Written by Mandy McGee
Nicholas Gyeney is a writer, director and producer. He made a mirco budget film in college in 2006 called ‘The Falling’ in which he did just just about everything on himself. Then in 2010 made is first feature, ‘The Penitent Man’ starring Lance Henriksen, Lathrop Walker and Andrew Keegan (which is now on Netflix instant stream). Back in March, 2012, I met Nicholas through a mutual friend and came on set to ‘Matt’s Chance’ to take a few stills. ‘Matt’s Chance’ starred Edward Furlong, Margot Kidder, Lee Majors and Gary Busey. There is another feature film in pre-production right now. Nicholas also has a production company called Mirror Images, LTD. All this before the age of 30! I finally got to sit down (at my computer through email) and get an interview with him.
Photo by Travers Dow
Mandy: How long have you been making films?
Nicholas: I got my hand on dad’s old camera when I was 15 years old. My first ever project was a 50-minute IN-CAMERA edited Terminator fan-film. Go figure. From there I made a feature during my senior year of high school, which landed me a full scholarship to USC’s prestigious film school.
Mandy: Have you always want to be a filmmaker?
Nicholas: It has been my dream since I was 12 years old. Since my father passed away and I began using films to develop my imagination and escape.
Mandy: Growing up, which films and directors had the greatest impact on you?
Nicholas: Easily James Cameron, Michael Mann, Ridley Scott, and Luc Besson.
Mandy: You did a film called ‘The Falling’ and reading the credits you did just about everything on it. Is it hard taking on that many roles in film production?
Nicholas: I did do a film called ‘The Falling’, and let us never speak of it again. It was my first “feature”. An ultra-low budget supernatural “thriller” that landed on dvd shelves and opened doors for me early so to speak…I directed it while still in film school at 19 years old. So that means its okay that it was terrible… Right?! It was definitely a one-man band type of show. Very difficult. Very consuming. But an amazing trial by fire. The best way to learn in my opinion.
On the set of ‘Penitent Man’, Photo by Erik F. Simkins
Mandy: You also write, director and produce most of your films. How do you come up with a story or idea?
Nicholas: Well there is no simple answer here. Life usually inspires me, whether it be someone I know, or the smallest event.
Mandy: Is there a particular style you tend to stick with in directing?
Nicholas: My style would most lend itself to “realism”. I like to put impossible situations into real-world settings. ie - time travel, angels, Nazi clones, etc.
Mandy: Do you have every shot mapped out before you start rolling or do you free form your shots?
Nicholas: I prepare an extensive shot list and then rework and remap as I go. Simplifying the puzzle, if you will.
Andrew Keegan and Nicholas at ‘Penitent Man’ premiere
Mandy: How do you get your head free from work when you’re finished?
Nicholas: Some QT with my amazing dog, some wine, some music, a bubble bath. Hah, whatever seems relaxing in the moment.
Mandy: How hard is it to get funding for an indie film?
Nicholas: Very hard. Most are completely unmarketable. My company strives to develop marketable indies in order to make the best art and product for investors to sink their teeth into.
Mandy: Do you ever make enough to pay the bills or do you have a day job when you are not filming?
Nicholas: Filmmaking is my full time job, and so far so good. I am proud to say I am living my dream. Taking steps towards the ultimate goal.
Mandy: Is there a project you have done that you exceptionally proud of?
Nicholas: Matt’s Chance. Coming soon to a theater near you!
Edward Furlong and Nicholas on the set of ‘Matt’s Chance’, photo by Mandy McGee
Mandy: We are constantly growing and learning in our craft and we are our own worst critic, is there any project you have done you wish you could do over?
Nicholas: There are parts of every project I wish I could do over. But as a whole I would have to say ‘The Falling’ takes the cake by a landslide. If only I was a better writer back then.
Mandy: What is the most embarassing thing that has happened on on of your sets?
Nicholas: To me? Hmm. I haven’t gotten too embarrassed. Definitely a few fights/arguments that come to mind.
Mandy: Does anything stick out in your mind as being terribley difficult while filming, like a scene that just not working, equipment failure, a shot you couldn’t get, and actor…etc?
Nicholas: Actors are fickle creatures. Each one comes with his or her challenges. You have to care for each one differently, like a therapist or parent. There have also been some crew members that have been exceptionally difficult to work with due to flaring egos, etc. When egos flare, I start to lose my cool, unfortunately. I never like to see egos on set.
Gary Busey and Nicholas on the set of ‘Matt’s Chance’, photo by Erik F. Simkins
Mandy: I had a lot of fun working on Matt’s Chance with you. Your crew was great. Are there people on your crew that you use over and over?
Nicholas: Yes, absolutely. Most notably my editor Jacob Bearchum, 2nd Unit Director David Friedle (who was once upon a time my high school film teacher), and DP Mike Boydstun.
Mandy: How did you get such big name actors to be in your indie movies, like Matt’s Chance and Penitent Man?
Nicholas: I sent them the script.
Mandy: What was it like working with Gary Busey?
Mandy: If you could have a super power what would it be and why?
Nicholas: Flight. Imagine the possibilities!
Mandy: Was there any fictional character you identified with or inspired you growing up?
Mandy: What advice can you give to those wanting to get into film making?
Nicholas: Never. Give. Up.
You can also find him on IMDB