By Leo Collis.
Terry Linehan, filmmaker and lecturer at the University of North Carolina Wilmington, is currently filming his first feature-length project, Don’t Know Yet. I interviewed Terry about the film, what makes the project so unique and crashing R.V.s.
Leo Collis: Tell me what Don’t Know Yet is about.
Terry Linehan: It is a whimsical comedy-drama about a heartbroken young man, who goes on the road searching for his place in the world and in life, after the death of his fiancée. He goes on a road-trip, picks up hitchhikers and takes them wherever they want to go. He then meets a woman who is his polar opposite. She shows him how to think outside of the box and to re-enter the living world again.
LC: So who stars in the film?
TL: James Kyson is the lead actor, playing the character Taylor. James was recently seen in the NBC series Heroes (2006) and lately he’s been on Hawaii Five-0 (2010) and other small independent projects. Our female lead is Lisa Goldstein who was a One Tree Hill (2003) actor for the last five seasons. We also have Jane McNeill who was recently in The Walking Dead (2010) and Bill Ladd who has just finished a movie with Meryl Streep. Otherwise it’s other local actors from around North Carolina.
We started casting in February and had over five thousand people apply for twenty speaking roles. That was amazing, that we had to weed through so many people. James Kyson actually contacted me and said he wanted to meet me and do this movie. That was a big turning point in the confidence level of the movie. It was like, “Hey, we have something that is getting some attention from Hollywood!” So James signed on and Lisa signed on, and all the other actors are pretty much local – the best of the best of actors in Wilmington, I think.
LC: So what makes this film so unique?
TL: I decided to use a one hundred percent student crew. I teach in the film studies department at the University of North Carolina Wilmington and this film would not have been possible ten years ago. Now we have such a high quality of film students from all over the country. The people in key positions are alumni from our programme, who have gone into the professional world and come back to work with old professors and our current undergraduates. The project is one hundred percent university supported, not financially, but they have let us use equipment and editing suites, and have given us insurance. Then I have this amazing crew that are young, talented and endlessly energetic. I’m trying to keep up with them! All the actors have commented on how amazing and talented these young people are and it has been joyful to work with everyone, the attitude is great.
LC: So are you using local locations to film?
TL: It has been unbelievable. Our locations are what are setting this film apart visually. We are making a film that is mostly taking place in North Carolina and we have incredible locations, for example we are shooting at a BBQ restaurant that is a very traditional North Carolina place. We are also shooting at a place called Fort Apache, which is a junkyard about forty miles out of Wilmington. The guy who owns it has made a visionary art gallery out of the junk, making different characters such as drummers, guitarists, policemen and robots. There is also a street, and when you walk down it there is a liquor store, a barbershop and inside the windows there are art collections that this guy has collected over the years. There are also junk cars, like a hearse with Frankenstein driving. So we are shooting there and then going on the road to other places in North Carolina. We get to really see the beauty of the state. We are shooting at a beautiful waterfall in the mountains called Looking Glass Falls, and we are going in a hot air balloon to see the real beauty of North Carolina.
LC: How did you get funding for the film?
TL: The film is essentially privately funded. We have had in-kind donations. But we have a partnership with a company call Beard Heads, who make stocking caps that have knitted beards, which go around your face. You wear them for if you go skiing or something. They have very odd designs, for example there is a Spartan one, there is one with horns on, and there are different beards. Go on beardhead.com and see what I mean. So he [the character Taylor] meets a couple of characters that are trying to sell those, which sets him off on an adventure.
We also have an online store to try and help fund the post-production and marketing of the movie. There is a company called Queensboro T-Shirt Company, who have done all the design work for the t-shirts and about ninety percent of our wardrobe come from them. They have done some amazing designs and all because they really loved the idea of the movie and got really excited about it. They have been a huge supporter of us.
LC: You are writer, director and producer of the movie; is being so involved something that you really enjoy?
TL: I’m also transportation captain. I drive the R.V., but I crashed it into a tree yesterday and caused one thousand dollars worth of damage! I hope that is all that goes wrong in the movie!
I’ve wanted to make a feature for years. I had about three different feature films close to production, but it was always a money issue. As soon as I became full-time faculty at UNCW, in January, I had access to all the equipment. So finally that piece of the puzzle fell into place and I could finally make a movie. I have the students, I have the editing suite, there is nothing stopping me now. It made it a lot easier getting that sort of support. I don’t care how many hats I have to wear on this project, because it’s all happening. That’s been a real joy because it’s been a long time coming. I starting writing screenplays twenty years ago and now I’m finally able to start making my first feature film.
LC: What plans do you have for screening the completed film?
TL: We have a screening for cast, crew, family and friends at the Lumina Theater at UNCW sometime in the fall. We should have the film completed by mid-September, in at least a good enough condition to submit to early festivals in January, including Sundance. In November, I’m going to attend the American Film Market in Santa Monica, California. That’s where I want to start handing out screeners, promote the film, get the Beard Heads over there and get James Kyson to come over while we are meeting with distributors. That will be our first real push to market the film.
LC: At the moment in Wilmington there is a lot of film activity, most notably with the filming of Iron Man 3. Do you think the recent attention and prominence are slightly overdue?
TL: There was big business here in the late eighties and early nineties, but then TV movies kind of dried up a bit. Without competitive tax incentives, the business in Wilmington just dropped off to a trickle in the last decade. Now the film incentive has been re-enacted at a pretty solid twenty-five percent, we have been getting lots of work. It is fun having Iron Man here, because we love how forty trucks are pulling out of Screen Gems Studio loaded with equipment, and we have two little vans. We love the contrast and it’s great to be in production at the same time. But this shows that Wilmington can compete on a worldwide scale. If the studios are sending us a multi-million-dollar movie, it shows that they have confidence that we can get the job done.
LC: Any closing thoughts?
TL: I would like to make it known that people shouldn’t underestimate the drive and abilities, and the passion of young filmmakers who clearly have received a good film education here at UNCW. Hopefully this proves that they are ready to go out and compete, upon graduation, with the big guys. I’m hoping that this film leads to more opportunities for our students, to find positions in the film industry. I also hope this film attracts other young talented filmmakers to come to UNCW and study film.
For more information about Don’t Know Yet visit: www.dontknowyetfilm.com
Leo Collis is a Film, Media and Journalism graduate from The University of Stirling. Now an aspiring film writer, Leo is looking for projects that will challenge him and further increase his love of film.