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KingWolf catches up with Director Chris Schwartz, to talk about his film Shatter, his passion for filmmaking and what’s next for him career-wise.

1. What was your drive behind making films?

  • Would you provide a therapist if I tell you that it all stems from my childhood. When I was about 10 years old, my dad had purchased a home video camera and he let me use it one day. Some workers were doing construction in my neighborhood at the time, which required underground blasting, and I remember taking the camera out to film it. It was my first shot, and I caught the giant eruption of dirt from the dynamite blast on film. When I got home, everyone sat around the TV and watched what I had filmed that day in person. When the emotion from what I experienced live transferred to the people who watched what I recorded, I was hooked. At that point, I wanted to show people all the crazy ideas I saw in my head, since I have always had a propensity for creating stories. I wanted to see if other people would “feel” the same emotions I felt when I first saw a new idea in my mind.

2. What was your first job as a filmmaker?

  • I started out just making backyard films with friends and things kinda bloomed from there. Much of the filmmaking I have done was purely aspirational and any money I have made has been routed directly back into the craft of continuously upgrading and updating equipment as each year it tends to expand exponentially into new things you need to keep up with such a rapidly changing industry.

3. How do you develop a story?

  • Most of the time I hinge it off of an idea or concept that I feel needs to be explored further. Sometimes it’s a whole fleshed out idea, sometimes it’s just an ending, and sometimes it’s just one scene that I think I could film a whole film around. For SHATTER specifically, I was attempting to stitch a whole bunch of little episodes into a non-linear storyline that in the end, would be a very surreal trip into madness (or out of it). I was thinking it would almost be like a madman’s dream. However, I think that once I laid out all the pieces, my brother noticed that a lot of them fit together in a way that loosely worked as a continuous storyline, and he felt that might be better as a more coherent piece. I also wanted to find a way to twist all the subgenres into an ending that could tie everything together, but still leave an element of the unknown. Over the next year, we were able to blend some elements of a linear and non-linear story together in a way that I think managed to balance itself out in a way that would be interesting from both perspectives.

4. What are some of your favorite movies?

  • Oh man, so many! I love cinema and it would be so hard to pick just a few, because, just like my mood, I like different films mostly depending on how I feel. Sometimes I want thrills, sometimes drama, sometimes action. Some movies though really stick with me…The Ring (American Version) was one of them, mostly for the acting and cinematography. The Sixth Sense has my all-time favorite twist. Let the Right One In (Swedish) really connected with me as well. And of course Lost Highway (1997) is one of my all-time favorite films. There’s so many more though, I could discuss it all day.

5. What is the best piece of advice that you have ever received in your career?

  • I was always told to work with people who believe in the vision of the film, and more importantly, just want to have fun making it. It’s good advice and also advice I give freely. It makes the whole of filmmaking feel less like a "job" and more like a bunch of friends getting together in an effort to push one another further than they ever thought they could go alone. The smaller the budget you have, the more important this is.

6. What do you think are the most important elements for a good film?

  • I think it’s different for most people, as it’s such a subjective art form. I can forgive most bad acting, picture quality, sound, etc, if the story is really interesting. Then on the flipside, I can forgive a lousy story if the cinematography is beautiful, so as an artist, I am willing to make a lot of trade-offs to see a movie for potentially what it was intended to be, or at least what someone tried to make it into. You can usually see where people really focused their effort and budget to try and balance out a film. But there are definitely some key things that irk me to the point where it can make a good film bad. Pacing is definitely one of them, but a lot of people have different pet peeves.

7. What are the toughest aspects of making a film today?

  • I think the hardest part about making a movie isn’t making it, but getting it out there, getting people to see it, and seeing if it really stands the test of time….especially when you’re trying something unexpected. There’s just so many makers and so much content, and not only that, but it’s exponentially expanding over time. Not only do you have to see the movies and shows that came out this year, but you also want to see the classics. Plus, advertising, streaming, social media and blogs have all built empires on video content, so you very easily get buried under the massive amounts of content circling around out there.

8. If you were not a filmmaker, what would you see yourself doing?

  • Well, I still don’t really consider myself a filmmaker, at least not from a career perspective. I’m more of a film explorer where I record content that I find interesting and put it out there are little stories for people to visualize. Maybe I would lean a little bit more toward storyteller, but since my stories usually contain an element of surrealism, I’m not even sure that would count. But outside of film, I love a lot of artistic expression, be it music, sculpting, 3D graphics, photography, cinematography, or special effects. I think even if I wasn’t working towards directing, I would most certainly be involved in some form of video production one way or another.

9. Is there a film director that inspires you? If so, who and why?

  • I would probably say David Lynch – mostly because I am in love with anything surreal and also because he paints his own picture that doesn’t conform to most people’s perception about what a film should look like or what makes a good story. I just find that watching his work really engages my brain on a level that most films just can’t reach. Part of it is the randomness, but part of it is the puzzle of “what’s it mean”? Somehow those two things seem to vibrate my brain cells and result in an amazing experience. To most people it’s just nonsense and noise like heavy metal music, but the weirder the better for me. It’s like those oddly satisfying videos, but with more content and depth. His work is a legacy that I wish I had the talent to expand on by creating more crazy films, because I can just never get enough.

Indie film supporters, check out Chris Schwartz's Psychological Thriller SHATTER. A small-town detective must follow the cryptic clues of an escaped schizophrenic patient to solve a bizarre murder only to unveil a revelation even more bizarre than the crime itself.

Attention bloggers, and podcasters, for follow up interviews with Filmmaker Chris Schwartz, contact Sharry Flaherty of Samera Entertainment at:


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