a short film for a class last year, and at one point, everything that could’ve gone wrong went wrong. Actors cancelled, crew never showed up, equipment broke–the whole nine yards. I sat down at the location we were filming at, and decided that I was going to have to deal with the situation somehow, to try and remedy it.
I remember thinking “This is it. This is filmmaking. Am I really going to do this for the rest of my life?”
I honestly couldn’t answer for a few moments. Then I stood up and said “Yes.”
And I made it work. I figured it out, as best I could, how to salvage what I had lost. To this day, I’m proud of that short. By any means, it’s still terrible, but knowing what I had to go through to get it where it is now, I’m still proud of it.
That solidified in my mind that I wanted to make films for the rest of my life.
If there was one piece of advice you could give a new filmmaker, what would it be?
Stop procrastinating. I’m a massive, MASSIVE procrastinator. It’s bad. I put so much off to the last minute, and it does nothing but hurt whatever it is you’re working on. So stop stalling and start doing. Just get up make something.
You are currently working on a personal project. Tell us a little about the project and why you’re doing it.
ROAM was an idea I came up with this past summer. I had wanted to do an action film for a long time, but never had a reason to do one, or the means to. But when I came back to school for my senior year, I realized that this was my last chance to have all of my friends and people I trusted together in one place. I could use all of my school’s fantastically expensive equipment, and I wouldn’t have to pay for any of it. I could find great actors to believably play the characters, and they’d do it for free.
So I thought “Why the heck not? It’s my last chance.”
I guess you could say that I wanted to go out with a bang. Hopefully, it’s a good one.
What interests you about the post-apocalyptic genre, and why did you choose it as the setting for ROAM?
Post-apocalyptic movies have always interested me. There’s something about telling a story after the world, as we know it, has ended that excites me. Seeing how people would survive, what cultures would remain or how they’d change, and trying to find humanity after it’s fallen–those ideas are incredibly evocative and ask big questions. That’s just awesome to me.
I drew a lot of influence from films like The Road and The Book of Eli. I come from a Christian background, so I wanted to try and meld specific spiritual elements into a realistic, post-apocalyptic world in a way that felt natural. You don’t see many films these days taking on spiritual ideologies, and then mixing them in with stylized violence. It’s not normal. It doesn’t really fit together. But if you want to be true to the world and the story you’re trying to tell, you can’t sacrifice realism in the story for the sake of wanting a “happy” or a “Christian” outcome. Real life isn’t like that. Film shouldn’t be either.
What would be a piece of advice that you wished you would have gotten when you first started your filmmaking journey?
If someone had come up to me and said, “Kyle, filmmaking is going to be the most difficult, exhausting, and relentless experience of your life.” I’d be a lot better off.
You don’t see how much work goes into making films, whether it’s the next Avengers film, or a two-minute short made by three people. Each step in the process can feel like a lifetime, and each choice you make represents a huge risk that your project could fail. It’s not easy. It’s not pretty. Heck, it’s not even enjoyable at times. It’s hard work. It’s a lot of late night and early mornings.
But when you show someone the finished project, and they smile, cry, or laugh because they understand what you’ve been communicating to them…that makes it all worth it.
Editor’s Note: Kyle is currently running a crowd funding campaign for his short film, ROAM. He has already made great progress. Let’s help get his project funded so he can make his short. Go over to Seed & Spark and take a look at his campaign.
Donate if you can, or at the very least share his project.
After a calamity decimates the world, most of humankind has been destroyed. We follow the path of a young boy who escapes from the clutches of a group of bandits, and must defend his right to live on a desolate, destroyed Earth.
Contribute to the project on Seed & Spark.