recaps of the top 'ask me anything' interviews from reddit and more...
I'm a nobody that chased his dream and spent 5 years writing, directing, editing, and acting in his first indie film. It premiered at a major film festival, got picked up for distribution, and came out this week! AMA, Ya Cool Cats!

Hello, Reddit. My name is Mason Rey. When I was 11, I saw Blade Runner and knew I wanted to be a director. Now at 33, my first film (Lamp Light) just came out on all major digital retailers after premiering at the 2018 Atlanta Film Festival. It took a personal loan of $10k, 5 years of filming (mostly alone), losing 45 pounds in 2 months, traveling across three states, a lot of help from friends/family/strangers, and a boat load of industrial strength Tums, but it's done! Now I'm here and eager to answer any questions one might have about writing, making, festival...ing, and selling a film in the digital era.

If you're interested in the film, Lamp Light is the story of a schlub named Don Gos that's at the end of his rope. A sudden tunnel collapse, while driving, leaves Don hopelessly trapped in his car and forced to face his personal demons. With the help of another survivor, Don clears out the ruins of his life while evading the suffocating grip of his mountainous tomb.

Here's the trailer on youtube and here's the trailer on Vimeo. If you like it and want to check out the full film on Amazon, iTunes, or Google, I sure as hell won't stop you!

Proof on the Film's FB Page. A screenshot for the lazy. Even more proof if you want to see horrors beyond imagining my mom thinks I'm handsome.

*Update\* I'm going to keep answering every single gorgeous question you folks ask, so please keep them coming. Nothing is getting buried. Mrs Rey has been nice enough to come help me some because they're coming in a little fast at the moment but don't slow down. :)

*Updater\* I fucking love you people. I've been answering questions for 12 hours straight and I will continue to answer every single question until I can't lift my head anymore. If I've missed your question, it was not intentional, tag my username and I'll hit it up tonight or in the morning. Thank you SO much to everyone that was nice enough to ask, comment, troll, and updoot. I've really loved this and it's felt really lovely to be able to help people struggling with the same fears and pains I did. Keep at it folks!


71
questions
5,069
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August 4th 2019
interview date
iNeedMoreSpeed

I'm always so curious about the screenplay, and it's the one thing very few people ask about, and the thing that creators hardly ever bring up themselves, so I have a bunch of questions! :)

  • How long did it take you to write the script?
  • How did you decide to get feedback for it? How did you decide whether to take the feedback and make changes or throw out the advice?
  • Did you ever feel discouraged from making the whole thing at the screenwriting phase of the creation process?
  • Were you ever nervous that maybe this was a bad film on the page, thus making you nervous about embarking on the project to begin with? If so, how did you overcome that fear?
  • How much of it did you change once you and the actor got on set, or did you prefer sticking with what was on the page as much as possible?

MasonTheDirector

How long did it take you to write the script?

I'm reminded of the famous quote “Art is never finished, only abandoned.” lol. It very much felt like that. The script took about 9 months to write after work and on weekends. But it never felt finished...more on that in your later question.

How did you decide to get feedback for it? How did you decide whether to take the feedback and make changes or throw out the advice?

That's a good question because if you ignore what anyone says, you run the risk of making a film so myopic that no one likes it but you. On the other hand, a hundred people have a hundred different opinions and you run the risk of losing your artistic voice to make something bland. Ultimately, I put it in the hands of people that had similar tastes as me, so I respected their opinions. Giving your David Lynch style thriller to a Michael Bay fanatic won't give you the feedback you need.

I also asked them specific questions about scenes that I was on the fence about. I had them attack my weak points and didn't just leave it all up to them to discuss. It helped narrow down where the problem areas were and made me feel better about the end product.

Did you ever feel discouraged from making the whole thing at the screenwriting phase of the creation process?

Oh yes. But, the cure for all writers block is to get in your car and drive. No radio. Just drive. Your mind goes to interesting places when you have nothing but yourself and the road to think about.

Were you ever nervous that maybe this was a bad film on the page, thus making you nervous about embarking on the project to begin with? If so, how did you overcome that fear?

The self doubt never stops. Even now when it's done. You just have to learn how to focus it into something constructive. Be your own harshest critic and your end product will always be better. There's nothing wrong with thinking what you've made is garbage because then you can start fixing it.

How much of it did you change once you and the actor got on set, or did you prefer sticking with what was on the page as much as possible?

The film I wrote and shot are massively different. You have to trust what feels right in the moment on set because that's REAL. That's life. When you're writing, you're trying to convey ideas. You aren't in the heat of the moment. You aren't living the situation the characters are in. So you should always change to fit the reality of the situation. Words are cheap and can be replaced.

ms2guy

What led you to chase your dream at 28? What did you leave behind?


MasonTheDirector

Well, I wanted to start it right away out of high school but I was kind of a lazy dreamer. It took a few years of working in the real world to motivate me. I eventually thought going to film school would help me out (big mistake, it didn't really teach me how to make movies) so that was 4 years of my life wasted. :/

I still have my day job until I see where this all pans out so I haven't left much behind other than a lot of sleepless nights, lol.

BigBeanBoy

Hi Mason, my name is Sam. I'm 26 and from Canada. When I was 23 I made a feature film in a similar situation to yours. I wrote, directed, produced, acted and edited in my film. It's called A Dog In Paris. We filmed in Toronto and Paris. I self-funded it with money from my day job. After years of applying to festivals like Atlanta I gave up and just released the movie on YouTube. I was wondering if you had any advice for a fellow filmmaker who just couldn't seem to make the festival circuit?

Movie link below.

https://youtu.be/YTyTaii1LXo

Congrats on your success!!!


MasonTheDirector

Thank you for your question and sharing your story. It's important people see this because I DIDN'T reach the goals I set out to make. I told myself when I started college that I was going to make a movie and everyone would see my genius and bring me trucks full of money to make the next Matrix. lol. That didn't happen. But I did make my film and I'm proud of it.

Even if a film goes "nowhere", you still have something to be proud of because where others simply talked about doing something, you actually did it.

As with all things in life, Picard says it best...It is possible to commit no mistakes and still lose. That is not a weakness. That is life.

Force_52

What frustrated you the most about the whole journey? What was the closest you came to giving up, and how did you get past it?


MasonTheDirector

What frustrated you the most about the whole journey?

Festival rejections were really hard to take. Every time I got one, it felt like a personal slap because I had put so much of myself into the film. But once you get into one, you feel vindicated.

What was the closest you came to giving up

I think at the start of filming was the closest time. Because my character gets trapped in the car and the film calls for me to lose a lot of weight to show my survival, the film had to be shot in chronological order. So the start of the film is actually the start of the film's production. I had a lot of technical problems and issues with locations that really just made me want to quit. I ended up scrapping 90% of the first act and reshooting because of those issues.

How did you get past it?

I'm pretty sure I'm still traumatized from those early days of filming. lol. But in the moment, it wasn't hard to get past simply because I had already put in so much work. Quitting wasn't an option. How could I quit when I had spent so much time, energy, lover, money, and attention into the film? How could I look my friends and family in the eye and say that I just gave up? I couldn't.

moonskye

I’m so proud of you! 💗

What was your wife’s reaction to all of this?

Have your kids seen the film?


MasonTheDirector

I'm really lucky in that I've had a really supportive wife. She's a big film fan so she was very positive and excited to watch the movie get made. I couldn't have asked for a better cheerleader. That being said, she was super excited to have the literal two tons of rock and crushed Honda OUT of the garage. lol

My kids have not seen it as there is a LOT of no no words in the movie. But I'm sure they will one day. They have watched me edit parts and screamed "Daddy!" when they saw footage of me on the computer screen. lol

Slvrandblk

What was the main camera gear and lens you shot on?


MasonTheDirector

YAY! Finally a tech question!

There were two big things I wanted for the film when it came to the look of it. 1) Heavy shadows 2) Minimal lighting. I wanted the film to feel plausible in how it was lit even though I had a whole lighting set up to simulate a single bulb from the overhead light of a car. So I needed good dynamic range and low light performance.

I shot on the BMCC 2k. At the time it was, by far, the best bang for your buck due to the dynamic range. Also, it shot on RAW which I knew I would need because as also the film's camera man and cinematographer, I couldn't be behind the lens the whole time to make sure the exposure was perfect. Shooting on RAW gave me some working room.

For the lenses, to help with low light, I tried to only shoot on super bright primes. I was cramped in the car so I also needed wide angles. That kept a lot of my shooting to the Nikon AF-S DX NIKKOR 35mm f/1.8G. I'd say 80% of the interiors were shot with it. Occasionally, I needed the Tokina 11-16mm f/2.8 AT-X116 Pro DX II for when I needed to get the whole of the interior in the shot.

wedonotglow

A few pregundas:

What was it like seeing your film displayed on the big screen for the first time?

Also I love the ATL film festival! Which film block were you in and did your film premiere at the Plaza?


MasonTheDirector

What was it like seeing your film displayed on the big screen for the first time?

I cried. It was surreal to spend five years of your life dreaming of a singular moment and then, after all the waiting, to be IN that very moment. It was overwhelming to see all the pain, frustration, sleepless night, and technical joys up on a massive silver screen.

Did your film premiere at the Plaza?

It did premiere there!
https://www.atlantafilmfestival.com/2018/lamp-light

AtheistComic

You have to confirm your age to watch the trailer so I can tell you right now a lot of people are not gonna watch it. Can you post it somewhere that doesn’t require an age confirmation? I would like to watch it but I’m not signing in


MasonTheDirector

Interesting. Give that a go:
https://vimeo.com/260873484

CRITICAL9

How did you get the money to make it?


MasonTheDirector

I saved a little from working my day job but most of the $10k came from a small "personal loan" from a local bank. It's not a huge amount to a bank so they don't need much collateral and I have pretty good credit.

I spent another $5k of miscellaneous money over the next 5 years of filming. Spread out, it didn't hurt much. Mostly for replacing broken gear and paying people to do jobs for the film I couldn't do directly (sfx work/music/so on). That just came out of my normal paycheck.

DougLangway1

What was the hardest part of filming?


MasonTheDirector

The self doubt. Every night when you go to bed, every day when you press record on the camera, every time you edit a scene, you can't help but think you're wasting your time. You feel in your gut that no one will like it or will care. You tell yourself that what you're doing isn't going to mean anything. There is this constant nagging feeling that everyone is internally mocking you when you tell them what you're doing. It's a black cloud that follows you around.

With all of it, you just have to fight the demons. Every...fucking...time. You have to keep pushing because if you don't try, you'll never know if you could have made your dream work. I think that's common with anyone following some great hope of theirs.

Daddy_0103

How do you get added/invited to a film festival?


MasonTheDirector

You submit your film according to each specific festivals guidelines and dates. Each festival has an entry fee (around $40-50 a pop) so make sure you have at least 2-3k saved up at the end of filming for a bunch of festival submissions. Also, make sure you're applying your film to the right festivals (no point in sending your narrative film to a documentary festival) and be prepared to get a lot of rejections. You're a nobody so they aren't going to put your film before BIG NAME STAR'S NEXT INDIE FILM!

carltheawesome

What would you most like to tell us that no one ever asks about?


MasonTheDirector

The main character is only seen ONCE, with another character, in the same frame. Even when he's interacting with other characters, you never see them together but in one very specific scene. I did this on purpose to help aid with the feeling of isolation. It's something you might not notice until the end of the film or upon a second viewing but I think it helps make you feel like he's all alone in this hell he's in.

anon120

What would you say was the most difficult aspect of coming up with the script? What was the process like for you?


MasonTheDirector

Great question.

Leveling out the tone was probably the hardest part. Lamp Light is a very sad movie but you can't really ask your audience to be sad for 90 minutes. You can make a movie about drowning puppies for two solid hours but no one will want to watch it. So, I put a lot of levity/humor in the film to break up the heavy loneliness/drama that goes on for the whole of the movie. At the same time, you don't want to make your drama too jokey and lose the emotional impact you're going for. I would put each scene on a post it note while I was writing, red for sad scenes and blue for levity scenes. If I noticed there were a bunch of red scenes in a row, I would try and write a blue scene to break up the heaviness. I think it really helped to keep the audience entertained and the film flowing.

[deleted]

How did you lose the 45 pounds?


MasonTheDirector

Great question!

Painfully. lol. I wanted it done as soon as possible as I was sort of reaching a deadline with myself and my family over the ending of filming. I wanted it wrapped so we could sell out current house and move. That meant losing the weight fast and unhealthy.

I don't like exercise because I'm a shitty person so everything I did was around diet. I ate 300 calories of pure protein every day with a multivitamin. That usually meant some chicken (Boars Head Teriyaki is great!) with mustard and a pickle for dinner. That's it. I lost roughly a pound a day. I had a couple days where I cheated but I mostly stuck to it. I wish I could have lost even MORE weight for the film but I was running out of time.

I know what I did was super unhealthy and don't recommend it, but I don't smoke or drink so I figure that would balance it out in terms of "things that took years off my life". lol

Toxicscrew

What’s next?


MasonTheDirector

My writing partner and I have a WWII horror film we've written up on The Black List called The Industry of Crows that we'd LOVE to get made but we'll have to see how Lamp Light sells before that can even be entertained. Time will tell.

I_am_usually_a_dick

stupid question but if I watch it on Amazon do they pay you? I guess my question is did they give you a bulk payment up front for rights to show it or do you get residuals based on number of views?

sorry if that is a dumb question but I have never fully understood how money and movies work. take a movie like Blair Witch or Saw that were made on a dime and made millions, does all the profit go to the producers only? seems like a rigged game if so.


MasonTheDirector

You do your username no justice by being overly polite with your question ;p

That's not a stupid question at all! The answer is complicated though because every distribution deal is different.

For me, when you purchase it, Amazon takes a cut and sends the profits over to the distributor. From there, all money from sales and rentals gets divided up to the respective parties that was initially agreed upon. The distributor gets a %, the sales agent gets a %, and all the parties involved in the distribution deal get their % (me). Distribution contracts are SUPER complicated and intricate and get negotiated in a million different ways so there's no one way to answer it.

Rahludan

If you could go back to the start of the movie and do something different, what would it be?


MasonTheDirector

I'd edit it all on Apple hardware/software. NOT because it's better but because the industry, at the indie level, doesn't seem to give a fuck about anything other than ProRes and a lot of 3rd party gear/hardware/software prioritizes Apple.

It's frustrating because I didn't have much of a budget for the film ($10k total) but what little I did have went to getting the equipment I needed for editing. Half the budget went to building a computer that could handle the BMCC 2k raw footage. At the time, I bought and built (PC MASTER RACE!) twice the editing power with a PC but I ended up having to deal with SOOOO much stress finding work arounds and trying to figure out solutions to problems that wouldn't have existed if I had just been one of the herd and gotten an Apple. Sigh.

PaulAndresen

To someone wanting to make their own film like you did, what's a piece of advice you'd give them?


MasonTheDirector

Cocaine.

Joking...that being said, you will need a lot of energy to keep yourself motivated. It will be a constant and endless trial of your patience and fortitude.

Another bit of advice is to use https://freesound.org/ to help with foley work. It's a huge free user-generated library of sounds. The amount of content that's donated by the community for artists to use, is insane. Just make sure to attribute what you use. It's what bros and broettes do.

memooohc

What inspired you to write such a story? Does any scene have any special meanings for you?


MasonTheDirector

What inspired you to write such a story?

I think any good film sets out to ask a question. So, I originally started out writing with the question in mind of "What would it take to break a man? Just break him down to his base instincts,fears, wants, and desires. To make him question everything about himself." It reminded me a lot, when I was writing, about The Book of Job in the Bible. I'm a former Catholic so I'm very familiar with the story of the Devil doing everything he could to break Job and renounce god. That story was a lot of what was in my head when I started to write. I kept thinking, "What if the devil had won? What if he broke Job? What would that look like?". That's the core of the film.

The actual setting of the story itself came from me driving in a tunnel. lol. The SAME tunnel you see in the film. It's in Tennessee and it's a very strange "one lane" tunnel. Usually they're multi-lane. It's very claustrophobic and I kept thinking "MAN, it would suck if I got stuck in here." I then realized that it would make an ideal scenario for the movie I wanted to make.

Does any scene have any special meanings for you?

I don't want to spoil the film but there is a significant reveal towards the end of the film and it deal with loss. I wrote that scene from a personal experience with loss and the film is dedicated to that person for that reason.

Plan_Bee_Keepers

How in the world do you do every part of a movie by yourself???


MasonTheDirector

That's a question I asked myself when I started. Lol. I should clarify that I did have a lot of help from friends and family. The associate producer on the film, Nathan Goss, helped me with a lot of the prep work and prop work. My other friend, Jess Pouncy, also helped with set decorations. The music was largely done by my good friend from the band Supine Sea. So there was a lot of help.

But to answer your question directly, one bite at a time, as you go. The internet age has made learning so effortless. A lot of the technical details about how to light, how to edit, how to color, how to submit to festivals, and so on, is all on youtube. The amount of free teaching out there for people hungry to learn about cameras and all the technical bits is astounding. The hardest part is being motivated to do it all and putting in the time. That passion/insanity isn't something I know how to teach.

runnerofshadows

Having been inspired by blade runner - would you like to make a cyberpunk or neo-noir film at some point?


MasonTheDirector

Are you kidding? ! CD PROJEKT RED can call me anytime.

Adil_Kiyani

I'm 23 and I've recently graduated from college, I wanted to go to film school but my parents forced me to acquire a conventional education. I've wanted to make movies since I was 15 but I don't know the first thing about the process or editing or even the various intricacies of camera angles and operations. I'm currently working and saving up so I can go to film school now because I'm still determined to not give up on my one and only passion. Do you have any advice that I could use? What should I do to start out? I haven't really directed anything before but I really want to start writing and shooting little shorts for basic experience. Would love you get some guidance.


MasonTheDirector
  1. Go to film school to meet people, not for the classes. The classes are important and all but you're going to get the most value out of that piece of paper by being friends with movie folks. They're the ones that will work with you for half their normal pay and recommend you for things here and there. Be friendly, be social, and connect with everyone you meet.
  2. Don't take out a student loan. You're never going to get rid of that debt and it follows you everywhere. Save, work while going to school, and look at scholarships. But don't take loans.
  3. One of your teachers is going to try and make you watch Irréversible. Skip that day.
pe8ter

What's your cut if I buy the movie on iTunes?


MasonTheDirector

That's tough to say without getting my first royalty statement, which will come every 3 months, because I think all the companies take a different cut. But it's somewhere north of 60%, I believe, after all the dogs get their share of the bowl. lol Once big benefit of being the only producer, financier, and risk holder, is that I get all the profits. Much risked, much rewarded.

Jao_R

How hard was it to secure the loan? And were you super thrifty with it or did you go ham on equipment?

Btw, trailer is not available in my country.


MasonTheDirector

A CONSIDERABLE amount of time was spent making a budget. I sat down and spent WEEKS doing the pros and cons of this camera vs this camera. What I would need for camera X over camera Y. A lot of sacrifices were made and a lot of technical hoops had to be jumped through. Half the budget went into building a computer powerful enough to edit and store all the massive data I would be creating. By the time I showed up for the loan, I pretty much knew down to the penny what I would need to make the movie get rolling. A big benefit to owning everything was that I could shoot when and where I wanted with no external pressures. The downside was that I didn't have any budget really for anything else, lol. It took awhile to slowly get the funds to pay for music and SFX work.

Give that link a try: https://vimeo.com/260873484

Nowado

I'm guessing you met a lot of people trying to 'make it' on the way.

How many of those who you met failed, how many succeeded? What's the success rate like?


MasonTheDirector

That's a hard things to answer because the terms "failed" and "succeeded" are so relative. If someone works every day doing something they love but never wins an Oscar, did they "fail"? I know a lot of people that were chasing their dreams and STOPPED. I know a lot of people that did this. More than half. But that's different. And there is no shame in that either. Life is what you make it.

Bill Burr might have the best advice on this.

zT1TzbaT

How was your experience trying to get a distributor?


MasonTheDirector

Well, first, I got a sale's agent. Mine contacted me after I was in the ATLFF but plenty will look at your film if you proactively message them. He/she is a kind of a film distro middle man/woman. They knows all the distributors and shops your film around to all of them. They gets a small percentage of the final deal. I had around 10 distributors interested in the film, but a lot of them weren't a great fit or were only interesting in domestic rights or what have you. I finally settle on one and they've been very polite to me.

GETTING the film ready for delivery is another story. It's a LOT of work to get together all the paperwork, the E & O insurance, the legal clearance, the documentation, the file formatting, the file delivery, the crediting, and so on. It took months just to have the film ready to delivery to the distributor.

Vrezhg

Love the camera work leading up to collapse, really cool angles and eerie without sound.

Can you post a part of the screenplay up? I was writing one a long time ago and got some feedback that it was too detailed and would be better as a book.

Curious to see how much of the story is written in detail by you and how much of it is left up to the interpretation of the director during filming.


MasonTheDirector

I would LOVE to...but I'm not going to because that would be the OPPOSITE of what you need, lol. I wrote Lamp Light literally for ME. Just me. I knew I was going to be shooting it and acting in it so a lot of the script is VERY wordy and overly detailed so that I could remind future me what I was going for. Showing you the script of Lamp Light to help you figure out what you shouldn't do is like going to Charlie Sheen for sobriety tips.

Jablu345

it's a good film, although anguishing for my mild claustrophobia

When you choose the plot of your movie is your narrative influenced by any particular writers Say I wanted to film a Medieval story so I read up on H A Culley. Or I want to make a Catch 22 type movie and read up on the Inspector Gadget and David Copperfield books. Or a Sci fi and I read up on Alan Watts and Michio Kaku for example?


MasonTheDirector

Thanks!

I'll be honest, I didn't really do that from a literary perspective. I did do it from a film perspective though. I read scripts for films that invoked the kind of isolation and dread that I was going for. I would say that Moon and One Hour Photo were probably the biggest influences when I was writing Lamp Light. People always mention 127 Hours when they here the premise of the film, but I'm not a huge fan of it. Please don't tell Danny Boyle.

joepaolella7

I'm an aspiring filmmaker myself and it's my dream to have a film of mine screen at a major festival. Do you have any advice for people aspiring to do this? What were some of the difficulties you encountered and what was the most disheartening thing you experienced? Added your film to my watchlist!


MasonTheDirector

Do you have any advice for people aspiring to do this?

  1. Don't do it unless you want it more than anything. Because it's a thankless job that will have you constantly discouraged. Take the amount of work you think it will be to make your movie, and multiply it by a factor of 20. That's what the actual work will be like. The amount of work that goes into making a movie is insane and, looking back, I have NO idea how I did other than "I wanted more than anything in this world".
  2. Even if you're on a PC and hate Apple, do the editing and all the digital work with Apple. It will make your life SO much easier when you have the finished product.

What were some of the difficulties you encountered and what was the most disheartening thing you experienced?

  1. Finding time. I could only really shoot after my day job and after my kid (later kids) were asleep. Or I had to take off work to do an especially complicated/timely scene. The main reason the film took 5 years to shoot was just because I didn't have the time to shoot. A few hours here, a few hours there, so on.
  2. File /software issues at the end of shooting. There are a lot of technical specifications that have to be met to deliver your film to the distributor. I ran into a lot of issues with getting the film ready to go because of (as previously mentioned) the whole PC to Apple/ProRes/Multiple editing software issues thing. I essentially had to convert the film three different times across two different editing suites to get it ready to be delivered. Once again, don't fight Apple. lol.

Added your film to my watchlist!

I <3 You

[deleted]

[removed]


MasonTheDirector

If you live in a film town, check out the local casting calls for extras. It's not really "acting" so anyone can do it and it doesn't take a lot of time so it's def something that can be done as a hobby. I have friends that pretty much only do Extra work and they have some really fun stories to tell.

ChiChiChicharonnnnne
  1. The trailer was awesome.

  2. You seem like a really legit dude.

  3. Did anything in your personal life inspire this film? It feels very authentic from the trailer.


MasonTheDirector
  1. Thanks! Flattery will get you everywhere.
  2. I am indeed. And, often to my detriment, far too legit to quit.
  3. MANY, MANY, MANY things. My loss of faith growing up, my own self loathing with a dead end job, and even how I personally use humor to cope with stress is in the film. It's a DEEPLY personal film and very little of the main character is wholly fictitious. People can smell fake from a mile away. I knew that if I made a film, it had to be honest. It had to have a heavy dose of reality in order for people to buy what I was selling.
unpill

what youtube channels do you recommend for learning the technical side of filming?


MasonTheDirector

That's a great question! Red Letter Media on YouTube is the sharpest, most independent, most sincere movie analysis on the internet today. It's funny, biting, and honest in a way you rarely see on the internet. They should be watched 24/7 for film criticism and analysis.

throwawaybutforchang

From that description, I know what I’m watching today! For my question, what’s next now that you’ve made it?


MasonTheDirector

I kind of answered this in another question so I'll quote it and say that I would LOVE to keep making films but only time will tell if that can happen.

My writing partner and I have a WWII horror film we've written up on The Black List called The Industry of Crows that we'd LOVE to get made but we'll have to see how Lamp Light sells before that can even be entertained. Time will tell.

NoahTheAnimator

How do you feel about piracy?


MasonTheDirector

I'm torn. The truth is, it's not black and white.

Growing up, my mom didn't have a two dimes to give me to go see a movie. So I pirated many films. At the end of the day, I was stealing the chance to look at art. I wasn't stealing bread or heart medicine. Now that I'm older and have an "adult job" I don't pirate a thing because I know I'm voting with my dollars. If I give my money to unique films with interesting voices, MORE films like that will be made. MORE art gets made and I want to support that. If everyone that sees this post buys my movie, I'll be able to make more movies because they voted with their dollars.

Now, if some poor kid that doesn't have the cash but wants to see my movie decides to steal a look at my art, I can't be angry. He just wants to be in on what I made and, in this impulse driven digital era, that means a lot.

thetachi117

Congrats on the film! I'll have to see it whrn I get off.

When's the next project? Also, need a gaffer? I could send you my lighting package lol.


MasonTheDirector

Listen here, Weinstein. I know it's you. I fell for that whole "send you my lighting package" line ONCE already and I won't do it again.

As for the next project, I'll quote a previous answer.

My writing partner and I have a WWII horror film we've written up on The Black List called The Industry of Crows that we'd LOVE to get made but we'll have to see how Lamp Light sells before that can even be entertained. Time will tell.

DocsDelorean

how did you get money to make a movie?


MasonTheDirector

I took out a small personal loan with a local bank of $10k, using my car as collateral. Over the film's 5 years of production, I spent around another $5k in disposable income on miscellaneous services and bits of equipment.


MasonTheDirector

Sure is. Thanks for reminding me that I need to update that! lol.

PolishBearSneeze

I'm writing screen plays for fun

To get my creative juices flowing

Do you have any advice on writing a coherant script?

Also, do two dozen people a day now ask you to look at there's ?


MasonTheDirector

To get my creative juices flowing

Get in a car and drive. No music. Just drive. No destinations. The Farley Brothers gave this advice once and I've found it to be completely true. Your mind starts to wander and you ask yourself questions that just wouldn't come about any other way.

Do you have any advice on writing a coherent script?

Distill what you want to say. Ask yourself, "why is this scene happening?". If you don't have an answer, then you need to rework the scene, need to rework the plot, or it just needs to be cut all together. Find out WHY that scene needs to happen and all the little bits will fall into place because you'll be motivating the characters.

puzzlefarmer

It’s on my Amazon watchlist now. Have you made any shorts?


MasonTheDirector

I have not. I figured if I was going to make something, I'd go all in on the first shot and prove that I could turn a profit to future investors. There isn't any money in shorts, sadly. I do like shorts though.

morphballganon

Wait, Tums come in industrial strength?


MasonTheDirector

Everything is industrial strength if you drain the bottle for long enough.

teamfeline

Cheers to you! I’m now at time of my life to begin focusing my energy to work on some short films. No experience yet. What’s a starter package you recommend?


MasonTheDirector
  • Watch every review Red Letter Media has ever done to get a firm grasps on what does and doesn't work in film structure.
  • Have something to say. Good, bad, or ugly. Just have SOMETHING to say. A point of view. A statement. If you're struggling to think of one, search your roots. Search what made you how you are. Search your pain and your joy.
  • Sound is important but it can be faked after the fact, focus on your image first. The actors, the performance, the lighting.
  • Kony 2012
RanchCornNutsYes

Hi Mason!

This sort of project is something I’ve been looking to do at some point in my life - what type of equipment and editing tools were absolutely required for a good product?

Thanks for sharing!


MasonTheDirector

I used DaVinci Resolve for all the editing, coloring, and audio. It's a VERY powerful tool, largely free for everyone off the bat, and completely free if you buy a Black Magic Cinema Camera. Be warned though, it does not have ProRes support so if you want to do movie stuff, it wouldn't be great. Not at this time. I ran into a lot of problems. If you plan on doing internet content, it's amazing.

EnderAurora3

What got you to believe in yourself even if your dream at some times seemed crazy and unrealistic?


MasonTheDirector

Here's the thing. You got one shot at life. One. Even if you believe in an afterlife, it's AFTER life. So you have to live. Live as big as you can. The fear of death is a hell of a motivator.

NoahTheAnimator

Another question I have, how did you create the story and screenplay? Did you just jump right into the screenplay, or did you have a plot outline written first? Did you have any problems where the story wasn't long enough, and if so, how did you solve them?


MasonTheDirector

Yes! I had an outline at first to help me figure out how the film was going to look. It's funny how different types of art kind of all have common traits. When you're sculpting a miniature or a maquette out of monster clay, you often start with a wire skeleton to give you the support you need and the boundaries for what you plan to sculpt. It was the same with script writing. I had a 2 or 3 page outline that quickly grew to a 7 or 8 page outline as I kept thinking of interesting ideas while driving to work or driving to school. The more you believe in your idea, the more your brain will race around it.

I didn't have a problem with story length. I THOUGHT I might when I wrote the script and ended up with about 89 pages. I had never really written a script before but followed proper formatting and stuck to the advice that "every page is roughly a minute of film" . But it turned out that when I started filming, I had to TRIM a lot. Because I was either tweaking stuff or taking more time to establish mood or being inspired to follow a different line of dialogue and what not. Like I said, when you're SUPER into your story, your head will swell with ideas and avenues to go down. The trick is deciding which to ignore and which to follow.

[deleted]

Did you ever feel like you were “too old” to make a movie?

I relate to what you said about film school - I studied art and writing bc I wanted to make comics. Then I fell in and out of teaching and now I’m wondering if I should get back into drawing.

Is it ever too late?

Thank you for your time.


MasonTheDirector

I did think that at times, but then I remembered that there are people like Rodney Dangerfield, Alan Rickman, and Bea Arthur who also started in show biz way later in life than I did.

NeilMcGuiness91

Huge congrats my man, on making the film! I'm 27 and me and my buddy just shot our first short that we've been dreaming about for two years.

What specific YouTube resources would you point to in order to collate your own film school? There are so many channels and so much content it's hard for beginners to discern quality stuff. Any channels you can point to?

Thanks again for the AMA


MasonTheDirector

For film analysis, criticism, and understanding what to do and what NOT to do with film, watch all the "Half in the Bag" series from Red Letter Media. Their grasp of film and what works in narrative is pitch perfect and fair handed. And also fucking hilarious.

Every Frame a Painting is insanely good at helping you understand film theory, why things are done the way they are, and why the masters are considered masters.

For the technical how to and why, Aputure doesn't get enough love. They'll teach you a lot about cinematography. Their Roger Deakins episode is worth a sub for that alone.

officialratman

What is one piece of advice you would give someone on making their way into the film industry? PS looking forward tie watching your film!


MasonTheDirector

Make sure that you love it. You have to love it more than anything else. Because there are a thousand other people who may love it more than you do, so if you're not 100% committed, then there's no point in even trying.

ThatOneLine

How do you find a fitting end to your narratives?


MasonTheDirector

Goddamn. That's a heavy question. It depends on a hundred things.

  1. Start with this. Ask yourself what does the character deserve? Has your character been through hell and deserves a proper ending? Is he bad antihero type person that deserves a bitter sweet death? What does that character deserve to get in your story?
  2. Got that in your head? Ok. Now, what kind of world is your film? Is is a dirty and depressing place where the bad guy gets away and the good guy dies? Because if it is, it doesn't matter what the good guy DESERVES, he's going to get the reality you created.
  3. Finally, what does the audience deserve? If we've been through an epic journey, we the audience deserve an epic ending! If we've been drug through hell in your story, we deserve catharsis and redemption for being dragged through the world you made. If you've made a Michael Bay movie, we deserve aspirin for the visual onslaught we suffered. Give the audience the ending they deserve.
lawpoop

How did you know that this idea was the one to go all-in on?

Did you adapt your story to make it filmable/accomplishable, given your situation?


MasonTheDirector

Great question!

I had many ideas but Lamp Light was the best one that fit the limitations. I would have LOVED to film the space opera I have in my head but it would have just been silly of me to try and make that the way I did Lamp Light. I would have never even gotten to day one of filming. Being real with yourself about what you can and can't do will save you a lot of heartache later down the road. In filming and in life.

It becomes an interesting game to write and shoot within your limitations. It causes you to be crafty, to be slick, and lean. You come up with idea you would have never thought of if you had just a pile of money to make your problem go away. A LOT of the script was altered due to time and budget. MOST of the time, it was to the movies benefit. It's hard to have a lot of unnecessary fat on the film when you're starving, lol.

AllyGambit

What inspired your creativity with the sharpee sequences?

I enjoyed those scenes a lot


MasonTheDirector

Interestingly, this was born out of very real boredom. While writing the film, I wanted to kind of get into the mindset of someone stuck in a car. Luckily, this is SUPER easy to simulate. You just go to the garage...and sit in your car. I did this a few times and after about 30 minutes, I started doodling on my note pad. Eventually it kind of hit me that it could be an interesting character moment to have Don doodle. It could also show the passage of time as the car fills up with doodles. It was originally going to be an ongoing shtick that he would be doodling but then it got kind of trimmed down and compressed.

There are a lot of funny easter eggs in those doodles. My friend Jess Pouncy helped set dec the car and we had a blast filling it with references from Red Letter Media, Silence of the Lambs, and a bunch of other things. Took about half a box of sharpies.

DnyLnd

Have you seen Buried, featuring Ryan Renolds? Basically the same concept, but he's trapped in a casket.

Any inspiration/influence from that film?


MasonTheDirector

I haven't! And that was VERY intentional. I heard about buried at some point in the VERY early stages of me thinking about Lamp Light. I hadn't even had a rough idea of what I wanted to exactly do yet, just the direction. I knew that Buried was a smaller film set in a restricted location and I intentionally avoided it so that I wouldn't accidentally contaminate my film with anything from it. Or have my decisions influenced by decision in that movie.

It's the same reason I don't read reviews for movies I inherently want to see until AFTER I've seen the movie. The reviewer may see something or dislike something I might never have noticed and it taints my initial feelings of the film.

Was it good?

ingrownnail

Glad and proud. Maybe let us see the trailer for free and then pay to see the film? Would love to see the trailer and it might get me to pay to watch the film


MasonTheDirector

The trailer is free on youtube and linked in the body of the post. But I don't mind linking you personally because that's the kind of stand up fella I am. :)

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=2SHp6cAxdVM

unbirthdayhatter

Super excited to see you on here! That said, I was wondering if your intent would be to also direct your WWII film? Would you always want to do everything yourself or is it something of necessity? If you had yo cut back yo just doing one or two things what would you pick? Also, on that token, how did it feel to direct yourself?


MasonTheDirector

All great questions!

I was wondering if your intent would be to also direct your WWII film?

I would LOVE that and I'm FULL of idea about how I'd go about it but I think the script is SUPER strong and good enough to be sold to someone else. I'd just be happy to see those character made into a reality.

Would you always want to do everything yourself or is it something of necessity?

Largely necessity. I LOVE directing and editing. But I would really like to see what other people could bring to the table. A director is USUALLY the captain of a ship filled with expert sailors. Each the master of their own domain and a unique mind filled with talent but ultimately reporting/looking to the captain for the when, where, how, and why to act. That wasn't Lamp Light. I was one man sailing a dingy and doing everything I could to make it to shore, lol. I'd love to see and work with people that were just as driven and excited as I am to make movies. Also, FUCK coloring. That shit is hard and frustrating. God bless the colorists.

If you had to cut back to just doing one or two things what would you pick?
Directing/Editing

Also, on that token, how did it feel to direct yourself?

I was a REAL diva. lol. Look, I'm NOT an actor. If you put a gun to my head and said "act", I'd be dead after the first word. What I am is a director. And a director can look at a scene and say "this isn't authentic. This feel fake or forced." So, I said that a LOT about myself. If I was on a real set of a real movie, I would have fired myself on the first day. BUT, the only thing that saved me from being recast was that I was doing EVERYTHING. So, that meant I only had my time to waste. I'd do 20 takes of even the simplest shot and after you do something 20 times, USUALLY one of them feels real (even then, sometimes not and I'd have to go back the next day and try again). Anyone can look like a good actor if you give them a hundred attempts at saying a line. ONE is going to work. lol

For the really emotional stuff, I had to tap into real emotional pain which isn't easy to do sometimes. You have to rip open old wounds to find that very real sadness. It wasn't that hard for me because a lot of the saddest stuff in Lamp Light is based around very real things that have happened in my life.

Skoot99

Have you seen Bowfinger?

if not, I hope you watch it, as I think you’re likely the person who’s going to enjoy it the most...on the entire planet.


MasonTheDirector

You know, I was going to rent it at one point around the time Pluto Nash came out but then I just kinda lumped them together into a mental block of "Eddie Murphy Makes Shit Movies Now" and just never revisited it. Might have to finally check it out. Thanks!

Theunlikelyasian

What did you have to sacrifice to get to this point?


MasonTheDirector

Um...7ish total years of my life, around $15k, a full years worth of vacation days, a few scars on my arms and legs from where the jagged metal cut me up during filming, at least a year or two off my life from the diet, countless sleepless nights, and one Honda Civic.

FootballVenom

isn't there already a korean movie called tunnel exactly like this?


MasonTheDirector

A similar idea. It came out 3 years AFTER I released the first poster for my film. It's not uncommon.

AHCretin

What's it like to have a dream that can usefully be chased?


MasonTheDirector

Well, I have yet to see the sales figures so I'll let you know as soon as those come back because at the moment it still isn't "useful" :p

SaintPoost

Mostly unrelated to your story (Congratulations, by the way! How exciting!), do you mind sharing how you lost 45 pounds in two months? I'm just recently starting to diet and could use some general advice. I'm 180ish, or was, last I weighed myself a few days ago. Trying to get down 30 pounds.

Cheers!


MasonTheDirector

From a previous answer :)

I wanted it done as soon as possible as I was sort of reaching a deadline with myself and my family over the ending of filming. I wanted it wrapped so we could sell our current house and move. That meant losing the weight fast and unhealthy.

I don't like exercise because I'm a shitty person so everything I did was around diet. I ate 300 calories of pure protein every day with a multivitamin. That usually meant some chicken (Boars Head Teriyaki is great!) with mustard and a pickle for dinner. That's it. I lost roughly a pound a day. I had a couple days where I cheated but I mostly stuck to it. I wish I could have lost even MORE weight for the film but I was running out of time.

I know what I did was super unhealthy and don't recommend it, but I don't smoke or drink so I figure that would balance it out in terms of "things that took years off my life". lol

ChonkPolice

Why did you spoil the film in your summary?


MasonTheDirector

Shit. Did I accidentally leave in the part about being Luke's father??????

martusfine

How did you lose 45 pounds in two months!? 🧐


MasonTheDirector

From a previous answer :)

Painfully. lol. I wanted it done as soon as possible as I was sort of reaching a deadline with myself and my family over the ending of filming. I wanted it wrapped so we could sell out current house and move. That meant losing the weight fast and unhealthy.

I don't like exercise because I'm a shitty person so everything I did was around diet. I ate 300 calories of pure protein every day with a multivitamin. That usually meant some chicken (Boars Head Teriyaki is great!) with mustard and a pickle for dinner. That's it. I lost roughly a pound a day. I had a couple days where I cheated but I mostly stuck to it. I wish I could have lost even MORE weight for the film but I was running out of time.

I know what I did was super unhealthy and don't recommend it, but I don't smoke or drink so I figure that would balance it out in terms of "things that took years off my life". lol

[deleted]

What was the most challenging aspect?


MasonTheDirector

I'll quote a similar answer in a previous question :)

The self doubt. Every night when you go to bed, every day when you press record on the camera, every time you edit a scene, you can't help but think you're wasting your time. You feel in your gut that no one will like it or will care. You tell yourself that what you're doing isn't going to mean anything. There is this constant nagging feeling that everyone is internally mocking you when you tell them what you're doing. It's a black cloud that follows you around.

With all of it, you just have to fight the demons. Every...fucking...time. You have to keep pushing because if you don't try, you'll never know if you could have made your dream work. I think that's common with anyone following some great hope of theirs.

nilbog420

Is cool cats a reference to kindergarten?


MasonTheDirector

Sponge Bob taught me that anything is possible with imagination.

donniedrano

How long did it take you to write the script? What was that process like for you?


proanti

What’s your opinion of filming and editing on a smartphone?


MasonTheDirector

This screenshot of the editing timeline for the film was taken when I was HALFWAY done with editing. Each little square/sliver represents a unique shot. Reminder, this is only HALF the film. If someone can do that on their phone, I am in awe.

Now, if you're just editing the porn you recorded with your significant other, then phone editors are way superior to DaVinic Resolve for ease of use.

MontaEllaHaveItAll

Your film is several years old and had multiple 'premiers'. Why did you take some cheap equipment out and remake the Korean film 'Tunnel' immediately after seeing it in 2016, without crediting it?


MasonTheDirector

Hmmm. Interesting question. I have a better one. Why would a Korean film company go to a small time filmmaker's Facebook page and steal his idea to release it in Korea three years after the first teaser poster? The world may never have the answer to these questions, My Friend.
https://imgur.com/DrfhM3t

Imbeefy

Oh look another ad. How many extra accounts did you make to ask yourself questions?


MasonTheDirector

Username checks out. There is much beef with you. But, the overwhelming majority of questions are coming from old and seasoned accounts so rest easy, your cynicism is not warranted today. :)

nwkegan

How do you feel about that new Cats movie?


MasonTheDirector

Better than the Sonic movie.

chugonthis

Atlanta has a film festival?


MasonTheDirector

Yup. And it's one of the only 26 film festivals in the world that can qualify you for an Oscar nomination.
https://www.moviemaker.com/articles-festivals/oscar-qualifying-film-festivals-20090506/

GoochyGroup

Are you disappointed that the film only has distribution on streaming services or were you expecting that? Do you have hopes of making a film which gets a theatrical release or are you indifferent? Do you hold the movie-theater-going experience in any high regard? As the lines between cinema and television have become blurred, what do you think will be the future of movies and movie theaters, will they survive, and is it important that they do?


MasonTheDirector

Are you disappointed that the film only has distribution on streaming services or were you expecting that?

I was a little disappointed but I wasn't surprised. The reality is, I'm a nobody in the industry. You can't really put a nobody into theaters. A small art-house run would have been nice but it didn't happen. Such is life.

Do you have hopes of making a film which gets a theatrical release or are you indifferent?

If I'm able to make another movie with a real budget, I'll be happy. Doesn't matter the end result.

Do you hold the movie-theater-going experience in any high regard?

Yes and no. While the silver screen is a more immersive and classic experience, the price and annoyance of other people coughing and sneezing the whole time has started to really become prohibitive. Don't even get me started on the whole "restaurant movie theater" thing. You can't enjoy the subtly and craft of a movie if you're looking down at your chicken fingers, ya know? I went once and missed a couple of lines of dialogue because I was looking for my ketchup and realized that the experience is more for movies you've seen a hundred times, lol.

As the lines between cinema and television have become blurred, what do you think will be the future of movies and movie theaters, will they survive, and is it important that they do?

I see a day, and maybe not crazy far away, where a narrative in VR becomes a thing. Sitting in a war movie as the characters talk in the trenches and so on. I don't see theaters ever going FULLY away anytime soon because there will always been a desire for a flat image that our eyes can take in all at one time. So traditional movies still have a LOT of life in them. Much in the same way books are still around, some people will always prefer the square directly in front of them for their product consumption. Maybe in a hundred years, they'll be looking at that flat image via a display contact lens instead of a cell phone, but still.

GoochyGroup

Why on IMDb does it say your film was released in 2016?


MasonTheDirector

That's when it was completed. It then spent a year and a half sent to festivals and more time being shopped with distributors and prepared for distribution.

5ilverMaples

Every single question huh? Do you also bamboozle?


MasonTheDirector

Go through the questions. You'll see that it's no bamboozle, mon Frère. :)

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