Zombie Film Director Daniel Lee White
Friday, October 28, 2011
GoLocal wanted to learn more about this multi-talented up-and-coming filmmaker.
How did you go from creating homemade short films in your youth to your first feature length film?
It has been a fun journey moving through each process to create bigger and better projects. No matter how hard and professional it gets, it is still work I am passionate about and love. It was nice to do a ton of short films and try everything I have ever wanted to try. It was nice to be able to experiment then instead of on a big feature. I learned my mistakes and improved, while also meeting and working with great and talented people. Now while I was doing this as a feature I felt more prepared for the process and supported by the friends I have made over the years. Because of these great people that have become part of the “family”, I worked very hard to get every one of them into the film in some way. We had 190 people in this movie and got all but three people we have worked with into the film.
In addition to directing, you've acted in a dozen movies; do you prefer one or the other?
I always prefer to direct, however I feel that every great director should know how to act. Acting is great fun and I have a blast, but it gives me a chance to really make sure how an actor works. I also get to work with some great talent and while I am on set, I am also looking around. I get to find which actors are good to work with and which ones are full of themselves. I like to work with only good people, so acting on set and sitting quietly off to the side, I can see who are fun to work with and who never to call for professional work. So acting in projects has become very resourceful.
Well, in my defense, my acting role can be chalked up to extra/stuntman. It was a stunt I did not feel comfortable with any other actor doing, so I did it myself, because it was my film and if I got hurt, that was my problem. So it was very little acting for me. As for the rest, I guess when you really care passionately about a project, you get involved in every aspect possible. It kills your personal life and I had little time to work on other projects, including money-making ones. It was exhausting, but it needed to get done. Luckily I had great people around me to help me with all of these responsibilities and support me to getting them done.
I had the idea for a number of years, and then after watching Shawn of the Dead when it came to the final 10 minutes of the film, and the zombies had jobs, I saw that and that’s when the idea seemed to take focus. I love comedy, which is why I started Bring Your Own Improv; so getting to do a romantic comedy that happened to include zombies was a blast of an idea. I also use the film to address, but not choose a side, on some social issues in the film. For instance, there are some humans that complain that zombies are taking all of their jobs (Immigration). So it offered a lot of opportunities that allowed us to make so much social commentary.
Do you have a favorite zombie film?
I LOVE Shawn of the Dead, but do enjoy some of the old classics like Night of the Living Dead and Dawn of the Dead (the originals, not the remakes). I made references in my film to other zombie movies, but you have to be a big fan of them to catch it.
Can you tell me a little about your experience teaching youth acting lessons for the New England Performing Arts Program and filmmaking to kids in Woonsocket?
I think kids are great! I even have a couple of talented child actors in the film. When you're a kid, you can still access the “play” part of your brain. This is all that acting really is. It is playing, like when you played war or house as a kid. It is just now we do it professionally. When working with kids and getting them to have fun while learning, that is a blast. I teach them art and theater skills while also showing them how those skills can be used in regular life too. My kids are great and a ton of fun to work with.
What advice would you give to any aspiring actors or filmmakers?
Just do it, as much as you can and anywhere you can. Don’t look down on anyone, be willing to help anyone and if they are worth working with, they will help you in return. And always be a good person on any set. You never know who is around you and what they really do. The next big producer and director may be an extra on a film you’re working on. You want to leave everyone with a good impression. I always grab good people off other sets to work with, and I have a list of people I will never work with just because of the way they treated someone below them on set.
Watch the trailer. For upcoming screenings and more info, check it out, here.
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