Friday, December 20, 2013

Ghostline - The Interview with Director Dean Whitney

An interview with Dean Whitney for Ghostline, the movie:

Tell us about yourself. What's your background? What made you get into filmmaking?

My background is in the music business as a writer, performer, publisher, producer, and independent record company owner. I was fairly successful as a producer & publisher, but not so much on the others. With the music biz basically winding down for me starting around 2002, I was forced to make some hard decisions on what I wanted to be when I grew up. Deciding to stick with my creative side, I wrote & self-published a novel entitled "Pinch Hitter" in 2008. While working on a second novel a year later, I decided to try my hand at writing screenplays. To make a very long story short, after a few years of waiting for someone to buy one of my scripts, I finally came to the realization that if I ever wanted to see any of them come alive on the screen, I'd have to figure out a way to do it myself.

Was there a particular event or time that you recognized that filmmaking was not just a hobby, but that it would be your life and your living?
 
Just as it was with the music biz, I approach writing and filmmaking strictly from a business point of view. It's a very tough and competitive business and a lot of research and preparation is necessary if you intend on being successful. While writing and filmmaking has been my life for the past five years, I cannot say that it is my living. But I'm working very hard on changing that.
 
What was your inspiration for Ghostline?

Two things. First, a 1964 Twilight Zone episode entitled "Night Call".  It's about an elderly woman who begins to receive phone calls from a man buried in a local cemetery after a phone line—which was knocked down by a storm—lands directly atop his grave. For some reason, that story remained etched in my mind all these years. Second, I once lived in a duplex that had a ghostline, which is a phone line from which one can make phone calls without having a specific number. I could call out, but no one could call in. With those two concepts in mind, I concocted the storyline for our film.

I love a scary movie, one that is fraught with unexpected surprises, tension, and mystery, so Ghostline appeals to me on all of those levels. Who is your audience for this movie?

Wow! Add to that a bit of well-placed humor and you just described "Ghostline"! Because our film contains a plot, it may not appeal to the younger audience that tends to gravitate toward excessively violent "slasher" films, such as "Texas Chainsaw Massacre". I firmly believe that those who follow the "Paranormal Activity" franchise will enjoy "Ghostline".

Between writing, directing, producing, casting and filming, which is the most difficult and which is the most enjoyable? Tell us about your creative process.

In my humble opinion, the most difficult aspect of filmmaking is post production. Why? Well, for the most part, it's out of my control. As the writer, casting director, director, and producer, I'm in control of the how, where, and when. Once I turn it over to my editor, visual FX artist, composer, and sound designer, it's basically out of my hands because they work on their own time. And because we all communicate via email, the process can be a bit tedious.

By far, the most enjoyable aspect of what I do is writing. Unlike most screenwriters who spend six months or longer writing a single script, I normally spend about a month on mine. That includes formulating the story in my head, the first draft, several re-writes, and then correcting  typos after Judy proofs it for me. That said, the "Ghostline" script was a work in progress up to and during the actual filming.

The actors – some just have that “it” quality. How do you find and cast the right actors? 

While mega-budget films have the luxury of working with casting directors who can bring in "A" list actors, we low-budget indie producers must rely on ourselves to find the best available talent for our projects. Fortunately for us, there are many fine actors & actresses champing at the bit to work on indie projects such as ours. Being the writer, I pretty much know what I'm looking for in an actor for a specific role. Also, having been a child actress, my wife and co-producer has a very sharp eye for talent. Even though I have the final say, I rely very heavily on her input.

What other movies have you made? 

As a writer and director, my only other film is a short we produced in 2012 entitled "The Body Bag", which was awarded "Best California Short 2012" by the California Film Awards. However, over the past few years I've contributed to several other indie projects in one capacity or another. To see my various credits, please visit my IMDb page:


We're currently planning our next feature, "Specter of Fear", which we hope to shoot in Big Bear, California, next summer. My screenplay "The Final Table" is slated for production later this year by Strong Image Films in Las Vegas. Future projects include a full length version of "The Body Bag" ("Curse of the Bokor") and a sequel to "Ghostline".

Have you taken part in film festivals or social media to promote Ghostline or your other movies? If so, which ones?

We're relying very heavily on social media to promote "Ghostline". As of today, we have 7,640 Facebook followers and are looking to add more (hint hint). We are also on Twitter, but I'm personally not a fan. Our website is in the works and should be up within a month.  I did attend a few film festivals with "The Body Bag", but really don't put much faith in their usefulness in attracting the attention of distributors. In actuality, there are only about six film festivals that  help in that regard and, unfortunately, none of them of them are interested in films like "Ghostline". Therefore, it's unlikely that we'll do any film festivals.

Who are your biggest film influences?

Inasmuch as I enjoy many different genres, it's difficult for me to answer that. There are so many that I respect and admire. I will say, however, that I've always been a huge fan of Alfred Hitchcock films, which is interesting because I ended up marrying a girl who appeared in my all-time favorite, "The Birds". And I've always loved the ingenuity of maverick filmmakers such as George Romero, Robert Rodriquez, and Quentin Tarantino.

Where and when will Ghostline be released? Where can we see it?

Wish I could answer that. Once the film is complete and ready for viewing, which likely won't be until the end of February, our task will be to seek out US and Worldwide distribution. It's anybody's guess as to how long that'll take. Ideally, we'd like to have it available on VOD, DVD, and Blu-Ray before Halloween 2014. Meanwhile, everyone is invited to follow us on Facebook where we post screen shots, behind the scenes photos, and updates concerning our progress.

Thank you so much Dean! I can't wait to see Ghostline!

See the trailer here: Ghostline