Get to Know Your PFF Alumni-Scott Storm

As a Phoenix Film Festival alumni attendee, you may recall Scott’s award winning Best Documentary We Run Sh*t at PFF2012, or perhaps Ten Til Noon in 2006. His latest contribution is a #PFF2016 animated short – and already multi-award winner – The Apple Tree. Scott shares a bit of his experience with us below. ScottStorm

What projects are you currently working on?

Currently I'm hard at work at my next animated short, the dark, psychological medieval tale, Custodian.  I started it while still working on The Apple Tree because you have to start when inspiration strikes.  It's been a great way to deal with the delays of my next full-length feature, a political thriller, set in the world of Chicago politics, called OPPO.  It was written by Glenn Jeffers and will be produced by Anthony Miller and David Scott Hay.

What advice do you have for independent filmmakers?

I'm not one to give advice because I believe that every artist’s journey is unique, but I will say that you should always be working on something.  The independent film world is tough, highly competitive and not for the faint of heart.  Vacations are a waste of valuable time.  Surround yourself with good people, most often if they are smarter than you are, and have strengths in areas where you yourself have weaknesses.  Jettison any bad apples in your circle, even those that may once have been allies.  They will only bring you down.

Above all ... A. B. C.  Always.  Be.  Creating.

What are some rookie mistakes to be avoided?

Thinking you know more than you do and pretending you know something when you don't.  Always take meetings yourself, even if they are with crew-members, or financiers you'd rather not deal with. You must always be the face of your project.

What is your go-to camera and/or favorite piece of equipment? 

Adobe Photoshop.  For animation anyway.  I create in Photoshop and composite in After Effects.  When shooting live action, I leave the shooting to someone more knowledgeable than I.  I've never been much of a camera geek.  Whatever gets the job done and looking its best.  Trust your DP – even if it's yourself.

What’s one of your quirks on-set?

Talking loudly and being impatient.  I'm aware things take time, but time is money.  I tend to grow prickly if things take too long ... and this extends to the editing process.  I don't believe it should take a year to edit a feature film unless your shoot extends that period.  Another quirk is that I expect everyone else to work at LEAST as hard as I do.   It's a tad unrealistic, but it's something I rarely compromise on.  I have fired people for being lazy and not pulling their weight.  I've never regretted it.

As a filmmaker, what can you not live without?

I cannot live without my favorite movies, which I often look to for inspiration.  I cannot live without TIME to create.  It may sometimes appear selfish to friends and loved ones, but if I don't have long stretches of time to do what I love to do and what I do best, I transform into a hideous beast.

The Apple Tree screens thrice within the Animated Shorts Program at #PFF2016

Check out the schedule, and get your tickets here!

Learn more about the film … and Scott:


Contributed by Laurie Smith