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Gavin's Underground

Solar Shock Pictures

by Gavin Sheehan
- Posted // 2009-11-11 -

Among the independent production companies, Solar Shock Pictures is one of the few that's managed to stay alive beyond the five year marker and boast to a library of works that some major companies don't even have. Led by a group of dedicated film makers who have an outstanding passion for their craft, they've put forth full effort behind every project and turned out local cult favorites like “Protocall”, “The Ward” and “Plain City”. I got a chance to chat with four of the men involved with the company about its formation, their films and other projects, thoughts on local film and what's ahead for them.

Brandon Young, Danny Chadwick, Justin “Spot” Beecher & Greg Anderson

http://solarshockpictures.com/

Gavin: Hey guys, first off, tell us a little bit about yourselves.

Brandon: I am Brandon Young, and I’ve been in the local film industry for thirteen years. I am a director, writer, cinematographer, and editor working for Solar Shock Pictures.

Danny: My name is Danny Chadwick. I'm 28 years old, I have brown hair and blue eyes. Primarily I am a writer for Solar Shock. I occasionally play producer, actor and director.

Spot: I'm Justin "Spot" Beecher and I've been acting in theaters for Northern Utah for over seventeen years. I started working in film about seven years ago and am now the talent coordinator and an actor for Solar Shock Pictures.

Greg: I am Greg Andersen. I've been writing original scores for about thirty years and have been scoring films for five years. I serve as composer, folly artist and producer for Solar Shock Pictures.

Gavin: How did you take an interest in filmmaking, and what were some of your favorite films growing up?

Brandon: Although I had been a fan of movies my entire life, my interest in making movies all started with comic books. I was constantly drawing them and wanted to a career in them, but as an artist I realized it wasn’t as liberating. So I turned to film instead and haven’t looked back. I love it. The films that shaped me were "Willy Wonka & Chocolate Factory" and Tim Burton’s "Batman". They were very powerful to me. Since then it has really been Tim Burton and his works that have inspired me, more so than any other director out there.

Danny: My interest initially was writing. I got into film because Brandon asked me to write a screen play for him to direct in 2006. He like the result so much Solar Shock asked me back for writing again and again. Eventually I branched into other aspects of film making. Including directing, which I enjoy, but writing is still my first love. I hope one day to go back and finish the novels I've abandon in my zeal for movies. My favorite films growing up were little known cartoons like "The Brave Little Toaster" and "Little Nemo's Dream Land" as I got older I was struck by classics like "The Ten Commandments" and "Star Wars". In my teens and early 20's I enjoyed historical pieces like "13 Days" and "The Patriot". These days I'll see pretty much anything.

Spot: I kind of fell into it. I always loved a good film and enjoyed the thrill that I would get from watching a good adventure or action film. I have always wanted to act. I would watch the Indiana Jones and Superman films endlessly as a kid. Something about that element of adventure that just hypnotized me. I went to see a play at a local community theater when I was 11. I had never seen a play before that, and afterward, I was bound and determined to become an actor and have been performing ever since. Then I stumbled into the art of making films and loved the challenges involved and the ability to develop a character in more unique and complex ways.

Greg: I have always been in love with the art of filmmaking, but even more so with the creation of the musical score. My first real interest in film came from Stephen Spielberg's "E.T." It was at that point that I knew that I wanted to score music for film. Composers like John Williams, James Newton Howard and Danny Elfman quickly became my idles.

Gavin: What kind of education, if any, did you seek? And what were those programs like for you?

Brandon: I didn’t really have schooling, although I attended a film program in Salt Lake that turned out to be not what they had promised. The only thing I learned there was it takes drive and self determination to go where you want to go, and it helped me realize even more that I wanted to direct. I like playing in a world where I set the boundaries and rules.

Danny: All the skills I have in both writing and film making are self taught. I have had no formal education outside high school. I do enjoy studying both the craft of writing and film making. I spend hundreds of dollars a year on books of both subjects. However the best tool for learning is doing. The class room can only teach you so much. Many people spend thousands of dollars and years in the classroom and learn nothing.

Spot: I took a lot of my education from the experiences I had at the community theater and actually making films. It is amazing to make a film, look back, and see different aspects that you can do differently and learn from it. I hold my experience in the community theater scene as the main source for my growth in acting. I haven't studied with any college or trade school for film as I was used to only playing the role of an actor, but Solar Shock Pictures gave me a chance to look into editing, practice various camera methods, and more behind the scenes work in film.

Greg: My education started with many years of piano lessons from my very talented neighbor. I then moved on to specialized lessons that were designed for musicians like myself who played by ear. All other education was learned through playing with other musicians in bands.

Gavin: What were some of the films and projects you all worked on prior to meeting up?

Brandon: For me, I had done a lot of things before Solar Shock, but nothing that was really fantastic. Solar Shock has great synergy and it has raised the value of my works considerably. But I did a lot of crazy, stupid things. I did a superhero comedy series called "Superguy", and a cheesy horror film called "The Jar" among lots of other ridiculous films.

Danny: Solar Shock's film "Self Isolation" was my first exposure to film making outside high school. Prior to that I wrote three unpublished novels. Those were just the completed works, if you can ever call anything competed. I have dozens of false starts and abandoned projects sitting on an old hard drive in an almost forgotten laptop collecting dust in my closet.

Spot: Acting, acting, acting. I usually had my hand in about three to four play productions at a time. Between rehearsals, performance dates, and memorizing the next role, I was always ready to tackle the next project. I was actually with "At The Movies With Jamie & Spot" at the time Solar Shock was even being discussed. Then one thing led to another and here we are.

Greg: Before joining Solar Shock Pictures I spent several years producing sound effects for haunted attractions such as Rocky Point Haunted House, Circus Circus LV. and Disneyland Hong Kong. It was with Solar Shock that I started my film compositions.

Gavin: How did the four of you all meet up and become friends?

Brandon: I actually joined with Solar Shock after it was formed. I learned of them because they were putting on a film festival in Ogden and I took an immediate interest. I arranged a meeting with them, and the rest is history really. We’ve been friends and partners ever since.

Danny: Brandon and I met at Fremont High School in 1997. We were really good friends in high school. But we drifted apart when I graduated and went on an LDS mission. We saw each other in passing over the next few years. In late 2006 he asked me to write a short screen play for him to direct. He posed an interesting concept to me and I did the best I could. I was not expecting the reaction I got from him when I sent him the final draft. He loved it. It later became Solar Shock's "Self Isolation". About a year and a half later Solar Shock asked me to be on the writing team for a film making competition. The result of that effort was the award winning "Strain". After that I became inseparable from Solar Shock. Which is pretty cool from where I sit.

Spot: It was through "At the Movies" we were working on at the time. We had discussions regarding a film project that we wanted to tackle and take things to the next step. There was a local filmmaker gathering at a local shop, Mojo's, that I started going to where we met the talented people that we now have involved.

Greg: I was introduce to Spot and the other 2 original founders of Solar Shock Pictures Matt Ellis and Brett Bishop at a "filmmakers night" in Ogden Ut. Later, after SSP was formed I met Brandon and then Danny.

Gavin: Where did the idea to start up Solar Shock Productions come from?

Brandon: The other guys could elaborate more on this if they want, but when I joined I realized we all had areas that we excelled at. So I liked the concept that this company joined together in order to go out and make films and put their interests and heart into each project. It’s all been very collaborative and that’s essential. And it only works if everyone is focused on the same goal.

Spot: The idea for Solar Shock sparked after the discussion of films and their current state. We looked at some films that we've always talked about doing, some scripted, some not, and asked one another why we cannot make this happen. We looked around at the community in Northern Utah and just were amazed at how much talent and skilled people there are that have the same passion for film. We wanted to pave the way to let people know that you don't need a Hollywood budget to make a film! It's just not necessary. There are methods, digital and traditional, that make it easier than ever for anyone to make a film. We wanted to create an outlet of creative source to make these ideas a reality. Since then we've met and worked with some amazing people and have had the opportunity to take our films to the higher level each and every project. Each film is a learning experience and helps us perfect the craft, as well as get more in touch with the creative community of the independent filmmakers in the area.

Greg: Solar Shock started indeed as a "Productions" idea. It was originally going to be based on providing Flash animation for websites and offering promotional help for companies. This area was short lived as all original concept creators branched off into other areas. When I left, I kept the name. Along with the original filmmakers we incorporated it into the film industry and changing the name to Solar Shock Pictures.

Gavin: Was there any formal planning behind the idea or was it simply just combining resources and working on projects together?

Brandon: From what I understand, it was just combing resources. We did have a hurdle where we had to reorganize the company, and since then we have had to plan out a strategy while combining our resources. From my perspective now, that was a big improvement on the company and in a lot of ways, better for everyone involved.

Spot: Truthfully it was just combining resources. We have had many opportunities that would not be possible if it weren't for the people who were involved. Everyone has their talent and the flexibility of trying something new. There's no way I could even begin to compose the music that end up on our films, I am not sure if I could command the project quite as well as our directors, but when everyone pools together and our skills compliment one another, it generates a progressively improving product. Each show keeps improving in quality and we find ourselves planning more than we used to and taking advantage of the talent that we can provide for the project.

Gavin: What was the first film you all produced together under the new company, and what was the experience like?

Brandon: The first film we did with the company as it is now was "The Letter". It happened before the reorganizing, but it was a great help to everyone involved because it was us actually doing something. When I came in there was a lot of talk regarding film projects and no action. So I think "The Letter" was a big turning point for all of us. To me, the film is a reminder that we should be out making movies rather than discussing what we could do. Especially if you apply that mentality to each project after like we have, it just makes the experience so much better and worthwhile because you can only learn and grow from the experience of doing it.

Danny: The first time the company assembled in its current form together in one place was in May of 2008 to make the film "Strain". We were participating in the 48 Hour Film competition for Salt Lake City. It was the first time all four of us were involved in our current roles from the beginning to end of a project. Solar Shock existed for a long time before that. But in my mind "Strain" gave rise to the current crop of Solar Shock movies. Each one gets better and better, and were not going to stop.

Spot: "The Letter" was a very inspired project. A few of the team had went to a local film festival and realized, "Hey, we can do this!" We had a script idea, we ran with it, and improvised the material to make the short film. It was a very motivated project. Everyone pooled together. It was a much needed boost to reiterate that we are fully capable of creating films and it put us in the mindset of getting these creative projects done and out the door to get our name there.

Gavin: How did the idea for the web-series “The Game Plan” come about?

Brandon: It started as an XBox Live Competition where you make a pilot for their XBox Live network. Justin and I spent some time developing the story and characters, although quickly because we didn’t find out about the project until there was a little over a month to finish it. So we were rushed. Thankfully we didn’t get picked up because those who did got screwed by Microsoft, but for some reason there was an interest in the story so we continued it as our own web series and it had a brief stint on Comcast OnDemand.

Spot: I love "The Game Plan". It was a good project to keep working on. We've discussed the potential launch of Season 2, but as Brandon mentioned, it was for a competition to create a television pilot that would go onto the XBox Live Market. We even had the opportunity to pitch the idea to a major television network in California, so that made for a fun road trip. We did not get picked up by either, and that's alright. We have had a very enjoyable time creating this universe of these characters and the stories that accommodate them. It would be nice to pick back up, but with our project list growing at an exhilarating rate, it may just have to sit on the shelf for a while. Hopefully we can get the DVD's made for those who would like to look into the series a little more.

Gavin: The latest film you just wrapped on is “Elysium.” Tell us a bit about it and when can we expect to see the final product?

Brandon: "Elysium" is really a very difficult project to discuss because it’s not easily described. The best way to do it is about a guy taking a drug induced tour through his mind. I have been fascinated with people’s minds and have always wanted to explore that. Plus I have been studying depersonalization and dissociation disorders and felt that both scenarios complimented each other in terms of story. So I worked on combining those elements. But the film is going to be very different. It’s very surreal. I think I am most interested in seeing what types of discussions it brings up because this film is quite deep and every person will walk away from it taking a different meaning. But I’m also quite excited just to see the initial reaction because this film cannot be categorized as one type of film, one type of genre. This has pretty much every major genre thrown into it. It’s a drama, comedy, horror, musical. I think people will have fun watching it because there is a lot of craziness going on.

Danny: Have you ever been really really really high? It's kinda like that.

Spot: It is a trip. It's our first feature length film that we've crafted and it was a joy. We had a chance to expand on the cast and pull in some really talented people to help make this story captivating. This is a twisted story about an addict who takes more than he can handle, and he then enters the fields of Elysium looking for answers and himself. He's also struggling to grip onto his remaining life and battle his demons that haunt him. It's a different story that I'm quite proud to stand by with our work that is being put into it. December would be the unveiling of this project, so keep an eye open on our website for announcements on the when and where!

Greg: This will be my most ambitious score to date. There are many emotions that involved in this story. Not only do I have to capture these emotions, I have to create the emotional response of each character in an altered state of mind. With this film having the ability to be categorized into sever genres it creates a certain amount of absolute precision to each scene. It will be critical for me to help create the correct emotional response from the audience. I strive very hard to make sure that the music I'm writing helps tell the story and not just fill in the quiet parts.

Gavin: How did you work out the deal with Comcast to produce content for their OnDemand service? And what shows are you currently producing for them?

Brandon: Comcast was interested in us for three projects we were doing. The first being "The Game Plan", but after the season wrapped, we really haven’t had much time to go back and so a second season so I pulled out of that deal. The second was "The Screening Room" which was a series showcasing the works of local indie artists and then has a discussion panel with members of the crew. But that fell to the wayside because there just wasn’t any interest. It was tough to get films to showcase. I’ve noticed that a lot of indie filmmakers want to charge for their films and not gain the exposure. Some do, some don’t. It is a show that I would like to revive, but I do like focusing on my own works as well. The third show was "At The Movies", but we found that it distracted from us going out and making films. It was a very distracting series because a lot of time needed to be dedicated to it. So we’re not doing anything current with them, unfortunately. It was a good experience and if we had something to offer to them we would definitely go back and work something out.

Spot: Comcast worked out incredibly well for us. We were looking for a means to get our material out there for the audiences to see and we received word that Comcast would be interested in putting our shows on their OnDemand service. Naturally we were quite stoked and it allowed for people to see the shows that we have, in this case, been working on for years. "At The Movies" was the on going project that consumed a good portion of our time to generate. We had gracious sponsors that helped make it happen. As time wore on and the more involved we became with the film making, it proved to be a little much to toggle between a reoccurring show and a dedicated film project. "The Screening Room" was another show that we were hoping to catch on. It was dedicated to showing off the talents of Northern Utah and anyone who wanted to submit a film was welcome to submit their work and have an interview regarding all the work they put into it. It proved to be a valuable tool, however, the submissions were not coming in as expected. It was sad to lay that project down to rest. "The Game Plan" was a completed first season, but as mentioned, we haven't gotten around to pick back up the series. We have an open door with Comcast and if we have the means to provide them with a quality show, we would gladly oblige.

Gavin: What are some of the projects you have coming down the road?

Brandon: A lot of little things, and one big thing when we honestly don’t know when it’s going to happen because of the sheer size and magnitude of the project. The little projects are just whatever comes into our minds at the time. I personally like having short films to go and do because we can try new things. It’s like school for us. So we’re planning a Solar Shock Grind House thing with three films instead of two. We just wrapped one of the three and are just a few weeks out from starting the second. Each three films will have a different director. I am excited for my film obviously, but mostly because I am doing a remake to my ten year old film "The Jar". As for big, Solar Shock has acquired the rights to the novel Happy Valley by Sugar Ray Dodge. We are working on the screenplay now, and it’s a very ambitious story. Very complicated because there are a lot of landmarks we need to film at. So we’ll see when that one actually happens. We all hope it’s soon.

Danny: I was hoping you were going to ask. I directed two of Solar Shock's films so far this year. I'm currently developing two more shorts to add to the Solar Shock cannon. The first my contribution to the Solar Shock Grind House project. It is being written by our collaborator Sugar Ray Dodge, who also wrote "Plain City". The second short I'm working on is a silent film. My vision for that is a cinematic picture book. The story only being told by images and music. I'm really excited about both.

Spot: I've been working on a script that would be a comedy. That would be among the short films that we do throughout the year, and would definitely be a show for warmer weather considering the content. I've been keeping an eye open for any actors, performers, etc... that would be interested in auditioning for the upcoming shows as they occur. With scripts being submitted for us to create and new scripts written by the crew, we are always on our toes for new projects. I'm still performing in community theater at the Village Green in Clearfield in between projects, but next year looks to be an excitingly packed year for Solar Shock.

Greg: Many ideas are always being form and that's what I love about my partners. Today we may be making a horror and tomorrow it might be comedy. Our group has so much love for our individual talents that we can have this type of diversity in thought, and then have the ability to execute it with confidence and passion. I'm always looking forward to the next film to score. We have grind house style coming our way and a great comedy as well.

Gavin: Going local, what’s your opinion of the local film scene, both good and bad?

Brandon: I see good and bad, for sure. The good is its very active. More so than I once thought. Getting involved in the 48 Hour Film challenges allows you to meet up with a lot of other companies. Some are just amazing and I’ve been impressed with their works. The bad side is, and this may not be the case at all but it’s how I see it is that it doesn’t seem very collaborative. I think a lot of people view it as competition and competition only. Competition is good, but I think people should utilize their resources to other people. Networking is very important. The big bad side for me, is that we are an Ogden company, and the filmmaking community in Ogden versus Salt Lake City is night and day. Its like there is a big wall that separates both cities and I wish that wasn’t the case.

Danny: The more I get involved with the SLC indie film community the more I find they are a lot like Solar Shock. Like with any amateur undertaking you find a lot of things that "could have been done better." Don't get me wrong, I don't consider Solar Shock to be the best on the block. But what Solar Shock has that many people and projects don't is organizational structure and the will to get things done. We have all our own equipment and make our movies for nothing. Many a filmmaker will never make a film for want of the cash to get it done. We have no such restrictions. There are some awesome projects going on in SLC right now. But not as many as could be.

Spot: As with any scene/business/hobby, there's always good and bad, that has to be expected. The good part of the scenes that it is moving. There are more people running around making movies than you think. You never know that where you might stumble onto a scene or what kind of an amazing product is being created in some free space. Brandon mentioned the 48 Hour Film challenge and that is a blast. Tons of people to meet through that network. The bad side is that you have to be careful who you work with. There are some people who aren't into film making for the art of it. This can lead to some very interesting situations and very misleading for a hopeful filmmaker who wants to get their story made. When it boils down to it, we're all trying to get in the same business, so the community is far more helpful than naught.

Greg: I always love to see the enthusiasm of up an coming artist. Their passion is worn on there sleeves. Joining competitions like the 48 Hour Film competition gave me the opportunity to see how much love for film there is in Utah. The bad side... well, this would be directed to anyone who's sitting on a couch proclaiming "That show is stupid and I could do it better!" At least I got up and tried. How about you?

Gavin: Anything you think could be done to make it bigger or better?

Brandon: I think some things are actually working. The 48 Hour Film challenge has been very helpful, at least to us because we are starting to see who the others are. For a long time we felt as if we were the only ones but since the challenge it has opened our eyes to everyone else out there. Yes its competition, but its also great for networking and bringing in people you may need for a certain project. The other thing that I think is working is film nights that include writing sessions and filmmaker meet and greets that are taking place in Salt Lake quite a bit. Again its very good for the Salt Lake City community, but nothing up in Ogden. We’ve tried starting stuff up here like that, but its like no one wants to cross that wall. It is getting better, slowly, but improvement is better than nothing. The local community is certainly very good, but needs some improvement here and there.

Danny: All of it. It all can be better. But I'm not going to hate on my own work because Solar Shock itself is a work in progress. Were really making all this up as we go along. Every film we do is a milestone in someway for everyone involved. As with anything, were getting better as we do it more. And were not giving up, were going to keep on making movies. Truth be known, all these short films, and to an extent "Elysium" is just practice. It's warming up before we actually take the field. Too many people won't make a movie for fear of making it poorly. We overcame that fear long ago. Were cool with the quality of our work because we know were getting better.

Spot: More involvement from those who truly want to make film! It's surprising how many people say, "Yeah, that would be fun." There's no "would" be, it is fun! There is nothing preventing it from happening. We have created films with people who have family, business trips, ugly work schedules, family incidents that changed plans, whatever the case, the films are still being made. It's very possible to get things to happen! Just find the crew, build that relationship with the people you're working with and you can overcome any hurdle to make it happen. I would love to see more locations like the 48 Film challenge. I know I mentioned it earlier, but it is a shining example of how things can just happen. It would be excellent to see more of these film festivals created as it provokes more involvement and you also see some surprising works. It's amazing what a 48 hour deadline can produce. What it boils down to is that it truly doesn't take a budget to make a good film. It takes the effort of actually making the film happen with the resources you have.

Greg: The more each of us can network with each other the better our opportunities will be. I think it would be very arrogant to assume that you have the best crew and you need no ones help. There is always room for new ideas and improvement. Things again, like the 48 Hour Film competition has proven this. We met some wonderful actors and were able to incorporate them into our latest film.

Gavin: What's your opinion on local film makers and the work that's coming out of both colleges and the at-home directors?

Brandon: I am very impressed by many of them, actually. Some of them I am awaiting their next films. Again with the 48 Hour challenge, I found myself a fan of a few of them and can’t wait to see what they come up with next year. I was highly impressed with a film there last year called "Recluse" and want to see more from them. I will have good opinions on filmmakers who actually produce material. I like to see people out working and improving their craft. As long as they are doing that, I will be a fan.

Danny: There are a lot of blow-hards out there who think that their script/movie/acting is the best thing since sliced bread. And only if they had twelve-million dollars they could make their Oscar winner. Those are the kind I don't care for. And there are a lot of them. There are a few who I like immensely. These are the people who put their craft ahead of their ego. The people who don't whine that their brilliant script can't attract an agent. The local people I admire aren't "waiting for their big break." They are making their own breaks.

Spot: I love local filmmakers! Creative and ambitious group of people. It's always an interesting argument that the next great film will come from an at-home director or independent scene. I openly welcome and encourage people to make films. I've a passion for entertaining people and in turn I love to see other people making that same effort. Whether it's a personal message, a fun film, an artful message, whatever the case, it's nothing but encouraging to see others out there doing the very same thing we are doing. Keep it up, I'd say.

Greg: If their making films then I'm happy! As I mentioned before. Most of them carry their passion on their sleeves. And it is obvious in their filmwork.

Gavin: Any local directors or other production companies you feel are at the top of their game?

Brandon: Stephen Simmons is impressive to me. I’ve only seen two films from him but I liked what I saw. I like Colton Tran as well. Ritual Pictures up here in Ogden I think is heading in the right direction. I’d like to see what the future holds for all of them.

Danny: The Top of one's game is a very high thing to think of someone, or yourself. There are three people I personally met that I think are going places and they are Rob Diamond, Dave Skousen and Sae Sae Norris. I've worked to some degree with all of them, and they all fit the description of goodness I gave to the last question.

Spot: I enjoyed seeing the shows from the festivals and picking out the ones that just stand out. Ritual Pictures is looking to be a sound production company.

Gavin: What's your take on the Open Screen Nights currently happening at Tower Theater?

Brandon: I think they are good. Again its a networking opportunity and I am happy such things are happening. I think it has inspired other places as well. I know Divas is getting more and more involved in the filmmaking community. Good for them!

Spot: To be a geek, woot! It's an opportunity that not many filmmakers have at their disposal. It's hard to get your material out by just blasting it on the internet over video networking sites and trying to promote it with the social networks at hand, so it gives "face time" for people to see the company, see the actors, see the directors, and become familiar with their work. Excellent exposure that I hope to see more theaters to incorporate within their operations!

Greg: Any company that is in support of helping local filmmakers projects be seen is a huge fan of mine. With any industry, networking with others always helps. To have an outlet be in such support of this is incredible. Yay Tower Theaters!

Gavin: What are your thoughts on the film festivals that come through every year, and are there any changes you wish you could make?

Brandon: Having our first experience of dealing with the high profile festivals this year, I wish there was more emphasis on films with no budgets. Solar Shock deals with absolutely no budgets and many people are shocked to hear that. Sundance is making an effort this year in starting the low or no budget categories, and I hope its something that sticks around for a long time. Other festivals that we’ve attended I have noticed that there is a big emphasis on gaining big projects and not focusing on the true indie style of filmmaking. That's the problem I have noticed with some local filmmakers who claim they are for local but are anything but. Festivals need to look at films in a variety of ways and from my perspective it looks very one sided. But things have been changing a lot lately with the current economy and I am looking forward to see what happens because of it.

Danny: Film festivals are the lifeblood of the independent film community. But that doesn't mean it all starts and ends there. Solar Shock rarely participates in the festivals. Our work up until now has been made for a very limited audience. And that's where it needs to be right now. I don't know enough about the way the festival circuit works to suggest any changes. The only thing I know for sure is that you rise and fall based on your own merits in this kind of system. If you work is good you will get attention. If you are not getting attention or adulation then you are doing something wrong. There is little good in criticizing "the system" if you don't get anywhere. It's far more likely that the problem lies in your work rather than the system.

Spot: Wish that film festivals realized that there is more to a film than how much money went into it. There are several good ones out there though, don't get me wrong, not all of them have such an emphasis of "budget or bust," but a budget does not make a film. I have quite a few summer "smash hits" that as a film, I thought were horrible and I'd be fuming if I was an investor. The thing that I love about film festivals is that it gives the story teller a chance to shine. It would be great to see some more wide spread festivals as well. Themed festivals are a riot to attend as well, so a few new ones in that field of interest would be interesting to see.

Greg: I like the fact that most film festivals are based on exposure to lower budget films. However, I think that this term is becoming very misunderstood. How low budget can you be with an A list celebrity in it? The quote " We were able to make this film for ten-million dollars" is not very encouraging to new filmmakers. I prefer our quote. " We made our last film with less than $100!" While it may not look like it is straight out of Hollywood I will assure you that it looks very similar to many ten-million dollar films I've seen. I would love to see more emphasis on "no budget" films.

Gavin: What can we expect from you guys the rest of the year and going into next?

Brandon: The most important thing to expect from Solar Shock is that we’re always working. There is rarely a time where we are not making a movie. So we are constantly releasing new films. Last year we released eight films, each one 15 minutes or longer. This year we have shot and will wrap nine films, including a full length feature. We are constantly raising the bar with ourselves and we are generating quite a fan base because of it.

Danny: My directorial efforts will include the 3rd installment of the SSP Grindhouse project and my silent film. I am also working on a short for 2010 and a feature length script for myself to direct later that year.

Spot: More films, more actors getting screen time, new projects, new genres... Next year is shaping up to be big. It's going to be a massive stepping stone for us. Especially since we're not sure what to expect with the film festivals we are pushing "Elysium" too, we may have some new doors open for us to explore. Expect to see more of Solar Shock as we continue onwards towards the big screen.

Greg: Expect our name to grow. We are accumulating more friends and fans of film each day! We are determined to leave an everlasting positive footprint in Utah. We will continue to support local film artists and continue to produce bigger and better films!

Gavin: Aside the obvious, is there anything you'd like to plug or promote?

Brandon: Just the usual. Our website, and our first truly big film, "Elysium". We will be having a screening for it sometime in December, and we hope we have a full house. I think we will. I think we’ll have to think of other screenings in the future for it as well. I really think its going to be that big.

Danny: Definitely head on over to SugarRayDodge.com and give some love to our favorite collaborator.

Spot: Guess the only additional thing I would have is our Facebook Fan Page for anyone who is interested. Keep an eye open for our big screening in Northern Utah and just would like to say thanks to all those who have endlessly supported us throughout the years. It is much appreciated and will not be forgotten.

Greg: Please visit our website, and please support your local filmmakers by attending their events. You will never know how much it means to us, as our sole objective is to entertain you!

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Posted // November 11,2009 at 10:55

I checked these guys out by visiting their sites and such. Very impressive. The 3rd Trailer for their film Elysium is fantastic! The Clown rocks! The other 2 trailers are very good too. I am really excited to see this. It seems very up my alley.

I guess Brandon was right in that a lot of people are surprised to know the film has no budget. I am one of those people. I would like to see what these guys can come up with if they had a budget because they could blow everyone away.

My question to them is are they afraid of budgets? Why haven't they worked with a budget yet? Does it take away from the feeling of Independent? I'm just curious.

Thanks for this interview, by the way. Very interested in getting into the film scene myself.

 

Posted // November 11,2009 at 11:09 - Are we afraid of a budget? The simple answer to that question is No. Of course not. The fact of the matter is that budgets are not easy to come by and if you sit around waiting for people to give you money before you make a film, then you will never make one. We are still early on in our career. We have to prove our chops first before anyone will give us a budget. Budgets come later. Craft comes first.

 

 
 
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