Thursday, May 03, 2012

10 Questions with Rachel Tucker (writer/producer of Time Expired)

University of Oklahoma alum, Rachel Tucker is the writer and producer of the wonderful indie film Time Expired.  Along with director Nick Lawrence and a loyal cast and crew of Oklahoma and Texas natives, Tucker produced the movie in the Oklahoma City metro area, completely independently.  The result is one of the most satisfying and quirky films that I have seen in a long, long time.

For more information on Time Expired check out the film’s official website, Facebook, IMDB, Amazon, and Wikipedia pages.  Read my review of Time Expired here.

This interview was conducted via email January 17-May 2, 2012 (it only took so long because it took me forever to watch/review the film, which I regret considering how freaking good it is).

Dave:  Have you always wanted to write and produce movies?

Rachel Tucker:  I’ve wanted to be a writer for a long time, but I didn’t decide to pursue screenwriting until the end of college.  I still don’t want to be a producer.  I like making movies though, and producing them myself allows me to make the movie I want to make.

Dave:  Where did the idea/inspiration for Time Expired come from?  Were any of the characters based on people that you know?

Rachel:  I came up with the idea when I was a karaoke host in Oklahoma City.  I met this guy who was a meter maid and whistled his karaoke songs.  I decided to base a character on him, though I only met him once and don’t really know anything about him.  I didn’t intentionally base any of the other characters on anyone in particular, but I did start to notice little elements of people I know creeping in.  I probably shouldn’t name names though, lest I end up getting myself in trouble.

Dave:  The movie was filmed in the Oklahoma City metro.  Why did you decide to film the movie in Oklahoma?  When you wrote the screenplay, did you have Oklahoma in mind?

Rachel:  The script was set in Oklahoma.  A lot of the characters and situations were inspired by my time as a student at OU.  I was really excited to get to film it in Oklahoma and use a lot of the locations that were specific to the script.  I also like that the actors all came from Oklahoma and Texas.  They give it that local flavor that we would have never found had we cast it in Hollywood.

Dave:  You released the Time Expired using the “freemium strategy.”  How has that worked out for you?  Is this a strategy that you’d use on future projects?

Rachel:  I can’t say for sure if I’d do the freemium model again.  Really, I’d rather have someone else handle marketing and distribution, so that would depend on them.  I will say I don’t regret doing it the way we did.  I’ve seen a lot of indie films just disappear with no way to watch them.  Instead of hiding ours away, I’d rather get people watching and talking about it.  That puts us much closer to our primary goal right now:  getting to make another one.

Dave:  What are your thoughts on the current state of the film industry, specifically independent films?

Rachel:  I’ve been pretty disappointed with independent film lately.  There’s so much money and politics involved, it seems increasingly rare to see one that actually means anything to anybody.  Films don’t take enough creative risks, and by that, I don’t mean upping the f-bomb count or finding new ways to chop up the human body.  The stories are bland, but everyone ignores it because the actors are gazing wistfully and very well lit.  On the other hand, with improved technology, the DIY filmmaking movement is growing, and there is enormous potential.  Granted, many of these films are bad, but that makes it all the more exciting when you do find a little gem.

Dave:  With platforms like Netflix and Hulu not being very friendly to independent filmmakers, what do you see as the future for independent films?

Rachel:  I don’t know.  I feel like the distribution outlets are one step behind the filmmakers right now.  There are nearly 7 billion people in the world right now, a growing portion of which have access to the internet.  At the same time, you have an increasing number of people picking up cameras and making their own movies.  I imagine it will be kind of like what happened in the music industry.  Hollywood will keep doing its thing, but a greater number of people will seek out niche films that appeal more to personal taste.

Dave:  Outside of writing and producing movies, what do you do?  Do you have any hobbies?

Rachel:  I still have a day job, or rather a night job, doing closed captioning for live television.  When I’m not doing that, I play a number of instruments, at varying levels of competency.  Director Nick and I actually composed some of the music for Time Expired.  I’m also really into travel, whenever I can find the time and money.

Dave:  This is a High Fidelity inspired question.  What are your top 5 favorite artists/bands, albums, movies, television shows, books/authors?

Rachel:  Oh, dear.  That’s incredibly cruel to make me pick.  I do love lists though.  Please bear in mind this is just how I feel right now and is subject to change.

Through the Looking Glass - Lewis Carroll
1984 - George Orwell
Freedom - Jonathan Franzen
Slaughterhouse-Five - Kurt Vonnegut
High Fidelity - Nick Hornby (oh, the irony)

Spinal Tap
Edward Scissorhands
American Beauty
The Big Lebowski

Muswell Hillbillies - The Kinks
Hunky Dory - David Bowie
Highway 61 Revisited - Bob Dylan
Violent Femmes - Violent Femmes
Too Rye Ay - Dexys Midnight Runners

David Bowie
Damon Albarn
The Flaming Lips
The Police

The Simpsons (first five seasons)
30 Rock
Mad Men
King of the Hill

Dave:  What’s next for you?

Rachel:  I have another screenplay that mostly takes place in a van, so Nick and I should be able to make that one for very little money.  Then I came up with a second idea that costs even less money, so there’s a decent chance we’ll be shooting that one first -- this summer, if everything goes smoothly.

Dave:  Any final thoughts?

Rachel:  Please watch Time Expired.  It’s free to stream, and a cheap DVD is available on our website,  Then if you like it, tell your friends.  Tweet about it, whatever the kids are doing these days.  You can really help get the word out and help keep indie films awesome.

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