Introducing Filmmaker Fridays
Virgil Films has and continues to work with talented filmmakers all around the world. Beginning today and continuing on selected Fridays, we will be sharing our Q&A with filmmakers we have worked with and/ or are currently working with. Today, we will sharing Brett Culp’s story, who directed Legends of the Knight and was released on VOD and DVD back in November of 2014.
Q1. When did you realize you wanted to begin your career in filmmaking?
Brett: I started telling stories through home movies when I was young. I made stop-motion superhero movies with my action figures and did all the voices myself. So, my love affair with filmmaking began early. I learned many techniques of documentary filmmaking through filming countless weddings in my 20’s. I probably filmed over 300 weddings. These kinds of events are environments don’t allow for a 2nd take – you have to get the shot the first time. So I have endless opportunities to practice envisioning and capturing a powerful image without any staging on the 1st try. As I developed my voice as a filmmaker through capturing the emotional stories of others, I realized that I had stories that mattered to me. My filmmaking journey over the past decade has been expressing those stories.
Q2. Your documentary Legends of the Knight tells the story of everyday heroes who overcame hardships. What inspired you to create this documentary?
Brett: I have 2 sons. As a father, there are certain messages you want your sons to hear and believe. To me, one of the most important messages continues to be: “You can be a hero.” In work, in relationships, in our communities, in life. We all have the capacity to be heroes. I want my boys to know this deep down in their souls. And I think the world would be a very different place if all us knew it about ourselves.
Q3. Did you face any challenges and/or setbacks during filmmaking and if so, how did you overcome them?
Brett: The process of creating a film with limited resources is a long journey; and this film required me to travel to 16 different cities to capture stories. So the filming was challenging, and I was mostly traveling alone as a one-person crew. Then, with a documentary, you are ‘scripting in the editing room’, so you are trusting your filmmaking instincts that you really captured the story during your filming trip and that you will have what you need to express it in the finished movie. Then, after you’ve polished and refined it – and you are personally proud of it – you hope that other people will care. You hope you will have an audience. And the adventure of getting your finished film into the world can be just as challenging & time-consuming as the process of completing the film.
Q4. What are some of your great accomplishments and/or proudest moments?
Brett: My proudest moments with our film Legends of the Knight have been watching how the film has been used to support charitable organizations around the world. We made the decision to allow people to host their own screenings of the film without charging them a fee as long as the proceeds went to charity. At this point, Legends of the Knight has screened in over 100 cities, raising $70,000 for charity. I’m so proud of this, and I am honored by the thousands of people who have invested time and energy into making these screenings successful.
Q5. Who are your favorite directors/ What are your top three favorite movies?
Brett: In the documentary world, I am in love with the ESPN 30 for 30 series. Although I’m not a huge sports fan, I love seeing the diversity of storytelling styles and the emotion in each of these stories. But, in the world of scripted features, my favorite director is Wes Anderson. I am in love with Grand Budapest Hotel and Moonrise Kingdom. I also love Christopher Nolan.
Q6. What are your plans for the future?
Brett: We are now working on our next documentary feature, which will continue the superhero themes of Legends of the Knight. I feel inspired to continue expressing the hope I see in real-life heroes. Particularly in young people.
Q7. What advice would you give to someone who wants to begin their career in filmmaking?
Brett: Whatever area of filmmaking you are passionate about, start doing it right now. Don’t wait for permission. Don’t wait for a job in the business. Don’t wait for better equipment. Grab the best camera you can get your hands on in the next 24 hours and start filming something. Edit it the best you can and start sharing it. It will be TERRIBLE, but that’s OK. Make another one… it will be better than the first. And the third one will be better than the second one. Keep going, keep learning, keep trying. The most important thing is finding your own voice, and that’s not a theoretical process. It comes from getting in the dirt and making films. So, start. Right now.