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A First Time Film Director Fights To Become Something More

By Kris Hulbert

Above all else, I consider myself a storyteller, so when it comes to how I became a Film Director, it was a natural evolution from writing a script. I’m not a writer, I only write scripts as blueprints for the stories I want to tell through the medium of film. I direct because only in doing both “jobs” can I tell my story exactly how I see it in my mind. Which, of course, means I have to be a producer as well.

Prior to my first investor-funded film, the summation of my film experience was a feature comedy shot with a crappy camcorder, guerrilla-style through the streets of LA with some friends on the weekends. No film school degree, no internships, no indie film crew gigs, nothing. When it came time to make my first film, with worse than a bad resume, I not only had to lead the way in getting things done, but I had to learn it all as I went along.

I settled on a co-director partnership with someone I met on Craigslist who had a ton of technical knowledge, but little creative passion. The arrangement was the perfect way to groom myself without being a detriment to my small crew or the product I was responsible for making. In the end, the onscreen product did suffer due to my inexperience, specifically as a Director. I spent so much time and energy simply willing the production into existence, as a Producer trying to finalize the funds, that my directing preparation was non-existent. I thought to myself, “Why bother doing the fun stuff, putting my heart into the creativity if there was never going to be a production?” The production was doubtful until days before our first day of shooting and at certain points all the way through production.

Once we were finally on set, things moved so fast that much of it was a blur. I operated solely on instinct as I found my way. Looking back now as a filmmaker, I made too many compromises. By shooting in my Grandfather’s house to save on the eye gouging from location rental fees, I made compromises as a Grandson. Shooting it in just 14 days forced me to make time-based compromises both in the moment and on a grand scale. Mostly I compromised my assertiveness on set because I didn’t want to dominate or emasculate my directing partner. I was also clueless as to how ‘hands-on’ I could be with the actors, so I was a bit passive and ‘hands off’ in the first days of our production. Several years later the end result, while impressive when the most unbelievable of circumstance are taken into consideration, stands not as a representation of what I am capable of as a director, but where my ground floor stands. When watched with the knowledge that I will never be as clueless and unprepared as I was going into that film, it stands as an example of my limitless potential, which only drives my greatest fear: that I may never again get to direct another film.

Over the past 2 years, I’ve worked tirelessly with a small group of people to ensure I have a chance to show how far I’ve come since obliviousness was my greatest asset. When it happens, the film Just Drive will be a contained thriller shot entirely inside a limo on one sound stage. Everything about this project, from the script outwards, has been designed to utilize limited resources in a way that demonstrates what I have learned as a filmmaker and showcases the talent of the cast and crew I have assembled. As a Producer, I intentionally built a project that gives my director no time constraints or compromising production complications. The entire focus is on the performance of three actors who are completely tuned in with a writer/director, or in this case the storyteller.

My first film is a testament to my filmmaker spirit and my ability to inspire people to achieve greatness far beyond any reasonable expectation. My next film will leave no doubt of the storyteller I can become.

On July 29th, an Indiegogo Campaign to fund Just Drive will launch. The film will be used as a vehicle to pay the crowd’s support forward by giving back to children’s charities.