Last Updated on Saturday, 17 October 2009 14:17 Posted by Clash Saturday, 17 October 2009 08:53
Interview courtesy of Christian-Movie.com
Josh and Jeremiah began making movies together when they were kids. Using a relative’s borrowed VHS video camera, the two brothers made their first film, a remake of Back to the Future, at the ages of 11 and 8 respectively. What started as a fun way to spend their summer breaks eventually developed into
a passion for telling stories and creating films that take audiences on adventures. Dangerous Calling is their first feature film, though the brothers have directed 20+ short films over the years.
Josh has a Computer Science degree from Georgia Tech and currently lives in Atlanta, GA with his wife Becca, and their soon to be 1 year old, Grant. Jeremiah has a Film degree from Georgia State and currently lives in Burbank, CA, where he is living the dream.
Christian-Movie.com: Obviously the creation of a feature-length film of any genre is a massive undertaking that shouldn’t be approached lackadaisically. What inspired the creation of Dangerous Calling and what made you decide, "We have to do this"?
Josh Daws: It was actually one of those "blessing in disguise" situations that made us decide to do our first feature. We had been doing a lot of video production work for a large client, but in January 2007 they decided they were going to be doing most of it in-house. It was a tough blow at the time, but looking back it was the best thing that could have happened.
We suddenly had our entire year freed up, and decided it was time to make a feature. We began writing the script in February and were shooting in June. It all happened incredibly fast.
Jeremiah Daws: We didn't set out to make a "Christian Film." Our initial goal was to make an ultra low-budget indie thriller, using actors and locations we knew we had available for free. We had access to the lodge and figured we'd just do a small confined thriller set entirely there.
It was pretty generic, until one day the idea hit us to write the film based on all the church politics we'd observed over the years. They say "write what you know," and so that's what we did. The theme or "message" sort of developed organically in the writing. We were just focused on writing a story that was exciting and entertaining.
Christian-Movie.com: What is the most meaningful comment anyone has made to you about Dangerous Calling?
Jeremiah Daws: We've had youth pastors thank us for making this movie because it conveys their frustration to the church at large, and also encourages them to persevere in the face of silly church political struggles. That’s really special. We’ve gotten similar responses from pastors and support staff all across the country.
Josh Daws: We've also gotten some great responses from people outside the church. It’s really good to know that Dangerous Calling didn’t feel preachy to them.
Christian-Movie.com: What was the casting process for Dangerous Calling – where did you find your main actors?
Jeremiah Daws: We had done a lot of video work and short films for a large church in Atlanta. Through this we met many great actors; we had worked with three of the leads in the film before. We only had to cast a few actors we hadn’t worked with – the most important of whom was Jackie Prucha, who played Miss Pat. She was actually the only person who read for the role and was perfect.
Christian-Movie.com: Which camera was used for the filming of the movie? Did you use any technical elements for the first time that really made a difference?
Josh Daws: We used the Panasonic HVX-200 with a prime lens kit. This was the first time we shot in HD. It was also the first time we shot without tapes. Digital files were great for the most part, but we did lose a half-day of shooting, due to an error copying the files off the camera. That was another blessing in disguise. We weren't happy with how we directed it the first time, so it wasn't too devastating when we realized we'd have to reshoot that scene.
Christian-Movie.com: How was the experience of negotiating a distribution deal with Cloud Ten Pictures? How long was the process and what was involved?
Josh Daws: We've had a great experience with Cloud Ten so far. I guess the process took a couple of months. It involved a lot of boring lawyer stuff.
Jeremiah Daws: The business side of filmmaking is a whole new animal for us.
Christian-Movie.com: In general, are there any concessions that filmmakers should be prepared to make if they want their film to be picked up by one of the larger distribution companies?
Jeremiah Daws: Distribution is a very good thing. I'm finding that to be true as I'm networking out here in California. It opens doors regardless of how large or small the distribution deal, or how much money you got paid. In the current market, indie films aren't being picked up as frequently as they once were, and it's for less money when they are picked up. Just getting a deal is great.
So yes, there are going to be a LOT of concessions you'll have to make to get your deal. From the start, the goal shouldn't be to get loads of money. Distribution on your first film is all about opportunities that could help you with your next film. We're hoping that having this deal will open the next set of doors for us.
Christian-Movie.com: In your opinion, are there any rights that should not be given up, or concessions that should not be made?
Jeremiah Daws: That's hard to say. It's different for every filmmaker. I’d say the best thing to do is to be aware of what you have. We had no stars in our film, so we knew the chances of getting our film in theaters was not very likely. If we had held out for theatrical release, Dangerous Calling would probably never have gotten picked up.
Again, the point is to get your film out there and get distribution. The fact that some company had faith in your film and your ability speaks volumes to other "money people." It's about a career – not about this one film.
Christian-Movie.com: What was the most significant lesson that God taught you, from a personal standpoint, during the making of Dangerous Calling?
Josh Daws: God taught me to trust that he's working, even when it seems that he's not. There were so many times during production where we'd encounter a setback and we’d get all worked up wondering how we were ever going to finish. In every single case, I can look back and see how God was using those situations.
I was also reminded that it's not ultimately about our films and what we want to accomplish. God has his purposes and our job is to be yielded to Him. At one point during shooting, one of our hard drives crashed and my dad (a pastor) had to drive an atheist crew member into town to get it recovered. They ended up talking about faith for a couple of hours. We were worried about losing footage, but God had bigger things he was doing.
Jeremiah Daws: I can’t add anything to that.
Christian-Movie.com: What was the biggest hurdle that you faced during the filmmaking process, and how did you overcome it?
Jeremiah Daws: They all seem really big. No money. No time. An actor dropped out last minute. Scheduling conflicts. Fatigue. Cranky location owners. Bad weather. Technical problems. It’s a laundry list. We’ve both said that making this film was a dream come true and our worst nightmare at the same time. We overcame all of these issues by trusting God to lead us.
I had a notebook in my back pocket and any time a new problem arose, I'd pull out my notebook and write down the issue under the heading – "Stuff God needs to take care of." Basically, it was a way for me to mentally and physically give my problems to God. And by doing so, we saw Him come through every time. It was awesome. I wish I did the same thing with every problem and issue in my life.
Christian-Movie.com: In his review of Dangerous Calling, HOSFU CEO Eric Highland had a hard time coming up with areas to improve, which is high praise in and of itself. But because creative artists are usually the biggest critics of their own work, would you be willing to cast light on some of the areas that you think you could have improved?
Josh Daws: There are a few scenes that we'd love to have shot a little differently, but they don't seem to bother anyone else. We're actually very happy with the finished film.
Christian-Movie.com: What are the top three things you wish you had known before you started?
Josh Daws: I'm not sure about top three, but I wish we would have known to budget a lot more time for action scenes. We had never really shot full-on action like we have in Dangerous Calling. It requires so much more time to shoot than dialogue does. We were under the gun for the entire shoot because the action scenes took so long.
Jeremiah Daws: Using a prime lens adapter on the HVX 200 required a lot more lighting. That meant it took much more time to light the scene as well as more money for the actual lights. For what we paid for that setup, we probably could have shot on film – had we known. If we were shooting the film now, I’d definitely shoot on the RED camera. Next time.
Another thing that I wish I had known was the importance of letting someone else schedule the film. I was in charge of that and it nearly killed me. It's never a good idea to direct a scene, knowing how far behind you are getting. You are tempted to sacrifice quality in order to get back on schedule. Thankfully, Josh wouldn't let me do that and I'm thankful he was there. We made a good team – me pushing to go faster and him slowing us down to get it right. Next time, I don't want to have any idea of the schedule. Let someone else handle that.
Christian-Movie.com: What's next for the Daws Brothers?
Jeremiah Daws: We are working on several follow-up ideas that could sit on the same shelf as Dangerous Calling. We like the idea of having an entertaining story set in a church world or revolving around Christians, especially pastors and their families. We’d love to do an action movie about a pastor, or an adventure film involving pastor’s kids. We think the key is to make a great film whose primary purpose is to entertain. If we succeed at that, the fact that the main characters are Christians and the theme is positive is icing on the cake.
Josh Daws: Also, I'm particularly excited that my wife and son and I are moving to Los Angeles in January. Jeremiah has been living there since April. Long distance writing with three hours' time difference is difficult, to say the least.
Christian-Movie.com: How may Dangerous Calling be purchased?
Josh Daws: I think the current plan is that the DVD will be released by Cloud Ten Pictures in February 2010. It should be available in all the usual retail places.
This interview was originally published at Christian-Movie.com, a website dedicated to promoting Christ through the film industry by supporting Christian filmmakers in each phase of film creation. All photos courtesy Christian-Movie.com and the filmmakers.