There are numerous film festivals all over the world. There are world prestigious film festivals such as the Sun Dance Film Festival, Cannes, Toronto International Film Festival and the Rotterdam Film Festival. There are also more local film festivals such as the Big Apple Film Festival, Golden Door International Film and one in our own home, the Kansas International Film Festival.
The Kansas International Film festival is a great festival for those who are familiar with the independent film and those who are not. Attendees have the chance to meet the directors, watch select short films and participate in intriguing conversations. According to the film festival’s website, “the goal was to deliver diversity in storytelling to the Heartland while nurturing the vibrant film industry ever-developing in our metro’s cities. Today, our festival brings more than 800 creators from countless countries to participate in our local film industry.” The KIFF is an amazing opportunity to discover new films, creators and directors. Check out the film festival website for a schedule of events, films and attendees.
I was lucky enough to interview director Patrick Rea, director of the latest film Belong to Us. I gained some insight into what it is like being a director, what is included in the directing process, and what it is like directing films. Patrick has directed several great films, shorts and shows throughout several different genres.
For those of you who may not have heard of Belong to Us yet, it is a film about a dog who is rescued from an underground dog-fighting ring. When the dog, Duke, discovers the family, he is injured and they eventually fall in love with the fragile, adorable dog.
Tell me about yourself, where you were born, how you got into film, etc.
“I was actually born and raised in Schuyler, Nebraska… I grew up in the 80’s just kinda always wanted to be involved in movies and such. Eventually in high school, in the late 90’s, we had our own broadcast from the high school… that’s kinda how I got started and interested in making movies… I went to the film school at the University of Kansas.”
“At this point, I had made a few films. In 2010 I had made a film called Nail Biters. It was shot in Lawrence. And uh, it was released in 2013 in the Redbox… and then I started working on another film called Enclosure. It was shot in South Carolina. Over the last year, I worked on a show called the Inspectors. It’s on Saturday mornings… there were 7 episodes and I directed 2. It’s on Saturday mornings. It’s kinda like CSI for kids but through the Post Office… so they’re postal inspectors”
“Then I was sought out to make this film, which at the time was called Duke. Then we changed the title to Belong To Us. We shot the film mostly in the summer of 2016 in the Kansas City area. And uhm, post-production kinda completed around 2017. Then we had our film fest in April.”
At this point, I had noticed some interesting sounds coming from the background, similar to baby babble noises. Patrick then mentioned that his 11-month old daughter was in the background. He said she kept staring at him during the interview and making baby sounds. It was very entertaining.
“So yeah, anyway. We ended up premiering it (Belong to Us) at the KC Film Fest. The film had been picked up for distribution but I’m not sure I’m allowed to say by who yet… I think they’re going to be selling it in other countries first though. So I guess the movie is going to be dubbed in other languages, which is hilarious. My other horror films weren’t dubbed in other languages, they were just subtitled. Which, I’ll be honest, I was disappointed. I wanted to see them dubbed because it would be hilarious to see my characters in a different language. But since this is a little kid movie, they’ll do dubbing because little kids can’t always read.”
So, you said you were sought out by someone to direct this film?
“Yeah yeah. I’m friends with the writer. They were originally going to direct the film and then she decided to have me do it. Amber Wrapp called me in the summer of 2016 and said ‘hey would you want to direct this film?’ She called me in June and I think we were filming by July. Yeah… we shot over 16 days in the KC area. It was great. We got a lot of help from local businesses. The crew was fantastic. Mostly we had local actresses and actors come in to help out.”
That was actually my next question, where do you find your actors and actresses?
“Well, we did a lot of auditions for it… because the lead character is an 11-year old girl. So we did a lot of auditions. There is a scene with a brother and sister so we had to find the right pairing and Matthew Limblom blew us away as the brother so we had to find the right girl for the sister. Finally, we found the right girl, got them together and they blew us away. And then Kathleen, who plays Nana… she blew us away too. Fantastic job.”
I’m sure lots of people are wondering, but how do you pick the dog for the film?
“Haha, that’s actually Amber’s dog. He was kind of cast before we started the movie. And I will be honest with you, I was a little nervous. Typically you cast trained dogs. In this case, we had hired a dog trainer to come on set and train the dog and that’s why it was originally called Duke. So we hired a dog trainer to come work with him right on the set. It was a little scary because normally you want animals who are trained for this kind of thing but luckily, Duke picked up on a lot of the dog training things pretty quickly. When you’re making a low budget movie, you don’t want to use animals or children, but that’s exactly what we did.
“Really the biggest challenge we had was that it was so hot when we were filming… to the point that one of our vehicles we were using died while we were filming with it. It died in the parking lot. By the time that vehicle was fixed, we were practically done with the filming. So we just didn’t have those scenes in the car anymore. Uhm, we also had a scene with a baseball team. We actually had a baseball team come in. The only non-baseball player on the team was Mathew. He couldn’t really pitch. We filmed it so it looked like he was really good but… it was over 100 degrees that day so we were trying to get through the scene that day before everyone passed out on us.”
About how long did you say it took to film the whole movie?
“I would say, if you were to add it up, I think it was about 18 days. Roughly.”
18 days? Wow. I was thinking years for sure! That is wild.
‘Nope, 18 days. With low budget films, that is what the schedule is like. Sometimes even less than that. You don’t normally have the money to have everyone on set longer than that. I honestly thought it was a tad long. 18 days?! I can take my time.”
What do you do when you’re not directing? Do you write or anything?
I do a lot of writing. I’m actually editing a movie right now that was shot in Saint Joe. I have two more weeks editing this movie. Yeah, I mean I wrote for that CBS show. I’ve got several other projects right now. I’m in that phase where you’re trying to raise money for your next projects.
What do you do to raise money for your films?
Well, there’s several different things. It really depends on the film.
What is your favorite genre to direct?
I don’t really… I like family films because obviously, the Inspectors is a family show. I prefer horror and suspense because those are the kind of movies I like to watch. It’s kind of a tug of war. I would definitely do another family film. That’s the thing too, you don’t wanna get stuck doing one kind of movie. You get pigeonholed and then you’re stuck… To make a living in this business you have to be able to do different kinds of projects.”
In terms of film festivals, what’s your favorite part of attending them and being a part of them?
I like meeting new people and the contacts I’ve made over the years. Some of the contacts have grown into actual friendships. And I like just seeing the actual reactions to the films. One you’ve been working on it for so long you don’t have any perspective anymore, you know? You don’t know how people will react. It’s just kind of nice talking to people afterward and seeing how people will react to the show or film.
As you can see from the interview, Patrick is an easy-going guy who is passionate about directing and the film industry! Check out his latest directing endeavor: Belong to Us. You also have the chance to meet with him at the Kansas International Film Festival.