Los Angeles-based writer/director Kyle Patrick Alvarez premiered his second feature film—C.O.G., based on a David Sedaris short story—in competition at this year’s Sundance Film Festival. Starring Jonathan Groff, Denis O’Hare and Corey Stoll, it will be released this fall through Focus Features and Screen Media.
Kyle graduated cum laude from the University of Miami in 2005 with degrees in motion picture production and English literature and made his writing/directorial debut in 2010 with Easier with Practice. The film won him the “Someone to Watch” award at the Independent Spirit Awards and was nominated for a “Best First Feature” Spirit Award.
Speaking tomorrow at Adobe’s Los Angeles Create Now event, Kyle speaks here about his editing pseudonym, the value of Video On Demand and how, in recent years, his choice of reading materials has narrowed.
Now that you’ve had a film screened at Sundance, what’s next on your bucket list? I’m working on a new film that we’re in the process of casting and hope to shoot early next year. I can’t talk much about it yet, but I’ve been involved with it for a while and it’s much more ambitious and challenging than anything I’ve ever done.
What would you say is the potential value of Creative Cloud for filmmakers (not just for post-production but for creating collateral materials)? I think the breadth of software is what can really help filmmakers. At its core is Premiere Pro CC, an excellent non-linear editor, but with the subscription cost of that you’re also getting access to an insane amount of software that can help build materials for a movie’s premier.
Creative pursuits tend to be all-consuming and hard to shut off; what do you do when you need to take a break from thinking about a project? I never take breaks. I guess when I do, it’s to watch another movie or play a video game, but if I’m in the thick of production or post-production I don’t want to do anything but work on the movie—it’s all-consuming but in the best way possible.
As a filmmaker, how hard is it to read “for enjoyment” without constantly visualizing what you’re reading as a film? It’s funny because I was a literature major in college, but since graduating I really only read to find material to adapt. It’s taken away some of the enjoyment of reading, for sure, and I have a much more narrow field of books I read (i.e., they need to be un-optioned and possible to make on a small budget). When I do read something that fits the bill, that I respond to, it’s an incredible feeling; not only am I enjoying the book but there’s the added excitement that it could become part of my creative future.
You’ll be speaking at our Create Now event in Los Angeles tomorrow, what’s one thing you hope that people take away from your session? I think the most important thing to me is to dispel myths. There’s a lot of disinformation out there both for independent filmmakers and for Adobe users. For me it’s mostly a matter of showing just how great Adobe’s new pricing models are and how they can really help independent filmmakers improve workflow, and the on-set creative process.
What do you think of Vine and Instagram Video? They’re microforms that seem best-suited to physical comedy (and some comedians are doing great things with them) but I don’t personally have much creative interest in them.
Tell us a bit about Fernando Collins? Fernando Collins is me. I use a pseudonym because I really only edit to save the production time and money. I use the fake name because if I didn’t, people might assume it’s a part of my identity as a filmmaker. I would love to work with an editor one day, once I have a film budget that will allow another hire.
How has streaming video changed the audience for independent films? And how has it changed the projects you take on and the subjects you choose to develop? Really Video On Demand (VOD) has introduced a new model to the marketplace for independent filmmakers; it’s going to take some more time to build and grow, but it’s quickly become a viable platform for independent films to gain a lot of exposure. My movie opened in the top fifteen on iTunes. That would never have happened in theaters. So although as a filmmaker I always want people to see my films on big screens, I’ve learned that embracing VOD can bring so many more eyes to them, which is ultimately the priority.
What was the subject of the first film you ever made (that wasn’t for a class assignment)? I made a short in college (outside of classes) about a blind man lost in the apocalypse, but honestly my first feature Easier with Practice (a true story about a guy who has a long term phone sex relationship with a woman he’s never met), really feels like my first film that stayed true to my point of view.
As film-making tools have gotten increasingly sophisticated, have they made the storytelling part of your job easier or harder? Why? Absolutely easier. Desktop non-linear editing and access to low budget shooting has changed independent filmmaking forever. It’s given filmmakers tools that are easier and cheaper to use that yield more professional looking products. No one who wants to be a filmmaker has an excuse to not make movies.
If you had a choice of any actor/actress (living or not) to be in one of your films, who would it be? Oh, I could write a whole book about this. As a filmmaker, actors are what motivate me more than anything else; I love character actors, people who really fall into roles. It was truly an honor to work with Denis O’Hare on C.O.G.; he’s one of the great character actors of his generation. To answer the question, I’m rarely interested in “big name” actors, but who hasn’t dreamt of working with Jimmy Stewart?
We heard that you completed C.O.G. in eighteen days… Did the tools in Creative Cloud support your post-production objectives? For sure. I had never even touched Premiere Pro before starting work on C.O.G.; that it was so easy for me to switch over and deliver the film so quickly is a testament to the quality of the software and its ease of use. That it also gave me immediate access to so much other software that I ended up using was just icing on the cake.