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AN INTERVIEW WITH Brandon Ladson, DIRECTOR
As a filmmaker, please introduce yourself.
My name is Brandon Ladson. I am a writer, producer and director residing in Jacksonville, Florida.
Why you became a filmmaker?
The dream of making movies has been on my mind since I was eight. At that age I was seeking to do something extraordinary to do in my life
and it hit me: why not make movies? My first idea for a movie at that age was a Power Rangers rip off with a ninja theme to it
which is odd considering that there has been different versions of Power Rangers when they were ninjas. At the time I only thought
about writing movies. It was only as I got older that I wanted to both write and produce my own movies.
I never thought about directing itself however what makes the art of directing unique is that it creatively challenges you
because you are breathing life into a story that up until you cast, film, and edit is only words on a page.
Give some more information about yourself and the films you have made so far, about your experience?
In addition to movies I also write literary works such as poetry, short stories, children picture books, novelettes and in the future graphic novels.
I am working on being a modern-day Renaissance man. “Monster in the Hood” is my first short film that I filmed in 2019.
It was made under Twenty-First Century Studios run by Carlos Rodriguez here in Jacksonville, Florida. After completing “Monster in the Hood”
I moved forward to my second short film “Night of Blood” in2020 co-produced by Shelby Mosely who stars as the film’s main antagonist.
“Night of Blood” was a short film I made because I needed to redeem myself. In 2014 I tried to film a different version of “Night of Blood”
that fell apart and it has haunted me for years. I kept going back and forth about revisiting “Night of Blood” and got the urge to give the film
another shot after completing “Monster in the Hood.” Considering that I started to go to work on “Night of Blood” right
when the pandemic hit in March 2020, I am very thankful for the actors that stuck around on the project all the way to the end.
In 2021 I wrote and produced four short films directing one out of the four. “Judgment Day” is a drama about a suicidal woman on a quest for
revenge. The short was directed by and starring Sarah Silva-Jameswho did a marvelous job at portraying the protagonist of the movie
and did a marvelous job preparing for the film. “A New Beginning” is the second short film that I only wrote and produced.
The movie itself was directed by Kate Heim who also acted in the movie. It’s a feel good short about a woman evaluating her life
as she begins the next chapter in her life. For a first-time director, Ms. Heim did such a terrific job at directing and acting.
As actresses, both Ms. James and Ms. Heim shows potential bringing characters to life. As directors, both Ms. James and Ms. Heim also shows potential as directors who wants to get a scene right by doing multiple takes to see what works.
It would be cool to see these two actresses direct again in addition to acting. My third non-directing short film is “A Boring Movie”
directed and starring Tracie Pinto. “A Boring Movie” is an experimental short film about a woman doing mundane things.
It took over a year but that film finally got some festival attention. “Hunt for a Killer” is the fourth film from 2021 about
a crimefighter taking on a criminal. The short film stars Isaac Sessions and James Moody, Jr.
In 2022 I wrote and executive-produced the short film “Stalker” directed by Andrei Cosmin whom I met via Fiverr.com.
That same year I wrote, produced, and directed the short film “Danger on the Street” starring James Moody, Jr.
(Monster in the Hood, Judgment Day, Hunt for a Killer), Rebekah Wilson (Night of Blood), Tyler Huck, Kimmie Dionne, and Veronica Phillips.
What are the films or people that had impacts on you and deeply inspired you to become a filmmaker?
The films that impacts and inspired me depends on when they came out in my lifetime or if they are classic movies when
I sat down and watch them. Even though I have been thinking about movies since I was eight, I guess I had a greater sense of motivation
to make movies after seeing “The Lord of the Rings: The Two Towers” in theaters at the age of twelve going on thirteen. During high school,
“Batman Begins” came out and I became of fan of Christopher Nolan since. As I gotten older I became obsessed
with the works of Stanley Kubrick and Alfred Hitchcock as I like to study the works of directors that influence the directors that
influence my generation. I grew up on Steven Spielberg movies and television shows and like Kubrick before him I enjoy his work
because every movie is never the same genre or same story. As a storyteller I want to be able to explore different genres
and different subject matters to keep my creativity fresh, be unpredictable, and reinvent my storytelling ability.
Tim Burton is another director like Steven Spielberg that had an influence on my childhood and I would be interested in doing a project
that feels like a homage to a Burton movie. There are many other filmmakers from the past and present that inspires me
that it will be hard to go through all of them at once.
You have made your feature film "Monster in the Hood" which got official selection in the
"American Golden Picture International Film Festival".
As a filmmaker, why you decided to make it?
To be quite honest there was a season in my life from 2016 to 2018 that I lost interest in doing movies for personal and moral reasons.
In 2018 I did apprenticeship work at Twenty-First Century Studios from March to November of that year as part of the Recording
Radio Film Connection & CASA Schools. After my apprenticeship ended, I was presented an opportunity to intern with Carlos that lasted
for the first half of 2019 as part of a separate program that gave me an opportunity to make a movie of my own. Originally
I was going to do a movie titled “The Writer” which I turned into a novelette and self-published it on Amazon last year in 2022.
At the time I decided against doing that movie and went ahead with doing “Monster in the Hood” which was the better choice
because “The Writer” is, in my opinion, a tearjerker while “Monster in the Hood” is a comedy which was much needed at the time.
Perhaps “The Writer” will be made into a movie one day where either someone buys the rights or I can finance it myself.
What were some of the challenges you faced in making it?
Raising the money for the budget was a challenge. The movie itself cost $5,000. I found myself interacting with actors who would only do
the movie if money was involved. I think my goal originally was to raise between $7,000 to $10,000. If this movie was made by
a major studio on a budget of $10,000,000 we could have crafted a super bonkers movie that felt like a live action Looney Tunes movie.
Also one week before filming began my original actress for the lead role dropped out due to injury and at the last minute
I replaced her with Bri-Timmons Kepler who was originally going to play a different character in the film.
Let us more about your experience in this film?
The one thing I don’t like doing is rewriting scripts and boy did I have to rewrite a lot of scenes due to the budget itself or actors dropping out
which happened during preproduction and principal photography itself. Also there were some serious time restraints when filming scenes
because you would have performers who is only available for such a limit of time that you need to film the scene as quickly as possible.
Guerrilla filmmaking can be tricky when filming outdoors because there have been some distractions when filming outdoors.
The fact the movie was filmed in June in Florida, I’m surprise that it did not rain once while filming. That would have been a disaster.
I am going to be deep for a little bit. Art is a yearbook. Whenever I think back to a film that I made, while I do think about
the process of making the film itself and what went right and what could have been an improvement,
I also think about what was going on in my personal life at the time.
That is definitely true considering what I was experiencing in my personal life while filming “Monster in the Hood” and the other films afterwards.
What was it like to work with your team?
The team that I worked with was very supportive. The fact that the actors and crew were willing to take time to do a short film
that they were not going to get paid for shows me that sometimes it is not always about the money.
Don’t get me wrong, I would LOVE to be able to pay people for taking the time to bring my stories to life.
Nevertheless it is good to know that there are people out there who are willing to create art even if money isn’t involved and that
they are seeking ways to build credits for themselves. The same thing happened when I was working on “Night of Blood.”
For you what was the biggest lesson you had to learn after making this film?
Without getting into specifics, the biggest lesson that I learned is to follow your heart. Go with the choice that you know is the right choice.
Like a lot of filmmakers, I also wonder what things I could have done differently with “Monster in the Hood.” It is good to take those lessons
and applied them to future films.
What keeps you inspired to continue filmmaking?
It is a combination of my love for telling stories and the fact that there are people in my personal lives who loves what I do
and motivates me to keep going. That is where I am now. I want to see how many stories that I have left to tell.
The most important part is distributing the film. What did you do for distributing your films?
Right now I look at submitting my films into festivals as my way to find someone to distribute my films. Nevertheless even if I do not find a distributor, the fact that my films are made and people are able to see them online and film festivals is satisfying enough.
What are your filmmaking goals?
Speaking deeply once again, I like to challenge myself whenever the opportunity presents itself and I know for a fact that I am ready for it.
I also want to avoid always looking back at previous projects and get obsessed with what I could have done different and look at future projects
to improve upon what I did before and even do things that I was unable to do before. Whatever that I failed to do in
both “Monster in the Hood” and “Night of Blood” can be achieve in the next project.
What is your next project?
Right now I am currently working on an animated short film titled “Chopped Up.” It is a slasher film that takes place in the woods.
This is the first time that I will be experimenting with animation and voiceover work.
My voice cast includes Ivana Barnes (Judgment Day) Abigail Stanborough (Night of Blood) and Kimberly Love (Monster in the Hood).
I would like to do more animated short films. Outside of movies, I am writing some new literary work which I am self-publishing this year in 2023.
GOOD LUCK Brandon
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