Our filmmaker spotlight is on Director Glenn Kiser of Sabbatical. Kiser’s film was selected to be part of the NewFilmmakers Los Angeles screenings at the AT&T center in downtown Los Angeles 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.
“Sabbatical” is a film about two people who decide to take a break from their relationship—and what happens to them after they come back. I started writing a feature film version with my friend Erin Engman a few years ago, and last year we decided to make a short to get things going.
Is there anyone you’d like to thank for helping out with this film?
My friends Brian and Marlene let us shoot in their beautiful home, which they had just renovated. And Brian used to be a location manager for films, so he knew better and said yes anyway.
How does it feel to have your film part of the NewFilmmakers Screening at the AT&T Center?
I’m excited to be a part of such an awesome slate of movies, and to be part of NewFilmmkers as it makes the move to new digs downtown.
What inspires you?
Fear and self-hatred. That’s what gets me out of bed in the morning. That, and Peet’s coffee. Those three things keep me in a productive spiral of panic and euphoria.
Who are your influences and who do you admire?
I admire writers and directors who keep one foot in comedy and the other in pathos. If you can make me laugh and cry in one movie, I’m yours forever. Classic directors like Preston Sturges and Leo McCarey and contemporary directors like Alexander Payne and Jonathan Dayton & Valerie Faris and James Brooks.
What lessons have you learned from the industry so far?
You have to surround yourself with a group of artists and collaborators you trust and who believe it you. But no one is going to hand anything to you—you have to make your own destiny. And the odds are always against you, so the best thing you can do is just keep your head down and keep working, every day.
If you could collaborate with anybody, who would it be?
I feel like I have something to learn from just about everyone I come in contact with, so the list would be too long to even contemplate. That said, I’d love to direct Meryl Streep someday.
What is the toughest experience you’ve ever had to overcome?
It’s not really an experience, but every day I wage war against that voice in my head that tells me I don’t have enough talent to pull this off, that I’m foolish for even trying, that I should be teaching high school rather than directing films. I understand the voice—in some sense it’s trying to protect me from following my dreams and failing. So I salute the voice and thank it, and then I go on about my day.
What is the best piece of advice someone has given to you?
The best piece of advice I ever got came to me from a family friend right before I headed off to college. She said, “Say ‘yes’ whenever possible.” And I have.
What advice would you give to new filmmakers starting out in the industry?
Never be afraid to tell people what you want to do, and what you need to make it happen.
Where can we expect to see you next?
At the premiere of the feature film version of “Sabbatical.”
Let our readers know where they can find more information about you and your projects.
Anything else you’d like to add?
Come see the film!!
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.