Film Courage: Chris I want to hear about you taking this week-long drive across country?
Chris von Hoffmann, writer/director: It was like 4 or 5 days?
Film Courage: Okay. You said you didn’t totally plan it out to come to LA? You had been thinking about it for a long time or…?
Chris von Hoffmann: I had been thinking about it since I was in high school. I had been wanting to move out here for acting at the time. But at a certain point I was like ‘I think I’ve done all that I can do in New York.’ I mean I was hardcore wanting to pursue filmmaking at the time and New York just was so theater-driven and I love theater, I love Broadway and all of that. I love that stuff and I wanted to be an actor on stage for a long time.
As far as the film business, there is a lot of film that shoots out there, but LA is just is the capital of movies. And so I just thought I’ve just got to do it.
I recommend it to a lot people. I mean a lot people fly their cars out.
Film Courage: You drove?
Chris von Hoffmann: Yeah, through Oklahoma and New Mexico and stayed at these cheap motels and these weird places…like Scottsdale, Arizona and I got to see all of these places.
Film Courage: Did you see real-life drifters? [Chris is writer/director of the horror film DRIFTER].
Chris von Hoffmann: Probably? I mean it was like 2012. I came across some weird people, yeah. Just in different corners of the town. But I definitely recommend it. I loved the experience, I definitely recommend it. I hated pulling over for gas or pulling over to use the restroom because I love to keep moving, going. It was a very transcending, very therapeutic experience because you’re not thinking about what’s ahead of you just yet. You’re not thinking about the past at all. And it’s such like an in-moment kind of thing. It was great and one of the best experiences of my life driving out to LA. You’re not thinking about anything, there’s nothing really hardcore to think about yet in that tiny amount of time and you’re sort of just going moment-to-moment and then you move to LA and you’re like oh ‘Now I’ve got to get back to reality’ and then it gets gruesome. But that brief amount of time was great.
Film Courage: Were there things leading up to that moment where you said “Okay, I think now is the time,” you were [age] 24 you say?
Chris von Hoffmann: I think making that short probably and then I remember thinking ‘Should I not make this short and move out to LA blindly? Or should I wait a few months, make the short and then move out to LA?’ That felt like the best bet to do something like that because I didn’t want to go out there with literally nothing. And so I just made the short and then screened it at this place called The Producer’s Club in New York City (which is on 44th street). It’s a little blackbox, they do a lot of rehearsals and plays there, but they also do screenings and they have a projector that you can rent. And 70 people came to it, so it was a nice little turn out for that movie and they responded to it very well and so that boosted up your confidence and then you go to LA and all of your confidence and ego is just shattered within minutes so…
Film Courage: Every day of every year.
Chris von Hoffmann: Every day is just like constantly cutthroat and brutal. I think it was great to have that short film in my back pocket because that helped me to meet other people for later for other shorts and they could take me somewhat seriously that I’m not a total idiot, that I can make movies. And then I start to make more and more shorts with more and more people I was meeting out here and just honing the craft and learning just about the nuts and bolts of movies.
Film Courage: Was there a moment that you thought about turning the car around?
Chris von Hoffmann: No. It was a pretty straight shoot just like there is no turning back. I was just at the point in my life where I was like there was nothing more for me to do out in New York. I know what I want to do right now, I know this path I want to take and New York is just not going to do it for me. And if I’m serious about this and serious about pursuing directing and wanting to be a writer/director then I have to move to Los Angeles.
And I remember one of the first things is when I moved out to LA I went to a screening of SLITHER (James Gunn’s movie, one of his early movies) and I went to The Aero Theatre (it was the first time I went there) and James Gunn was there for a Q&A and the first thing that came out of his mouth was “You have to move to Los Angeles.” And I was like “Well, it’s been validated (now I feel good about this).” I know some people live in Toronto and try to do film in New York and all of that and I guess there is work all over the place. But LA is the heart and soul of it and it’s just so much more convenient for everybody and all the deals are made out here and everyone is in sync. It is like a bubble and it’s good to be part of that bubble I think.
Questions for the Viewers: Do people who want to be in the film business need to be in Los Angeles?
CONNECT WITH CHRIS VON HOFFMANN
About Chris von Hoffmann:
After a short stint at the American Academy of Dramatic Arts and acting in several off-off-Broadway plays, Chris von Hoffmann moved to LA and turned to writing/producing/directing.
Chris von Hoffmann has made several short films including Fuel Junkie, White Trash and Vodka 7. White Trash had its World Premiere at the Chinese Theatre for the 17th Annual Dances With Films film festival and won Best Guerilla short for the 10th Annual Action on Film film festival. Vodka 7 won Best Cinematography at the WILDsound film festival in Toronto and screened at Tribeca Cinemas for the 9th Annual Big Apple film festival while Fuel Junkie had its premiere at Sony Picture Studios. In 2015 he directed his debut feature film Drifter which secured worldwide distribution and was released in 2017.
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