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SxSW 2015 Interview: BREAKING A MONSTER director Luke Meyer

by Jason Whyte

"BREAKING A MONSTER is about the break-out year of the band UNLOCKING THE TRUTH. It follows 7th grade band-members Alec Atkins, Malcolm Brickhouse and Jarad Dawkins through their first encounters with stardom and the music industry. The film takes place in an extremely narrow and specific time period for the boys - They are transcending childhood at the exact same time their band is breaking out to the wider world." Director Luke Meyer on BREAKING A MONSTER which screens at the 2015 South By Southwest Film Festival.

Tell me about your previous SxSW history and are you going to attend your screenings this year?

Both my previous films DARKON & NEW WORLD ORDER have played at SXSW. My short film about the Unlocking the Truth that preceded this feature played here last year too. I'll be at the first two screenings of BREAKING A MONSTER on Saturday and Sunday.

What do you love the most about showing movies in Austin and Austin in general?

The audiences here are great. They want to have a good time watching movies and you can feel that.

Tell me a bit about your background and how you became a filmmaker. Also what have you worked on in the past?

About 15 years ago I interned with a documentary company while I was finishing school in New York. Shortly after I graduated I assisted Bennett Miller in his post-Cruise days, when he was still primarily focused on non-fiction. I hadn't studied filmmaking in any formal way, but these are the two places where I think I gathered the first pieces of any real film-making knowledge. A year after that I started working with Andrew Neel on what would eventually be our first film, DARKON, about a fantasy realm of Live-Action Role Players.

Later Andrew and I made a film called NEW WORLD ORDER. It was about a group of people who are generally labeled "conspiracy theorists," paying particular attention to the events in history that incited their respective calls-to-action. I have also edited two films called ALICE NEEL and THE FEATURE, and produced Andrew's first fiction film, KING KELLY.

I have seen quite a few of those and admire your work over the years. So what was your process in getting BREAKING A MONSTER together?

A year before shooting this film I made a short film on Unlocking the Truth for an web magazine called The Avant Garde Diaries. Around a million people watched the short within the first month it was posted online. Half a year later when there was talk of doing a feature length documentary, the band and their families asked that I (and my producer Tom Davis) work on it, since the experience with the short film had been so good. Black Label Media saw what was so exciting and unique about making a film about this specific time in the boys' and the band's lives. They joined the project and were able to get us filming some of our initial shoots almost right away so we didn't have to miss any of the story that was already beginning to unfold for the band.

What was your #1 challenge with this movie, and how did you over-come it?

It is always difficult to predict your subjects' schedules in documentary filmmaking, but because the band always had to be ready to jump at the next opportunity, and opportunities often came up with short notice; keeping up with what the boys and Alan were doing was often exceptionally difficult.

If you had to pick a single favourite moment out of the entire production, what would it be?

There were many. I think the first moment was right at the beginning of shooting, when we filmed a meeting with the band and their managers about t-shirt designs. It was the first time I saw real interaction between Jarad, Alec and Malcolm and the adults who had taken up the responsibility of the boys' careers.

For the aspiring filmmakers who read our site, I would love to know about the technical side of the film, your relationship to the director of photography and the look of the movie.

I wanted the cinematography in this film to stand out from other music documentaries and feel like a prominent characteristic in the film. I barely operated at all on this film, which is unusual compared to my past films. BREAKING A MONSTER had fast-moving scenarios and four primary characters to follow. I wanted to take my head out of the shooting and be able to focus my attention on scene coverage, extended storylines and ongoing themes. I worked with two amazing directors of photography, Ethan Palmer and Hillary Spera. We would establish what we hoped to shoot in a given scenario, then the DOP would explore the scene through the camera while I would adjust our objectives as we went along. We shot on the Sony F3. It's a larger camera than most hand-held documentaries are shot on today, but the image quality made it worth it.

What are you looking forward to the most about showing your movie at SxSW and in Austin?

The band is playing the music festival and other shows throughout the week. It is great to premiere the film and offer people the chance to go see the band play live soon afterwords.

After the film screens at South By Southwest, where is the film going to show next? Anywhere you would like it to screen?

The film will play at other festivals following SXSW. But hey haven't publicly announced yet and we are sworn to secrecy until they are!

There are a lot of up and coming filmmakers both at SxSW and reading our site. What would you want to tell them if they are aspiring to become a filmmaker?

Try to understand what it is about cinema that attracts you over other art forms. When some people feel the need to be expressive they gravitate towards filmmaking almost by default, maybe because it's such a prevalent media form. But spending time thinking through why your idea makes sense in film specifically, instead of some other form, will make it so much better.

And finally, what is the single, greatest movie that you have ever seen?

In honor of Al Maysles I'm going with a tie between SALESMAN and GREY GARDENS.

Be sure to follow BREAKING A MONSTER on Twitter at @breakingamonstr!

We hope you enjoyed this SxSW filmmaker interview in our now 40+ filmmaker interview series. We will have interviews posted all throughout the festival so be sure to visit us often for more coverage!

This is one of the many films screening at the 2015 SXSW in Austin, Texas between March 13-21. For more information on this film screening times, point your browser to www.sxsw.com/film or use the SxSW GO App for Android and iOS.

Jason Whyte, efilmcritic.com
Twitter: @jasonwhyte / Facebook: jasonwhyte / Instagram: jason.whyte

link directly to this feature at http://www.hollywoodbitchslap.com/feature.php?feature=3785
originally posted: 03/12/15 14:36:58
last updated: 03/12/15 14:47:22
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