Film and TV

Tempe Town Flick: Filmmaker Nico Holthaus Plans Stuck Outside of Phoenix

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How much dramatic license are you willing to take? Will you at least promise as many fisticuffs as the typical Elvis movie?

Art and I (and Dean Mongan, our director, and Lee Lusby, the Director of Photography) joke about this all the time. I'm pushing for a nympho librarian character to be inserted somewhere between the car chase, explosion, and Van Damme. Kidding. None of those things...unless I really find a nympho librarian who can act -- and I can then test my producer skills to invent a good enough reason to, ah, insert her. [Chortles] But no, I promised Art that anything we add would be for texture and extra tension, nothing that would divert or subvert the theme, plot, or structure of the story. So yes, if it's something that is sound and will help add tension without becoming a distraction, I'm sure Art would approve. He already has on a number of things I've thrown at him. Like the legendary "dude on the train [intends to] jump off at Broadway but ends up in Tucson" deal. And even then, I plan it to be shot as something in the background. Kind of a yuk yuk to those not only paying attention, but as a gift to those ardent Tempe '90s music fans like myself.

This is your first project financed by Kickstarter? Are you worried you may run into financial backers who fancy themselves or their girlfriends as actors, like in Ed Wood?

Not at all. And yes, this is my first foray into any kind of "crowdsourcing." One of the attributes I have is the ability to get to know non-actors well enough, and them to trust me enough, to build on their own characters and induce believable performances. I get people to talk in front of the camera all the time by appealing to them on different levels; it's case by case, person by person. Usually, they just realize pretty quick that I'm nice, not going to ambush them later in the edit, and I can get them to laugh, which makes them relax and be themselves, and are then able to be nudged directionally to give the expected performance. Wow, that sounds kinda manipulative, huh?

Yeah, but that's what directors do. Manipulate.

Right. Besides, it's not like some millionaire's going to get his absolutely terrible-acting nephew cast as Hote because he made a higher-level pledge on Kickstarter. But I'll appoint or invent, if it works, a role if a case like that comes up. The "lawyer" [air quotes] in me made sure I used the right wording in the incentives so that it's open ended, that they'd get "a speaking role" [air quotes] and nothing more specific. And that's something else that made me realize many years ago that I can produce -- despite, again, my wanting to only act and write -- can make flexibility even on a no-or-anemic-budget project, and keeping it all legal, all on the up-and-up. And we all have fun, too. Win-win-win-win-loss somewhere, usually at my personal expense-win-win. [Laughs]

If you do not raise the financing through the site will you continue to try and get this movie made?

Yep. I never quit. I just eliminate dead weight and other project liabilities, and personal liabilities, for that matter, as soon as I can, and move on with another approach, new people. I still can be fooled by takers who present themselves as givers, but I've gotten better at sifting them out earlier and earlier. If we don't get the financing we need, I'll make it myself from my own wages as a professor; it'll just take 6 months to a year later.

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Serene Dominic
Contact: Serene Dominic