March 4th, 2007 11:56 EST
Interview with Director Patrick Weston Steward, The Hollow Tree
Hello Patrick, tell me about yourself?
I grew up in the Lehigh Valley area of Pennsylvania. I am currently finishing up my last year and final project at NYU's Tisch School of the Arts for Film Production, as a writer, director and producer.
What or who was your inspiration to become a director?
I don't think it was necessarily a who - though Hitchcock is my most influential director. At 12 years old, I was in a theater watching Jurassic Park, yes Jurassic Park, and I realized how cool it would be to build an imaginary world for film. That's when I decided I wanted to write and direct.
How did you come up with the idea for "The Hollow Tree?"
With many countryside rides in my grandfather’s car, as children we were encouraged to view the scenery while listening to his stories. One story that stayed with me was about being lost in a dark forest, cold, hungry, and at your most desperate moment of need, you would stumble upon this magical giant tree, "The Hollow Tree". Inside this tree would be provided whatever the weary traveler needed. Whether it was warm beds, food, a roaring fire, dry cloths, the tree would provide you with whatever you needed to find home.
So I took that premise and built the story about an orphaned brother and sister on their quest to find home.
They learn through the Hollow Tree that home is not a physical place, a house or some such building, but rather it is being with each other.
What qualities do you look for in an actor/actress?
I look for a part or a take on a story character in the actor. You will hardly ever find an actor who utterly completes the vision of the role, so I look for a new spin, something different that still maintains the spirit of the character. It doesn't really matter how the actor gets to that place, however it is my job to help them get there. Now in post production, we are seeing wonderful performances from our actors.
What was it like to work with your team, cast and crew in this film?
I've always liked working with people that are willing to not only put themselves out there, but to be an active collaborative component with the character and the production. Carson Grant is one of these people, and once cast as Basil, he completely invested his talents. It was great. All my cast and crew were so committed to the performances and duties, I am so grateful for all their endless labors.
I was surprised with my child actors. I was a little leery at first working with kids as I had heard horror stories from friends. The diva on-set can usually be the child, or worse, the child's parent. But we had none of that. My kids we're great. Not only were they talented and invested in their characters, but they were also incredibly professional on and off set, while still being kids.
But in general, all of my actors were great to work with. I felt that everyone was invested in the project and that helped us get through those times when we were behind schedule or the grip truck got stuck in the mud....again....or there was an act of God, etc.
Any on-set stories that you would like to share?
Oh boy, a ton of on-set stories of course. We shot with children, animals, at night, outside, in the rain, with fire, and water scenes, and giant set pieces, and sets, and fog, and mud, and 30 extras, and on and on....so with all those variables I have quite a few stories.
Needless to say, it was a very challenging shoot but the cast and crew pulled together magnificently and the footage shows that - it all looks awesome!
What locations were used in your film?
Doylestown, Pennsylvania, surrounding areas, and NYC were our locations.
Thanks to the generosity of the famous Foothill - Mercer Museum, built between 1908 and 1912. The concrete castle boasts 44 rooms, 18 fireplaces and more than 200 windows of varying size and shape, and made a perfect orphanage location. My family has been so supportive in helping (on-set preparing foods, transportation and so much more). We created and housed the life-size ‘Hollow Tree’ in my grandmother’s two stall garage by emptying everything else out.
What are some other projects that you have worked on?
I have done other shorts stories and documentaries on film and video. My first feature was "Cherry Valley", a documentary on a haunted town in upstate New York, currently in the selection at South by Southwest Film Festival.Do you have any advice for the young actors/actresses just starting out?
I think an actor has to do things that differentiate themselves from everyone else, which helps them stand out as individuals and within their performance.
Never give up. Do you have a website for my readers?
Yes, all current information on "The Hollow Tree" is on:
www.the-hollow-tree.com and for the trailer www.myspace.com/thehollowtreemovie
Thank you so much for the interview Patrick, keep up the great work.