Several months ago, director Kirk Sullivan premiered his short film The Come Up online. It garnered a lot of attention and news soon filtered in that he was already at work on his feature debut.
Check out the short film below, and then scroll down for my interview with the filmmaker.
When did you have the idea for The Come Up?
I was working on The Losers in Puerto Rico when I came up with the idea for The Come Up.
What was the exact eureka moment? When did you know you had a short film idea that could potentially kick ass and take names?
Right when I had the idea, I knew it could be good if properly executed. The tricky thing with shorts is making something that can captivate and entertain an audience with characters who they don’t have much time to get to know. We thought if we kept it light-hearted and moving quickly with a few twists, it could be effective. Chris Boyd, my co-writer, helped solidify the structure and the dynamics of the story
How tough was it to get Patrick J. Adams—an actor who has a steady acting gig that must take a fair bit out of him—to sign on?
Patrick is an old friend from college so he was excited about the idea when we pitched it and he was fantastic to work with.
Did the rest of the cast fall into place once you had Mr. Adams, or was it the other way around?
When Patrick came aboard, it definitely added legitimacy to the project. Also, the fact that we were shooting on WB helped. My producers and I have established a decent network over the years so getting our crew wasn’t extremely difficult. But we were very lucky to end up with the talented crew we had.
Tell us a little about the process of getting the film made.
Pre-production was for about a month. We raised the money through Kickstarter in November for a shoot at the end of December. The film was shot with two Red cameras: A Red Epic and a Red One.
You went to film school at USC, do you think that helped? In your personal experience does film school make a difference to a way a kid with a dream can go on to make movies?
Film school was an incredible experience. I made amazing relationships and it provided me with an invaluable opportunity to learn from the best while practicing my craft. I don’t feel that film school is necessary for a kid who wants to become a filmmaker but it certainly can help.
How old were you when you decided you were going to be a filmmaker?
I’ve been making movies since I was 14. I started to take it really seriously when I was 18 and made the decision to pursue a career when I was 19 or 20.
Was there a movie, or a director’s body of work that inspired you to become a filmmaker?
My father was an independent filmmaker when I was a kid so that certainly planted the seeds. During my childhood, my family was always going to the movies and watching movies at home and I fell in love with cinema. Then I started playing with my dad’s cameras when I was a teenager and I’ve been obsessed ever since.
Tell us a little about your feature directing debut, The Dead Men. How did you get the gig?
The producer of The Dead Men is Brad Furman, who has been a mentor to me since I arrived in California in 2003. He’s always encouraged me and believed in me and he gave me the opportunity to direct the film in Colombia. My short film helped solidify the job but it was already percolating before the short. I wrapped shooting it about a month ago and now I’m editing. It stars Diego Boneta and Jackson Rathbone.
What advice do you have for other aspiring filmmakers who are in the trenches looking for their shot?
My advice for aspiring filmmakers is as follows: You’re not a filmmaker unless you make films. Go out there and make something. Also, you don’t know what you can get until you ask for it. So ask for everything!
Now that you’ve got your shot, and have had a chance to think about it, is there something you would have done differently?
All you can do is try your hardest, be disciplined, follow your heart and try to work on projects that you will proud of. In the process, you’ll meet like-minded people who will want to help you.