You can either listen to the interview by clicking below or read it underneath.
Eoin: First off, tell us about your upcoming project Active Shooter which you wrote and directed?
Patrick: Well, it’s the wackiest movie I’ve ever been involved with. My company Uncommon Dialogue Films is extremely script-centric; by that I mean we start with very calculated and polished scripts because I am a script writer as well as an actor.
I’m very dedicated to having a script, but what happened with this one was I was invited as a Producer & Director to go out and do a zombie movie in Youngstown, Ohio called The Zombinator. This was to be done in four and a half days with no script; this was from December 26-January 1st or something.
I thought “Nothing ventured, nothing gained”; I’m going to see what this is like to shoot a movie in four and a half days with no script. Well, it turned out very well; the whole town of Youngstown, Ohio became zombies and they rolled out the red carpet for us.
So, it became a good piece; I didn’t direct that one but I was one of two Producers on it and the lead name actor. It was fun, it was just bloody fun.
I had been experimenting with the notion of three different ideas and how to make a film out of them. Unlike other projects which my company does, which are script-centric and start with scripts and big development things, I had a bunch of footage which we had assembled from my teaching, acting, Navy SEAL training, firearms training and things like that. I also had professionally shot footage from Hollywood events. I had the idea of teaming that up with my knowledge that I got because of my Police background about Active Shooters.
Active Shooters are of course people who go some place to kill people like Columbine, Virginia Tech and the “Batman” shooting in the theatre in Colorado. On an international scale the Beslan Middle School takeover by the Chechens and Islamic Fundamentalists in which 178 children were murdered and the thing that happened on the island in Norway.
I became aware of the history and the tactics emerging to fight Active Shooters, so that was the second component.
The third component was my insider knowledge of Hollywood and sort of the institutions of Hollywood.
I wanted to somehow create a story that would connect up these three elements. I had just come from a situation of coming from a movie without a script. We set out, myself and my DP – Ramin Rahmanpour — and we went to all sorts of different locations across the country. Wild Boar Helicopter stuff on the border of Mexico and Texas; we took over a University in Pennsylvania, staged Active Shooter scenarios and bomb explosions in the Library.
We took actors out and taught them how to shoot and filmed that and we talked to a lot of gun manufacturers, fired their weapons and filmed that too. We went to Montana and went for elk hunts; took my kids fishing and elk hunting and all kinds of other stuff including Veteran’s Appreciation Days.
We ended up with 500 hours of footage; so we watched all of it, then we archived it and selected the jewels and there were a lot of them. A lot of madness and craziness happened along the way as we were dealing with actors and non-actors, real SWAT teams and real fire departments. So, we took the jewel reel out and we’ve cut several pieces all joined together to demonstrate on Indiegogo the tone and direction of the movie.
We’re about to launch on Indiegogo in order to raise the money for the post production and the way we would like to do the movie.
It’s an odd film; it’s more about this character I assembled, I mean the logline is what happens when a movie villain goes across America to get into the mind of a mass killer… what could possibly go wrong?
That’s what the movie is about. When you’re doing a movie that you’re building, essentially writing in post-production; it becomes something quite different as you move along than what you began with when you started. In some ways it’s Borat meets demented thieving Hollywood in fashionable clothes meets international terrorism and home spawned nut balls meets the grandeur and bravery of the American landscape . I hope people will find it funny, intriguing, maybe even stratospherically laced with bullshit and literacy and I’ll send updates to you and all over the world on the campaign as we go along.
In post-production we have a lot of celebrities that are coming in to play themselves. We also have all of these exquisitely beautiful women and men who are coming in… as part of the structural connective tissue of the movie.
So now it’s a movie villain crosses America to do a film to get into the mind of a mass killer.
Eoin: You mentioned that you worked with real Police and S.W.A.T teams which seems to be a large undertaking, particularly using untrained actors; what kind of challenges were there?
Patrick: Well, to be honest the SWAT teams and the Fire Departments were the best of people because they know their jobs, they know their lingo and they could just be themselves. We also used real SEAL Team guys, police officers and not just SWAT teams. We used the Eerie Pennsylvania SWAT team and the Edinboro Fire Department.
We also used the Edinboro University Police Department and we did a bunch of work with Arcadia California Police out there and we intend to do more with the Chino S.W.A.T.
What is it like? They were incredibly enthusiastic; what people don’t really realize is the power of the movies out in various areas of the country and the world.
I mean, people really want to be involved in movies and that’s a great thing because you’re operating with relatively small budgets and you’re assembling helicopters and S.W. A.T Teams and Fire Departments. They’re great! The Captain of the Fire Department knows how to be the Captain of the Fire Department. The men of the Fire Department know how to be the Fire Department people and so they ARE them. So you give them a scenario and have them act out what they do in real life just as the S.W.A.T. Teams do.
Eoin: Was it daunting to direct the movie and what made you want to direct it, rather than just star in it?
Patrick: In this one I was actually the Producer and the Director, so on the one hand it was very fortunate since I was pro military, pro Police, pro Shooter and a Combat Shooter; I have a lot of resources in those realms. I’ve also been in Hollywood for 28 years so I know a great deal of resources that can be brought to bear in any film as a Producer. I’m very grateful to all these people because of their willingness to contribute helicopters, jet fuel, aeroplanes and all kinds of things at greatly reduced rates, like taking over universities and stuff.
People want to work on good things and they wish you well; not everybody could assemble these kinds of resources but I’m fortunate that I can. I’m really lucky as they all worked out really well.
Actors and wannabe actors who are much more difficult to deal with than actual security professionals, because film by its nature is elemental in its structure; it’s little bits and pieces that you’re filming as you go along. So if people don’t understand that process – remember you’re operating without a script which shows actors where they’re going –and let’s suppose you’re acting like an asshole in one environment, what they don’t realise is that you’re building a character arc that starts out as an idiot but ends in someplace else.
The difficulty is anybody who hasn’t made a scriptless film or participated in the process of a scriptless film can sometimes misinterpret little bits and pieces.
Let’s suppose you’re filming a love scene in a University in Pennsylvania; well, people will get the idea that the whole movie is about love scenes. It’s Not! It’s one tiny little fraction of the structure.
So that’s something you have to overcome and it’s great to have people who trust you but sometimes you’ve just got to push the edge, particularly when the edge things are most interesting. So you have to take the bull by the horns and be willing to be viewed as an idiot or Satan himself as you’re doing it.
We would say “look, here’s what we’re doing, we’re building a character so if you see me doing something inappropriate then please understand it’s not me, it’s the character”. Some people get it and some people just can’t handle it.
It’s very interesting, the chaos of a movie set and it is a particular kind of chaos sometimes that some people are not familiar with. I’ve been doing it for over 28 years so I’m very familiar with it and in fact, revel in chaos. Sometimes military people will have trouble with that type of chaos even though they’ve been to Iraq and Afghanistan because it’s a different kind of a deal.
It was very challenging because there would be these wildly divergent elements coming together, it’s challenging economically, it’s challenging personality-wise but the good thing is you end up with a lot of great stories and lot of great memories. You also learn that it’s ALWAYS going to work out and you’re always going to get what you need.
Eoin: Is there any word on when we’ll see a full trailer for the film?
Patrick: Well, we were originally saying 2013 some time and I’m hoping we can still make that. A lot of that depends on finances with Indiegogo. It’s quite easy to do if you’re able to devote 8 or 9 hours a day to edit it. It’s not easy if you can only catch it 2 or 3 hours a day. My main Editor, both of his parents got cancer and you can’t really switch Editors in the middle of a job because then the new Editor is going to have to watch all the 500 hours of footage. We had some time management problems with that but it all works out in its own way.
Eoin: Would you be interested in directing again in the future?
Patrick: Oh yeah, certainly and I’m looking forward to directing something with a script the next time because I’m not so sure I would ever want to do this again… although I might, it depends on the situation.
As I say, to direct with a script is immensely easier than what we actually did because then you get your shot list, you create an environment where you can capture the actors and you’ve got a set schedule where you go and you do it.
In this circumstance, you throw elements into a high production value environment and go with it. Now in the end, the process of building it in post production is very similar to writing a script. You are writing but just at a different point of the production.
We had to spend some time working out just how to articulate what it was that we had.
Eoin: Just going back to the Indiegogo campaign; what can fans or people who are interested do to try and get this moving forward?
Patrick: Well an Indiegogo campaign is predicated on lists and pre-promotion and the visual art that you present your ideas with and a Director’s statement.
First of all I had contacts in the entertainment world from top to bottom for 28 years but then I also had the military, firearms, hunting worlds and sporting & outdoor life worlds. We’ve accelerated all of those lists and made them all very current. You’ve got Facebook promotion, a lot of still photography that’s been converted into posters for the ongoing campaign and you’ve got to do the rewards and all of that and get that all geared up.
We’re not going after an inconsequential amount of money … we’ve been very devoted when we’ve borrowed money in the past to pay back investors. In the case of Indiegogo you do the work prior to the campaign. So you’re preparing a campaign and it all has to be ready before it goes. You want to get the big art ready so it stays up on the site.
This isn’t like we’re raising $3000 to have our fans have a performance, which is a laudable thing. We haven’t really established the amount we’re going after yet, but we want to do the post-production swiftly and brilliantly. In some cases that takes some good money, especially the graphics. Although we’ve got amazing graphics that are generated. The good news is we have 9 Distributors that have come to us interested in the movie before we finished principal photography. We’ve got a bunch of connective tissue to continue to shoot and we want to do that under the circumstances of having a bit more funds as we go forward.
Indiegogo involves a very different kind of promotional material than the film itself, so we crafted a piece that I think captures the tone of the movie as well as the direction. We also cover the more serious nature of some of the topics but also capture some of the humour and irreverence about the way that we approach the story.
Eoin: It sounds fantastic, thanks very much for taking the time to chat with us and we’ll do our best to promote the movie as much as we can.
Patrick: Thanks very much. I’ll keep you up to date with the project as we move along.
Active Shooter’s Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/ActiveShooterMovie
Patrick Kilpatrick’s Official Site: http://patrickkilpatrick.tumblr.com/
Active Shooter Official Site: http://activeshootermovie.com/