Hamish Downie’s Five Questions With Daniel Lotz


Editor Note: Hamish has another in his series of Five Questions With…

Hamish came up with this idea because he was accumulating too much material for his Famous News Sushi column and asked if he could do these mini-interviews. Why would we say no?

Thank you Hamish for being such a trooper for us. We really appreciate all for your hard work.

Let us know what you think of these interviews in the comments below.

TGG: Can you tell us about yourself?

DL: Hi, I’m Daniel Lotz director, actor, and occasional cinematographer from Joliet IL (USA). I started filmmaking back when I was just a kid around 10 years old. Over the last 15 years I’ve made hundreds of goofy and sometimes cheesy skits with my friends. Within the last few years however I’ve started to get into the feature filmmaking game. Taking my craft and filmmaking abilities to what I consider as the next level, I’ve currently directed 3 feature films one of which is currently out and streaming for free on youtube. Some would describe my style as slow, tense, and beautiful. I’ve tried to make films that reflect myself as a person.

TGG: Sounds interesting. Can you tell us about your latest feature film, “Chlorine”?

DL: “Chlorine” is a feature film I conceived in 2019 when I was lounging at my pool and trying to decide what to do with my summer. I had previously directed another feature The Long Con which was marred with tons of audio problems which I was working through ADR in my makeshift sound studio. But I felt I needed my voice to be heard that year and right now. So I came up with an idea that involved me being the lead actor in a feature film. I had always been pretty self conscious about myself and the way my body looks. I mean I’m just a big guy and that’s not the type of people you see in films usually and definitely not in the lead. But I really felt compelled to show a different type of lead hero. I wanted someone who wasn’t a model but someone who could feel real. Generally the story of Chlorine is simply a genre tale of how a former hitman now a pool boy is coaxed out of retirement when his contract employer dangles the prospect of our hero seeing his sister after she has disappeared for a few years. The story gives flares of the normal genre fare I tried to subvert any and all expectations when I possibly could. Substituting blood for tears and bullets for broken lives.

TGG: What inspired the film and how did you make it?

DL: The story of Chlorine was inspired by my need to tell a story that genuinely felt my own. As I said above I rarely see people of my stature in leading roles. So in one way it was a film to show that “hey you don’t have to be Brad Pitt to be in a movie” and in a second way it was a throw up to some of my favorite genre fare of the last 20/30 years. I distinctly remember watching Jonathan Glazer’s Sexy Beast and thinking let’s just do that but for like 500 bucks. It was a fun prospect knowing that we could do this big budget idea for literally nothing and still make it feel huge. Making it was just simply taking a camera, going to a location, and shooting it. Because the film was improv there really wasn’t any meaningful script. The idea was contained in my head, all I had to do was transcribe it to the other actors. Once we got on the same wavelength we’d film until the day was done. Repeat that about 30 days and we made Chlorine. The film was born out of a really fruitful time of “what if we just go out and film and not care about if it looks good or bad.” It was an intoxicating way to film and something I’ve chased ever since.

TGG: Follow your bliss… What’s next for you?

DL: Well I have my feature The Long Con I shot back in 2018 that I’m still editing, the film is pretty much all done, just working on a professional audio mix. That film deals with a lot of interesting ideas relevant to today. Themes of abuse, men in power, and how women can break out and protect themselves from these devastating people. On the other end of the spectrum I’m shooting a Horror comedy in quarantine called Sheep Theater which is about a guy who loses his wife and is living inside his house because it takes place in the time of covid 19. He starts to go crazy and talks to a bunch of plush sheep imagining they are real. Sort of like Tom Hanks in Cast Away. But suddenly the Sheep starts coming alive and he now has to take care of them. Obviously some creepy stuff starts happening but I wont say anymore.

TGG: I know you and Joel [Haver] make films together and have a similar philosophy, so have you come up with a manifesto like the Dogma95 filmmakers?

DL: When you are talking about Joel you are meaning Joel Haver correct? [TGG: Yes] Cause I have two Joel’s in the film process. Joel Haver I’ve collaborated on my feature Sheep Theater for a few scenes, and Joel Dik has been my cinematographer on Chlorine and Long Con, while also helping out on Sheep Theater. As for a manifesto, I don’t think I’m that organized to come up with something as official as dogma95, but I do have a name for it, I call it Folk Filmmakers. Filmmakers who do it for the love, they make features, they release them for free, and don’t expect a huge return on investment, they just want to make stuff that moves people. Of course I’d love to make some money off the films I’m making, but right now I think what’s more important for the new wave of indie filmmakers is building an audience and getting your work seen. I wish more people would just release their 1k to 10k features online for free, it would probably help us all out. It reminds me of that Belle and Sebastian song that goes something like this “Think of it this way. You could either be successful or be us. With our winning smiles and us With our catchy tunes and words Now we’re photogenic You know, we don’t stand a chance.” The movement of indie filmmakers doesn’t stand a chance so why not break all the rules and fuck shit up. It’s been pretty fantastic for me so far.

TGG: I like the idea of Folk Filmmakers… So, how can we best support you? (Follow on social media, watch your film, buy your stuff)

DL: Best way to support me is to either subscribe to 922 films on youtube and watch Chlorine for free or to subscribe to my patreon: https://www.patreon.com/5dollarfilmschool
which gives a behind the scenes look at how I make my films. I also release all my movies early on patreon in order to get feedback and allow early access to my biggest fans. However if you want a more intimate way to converse with me twitter is the best way to reach out: @DAN_LOTZ

All I hope really is that anyone who reads this finds that I’m an approachable guy who enjoys talking about and making good films.

TGG: I’m sure they will. Thank you for being interviewed today!

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