DIRECTOR'S NOTES

 

First, here's a little bit of Q&A from deadCENTER...

 

Tell us about The Good Soldier.

 

The Good Soldier is a WWII era nostalgia film with a Hitchcockian slant. A solitary soldier struggles for self-preservation as his situation appears more dire with each passing day. If only he can determine, “Who is the enemy?” he could save himself. But by then, it might be too late.This film deviates from digital cinema and opts for an old-school medium: Super 8 film, but applies new-school methods of editing and sound.Super 8 is often over-looked as antiquated, impractical, and difficult to use. Truth is, it is. And I like that. I also like that it produces a picture unparalleled in artistic expression to digital. It has a quality and history to it that is rich for storytelling.

 

Are you a full-time filmmaker?  If not, how did you get by while raising money for your films. 

 

I am not a full-time filmmaker. I am a co-owner of Rocktown Climbing Gym in Oklahoma City. Besides being a screenwriter and filmmaker I am an avid climber, a climbing instructor, an entrepreneur, and a website/graphic designer. In order to raise money for my films I started F47 Productions in 2001 and began doing website design on the side. I have no “professional training” in filmmaking or website design – I am entirely self-taught, self-read, and rely on experience as a guide and teacher. It took me years of saving money and years of reading, practicing, and tinkering before embarking on a journey to make, what I consider a professional film project, from start to finish.

 

Every filmmaker has influences and cinematic heroes.  Name one of yours, and while you're at it, tell us one film (or scene) in history that you wish you had directed

 

Influences and cinematic heros? There are so many to choose from. That’s the great thing about being alive TODAY, in the midst of so many great storytellers and having seen the film legacy of those passed. There are more influences they we even realize. I have heroes in every genre but to name a few, I guess the list has to begin with the biggies: Kubrick, Coppola, Lynch, Ford, Scorsese, Tarantino, Cohen brothers, (do I really have to list Lucas and Spielberg? Come’on). Moving beyond the cliché, I’ve always been drawn to foreign cinema. I appreciate cinema outside the “Hollwood” realm: French cinema, Latin cinema. Lately I’ve developed a real fascination for Korean cinema – something about their stories are just….unhinged! The viewpoint is remarkable.  As far as actors go, I really enjoy watching Philip Seymour Hoffman, Casey Affleck, Robert Downey Jr. I just watched Precious and Gabourey Sidibe delivered an incomparable performance. She should have won for best female actor, hands-down - she was brilliant in that film! It was an unforgettable story and performance.  All of that said, when picking a movie for kick-backed viewing, I’m more likely to pick a comedy than anything. When I need something to blow my mind – I go for the deeper stuff. And when I want to experience real art, the real human experience – I go for whatever I can find in Super 8 film. The more grainy, the better. Some of the best documentaries I’ve seen are in Super 8. If you don’t believe me check out a film called “I is for India.” Honestly, I don’t value the directing aspect as much as I do the writing. The director only has to be good enough to get the writer’s story on screen. Man, directors will hate me for that one. So be it.  If I were to choose a scene that I wish I had directed – that someone could point to and say, “You directed that? That was unbelievable. Nice work.” It would have to be one of the following:In one of the car chase scene in the Blues BrothersThe diner scene in Pulp FictionThe wood-chipper scene in FargoThe final scene from The Good The Bad and The Ugly One of the “War Room” scenes in Dr. Strangelove Eraserhead – the entire filmThe “Seabass diner scene” in Dumb and Dumber (no, I’m not kidding).

 

***

And now, a short essay about the film...

 

The themes, issues, and lessons, of "The Good Soldier" are often viewed as ambiguous. Like life, we may have found answers to a few questions (although sometimes not as thoroughly as we'd hoped), but we are left with new questions or simply the realization that we missed the bigger question. That's our quest: to search for resolution - which turns out is not always "truth," but resolution nonetheless. There's a significant difference. Resolution is one's perception of truth as accepted by ourselves, our minds. It may or may not be real.

 

We are surrounded by situations which compel us to comply - often times, without question. The military is a hyped up version of this scenario: They say...you do. I've always been fascinated by this relationship. The idea that one is giving up their "free will" to DO and to ACT in a way that may or may not benefit one's self, but in the hopes that it will benefit one's country. That is both the genius and tragedy of the military as an entity and as a soldier willing to live for an "other" reason.

 

There is "the trust factor." As a soldier, you are required to put your trust, your faith, in someone, or something much greater than you, all in the pursuit of "Mission," whatever that mission may be. And there's the rub. We don't always know what the mission is. We don't always know what we are fighting for. And we don't always agree with what we are fighting for. As a soldier it is not really supposed to matter - because a good soldier carries out their orders as they are directed. And then we come full circle back to the idea of free-will. Are we ever, as humans, capable of giving that up? And at what point would a good soldier become a poor soldier in making a decision for their own personal survival?

 

Add to that, misdirection, greed, power, control, and the story gets more convoluted. There's countless events in history which demonstrate the notion of thinking you are pursuing one goal but in fact you are moving towards another. And of course the idea of an ever-present "puppet-master," one that controls everything, is always just under the surface.

 

None of this is to the dis-credit of our soldiers, past or present - in fact, I have the utmost respect for those who serve. I had one Grandfather who was a radio operator in the Battle of the Bulge in WWII, and another who served in the Navy. And what I have learned in my research for this picture has helped me grow in my appreciation for soldiers. But one idea continues to confound me, and sadden me - the thought that we could be taking advantage of those who serve for other political or selfish reasons. That we could be wasting lives.