Welcome to our latest feature on CinemATL.com. There are so many talented folks working in the Atlanta film industry, we should learn more about them! Here, we ask "5 Questions" -- hence the title (clever!) -- of one of Atlanta's talented film professionals...
Dave Watkins has been making independent films in Atlanta since the early 2000's. Dave has built an impressive resume working as a director, writer, producer, assistant director and actor. His credits include feature films like Stragglers (director/actor), Blackhats (assistant director) and Jack O'Lantern (actor/AD). More recently, Dave delved into the world of web series, with the popular The Lumber Baron of Jasper County and the forthcoming Herman Jones.
We were able to grab Dave when he wasn't super-busy on set and got him to answer 5 Questions about his upcoming projects, working as an AD, and which bad horror movie is the best:
1. How did you get started in the film industry and when did you decide to produce your own independent projects?
I started by writing short stories and scripts in high school which led to shooting some short movies with my friends. Following that I went to the Art Institute of Atlanta for video production and after I graduated started working professionally in the industry some, but also would produce independent projects on the side.
2. So, what's this Herman Jones web series I've been hearing all about?
It's a project we're shooting as a web series, but we're also planning to cut it together as a feature as well. It's about a quiet man named Herman Jones who struggles to keep his violent impulses and weird hallucinations under control with medication. But when a strange cult called the Children of the New Dawn starts trying to recruit Herman, it sets off a devastating chain of events.
3. This is your second web series (the first being The Lumber Baron of Jasper County). What is it that appeals to you about producing a web series as opposed to shorts or a feature?
I enjoy the writing better as it's closer to a television show than a feature. With a feature and even a short, the stories often feel boxed in and predictable. The web series/TV show format tends to lead to more spontaneous and creative storytelling where the characters have room to grow. But that being said, I don't feel there is a demand for web series content and that's why we're considering also cutting this together as a feature. The season of Herman Jones is a self contained story and will translate well to a feature length presentation.
4. In addition to your own creative work, you've also worked on many other indie film productions in Atlanta, mostly as an Assistant Director. What advice would you give to a film professional trying to get work as an A.D.?
It seems most jobs in the film industry are based on who you know, but also doing the job well enough to get hired again.
As an Assistant Director, it helps to be familiar with all of the different departments (Camera, Makeup, Wardrobe, etc.) and how they function. Many people don't understand that the job of assistant director is closer to that of a producer than a director. Among other responsibilities, the job requires you to track the progress of the shoot in relation to the call sheet (or schedule) and also run the floor or the set, which involves calling the roll. But generally the goal is to move the shoot forward while making the director and cinematographer get the shots they need.
5. Finally, the most important question of all... Sharknado or Snakes on a Plane?
Ha, that's a tough one! I'd say Sharknado. Snakes on a Plane, with that title, Samuel L. Jackson and plot should have been a cult hit, but the movie itself wasn't a lot of fun to watch. The first Sharknado on the other hand ended up being everything Snakes wasn't.