As part of the upcoming ‘One Hundred Mornings’ run at the Downtown Independent in Los Angeles, Cinema Speakeasy, CineFist, Downtown Independent Theatre, and Slamdance Film Festival have come together with the WorkBook Project to jointly curate a short film program to highlight new independent directors. What follows is the last of six director profiles.
No stranger to hard work, and with a clear sense of determination, Tim is of the new generation of filmmakers reared on accessible technologies and everpresent distribution outlets, a generation that would see a felled tree blocking an icy one-lane mountain road simply as an opportunity to break out the 4 wheel drive.
Case in point: When he realized he would never be able to afford film school, Tim set about finding a rigorous learning strategy, regardless. He offered his services for free, and was taken up on it by the city’s producers. Net result? He learned every aspect of filmmaking through the school of hard knocks- and perhaps gained an equally effective education, to boot.
Indeed, Tim seems to actually embrace the no-budget-no-problem approach endemic in independent film, theorizing that a dedicated crew is worth the same, perhaps more, than a stack of cash. As he puts it:
“Listen to any filmmaker and you’ll quickly learn how time consuming, meticulous and painful the process can be and I think one of the best things you can do is take the time to assemble a group of talented people that can all help move projects along. That’s why I was lucky to meet Mark Johnson and Luis Sinibaldi, through which we’ve founded the company Fat Monster Films. We continually work with a tight group of film makers who work for next to nothing, sleep on our floors and don’t bitch when we forget they’re vegetarians…This, I think is the key to getting shit done.”
One begins to see his latest directorial foray, ‘O2′, as a big fat metaphor for Tim’s life, and for filmmaking in general: In deep space with a crippled oxygen supply, a three person crew grapples with the notion that life support will only allow two to survive the trip to a neighboring freighter.
Were Tim one of those three people, I’m pretty sure he’d find a solution.
We caught up with Tim for a little Q&A in anticipation of O2’s upcoming screening in support of WorkBook Project Discovery and Distribution Award Winner ‘One Hundred Mornings’.
What are the biggest issues you’ve faced, as a filmmaker?
In this town I think it’s probably somewhat common to have a sort of epiphany (in my case it occurred around the 16th or 17th time I found myself working on a screenplay in a coffeeshop when I recognized most of the people around me were also working on their own scripts.) It all comes into focus as to just how difficult the road stretching ahead is and how, for most of us, moving forward is going to require a lot more work and having to borrow money from family and friends to get anything done. It is a bit scary jumping into an endeavor with such a negative return factor, but there’s no real choice to be made for many of us. We do it because we’d rather eat Top Ramen, smoke “re-lights” (the part of the cigarette left over after it’s owner tossed it to the ground), and subject ourselves to uncountable ignonomies just to stay on “the ride.”
How do you typically distribute your short films? What has worked, for you?
We are currently looking at all the different routes (many that are still emerging on the net). With all the different models available today, you just have to figure out what makes sense for the particular project at hand. Unfortunately our pace is so frenetic that we often move on from a given project before giving it a proper run anywhere. We’re changing that now, though, in part due to the mentoring of our good friend, Zak Forsman at Sabi pictures, who has been slowly educating us on the subject.
How do you define success as a filmmaker?
If you’re going to be making films you had better be unflinching, determined, self aware, passionate, etc. etc. …. the list goes on and on. That being said, I think too many filmmakers actually believe they’re saving babies or something. It only takes getting stuck in a few conversations with these elitists [to make] you think “Jesus Christ, man, it’s a fuckin’ movie!!!” Don’t get me wrong, if you’re going to make a film and you want it to be of any quality you have to treat it as if it’s the most serious thing in the world at the time (especially if there is other people’s money involved.) But when it’s all said and done, we’re here to entertain people, hopefully in a way that can add a bit of something to their life and if we can get a few bucks in the bank while doing it…That’s success in my opinion.
CineFist & WorkBook Project present:
Directed by Tim Hyten
Written by Mark A. Johnson and Jack Daniel Stanley
Produced by Mark A. Johnson and Luis Sinibaldi, with Barry Green and Blaine Golden
Wednesday 22 September
7:30 and 9:30
Followed by the WorkBook Project Discovery and Distribution Award winner ‘One Hundred Mornings’.
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