I’ve interviewed a lot of different filmmakers that each have a unique story, but I really enjoyed listening to Ryan Egypt’s, particularly because I can relate so much. I didn’t always set off to become a writer and have delved into many different fields until I found this one. But now that I have, it feels like it’s the place I’m meant to be. Egypt’s story is similar. He was like most people: working in an industry he was successful in but didn’t love until he found a calling for something more. When Egypt stumbled upon what a director does and Steven Spielberg’s words (more on that below) he made the change. He attended film school for a short time but ultimately left. He didn’t stop writing or working on his dream of becoming a filmmaker and that’s when “Chasing Titles Vol. 1” was born.
If I had not known that this was Egypt’s first go as a director/writer/producer, I would have thought he was a seasoned pro. That just tells you how much passion and hard work Egypt has put into his creation and that he chose well in switching careers.
How did you get started in filmmaking? What made you want to be a director/writer/producer?
I really don’t know how to explain it, other than the way that Steven Spielberg explains it, which is like a whisper that doesn’t really come very loud. For me it was this whisper, this dream, this calling to go look into film. At that time I told myself I don’t know what it is I love but I don’t want to do anything I don’t love, but I hadn’t found it. I explored many different ventures and industries for many other reasons than love. I went online and looked into different filmmaking schools and I saw the definition of what a director does and I was like, ‘wow that’s me.’ I am the only the one in my family that knows when a movie is out, who’s directing the movie and who’s in it. I’m a movie geek. Movies have always been my escape and my home base.
What was was the transition like becoming a director/writer/producer and being in a completely different industry?
Being creative is what made me successful. My whole motto is ‘work hard and the money will come.’ When I read the “Artist’s Way” it was the beginning of my journey after I made my commitment. I don’t know what it is I wanted to do, I got this book and one thing led to another. Next thing you know I’m watching Steven Spielberg interviews and he’s talking about the dream, that really was like, ‘is that what I’m hearing?’ Even when I got my calling, now that I think about it, I was thinking it was far-fetched, I didn’t immediately react on it and I also I was afraid of making it a goal and wanted to make it what I’m going to do. Not just something I want to accomplish. It’s bigger than that. Steven Spielberg, Tarantino and Scorsese are the three guys that I watched interviews on to connect with them on another level.
What was the inspiration for “Chasing Titles Vol. 1?”
I’ve always said I like to tell stories within a story so the inspiration came from society and watching what’s going on and seeing people chase things that may or not be good for them. The initial one was seeing lots of youth and even older people chasing so called ‘dreams’ when they really do a lot of stuff for the exterior and always want titles associated with that. I wanted to show how this young boy started his life and went off track with Vol. 1.
What were some of the challenges since this was your first film?
The biggest challenge for me was to trust my intuition and go with my gut. People aren’t always welcoming when this is the first thing you’ve done and it was very tough not knowing how to navigate Hollywood. The biggest thing for me was to quiet down and ask myself what do you want to do right now? I started with the phones and as far as casting I knew who I wanted. I wanted some names where you kind of didn’t really see them in this way and I also wanted some newcomers. Also dealing with the unknown like saying ‘okay I have a Director of Photography’ and we have to sit down and talk about shots. We shot out of Florida and went through basically everything that was in the shoot, and that’s very challenging when you know everyone else has experience and that you have to stick to what you know but you don’t know.
As a movie geek, what were some of the films or directors you looked to for inspiration for
“Chasing Titles Vol. 1?”
I must have watched “Jackie Brown” like 10 times. The films that I had on repeat during writing were “Heat,” “American Gangster,” “American Hustle,” “Jackie Brown” and “Training Day.”
“Chasing Titles Vol.1” as a short film was very ambitious because it’s not your typical short film. Can you talk about this?
I remember thinking at one point I’m hope I’m not going too fast, I hope the audience can keep up with what’s happening. Shorts usually don’t have this many characters, they don’t bounce around and usually focus on one or two people. I made this film into something I would watch, but it was a big risk because it’s not traditionally how short films are set up. I remember I sent the script to someone who does short films and he told me I needed to combine these characters and I was like, ‘what do you mean combine them?’ He was like, ‘you’ve got too many.’ I said, ‘no I can’t do that.’ Why not put it out there? I’ve seen great short films, really great ones. I watch every Oscar-nominated short film. But I haven’t seen one like this.
What can we expect in “Chasing Titles Vol.2?”
I’m going to turn “Chasing Titles Vol.2” into a classic. What I mean by that is it’s not going to be like any other film you’ve seen because I don’t even know what I’m capable of. The way Vol. 1 came out made me think that I have so much more to offer than what I thought, so I’m stepping it up even more now, which is a lot of pressure. You can expect a lot of energy, a lot of drama, a lot of suspense, mystery. You will come out from watching this film not only saying, ‘wow this is amazing,’ but also with some impactful message of reality, inspiration and motivation through this story. I think it’s going to be jam packed and just picture the 28 minutes you see in Vol. 1 for an 1 hour and 45 minutes non-stop, drama and thrills.
What are your plans for the future? What projects do you want to work on?
My goal is not to produce and direct all the movies that I work on. I want to direct movies that when I read the script they move me and excite me to direct. I’m not looking to write and direct every film. Even for Vol. 2 I’m bringing in a writing partner and collaborating. In the future I want to do BIG blockbuster films because I can handle it. I like BIG movies so I tried to make the “Chasing Titles Vol.1” as big as I could. If someone was to ask me what kind of movies would you like to direct, if you really looked at the movies I love and Vol. 1 again, you will get the picture of the movies I would like to work on. I like real stuff, real movies. Going back to “Donnie Brasco,” “Goodfellas,” “Casino,” those are some of my top movies and can’t forget “Rocky.” Even a movie like “Pretty Woman” – I love that one. A great story and there’s a reality to it.
Where can people see “Chasing Titles Vol. 1?”
Great question. Right now we’re wrapping up our film festival circuit. We’re still screening at a few theaters and we will be on Shorts TV in the next month which is the Direct TV channel and then VOD, maybe Netflix, I don’t know, but that’s the direction we’re heading in. We have numerous deals on the table and we’re going to go with the best deal that makes sense for where my career is heading.
BY CATHERINE GONZALES
November 14, 2017