Interview with Filmmaker Zachary A. Pope (YOU CAN’T BE HERE)

Directed by Zachary A. Pope
After humanity’s destruction, one man wanders the wasteland in search of a safe place to settle down, until one day he is confronted by a group of people who don’t belong.

Get to know the filmmaker:

1. What motivated you to make this film?
I grew up watching the Twilight Zone a lot, so, I wanted to try and mimic an episode of that show while telling a story that dealt with isolation, loneliness, and how we as people cope with that or what we might do to cope with that. I have lived in Los Angeles for around twelve years now and in that time, I don’t think it’s all that big of a secret, the homeless population has grown significantly. When I see so many people down on their luck, or dealing with mental health issues or whatever the case may be, a lot of times I am just left to wonder how did this person end up in the situation that they did. So I wanted to take a situation that I was seeing and try and bring a different perspective to it.

2. From the idea to the finished product, how long did it take for you to make this film?
From the first idea, it took about eight years. But from script completion, it was about five years.

3. How would you describe your film in two words!?
Psychological Drama

4. What was the biggest obstacle you faced in completing this film?
Well, the short answer to this question is Covid. It just slowed down every step of the post production process. But long answer, there were so many actual obstacles to finishing this film, from earthquakes, one of the cast backing out of the project a week from shooting, to actual literal quicksand this project really pushed us to our limits and taught me a whole lot in damage control and film making.

5. What were your initial reactions when watching the audience talking about your film in the feedback video?
Honestly, it gave me full body chills in the best way imaginable. To see strangers talking about this story that my team and I worked so hard on, it just really made me feel like all of it was worth it, and then to see that they appreciated the things that I was trying to accomplish with my film it was just validating. You know what I mean? Because growing up in a more blue collar community when you tell people that “I want to make movies when I grow up” you get a lot of weird looks, some scoffs, and I was actually laughed out of a big auditorium style classroom when the teacher asked who thought they could win an Oscar. So, yeah, to see people “get” what I was trying to do makes me feel like, I can actually do this.

6. When did you realize that you wanted to make films?
In the ninth grade. I was accidentally placed into a broadcasting class and I just fell in love with the process of film production. I grew up loving movies because of my mom but I never actually realized that that was a thing that people did as jobs until that broadcasting class.

7. What film have you seen the most in your life?
So, this is probably Home Alone. It’s a great movie and it is on multiple times a year around the holidays so I probably watch this movie five or six times a year every year. If we are talking about something that isn’t a holiday movie then it is probably In Bruges or The Assassination of Jesse James By the Coward Robert Ford. For me, both of those are perfect films in the sense that, everything about them is flawless, from the screen writing to the cinematography to the music to the acting, all of it. Those to me are just peak film making and I hope to get to that level someday.

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 think that if there was more social events where writers, directors and producers were able to meet and talk after the films have screened it would be a great resource. Allowing people from different areas of the film making process to come together and find artists whose styles they like. I think getting to meet each other and bring more unique perspectives to the big screen would only be a benefit to everyone involved

9. You submitted to the festival via FilmFreeway. How has your experiences been working on the festival platform site?
It has been very convenient. With so many festivals all in one central hub it has made submitting to festivals that I already knew I wanted to submit to very easy, and it has also helped me find film festivals that I was unfamiliar with, which has been very beneficial to getting more eye on You Can’t Be Here.

10. What is your favorite meal?
Well, if we are talking about a home cooked meal, then my favorite meal is my dad’s beef stew that he would make on cold rainy days when I was growing up. But if we are talking about favorite meals of all time then it is probably the Pad Thai that I had on a beach in Thailand on my honey moon. Great meal, great location, and the perfect memory of an adventure with my favorite person.

11. What is next for you? A new film?
Well I have a couple ideas that I am currently in the process of writing. I have a couple more shorts that I would like to finish before I move on to the feature ideas that I have .


By matthewtoffolo

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

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