AMERICA BOXED IN played to rave reviews at the December 2021 DOCUMENTARY Film Festival.
1. What motivated you to make this film?
We are a three-man team. Each of us had different motivations. Lance Hoovestal, the Executive Producer, did his doctoral studies on the subject. After seeing a documentary film, he was inspired to make one about his research. He contacted me about collaborating. I read his book, Globalization Contained, along with additional research he had done and immediately saw gold. It’s a fascinating subject, complex, and vital to our survival in the 21st century. Ian will have to speak for himself about his motivation, but I’d like to think it was co-producing and co-directing with me that was top on his list.
2. From the idea to the finished product, how long did it take for you to make this film?
It’s hard to believe but it took us seven years almost to the day. It was a very difficult film to make and was beset with a myriad of challenges and setbacks. However, what we deemed as curses at first, we now view as blessings. Each time we had to surmount another “Mt. Everest” the film evolved into something far better than our original concept.
3. How would you describe your film in two words!?
For me: Personal Best.
Conveying the idea of the film to an audience:
Obi-Wan Kenobi v. Darth Vader
(do you want me to go on?)
4. What was the biggest obstacle you faced in completing this film?
There are so many. Covid was a big one. But I think all three of us would agree it was filming in China. Initially, we were scheduled to film at the Port of Tianjin the day of the horrendous explosion there. We were told before our departure that we could not come due to a terrorist threat. We were delayed for another eighteen months. Once we arrived our film equipment was confiscated due to forged customs papers provided to us. Then the real problems (too many to list) cascaded down on us. We were told that we would be under constant surveillance, which we were. Ultimately, a part of our crew was arrested by the Chinese Military at gunpoint and charged with espionage. Saying that was our biggest obstacle would be a gross understatement. Fortunately, the matter was resolved, but we all may be suffering some PTSD, especially those who were arrested.
5. What were your initial reactions when watching the audience talking about your film in the feedback video?
Wow! You live to reach people, to communicate something important in your heart to them. Nothing is more satisfying than hearing people respond to your work.
Watch the Audience Feedback Video:
6. When did you realize that you wanted to make films?
When I was three my dad took my family to see Bridge On The River Kwai. I was too young to understand the depth of the movie’s theme, but I was overwhelmed by the magnitude of what I was watching. I was thrilled and filled with awe. For my journey into evolving into a filmmaker, that was the landmark event. That memory stayed with me until I matured into a young adult and came to understand that I wanted to communicate to people on a grand scale.
7. What film have you seen the most in your life?
Bridge On The River Kwai. There are so many. David Lean’s masterpieces, Hitchcock, Frank Capra, Howard Hawkes. I love Hatari, seen it a million times. I’m a succor for a good Rom Com or Chick Flick. The Holiday comes to mind. I’d watch it any day of the week.
8. What other elements of the festival experience can we and other festivals implement to satisfy you and help you further your filmmaking career?
You guys are pretty remarkable and a cut above the rest.
Early in my career, though, I attended the Recontres Internatioals Henri Langlois in Poitiers, France. We were housed in the same hotel. Had lunch and dinner together. Attended all the screenings of each other’s films in the same theater. Each night we assembled in the town hall for a Q&A with filmmakers who screened that day. We offered each other our views and critiques. It was a very intimate experience. The filmmakers I met there are life- long friends. Yes, it was a unique environment, all of us from foreign lands thrust together in a small locale, but I have often longed for the opportunity to get to know my fellow filmmakers by screening one another’s work together and/or at least gathering together each night for a group Q&A
9. You submitted to the festival via FilmFreeway. How has your experiences been working on the festival platform site?
I love Filmfreeway. They are the best and most user-friendly platform currently available
10. What is your favorite meal?
What an interesting question to ask? Great movies and meals should be memorable. They both feed different parts of our beings.
There are three meals that are indelibly imbedded in my memory. Dinner at the Peak Restaurant in Hong Kong. The food was so exquisite, the textures, the flavors, so perfect that every bite was rapture.
I remember having dinner with my wife at an obscure hole-in-the-wall seafood restaurant in Cancun. We both love seafood, so we ordered the Admiral’s sampler. I have never before, nor since, experienced anything that tasted so wonderful. Every mouthful was an explosion of ecstasy that propelled me into Heaven.
There’s a place in Guangdong that serves the best Char-Siu-Bao (steamed barbeque pork buns) on planet earth! Believe me when I tell you that those steamed buns are another portal into Heaven.
I always love my wife’s Pork Roast cooked with Roasted Parsnips, Carrots, and Potatoes. That’s an all-time favorite.
And I love venison medallions cooked on a hot griddle with fried potatoes over a campfire in the back country with just the right hint of cedar wood (juniper tree) smoke.
Like I said, great meals and great films should be memorable. They elevate us.
After that, I’d settle for a banana. Bananas are a whole food group for me.
11. What is next for you? A new film?
I’m currently focused on the festival run and marketing of AMERICAN BOXED IN.
After that, I’m dusting off a pet project. All I can tell you now is it will blow your socks off. We’ll talk again after I win your festival with it.