Q: You are both a writer and a director; how does your screenwriting process flow?
JEFF: Writing is not that easy for me, really. I do enjoy it but there are so many things to do in producing a movie that sometimes the details and decisions of writing becomes a serious burden. Do I write it all out in terms of budget or write immediately for my limited budget. Many decisions with character arcs will plague me for days and later on I may still question decisions.
Q: What does your typical budget look like?
JEFF: My typical budget is pretty much nonexistent unfortunately. It's always been whatever money I can get a hold of. A lot of shooting gets delayed while I continue to earn money for whatever supplies or props may be needed for a set piece. Also I once heard to never mention exactly how much a movie costs you. Especially on the micro-budget level. Interested parties will treat the project differently if they believe it was made cheaply.
Q: . Do you ever feel restricted by your budget?
JEFF: Constantly. I'm always dying for more money. Studio space for example is really difficult for me at the moment due to budget problems. I don't know what I would do with a decent budget. Probably still shoot as cheap and out of sequence as I do now.
Q: What do you find to be the most costly portion of your movies?
JEFF: I guess the most costly part of my movies have been props and things. Occasionally catering is an issue financially. With the type of projects I keep trying to make there always seems to be at least one thing I need per scene that makes the shooting difficult. Oh I know. So far on this one the cell phone bill has been the single most costly and necessary expense
Q: Do you finance/produce everything yourself?
JEFF: So far yes. I have been very reluctant to seek investors or partners. It's one to gamble with my money and quite a different thing to do it with someone else's. Besides I seem to have become a control freak in recent years. I encourage a lot of input from all around me but as THE producer I have the final veto. And I like that.
Q: What type of equipment do you work with?
JEFF: On Children of the Sky I shot with Panasonics AG 455 S VHS. Producing somewhere between fair and dismal long term results. On C.A.I.N. I'm using a brand new Sony VX2000. Absolutely beautiful camera. Incredible picture and low light ability. For editing at this time I'm using a Pentium III 1 ghz computer with Miro's DC30plus capture card. I want to update capture cards in the near future.
Q: What is the most important part of the motion picture process for you?
JEFF: . That's tough. It's ALL so important. There is no greater rush than being on set but the satisfaction of completed editing is amazing. The most crucial phases are probably in production. Sometimes you can only fix just so much in post production.
Q. Do you have a core team?
JEFF: I have a core team this time around it seems. They seem to be some people that for some reason or another believe we can actually do something like this. Some were drafted and continue to be, like relatives, some seem to really have been inspired by the acheivements we've made so far in shooting. We still have a long way to go and I hope they all stay with me until the end. My make up and concept artist is Jim Wallon. He's been with me right from the conception of the project. My asst. camera man and photographer is Tom Henderson. He's been invaluable. They all have been. Whether it's Tim Coughlin running errands and setting up lights or prop pieces being designed it doesn't matter. I could not do all this alone. Without these guys there would not be a project. It would be way too hard.
Q: What has been your most frustrating experience as a moviemaker?
JEFF: My most frustrating experience has had to be the large number of technical problems I had editing my last film. The project was reduced to ash several times by computer equipment failure. And that was a financial problem. It's hard to have backup systems in place without the money to purchase the hardware for it. I hopefully am solving those problems for the future.
Q: . What has been the most rewarding?
JEFF: . Giving an actor or crew person who has worked so hard for me and in most cases without pay their copy of the final project. They bust their tail for you. Give up there free time. It feels really good when I can tell them that this tape is their' and we finished this thing together.
Q About C.A.I.N.?
.JEFF: C.A.I.N. is an android that has been built as an assassin. He's artificially intelligent and totally remorseless about killing. That's been his programming. That is until his original programming gets loaded into his system. He then decides that he can no longer be used in the manner that he has been. He leaves the company that designed him and begins a search for the man that initially created him for a very different purpose.
Q: What was the budget and how long did it take to complete-
JEFF: The budget is whatever it takes to finish it I guess. We're still in the process of shooting but things are going well.
Q: Did you run into any problems on this feature?
JEFF: There are always problems. Chief of which this time around was the necessary replacement of the lead actor. After we began shooting he realized that he wanted to leave the area. So I had to recast. And of course scheduling and finances. Time. Time has been the enemy. Been just about it so far. I'm sure that will change.
Q: What was the most fun you experienced on a movie?
JEFF: I enjoy myself on set a lot. The most fun I have had on a set was when I wasn't in charge. It makes a huge difference. YOU are responsible for EVERYTHING. Removes a whole lot of the fun from blown takes that's for sure.
Q: Who is coordinating the action sequences?
JEFF: Myself and the my main bad guy and martial arts instructor Robert Maucher. The man is very talented. He holds a second degree in American Kenpo, Dragon level in Jun Fan/Jeet Kun Do and belts in several other martial arts. He's a very energetic and dynamic personality. He brings a whole lot to the table with his presence.
Q: Visual and special effects…
JEFF: Visual and Special FX are pretty much my department. I do all the computer and digital fx work myself. As far as Make Up and other props that would be Jim Wallon. Give him some time. You'll hear more about him eventually. What he's done with what we have to work with has been great.
Q: Are there any specific directors or films that influence you and your work?
JEFF: I have always been influenced by Steven Spielberg. JAWS and Close Encounters shaped me for life. There are others from old school directors to young upstarts we hear about all the time. But I would say Spielberg mainly for what feels like a grand level of cohesion between the acting to the look of the movie. There is a feel to a Spielberg film to me that's special. I feel that way about Ridley Scott in many ways, too.