Solitaire is about an estranged boy who befriends a transient only to have their friendship torn apart. Solitaire is directed by Christopher A. Schultz. It is our pleasure to interview Christopher regarding the making of Solitaire.
What draws you to filmmaking and the cinematic language?
I was always drawn to movies. As a kid, I would look forward to going to the movie theater, especially the outdoor theater. The images were so big, but they told so much more of the story than just what the words did. I saw Star Wars at an outdoor theater where I grew up in Wisconsin and the visuals just sucked me in. Certain films still do that today. It also allows me to escape for a few hours at a time, live in a different world or setting I might never find myself in.
Do you believe in film schools or does making a film teach you more than film school?
I never attended film school. I took some film classes at college, screenwriting, editing and production classes, but not a specific "film school." I was fortunate enough get a job on a film after moving to Los Angeles. That lead to another and another and it kept rolling for me. That taught me so much. It allowed me to understand every aspect of film making. I get to see the styles of different directors and their approach to their process. It has given me wonderful insight on how to trouble shoot when things don't always go according to plan, and believe me there are some moments. Working on set, working with the actors and all the different departments has helped me gain so much understanding of all the different elements that go into film making, so the bottom line is, to me, it's all about the knowledge and experience you can acquire and then put it to use, learning through experience and doing it.
What makes cinema stand out more than the arts for you?
To me, film making is a type of art. It's a creative idea that is put onto it's own canvas with many different layers, and it comes to life. It evolves right in front of your eyes.
Did you choose a certain directing style for making your film based on the script?
I had limited resources and equipment, so I wanted to make it as simple but effective as possible. When I wrote the script, I always kept in mind that we had limited funds so it was trying to keep everything contained.
How did you choose the cast and the crew of your film?
I had just finished another short, a kids comedy with my son, Jacob, and his friends. I got that idea when a friend of mine, Dean Fronk, a casting director with Pemrick/Fronk casting here in Los Angeles was running a scene study course called "Kids on Camera." I thought it would be cool if they would use what they learned from Dean and we expanded it to shooting actual scenes. So I came up with a short script that combined the idea of "COPS" and "Reno 911" to a younger level and we shot KOPs (Kids on Patrol). I asked John Kiefer, another friend, if he wanted to shoot it because I knew he was starting to do some DP work. He gladly agreed and we shot it. So when KOPS was done and I was editing it, I began to think of a project I could do with Jacob. We had no money, so I cast myself opposite of him. John was on board as the DP, but I knew this was going to be a more serious film and I wanted to submit it to festivals. I was working on the TV show Lucifer at the time and I approached some of the other crew members and asked them, I hate to say it, for "favors." The ole, 'I have no money, but I was wondering if you wouldn't mind helping me' bit. Kelsey Jonikas, a brilliant sound person, cleaned up my audio and atmosphere noise and even went so far as to throw in some foley work. Vernon Evans and Sam Tazartes agreed to edit the project for me. I had known them for a few years working on different TV shows. I asked a fantastic guitarist and musician, Jeff Zimmerman if he was interested in scoring the film for me. He was recommended to me by another good friend and gifted guitarist, Jeff Norton. Zimmerman and Norton had been playing guitar together for years in a local band, Dirt Angel. I had seen them perform a few times and knew he was the right guy for the job, and "Z" agreed to score the film. My co-producer, Stephen Simyak, is one of my oldest friends in Hollywood. Funny enough, we met on a no-low budget film where neither one of us got paid. He was glad to help as we're always throwing production and story ideas at each other. He also served as the boom operator and one of the police officers in the film. The costumes were designed by my wife, Julia Schklair, who has been a Costume Designer for numerous films and TV shows. That was a no brainer and she was just excited for me to start directing and looked forward to her husband and son working on a project together. I cast Olivia Heinz as Jesse because she has acting ambitions and I had seen her perform at her local theater and felt she was right for the part. She is also a friend of Jacob's and knew they would be comfortable around each other. Ben Hollander is a family friend and he agreed to play the second police officer. The bottom line is, I approached friends, excellent at what they do in the industry, and I was comfortable asking them to help me out with no funding and I trusted them.
How did you fund your film and what were some of the challenges of making this film? Well, my wife, Julia, and I paid for the film ourselves, out of pocket if you will. The biggest challenge was not having the full compliment of equipment and man power you would normally see on a film, but you make do with what you have and we knew that going in.
Do you consider yourself an indie filmmaker and what would most be the most difficult thing about being an independent artist?
At this point yes. I feel the most difficult thing is trying to raise money to get our projects off the ground.
What is the distribution plan for your film?
Right now, I'm working on a full length script evolving from this story, so after that's shot and packaged, we'll go from there.
What is your cinematic goal in life and what would you like to achieve as a filmmaker? My cinematic goal is to continue making film and TV, keep bring entertainment to people. I want to keep being able to bring stories to life, give others a chance to escape into a different world for a few moments of their life.
What kind of impact would your film have in the world and who is your audience?
I hope it shows you can't always judge people by appearance without knowing who they really are. Right now we live in a time where so many people need a little boost, even if it's just a slight wave to bring a meal to someone in need. But these things should happen anytime of year at anytime in our life. I hope this hits home to everyone.
Watch the trailer: