Kevin O’Brien began his filmmaking career at church, surprisingly enough, where he would make original short videos to promote the establishment. Several years later, having now developed a real love for movie-making, O’Brien started to put pen to paper on his own projects, one of which is “At The End of the Day”, which releases February 26 on Demand.
The film, which O’Brien wrote and directed, is loosely inspired by his own story. In it, a professor with strict Christian beliefs begins to see life — and those in it — differently when he goes undercover in a gay support group. Kevin recently discussed this project via an exclusive interview.
Meagan Meehan (MM): Filmmaking. When and how did you get your start?
Kevin O’Brien (KO): I’ve always loved movies and TV, but didn’t discover my love for filmmaking until my late 20s. I was on staff at a Church where we often created short original films. This allowed me to cut my teeth in a rather risk-free environment. I quickly discovered my love for the medium, and within a few years sought to begin a career as a filmmaker.
MM: What’s the first gig you were paid for?
KO: I’ve pretty much self-produced all my own shorts. There was a small corporate video I did in my first year of filmmaking that was paid. But mostly I’ve been able to create short films that speak to me, and sell them to speakers and communicators as part of my online library.
MM: Do filmmakers get better with each project they do, in general? I imagine you learn things on everything you do?
KO:That has been my experience. I learn something on every single project I’ve worked on. Whether it’s a new technique, a lighting tip, or editing shortcut. The only way to get better is to actually do the work, make the mistakes, and learn for the future. Thankfully, I’ve been able to work with some fantastic filmmakers, which allowed me to learn from the best.
MM: What lessons, learnt previously, did you apply to this one?
KO:I think my biggest lesson was to trust my crew. Most of our crew, small as it was, already had been on multiple feature films. They knew what to do, how to make everything look and sound as professional as possible. Seriously, filmmaking is possibly the most collaborative of artistic mediums, and success is dependenton everyone working together.
MM: If you weren’t making movies, what do you think you’d be doing?
KO:I’m not sure. I’d hope I could find some work in another creative outlet. I love making things that move people toward empathy, so maybe some art exhibits through photography? Hopefully I don’t need to explore other careers.
MM: How did the idea come to you? Was it bubbling away for a while?
KO:The central tension of the evangelical church and the LGBTQ community was something that had been bubbling a bit, but the actual story came rather quickly once I started outlining it. When I write, it’s important for me to understand where the film is going before I get too heavy into the actual writing, so I am a big proponent of outlining.
MM: Is it fictional?
KO:I like to say that the story is fictional, but it’s true. While the actual characters, locations, and plot are made up, the basis for these stories, and many of the situations, have been heavily inspired by the very real experiences of myself or my friends.
MM: Did you get a big say in casting?
KO:Yep! While I involved the advice of others, casting was ultimately my call. It was a very fun process, which ultimately doesn’t confirm if it was right or not until we were on set.
MM: Thus far, what has been the best part of working in the movie industry?
KO:I love moving people. I love hearing an audience laugh, then fall silent when things get emotional.
MM: Career wise, where do you see yourself in ten years?
KO:I see myself making a living writing and directing feature films. I don’t care where they show or how widely they are released, but that I am able to make that my living.
MM: Do you have any upcoming projects that you would like to mention?
KO:I have two ideas in development — one involving migrant working families and immigration. The other idea involved the evangelical overseas mission machine. These are two aspects that have really intrigued me lately.
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