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Eric Connor White Talks About Cinema And Film School

Eric Connor White (known as Connor White) was born on December 4th, 1997 in San Antonio, Texas. Connor began expressing his interest in film from a young age when he began producing Lego stop-motion animation videos with the help of his friends. As Connor got older, he began to shift his focus to live-action narrative short film productions, taking inspiration from directors such as Quentin Tarantino and Robert Rodriguez. Connor and his friends went on to create over 50 short films, and by the end of high school, his skills culminated with the production of three short films known as "The Jon Black Trilogy", a spy thriller series following the exploits of the titular secret agent Jon Black. After graduating, Connor went on to study film at the University of North Texas. During this time Connor wrote, directed, and produced "Escape From Hell", as well as a variety of other shorts during his time as a student. He also began writing the script for "World War Who?", a WWII short film shot entirely on Super 8mm film. The filming of "World War Who?" started during Connor's senior year of college and finally finished shooting after he graduating from UNT. Currently, he is developing for what will be his first feature debut film.

What draws you to filmmaking and the cinematic language?

Filmmaking is kind of the next best thing to being God. You're given the ability to dictate whatever story it is you're trying to tell by creating characters and worlds whose fates you control. What's so fascinating about the cinematic language is every movie you see is like you get to experience what it would be like if the filmmaker was God.

Do you believe in film schools or does making a film teach you more than film school?

Making a film will absolutely teach you more than any film school. There is no question about it. I went to film school and honestly the only part of it where I actually felt like I was learning something valuable was when I made short films for the classes I was taking. You can take as many film theory classes as you want but it'll always be pretty weak stuff when compared to experience.

What makes cinema stand out more than the arts for you?

Cinema is an art, it's not something I usually like to admit with the fear of sounding pretentious. What I like about cinema more than the other arts such as sculpting or theater is that it's more accessible. Not everyone can see an opera or visit an art gallery, but almost anyone can go watch a movie and take away something from the experience.

Did you choose a certain directing style for making this film based on the script?

Yes, I wrote the script with a constant idea of how I was going to direct the movie. I knew from the very beginning that I was going to make an adventure, comedy, war movie in the same vein of the 1960s and 1970s italian spaghetti western and macaroni combat films. I also knew I was going to shoot the entire movie on Super 8 film, knowing that it would add a certain backyard filmmaking quality while at the same time making it feel almost like a historical artifact that was lost for years and had just been recently discovered.

How did you choose the cast and the crew of your film?

I wrote every role in the film with a specific friend of mine in mind. Terrence Bigsby was always going to be played by Dan Brown, just as Captain Quentin McQueen was always going to be played by Chris Bengtson. What was great about that was almost all of my friends along with being actors are also themselves talented filmmakers, so they all additionally functioned as a film crew. Furthermore, with me also being a part of the cast in a major role, whenever I would have to be on screen I knew the film would be in good hands with whoever was operating the camera. The cast was the crew and the crew was the cast.

How did you fund your film and what were some of the challenges of making this film?

I started with saving up a bunch of money thinking I would shoot the entirety of the movie between December 2018 till the end of January 2019. However what became apparent to me was that shooting the movie on Super 8 film started to heavily increase the cost of making the movie, causing production to shut down. We had only shot the movie for 5 nonconsecutive days during what was supposed to be a much more productive schedule. About a month and a half later I had saved up enough money to resume filming again and everyone was able to come back together to make some more of the movie. But since it was no longer winter break everyone's personal schedules could only accommodate shooting on weekends, until then again the budget for the movie fell out, and production shut down again. I would then continue to save up money once again every month in order to shoot as much of the movie I could for whenever whoever I needed for whatever scene I was filming would be available. It was an endlessly slow cycle that progressed for over a year and half, until finally every scene in the movie was filmed and every foot of film was processed and scanned and edited into a final product.

Do you consider yourself an indie filmmaker and what would most be the most difficult thing about being an independent artist?

I do consider myself an indie filmmaker. At some point during the production of my movie I do almost every job imaginable, from writing, directing and acting to driving everyone to set, organizing craft services and moving heavy things. That's the way I like it though, I don't like to have too many people on set, only the essentials. I feel when a movie gets too big there's a chance that you'll lose some of your creative control which is something I'm not prepared to do. The only problem with doing everything independently is that it's hard to find financing, because basically you have to convince someone to pay for you to do whatever you want, so you end up having to pay for everything yourself which will grind a production to a halt. All things considered it's still the way to go in my book.

What is the distribution plan for your film?

No real plans. I never made this movie with the thought of it being picked up for distribution after finishing it. I made the movie to make the movie. I'll keep entering it into as many film festivals as I can so as many people as possible can watch it and hopefully enjoy it. I'm not necessarily opposed to any form of distribution that might come my way, but it's not something I'm actively pursuing with this movie.

What is your cinematic goal in life and what would you like to achieve as a filmmaker?

My goal in life is to have a career of movies where every single one of them I was pure in my artistic intentions. I'm always precious about what film I'm going to direct next, it has to be personal to me and I have to be creatively motivated towards doing it or it ends up not being worth it in the long run. The next thing I would like to achieve as a filmmaker is directing a feature so I can begin this journey of creating a bona fide cinematic career.

What kind of impact would your film have in the world and who is your audience?

The only thing I could hope for with this movie is that it is thoroughly entertaining for everyone that watches it. This is a film made for people that want to have a good time when watching movies and want to watch something that is trying to be charmingly fun and doesn't take itself too seriously like so many other short films.

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Oct 09, 2020

Some great interviews here

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