Indie Filmmakers to Watch: Adam Brooks Talks The Season
If anyone would be surprised that Adam Brooks became a filmmaker, it very well might be the man himself. With a background in graphic design and music, filmmaking wasn’t necessarily in his immediate mindset while he was living in eastern Iowa. But his inexperience in filmmaking and geography did little to deter Brooks from making a name for himself in Hollywood.
In 1998 he headed West with California in his sights and little more than $800 in his pocket. Working various industry jobs over the years helped Brooks establish himself as an indie filmmaking machine with credits including Writer, Producer, Director, Cinematographer, Storyboard Artist, Editor and Composer.
Now with Brooks’ first feature film, The Season, about to get its DVD release on June 29th, Dread Central spoke with him about his journey to getting his first feature film made and what the future holds for the talented writer/director/producer.
Brooks spoke about growing up in the Midwest and what was the catalyst that sparked his passion for filmmaking. “When I was younger in Iowa, you never met anyone who was a filmmaker so it didn’t seem possible to even become one. So for a long time I worked as a graphic designer because it was ‘accessible.’”
“The other avenues I took before becoming a filmmaker were in the fringes of entertainment so that helped when I moved out to California to pursue filmmaking. When digital video came into the fold and you could now edit at home and shoot inexpensively, that’s when filmmaking suddenly became a feasible dream for me,” Brooks added.
Before The Season was even a blip on his radar, Brooks began garnered some impressive accolades with his short film projects in 2004. His first short film, Nicki’s Abortion, won Best Short at the Twisted Spine Film Festival, and his follow-up, The Confession, led to Brooks being chosen one of the top 250 directors in the 2004 Project Greenlight Director Contest.
“When I started out, I decided to focus on doing shorts first just to prepare myself for features,” explained Brooks. “The first one was Nicki’s Abortion, and I was pleasantly surprised by the overall positivity surrounding the project. Next was The Confession, which came about when the lead actor (Paul Alessi) came to me and wanted me to write the darkest thing I could think of. He had no idea what he was asking.”
“When I was done writing The Confession, Paul was like ‘Whoa, I don’t know if I can say some of these things’, but he nailed it. Because of The Confession, I was astonished to find out that I was chosen by Project Greenlight for their Director Contest. I had followed Project Greenlight so it was really an honor to be a part of their competition. As an inspiring filmmaker, I had always found both Matt (Damon) and Ben (Affleck)'s story inspiring, Brooks added.
Now with his feet firmly planted in the filmmaking industry, Brooks set out to make his first feature film, called The Season. Almost as an answer to the vapid landscape of theatrical horror releases, The Season could be considered a blending of "The X-Files" episode Home and the 1985 Harrison Ford drama Witness.
Set in rural Iowa, The Season (starring AJ Bowen) is centered around a group of stranded strangers who become subjected to the unholy practices of an excommunicated Amish family as well as several genetically defective ‘kin’ amongst them who take their need for breeders to an entirely new level. By bringing the story into a familiar territory, it meant that Brooks couldn’t think of a better place than his own birthplace to make his foray into feature films.
“I grew up in Iowa so I wanted to shoot in a place I was really comfortable with so that’s why I headed back to make my first feature film,” explained Brooks. “There were certain locations I knew I wanted to use that I remembered from when I was a kid so that also helped in my decision. I could just see Iowa in the story.”
Iowa also served as inspiration for one major change in his debut feature: Originally Brooks wanted The Season to be about the Mormon community, but he rewrote the story to explore the world of the Amish due to the new location.
When the director returned home to start production on The Season, he found his local cast and crew very supportive of his ambitious endeavor and ready to tackle a grueling five-week shooting schedule. Brooks said, “The Season was truly a labor of love, not just for me, but for every local person we had on set. We made The Season with about seven people on our crew, and everyone had to wear a lot of hats to make sure that everything kept going forward. It’s certainly not a style of filmmaking that is for everyone because it tests you in ways you couldn’t even imagine.”
The hard work and determination of Brooks as well as the dedicated cast and crew of The Season paid off. The project gained a lot of attention on the festival circuit, including the 2008 LA Screamfest Film Festival, the 2009 Park City Music Film Festival, and most recently being named as the Best Narrative Feature Film of the 2009 Moving Pictures Film Contest.
That last award is the one that Brooks says is a testament to the work everyone put in on the feature. “The Moving Pictures Contest isn’t even a horror contest, which is pretty cool I must say because it means we must have done something right to resonate with mainstream judges. That can be hard to do sometimes,” Brooks said.
The director went on to discuss how he’s feeling with the official DVD release date of The Season getting closer and the entire production process far behind him now.
“I think it’s a pretty amazing thing to get to see The Season get released finally,” explained Brooks. “Sometimes you don’t know if you’ll get that chance. I definitely feel incredibly blessed and happy that my first feature film was able to get a domestic distribution deal.”
With Brooks focused now on future projects, it seems that the writer/director will be heading overseas for his next feature film. Brooks said, “Up next for me is a horror film set in Scotland. I’m describing it as Hitchcock meets Wolf Creek. Even though we’re filming in Scotland, the story is definitely written for US audiences. I can’t wait to get back on set again either.”
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