“While knowing what you want is half the battle the really hard part is taking that and putting it on the screen. This is where communication is really key.”
Machete producer, Aaron Kaufman recently sat down with us to discuss his directorial debut, Urge. Urge focuses in on a group of friends who take a new designer drug, making them lose the ability to control their urges…
Honey Wagon Confidential: Why’d you choose to shoot on digital over film?
Aaron Kaufman: It was not an easy decision for me to choose digital over film for my first feature as a director. I love the film aesthetic and feel that the shift to digital has changed the theatrical experience. To quote Quentin Tarantino, “We are watching T.V. in public.”
However the filmmaking workflow has completely converted to digital and even finding a lab to do dailies was a hassle as there are no labs left in NYC. So ultimately the decision to shoot digital was made to take advantage of the current workflow. In the future when I have more time and resources I would certainly revisit shooting on film.
HWC: Where’d the idea for Urge come from?
AK: I had always liked the idea of a horror thriller based upon the human condition. I love horror films but the ones that I gravitated to were those based on Stephen King novels, such as: “The Dead Zone”, “Christine”, “Carrie” and “The Shining”. King always seemed able to tap into the scariest parts of the human condition and terrorized his readers because they could see themselves being capable of what he was describing.
The unleashed human always seemed scarier to me than vampires or zombies. A few people had taken a hack at the idea and there had been a film in the 80’s called “Impulse” that got close to the idea but with “Urge” I took the idea and ran with it.
HWC: Urge is your directorial debut. How did you go about starting this project? How did you figure out what worked best for you?
AK: Working with Robert Rodriguez for six years helped me quite a bit. Robert has his own studio in Austin, TX and a crew that he works with frequently. I had been producing films for quite a while prior to working with RR, however producing as much as we did in the time that I was down there helped to supercharge my production experience.
Robert has a way of demystifying the production process and insists on understanding how everything works. I have tried to emulate this and have tried to fully understand each department and every step of the process.
I love the details and really love collaborating with talented people. I brought together a lot of great people for “Urge” and together we would work through everything I wanted to see on screen. I had a very specific idea of what I wanted the film’s visuals to look like. While knowing what you want is half the battle the really hard part is taking that and putting it on the screen. This is where communication is really key. I would speak with each of my keys as well as their people to make sure that they understood exactly what I was looking for. At the same time I would tell them which parts I hadn’t yet figured out and asked for their ideas. Over time we became a really close group and accomplished something really special.
HWC: Would you stick with this process again in the future?
AC: I would. In the future I would love to have even more time to prep and to design a film. I found that I really loved this part of the process and that time was a scarce resource. I love being in pre-production.
HWC: Do you prefer shooting in Los Angeles, Texas or New York?
AC: This is a tough question. The crew in Texas were solid and had a really great attitude toward the work. There was not a lot of work in Austin while I was there so they were really appreciative and focused on our work. Texas is also a bit more laid back and maneuvering through production is a bit easier. That said, when you shoot in NYC you have access to some of the best talent in the business and people are inclined to work with you so they can stay in NYC. The only issue with NYC is that there is so much T.V. work now that getting people and holding on to them can be very difficult. I am a native New Yorker though and loved being able to shoot my first feature in my home town.