Director Of Local Film Encourages Aspiring Directors To Find Resources

Mar 23, 2017

A Screen Shot from the film Deidra and Laney Rob a Train.
Credit http://www.sundance.org

The director of the film ‘Deidra and Laney Rob a Train’ was in Utah where the film was made. The film premiered at the Sundance Film Festival and was shown on Wednesday in Ogden.

The film features Utah actors, Utah crew members and was filmed here because Utah has trains. Director Sydney Freeland of the film chose the script because of her connection to trains.

“I think what drew me to the script," she said. "Was that I sort of felt this instant relation with the characters in the story, because I grew up in a neighborhood next to train tracks in New Mexico.”

Freeland is in Utah for an event promoting her work.

“ I spent my teenage years playing in, on and around trains," she said. "I knew the world. I knew the characters and I could definitely relate to them. That was the one thing that really got me. It made me excited right off the bat.”

“We ended up building sort of an entire rig that consisted of about, I think it was an engine with 16 cars," Freeland said. "Each group of cars played a role in the story of the film. When you pulled back and shot the train as a whole, it was sort of this wide shot and made it look like it was a much longer train. As far as like getting the camera and all that stuff on the train. We had one car that was dedicated to camera equipment.”

In the film, Deidra Tanner is a high school senior who sells answers to chemistry tests to save up for college, and eventually finds herself robbing trains in her own backyard.

The filming of the film and the constructing of the train set were funded by Sundance, the same organization that funds the film festival in Park City, which receives a portion of it’s funding from the federal government.

“There’s sort of a lot of talk right now about the National Endowments of the Arts. I can tell you that I wouldn’t be here speaking to you without the National Endowments of the Arts. I think a lot of other countries have film funding that help them get films made, but we don’t have anything in America. The fact that there’s conversation around it is really unfortunate.”

While artists are campaigning to have NEA funding continue, Freeland encourages aspiring directors to take the steps necessary to build their skills with whatever resources they can find.

“I grew up in the Gallup reservation in New Mexico," Freeland said. "And filmmaking isn’t really something people do back home. I didn’t really pick up a camera until I was 23, I think. It was the first time I ever shot anything on a camera. Just the fact that I was going out and doing stuff. And shooting at what the time felt like little projects, was actually extremely beneficial because I was learning about the process of actually making a movie.”

“Even if I just whip out my iPhone and shoot a little footage," Freeland said. "You know; shoot a shot, shoot a shot, shoot a shot, put it together and we have a movie. If you’re thinking about being a director, if you want to be a director; write your own stuff, shoot your own stuff. Don’t think about the quality, don’t think about the logistics, just go out and do it.”

Because of the Utah connection, Freeland is hoping the film will catch on locally. 'Deidra and Laney Rob a Train' is being shown in select theaters and can also be seen through movie streaming.