M Jearl Vinot is the director of the short film The Dojo and a New Orleans based camera operator; here is a link to his IMDB page:
Q: How did you become a camera operator?
A: I began working in the film industry in 2006 doing background and stand in work. Many of my peers urged me to more forward as an actor. My supported efforts landed me a supporting role in a independent short film, In Purgatory, which later became a feature film. I was given my first opportunity to work on a camera team on another independent feature film, No Exit. Due to specific incidents occurring in my personal life, I was forced to step back from the industry for the next year. Upon returning to New Orleans 2009 and eager to get back into the film industry I joined a 48 Hour Film Festival team. On this project I met my current business partner, Kristopher Hoffman. I assisted him with camera and observed his talent which sparked an interest in me. Not long after this I purchased my first camera and became second camera with Savage Light Studios.
Q: What made you interested in directing?
A: After being in the film industry for several years and doing frequent stand in work I had the opportunity to observe up close the work that goes on behind the camera. I saw just how much went into making a film besides acting and this intrigued me. What actually lead to my final decision to move my talents to behind the camera was what Jonathan Frakes told me while working on his film, The Librarian. We were talking about acting and he said as much as he loves acting he finds a more creative outlet directing. That spoke volumes to me. Not long after I wrote the short film, Killing Time, which I directed. Consequently, this short film went on to win 3 different awards at film festivals.
Q: What is The Dojo about?
A: The Dojo is a comedy short film written by Tony Pallo. It’s a Jerry Lewis style film in the spirit of The Karate Kid meets the Nutty Professor. I have worked with Tony Pallo on several productions. He was impressed with our work at Savage Light Studios and asked us to come on board to film his short. Q: Who are some of your influences?
A: I would have to say Alfred Hitchcock for his film style. I love the way he tells the story through images and angles. The other is Dean Kontz. Dean draws you in with his characters in a way that makes his stories so real. I use their talents to lend to mine so that I can create something so beautiful. Q: What was the most challenging thing you ever had to film?
A: The most challenging thing I have ever filmed was Savage Light Studios web series, Project Z: The Zombie Apocalypse. This was a first for us, attempting to film a series and produce it in a timely manner to keep the audiences interest. We completed 10 episodes which involved many overnights, very long days, freezing temperatures and flooding rains. I loved the challenge and I wouldn’t have changed a thing. This project expanded our abilities as film makers and gave us a great amount of confidence. We have enjoyed a good amount of success form this series, that is still rewarding us.
Q: Why do you think horror is such a popular genre?
A: There is no doubt in my mind, no matter what anyone says, people like to be scared. For me, horror films are a blast to direct, the makeup, the blood, the actors. There are truly no limits when making horror, sometimes the crazier the better. I like to bring in a touch of reality to my horror films. You know, where the film begins with, based on actual occurrences. This little fact always hits home with audiences.
Q: What makes New Orleans a good filming location?
A: New Orleans is a beautiful and historic city. The character throughout the region is very diverse and colorful. The people are kind, welcoming and talented. This is a city that is ready for anything as proven through the years. Louisiana went after the film industry with a fury akin to the passion of it’s people. That is why it has become so dominant here.
Q: What challenges does Filming in New Orleans present?
A: I find no actual challenges filming in New Orleans. Everyone is so supporting of the industry and only welcomes more. If I had to say something, I would say the weather. What I mean by weather is the sometimes extreme heat or the threat of a hurricane that could delay production.
Q: Who is your favorite local character?
A: My favorite local actor is Lance Nichols. He is a major talent having roles in many feature films. However, he is still one of the people, giving back by regularly teaching acting classes and attending many local film events to support local film makers.
Q: If you could take a road trip with Michael Myers or Freddy Krueger who would you pick?
A: I would take a road trip with Freddy Krueger. Michael is to quiet and Freddy is chatty, which would make the trip more pleasant. Plus I think Freddy is much more imaginative with his evil. He takes you places you never thought you could go and that is what makes a good road trip.
Please note; Eliza’s interviews are done by email. All answers are unedited and come right from the lovely fingertips of her subjects:)