Brian Kazmarck is an award-winning filmmaker whose films have screened across the country. His short "Unaware" won the 2007 Cross Culture Media "Impact the World" Filmmaker's award. "Game Theory," a crime thriller, (2009) was selected to multiple film festivals across the country including the Festivus Film Festival, FirstGlance Philadelphia, and the Bare Bones International Film Festival. His second independent short film, "Dandi Lyon" (2010), a thriller/dark comedy premiered at the 2010 Hoboken International Film Festival and played nationally at several other film festivals. "Terminal Legacy" is his debut feature.
He is the owner of Open Fire Films, LLC
What is the current project your working on?
I'm currently finishing up post-production on my debut feature, "Terminal Legacy." It's an apocalyptic sci-fi/action/horror hybrid with a zombie slant. We've likened it to a cross between the Crazies and I Am Legend, except it's more of a prequel to both of those. It's about the events leading up to the apocalypse, not the aftermath. And, it's about the men responsible, it's not a "survivors on the run" story.
What is the casting process like?
This casting process was quite interesting. Most of the roles were written with specific people in mind and the ones that weren't were narrowed down to a few people we already knew. We did extensive callback-like auditions for those and chose the best person for the role.
How do you measure success?
I suppose success is best defined as doing what you love, doing it well, doing it consistently, and making sure that it's doing good for others. With film, the goal is to entertain, but, you also have the opportunity to affect lives.
How do you handle rejection?
With a lot of drugs and alcohol. No, but seriously, you just take it in stride. You try to learn from it and get back up after you get knocked down. Easier said that done, right?
Did you always want to be a filmmaker?
No. I always liked to tell stories. I wrote a lot of shorts stories, drew my own comic books, wrote a novel (more art as therapy), but, it all felt incomplete. Filmmaking is the ultimate realization of storytelling.
What inspired you to become a filmmaker?
Well, I think part of it was that I wanted the stories I told to be seen and heard, rather than read on paper. I think the other half was that I wanted to affect people's lives through it. I think film is a great way to engage the culture we live in; ask questions, get people thinking, make them FEEL something.
What is the best thing about being a filmmaker?
There are lots of good things, it's hard to narrow it down. I'd say there's a sense of accomplishment seeing your labor of love on the big screen. There's also the interaction with your audience...I suppose big Hollywood filmmakers don't get that much, if at all. And then, if you evoke an emotion out of someone, the emotion you were going for...well, that's what you wanted to do.
What is the worst thing about being one?
The stress. There's also the temptation to take too much credit for your accomplishments and bask in your own glory.
What is the estimated number of projects you have worked on?
I think I've worked on about 40+ shorts, some of them my own. "Terminal Legacy," was my first feature film set. I'm happy that the first one I worked on was my project.
Who is is your favorite filmmaker?
I actually am equally fond of David Fincher, James Cameron, P.T. Anderson, & Steven Spielberg
How has your life changed since you became a filmmaker?
Drastically. Too many changes to count. Suffice to say that filmmaking isn't just a job, it's a career that's hard to keep out of your personal life.
What is one piece of advice you can give to someone who also wants to become a filmmaker?
It takes a lot of time and dedication. Things do not happen overnight. Be patient and persistent.
What do you like to do besides filmmaking?
I like to people watch, read, be with a few close friends, go for loooong walks (on the beach if possible...hey, the beach is awesome, leave me alone), I like to do active things, but am not a thriller seeker. Hiking, but not bungee jumping. Para-sailing, but not sky-diving. I've been itching to travel more and more. I've yet to see much of the world, and am eager to. I also just enjoy relaxing at home and doing nothing. I'm easily amused like that.
Have you had any other jobs before you decided to become a filmmaker?
I worked as a retail sales clerk & manager. I also did real estate before filmmaking.
What are some of your favorite American films? Foreign films? Television shows?
In no particular order: Minority Report, 12 Monkeys, Dark City, Aliens, T2, Braveheart, Spider-Man 2, L.A. Confidential, The Fifth Element, The Castle, Casablanca, Rear Window, JFK. Foreign Films - I need to expand my exposure to these, but, I did just recently watch Amelie and quite enjoyed it. Also really liked Let The Right One In. - TV shows? Currently Breaking Bad tops my list, by a wide margin.
How would you describe your film education?
Very hands on. Went to an intensive program where we were thrown into the fire. I think I've also learned a lot (if not more) by working at an acting school, shooting and editing scenes. Plus, every set I work on I typically learn something new. It's really an ongoing learning process.
How would you describe the film "scene" where you live?
New York City is the mecca of indie film. So, there's a huge dirge of talent and competition here.
How has social media changed the film industry?
I think it's helped unite filmmakers across the country. It also increases the chances of exposure as well as being able to directly connect with your audience. That seems to be a growing trend in the indie scene. Not sure where it's leading yet, but, it's leading somewhere.
What's your opinion on crowdfunding?
I hate it, but, it's a genius idea. It has certainly afforded filmmakers more opportunities to make their films on their terms. And as with social media, it serves as a way of connecting directly with your audience as well as promoting the film. We just had a successful kickstarter campaign, and the campaign itself has gained us a ton more exposure than before. Instead of being known to our local community, we're now a blip on the map...a small blip, but, we're out there now.
How does independent film differ from the mainstream?
Well, indie film isn't made by the studios. Filmmakers have much more creative control over their product, which could be good or bad. I think the biggest difference you hear is that, because most indie films are made for much less money, the filmmakers have to be that much more creative in how to tell their story, which is generally true.
You could go back in time and see any film being made. Which film would it be and why?
Showgirls. Hah. I don't know, I think I'd be really curious to be on the set of The Abyss.
What's your favorite quote and why?
"Even a fool is thought wise if he keeps silent, and discerning if he holds his tongue." - Proverbs 17:28. Wise, practical wisdom to live by if you ask me.
What is your opinion on movie remakes and sequels?
It's give and take. In regards to remakes, if it was a substandard film with a good premise, it might warrant a remake. Otherwise, films are usually best not to be remade. Sequels are tricky; it's a mixed bag really. The Godfather Part II, Aliens, T2, Spider-Man 2 are just a few sequels that are either up to part with the original or exceed it. However, the Matrix & Pirates of the Caribbean sequels were rushed and not very good. I suppose if you have a good and justifiable continuation of the story, a sequel would be warranted. In the case of something like Speed 2...my response was, "why?"
What is your opinion on book to movie adaptions?
I'm fine with it. I'm of the mind that you shouldn't compare a film to it's source material because they're 2 extremely different mediums. There are exceptional adaptations (L.A. Confidential) and there are substandard ones (The Black Dahlia). But, as it is, L.A. Confidential is just a better film than the Black Dahlia. Consequently, I liked The Black Dahlia novel better than L.A. Confidential.
Is there anything else you would like to add?
Thank you for the interview. =]
Thank you for doing the interview Brian. I wish you all the best with your post production. I plan on seeing "Terminal Legacy" when it comes to a film festival near me.