An Interview with Calvin Weaver – By Kirsten Walsh

Calvin Weaver is a man with a vision. His breakout short film “Night Out” took home a gaggle of awards at festivals around the country, and left him wanting more. His second film “Sleepwalker”, pulled no stops-and it hasn’t even been released to the public yet! Weaver was a kid with passion and a handful of legos- experimenting with stop motion animation, which led to his fascination with film. A fan of the classic horror films of the 1980s, his approach to film is a practical one- literally. Next, he has plans for bigger projects, and shows no signs of slowing down.

KW: Can you talk about the concept for “Night Out”?

CW: Matt and John have a terrifying ‘night out’ planned for John’s wife, Darla, who is pregnant with another man’s child. This one was originally planned to be more straight forward: two guys stumble on a cult sacrifice in the woods. Then I had to figure out why they were in the woods, then the idea of linking them to the sacrifice kind of tied it all together. Made it a bit more interesting.

KW: How old were you when you started getting interested in film?

CW: I can’t remember a time when I didn’t know this was what I wanted to do. I was a camera intern during pre-production of a locally produced movie. The DP I interned under advised me to avoid film school, so I went and made “Dolor Lake” for a local competition. A year or two later I did “Night Out”.

KW: That’s awesome! What were the best and worst things about the “Night Out” shoot?

CW: It was my first time working with a crew so having about 10 people around allowed me to focus more on directing which was really nice. All of our actors had never acted before and they did great so that was really awesome too. The worst part of the shoot was the weather, and the challenge of lighting and shooting exclusively nighttime exteriors. We shot Night Out in 90-100 degree weather with 90% humidity. Five minutes outside and everyone was drenched in sweat. The lights also attracted giant lunar moths so that was fun.

KW:  Now here’s the real question- Would you do it again the same way?

CW: If we had a bigger budget and access to more resources I’d do it over, but considering what we had to work with I think we did pretty well.

KW: After the film was completed, what was it like watching your own film with an audience? Do you think that it came out the way you initially saw it?

CW: It was nerve-racking and fun. We didn’t screen to a packed house or anything, but it was badass seeing it in a theater after all that hard work. So far the feedback’s been pretty positive.

I guess nothing turns out exactly how you imagine it, but I think “Night Out” exceeded expectations in some areas and didn’t quite meet them in others. I’m happy with it looking back. It’s different than how I imagined it would be, but in a good way.

KW: A lot of filmmakers say they learn a lot from their mistakes on their first film. What mistakes were made on the set that you learned from for future productions?

CW: Planning and communication. A lot of time on set was spent explaining exactly what we were shooting since I didn’t really make a schedule other than “We’re shooting the ____ scenes today.” But we still managed to wrap it up in 4 nights. I learned my lesson, and my next film “Sleepwalker” went much smoother.

KW: So your upcoming film, “Sleepwalker” has a pretty neat story to it- can you share some of the awesomeness?

CW: Sleepwalker follows a young woman, mourning the recent loss of her husband, as she comes to the realization that something much more sinister than an animal has taken refuge under her home. It was a much bigger challenge than Night Out, with a tighter schedule and grueling hours. It’s in post right now, and it’s a great leap forward for us. I’m really excited to start screening it.

As far as casting Katie Parker (seen in “Oculus”), we just reached out. I sent her agent the script and by the end of summer we were all out in the middle of nowhere making a movie in a hundred-year-old house with no AC. She was a blast to work with and her performance in “Sleepwalker” is awesome.

KW: So back to “Night Out”-how was your experience on the festival circuit? Would you encourage filmmakers to set a goal to play at film festivals?

CW: It was good. I couldn’t attend every screening, but the fests we went to were great. I’d definitely set a goal to do that. It’s the best way to see if your stuff is connecting with audiences and programmers who watch hundreds of screeners every year. Plus it’s good exposure and doesn’t look half bad to potential investors for your next project.

KW: What can we expect next from you aside from “Sleepwalker”?

CW: Depending on how Sleepwalker does in festivals, I think we’re ready to do a feature. Nothing’s set in stone, but I’ve got a pretty fun idea that’d I’d like to do. It’d be a horror movie for sure.

KW:  What advice do you have in regards to filmmaking?

CW: I don’t think I’m qualified to be handing out advice, but I guess just keep making stuff and learn from it. And plan really well.

Humble to the core, we will definitely keep out eye on Calvin Weaver for all of his upcoming films!

Check out news about “Night Out” on their official FaceBook page: https://www.facebook.com/NightOutFilm
 
Also- check out news on the upcoming film, “Sleepwalker”, here: https://www.facebook.com/sleepwalkerthemovie