JOHN HUFF: Hi Randy, before telling us about your current projects, what began your interest in film and filmmaking?

RANDY DEFORD: The inspiration came from being a boomer and growing up in front of a tube. I loved television and movies and spent a lot of my weekends as a teenager at the drive-in. Great memories and education.

I started taking piano lessons when I was nine while growing up in the 60s. I was a headbanger and couldn't get enough rock music. I later switched to country to make money and then got into composing when I created my first studio at 19. I recorded other bands for about 20 years and started doing all my own tracks, thanks to multi-track. When digital came along, it just all got smaller and better. I decided to try my hand at composition for film and/or television.

I got a broker in California and started creating music. I had mild success and found out that there were just too many good composers. The music I was trying to create was just too prevalent and I was spinning my wheels. So, I decided to get a camera and start experimenting with adding music to my own visuals. I got into it backward. I did a music video as my first project and got hooked on editing. It was very much like mixing music, but more challenging and rewarding. The ultimate is creating and recording music to integrate with the imaging.

My favorite movies were horror or thriller - Alfred Hitchcock was king as well as OUTER LIMITS, TWILIGHT ZONE and ONE STEP BEYOND. I couldn't get enough of that stuff. Also, the Jerry Lewis films were great. Double feature B-movies were a staple and a great way to spend a Saturday afternoon or night in the Midwest.

JH: When I was growing up outside Kansas City, it was hard to find others who were as interested in movies as I was. I felt bleakly alone in my love of movies and attempts to make movies. What was your experience in Indiana? And how is it now for you, where you live, as an active filmmaker? Do you find a supportive attitude from your social setting?

RDF: The support for filmmaking in my region is nearly non-existent. It's a culture thing. Indiana has two main economic drivers - agriculture and sports. It's not an artsy state and you have to look elsewhere for inspiration. One of the glaring constants I have found in both music and film is the misconception of the local folk who think you can be successful in LA or New York and live in Indy. The big fish/little pond syndrome is the norm. In my view, there is a formula for success and one of the key variables in that equation is being where it's happening. That " location variable" seems to be missing from the Hoosier mindset.

You also have to look elsewhere for an audience which is why festival screenings are so important to a filmmaker with my budgets. That said, I have found a group of people who are very supportive once they actually see a film that's been produced locally. It's like a crock takes time and simmering. My exposure to local filmmakers has been the vanity press approach--rent a local joint, invite friends and family, praise the feat and then go on down the road. The missing factor is the exposure to competition which makes you better. Submitting to festivals pits you against a LOT of good filmmakers, both domestic and foreign, and too many just don't want the fuss because it's too much work and too deflating. They stay in their safety zone because it's just a lot more fun. The other shortcoming I've seen in indie film is the judgement of quality over content. Too many hoorahs over using the better camera and not enough time spent on content and storytelling.

JH: I know you engineer much of your hardware and equipment. Would you elaborate?

RDF: I really didn't have a clue about jibs, dollies and the like because I had no formal, accelerated was all from a voyeur point of view. Any motion was done by handheld means and learning to be slow and steady as possible.

It was after I'd shot my second full length film that I started to zone in on the subtle things I'd been missing in both film and TV production and that was the obvious use of jibs and dollies that made for slow moving shots and elevations-- which is like so many other things in was right there all the time and a conscious connection was never made. It was one of the critical differences between low budget films and professional films: the motion.

I started researching both jibs and dollies. The cost was beyond what I could justify since I would prefer to put money into cameras and not mechanics. But, I was a mechanical engineer for a living, so I decided to build my own gear-- One of the best decisions I made because it forced me to see the visuals in a different way and do more pre-planning. As I progressed on one project, it would spawn another. I guess my brain is active on both sides as I like science as much as art and I really don't see a great difference in the two.

Engineers are creative people, just not typically with art. DaVinci is one of the shining examples of someone who had a extremely broad view of the world and solutions to its physical laws. Engineering is all about working within hard is the total opposite. I created a jib, a very quick set-up and silent dolly system, an elevated camera spinner and other gadgets. One of my best devices is a swing arm that allows me to rotate around a subject but keep the subject in the center of the shoot throughout a 180 degree rotation.

JH: You tend to work with the same people. Do you like a 'posse' feel in your productions?

RDF: That's an interesting question. I guess the answer is "yes...I do." I typically work with all females because they are committed to doing a good job and also tend to be more reliable. I actually didn't intend to have an all female just worked out that the friends of friends of friends were all women and they enjoy being part of the process.

The other irreplacable feature of the "posse" is their multitasking abilities. One of my lead actresses, Julie Powers, is also a makeup artist, costumer and singer. My other lead, Ann Loggins, does Assistant-direction and any crewing including helping me with the mechanics behind the scene. This ability to mix cast and crew who assist each other like a relay race has proved a logistics plus, since most other low budget filmmakers I know tend to use a Hollywood template of surrounding themselves with 50 people (and I'm not exaggerating) to make a film...while I use 4. It's not a matter of right or's a matter of talent. The engineering side of me is always in efficiency mode, looking for doing more with less. Another truly remarkable thing to me is that all of these women are mothers, raising children, with full time jobs. And they still find time to feed their artistic side. It's much more about challenging themselves than ego. Women also tend to be more patient and resilient. This crew made it possible for me to make my last full length feature, SECTION 5, in 6 months times, flat, with only 8 shoots. It's now being screened in festivals. Along with the crew, I have the advantage of being the writer, producer, director, cinematographer, editor and composer on my projects. I've actually had people tell me it's not possible for me to do all of this. If that's true, then who actually made all the films and music videos that have garnered me 38 awards, including 6 Tellys, and 27 festival screenings in 15 states? I need to meet this guy and tell him it's not possible.

JH: I won't ask you my extra-terrestrial question because you've already answered it with PURGE CLAUSE, your short film with Troma's Lloyd Kaufman in a dramatic role. So what was like to work with Lloyd?

RDF: At the risk of spewing platitudes, it was one of the best film experiences I've had. With the same crew, I was able to shoot a 12 minute short film in 3.5 hours. Lloyd is always "on", throwing verbal jabs and barbs with the best of them. He's high energy and fun. But, when it was time to shoot, he switched to the pro who gave me not only the performance I was hoping for, but brought a relaxed feel to the project and a great memory for us all. The film, PURGE CLAUSE, is also starting to gain festival acceptance. He made our year.

Lloyd and his wife, Pat, are both experts at putting people at ease. I would think some people would think that Lloyd's films and the word "charming" would not fit...but he truly is and has a way of inspiring people because he's a positive force and is very encouraging to people at my level to stick with it. He just loves films and filmmakers and is an overt promotion machine. He's also very outspoken and you need to respect that fact because his experiences are relevant.

JH: What's on the front burner film-wise, Randy?

RDF: I have been planning at least 4 projects a year... which is typically ambitious. But, it keeps things interesting. There are three projects front and center.

The first is a DOCUMENTARY ABOUT LLOYD KAUFMAN and the people he has influenced or inspired. I see this taking a couple of years to gain the interviews I need to do it right. But with Lloyd's cooperation, it will be a work-in-progress that gains momentum.

The second is another short film with Lloyd as the lead, which is not scheduled... we'll shoot it when he has the time. But he has already agreed to work with us again in an acting capacity.

The third is another full length feature drama that I plan on starting in the fall of 2012. I also have a follow-up spoof to a past project and a short-short comedy in the wings. When all my busy cast and crew can align stars and get schedules to match, we're off on another year of projects.

JH: Thank you and keep us in the loop!


Randy DeFord at: Oak Road

Contact Randy DeFord:

Julie Powers' website:

SECTION 5 trailer on Youtube