SHORT BIO OF THE DIRECTOR:
Cory DeMeyers, has had a diverse career as a Stuntman with over 130+ Film & Television credits to his name. Cory is a former Red Bull Parkour World Champion as well as a 2020 Taurus World Stunt Award recipient for his stunt work on Tarantino’s Oscar nominated film Once Upon a Time in Hollywood. As a professional athlete Cory directed and produced action sports content for several clients around the world ultimately leading him to co-direct a feature length documentary titled From Here To There, a freerunning documentary, about his journey to the Red Bull Podium in 2013. Working on set around several high-profile directors such as JJ Abrahams, James Cameron, Henry Joost & Rel Schulman, Zac Snyder, Ed Zwick and 2nd Unit Director Kevin Scott has inspired and fueled his passion for filmmaking, leading him to step out and direct his first narrative short film, Danny Boy.
- Was there a particular event or time that you recognized that filmmaking is your way of telling stories?
Well, I have been working in the film & television industry for the last 11 years as a Stuntman & Stunt Coordinator, but I think my early recognition happened when I saw the movie Assassins in theaters starring Silvester Stallone & Antonio Banderas! I remember leaving the theater so pumped up and inspired, wanting to create stories that got others excited. Fast forward to 2013 and I was performing as a stuntman on 300 Rise of An Empire during the Los Angeles Re-Shoots, I was introduced to the idea of a 2nd Unit Director. Damon Caro who is a legendary Fight Coordinator and Stunt Coordinator was directing 2nd Unit for Zac Snyder and I was intrigued at how closely they worked together & how much trust Zac put in Damons concepts. I realized that directing at least 2nd unit might be a real possibility for me down the road, it was something I was very excited about and would allow e to continue contributing to the storytelling process but in a new way.
- Do you think it is essential to go to a film institute in order to become a successful filmmaker?
Look, I think that it absolutely can help and for some accelerate your career, but I do not think that it is absolutely essential. Everything I have learned was from watching films, reading books, researching online and from doing the work on set, in practice. I think regardless if you pursue a formal education in the industry or not, it is so important that you get out and make things every opportunity you have. This in itself is such a master class, and when you can, get on set as often as possible ; watch & listen to every debatment and you will be so surprised at how much you grow as a filmmaker.
- Is it harder to get started or to keep going? What was the particular thing that you had to conquer to do either?
I think they are 2 parts of the same, for me it was a challenge to get started in the industry in general, but then when I decided I wanted to take a more active role in the creative process and work with my friends and colleagues to create our own original content it was just as hard. It took me about 3 years to start shooting DANNY BOY after it was written, sure a large part of that was due to life and conflicting work schedules of our team as well as covid. But if I’m being honest, I truly believe a larger part of that was Fear, fear of stepping outside the world of stunts where I am so well established to Produce & Direct my own film. I was afraid of what my peers might think, the film business is one of the best in the world but it can also be cruel at times, so I was afraid and that didn’t make keeping going any easier.
- What was the most important lesson you had to learn that has had a positive effect on your film? How did that lesson happen?
This is such a good question, I’d say to allow room for the magic to happen that was unplanned for and when you see it happening don’t be afraid to lean into it, follow it and capture it. I bring this up because during DANNY BOY I had a conversation with our lead actor Jett Jansen Fernandez, who is a very close friend of mine. His character finds a body in the trunk that happens to be a friend of his. The scene was just not playing out emotionally enough for me, Danny needed to be upset but at the same time hold back a touch as the person he is confronting is the killer, who knows what he will do. So, I told Jett to imagine it is ME in the trunk, think of what that would feel like but know you must go on and finish what has been set in motion this night. The very next take he nailed it, but then the magic.. As Francis walks back to the car, Danny puts his hand down on the trunk in an emotional moment as if to say goodbye to his friend, as if it were a coffin. Boom Magic! It was the stamp we needed. I whispered to our DP/Camera Op to tilt down and tag his hand on the trunk, it was perfect, so since we loved it so much we shot 1 more in the same way with a slightly different touch. That wasn’t planned, it happened, and we were aware enough to recognize it and follow.
- What were the production realities from casting through editing that you had to accommodate? How did you navigate those compromises or surprises and still end up with a cohesive film?
For us casting wasn’t an issue as our writer Sammy Horowitz fit the bill of Francis perfectly and happens to have a ton of Guest Star & Stunt Acting experience, for Danny Jett Jansen Fernandez has been a long time collaborator of mine on many things and has an extensive stage background, so I knew he could handle the extensive dialog. Production though was another thing, we were still in a pseudo lock down in LA, the project sat for 3 years and I had 2 days off work. We decided it was now or never and I made a few phone calls to friends of mine who worked in the industry, most of us were testing consistently for work, for speed of production and safety we decided to keep it small an ended up with a 7 person crew including our 2 actors!
Lastly, our On-Set Sound Mixer didn’t have the range of his equipment to ride in the lead vehicle with us and still mix clean audio, so we decided to hide Brian in the back seat of the picture car hahah. Brian is not a short guy, but with a little bit of dark clothing we miraculously never see him in the backseat and the sound turned out great !
- What was the hardest artistic choice you made in the making of a film, at any stage in production?
Honestly I think it was calling it a picture wrap when there were a few more pieces of coverage I would have liked to get. Our entire crew, less than 1 person, was working for free and volunteering their time. It was a night in LA and getting late. A few of our crew had paying gigs the next morning and I didn’t feel it was right to keep them any longer for my artistic vision, they had already volunteered and supported my vision all night. It was very hard for me to let go of those shots from an artistic perspective, but I knew that I had what I needed to tell a good story and as a leader I knew what the right call was for my team.
- You are a collaborator. How have you discovered members of your team and how do you keep the relationship with them strong?
Most of the people I have worked with over the years on my projects are people I have worked for, worked with or helped through my years in this business. I’ve really enjoyed my work and keep great relationships with those I work with. That makes it very easy for me to reach out when I need help, or am ready to staff a project. Once you find your team, I think it’s very important to make sure your team is heard and their individual crafts are respected and experiences are considered. You are all in this together so don’t alienate your team, include them in your process.
- What do audiences want? And is it the filmmaker’s role to worry about that?
Honestly, nobody can tell you what audiences want and if someone tells you they can they are lying. Studios think they know by measure of all their internal and external metrics but even they don’t know 100%. I think a filmmaker has a certain responsibility if they are working with a major studio who is financing and distributing their picture to make something that will sell well, in which case you could argue it is something the audience wants. But I also think the audience doesn’t always know what they want, so if you can put a great story in front of them that is presented in an interesting way and you focus on making the film you wanted, the audience could respond very enthusiastically and feel as if it were made for them. Currently, I am focused on telling stories that I enjoy, whether they be fun, exciting or deeply moving. I’m making films for me and those committed and excited about making them with me, there are always going to be people who don’t like what I make, but I think there are more people like me that will enjoy them. Those are the people I want to share my films with.
- What role have film festivals played in your life so far? Why are they necessary? How do you get the most out of them?
Films have motivated me, inspired me and kept me company through good times and bad. They are a necessary escape for some from the hardships of their lives and for others they’re just the inspiration they needed to accomplish something great. You never know what one is which for who, but I can tell you right now film is important. In order to get the most out of them I think you need to enjoy them for what they are, an impossible feat of human artistic expression, ingenuity and team work. It is so amazing a single film ever gets made and I think you need to keep that in mind the 1st time you watch something. Sit back, relax and enjoy what is being presented. It’s rare that I don’t like a film the 1st time watching, I almost always have fun and can always find something about it I appreciate and enjoy, it’s usually later or the 2nd time through I can be a bit more critical. So I suggest doing as I do, no expectations round one, then let the film set and breathe a bit before you jump in and tear it to shreds .
- Do you believe that a filmmaker should be original and fresh or he/she should stick to classic but safe cinema style?
There is a time and place for both, ask yourself what does the story need. That should be your guiding principle, at the end of the day story is king and if your doing fresh stuff with “cool” shots and camera tricks it could overshadow the heart of your characters and the story you are trying to tell. I kept it simple for DANNY BOY, it is a classic crime story with a fresh take on the way it is written and the unexpected twists that are presented. If we tried to be cool in our coverage It would have overshadowed the brilliant writing and acting, it wouldn’t have turned out the way it did. We chose a classic style for this film in particular, can I do Original & Fresh … I think so and I am excited to do that in the very near future, but It has to be the right script.