As part of our continuing 3Questions series, I present Christopher Angel, the writer and director of This Is Not A Test now available on DVD.
HBAD: So, tell us about yourself. Who are you, what do you do, what does that position involve?
CA: My name is Christopher Angel, and I am an independent feature filmmaker. I write and direct movies, which means it's all my fault - I come up with the story, work with a producer or producers to raise the financing, then try to keep everything on budget while bringing out the best in my team - the actors, artists, and technicians making the movie with me on set and in post production.
HBAD: How did you get your start?
CA: Film-making is always something I've done (at least since grade school). For many years it was simply a hobby or passion, and I tried to do other things after college, but I kept coming back to movies. I was admitted to USC for the graduate film program, and decided to come out and pursue my dream and passion. At USC, I directed a short film called Mr. October, which won a Student Academy Award. From there, I signed with a manager, and within months was on set, directing a horror film.
For my most recent project, I was determined to get my own script made for the first time. I had written a feature screenplay called This Is Not A Test, and wrote a part in it for a friend, Robinne Lee. She got the script to Hill Harper, originally for him to join us as a producer, but he liked the lead role so much he said he wanted to play the part as well as produce The project ultimately became a joint effort between myself, Hill, and Robinne and her husband, the producer Eric Hayes. We pulled in every favor we had, and got the movie shot on a shoestring budget. Tom Arnold, who had worked with Hill before, also came on board and agreed to play a satirical version of himself.
HBAD: What advice would you have for someone just starting out in this business, looking to become a feature filmmaker?
CA: If there's anything else in the world that might interest you, try that first! Seriously, it's a really hard, competitive, thankless job being a director, and very solitary during times of writing. Also, the more life experience you have, the better. If you have seen more things, had crazier experiences, you can draw on those in your writing and directing. Don't be afraid to take the path that is less predictable. Also, having some money saved up before you get out here is crucial - when you commit to film-making, you want to give yourself some time to focus on your craft, or have some other way to support yourself while you are getting started. The first jobs rarely pay much, if anything at all.