Brett A. Hart is an independent filmmaker that rose through the ranks of music videos and commercial directing to finally achieve his dream of making a feature length film. Since the release of his film Bone Dry, Hart has been working on a number of projects while searching for a property to become his sophomore feature.
You started with music videos. What kind of work did that lead to?
I did music videos for a company called Opticon in Los Planos. They were helping me develop a script that we weren’t able to raise money for. That’s usually how it works out. You go through half a dozen properties before something sticks, before you feel that spark of magic that everyone else can see.
Because of that, an advertising agency saw me and said they wanted to hire me. I got lucky, just jumping from one to the other, but then I kind of got stuck in a rut. I spent all my money on my own projects, which got me my option to Amblin, which got my short film “Dead End” showcased at the Directors Guild of America. All those projects were just a way of showing a resume of work to get a feature made.
How were you finally able to get the financing for your debut feature “Bone Dry.”
I made a friendly pact with Chad Stalcup, who is executive producer with Skyline (Media) and helped build the agency. All I asked of him is to help me try and raise money, no commitment. We didn’t know if we would be able to do it. Carl (Buffington) was always in mind and, depending on what the budget was, I always wanted him in it but we needed some big names in it as well.
In the trailer we made, Carl played Lance (Henriksen)’s character and I played Luke (Goss)’s character. We went out there to shoot digital storyboards and I thought we should just shoot digital stills. I bought the camera that day and we went out to the desert and shot it. I came back and assembled all the shots into a trailer.
That trailer, and the option I got to Amblin with “Dead End,” convinced everyone we had the goods. Plus, in Oklahoma, the work we did for Skyline spoke volumes for us. People believed in us.
Talk about casting the film
Lance was the first one I wanted. It took me a long time to convince everyone because no one really knew much about him. He’s well known and he’s an incredible actor but people were like ‘you’re going to kill this guy’ because we’re going to be in the middle of the desert. I was like ‘this guy could carry us on his shoulders, he’s that tough.’
I was real excited to find Luke because he was an up-and-comer. I wanted that because I didn’t want to have preconceptions of who this character was. I saw him in Hallmark’s “Frankenstein,” which I thought had the best monster since Boris Karloff. He was incredible. When they told me he was in “Blade II,” I went back because I remember I liked him in that, but it was Hallmark’s “Frankenstein” that sold me on him. I was told there was no distribution value in him yet, but I believed in him. By casting him, I think he gave me more than any other actor would in those conditions.
How did the other name actors get cast in the movie?
When I first read the script, I knew it was right up my alley and I wanted to do it. I figured we could make it for around $200,000 but I needed some names in there. I figured opening and closing at the diner, a bookend, would be perfect. At first it wasn’t Dee (Wallace), it was Shelley Duvall because she was in Texas. I met Adrian Barbeau and she was awesome but Dee and I just clicked. I can’t think of anyone else for that part after she and I met.
Tiny (Lister) came about when Luke suggested him, so we met. We didn’t have a ton of money so, right off the bat, I asked him what it was like to work with Luc Besson and he said ‘I want to work with you now.’ I asked why and he said ‘you could have asked about Tarantino or the Scott’s but you asked about Luc Besson, a completely different kind of filmmaker, so I know you are going to do something different.’
I wanted two cameos if I didn’t have any names in there, so one drug dealer and the waitress that bookends the film like a morality tale.
Overall, I think I have had great luck in relationships with actors. I can’t think of any that have left me with a bad taste in my mouth.