Writing, Directing, and Sasquatch: Interview with producer DREW HALL
Tuesday, Jan 02, 2018
Writer, producer, and director Drew Hall is gearing up for a busy 2018 due to the release of his latest offbeat, oddball, and entirely funny film titled “Sasq-Watch!” Drew’s previous film credits include an assortment of genres including the high-octane action-thrillers “Convergence” and “Sons of Liberty.” This latest movie his Drew’s first attempt at #Comedy, tackling a story about two geeky friends to venture into the woods to prove that Big Foot truly does exist.
Drew recently discussed making “Sasq-Watch!” and more via an exclusive interview.
Making movies, comedy, and Sasquatch
Meagan Meehan (MM): What inspired you to become a filmmaker and how did you manage to secure your start in the industry?
Drew Hall (DH): When I was a kid my family had an old VHS bag camera.
I used to run around the house with my friends filming WWE (WWF at the time) promos and matches. Eventually, I got more interested in narrative stuff – so we began making episodes of "Spencer for Hire." I didn’t start out wanting to be a filmmaker, my goal was always journalism, but as I was interviewing for schools, I had an experience on a flight that made me realize I wanted to do something more narrative driven.
I made some short films here and there, but I started out wanted to be a DP. I shot a bunch of doc stuff for a company and worked as a set PA on a few films. Eventually, I landed as a production person for a small advertising agency where I spent the beginning portion of my career. It was great as I learned to write, edit, manage cast/crew, shoot, and direct spots. So, in a way, it was like dealing with very small #Movies.
I graduated from the University of South Alabama where I helped lead the small film department towards modernizing their approach with digital equipment. I think the combination of learning both film and digital gave me a unique perspective starting out.
MM: Do you remember the first time you got paid to shoot something aka ‘frame that check,’ as they say?
DH: I didn’t frame the check, I needed the money! My first real project was a tour video of the band the Blood Hound Gang!
MM: What do you usually shoot on, equipment-wise?
DH: We own a bunch of REDS, so I like those. We like to rent glass appropriate to the story, but we also shoot some stuff on Panasonic GH5s. We just did a film for them recently and fell in love. Tiny camera giving us a true 6k anamorphic look – granted we had a $70K lens on a sub $2K camera, but it looks amazing.
MM: If you weren’t making movies, what do you think you would be doing with your life?
DH: Cooking--I love working in a kitchen! I think I’m a sadomasochist.
MM: How did the concept for “Sasq-Watch!” come to you and what personally appeals to you about it?
DH: I had just finished a pretty dense/dreary/heavy movie that was very personal, and I needed something to help bring me back to the light. I was talking to my buddy, Jarrod Murray, who mentioned that he had a comedy script for me to read involving Sasquatch. I read it on a flight and was laughing so loud I think people thought I had lost it! “Sasq-Watch!” reminds me of my childhood. There is an innocence to their story that really makes their journey become a mix of a coming of age story and an adventure. It has this call back vibe to it reminiscent of the 80’s films I grew up watching – so after being bleak for a year it was a very refreshing turn. I just love James Weldon’s writing style.
MM: Did you get a big saying in the casting of “Sasq-Watch!”?
DH: I’m fortunate to have such an awesome producer in Scott Robinson. He advises well, he challenges with thoughtful consideration, and he just gets me. So, we bounced ideas back and forth. We disagreed on a few early on – I’m a WWE fan, and I really wanted to get a wrestler in the movie – but then we found out Neal was available and BOOM we knew we found our Samson.
Films, entertainment, advice, and the future
MM: In your career to date, what have been the best parts of working in the movie industry?
DH: Connecting with the audience and other filmmakers has been such a reward. I have learned more about myself and my craft from them than I ever thought possible, and at the same time I hope I have been able to offer guidance to them as well.
MM: Career-wise, where do you aspire to go in ten years and what projects are on the near horizon?
DH: I’m really into HDR content at the moment. We stumbled into creating it on a shoestring budget when there really wasn’t any info out there on it, so I hope to be helping other indie filmmakers creating content in new formats. That said, regarding the future, I also hope to have a couple of other feature films under my belt and working to produce some long-form episodic content within the decade.
We have a few things going on always. So, to shamelessly plug – we have a YouTube channel that is mostly focused on filmmaking techniques which are hosted by my commercial production company called CRFTSHO (Craft Show). There is lots of great discussion with various levels of filmmakers going on! I also have two features in development. One is on the urban legend of “Black Eyed Kids,” and the other is a nostalgic callback to action films of the 80’s and 90’s.
MM: What advice would you give to someone who is aspiring to become part of the #entertainment industry, especially as a professional filmmaker?
DH: True story…I was working as a PA on a film called “Dead Birds,” and the DP of that film was a guy named Steve Yedlin (who would later go on to be Rian Johnson’s DP). I asked him the same question – his answer – go make as many films as you can. It doesn’t matter if they are shorts or features just make something! So, that’s the same advice I give because it worked for him and thus far has worked for me--just go make something!