Darrell M. Lee is the Gaffer for the film.
How would you describe In-World War (the film itself) in no more than seven words?
Jarring digital exploration of self and society.
Why did you get involved with it? How did you hear about it? What interested you about this film in particular?
Eight years ago, when we met on Quality of Life, Brant [IWW Director DJ Bad Vegan], myself, and the rest of that tiny crew drew blood and shared the harsh experience of guerilla filmmaking together. When he called to work on his own project, there was little reason not to help out – when folks suffer together for a common cause, you get behind them when they’re in need. IWW was ambitious, and out of the standard low/no budget film stereotypes, it was different in all the correct ways.
Did you enjoy working on the film? What was the best part for you?
Helping to drive the film along, to push the low resources and manpower to their best, and their limits, was very gratifying. Probably, the best part of the whole thing was getting it in the can for Brant – to make his film.
How long have you been working in film/involved with film?
For near nine years now, I’ve been in the film industry as a freelance best boy, electrician, grip, and most recently, continuing the tradition and history of one of the most trustworthy grip and lighting Houses in Northern California: Arthur Freyer Lighting.
What is your goal in filmmaking generally (director, writer, director of photography, key grip, etc.) and why?
My role and goal in the film industry has shifted and changed as I’ve learned more by doing – for now, it’s to make a positive impact on the Northern California film/TV industry as a community, no matter what specialty you call your own. To shape what type of work comes in the future, and what calibur of crew it will train and send into the field.
In your view, why is filmmaking and making art important to society as a whole?
Art, and filmmaking in particular, entertains, pushes boundaries, expresses, and moves people. If we didn’t pursue these concepts, we may as well let the robots take over. Skynet style.
Did helping make an indie film leave you with a positive or negative outlook on this type of ultra-low budget filmmaking (and why)?
Guerilla filmmaking has its part in the industry, just as much as documentary or studio films, and any experience in making something adds to your experience. It was all positive, no matter how many swear words rained down or how much sleep was lost.
How do you feel about the genre of science fiction? Is sci-fi just for fun or can we tell serious stories that are culturally relevant? (Okay, that’s a loaded question....but still, what do you think?)
I don’t care what genre a movie calls itself - it must have story. It doesn’t have to be a ground-breaking story, or something mind-bending. It could be the simplest, most retold thing we’ve heard as a people, but it must have a story. Sci-fi has a great amount of latitude to create storylines, so I think the genre has a great amount of worth to anyone willing to listen. And there’s usually lasers.
The film takes an unusual sci-fi approach to issues of racial profiling, Islamophobia and the so-called “war on terror” -- how have these issues impacted your life and your work?
Prejudice and group mentalities are dangerous things. The “us versus them” mode of thought is all around us, and personally, I try to fight these issues on a daily basis by undermining stereotypes, challenging the norm, and stirring shit up when it’s safe enough. You don’t have to throw a punch to mess with the status quo; sometimes you just have to question the authority.
Before you started with IWW, what did you expect it to be like working on the film?
Before we began any meetings or pre-production, I envisioned a rehashing of my days with Brant on Quality of Life. Once we began production though, I knew this was a different beast – a new challenge.
How was it actually, compared to that? What was exactly as you expected it? What was very different?
Working on IWW was more like pooling resources, organizing, and crafting a specific style with the pieces at hand. After a while, I could tell what Brant was after, and production fell into a rhythm of simplifying and executing. This actually was what I had been expecting to happen as filming went along, but the effort to find that rhythm was more stressful than I had originally expected.
DIY filmmaking can be rough. What was the worst moment? If you have one, share a painful memory from making the film, to give a taste of how tough it got.
With DIY filmmaking, the project is fueled by individuals pooling for the film, not their own position or personal growth. One night, this conflict of whole versus self came to a head with members of the crew losing faith and outwardly displaying their disdain for the project. I called some folks on their selfish bull, and basically said get on board or go home. I don’t think this was so much a bad moment as a defining one for IWW and low-budget filmmaking in general.
What did your experience of working on IWW tell you about humanity and people in general?
The capacity for smart, moral, kind folks to give to others and work for the sake of art is compelling. For the minority of people built to give, it comes across very easy, and I think that’s very telling. These are the people meant to work on these types of projects.
What have you been doing since you worked on the film? What other film projects have you done?
After IWW, I kept on as a member of the freelance grip and lighting team in the Bay Area, working to making strong products and train the future technicians. A year ago, I became shop manager of Arthur Freyer Lighting, and continue to help move the Northern California film industry along a responsible path of quality and dependability. We aren’t LA ot NY, but we do good here.
Why should people get involved with, donate money and/or help out on IWW?
If you don’t, puppies die. That, and if you can support an innovative grassroots campaign of creativity and passion, you should. Period.
What else would you like to say about your experience on IWW? Any funny anecdotes or behind the scenes stories?
Brant isn’t really a vegan. He eats baby platypuses. It’s scary.
To get in touch with Darrell: