Film Director Marshall Cook’s Exclusive Interview On ‘Film Fest’
Marshall Cook discusses ‘Film Fest’ and what inspired him to write this movie. Working with an all-star cast including; Matt Cook, Diona Reasonover, and Rachael Leigh Cook. Plus, Marshall shares a favorite scene that makes him cry every time.
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Film director, writer, and actor Marshall Cook sits down with Chelsie Overocker on House of Hallmark to discuss his new movie Film Fest available on Amazon and itunes March 2nd.
Film Fest is about struggling filmmakers traveling to a festival to sell their movie. The movie stars Matt Cook, Diona Reasonover, Laird Macintosh, and Rachael Leigh Cook.
Thank you Marshall for coming on the podcast. We are looking forward to watching Film Fest. We saw the trailer and there is definitely a lot of comedy.
“Yeah! We call it a comedy. It’s a mixed genre, there is some good drama there too. It’s not like a zany crazy comedy.” Marshall explains, “ ultimately it’s kind of a buddy road trip comedy with zero politics. That represents the 99 percent of filmmakers who are in the business but on the outside still.”
You also have an impressive lineup of actors who are starring in this film.
“It was a great cast. Some people were already on shows together. I think we got seven main company groundlings in there. Groundlings is like an improv sketch company. These are all trained comedy actors that work every week for free to entertain people. They brought a lot to the movie. I was really proud of it.”
That’s great that the actors were already on shows working together. Did you plan for that when casting for the movie?
“It worked out that way. Marshall states, “when you’re shooting nine pages every day for a week. You don’t have the time to really rehearse or get seven takes. So when they have that built in it really helps.”
We agree. It’s nice when the chemistry is already there so the talent can focus more on the script. How long did it take to shoot Film Fest?
“It was about 20 days. We did a little bit in LA and went to Idyllwild California. Which is this charming little mountain town and then back to LA that’s where the movie takes place.”
Did you film this movie during Covid?
“No we shot this in 2019 and it’s the story of indie films. Even a two year turnaround for an indie film isn’t incredibly fast. From writing it to producing to getting it distributed. This has been done for about a year and then we got into the Austin Film Festival so we waited for that. Which ended up being virtual which was very weird and anticlimactic. From there, digital distribution which will be March 2nd.”
You have a lot of experience as a filmmaker and know the process of creating a movie and getting it distributed (especially an indie film). Did you write Film Fest based on past experiences of what filmmakers have to go through in the industry?
“I can’t say this is everyone’s story. It’s certainly not. A lot of it is true for me over the span of my time here. This isn’t like one festival experience. This is a lot over the years from my early 20’s to very recently. With my writing and my writing partner Paul Alan Cope who is also a filmmaker. In our experience we find what’s true for us is true for a lot of people. People in the filmmaking community whoever has seen at Austin Film Fest or the screenings we put on. It really resonates with a lot of people.”
We’re sure a lot of filmmakers and people in the industry would be able to relate to the journey that your movie uncovers. Is there a favorite scene that you enjoyed writing or filming that you can’t wait to share with the audience?
“Man, there are so many and not to say, ‘it’s so great every scene is special’. But it is. I don’t really have a favorite because they all have different feelings. Like there is a scene between our lead Matt Cook and Diona Reasonover. Where these two Indie filmmakers are confronted; leaving their screening early because they just didn’t like their movie. That’s so fun for me because it has two other actors from the groundlings, Michael Croner and Greg Worswick. They are just so funny. There is a master class that Will Sasso teaches that I love. But there’s also some really great drama too. Diona, playing the producer of their Indie film at the festival confronts Matt the director about their relationship and it literally makes me cry every time. She just gives an amazing performance. So it’s got all of these special moments.”
That’s cool that you highlight the hardships of distributing an Indie film. Not only sharing the business side but also the personal side with relationships. The industry definitely affects personal relationships that many people may not be aware of and the struggles you face trying to build yourself up.
“I think it’s fun for people to see that just because you make a movie doesn’t mean, ‘hey you are a millionaire now.’ [laughs] and now the new challenge is getting anyone to care because there’s a sea of content now on all of these streaming things and we’re going to be available on Amazon and itunes.” Marshall explains, “we are in an interesting place between getting stuff from the artists to the consumers.”
Yes this is definitely challenging times because so many people are making content and we are struggling to want people to actually care and watch the projects we created.
On the House of Hallmark we always ask our guests to share their personal story of how they became successful and the journey they followed that led them to where they are today.
Do you mind sharing and talking about some of the challenges you faced when pursuing a career as a filmmaker?
“I started to pursue my career as a filmmaker in my early 20’s and when you get here, that young, you’re just navigating this town. It’s interesting to see how it works based on what you grew up watching and thinking that’s how it was. My 20’s I was mostly in crappy apartments shooting short films and just being an editor for hire and doing any odd job. During that time I was making shorts and going to festivals. I wrote a bunch of features and one of them got made. That was when I was around 27 and that’s when I made my first movie. Which some people liked I could only see the problems [laughs] and then I kind of went backwards. I made a movie and now I’m successful, no not really. I went broke doing the editing and I edited the movie on a laptop. I called my friend who was in the movie and said, ‘hey I’m broke I need a job.’ He got me a job working on Hell’s Kitchen.
Marshall explains after taking a job on Hell’s Kitchen he got connected with mentors that helped him take his career to the next level.
“Through some mentors there were saying you gotta start directing commercials. You can’t just make independent films. Almost no one makes a living doing that. So I googled commercial competitions and I did like 30 commercial competitions over the course of a few months.” Marshall states, “we were on a pretty good run which led to relationships with brands directly. So I’m directing commercials for broadcast TV and big sale stuff. That has been helpful for the last seven to eight years.”
Thanks for sharing. We know you will inspire someone who is trying to break into the business as a filmmaker and appreciate you talking about the building blocks you faced. We know you still have a lot of projects you want to create in the future. What would you like to have accomplished by the end of 2021?
“One thing would probably be my third feature. Everything that I have done has prepared me to do my best project yet.”
Well said. We can’t wait to watch more of your work and check out Film Fest which will be available March 2nd. Thank you Marshall for coming on the House of Hallmark.
For the full interview check it out here:
Make sure you all follow Marshall on Instagram @thismarshallcook and Film Fest @filmfestfilm.
For more Hallmark related content make sure to subscribe to the House of Hallmark on YouTube. Follow us on IG @homeofhallmark and Twitter @houseofhallmark.
Keep up with AfterBuzz TV for the latest in Hallmark news as well as all your TV entertainment news.
Chelsie Overocker is a host for AfterBuzz TV. She grew up in Denver, Colorado and graduated with a Bachelor’s degree in communications and marketing.
Founded by Emmy winning journalist Maria Menounos and Producer Keven Undergaro, artist-friendly AfterBuzz TV is the world’s largest digital broadcast network and pop culture news platform, producing post-game ‘after-shows’ for nearly all favorite TV shows, interviewing cast and showrunners and providing the widest video, audio and article coverage of shows, content and influencers than any entertainment news platforms in existence
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