An Interview with Randy DeFord – By Brian Morton

 Last September, I was in Franklin Indiana for the B Movie Celebration and, I have to admit, it was maybe the most fun I’ve had at a film festival in a long time. The town was great, the movies were fun and the people were the nicest! One of the film-makers I met was Randy DeFord, who was there showing his movie PostPartum, the story of a serial killer (for more info you can check out the review I did of PostPartum). Well, Randy is a very cool guy, we stood and chatted for quite sometime about PostPartum and other movies we enjoyed, in fact, we chatted so long that my wife began to think that we might never leave the festival! Well, it’s been several months and Randy’s been a busy guy, between getting PostPartum out there, he’s been working on music for his own and other films and staying generally busy with Oak Road Multimedia. I thought it would be nice to check in with Randy and see how he’s doing and what’s new in Indiana.

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BM – Hey, Randy, glad to check in with you.

RD – Hey, glad to chat with you.

BM – I enjoyed PostPartum at the B Movie Celebration, was it hard to interpret a book onto film on a low budget?

RD – The book was a heavy dialogue work. It was almost already scripted. The challenge was to breakdown almost 102 scenes into something less than two hours. There were so many characters and each had their contribution – watering it down would have been taking away from the story. There were a lot of phone conversations and I had to reduce those in number and combine conversations. There really wasn’t any heavy action in the book so that was a plus, budget wise. Also, Cheryl Shaver’s writing style is very descriptive and finding actors to match her vision wasn’t feasible. We had to create our own roster. For that reason, the book and the film are different. But, the basic storyline is kept very much intact. The one element that did get diluted was the portrayal of the hostage in the book. The book was intense and could not be duplicated – just too graphic.. For that reason, I didn’t make the hostage as integral as the book. Cheryl’s descriptions are vivid and disturbing. I knew I wouldn’t be able to match her grittiness. She wanted you to despise the predator, and you do. The highest hurdle was the casting. We needed nearly 40 actors. We got it done and had actors from Kentucky and Chicago, as well as the entire girth of Indiana. Also, there were a lot of locations….21 in all. Somehow, we pulled the logistics of that off..just don’t ask me how.

 BM – If I can ask…because a lot of film-makers are wondering…what the budget of the movie was and how do you go about raising money for a film?

RD – The total budget for PostPartum was around $2,600. The most of that went to actors for payment, gas and expenses. The rest went to location rent and food/craft service. I don’t raise money or ask for investors for my movies. My passions in life are music and film, so I put my money into those venues. I’m an engineer by trade so I make enough money to be self reliant. All the things like motorcycles, boats, snowmobiles, etc.. that drain one’s wallet ,are now in a past life. Been there, done that. I want to be sure and give actors some compensation for their time. I also want to be sure and finish films because so many go astray. I think the biggest complaint I’ve heard from the actors I’ve worked with over the last 9 years has been investing their time in a project, only to have it not come to pass. Films at my level don’t make money, so I can’t justify asking for investments.

  BM – How involved was Cheryl with the film?

RD – Cheryl was open for any changes I made. I couldn’t have had a better partner for the adaptation. I would keep her informed mostly on the actors who would be playing a part and get her feedback. She also played the medical examiner as a cameo role and that was a lot of fun. Plus, she can act and that’s always a good thing. It took us a year and a half to get the film finished and her involvement became less as the months went on. She trusted my judgment.

BM – After doing this once, would you ever take a novel and turn it into a movie again?

RD – I would say, yes. There was a plus to adapting a finished work. It takes a lot less thought to adapt someone else’s vision than to create everything from scratch. All my previous films had been written by me with input from those involved with a given project. If the outline is already there, the dialogue is a lot easier to script. We pretty much scripted as we went on the majority of the project since the dialogue existed, opposed to having a finished script. All the actors were given their parts and the script was never final until the last scene. That may not be kosher, but on this project, it actually worked well. Also, probably more than half the actors read the book before they accepted their roles. The casting was not THAT hard because the story sold itself.

BM – You’ve also just provided some music for a film, can you tell us about that?

RD – Actually, I’ve provided original music for all my films. I collaborated on PostPartum with composer Virgil Franklin, who provided most of the score. I’m a musician by nature and actually got into film because of music. In the mid 90s, I started doing some serious recordings of instrumental music. I’ve recorded since the early 70s but decided later in life to do some original music for film. I got a music broker and started submitting songs by sending a demo cassette. After a while, I started getting some hits. I was able to get 4 songs thru the broker, onto clients, but never got used. Later, the broker asked me to do an interview for their internal publication. During that telephone interview, I told the writer I hadn’t had any real luck yet from clients. He explained to me that if 20 people sent in music, they would put the submissions in a stack. If the second one was just what they wanted, the other 18 went in the trash. Wow..that was a light bulb moment. So…it didn’t matter that your music was right – it was based on where you were in the stack! I call that a crap shoot. I gave up and decided to do get into video and put my music to images, myself – I did it in reverse.

 BM – Tell us about Oak Road Multimedia. Is it all about indie film?

RD – Oak Road MultiMedia is the sixth incarnation of all the home studios I’ve had for the last 35 years. But, all the rest were strictly audio – Oak Road is a video/audio production house that does work for hire. I originally started to do business, educational and training videos. I started indie work as a way to get better and use it as promo. But, it took on a life of its own. I won my first award in 1998, and that was it. Plus, video is so much more vast in its structure than music alone. I love to edit..it’s very much like mixing music, but with more layers . But, unlike music which can be totally inspired and improvisational, it needs structure. Not a problem..I can work in both worlds. I’m an engineer by trade, so I exercise one side of my brain at work and the other on my indie films. Nothing has challenged me as much as making films, especially a full length one like PostPartum. It was my third feature and I have seven indie short titles, also. They’ve nabbed me over 30 awards, so I’m one happy camper.

  BM – What’s next?

RD – This last year I teamed with filmmaker Adam Shephard of SFNative Productions to form 25North Filmwurks. Adam and I have a history of collaborating well, creatively, on other projects. With a crew of new actors and crew members, we’re concentrating on making films that spring from the Northwestern quadrant of Indiana. That area is mostly small rural towns and has little film production. Due to that, we are trying to involve more people from that area of the state. The newest film is a full length thriller titled "Goss Acres". We have the script completed and almost an entire cast. We are now doing the pre-production and scheduling. With any luck, the film will be complete by winter of 2008..with a couple of shorts also thrown in for good measure. And, this year I will be submitting PostPartum to festivals. The 2007 festival season was already in swing when I finished the film in March of last year so only got a couple festival screenings last year, both in Indiana. 2008 will be the year I get the mileage from PostPartum and see what it can do across the country.

BM – Can you tell us what Goss Acres is about?

RD – Just a little. It’s a mystery/suspense based on a woman who returns home after her father has died. There are lots of unanswered questions in her life. There are also some strange happenings in the ole home town since she left and the chance that her Dad was involved. The story revolves around the information she gathers and how she chooses to find an ultimate solution to a very unpleasant reality. Adam Shephard and I wrote the script and we both love stories that end with a redemption….or even justice, where there seems to be no hope.

BM – What festivals has PostPartum been accepted at, where can our readers head out to catch this cool movie?

RD – I’d love to boast and tell you all the festivals it’s going to be in, but it’s too early in the year. It was premiered at the IndianaActors.com Film Festival in Brownsburg, IN last March. Then, it was screened at a roundtable discussion at Franklin College during the B-Movie Festival in Franklin, IN in August. Then, I sent the film to Indiana festivals and was not accepted, mainly due to length. The film is just shy of two hours, and it seems that 2007 was the year of the "short". But, that being said, the 2008 season is just starting, so I’m sending it to many Midwest festivals for the next few months and see how it does. The reviews so far have been beyond my expectations. I did get earlier films screened in the last few months (all shorts), but PostPartum is going to be a tougher nut to crack. The festivals with just a day for their festivals can run a lot of shorts in the 109 minutes that PostPartum would consume. For that reason, I understand. Somewhere, somehow, it’ll find its audience in 2008 and directors Adam Shephard, Jim Doughtery and I will be happy campers.

BM – Thanks Randy.

RD – Thank you.

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If you have the chance, you should head out and check it out, it’s worth your time. You can find out more about Randy and Oak Road Multimedia by checking out the Oak Road Website. We here at Rogue Cinema wish Randy luck and we can’t wait to see what comes out of 25North Filmwurks, Randy and Adam are great guys and we wish them all the best.