By Chris Kavan - 06/11/13 at 11:50 PM CT
As some FilmCrave members may or may not know, the three current operators of this site all grew up in the small town of Wahoo, NE (population: 4528 as of 2011). One of the "Five Famous Sons" of Wahoo is filmmaker Daryl F. Zanuck - legendary producer and co-creator of 20th Century Fox. But there is another filmmaker I'm here to talk about today, one who didn't move out of Wahoo when he was 6 - but is still writing, directing and producing today. That would be native resident Jake Hull and I recently sat down with him at another local institute the Wigwam Cafe (opened in the 1930s and still going strong).
Hull has been making films since 2009, when he directed Grapes: The Story of an Aspiring Serial Killer - which screened at the 2009 Omaha Film Festival and won the Best Dramedy at the Bare Bones International Film Festival in May 2009. He followed that up with the short films The Grocery and Blind Hole (which will shortly appear at the New York City International Film Festival) - and is currently finishing up on his second feature film, Trunk'd.
Trunk'd is a comedy road trip about what happens when an accidental death of a call girl leads four men on an extraordinary journey to get rid of the body. Casting for the film was made up largely of stand-up comedians. Fully 90% of the lead roles went to the versatile group for two main reasons according to Hull: "While I worked as the primary writer and I like to think of myself as a funny guy, improv is key feature I wanted and that is what stand-up comedians provide."
"The other reason is that each one has a built-in audience and pretty much every Saturday night, they add in more fans. That helps a lot in promoting your film."
Local Omaha stand-up comedian Austin Anderson was first approached by Hull, and from there the casting was a "domino effect" as he provided people to contact, who in turn provided more people to contact and in the end, the cast of Trunk'd includes James Adomian, best known for his George W. Bush impersonations (Harold & Kumar Escape from Guantanamo Bay); Dan Cummins, who had his own Comedy Central special Dan Cummins: Crazy with a Capital F as well as appearing several times on the Tonight Show and Last Comic Standing; veteran stand-up comedian Eddie Pepitone, who has 82 credits ranging from Old School to many appearance on Conan and a variety of TV shows from Whitney to Arrested Development. A full breakdown of the cast can be found at the AB Productions Trunk'd website.
The film just received a brand new ending as Hull was in LA over Memorial Day weekend filming a few additional scenes with Cummins to rework the final product.
"Improv is great, but some things just didn't work with the story. The secondary storyline that was filmed worked in conjunction with the original ending and allowed us to incorporate some of the improv elements and also allowed me to fill in some plot holes. I would say that Trunk'd went from being a good comedy to a great one."
Because of he additional shooting, as well as re-recording the sound and adding music to go along with it, Hull said it will add a little more time before the film is ready for festival screenings. "It's going to be a little later than I wanted, but I expect within the next month and a half we should be finished with everything and ready to present it."
Filming in Nebraska is nothing new for Hull. He knows the locations and the people, which makes it easy to shoot, but he did notice one thing about shooting in LA. "Despite the fact it was Memorial Day weekend, finding a crew and equipment is much easier in LA. You can tell it's a city that caters to filmmakers. In fact, Trunk'd is the first movie I've shot outside of Nebraska with location shooting in LA, Texas, Oklahoma and Kansas as well as Nebraska."
Aside from always having a project in the works - with "two to three scripts at the ready" Hull is not just a filmmaker, he is an avid film watcher as well. The biggest influence for him is the late Stanley Kubrick, who Hull considers by far and away his favorite director. "If we're speaking hypothetically about being able to work with anyone from any time - living or dead - then Stanley Kubrick would be my ultimate collaboration. Everyone thinks of him as a director, but he was also a producer and I would pay ungodly amounts of money to work with him as a producer or mentor."
"I consider Kubrick's work like a huge labyrinth you have to figure out. But if Kubrick is my hero than David Fincher is my fanboy man-crush. Fincher makes film that are dark, cool and interesting. As of late, my mentor and good friend has been Dana Altman, an Omaha native who produced Lovely, Still and has helped me out quite a bit of late."
While the life of an indie filmmaker is always busy - whether it's setting up the next meeting or finalizing your latest film - Hull finds time to watch movies, be it the $4 morning special, catching the latest IMAX showing or simply spending time with family - while free time is in short supply he makes the most of what he has. But one thing is for certain, Hull is going to stick to film and FilmCrave will be there every step of the way.