Q&A: UNT alums bring film to Dallas’ festival

Q&A: UNT alums bring film to Dallas’ festival

Q&A: UNT alums bring film to Dallas’ festival
April 08
12:47 2014

Preston Barta // Film Critic

Ever since they were children playing with cameras and watching “Star Wars,” UNT alums Juan Diego Bautista, Rogan Naples and Clay Pacatte were enamored with telling stories visually.

Since they graduated with degrees in RTVF in 2013, the trio of friends brought their student film, “Parked,” from Professor Eugene Martin’s class to this year’s Dallas International Film Festival.

Premiering tonight as part of the North Texas College Shorts Showcase, the exceptional 12-minute short centers on two mobsters (Larry Grant Harbin and Beauen Bogner) at a public park who try to talk each other up before setting about their next task.

The North Texas Daily had the opportunity to sit down and talk to Bautista (director), Naples (writer) and Pacatte (director of photography) about their film, its geneses and what the UNT film program offered them.

When did this idea come about?

Rogan Naples: “The first incarnation of this script was about three or four years ago when I was in Intro to Screenwriting. It was more of a six-page scene, then, without a beginning or end. It still had the same characters and the same situation, but it was much shorter and unpolished. And I just had it sitting around when I had the opportunity to get into advanced film. So I cleaned it up, gave it a beginning and end. Professor Eugene Martin liked it and gave it Juan to shoot and here we are.”

What were some of your film influences when writing this? It has a very “Reservoir Dogs”/Quentin Tarantino vibe, along with some Coen brothers mixed in because it’s so gritty.

Naples: “I would say classic crime and mafia films, such as ‘Goodfellas,’ ‘The Godfather’ and ‘Reservoir Dogs’ for sure. The two main characters are kind of based on Jesse Pinkman and Mike Ehrmantraut from ‘Breaking Bad.’ There’s a particular episode where they are driving around, doing a bunch of jobs for Gus Fring. I thought the dynamic of the old, hardened veteran and brash, young kid totally out of his depth was interesting. I took that relationship and transplanted it into a less specific crime drama with a more mafia feel.”

How did UNT’s RTVF department and film program help you with the making of this film?

Juan Diego Bautista: “We had the ability to shoot whatever we wanted and work with some incredible people. UNT is very open to whatever you want to do. Even from the beginning when we had certain guidelines to follow, we were still free to do what we wanted. As long as you’re not shooting a porno or something like that, you’re fine.”

Naples: “I think UNT has a great program and professors. It’s a competitive program. You have to care and you have to work for these things. But when you get opportunities like this – make these films and use their equipment – you have to take advantage of it because college only lasts for so long.

Professors like Eugene, and all the other professors I had, really took the time to work with me and talk to me in class and after class. He cared and wanted you to care. It helps to work with people who are just as passionate as you are. No one is there for the grade. Everyone is there for the experience and to do the work.”

Parked_7
How did you get “Parked” into the festival?

Bautista: “Eugene told us about a showcase at the Alamo Drafthouse in Richardson, which was pretty interesting, and it just kind of went from there. But for the most part, Eugene hooked us up and has been guiding us from the start. We’re submitting to other film festivals, like Texas Filmmaker’s Showcase in Houston. So, we’ll see what happens.”

Clay Pacatte: “In terms of other people trying to do this, don’t forget that this is your very last chance to get something in the student film category at festivals, which is less competitive compared to actual short categories because there are less submissions. The student category offers a better chance of you getting your film screened. That fact is a pretty good motivation to make something as good as you can.”

What are you guys up to now that you’re done with school?

Bautista: “I am working at a television station called Univision. I was very fortunate to fall into it. As long as I am around this type of industry and have my foot in the door, I’m happy. I just want to work with people who like to do the same thing as I do. It’s all I really want. I don’t care for anything else but making movies. But yes, I am working at Univision and working on another two films. One of them we’ll hopefully be filming in the fall called ‘Master of Control.’ And hopefully by next year I will have a script out for another short I want to do. I’m looking to raise about $15,000 for it and get some of my old crew back together. God willing, if we get the money together and the same people that worked on ‘Parked,’ we’ll shoot something again, but at a higher level [laughs] with more money.”

Pacatte: “Freelance, mainly. Random shooting jobs here and there. But I’m trying to find more work in general.”

Naples: “I’ve been bartending because that always pays the bills. But I do have a script idea that I want to start doing research and drafts for here in the next few months about a family-owned funeral home and the trials and tribulations of getting those dead bodies into their funeral home. Like the Coen brothers, it’s a dark comedy. I almost hesitate to compare to anything else, but it’s like if the Bluths from ‘Arrested Development’ were in the mortuary business. So hopefully I get this feature length script done in the next six months to a year.”

If you could teach a college course of your creation, what would you teach?

Paccate: “Cinematography or lighting, probably. The only classes they have for that are for grad students. There aren’t any film classes made for a specific part of filmmaking, other than writing or directing. That’s the only two that I think they have.”

Bautista: “If I could, it would be a pre-production class— something for producers. I think that’s one of the things that we struggled a little bit with on ‘Parked.’ We hit a couple of bumps, but for the most part we got it together. I don’t think many people understand the logistics that go into making a film and what it takes to make a film. We can want this beautiful shot, but there’s probably an airplane flying over, ducks or cops who won’t allow you to film where you want to film. I would want to do a pre-production class to let people know what the in-and-outs are of making a film before starting production.”

Naples: “I agree with Juan. I was a producer for this other film for the same class called ‘Unhinged.’ At the beginning of it, I felt like I was in over my head. I wasn’t quite sure what it meant to be a producer. Anybody can pick up a camera and shoot something, but to make a good project, there’s so much planning involved. A pre-production class would be good for future UNT filmmakers.”

“Parked” is playing at the Angelika Film Center at Mockingbird Station at 9:45 p.m. tonight. Tickets can be purchased at the theater or on diff2014.dallasfilm.org.

Feature Photo: Juan Diego Bautista reading through Rogan Naples’ script. Photo courtesy of Cooper Carr.
Center Photo: UNT Alum Juan Diego Bautista and Clay Pacatte on the set of “Parked.” Photo courtesy of Cooper Carr.

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