Film Courage: With ESCAPE ROOM, you wrote the script, did you also pitch yourself as being the director or was this something that came later?
Peter Dukes, Filmmaker: Right off the bat, I always knew I wanted to write and direct. I had done that with all of my short films. But directing in the feature world is very tricky. Investors like their pool of people. Unless you have a theatrically distributed feature film under your belt and named talent, you are usually not going to get on their list. Even if you’ve done amazing shorts, it’s just not going to happen.
I won’t say that is every investor out there but just in my experience I’ve had people say Hey, we love your reels. We love your short films. It’s not going to happen. Hope you understand?
It’s your money, of course I understand. You need to work with people you are confident can handle a feature. So I knew I needed to put myself in a position where I had some leverage if I was ever going to direct one of my own scripts we’ll say. ESCAPE ROOM comes around and the guys loved the script. One of the producers said I want to direct it. And I said No deal. I direct it or it’s no deal.
I gambled and I was willing to gamble. Just like gambling with money in Las Vegas, if it’s money that you can afford to lose, then gamble it. Same thing with film. I was willing to lose the deal over it. It wasn’t a bluff because I knew that was my best shot in years to actually direct a feature and if I passed it up and just sold them the script, I’m back playing the game I’ve been playing for years. I was trying to get myself in a position to do it again, so I gambled. It’s me or its a no-go. And he kind of looked back down at the table for a minute and then he…(Watch the video interview on Youtube here).
Bio [from IMDB]:
Peter Dukes is a prolific multi-award winning writer, director and producer who’s films have been distributed the world over. He founded Dream Seekers Productions in the early 2000’s and, after making a name for himself in the world of short form content with well over a dozen films such as Little Reaper, The Beast, The New World, Sweet Madness, A Goblins’s Tale and more, he rocketed into the feature world with Escape Room (2017), a horror film starring Skeet Ulrich (Scream, Riverdale) and Sean Young (Blade Runner, The Alienist), that screened theatrically across the world, opened up as the number one DVD/streamed movie in the UK and enjoyed a nationwide release in the US through Redbox and VOD. He followed that up with Portal (2018), starring Heather Langenkamp (of A Nightmare On Elm Street fame), Ryan Merriman (The Ring 2, Final Destination 3), Jamie Tisdale (The Devil’s Candy, From Dusk Til Dawn: The Series), Najarra Townsend (Contracted 1 & 2) and Reinaldo Zavarce (Jane The Virgin, Don Quixote). Known for being proactive in his approach to filmmaking, Peter has several more features in development.
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