ShortsTV sat down with actor/writer/producer Brett Edwards, whose body of work includes Westworld, American Sniper. You also may recognize Brett from Halfway There, and The Heeler, American Muscle, American Cowboys short films and The Longest Ride.
1. What’s your inspiration behind “The Heeler” short film?
I felt, I'm sure as many in a creative line of work do, frustrated and starved for work. I was progressing and doing good work in acting class every week at the John Kirby Studio, but when it came time to audition, something wasn't clicking. And I remember having a beer at the now-defunct Cat & Fiddle with Cash Black, and after a few Jameson's being chased by Guinness, Cash finally said, "I wrote something." I asked would he send it to me, and he pulled out a green spiral notebook and said, "No I wrote it. It's in here. It's about two brothers and they're professional cowboys." So I read it sitting at the bar there, and a few weeks later we had a script called The Heeler. After our tranquility wore off, we finally looked at each other and said, "You know anything about producing a movie?"
2. What’s your advice to student filmmakers? Why are you involved in short film?
Read. Read. Read. There is a wealth of knowledge in books out there and it's amazing what the mind subconsciously retains when you actively read something. Search and dig and find what you like, and don't be afraid of failure. In the beginning (and I'm still there), filmmaking is all about rejection... so get used to it and don't let it deter or derail your advancement. Complacency breeds mediocrity. And above all else, and ironically this might be the hardest part, but surround yourself with people who are as passionate about bringing the story to life as you are; because everyone is excited in the beginning as they all want to be a part of something, but give me a skeleton crew all pushing for the same end goal over an army that just wants a few bucks any day of the week. And I'll bet you'll be satisfied with the finished product.
Short film is a great way to prove to yourself this is the medium you want to be in. If a five-day shoot is exhausting and you find yourself glad it's over, then maybe movies aren't for you. And with the emergence of short-form digital, short films are an avenue to hone that skill of hook, line, and sinker. Get in late, and get out early....leave them wanting more. Oh, and with everyone's short attention span, short-form is only going to increase in demand.
3. What’s your perspective on diversity?
Five years ago this question wouldn't have been in your repertoire, so that's something. The Hollywood System is a tough nut to crack, and hopefully diversity will teach the business-side that there are some bucks to be made in the telling of unique stories.
4. If you could collaborate with anyone?
Too many to count, and I'll probably bore you with all the names you hear every time you ask that question. There's so much good work being produced, especially in television. Maybe Sam Elliott or Taylor Sheridan...which paves the way for your next question, which is....?
5. What are you working on next?
I already did another short based on a play I wrote which is also running on SHORTSTV. And this again came about through frustration, because no one in town wanted to put this play on their stage. And I just couldn't get let it go because at the end of the day, all dramatic writing is meant to be performed and produced. Anyway, long story short, a producer at a fast-rising new studio saw it and asked if I had written any features. I sent him two and he passed on both saying they weren't a fit, but then sent me an idea he had for a short-form series. I pitched him my idea and they're now moving forward with the ten-episodes I wrote. I can't talk about the premise, but it does involve modern-day cowboys and we're all very excited about it. And at the top of my list for Executive Producers the studio will reach out to are Sam Elliott and Taylor Sheridan. It's all a pipe-dream till it happens. But if it does, whew buddy, then we're on our way.