“It’s not about comparing myself to my father (Oliver Stone). My father is great. He’s a great director and I think he’s a great man in many ways and he lives his life now. What I can do is that I can take good advice from him. And I will become my own person and I will have my own stories and have my own vision.”
It was in a chill atmosphere that I met Sean STONE: Oliver STONE’s prodigy child and film director of Graystone, a horror movie based on a true story. Pretty busy with Graystone, the young film director still accepted to share his time with me to share about his passion, his projects and about Graystone of course.
|Xavier Mah & Sean Stone at a cafe|
Xavier: First of all, thank you for your time. Well, please share with us what’s in your pipeline?
Sean: Well, I’m finishing post-production of my film for Graystone.
It has been a long process. It’s based on true stories. My friends and I broke into a haunted mental hospital. We were looking for ghosts. And so we took those spirits in and made a movie. And it’s an independent film, very low budget, and documentary style. My father is also featured in the movie because the movie is based on a true story.
Directing the movie was a very long journey, trying to get the completion of the movie. When you are doing an independent movie, you have to find different sources, multiple investors and you must have a studio behind you to ensure you are led and get distributors to sell the in different distribution network.
So that film is my first feature and then whiles I’m finishing that, I’m watching a website called “filmbang.com”. It’s like a facebook for films. Filmmakers can put their products up no matter what level they are filming. You can put your trailer up and you can try to get some funds from users, fans. They can click if they like it so that will generate feedback and build up your fan-base, get eyes on your product. You can advertise in it basically before you are even ready to go to the market. So that’s like a phase.
Xavier: When do you intend to launch it?
Sean: We’re at the end of the production, which means that we have to basically take it and go out in the next few months and begin to territory.
You’ll never know in this market, there are a lot of factors and battles. The first one is the story and script, second is the production and the directing, and the third one is making the post-production, so that you can really sell the film, the fourth one is advertising and marketing.
Xavier: Do you think a film without branding, advertising & marketing will work?
Sean: I make a movie because I really believe the story is worth telling. Of course, I want the films to be seen and well received by the audience, but you’ll never know how big a movie is going to be. You know you can have a great movie, but without the audience, it’s not a complete movie. You will never know because the culture is changing constantly. What is popular in this decade alone is not going to be popular in the next decade. Their minds are changing, the world is changing. I think great stories are the one that last 30 or 40 years, or even 100 years later.
Xavier: How do you cope all the tasks given to you?
Sean: Well, when I was in school, I always liked to study five subjects. Each subject was a completely different genre. I think you’ll have to be very disciplined in knowing you can do two things at the same time. On the same day, you can go from putting your energy into writing in the morning, and going meeting in the afternoon, and then completing visually at night, you can transition yourself, but you’ll just have to be careful about making sure that when you do something you do it 100%. Everyone has different strategies. I am not saying I am a bad actor but my interest is storytelling.
Xavier: What sort of storytelling?
Sean: Storytelling from the point of a writer/ director, like someone who wants to see a storyline comes true. So, I think if you’re an actor, I’m going to think of it the way a writer does. I’m going to envision the theme from the point of a writer: why is he saying this line, what is she actually saying, what are the emotions here, and that’s the way to be a writer.
You know when you write, you become the character of the story as you’re writing it. An actor should do the same thing. The fundamental is not that different. A great actor is also a great director.
Xavier: Is your passion inspired by your dad?
Sean: When I was a kid I was a little more for toys, like action toys. I used them to film a scenario. Each day was like a different movie. I made the movies with different toys.
I was 7 years old when I was writing my first short film. I think I’d always wanted to be a writer. And you know when you were little, you don’t really appreciate what’s a director, you don’t really know what it is. It’s only when I was 15 or16 years old that I realized directors are like captains, like managers. They have to know the whole process and I thought I could handle that. It’s not really about the position but the personality: to be organized, visionary and time practical.
Usually, a real director goes through a process. When you’re in the process, you feel so exhausted that you never want to make the movie again but you just think there’s another story you have to tell. Writing is very hard and very intense but at the end of the day, your energy is not the same as what a director does.
Xavier: You grew up in that particular environment, your dad is a very successful person, are you pressured by that?
Sean: Well, I’m sure there are people, of course who are going to say: “his father is this, he’s that.” You know that’s the nature of life. If you’re scared, then you don’t deserve to do it. You really have to have courage to do something to battle. It’s not about comparing myself to my father. My father is great. He’s a great director and I think he’s a great man in many ways and he lives his life now. What I can do is that I can take good advice from him. And I will become my own person and I will have my own stories and have my own vision.
Xavier: Who/What are the challenges? Sourcing for talents? Film writers?
Sean: Financing a film is always an issue. You know you have excess talent and you can get the name to pass your film and that can definitely help bring money. But it’s difficult to pass your name without money behind you. I think the biggest issue frankly is trust.
When you’re coming up as a beginner filmmaker, no one knows that if they can trust you; they don’t know what you’re like as a director, they don’t know what kind of creativity that you have, the vision you have. It’s a confidence issue. Usually it’s hard for you to see young filmmakers who are under 30. It’s impossible for them to look someone who’s under 30 as really reliable. I think that’s the hardest part of film-making. You must show how independent you can be, take out a little money and make a product and sell it and it’s well done. Then actors will start to respond to work with you. Then crew will want to work, and then financiers will want to invest. All these things can only come at the point that they trust you that you’re able to pull it off. It also depends a lot on the scripts, you must have quality scripts.
Xavier: What is your favourite genre?
Sean: Honestly speaking, I don’t like genres; I love mixing genres, for example, Graystone. It’s a psychological horror movie. It’s also quite funny because it’s about three kids, who don’t trust each other exploring about ghosts and there are a lot of stories about the tension and humour.
Xavier: Are you looking into China market?
Sean: I’d love to do a co-production with China. And I’ve been discussing a project that would definitely be shot in China and have a story that relates the China culture and the US as a whole.
Xavier: What is your best experience in making film?
Sean: In the middle of the night, running around trying to make things work. I think what is so exciting about film when you are doing, it that you’re doing it as it wasn’t for you. You love the idea of creating so much. Sharing with people is what makes film so rich.
Xavier: What do you intend to do in the next 5 years?
Sean: The next 5 years will be very important, as I’ll be continuing to make movies; I think 5 years later are going to be really turmoil; the world economy is in chaos. Make stories and enjoy creativity by seeing stories that make them think and challenge.
Xavier: What is your definition of fashion?
Sean: Fashion is your own identity in the world. It is how do you want people to perceive you.
Xavier: Particular in any fashion?
Sean: I’d prefer jeans and a t-shirt. I don’t spend much time shopping. I wish I had the time, and money to do more shopping.