Oasis Short Film Festival Screening Series Interview

A portrait photo of director Landon Coats

How did you first become interested in filmmaking?
I’ve always loved movies. With that love, I had a subconscious desire to work on them, but never acted upon it until high school. In high school I took a couple film classes and that’s when I realized that's what I wanted to do with my life.

What are your favorite movies?

Steve Jobs, American Beauty, Se7en, Poltergeist (1982), The Manchurian Candidate (1962), Donnie Darko, The Silence of the Lambs, and In Bruges.

How did you decide that “Stalled” was the movie you wanted to make?

I had been working on the script for almost a year, and finally I decided it was time to stop tinkering with it and just make it!

How did you get the idea?

I was watching Lethal Weapon 2 one night. I admire how Shane Black always has his characters interact in strange locations, which made me think, What’s stranger than a public restroom?

How did you cast your actors?
Through LA Casting and Cazt.

The performances in this film feel very real. What's your process for working with actors?

I do my best to elaborate to the actors how I imagine the characters would be feeling in the situation, then I ask them to express their thoughts on the characters. We talk it out until we are all very comfortable with the directions the characters are going. This process usually doesn't take very long, because most of the actors I’ve worked with are professional and attentive with direction.

How long was this shoot?

Three 8 hour days.

What was the most challenging part of the production?

Casting Joel was very stressful, because we cast four actors before finding Jose. He was the best decision we could have made for the character.

Do you have a specific method for your creative process?

I spent a lot of time by myself contemplating exactly what I want to do. Then I spend double that time making sure everyone on the cast and crew is on the same page.

In your opening scene was that an actual train station you shot at or did you dress/find an area that looked similar? 

We actually filmed at the train station in Santa Ana, CA. We had to move signs around so that it wasn't recognizable, because I didn't want the station to be associated with a specific city. The goal was to make sure anyone watching would think this could happen anywhere. Fun fact: I was told by some employees at the station that the tv show, True Detective, used the same location for season 2.

How difficult were the production logistics for this short?

Trying to get all the necessary paperwork handled for the train station was a multi-day hassle. That doesn't even include finding the location, getting permission to film inside it, coordinating the required police supervision, and then having to to work with the train schedules and all the people sitting around the place. It was a challenge, but worth it.

What did you hope to accomplish from telling this story? Was it to deliver a message? Entertain? Advance your career?

The main goal for me any time I work on a project is to entertain, but there was a message I was trying to convey with the story.

What did you learn from this production?

There is no such thing as too much pre-production.

What’s your overall career goals?

I would like to write and direct feature films.

Do you have any advice for other filmmakers?

The first step in becoming a filmmaker is saying you are one, if you wait for someone else to tell you, it will never happen.

Note: this interview was first published on the Oasis Short Film Festival Screening Series website in May 2017.