What If… Producer and Director, Dallas Jenkins was recently interviewed by a friend at the now defunct HOSFU.com. With their permission, we’ve posted half of the interview here.
Christian-Movie.com: You now have a number of feature length films under your belt as producer and director, including Midnight Clear, starring Stephen Baldwin and distributed by Lionsgate. Which milestones do you feel you were able to reach for the first time with What If…?
Dallas Jenkins: I’m proud of my other films, but What If… is a totally new phase of my career and growth as an artist. Midnight Clear showed me all the things that I do well and all the things I don’t, so I spent the next two years obsessed with maximizing my strengths and minimizing my weaknesses. I watched several great films a week, read dozens of books, and spoke regularly with my filmmaking mentor, who helped point out all my weaknesses!
What If… is a totally different type of movie from Midnight Clear, so it’s up to each audience member as to whether they like it or not. But as art, it’s the culmination of thousands of hours of hard work since Midnight Clear and I think it shows growth in every level.
Christian-Movie.com: What filmmaking lesson have you learned recently that you want to apply to your next film?
Dallas Jenkins: I talk a lot about lessons learned in my video blog from the set of the film. I wanted to make something that was a tutorial for what worked and what didn’t work.
One thing that stands out is the need to simplify certain design elements (hair, wardrobe, etc.) so that we can fit in more scenes in a particular day. A general rule of thumb would be “less is more,” meaning that if you reduce the number of hair, wardrobe and set design changes, you can spend more time perfecting what you keep. The designers are happier because they have less stress and can really spend good time on a particular focus, and it makes it much easier to do different scenes back to back because you don’t have to wait so long for changes.
Christian-Movie.com: Though What If… won’t be released in theatres until later this year, it is already showing in festival circuits across the country. To date, what is the most meaningful comment anyone has made to you about the film?
Dallas Jenkins: I’ve noticed a new level of enthusiasm from people about the quality of the film compared to previous films, and that’s always nice, but the comments that really stand out are about personal impact. One man pulled me aside and spoke through tears about how the movie touched him because he felt he’d missed his calling years ago, and he realized it wasn’t too late to make a change.
Christian-Movie.com: What about What If… makes it a story worth telling – and watching?
Dallas Jenkins: It’s a story worth telling because it strongly makes the point that faith and family are so much more meaningful than material pursuits. It’s a cliché, I know, but I strongly believe that this story, particularly because of the heart wrenching but uplifting performances by the leads, really drives that home.
Christian-Movie.com: What are the top three things you wish you had known before you started working on this project?
- As alluded to before, the importance of simplifying design elements when you’re doing a fast shoot.
- That it’s sometimes better to let some of your artists show you their ideas before you dictate to them what you want. For instance, I had my editor do an “editor’s cut” of the movie before I stepped in and it made the process so much easier. On the other hand, I think I should have let my composer do some stuff without my dictating. I’m THRILLED with the music now, but it probably took longer than necessary because he was trying to discover exactly what my vision was. Some people require extra communication; some don’t.
- I could have saved myself some time and heartache if I’d gone into this project knowing how dumb I really am and how much smarter God is. I can’t tell you how many decisions I tried to make that God protected me from, especially in casting. I’d hear “bad news” about someone and be so frustrated because I was convinced I knew best…but God overwhelmed me every time with the alternative. Making this movie has actually changed my life because I’m so much more trusting in God now and working harder to stay out of the way.
Now if you want to read the entire interview you’ll have to head over to HOSFU.com you won’t be disappointed.
Courtesy of HOSFU LC http://Christian-Movie.com