What inspired you come up with the idea for the film?
Although technically a “work of fiction,” the story of AMANDA & JACK GO GLAMPING was inspired by the truth of my own journey as I wrote the story specifically for—and we filmed the movie at—our own “Green Acres” homestead-turned-Boutique Glamping Retreat where we lived.
With the challenges of being a filmmaker living on raw land, managing a glamping retreat with my family, and owning a miniature donkey—I started blogging about my fish-out-of-water stories on a site I called: STORIES ABOUT MY ASS
As I was looking toward my fourth film, I tweaked the themes of that blog into a screenplay and poured humorous original stories into the failed-writer character of Jack Spencer.
Why did you want to tell this story?
The theme of discovering what is truly important while navigating mid-life as an artist, father, and husband did not require extensive external research for a new script. It was a story I was close to and wanted to share.
There is an ongoing joke with David Arquette that his casting was related to how much we look alike — which is fun (and flattering), but no true.
I am not Jack Spencer, but there is no doubt I wholeheartedly relate to the character I crafted. The themes of being challenged by where you put your self worth (career, parenthood, marriage) ring true for me and I enjoyed playing those motifs out in a comedy.
What aspect of the story changed the most during writing and production?
My first stab at the script did not have a ramped up conflict in Jack and Amanda’s marriage and I was holding back in some of the comedy. It was actually notes from writers Grant Nieporte and Bryan Belknap that helped me turn the corner on the final drafts of the screenplay. I’m fortunate to have talented friends who will give honest feedback.
What was the most courageous decision you or your crew made during production?
It takes courage to putt your ass on the big screen.—that is, my miniature donkey named “Donkey” who’s buddy “Yoti” is also on screen and we filmed at our own place.
Filming with farm animals and opening up your home to be a film set may be closer to stupidity that courage, but it was a risk that paid off in the end. I think audiences are going to love DonkeyYoti.
Were there any risks that you faced during production and how did you find a way to embrace them?
I know every production has to deal with weather, but days before we started shooting, a substantial microburst storm blew threw Green Acres covering the land in debris and damaging a few structures. It was incredible to see my producers and executive producers all literally roll up their sleeves with us to pick up and repair the land back to it’s photo-ready glory so we could start production on time. It was clear before we even called our first “action” that our team was ready to embrace risks and challenges arm-in-arm.
What influenced the visual style of the film?
I had wanted to work with cinematographer Abe Martinez on a feature for a while. He is incredibly collaborative, does his homework, and brings a ton to the party.
We referenced a variety of films from BEGINNERS to SIDEWAYS to DAN IN REAL LIFE and decided to shoot some tests beforehand as this film has a very different visual language from SIRONIA, VICTOR, and A SINGLE FRAME. In the end we came up with what we called a “Modern+Rustic” approach that is a unique blend of inspired and clean, calculated frames amid a natural vibe. I’m pleased with the approach and was pleasantly surprised with the image we could accomplish with the VariCam 35 from the incredibly helpful MPS Studios.
What risks did you take to tell your story?
I know it’s cliche to say it is a risk to put some of your own personal narrative in a film, but it may actually be a bigger risk to do the opposite. Yes, you are putting yourself out there on the big screen. The marriage conflicts in GLAMPING aren’t our own, but certainly insecurities related to one’s work comes through Jack Spencer in my own voice. I think there’s little success in being risk-adverse in filmmaking on all levels — no one sets out to engage in creating a passionless film without a soul. You have to put every personal resource you have available into twenty-four frames a second.
How would you encourage others to tell their story or manage through the process of screen writing or film producing?
Always start with a good story well told. Plan on spending 5x as much time on your script as you think you need to. Rewrite. Rewrite. Rewrite. Find those honest friends who are going to tell you where your script needs work. And then, if you are producing or directing your story, find people you trust and enjoy being around. Filmmaking is a marathon you run with your shoelaces tied to others. You want to hit the ground running with folks you want to cross the finish line with after a long and difficult journey through cramps, twisted ankles, bad form, and dehydration.
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