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An Interview with Kevin V. Tudor

Can you introduce yourself and your project as well as tell us how it all came together?

I am Kevin V. Tudor, director, screenwriter and producer of the feature film, The Playground. The Playground is the story of a young psychologist who write a manuscript about how social media decreases intelligence. The medical and psychology communities praises the manuscript where the government hates it. The government hires her to perform a study where she brings in eight very different, strong mind individuals to discuss race, sex and politics. The Playground screenplay developed from watching and reading news media and listen to people political views.

How did you get involved in film?

I got into film as a work study job at Lincoln University in Pennsylvania. There is where I learn camera works and editing on 8 and 16mm film. I always loved film and, though I was a biology major, this was the perfect job.

Describe how you would ensure that production is on schedule. What steps would you take?

Scheduling for everything was checked and double checked by phone call, text messages and Emails. It was important that we kept to schedule being that our location times sat in very tight windows.

How long did it take to research and make your film?

Research for The Playground was easy for news stations constantly aired information that I would use in the screenplay. After reading the screenplay, we realized more than eighty percent of the film would be shot in a conference room. My Director of Photography, Heath Snow, came up with what we called a “brilliantly crazy” idea. We will strategically place five cameras around the conference room table. On my call of “action”, all nine actors would go into play. We shot all principle photography in two days. Post production was another story. It took more than two years to edit visually and clean up the sound.

What, in your opinion, is the most important quality of a film director?

The most important quality of a director is communication. For a director’s vision to shine on the screen, everyone from cast to crew have to be on the same page. As a filmmaker I believe my greatest asset is that I surround myself with a team that is at the top of their game. We speak and listen to each other to make a film.

What were your key challenges in filmmaking?

The biggest challenge in filmmaking is to get the perfect shot. It’s something we all strive for, the right camera angle, the right lighting and sound to set the mood. Then of course, the actors who carry out the scene. This is done repeatedly, looking for perfection with each scene.

An actor is being unprofessional. How do you manage the situation?

I do have some experience with unprofessional actors. Some you can talk to, others you can’t. On one occasion I told the actor not to come on set. I had another actor voiceover the scene with a POV. It worked perfectly.

What is the role of film festivals?

Film Festivals are invaluable. It’s an excellent source for filmmakers to have their film seen by the public.

Describe a time when you made a mistake in your duties. How did you rectify it?

I remember someone saying “never film children and animals.” My first film, “Vicky’s Dad”, I was shooting a scene with a child. Everything was flowing nicely then when it was time to film the child, stage fright kicked in. The child was a mess. I broke for dinner. While everyone ate, I quietly whispered to my crew to get ready. I asked the child to practice her lines so I can get the camera and sound correct. We shot the practice and used it in the film. It worked like a charm.

What is the future of film?

The future of filmmaking is bright. Over the years it has evolved, making it easy for storytellers to tell their stories. We have come from 8 and 16mm film shooting and editing to digital processing in a matter of decades. And each day, a new camera or editing software will appear, making storytelling even more easier.

What has been your favourite film to make and why?

My favorite film to make has been my latest one, The Playground. Mainly because the cast and crew was stellar. Everyone was on the same page. As with every film, there are stressful moments. On this one, we seem to laugh thru those moments.

What has the audience reaction been like?

The audience response to the Playground has been great. Many people say we tapped the pulse of the current political times.

Can you say something about the collaborative nature of filmmaking?

Two heads are always better than one when you collaborate with someone where there is no feeling of competition. I have the luxury of working with Heath Snow who is my DP. We bounce ideas and trust each other’s opinions on what we can do to make our move great.


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