This week’s filmmaker spotlight is on Writer and Producer Mike Langer of Kate. Langer’s film was selected to be part of the NewFilmmakers Los Angeles screenings at Sunset Gower Studios this month. Learn about the film, his inspirations, goals and current projects.
Tell us a little bit about your project and how long you’ve been working on it.
Kate stemmed from a time all of us were kinda’ stuck in a rough patch. We had been making films for a couple of years but were really unsure as to whether we dared to devote our lives to it. Our relationships were failing and we were just floating along in limbo. Kate became a story about having everything you’d think you’d ever want but being unable to let go of something else that pulls you away from it all. In essence, the character of Kate represents the dream you spend your life thinking about, but being afraid to abandon everything and go for it. I wrote the film in 2011 and we finished post-production +in August 2012.
Is there anyone you’d like to thank for helping out with this film?
We shot this film in Salt Lake City, Utah. We have a few people that contributed to the making of the film. Providing us with equipment, locations and access in ways we would never have been able to afford. The short list includes Salt Lake Community College, Channing Lowe, Mark Davis, Dick and Dixie’s Bar and Daybreak Realty Development.
How does it feel to have your film part of the NewFilmmakers Screening at Sunset Gower Studios?
Exciting! All four of our principal team members are Fellows at the American Film Institute. Kate was in essence our way of deciding on filmmaking as our future. I personally used it as part of my submission package when I applied to AFI. Kate was a bridge between where we were and where we are now. Having her show here in LA is a great opportunity.
What inspires you?
All of the cliché answers. Passion. Dedication. Loyalty. Humility. Etc. But most of all fear. Being afraid to fail and having to find the courage to take the leap anyways.
Who are your influences and who do you admire?
Gale Anne Hurd is a huge influence of mine. She is a trailblazer. Ken Kwapis. Mathew Vaughn has a career I’d love to emulate. Guy Ritchie and Frank Marshall are to other people I’ve followed. Lena Dunham is somebody who I truly admire. She is my age and doing so much. Her show truly captures the voice of my generation.
What lessons have you learned from the industry so far?
Work harder. Be nicer. Those aren’t exactly the principles I expected to learn in Hollywood. But any success I have had has stemmed from working harder and being nicer. Find your story. Know why you care about it. And don’t stop working until you tell it. Everybody is going to tell you it isn’t possible or it isn’t worth it. So you just be nicer and word harder.
If you could collaborate with anybody, who would it be?
Ken Kwapis has a career I would love to emulate. I had the chance to meet him at AFI. From starting The Office to directing features, he has a pretty low-key life while telling great stories. Collaborating with him would be an amazing experience.
What is the toughest experience you’ve ever had to overcome?
I think putting your work out there is always a terrifying experience. It takes so much hard work and effort to make a film. When it’s done I’m always terrified to let people see it. Every time it is tough.
What is the best piece of advice someone has given to you?
Again, work harder. Be nicer. When you’re the most scared you’re the closest to telling a great story. Tell the stories that scare you the most.
What advice would you give to new filmmakers starting out in the industry?
At this point in my career I’ve sold a feature film and a few commercials. I am an AFI fellow. I’ve played in a few solid festivals. I am most definitely still starting out in the industry. My advice? Hollywood isn’t as scary as you might think. There are a lot of people here. A lot of great trustworthy people who just want to tell stories like you do. Search those people out and build your own team of people you trust.
Where can we expect to see you next?
I am about to begin work on my thesis film at AFI. That will take up the next year of my life. Hopefully when its all completed that will be my next big thing to show.
Let our readers know where they can find more information about you and your projects.
Formerly an editor at Demand Media, writer at Citysearch, The Examiner and proofreader at The Los Angeles Daily News, Christy Buena decided to start Disarray Magazine because she missed writing what she wanted. From hiring writers, to contacting publicists and making assignments, Christy is responsible for the editorial strategy of Disarray Magazine. Get to know the team of talented contributors.