Director Wayne Shipley is well-known for his successful independent filmmaking in the Washington-Md. area. After appearing in his latest, “Day of the Gun” last fall, I was able to catch up with him to ask some questions about his views on filmmaking. He was a pleasure to work with on set and candid when he shared his passionate thoughts about filmmaking.
What inspired you to get into filmmaking? Why did you want to make “Day of the Gun”? What is the storyline for the film?
WS: I’ve always been interested in film as literature and in fact taught a course to high schoolers titled, “Art of the Motion Picture.” My two literary passions are British Literature–especially Shakespeare and classic Westerns like High Noon and The Searchers. Day of the Gun centers on a range war between a widowed rancher and an influential cattleman.
How many films have you directed? Please mention awards or honors you’ve received for your work so far.
WS: DOG is my second feature. My first film was “Come Hell or High Water” (originally titled “One-Eyed Horse”). I’ve also directed shorter films, one of which was selected by the National Baseball Hall of Fame for its Seventh Annual Film Festival.
What are the challenges and successes you have encountered on the current film?
WS: Period films are always a challenge, just to create authenticity. Many talented people are required to get the look and feel of the time you hope to create.
You’ve pulled together the most amazing and authentic cast! Did you do that singlehandedly or with assistance?
WS: It’s a collaborative effort all the way.
The costuming is superb as well. How did that come together?
WS: My wife Pat is the costumer. Her research and sewing talent shows in every scene. We’re also fortunate to have many re-enactors who have authentic wardrobes.
Please comment on the unsung heroes of your cast, crew, and volunteers.
WS: Everyone on the production team is an unsung hero. Everyone simply gets the job done.
What’s been the most memorable experience to date on the set of “Day of the Gun”?
WS: Our first town shoot is most memorable because we got a chance to actually put seventy people into the town we built. The streets of Singletree came alive with cowhands, merchants, workers, and children. Everyone was carried back in time over a hundred years. Why did you choose to construct the town of Singletree? How long did it take to do that and how many people assisted? WS: We had little choice. Either build a town or not make the film. Mark Cardinale, construction coordinator, Greg Eichler, chief carpenter, and many dedicated and talented volunteers spent three months building Craig Herron’s design.
Actors are eager to work with you, Wayne. Why do you think that is so? I have the utmost respect for actors and allow them as much room to create their characters as the script allows. I try to sit down with every principal before we start shooting to make sure that they understand how important their input is to the success of the picture.
Who are the main stars of the film and what characters do they portray? WS: LaDon Hall plays the widowed rancher, Maggie Carter. Sam Lukowski plays her troubled son, Ned. Erin Heilman is Maggie’s daughter, Kate. Jim and Susan Osborn play cattle baron, Cyrus McCall and his wife, Rachel. Jason Brown plays their son, Cy. Brian St. August takes the role of Simon Doubleday, the newspaper man who frames the story. Jim Holland is Sheriff McKenna. Connie Lamothe is saloon owner, Georgia Lamb. John C. Bailey is outlaw, Caleb Bateman. Richard Cutting is Joshua Carter. Jerry Gietka is Doc Milburn. Larry Whitener is Sal Ewing. And Gracie the mule plays herself. These fine performers are supported by dozens of featured players.
Will the film be shown at film festivals? If so, which ones? How will it be distributed?
WS: We will probably hit a few festivals. Our plan is to four-wall the picture any place there’s a venue and a few people to support it. We sold our first film too quickly. We’ll take our time with this one.
Do you have plans for more films including Westerns?
WS: Well, we now have a town; so who knows what will happen. We are contemplating a children’s series titled “Sam and Gracie.” Set in the 1890s, the series will feature a young woman and her very talented mule. We’re preparing the pilot episode concurrently with the shooting of DOG.