Interview with Hoyt Richards
What motivates you to pursue your goals in life? Does this also influence your career in film?
Hoyt Richards: I’ve always tried to remain pretty goal-oriented in life. It’s something I learned early on from reading the classic self-help book, "Think and Grow Rich" by Napoleon Hill. Mr. Hill talks about the one key quality needed for success is a "definiteness of purpose.” The knowledge of what one wants and the burning desire to possess it. The film business is not for the faint of heart. LOL. It’s very competitive and you better really really want it. I believe you have to love what you do so much that you know in your heart you would even do it for free - which I have done many times. Haha. I fell in love with storytelling and movies from a young age. But I didn’t plan to enter business of filmmaking until it dawned on me that certain stories/films have shaped my life in a powerful way. The thought of being able to participate in the creation of such stories with the goal that they might affect others in the same way was too hard to resist.
Was there an inspirational moment or an idea behind INTERSECTION?
HR: Intersection was the first film where I was asked to be in every scene and therefore carry the story. I always wanted to see if I could pull that off. I’m very grateful to director Tim French for the opportunity.
Aside from normal production issues. Did you overcome any obstacles while completing the film?
HR: It was a tough shoot. And you’re right, most indie films have more than their fair share of production issues. The hardest part came in the editing of the film. It took a while to find the right pace and tone for the story to work. The edit process is the final rewrite and I’ve discovered that’s the most challenging part of the process and equally the most gratifying when you get to the finish line.
Which role(s) are you most comfortable with on set?
HR: I really like the dual role of actor/producer. As the lead character in a film, I believe you have a responsibility to set example for the rest of the cast and crew. It’s kind of like being the quarterback. Everyone takes a cue off your attitude and work ethic. You always hear about the athletes that are the first to arrive at practice and the last to leave. It’s a bit like that.
As a producer, you’re responsible to create a productive and healthy work environment. Communication and integrity are key. Making movies is stressful but at the end of the day it’s not like we’re out there curing cancer. But you do have to remember you are dealing with people not machines. You can never eliminate the human element. I find positive reinforcement and encouragement is much more effective than tyranny. A film set is very fragile and it require real leadership.
Would you advise filmmakers to be a 'Jack of all trades', or focus on a particular skill set?
HR: I’m a big fan of the ‘Jack of all trades’ approach. It’s fine to have discovered your passion but there is no reason not to expand upon whatever that may be. I’ve never been a fan of the ‘either/or’ approach. I prefer the ‘both/and’ outlook. I discovered that I love acting and writing but that didn’t preclude me from learning about producing, editing, directing, marketing and distribution. Even if you’re hired for one particular skill set doesn’t mean that job may not benefit from other skills you bring to the table. On Intersection, I was hired initially as just an actor. But through the early stages, it became apparent that they needed assistance on the production side. Luckily, I have a background in that and I could lend a hand.
Do you have a favorite film genre?
HR: I don’t have one particular genre that I would call my favorite. I love comedy, drama, action and sci-fi. I just dig seeing a story where a character gets tested and goes through some form of transformation. You can’t beat a great action thriller like the Bourne Identity.
What piece of advice would you give to filmmakers making their first film?
HR: Just find a way to get it done! lol. The learning curve of filmmaking is best gained by actually making the movie - not talking about it or waiting for the perfect situation before you get the courage to jump in the water. Dive in! I haven’t met anyone who has made a film without coming away even more excited to do another project. Once you’ve done it once, you know how to do it better the next time, purely because you can avoid the mistakes you made on the first go round.
Can you tell us what project(s) you are currently working on?
HR: I’m in the process of completing a documentary I’m producing called "Hoyt Richards: Double Exposure." The film chronicles my twenty-year journey into the Eternal Values religious cult, my subsequent escape and recovery, and how the whole experience affected my family, friends and loved ones. It will be out next year. I also plan to direct my first feature next fall. It’s a young adult love story I co-wrote called "Invisible Prisons,” similar in tone to “The Fault in Our Stars.” Based on true story, it's about a romance between a suicidal kid and a bulimic girl that takes place at a mental health clinic. It explores the transformational power of love.