Interview with director Wayne J Keeley and producer Stephanie C. Lyons-Keeley

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

Wayne: I always loved watching movies as a kid and that hasn’t changed. At some point in my adulthood, I decided I wanted to be on the other side of the screen.

Stephanie: I’ve always been a student of life, loving people’s stories. I’ve also loved writing. When I met Wayne and he pulled me into filmmaking and production, I realized I could combine my interests and become a successful filmmaker.

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

Wayne & Stephanie: No, however, you must have innate talent, focus, drive, and the ability to watch and learn from others in the business.

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

Wayne & Stephanie: Neither of us have problems with either. We are fortunate to be full of great ideas that seem to flow. We feed off each other’s energies. Sometimes it’s Wayne and sometimes it’s Stephanie who tosses out the seed. Then we go back and forth during the creative process. If there has been anything we’ve had to conquer it was prior to our meeting – once we became a creative team (starting back in 2007) it’s been full speed ahead!

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

Wayne & Stephanie: Not to give up – the origins of the film began in the nineties (before we met). The film went through a number of distributors at that time and eventually ended up collecting dust until we pulled it off the shelf several years ago, gave it a sweet update including re-editing and new footage. It’s now a fabulously quirky, cult-classic-esque HOT TUB TIME MACHINE meets ROCKY HORROR meets THE PRODUCERS cinematic masterpiece if we do say so ourselves! Again, our synergy is what makes things soar!

  • 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?

Wayne & Stephanie: Back in the ’90s, the production realities were that it was pre-digital so we had to do everything the long and hard way, including through snail mail. Today actors can forward links with head shots, reels, etc. Production took more time and money and at times was painstakingly brutal. When we shot the new footage, we had to work hard to edit it and add it to the old footage to make it cohesive. But that’s the beauty of it – nineties to the present. The old footage looks like it’s from that era and the new footage represents the technological cinematic changes of today.

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

Wayne & Stephanie: With regard to this film, the hardest choice was in deciding how to bring the old film to the present in a way that made sense; it was in creating new script additions that were both logical and funny.

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

Wayne & Stephanie: I think we’ve already answered that! But aside from our collaborative processes, we leave our egos at home. We love to incorporate the ideas everyone can offer – from our actors to DPs to PAs to editors to anyone else involved in this or any of our projects. It’s a beautiful synergy to use that word again, to allow the minds of all who are passionate about a project to flow into the completed work.

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

Wayne & Stephanie: Simply, audiences want exceptional, authentic, polished, completed works. It is our duty both to the audience and to ourselves to ensure that we focus on that and make something we can be proud of.

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

Wayne & Stephanie: Ha! Film festivals have overtaken our lives! We’ve put our films (and even our other works including screenplays and stage plays) into festivals and seen the fruits of our labors! We’ve garnered upwards of 190 festival laurels for this film, have had multiple screenings across the globe, and love what the festival circuit has done for exposure of all of our projects. They’re necessary for indie filmmakers to get their works out there – and we get the most out of them by providing the festival administrators with what they need, giving them feedback and reviews, and essentially establishing good relationships with them.

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

Wayne & Stephanie: It depends on the work. Fresh is refreshing but classic is tried and true. But to be honest, are there ANY truly original ideas anymore? Creativity isn’t always defined by true originality, but the combination of many ideas into something new. Think about peanut butter cups – once there was just chocolate as well as peanut butter. Someone decided putting them together would be a great combination – and if you see any website around Halloween they’ll tell you that peanut butter cups are the top candy choice!

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

Wayne & Stephanie: True collaborators, solid skills, willingness to try new things, excitement, drive, focus, and all around be enjoyable to work with.

  • 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.

Wayne & Stephanie: Write with abandon. You can always pull back, edit, trim, etc. later. If you think with an open mind you’ll never regret it. If necessary, you can always have two versions – depending upon your submission source. If you’re submitting to someone conservative, give them your chopped-up, sheared product. If you’re submitting to someone with unlimited resources, give them your biggest and boldest.

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

Wayne & Stephanie: We are true creatives as we’ve said, from the first seed of an idea, to the final edits. We’re completely able to develop an idea through to a completed script, cast and crew it up, plan and execute shooting, oversee edits, and market the crap out of it.

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

Wayne & Stephanie: Considering that we have no less than a dozen completed scripts and nearly double that in various stages of development, our dream production could vary based upon promise of distribution. We have everything from dramas and comedies that would be relatively easy to shoot all the way to horror scripts (some with great underlying social issues, akin to but quite different than a film like GET OUT) that require a kick-ass CGI expert. If we had an unlimited budget, we’d probably go with the latter.

  • What does the future of film look like?

Wayne & Stephanie: ANYTHING GOES!!