What makes you desire to tell a story from behind the lens?
Nathan: People have been telling stories since the beginning of time. Stories remind us where we’ve been and where we’re going. They can inspire and encourage us. They can warn us with morality tales. They can teach us about ourselves. I believe film is a very powerful medium. It is perhaps the only art form that can combine story, music, sound design, poetry, acting, characters, photography, fashion design, architecture, and the latest computer effects all into one beautiful art. Filmmakers like Spielberg, Nolan, or Lucas are the modern day Shakespeare. Our culture has been heavily influenced by movies, just look at Star Wars, Harry Potter, or Avengers. I want to have an impact on the culture and believe that movies are one of the best ways to do that. And frankly, I just love movies. I love evoking a feeling in an audience, whether it’s hope, fear, sadness, excitement, or adventure. I love being transported into a new world or seeing another side of my own world.
Brandon: Pretty much the same here. I love telling stories, because I love the way stories can affect you: making you jump, scream, cheer, or cry, or even cause you to see the world in a different light or understand people in a different way, or give you the courage to do something or the wisdom to perhaps not. When you put something very beautiful in front of someone, something engaging and fun, then that person will be more receptive to whatever that something has to say. And it’s not about trying to sneak in with a secret message, it’s just about packaging, the same way a good professor is a good speaker, or a good book is written well, or good ingredients still need to be cooked well. Let the teachers teach, the bakers bake, the painters paint, and the storytellers tell stories- each in the hopes of making someone’s life just a little bit better.
Did any other artist inspire you to make films of your own?
Nathan: I have a ton of favorite movies, but if I had to pick one, it would be Lord of the Rings. Its almost the perfect movie, huge box office success, swept the academy awards and still loved by millions of people. And it has great themes, morals and messages. I think was 11-years-old when the first Lord of the Rings movie came out. As a little kid, I was most impressed by the scope and richness of Middle Earth, it was unlike anything I’d ever seen before. As I grew older and watched it, over and over again, I learned to love them for the quality of the filmmaking. Its a fantastic story about people choosing to do the right thing under difficult circumstances. Great story, great filmmaking and great message. What more can you ask for? Some of my other favorite movies include Remember the Titans, Inception, and The Matrix. Some of the people who have inspired me by their personal lives are DeVon Franklin & Dan Lin. Both are devoted christians and successful producers.
Brandon: I saw The Fellowship Of The Ring for my sixth birthday and as I was leaving the theater, bawling after both Gandalf and Boromir died, I realized that the kind of reaction I had was the kind of reaction I wanted to give others. I had been swept up in a high fantasy adventure and hadn’t even realized that I was falling love with these very real people dealing with very real problems (in a very not real kind of way). So I decided that I wanted to become a director, and eventually writer, and I’ve been on that path ever since.
What is it like to work together as brothers on a project?
Nathan: It’s a lot of fun! We have a similar taste in stories and character. We also bring different strengths and perspectives to the table, so we complement each other well. I”m very pragmatic and realistic. I don’t like to wing things. I like practical, feasible plans. Brandon, on the other hand, is more of a visionary. He is constantly, trying to make our films more ambitious and more professional. Usually, he’s more interested in where we are going, rather than how we are going to get there. But together we make a good team. Its very comforting to work with someone that you trust. Of course we have disagreements and argue sometimes, just like all brothers. But usually, in the end, it helps us to come to the right decision. We always try to be respectful and listen to each other.
Brandon: It’s terrible. I can’t fire him because of mother. [insert chuckle]. But no, it’s actually a lot of fun and a huge benefit. Although I can’t really recommend family members work together, because it just depends on your relationship. Nathan and I got over our differences a long time ago, so we don’t fight during productions or on set, and since that’s the case, it’s a lot easier working with him as a producer than anyone else simply because we’ve lived in the same room for 18+ years. Conversely, if we weren’t quite so chummy, then I could easily see it becoming a real mess. And like he said, we compliment each other pretty well; you can’t have a team of two visionaries or two- whatever you call what he is- because that will limit your productivity. Just like in any other relationship, in the working relationship, you need balance and difference so both people can grow and move the project faster than they could on their own.
What sets you apart from other filmmakers?
Nathan: I believe every artist has a unique voice and perspective. My age, ethnicity, childhood, personality, experiences, and beliefs all help to shape my films. My films and stories are a way for me to express my feelings and at the same time bring enjoyment to others. I want my films to be honest, beautiful and fun.
Brandon: I’d say every filmmaker should strive to be different because every person is different. We live in a world that tries to box you in and tell you what you should look like, how you should talk, and how you should act; and while there’s often some good reason behind that, if you’re not careful, you’ll find yourself fitting in so well with everybody else that you might as well be everybody else. In film now, there’s a big push to make movies that are safe, and safe means being like the last movie to be a hit. But in reality, people like new things, we like things that make us think, that make us adapt in small ways to a first time experience. So I’d say what makes us different from most is the fact that we don’t settle for being part of the crowd- for getting by. I believe that everyone should be clawing and scrambling to be the best in their field, not to make the most money, but to be the best. That’s what eliminates the boring and elevates the medium. And that’s not super common in the industry, especially the little spot Nathan and I occupy, because it’s risky. Maybe that will change in years to come. And though that’ll make us being unique a little harder- I kind of hope it does- because that’s how it’s supposed to be.