22 is about Tom who returns home after many combat tours only to find himself fighting another war from within. Daniel Roy is a U.S. Marine turned filmmaker and the director of the project. It is our pleasure to speak to Daniel about his work as a filmmaker and his project.
What was the inspiration behind the making of your film?
I was in my first semester of college when the twin tower attacks took place, so I finished semester finals and joined the Marines. I felt like a lot of other people out there who at the time wanted to serve their country and find the people who took the lives of our fellow citizens. I ended up doing a tour in Iraq and also one in Afghanistan. The war in Afghanistan was justified to us Marines, not like the war in Iraq. The Taliban let Al-Qaida train there, they also treat women as third class citizens and all of us Marines don’t think that is cool. I think it’s a shame what is going on with Afghanistan now and that the Taliban are running the country again. Sorry, I don’t mean to get political but the wars were my inspiration behind the making of “22”. In both theaters of combat I lost some close friends and I also lost some friends when we returned home. War is a mental state that you have to compartmentalize.
Everyone is different and everyone handles it in a different way. You have to move on. Some military warriors find it hard to move on after their war is over. Military life is not easy and I respect the women and men who are still doing it to this day. My film “22” is about a Marine who is having a hard time readjusting to civilian life. He carries a lot of pain with him for the Marines who died. He has guilt and guilt is a burden that is hard to carry. It goes into the depth of pain that a warrior feels when he or she has lost friends in combat and comes home to a different world. Many military members who have served in combat find that transitioning to civilian life can be tuff and I know this from experience. There are “22” veterans who commit suicide a day. They carry a pain that is indescribable. I wanted to make a film about the struggles some veterans face when they get home.
What is the most challenging aspect of working in this particular genre?
The challenge wasn’t working in this particular genre. The challenge for “22” was getting it shot with no budget so pre-production was key. I had to plan and switch that plan accordingly as we got closer to production. Then when shooting started my crew, my cast and I had to go with the flow. Adopt and overcome any obstacle that came before us. However, it felt natural for me because we do that all the time in the Marines. Also, I had an amazing lead actor, Clayne Crawford who is very easy to work with and who is a total team player. Clayne was working five to six days a week on a hit TV show so we could only shoot on the weekend. Clayne would show up with his notes about his character and ran his notes with my notes and we would get to shooting. Clayne is very much into helping the veteran cause so it was great having a professional like him on board for “22”.
My film “Peace of Mind” that I just finished editing and will be releasing into the film festival circuit soon was a little more challenging on set for me because I had to choreograph fight scenes. It’s about a girl who goes on a date and wakes up in a sex trafficking ring. She empowers herself and fights back and takes revenge on every man who “did her wrong”. It’s a powerful action and suspense driven film. Luckily, I had the great Sensei Richard Mesquita who is the fight stunt coordinator for David Ayers come aboard and help me with the fight sequences. Plus, my lead actress Caro Pampillo does her own stunts so as a director I was very fortunate to have a team like that for such a challenging film. It was a lot of fun.
When did you realize that you wanted to work in media and make films and what was the first film project that you created as a director?
I started writing as a kid about worlds different than mine. About places that were fantasy. I also had a learning disability and the public elementary school made me do first grade twice. Seeing the other kids go on to the next grade while I was being held back was very painful. Plus, kids can be mean so I was rejected and was called a lot of different names. Also, I didn’t like the poor white trash life I grew up in. It was hard, cold and I didn’t feel any love growing up. I was a sad kid and so I wanted to create a different world for myself and writing was my escape.
I watched as many films as I could growing up. Even R rated films I probably shouldn’t have seen. However, I knew at an early age I wanted to work in film because escapism is very powerful. It’s needed in our society. No matter if you grow up poor or with money. When it comes to directing, my cousin and I wrote and drew comic books as kids. Full stories with a beginning, middle and end and so I guess that was my first project or projects as a director. He was a better drawer than me and so I would tell him what kind of emotion we needed in each frame. He still has those old comic books and it’s always a good laugh when we look at them.
How did you choose the cast and the crew of the film and what was the most challenging aspect of production?
“22” and “Peace of Mind’ cast and crew were chosen by who wanted to have fun and work on a fast paced film. I told everyone upfront that we would be moving fast and I and my director of photography stuck to that plan. Shooting is fun and it’s my job as a director to make sure the whole cast and crew never stresses out. I’ve been in military operations that are life and death situations. Shooting a film with me will never make anyone stressed out. I like to move fast and you have to when it comes to low budget filming. Also, moving fast keeps everyone in the moment and that is important for any scene. The key is pre-production and then knowing that everything isn’t going to go as planned. Getting your key shots and moving on is what I like. If the story is strong enough you don’t have to worry about beautiful technical shots because the story will carry the film.
What genre of filmmaking fascinates you as a director and which genres do you prefer to work on?
All genres of filmmaking fascinate me. However, those filmmakers that do all the special effects and green screen filming really blow me away. I love those filmmakers. They are the ultimate fantasy escapism pros. I’m more concerned about story in realism. Brutal realism is what we also need to see so as a society we can see other people’s way of life and point of view. Suspension of belief is very powerful and when a filmmaker can take you on another person’s journey and into their world is amazing. The only thing I know is that I try to write what is painful. I try to push the limits. However, I do have some comedies written that I would love to shoot someday about the absurdities of life. Everything I write makes a social statement so the issues we face may have a voice.
How can cinema change the world and have an impact on society?
Film has always been a powerful force in the human experience. Film introduces us to worlds we never knew existed. Strangers become people we recognize. Unknown places become locations we long to go. Unfamiliar ideas suddenly have context. Film can foster change long after the footage stops. Film transports an audience to a different time and place, opens our hearts and minds to new experiences and inserts us temporarily into another world. As an art form, film can help spark our imaginations like nothing else as we are given license to envision ourselves living in some heroic, historic, or another person’s shoes. Cinema transcends lives and worlds.
What is your next film project as a director?
I’m shooting a film about social economic inequality. It is a story about the poor vs. the rich. I’m raising money now for it and have some production companies that I am in talks with. I want to shoot this winter because most of the scenes take place at night. I think it is a very important film because of the economic disparities we face in the world today. I think every film should make a social statement and I strive to do that in my filmmaking. Thank you for the questions. This was a lot of fun. Cheers.