Interview with director Phillip E. Walker

  • Was there a particular event or time that you recognized that film making is your way of telling stories?

As a Southside of Chicago eighteen year old senior student, while delivering the “I Have A Dream” speech to 1,000+ assembled classmates and faculty on the morning after Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr’s assassination, with my birth City still burning outdoors, there inside the Morgan Park High auditorium while speaking I stepped outside of myself and witnessed the real life healing power of performance! More than a half century later, I still use art to help make the World a better place. During the past decade, film & video has been my primary art tool.

  • Do you think it is essential to go to a film institute in order to become a successful filmmaker.

Formal, advanced, full-time training in one’s chosen profession is always essential to any person’s greatest success. Yes, some successful filmmakers have no formal training, but they would do even better if they learned the craft.

  • Is it harder to get started or to keep going? What was the particular thing that you had to conquer to do either?

Like most master artists, getting started in my life long profession was motivated by inspiration. Success in that craft, no matter how small, keeps all master artists’ creativity going.

  • What was the most important lesson you had to learn that has had a positive effect on your film? How did that lesson happen?

The late Dr. Alan A. Stambusky taught us in our University of California-Davis Master of Fine Arts program to “keep going forward”. Over the decades, that philosophy allowed me to get projects completed and not be left with nothing because I could not make it perfect.

  • 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?

The creation and development of ”WineGame” in particular moved smoothly forward from beginning to its current wildly successful Worldwide film screening tour. This despite many challenges, not the least being COVID-19 breaking out just as marketing of our petite motion picture began. I think that smoothness became real because everybody did their job to the best of their ability, without getting in the way of other Team members.

  • What was the hardest artistic choice you made in the making of a film, at any stage of production?

Realistic budgeting because, sadly enough, money controls art.

  • You are a collaborator. How have you discovered members of your team and how do you keep the relationship with them strong?

All members of the “WineGame” team, except for the musicians and myself, were Loyola Marymount University School of Film and Television first year graduate students. So the School’s structure pretty much brought us together. In addition to continued instruction therein helping to sustain strong relationships among us, as our micro short’s Development Executive, I systemically keep everyone connected to the Project by informing folk about each success being afforded our little piece. Further, my Walker Entertainer Academy production company strives to hire “WineGame” leaders to work on future projects.

  • What do audiences want? And is it the filmmaker’s role to worry about that?

Audiences want to be informed through entertainment. Yes, their needs are the artists’ worry because “art for art’s sake” is like masturbation . . . even if it feels good, it’s still not sex.

  • What role have film festivals played in your life so far? Why are they necessary? How do you get the most out of them.

Having discovered the short film upon coming to Hollywood five years ago, I soon saw that my favorite art form’s only market was film festivals. Therefore, treating them like professional conferences where one shows their film rather than reads a paper, I rolled up my sleeves and went to submitting and attending the World’s film festivals. So far, the most I have gotten out of this is excellent self promotion opportunities resulting in the “Mateo y Cliff” starring role.

  • Do you believe that a filmmaker should be original and fresh or he/she should stick to classic but safe cinema style?

Since there is actually nothing new on earth, artists always draw from sources other than themselves. This is the birthplace of universality. Originality and freshness comes from the artist’s personal view of any particular universal idea.

  • What qualities or attributes do you look for in people you are looking to employ or work with?

Willingness to work hard in order to accomplish success.

  • Would you recommend writers think like a producer when writing their script? Or just write with reckless abandon and then worry about the cost, or whatever, after they’ve grabbed a producer’s attention.

At least with short films, if not all films, the writer that does not think like a producer is likely never to get the project completed.

  • How involved in the writing of a project do you get? Are you more involved in the initial development?

Whenever possible, I like to be aware of what is happening with each step of a film’s creation. However, I also strive to let each artist make their expression without me meddling in their work.

  • If you had an unlimited budget at your disposal, what would be your dream production project?

“Black Lives Matter – the ultimate movie”

  • What does the future of film look like?

Someday, short film will be the World’s most popular art form. And programs like Rolling Ideas are helping to get us ready!