Matthew Currie-Holmes, writer/director of Buckout Road, did an AMA for Earpers in the DomSquad Facebook group on May 31, 2018. He thoughtfully answered an avalanche of questions about Buckout Road, Dominique, and indie filmmaking. Earpers ask great questions, so there is a lot of wonderful behind the scenes info as well as advice for creative types who want to be in the movie biz. Also, he told us how Dom's audition for Buckout Road went!
For smidge of background, DomSquad is a group of Dominique Provost-Chalkley fans who promote Dom’s projects. Anyone can join, just look us up on Facebook. We do meetups, screenings, and twitter campaigns to promote Dom’s projects. That’s how we met Matthew! Here we are with Matthew at the Hollywood Screening. Dom even ‘grammed us!
When we met Matthew, he really clicked with DomSquad, agreed to join our Facebook group, and the rest is AMA history. I edited the following transcript for clarity/grammar, and I omitted names of our members because it is a closed group so privacy is part of the deal. So here is how it went! Matthew posted the following photo (hell yeah) and we dove right in!
Let’s do this #DomSquad excited to chat!!
Q. There tends to be a fair amount of sexism and misogyny in horror movies but Buckout road seems to avoid that. Was that a conscious, purposeful decision? (ok, this was my question, sue me I'm always thinking with my feminist brain ha!)
A. You’re absolutely right there is a ton of misogyny in genre films and I think it’s important that we not only address it but change it. I’m the father of a daughter and if I tell her that she can be anything she wants to be and then show her that women are basically sacrificial lambs just to follow the trope, what kind of example of my setting?
Q. I’m not being specific because I don’t want to spoil people. But there was a lot to like about the movie as a woman.
A. Thank you so much for saying that. And for noticing. It’s hard for me to answer this question without spoiling but in my fairytale movie the princess saves the prince.
Q. Are there any other folktales you would love to bring to screen?
A. Great question I have a few scripts that I’ve written that are loosely based on folktales but I think the one that I would love to see done right is bloody Mary 666.
Q. You recently tweeted that you would like to do some more acting. What role would you most like to play and one you wouldn’t
A. I think I’m just nostalgic for acting, I loved being on stage and performing and I loved engaging with other actors. I love what actors do. I think as I get older the roles that I would like to play would be kind of fucked up characters with fucked up pasts. There’s no real specific role that I’d like of course I would love to do true west and there’s some John Patrick Shanley pieces that always make me happy. I’m not sure that there’s a role that I wouldn’t take, the only problem I have with acting is the pursuit of the job Ha ha ha.
Q. How many actors did you actually audition for the roles - a large number or were you able to narrow your options pretty quickly?
A. I had three sets of auditions one was the initial call for every role except the priest the cop and Aaron and Dr. Powell. Every other role in the movie was up for grabs. I saw probably 15 people per role and when I did my callbacks we narrowed it down to three people per role.
Q. Did you write Buckout Road with Evan Ross and Danny Glover in mind?
A. Evan and Danny were attached before I was. I had to audition for directing!
A. Right now we are in the process of getting distribution there will be announcement soon I promise. Don’t forget to follow @BuckoutRoad on Facebook and Twitter to stay up to date on the latest!
The next Buckout Road Screening is at the Niagara Falls Comic Con on Friday June 1st at 6pm. Get tickets here: https://tix.extremetix.com/webtix/3798
Q. Will any film stills be released?
A. If you want to see some cool film stills check out the IMDb page at https://www.imdb.com/title/tt4847454/
(Note: That is where DomSquad member Laura Harley pulled the movie still for this cool fan art)
Q. What made you choose this urban legend to make a movie about? And what made you decide that Dom would be one of its stars?
A. There are actually over 13 urban legend surrounding buckout Road. Obviously we couldn’t film all of them so I did an amalgam of three or four legends and mashed them into one. Dominique had been recommended to me by a friend who had directed her in an episode of Murdoch mysteries. I asked her agent if she would audition and she came in and absolutely crushed it. Both myself and the casting director and my producer knew the second she walked in the room that she had the part. She was really something special! (RRL note: we agree!)
Q. What would you say was the most difficult part of creating this movie overall?
A. For me the most difficult part of making this movie was whenever we shot at night we couldn’t do a pick up because the sun was our ultimate clock. Once the sun came up the day was over and there is nothing we can do about it. We were on such a tight schedule that every location we shot had to be wrapped out at the end of that day. So you can imagine during the night shoots if we didn’t get what we were supposed to we were kind of fucked.There were often times during night shoots that I either had to scrap what I had intended to shoot or reconfigure my shooting schedule
Q. Did you use any specialist lighting? Some places where remote how did you get your equipment to location?
A. We had BIG trucks carry our lights to remote locations.
Q. When you write for a film do you have the season or time off in your mind too?
A. Sometimes it’s set specific, and the time of year is a character of the film. Film shot in winter use the weather as a plot device. I prefer to write most of my things in the summer because I hate the cold. That said if someone offered me an obscene amount of money to shoot something that I had written for summer and the only time we could shoot it is in the winter, well then I would pull up my snow pants and get to work.
Q. How do you start your your plots for a movie? How do you turn the story into a script?
A. That’s a great question. I have a very strict process of how I like to work. The first thing I do is write five pages of gobbledygook. Just crazy bullshit that doesn’t make any sense. Then I turn that into a beat sheet. Mapping out all of the major plot points and beads in the film, not the minor ones just the big ones. Then I create back stories for every character even though nine times out of 10 you never see it (that’s from years of acting). Then I create a log line and a two page synopsis. Once I have all these things I write a 10 to 20 page treatment. Once I finished my treatment I start writing my script and filling in the blanks with dialogue, action, etc. Finally once I’m finished a draft of a screenplay where I think there is no way in the world I can possibly write anymore about this particular subject, I send it out to get notes and then the rewriting begins.
Q. Do you have specific people you trust to proof your scripts and give you notes?
A. I do. I have screenwriters who are friends of mine who have graciously donated their time many many times to read my shit. I in exchange read their fantastic screenplays.Once I get notes back from my fellow screenwriters I send it out to get coverage from a screen writing company. If you’re looking for someone to read your work there are really great companies out there that can help you and that aren’t very expensive. The first hat comes to mind is called Dan Rosen reads. He’s a fantastic screenwriter and a great filmmaker and he just started a company reading scripts for people. His notes are amazing. There are other companies that are use as well because, I tend to have a lot of typos in my scripts so I need to professionals to clean them up for me.
Q. How do you select your crew? Is this a different process to auditions?
A. As far as crew is concerned, The majority of the hiring is done by the production manager. I select my cinematographer, my editor, and my production designer. Because I was somewhat unfamiliar with some of the great crew that was available to me in Ontario, where we filmed, I had to rely on our production manager to fill in the blanks. She did a great job and we had a fantastic crew. We wouldn’t be having this discussion if I didn’t have an amazing crew. They made me look great and I am deeply indebted to every single person on that film said who gave 110%. It was a very tough shoot and not one person complained. I would work with the vast majority of the crew I had again in a heartbeat.
Q. What advice would you give to aspiring indie film directors just starting out?
A. This is the New World order and the rules that used to apply don’t anymore so if you want to make a movie just start filming. Grab your phone, grab a Canon rebel, and start shooting. I really do believe that the best school is practice. I have a saying: never be the smartest guy in the room. If you’re a director surround yourself with an amazing cinematographer and amazing sound person, And make a movie. Then hire an amazing editor and have her cut it for you. Just as long as every person that you hire or asked to do the job is better than you at it
Q. Besides being able to scare people based on their belief in folktales, is there anything specific about bringing folktales to life, or the horror genre in general that speaks to you?
A. I absolutely adore horror. I find that it is just drama with higher stakes. Being scared and coming through a fear tunnel is what reminds us that were really alive. I think that people have been scared of the unknown for as long as there have been people and posing questions on film that don’t necessarily give answers but reinforce those fears is what makes life worth living in my humble opinion. We are creatures who love to tell stories and we love to solve mysteries and to feel like we’ve experienced something. I find horror is a ultimate surviving of a folktale. And it’s what you can’t see that’s more scary than what you do. That’s why the shark doesn’t appear until the third act JAWS.
Q. How do you raise funds for a film project? And how do you keep to a budget? (I understand this may not be answered)
A. Hahaha, this is an AMA so by the laws of the universe I have to answer, but I do have to be judicious as well. I make most of my movies in Canada and I have amazing producers who are able to access some of the benefits Canada has to offer like tax credits and film funds. The rest of the budget is raised by the caliber of cast, and the amount of territories that the film sells in. For example if we sell to a UK distributor for $100,000 we can take that promise to the bank and get a loan for the amount and all of that is how the budget is compiled.As far as how I keep to a strict budget, once again I just have amazing people who keep me on track and tell me under no uncertain terms what I can and cannot do Based on the money we have. It’s my job to be as creative as possible within the limitations.
Q. Is Canada your location of choice because of funding/tax credit considerations or more because of your connections there?
A. I am a Canadian citizen so I can access some of the tax credits by my birthright. Plus, I love shooting in Canada. Canada has the best people, best crews, and great actors. And that’s where my family is.
Q. What qualities or roles can Dom play that the world hasn’t seen yet?
A. Dom has an incredible control of her emotional faculties and I think she has a really wonderful mischievous character inside her as well. But more importantly she is so unbelievably dedicated to her craft that I’m sure she can do just about anything. I would love to see her get super angry and I think that she would make a kick ass bad guy! I think she has incredible range and if given the opportunity she could add and an enormous amount of complexity to someone perceived as evil.
Q. Directing really requires a broad knowledge of all aspects of filmmaking. What aspects of directing do you love the most and which challenge you the most?
A. I love working with actors and I really love the editing process. The most challenging part is getting the shot, lining up the shot. There’s always an element where everyone on set is holding their breath to make sure we get it. But that’s where a fantastic crew comes in
Q. Do you find it easier or more difficult to direct a screenplay that you wrote.
A. I prefer directing things that I’ve written because I already had a picture in my mind when I wrote it. That’s not to say that the picture that I had in my mind is the only version that I shoot. Part of being a director is the ability to take the best decision and put it on the screen. A lot of great ideas that made it in the final cut of the film weren’t mine to begin with but we’re better than what I had so we shot it. You have to put your ego aside and do what’s best for the film even if that means someone else had a better idea than you did. The cool thing is it says directed by Matthew Currie Holmes so I get the credit, haha.
Q. Have you ever had an experience in which an actor was really difficult to work with or had a really contrary interpretation of the character than you imagined? If so, how did you work it out?
A. What makes a good artist is their dedication to their craft. A great actor will interpret the material they’re given in a number of ways. To me the only reason someone would be perceived as “difficult “ is because they don’t feel they are being heard. Ultimately I have the final say on set as far as what I want my performers to do. My job is to be open their interpretation because even though I have an idea in my head they might do something that I didn’t see coming and I need to be receptive to that. I’ve been lucky in that all the actors that I’ve worked with have been professional and courteous so I can honestly say it was very little drama on the set. That being said, there are always contrary opinions but nothing can’t be worked out.
Conclusion: Hey everybody thank you so much for asking me all your amazing questions I hope I was able to give a little bit of insight into the process and I didn’t look like too much of a fool.I’m really humbled by This engagement. Hope you all have fantastic day or night wherever you are in the world. I will leave you with this. I spoke to Dom just before got on here and asked if she had any messages for you she wanted to let you all know that you’re all amazing and that season three of Wynonna Earp is going to be EPIC!!! Happy #TransDayOfVisibilty MCH out!
For more DomSquad fun:
Terran (our one and only nb Earper prince) did a vlog on the Buckout Road Screening Earper meetup with Matthew, if you want some behind the scenes fun check it out! https://youtu.be/ADRImLFxNEE
When you fall in love with a television show, you cannot predict its longevity in the pop culture consciousness. Its lifespan depends on the next generation. What parts of your pop culture will resonate with them and thus persevere? That matters to nerds like me. But no one can predict what the next generation holds on to.
As I enter my forties, I’m starting to see answers in the teenagers around me. My son’s friend showed up for a party wearing a Nirvana shirt. I made a mental note. Nirvana made the cut. One day last June, I picked up my nephew from high school. He got into my car and realized Biggie’s Juicy was playing.
“Auntie, how are you gonna be playing Biggie on Tupac’s birthday?”
Touché, young man. Touché. But for every Biggie and Tupac, a hundred more artists I love have been relegated to the dustbin of pop culture history. The same is true of TV shows. My love of Star Trek has been richly rewarded. Star Trek is a juggernaut of merchandise, spinoffs, movies, and documentaries. That means the fandom regenerates like a time traveling alien with two hearts. I get to connect with others who understand what that show and those characters mean to me. Other shows I am devoted to haven't endured in the same way. But one incredibly pleasant surprise has been the staying power of the little cult show that could: Buffy the Vampire Slayer. I could fill a novel with the reasons I love Buffy.
Buffy was a hero. She had a heart as big as a the Rocky Mountains. Sometimes she suffered. Sometimes she gave up. She even fucked up. It didn’t diminish her or her value. It didn’t change what she was capable of. And she always found a reserve of hope. The humanist values, the family you choose, it all hit me where I lived. And guess what? The people who understood and loved Buffy, understood me. Buffy ended, but has remained an important part of my life.
Twenty years later, I watch Buffy. I read Buffy. I buy Buffy fanart. I make friends because of Buffy. Buffy still determines what new shows I will watch. I follow writers from Buffy-and its spinoff Angel-throughout their careers, because I know they tell stories that resonate with me. That is how I found Supernatural, which is where I continue to connect with people around Buffy. In my Supernatural fan group on Facebook, we maintain photo albums of every Buffy alum that has appeared on Supernatural. We have a files section that lists Buffy/Supernatural crossover fan fiction. Buffy fans created our own subculture within the Supernatural fandom where we connect with people who love the same stories and characters that we do.
Then I discovered Wynonna Earp, and the ante was upped. I watched Wynonna Earp because of an article where the creator of the television show, Emily Andras, talked about her Buffy influences. So I gave the show a try. I immediately saw Buffy’s –and Supernatural's’--fingerprints everywhere. But Wynonna Earp progresses beyond Buffy and Supernatural in a few important aspects. One is LGBT representation. A main character (not a dead side character) is in a same sex relationship. That relationship is complex, three dimensional, and fully recognized. The cast embraces their opportunity to represent LGBT characters in a positive light, and attends LGBT fan conventions. (Raises eyebrows across the room at my SPNFamily) Secondly, Wynonna Earp reflects a more modern and evolved understanding of feminism. Wynonna is not shamed or punished for her sexual choices by anyone. The men in her life fully understand that they do not own her, even when they are attracted to her. (Sit down, Xander) The male characters--such as the love of my life, Deputy Marshall Xavier Dolls--are fully formed, secure badasses in their own rights and are not threatened by her strength and fire. In fact they thrive on it. So hey, add in all the kicking demon ass, rollicking fight scenes, hilarious one liners, and fabulous cast, and I was all in on Wynonna Earp. I followed/joined/signed up for everything Wynonna Earp fan related. I found a creative, inclusive, welcoming community.
But it got even better, and even Buffy-ier. A few Wynonna Earp fans (called Earpers) launched a #BuffyEarpers initiative. I assumed it was just a hashtag with some clever, adorable accompanying fan art. But #BuffyEarpers is an initiative by Buffy fans within the Earper community where they share their love of Buffy with each other, and with the uninitiated. It has art, merchandise, watch parties, social media accounts, live tweets, and a podcast. Throw all of those ingredients into a bowl and pour in a heaping helping of pure fangirl (and boy and nonbinary) love and devotion. I listened to the premiere episode of the BuffyEarper podcast last week. The episode opened with the Buffy theme song and I found myself in tears. It dawned on me that some part of this initiative involved Buffy fans in my generation sharing the show with a younger generation. I find that touching. I have zero time or energy for people who slag off the younger generation. Secondly, that means my show offers something of value to the next generation, who will bring even more creative energy and connection to the community. I don’t ever have to say goodbye to my fandom.
Just to put this in perspective to the younger ones, in the 80’s and early 90’s, when something was over, it was over. Did your family move to a different state? You aren’t ever seeing those friends again. I hope you said goodbye. Did you lose a phone number? A recipe? Google doesn’t exist, bitch, it’s over. That set of encyclopedias isn’t gonna help you. The same with shows. When your shows were over. They were OVER. And you didn’t have a fandom to sustain you because you didn’t have the internet. If your siblings or hometown friends didn’t like a show, tough titties. If they thought drawing blueprints of the Starship Enterprise and learning Klingon was fucking weird, or that wanting to be called Galadriel was childish, well you were up shit creek without a paddle. You got to be the social leper reading dragon books in the back of the bus. (Ahem.) So it wasn’t just that your show that was gone. Your point of connection was gone. Your validation that you were not alone disappeared. Buffy was just on that cusp where the fans and creators were pioneering online communities and fan meetups. But I didn’t have a computer. How was I gonna afford that? I wasn’t Scrooge McDuck.
But of course, things changed. Remember those long lost childhood friends? THEY. ALL. FOUND. YOU. ON. FACEBOOK. Oh, hey Devin from 2nd grade, you still exist. Laptops became common. Starbucks, your local library, and maybe your entire city got Wi-Fi. We used the internet to build entire communities along fandoms instead of along geography. Frankly, the latter leaves much to be desired when you are a kid that doesn't quite fit in the box. New generations of fans were born and found each other. Comic Con became a worldwide sensation. And the best part? Some of the things you loved the most, but thought you had to say goodbye to, just. Kept. Coming back. And in that moment, listening to the #BuffyEarper podcast, I realized that even though Buffy may not be the massive phenomenon of a Star Trek or Star Wars, she isn’t going anywhere. Not only is my generation of fans still devoted to the little show that could, we are sharing it with the next generation of fans, who are falling in love too. And they are breathing new life into the fandom. We are going to be here, regardless of whether there are remakes, reboots, and regardless of whether they turn out to be any good. Given the uncommon resilience of Buffy herself, I suppose it is fitting.
Buffy Lives, indeed.