Film Courage: At what point did you go in front of the camera and decide to direct? You are working with props more behind the scenes?
Mark Gantt, Actor/Producer/Writer/Director: It was 1995 and I was working on THE CHAMBER which was a film (a John Grisham novel) with James Foley who directed it, Gene Hackman and Chris O’Donnell. It was shot in LA and then we traveled to Jackson, Mississippi. It was about a guy on death row. I don’t know if you remember it?
Film Courage: I think I watched it in the theaters.
Mark: It was the least successful of the John Grisham novels (films, adaptions in Hollywood). So I was on set and I was assistant prop master and a friend of mine on set was the on set dresser and we were always hustling to do this job. We were working really hard. And the director sort of saw that we were young and hungry and wanted to sort of be friends with us because we were always joking and having fun and stuff.
He at one point took the walkie-talkies and said It’s not cool, you guys all get to talk on the walkies but I don’t? We gave him one of our walkies and he’s there on one changing channels talking to the assistant director, talking to the key grip and everybody is like Why is the director on the walkie? He is not supposed to be. Leave him to do his thing.
But it just became this great relationship. On set he asked me one day What is it that you want to do when you grow up? And I was like Well, I like props. I think I’ll do a couple more as assistant prop master. Maybe I’ll get to be prop master? He’s like Nah. I’m like What do you mean, nah? He’s like You’re too good, you don’t care. I can tell you don’t care about the job. Your good but it’s not what you want to do. And he was like Don’t tell me…but successful people know what they want to do and they write it out, they set a time when they want to do it by and they put how much money they want to have in the bank and they just do it and then they tell everybody that’s what they are doing.
I was like Okay. So the next day…(Watch the video interview on Youtube here).
About Mark Gantt:
Whether he’s working on features or commercials, award-winning director Mark Gantt is in the business of authentic, creative visual experiences. With a diverse, 20-year career in the industry, he has learned the business from the ground up, and had the good fortune of collaborating with top directors, including Steven Soderbergh, David O. Russell, Sam Raimi, and Robert Rodriguez.
As versatile as he is ambitious, Mark has demonstrated a penchant for the entire creative process, using forays into writing, acting, and producing to inform his directorial philosophies. For two years running, Mark has created successful spots for ESPN and Nissan’s Heisman House campaign and popular and effective branded campaigns for GMC, AOL and Lifetime.
He has the unique ability to work with a wide variety of individuals. From celebrities and professional actors, to athletes, “real people,” and newcomers, he’s able to capture the small, authentic gestures and behaviors that bring stories to life. In his craft, he is dedicated to capturing the raw realities of life, and demonstrating the inherent beauty of the everyday.
A multi-medium visual and performance artist, Mark integrates his talents as a painter, photographer, actor and graphic artist into each production’s look and style. He utilizes technical expertise, a keen eye for detail, and a genuine love of storytelling to transform words from concepts into visual realities.
His feature directorial debut, Murder In Mexico, starring Colin Egglesfield, premiered on Lifetime and was well received by both critics and audiences. He also directed a dark action/drama pilot for Ron Howard and Brian Grazer’s New Form Digital called Intricate Vengeance. As a Writer and Producer, Mark is best known for co-creating, producing and starring in the ground breaking, Streamy award-winning series, The Bannen Way for Crackle and Sony Pictures Television.
He is currently in post on his second feature, the indy thriller Model Citizen shot in New Mexico. He’s also hard at work on a number of TV and Feature properties in various stages of development. Mark lives in Los Angeles with his wife Brianne Davis, their son Davis and dog Bear.
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