The 26th Annual Austin Film Festival came to an end on Thursday, Oct. 31. As a hidden gem among the various film festivals from around the world, a variety of independent film screenings were showcased across the city. One of the screenings was “A Patient Man”, a film about a man who survives a car accident and is trying to piece his life back together. I had the amazing opportunity to sit down and interview Kevin Ward (Director), Harrison Reynolds (Producer), Rob Houle (Composer) and Jonathan Mangum (Lead Actor) about the drama thriller.
To read the non-spoiler film review, click here.
Interview by: Nalani Nuylan
*Interview has been edited to remove spoilers
NALANI NUYLAN: What inspired you to write the film?
KEVIN WARD: I live in LA and I had a long commute. For a while, I rode the train. It’s a weird experience: you do meet people and there are people you sit next to. I just like the idea if I were to befriend one of these people.
From the initial conception of the film to when you finished shooting, who long was that process?
KW: Four to four and a half years. The longest part of the process was looking for money.
What inspired you guys to join the project?
ROB HOULE: I have known Kevin since college. We were in punk bands together. When I was out in LA, I knew he was making this film. I thought to myself, ‘He’s going to ask me to compose music for him, right?’ And he did.
JONATHAN MANGUM: Kevin asked my wife, who does casting, if she could help him out with the film. She gave me the script, and it’s rare to read something this good. I never get to do this kind of part, it’s always comedy. I said, ‘hey I want to do this’ and he gave me a chance to do it.
HARRISON REYNOLDS: We started raising money for this film through crowdfunding. He had an original guy leave the day before. He called me the next day and I jumped on the project. We shot a trailer over two weeks and that’s what started this whole process.
I want to talk a little bit more about this role, Mr. Mangum. As you said, you are known for your comedy, so how was this role for you as an actor?
JM: It was different, yet I felt like I could relate to Tom (Mangum’s character) in a way. Comedy has some dark elements to it, but the goal is to make people laugh. Here I am making people believe that I am [justified], and that’s not easy either.
KW: I just want to say that any good actor can play a darker character, but not all actors can be comedians and make people laugh. We were truly lucky to have Jonathan.
So, how much where you rewriting on set? How different does it feel from the original script?
KW: I didn’t do much rewriting. I don’t know too much has changed between script to story. The cut I think is very different. The ending I think I monkeyed around with for a long time. This is an indie movie, this is what we got to shoot and there is no going back. The only real differences are what happened in the cut.
What were the permits you needed for the film?
KW: The only permit we bought was [for the City of Sacramento]. The interior of the train and the exterior of the train, those were the only permits we had. It was a lot of running and gunning. Every location was either borrowed or gotten off for cheap.
A lot of the audience members here today are writers and filmmakers, people who want to do what you did here today. Can you give some of the biggest lessons learned over the course of the project?
KW: There is a lot of things not to do, like don’t shoot on a moving train. I think the most important thing is to know that it is achievable. There is nothing mystical about making a movie. The hardest part about making this movie was finding the movie to do it, finding someone who believed in us and believed in the project. Shoot a trailer, show your friends, fail a few times, and do it again.
JM: Don’t hold on to whatever idea you think ‘this is my big idea and it has to be perfect before I shoot it.’ Nope. Just shoot it, just get it done, and there will be more ideas. Don’t hold on to any one idea.
HR: Get a lot of feedback from your friends, family or whoever else you trust. [Have them] read your script, have them watch your cuts. Watch it with an audience: they’ll know what’s working, what’s not working, what are some of the plot holes. I think that is an important part of the process.
And of course, I have to ask. We Austinites are very proud of our city. Is there a particular reason you choose to screen “A Patient Man” in Austin rather than the Toronto Film Festival or the Palm Springs Film Fest?
HR: I went to UT for my degree, so I am a little bit prideful in that sense. The main reason is that we wanted to have the experience, while the other film festivals are more glamorous.
RH: I lived in Austin a while ago. It’s been amazing to see how much the city has changed and taken off since I left. I am glad we were able to be a part of the festival.
JM: Austin also has this feeling about it that just makes this kind of work better. In LA, it’s more stressful while here it’s about the art of filmmaking.
Lastly, is there anything that I missed which you gentlemen want to say?
HR: We just want to say a huge thanks to our volunteers in LA for making this film possible. Our whole staff and crew were volunteers. Their countless hours and work helped us make this film. We wouldn’t have done it without them.