An Interview with Kyle Oliver – By Brian Morton

Last month, I reviewed a very interesting short called Numb, about a serial killer and what goes on inside his head. It’s pretty interesting and well worth your time. But, I wondered about the guy who made the short, Kyle Oliver. What made him think of this and what else might be percolating inside that (clearly twisted) mind of his!

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BM – How did you get started in film making?

KO – Well, it might sound sort of cliché, but I just picked up a camera and fell in love. I loved looking at the world through a lens. I was about 11 maybe, and my cousin Dalton had a cool handy cam of some sort, and after playing with that, I knew I had to get one. I finally talked my mom into getting me one that shot on those old mini-VHS tapes. It was a b**ch figuring it out. We had to shoot everything in order because I had no editing system to work with. I’d make my friend walk to a door and open it halfway-"CUT!", then I’d run into the house and film him opening it the rest of the way and walking in. Haha! It wasn’t until my brother-in-law showed me a little goofy short film he made called "What’s In The Box?" that I learned about the benefits of digital editing. Then my amazingly supportive girlfriend bought me one of those "hip" DSLR cameras years later. I made Numb, my first "real" short, and here we are now. I couldn’t be more thankful for how far I’ve come, from doing stupid Johnny Knoxville wannabe stunts, to studying my ass off about the art of film, to making my first real short and even getting some attention for it. That’s what got me into film, simply watching Pulp Fiction or Clerks when I’m thinking I wanna kill myself, and being happy as hell when the movie is over. I wanna help people in that kinda way. Film is the best drug in the world.

BM – What gave you the idea for Numb?

KO – Ha ha! Now that’s a good question! Well, in the filmmaker sense, I just wanted to show everyone something fresh. It was my first short, and my first opportunity to show everyone that I’m not just talking out of my ass. We shot it for $5, and I wanted people to get an idea of what I could with even more money. The idea came during a period of my life where I was also feeling numb. My girlfriend and I would argue, and I would get so mad. I would never hit her or do anything like that, but I did wonder if I could do that to her and not feel any guilt. Then it hit me, this would be a great story! I originally thought of it like a short-story, all inner thoughts, but I had just gotten my new DSLR and wanted to make a short film, so I just wrote the monologue in a script style that you would write for a commercial. You have the dialogue bits, and then you write shots that go with them. There was actually quite a bit more of the killer’s monologue in the film that was cut out, and everyone that read the script said it was the best dialogue in there, but sometimes you have to chisel away great pieces of your sculpture to fit it into the museum.

BM – What challenges do you face making movies in Oklahoma?

KO – That’s a hard one. I suppose it’s mostly a lack of contacts, and people’s close-mindedness. This is, after all, the Bible-Belt of Oklahoma. I have a film that I intend to be my first full length called The Manifesting Undead. It centers on a devil-worshipping cult whose leader thinks he is the Anti-Christ and has just summoned an Earth full of demons, when in fact, it’s just coincidentally the zombie apocalypse. Trying to raise money for something like that around a bunch of Christians is like trying to remake Citizen Kane…Impossible! Another challenge that I have, which might not necessarily be due to my Oklahoma location, is just the fact that I don’t know who to approach to raise money for movies. Everyone mostly thinks I’m just some dumb kid with a camera. I gave all of those people "Numb", and now they’re slowly starting to realize that I can really do something great.

BM – What can you tell us about ‘Stay With Me’?

KO – Stay With Me is going to be my second short. We’re actually shooting it this October over a period of a week or so. Out of everything I’ve written, it’s definitely the most soft-hearted. It’s like if Sergio Leone and Robert Kirkman directed The Notebook! Ha ha! Plot-wise, it’s essentially about a man in the zombie-apocalypse. He wakes up in the middle of the road surrounded by strangers who keep asking him questions. He doesn’t know who he is, where he is, or much of anything. The only thing he knows is that he has an engagement ring in his pocket and a picture in his wallet of a girl he keeps dreaming of, and he has this urge to find her. That’s all I can reveal about this one without spoiling too much. My good friend Dillon Taylor has already committed to playing the lead role, who in the film gets nicknamed "Tex". A talented low budget FX artist named Johnathan Hoff is handling all makeup and effects stuff, I’m of course directing, my good friend Ben Miller is the cinematographer, and the CFO (Chief Financial Officer) of our company Vintage Image Films, Chase Cole, is the Executive Producer. It’s expected to release in December, hopefully with distributor markets like iTunes video, and other methods. I just felt like I needed to step out of my dark state of mind and do something with a bit more heart for a change.

BM – Is your schedule for ‘The Legende Immortal’ still in place (shooting this fall for a Spring 2014 release)?

KO – The Legende Immortal is kind of "iffy", as some would say. It’s a western/thriller, and we already have some important cast filled, we have the final script ready, and even our western set Sipokni West, which is only 5 miles from my home. We’ve done about 50% of the pre-production, but we are awaiting the launch of the film’s Kickstarter to (hopefully) raise the modest $5,000 budget. The film was written by me, and I have a very talented cinematographer named Max Wagner who will be helping out as well. So yes, if the Kickstarter launch goes well and we raise the money, everything will go as planned.

BM – You told me that all you movies are connected, could you expand on that a bit?

KO – Yes, all of my films are connected. Not necessarily like sequels or anything, but they take place in the same world, down to the exact same town. The town I created is called Butcher’s Pen, and it’s like this weird place where this crazy sh*t always happens. It’s connected. The Legende Immortal is 1860’s Butcher’s Pen. Weird tie-ins I have are things like a scene in my script for The Manifesting Undead. A girl is running through the woods from this "Anti-Christ" wannabe, and she trips over this really old, decayed sign that says Butcher’s Pen. That sign is the sign everyone will see in the opening of The Legende Immortal. It’s as if it got lost and over 100 years later, this girl happens to trip over it. Maybe I do another film about some stoners walking down the road smoking weed. If you look closely in the background, you’ll see the man from Numb (played by Quaid Farmer) dragging the body bag from the end of Numb. I want the same consistent world throughout every film I make, and I wanna put very subtle references to other events that have happened in other films of mine. I guess every filmmaker has their trademark- Hitchcock puts himself discreetly in his films, Rob Zombie always has old black and white movies playing on TVs in his scenes. I just wanna put my own little trademark and create an entire world that wouldn’t add up unless you paid very close attention to every film I’ve done. Kinda gives people the reason to watch ’em a thousand times.

BM – Well, I have to say, I was looking forward to the next movies, but a bit more so now, just to see the connections, if for no other reason! Thanks for taking the time.

KO – Thank you.

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If you’re interested in Kyle and his Vintage Image Films…and you should be…then you can head over to www.vintageimagefilms.jimdo.com or to www.facebook.com/KyleOliverFilms, this is a young up-and-coming filmmaker that I’ll be keeping my eye on…and you should too. We here at Rogue Cinema wish Kyle and his Vintage Image crew all the luck in the world and will keep you readers informed about the Kickstarter launch!