Monday, October 16, 2006

Filmmaker Focus: Keith Stevenson

Keith Stevenson, director/actor, LIKE OLD TIMES

Keith Stevenson grew up in Keyser, W.Va., and now lives in Los Angeles. He received a theater/acting BFA from West Virginia University and later studied filmmaking at the New York Film Academy.

You and Neil McGowan, the film's writer, play the two main characters. Was the story idea developed with that in mind?
I asked Neil if he wanted to answer any or all of these questions. He answered only this one with, "Yeah, pretty much." Saving the words for the page, baby.

Describe the process of getting it from a written script to production.
The accessibility of digital filmmaking blows me away. You can take chances and experiment with scripts and ideas without having to ask, "Is it worth spending the money to make this?" All this film cost to make was $64 and a Saturday afternoon. I think our pre-production meeting went something like, "Pull over here, I need to pick up a couple of tallboys."

What are some scenes or moods in other films that have made an impression on you?
Some of my favorite scenes are the Michael/Enzo the Baker scene in The Godfather; the title sequence from Black Belt Jones, numerous scenes from Little Noises with Crispin Glover and Steven Schub; Mac in the garden after his daughter's crash in Tender Mercies. Simple exchanges between two people tend to stick with me, I guess (except for the Black Belt Jones thing, which is a simple exchange between fist and face).

Were there any funny or unexpected moments on the set?
The most unexpected thing was getting into the AFF. The whole production of the thing was so loosey-goosey, we kind of considered it a learning experience. Austin was our first festival submission ever. We got a kick out of the film, but we weren't even sure if anybody else, even our friends, would like it. That said, Neil wrote a funny and clever script, so he deserves the nod from a festival like Austin that recognizes the writer's contribution to film.

What other projects are you working on now?
We're mid-production on another short Neil wrote called Manny (with our DP, Scott, in front of the camera). I'm in the edit room with a 16mm B&W "foreign film" I wrote and directed called Crepesculum (with Neil and Paula Malcomson). Then we'll get started on another comedy about cat-sitting that Neil wrote.

The narrative short LIKE OLD TIMES will be screened as part of Shorts Program 2 at 7:40 pm on Friday, Oct. 20, and at 9:15 pm on Sunday, Oct. 22. Film passes to the Austin Film Festival are just $35 for admission to all screenings (space permitting).


secretknots said...

Keith Stevenson is a genius.

tea and sea said...

yeah, he is soooo modest. he really takes everything much more seriously than his casual unshaven looks may suggest.

b-dub said...

I've seen this little film. It rules. It's very well written, and it's funny. There is a genuine chemistry between the actors that translates, and I dig the choices that they made. Did I mention that it's funny? Congratulations gentlemen.