Wonder Woman solved every problem I’ve had with the previous DC movies
Just imagine that you find a Youtube film channel that is so awesome, so creative, so fun and bad ass all at the same time, that you basically create your own binge marathon. Video after video made with love and dedication from an inspiring filmmaker that will satisfy every pallet, not just for the hard core film junkies. I’m talking about Patrick Willems, founder and creator of the self-titled Youtube film channel. Patrick along with his friends/colleagues offer different takes of today’s most popular movies, characters and directors, and today I had the pleasure of talking to the man himself.
Our „small“ talk is officially the first interview published on Filmsane, and more on his projects, inspirations, development process and upcoming plans you can find in the interview bellow.
You’ve had you channel for over six years if i’m not mistaken. From the first uploaded video (called Rejection Letters) to the last (Re-cut comedy trailer of Get Out), the fans can find really awesome analyses of franchises (DC Comics and it’s film adaptations), trailers, film mash ups. But on the subject how do you make the videos? Walk me through the process of production. How long does it take? And furthermore how do you chose the topic of the video? Is it a well thought out and timed process or you just go with the flow… you know…. Depending on your current inspiration?
That’s a big question, because it varies so much depending on the video. For five years, just about all the videos were narrative shorts, and it wasn’t until late last year that I added vlogs and video essays and other non-fiction content to the channel. With any video, whether fiction or nonfiction, the idea usually gestates for a while. I’ll have a vague idea of a topic I want to explore, and then it just sits in my mind for several weeks until I crack it and figure out the way I want to approach it. For the non-fiction videos, I do those entirely on my own, so I’ll write the script and do the whole production within the week. For the narrative videos, I’ll take the idea and meet with my core writing team (Matt Torpey, Jake Torpey, and Mike Curran), and we’ll discuss it and flesh out the structure. Then we’ll do several drafts of the script, shoot it over several days with my regular ensemble of actors, and then I’ll handle all the post-production. As far as schedule goes, for years I would just kinda wing it and do a video every 3 or 4 weeks, picking whatever seemed fun at the time. Since last November Ive released a video every single week, so this requires a lot more planning. In one month I generally try to do two narrative shorts, one video essay, and one vlog, which I consider anything involving me on screen talking to the camera.
You’re an Oberlin college graduate with a degree in cinema studies. Was this degree helpful in the practical production of you videos (filming, editing e ct), or has it been more helpful in making the analyses of your videos (in David Fincher & the Craft of Music Videos for instance).
My 4 years majoring in Cinema Studies have been useful in some surprising ways. Oberlin’s program actually wasn’t very good when it came to actual film production. At the time it was lacking equipment and faculty who had experience working in narrative film, but those issues forced me to do more film making independently outside of class, which ended up preparing me for starting to produce YouTube videos independently after college. But most of that education in college was spent studying film theory. It was like an English major, but instead of analyzing books, we would analyze movies. This really broadened my understanding of the medium, which became incredibly useful in my own film making, and especially when I started making video essays. I’ll joke that it’s taken me six years to finally figure out a use for my Cinema Studies degree.
The fans can easily find fascinating videos like your own version of Pokemon and Go (inspired by Black mirror), for instance. Is it some basic advice from you to the rest of the filmmakers out there on how to make your own version on popular projects? Or something that you’ve always wanted to share with the rest of the world?
It was never a goal of mine to give advice or try to inspire young filmmakers. But at some point I realized that after doing so many years of no-budget filmmaking I actually had some suggestions or advice or whatever that I wish someone had told me when I was first getting interested in making movies. And I had realized that a lot of young and aspiring filmmakers watched my channel, so it seemed like a useful video to make. A lot of people have gotten in touch with me to say that it actually helped them get motivated to make a movie or video or something, which blows my mind and is really wonderful to hear.
What are the filmmakers that inspired and blazed the trail for you growing up? Enough for you to make film-making your future profession? I know for me it was Roger Ebert and his no nonsense but emotional film reviews that inspired me go into journalism and become a film critic (I’ve been journalist/film critic for various media outlets for the past 7 years).
Like probably a lot of filmmakers my age, the movie that really kickstarted my interest in filmmaking was The Matrix. For us 90s kids, it was our Star Wars. It was the raddest thing I’d ever seen, and it was stylized and slick and visually striking enough that I could recognize that there was some sort of craft behind it. And after that, the big one was Edgar Wright, who, again, I realize is not an original answer. I had just started making movies in high school when Shaun of the Dead came out, and it was astounding to see something so well made that also fit my tastes and sensibilities so much. I fell in love with everything about Wright’s work, the endlessly inventive formal aspects, the use of the genre, and the fact that all the comedy and references and flashy stuff is built on a really, really solid foundation of great storytelling and character work. And it showed me that comedies could be visually exciting and have highly skilled filmmaking behind them. That, for me at age 16, was a moment where I sat up and said, “THIS is the kind of thing I want to make.”
Has been any film in the past (half) year that just blew your mind? Or that sentiment is reserved for the upcoming list of premieres? Christopher Nolan’s Dunkirk or Blade Runner 2049 maybe?
If I’m being totally honest, nothing in the past couple years has blown my mind like the final scene of Split. I liked the movie, but those last ten seconds or so are maybe the craziest and ballsiest things I can recall seeing in a major Hollywood movie, and it delighted me to no end. I’ve dug a lot of movies this year, but the biggest surprise was Your Name, the Japanese animated film. I knew almost nothing about it going in, and was overwhelmed by how ambitious it turned out to be, and how well its execution matched its ambition. It constantly surprised and thrilled me.
What is the actor/actress that you hope to work with one day? Maybe in your first feature film?
Oh man, this is tough. I’ll probably have a different answer any given day, but right now I’m gonna say Keanu Reeves. He’s just the coolest dude, and has such a great screen presence.
What are your expectations on the upcoming Wonder Woman film adaptation and what are your thoughts on Marvel’s upper hand regarding the quality of the movie releases (compared to those coming from DC)? What are the things that need to be improved in order to get one decent super-hero movie from DC Comics (after so many flops and divided opinions between the critics and the audience).
Well, I’m answering this question a couple days after seeing Wonder Woman, which I liked a lot. It pretty much solved every single problem I’ve had with the previous DC movies. The biggest thing, and I made a whole video about this, was that it was the first one that had a main character who we care about, who has a clear motivation and an arc over the course of the movie. The movie did such a beautiful job with Diana. I cared so much about that character, and this significantly overshadows just about any of the issues I have with the movie. Now the question is whether or not the studio can manage that same quality of storytelling with their other characters.
Tell me about the challenges that one young filmmaker living and working in NY is facing on a day to day basis? What is the biggest misconception about making it in the business and what are you hopes for the future?
Honestly the hardest part is just making a living. I mostly pay the bills with freelance video work, and the life of a freelancer is one of constant fear and anxiety about the jobs suddenly drying up. And doing this in a city that is constantly trying to wear you down and defeat you isn’t easy. Maybe it does when you get to the point where you can direct a TV commercial and be set financially for a year, but it takes many, many, many years of struggling to get there.
What is the movie that you wish you made instead of…(Paul Thomas Anderson or David Fincher’s work for instance) ? When you could given the opportunity instead of… say the Coen brothers maybe?
This might sound weird, but hear me out. I wish I could have directed the Fright Night remake. I loved the cast and premise and everything about the setup, but I thought the execution totally fell apart after the first half hour or so. Great movies are great because of who made them, and there’s no way I think I could do a better job than the Coen Brothers or Fincher or anyone like that. But a movie like Fright Night that could have been good if it was just executed a bit better? That’s something I would like to do.
And by the way, the original Fright Night is still great.
And last but not least…. In your most recent videos How to Get Into Comic Books, you talk about the beginnings… About where to start if you wanna get into comic books. But let’s hypothetically assume you’re a making is a video about How to Get Into movies… Where would you start in that topic? Would you star with historical order, or you be focused more on the directors, themes, genres or technological evolution in movie-making?
Oh wow. I’ve thought about this a tiny bit before when wondering if, hypothetically, I were to become a father, how I might introduce a child to cinema, but when it comes to introducing an adult to the medium, the thought has never crossed my mind. My instinct is to show them Singin’ in the Rain first. It’s a perfect movie, and a perfect example of the possibilities of movies. I would also want to be sure to avoid the biases that some people of my generation or younger have, where they have a hard time getting into old movies, or they don’t like musicals. So I would start with crowd-pleasing older movies, then jump to some 1970s stuff like Close Encounters and Halloween and Days of Heaven and then see where their tastes are at before proceeding. Man, I am really gonna lose sleep thinking about this tonight.