Interview with Filmmaker Doug Werby (NO TRICKS)

NO TRICKS was the winner of BEST FILM at the October 2021 WILDsound Film Festival.

What motivated you to make this film?

I’ve been working in the commercial and corporate filmmaking space for decades, at first as an editor, then as a director-editor and I was really feeling the need to challenge myself creatively and producing a narrative project from start to finish seemed to be the answer. I got into this business to tell stories visually. I’m a visual learner and thinker. I turned to the commercial market because I was good at it and it paid well to boot. But making commercials and corporate did not fulfill the creative bucket. Narrative filmmaking is what makes my heart beat faster and what turns me on, at this point in my creative development, is seeing a complete vision and telling it from start to finish.

Stories that matter to me, perhaps have meaning to others and that hopefully entertain as a whole.

2. From the idea to the finished product, how long did it take for you to make this film?

I had been flirting with this idea for about eight years after hearing an NPR Storycorps radio show about a man who recounted a similar situation. This story about a man named Julio Diaz turned out to be my inspiration. But from actual adaption (scripting) to final HD output, about 5 to 6 months. Being in the film business I have lots of production connections and thought this was the project to start pulling favors.

3. How would you describe your short film in two words?

Unexpected empathy.

4. What was the biggest obstacle you faced in completing this film?

Biggest cost: renting the Cal Trans train station in SF for three hours. Hard pill to swallow when self financing. But was worth it.

Removing an entire scene that took a half day to shoot. Killing your babies is always hard.

5. What were your initial reactions when watching the audience talking about your film in the feedback video?

I love this concept. It is the one festival that really gives back. It’s so valuable to hear what others have taken away from the experience. This is the second audience feedback film I’ve entered, the first was for my second short called “Motorbike Thief” and I found the feedback for both films validating in terms of the themes I was trying to convey. It made me feel like “yes”!, it was worth the time and effort needed to put them together. No other festivals that I’m aware of do this. So thanks.

Watch the Audience FEEDBACK Video:

6. When did you realize that you wanted to make films?

Summer of 1976 (yes, I’m older) when I started running around my suburban Boston neighborhood in my grey sweats raising my hands after each hill I climbed humming the theme to Rocky. At that moment I realized; if a movie can make me feel this way… well then, I’m in.

7. What film have you seen the most in your life?

I rarely watch movies over and over again but I must say more recently I get a kick out of watching Elf every holiday season. I just love the tone and Will Ferrell’s optimism and humor.

8. What other elements of the festival experience can we and other festivals implement to satisfy you and help you further your filmmaking career?

I feel like a year end, round up, of Audience Feedback winners in an in-person film festival would be cool. Being able to meet with the audience judges and answer their questions.

9. What is your favorite meal?

Foie gras pithivier with dates; it’s a savory pastry filled with a thick slice of foie gras, duck breast, and duck sausage, glazed in a sweet-savory sauce made with dates. Only place I’ve found who makes it perfectly is The Clown Bar in Paris France. Where I am right now;)

10. What is next for you? A new film?

I would really like to continue with this theme of “A matter of kindness”. We now have, No Tricks and Motorbike Thief… both based on real life incidents; Where all our stories have the potential for being extremely violent, but through a single act of kindness, a bad situation is turned around for a good. If we could do a series of three short films (all based on real life situations) per half hour, package eight of them up and sell them to a streaming service, I would be in heaven. Dream project! There is not enough positivity out there in content creation and it should be our job to spread the love.

By matthewtoffolo

Filmmaker and sports fan. CEO of the WILDsound Film and Writing Festival

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