10 questions with Purveyors to Czars director, David Louie Lukasik at the half-way mark.
Thursday, February 11th, 2016
1Hey Louie! Would you mind telling people what the initial seed was to make Purveyors to Czars? Every year my pal Brian's parents take a trip to Arizona. They have this great house just outside of Kalamazoo, MI. We loaded in a bunch of recording studio equipment and musical instruments with the intention of making a bunch of tunes. We hunkered down for a few days and just hung out and played music. So many jokes, stories, and fun came from that hang that we just started to set up the camera and press record. I wove all those experiences around a goofy news story that I read and that's where it was born.
2You made this film in secrecy on weekends while working on the TV show, Mob Doctor. Can you explain why you chose to do that? It's a romantic idea making motion pictures in the veil of the night wearing fake mustaches and giving direction by encoded messages to be encrypted by algorithms but people were just free on the weekends, that's why we did it that way. Secrecy wasn't really a part of the equation.
3How did you find time on weekends to shoot Purveyors to Czars and how did Ashley manage to stay married to you while you did this? My friend Jim Strzelinski coined the term non-dependent film making. What I take away from his concept is that making independent motion pictures should be as low impact and enjoyable as possible. His idea is that building a story should come from the resources at hand. Using the locations, people, props, etc. that can be used with as little disruption as possible. This is a departure from how many independent movies are produced. That being said, the film happened when it made sense for what Ashley, myself, and everyone else had going on. When we shot a scene it was only for a couple hours at a time. Here and there amongst hanging and socializing.
4You created the story for this film as you went along. What was it like putting a film together this way? Fun. There was a schematic for where the story needed to go. I would press record then lob out questions to get them talking about getting there. Then we would build off the story they started to create. As more pieces of the puzzle started to come together characters were thrown into scenes with very different objectives, how they navigated and reacted is what the scene became or what we would climb into for the next scene.
5How did you find your cast and crew? My pals were the cast and I was the crew. I had a camera/audio bag and a bag full of lights. The folks around at the time of filming were the actors. It was a personal, technical and creative challenge to see if I could make a movie with just me. As my job, I work on projects that take a whole army of people as the crew and tons of logistics to make happen. Using that experience, I tried to be as efficient and dialed in as I could be.
6You dedicated the film to Craig Cochran, (who played Eric) who tragically passed away after the shoot. Can you share with us a bit about him and how you crossed paths? Since the moment I met him a garden of inspiration and ideas started to grow. I miss him as a person so very much and I miss all the magic that he created around him. He made me laugh and think every time I was with him. What more could you ask for. He was special. Craig is the cousin of Brian who plays the main character named Brian in Purveyors to Czars. It's tough to wrap my mind around it, everything associated with the movie is so close to me, it's like a half degree of separation. Craig's passing was so heavy.
7What's the film that made you want to become a filmmaker? When I was little I made a VHS movie with my brothers and some friends from the neighborhood called Big Bear, Little Bear. It was about a bully who beats up a kid. A seasoned boxing coach trains the kid who sticks up for himself the next time and knocks the bully out. The training sequence in Big Bear, Little Bear was inspired by the training sequence in Rocky IV. So I guess the American movie classic Rocky IV would be the answer since Big Bear, Little Bear is the first film I ever made.
8How difficult was it to direct and shoot your film at the same time? I had some parameters set up for myself for shooting the movie. All wide shots were perpendicular to a back wall. Since the takes were long and ad libbed I had to find a way to hide the edit points. For this I shot details of the characters with a long lens, a short depth of field and off access. Since many of the scenes only happened once I had to think of unconventional ways to cover a scene with out all the different camera angles. Using these parameters I was able to streamline how I was going to shoot a scene.
9What's the biggest thing you learned from making this film? I wanted to see if we could make a movie like we used to make music. Friends getting together and being creative. Often times the music was the bonus, the real magic was in hanging out. I learned that making a micro budget film can achieve that. Instead of getting together at band practice for a couple hours and writing a song, you get together for a couple hours and shoot a scene.
10What's next? I'm currently trying to avoid all the leftover dips from the Super Bowl party.
About the Interviewer: Ben Hicks
Ben Hicks is a writer/director and co-founder of Fandependent Films. Ben is currently working on making Fandependent Films awesome and is finishing up his first feature film entitled Kids Go Free to Fun Fun Time which was selected for the 2017 IFP Narrative Lab.
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