Today we have filmmaker Tremain Hayhoe with us. Check out our interview where we talk about his upcoming film Rideshare and more!
I really enjoyed interviewing Tremain Hayhoe. He has a lot to share about Rideshare as well as his experience in the film industry. There’s a lot that upcoming filmmakers can learn from him. So, let’s start!
What inspired you to become a filmmaker?
Ever since I was little I was always fascinated with film. My parents had an Alfred Hitchcock box VHS set that I watched religiously. It had The 39 steps, The Man Who Knew Too Much, and all these dark film noir-esque mysteries that I just fell in love with. Also, of course, I loved Disney movies such as Aladdin and The Lion King. I remember when I was 7 I saw Lion King in the theater and it changed my life forever. I cried at that certain death scene (I’ll try and avoid spoilers here 😉 ) and afterward, I thought to myself, “Why did I cry over a silly cartoon?”
The idea of telling a story and making an impact on someone how it impacted me fascinated me even back then. I started studying film and watching all sorts of movies. I was obsessed with learning how to tell a story through film. Also, I acted in every school play from kindergarten to 8th grade and no matter how many times I auditioned the audition process terrified me. By 8th grade, I thought to myself “Hey, if I MAKE the movie, I can always cast myself!” That was my way around auditioning.
I started with stop-motion LEGO movies in 8th grade and never stopped. I’d make any excuse to make a video over writing a paper. Sometimes I would just make a video instead of writing without asking for permission from my teachers. I did that twice. It worked wonderfully one of the times, and the other time I got an F. I was still proud of the video though! [laughs]
When YouTube came out my senior year of high school, it changed my life forever. Now I had a place where I could put my videos, and also share with friends and family! I made a music video for my cousin in England and uploaded it and it received 7,000 views overnight. I went nuts. Then my cousin called me and said that he was hanging out at a park in his neighborhood and he had kids come up to him singing the chorus. That’s when I learned the power of the internet!
Telling people I wanted to make movies was funny. It’s like one of those things where people thought I was going to grow out of this phase and then I would become “realistic” and become an accountant or something. For years after high school people would ask me “Are you still wanting to do that film thing” or “hey so how is the film thing going? Any luck breaking into the biz yet?” That would bug me! [laughs] It’s like, “Yes, yes.”
People asked me those kinds of questions for years even after college, but now that I’ve produced all these short form videos from the past 10 years or so and now that I’m making a feature film, now the questions are more like what cool projects are you working on now? As of late it’s, “Tell me about your movie Rideshare!” and these are the questions and I like answering!
Okay, then! What’s Rideshare about? Where did the idea come from?
Rideshare is about a middle-aged killer rideshare driver and his driving escapades taking place over one fateful night in Los Angeles. I came across the idea because I was driving part time for Uber in between running Hayhoe Studios, my video production company, and it just seemed to be a very fitting movie to make. Also, I learned a lot from Alfred Hitchcock where he limits his locations and makes it all about the story and keeps the budget low – that’s exactly what I wanted to do with this one.
Especially driving Uber – I mean literally any night (I drove weekends mainly) would be more than enough material for a movie, just so many funny things or strange things or interesting conversations that I’ve had – the movie pretty much wrote itself.
It is loosely based off of true incidents that have happened unfortunately in using Rideshare applications. It’s like with anything. I don’t want to say rideshare driving is bad or using a rideshare application is bad. Honestly, I think it’s the greatest invention in the past decade (YouTube is the greatest invention in the past 15 years – technically 12 years).
I wanted to make something that people can relate to. Something with a built-in audience. Bringing the audience along with a killer rideshare driver’s wild night is also fun. The events give them the fly-on-the-wall feeling without having to actually take these terrifying rides themselves.
That’s the fun part about writing a story or writing a movie, that you can think of scenarios or write something that you might think to yourself but you would never dare say or do, but I could put that in the script and now the characters can say and do these things.
Like to share an experience?
When I was driving Uber part time last year, I learned it’s almost scarier being a driver. You could pick up an Alex at 2 am; it could be a guy, it could be a girl, young, old – you have zero data on your passengers other than an inaccurate star rating. If they’re new to Uber, their star rating is 5 stars. In the meantime, they have your name, photo, license plate number.
One time I was still driving Uber in LA at 4 am and I had a request that led me to a back alley way in this horribly run-down neighborhood. I promptly canceled the trip and got the heck out of there.
Other than that last story I told, my experiences are overwhelmingly positive. I’ve met a lot of great people and made connections to people that I would never normally meet or have a chance to speak to. The beauty of driving in LA is that people come from all over to visit. I’ve met people from Brazil, Finland, Iceland, Sweden, England, Canada, from states all over the U.S., and actually landed another interview from driving Uber about the movie as well, and especially now it’s perfect promotion for this movie. Everyone that I’ve told to loves the idea or they’re terrified by it or both!
Whose perspective will the film be from? The passenger or the driver?
It’s set from the driver’s perspective. The main character is the bad guy, and it takes the audience through his one wild night in LA. It’s something different I’ve always liked – the story of the anti-hero, someone that is good but not completely good or someone that’s bad but not completely bad. In my short time on this Earth I’ve learned that not everything is black and white; there’s a lot of gray areas too, and that’s what this movie is about.
When can we expect to see Rideshare?
The release date for Amazon/iTunes is Friday, October 13th! MARK YOUR CALENDAR RIGHT NOW!
How was the casting process? Did you cast the actors yourself? Also, did you already have an idea about which actors to go for while writing Rideshare?
The casting process was a lot of fun. I wrote the script with specific actors in mind – ones that I either knew or are pretty good friends with. Mostly everyone that I had in mind was immediately on board with it. There were a few other actors that I had in mind and couldn’t do it or said no – it all ended up working for the best. If a particular actor couldn’t do it, I ended up getting even better actors to fill their role.
I’m different in a sense that I don’t waste time with auditioning 100 million actors; literally I just have actors shoot me a link and I could tell whether they can act or not other in a reel, or even send me a cell phone video and I can tell within 5 seconds if you can act or not. I old-fashioned met and auditioned only for a few select characters and that’s because I absolutely had to.
Are there any actors you’d like to work with as a director? (Your dream cast?)
Any advice for people who want to create their own indie feature film? Is learning about it (getting a degree) important?
I say just do it, but practice a crap-ton before you tackle a huge feature. Studying film is very important, but when I say study I actually mean watching and reviewing and analyzing and enjoying films. I love going to the theater, and I’m able to separate the film critic in me and the audience member in me. I’m an audience member first, critic second.
I’ve watched and analyzed hundreds/thousands of movies over the years and that’s definitely helped. Although I did get my film studies (keyword: studies) degree at San Diego State and I’m very grateful for that – but I was actually denied by the filmmaking production program. You submit your grades and a portfolio of all of your work. I had the most hands-on filmmaking experience of anyone that has ever applied in the history of San Diego State; I had worked on over 50 short films/music videos under my belt – 30 of them all the projects that the film majors were making in the program. I was working as a cameraman/teleprompter/studio gopher at KPBS the local public TV station and had an impeccably stellar raving letter of recommendation from the President of KPBS. And I STILL got denied by the film production program.
At the time when I learned, I got denied because my GPA was a 3.1 (the min to apply was a 3.0) but they preferred students with zero film experience and 4.0 GPAs. Describing me as pissed would be the understatement of the century. I posted the rejection letter on my wall. It was motivating. I remember the person that denied me. I won’t say his name. But I’ll never forget it.
Now that I think about it, I think who cares? Exactly. The experience that I had at the local public TV studio KPBS was worth more than gold, and I wouldn’t trade it for anything in the universe. I met the most amazing people there – shout out to everyone at KPBS – and I am forever grateful for them and that opportunity working there.
Getting denied by the film program actually ended up being a massive blessing in disguise – I was able to graduate over a year sooner than I would have had I got in the filmmaking program. Also, I heard a bunch of horror stories of filmmakers that were in the program and ended up spending 10 grand, 20 grand on their first short films… They max out their credit cards or made their parents take out a second mortgage on their home in order to make their black and white movie about a guy that just broke up with his girlfriend and now he’s flying to outer space to die alone. Seems like a great investment right? [laughs]
Instead of spending a ton of money on your first short film, just make what you can with what you have and get a side job making money and put your money into upgrading your equipment and keep making more mini movies for zero money. Post it on Facebook/YouTube, share it with your friends, and see what kind of feedback you get.
Also – BE A FILMMAKER NOT A FILM MAJOR!
Guess what? Most film majors never even finished their films. Most had ideas but never even completed one page of their script. Of the select few that actually wrote a script never get the financing. You have to be willing and able to see the film through all aspects of the process. You have to be all in. This industry is not fit for people who hem and haw all the time.
It all goes back to just doing it. Spoiler alert – your first short is going to be terrible. Probably your first 50 shorts will be terrible and unwatchable and 5 years down the line you’ll try to watch it and be too embarrassed to even dream of showing anyone. But maybe, just maybe, your mini movies will have a certain charm to them and you will at the very least have fun doing it.
I look back at a lot of my projects (I have an old YouTube channel with a lot of them on there – not going to tell you the exact link but I’m sure you can find it if you look hard enough) and I cringe at a lot of them, but I laugh and smile at a lot of them, too.
Which brings me to my next point: honestly just have fun. Use what you have, grab some friends and/or your family or your cat or dog, and spend $0 making goofy short films that you come up with in 5 minutes and shoot and edit on your cell phone. Do that enough times you’ll eventually get the gist of it. As long as you’re striving to get better and better with each one you’ll be okay.
I learned the most just by doing it. By making silly YouTube videos from when I was a senior in high school to busting my ass on professional sets. This is something no one will tell you. Filmmaking is an ass ton of work. 90% of it is the farthest thing from glamorous. You have to be willing to work hard and be willing to do long hours and you have to be willing to go without complaining, without being paid, or without any form of gratification other than you’re doing something that you love. If your mentality is, “oh I think this will be easy, I think this is something that will be fun, I’m going to be so famous” – yes, there’s a lot of fun aspects of filmmaking – but the harsh reality is that it’s very hard work and most people aren’t cut out to do it.
That being said, I love every single minute of it and I wouldn’t trade it for any other career in the world. Even though I’ve worked my ass off every day for years upon end, I still have to pinch myself because I feel so blessed and lucky to be in the position that I’m in. I am SUPER lucky in that I have the greatest support system in the world – my mom and dad and brother. They inspire me every day and I just want to make them proud. I will make enough money to retire my parents, and I will do that very soon.
Most importantly you can’t be sitting around waiting for opportunities; you have to get out there and create them for yourself! Set a goal and set deadlines.
Get the experience – put yourself out there and be willing to work on other people’s horrible projects and finagle/trick/bribe other people to help you work on your horrible projects. One day those horrible projects might be an actually amazing one. With each project, whether it’s a masterpiece or a sh*t show, chances are you’ll learn something valuable and be able to apply it to your next project. A lot of learning what to do is also what not to do. By working on so many different projects from different producers and different actors I learned how not to direct just as much as I learned how to direct. That’s important.
Also – MAKE A DECISION. It wasn’t until I made the decision of creating my own feature film that all these doors opened up for me. I was approaching 30 years old last year and I was getting burnt out on working on other people’s projects and producing music videos and shorts, so I made the decision I was going to make a movie. I had the hairbrained idea of a killer Uber driver. 3 days later I had my first investor and 25% of the overall budget. I hadn’t written a single word of the script. I wrote the script in 2 months and then finished raising the money.
Some of this may sound negative, but trust me it’s all positive. It’s taken me hours and hours months and months and years and years. I’ve created and produced thousands of YouTube videos for myself and mainly for others, but I used that as practice, just to get to this point, and I consider this the beginning of my career. Nothing’s more satisfying than making your own film. Doing what I’m doing right now, baby!
NEVER GIVE UP! NEVER SURRENDER!
Top Three Favorite movies?
Minority Report, The Shining, Office Space. In that order! Honorable mentions are Happy Gilmore, Bowfinger, Bring It On (It’s a masterpiece – trust me), Home Alone, Psycho, Rear Window, Independence Day, Jurassic Park, The Blues Brothers, Aladdin, Toy Story, Transformers 1, Borat, The Fugitive. Get Out is a recent favorite, I think Jordan Peele is the best horror writer/director in a long long time.
What’s next for you? Anything you’re currently working on?
Right now it’s all Rideshare all the time. I do have another feature script already written, though! I already have a few investors lined up waiting to invest…but a lot RIDES on this one and how people react may change the trajectory for my next movie. More details about that soon … … follow us on twitter @Rideshare_Movie, @HayhoeStudios, and @TremainHayhoe.
Thanks for your time.
You are welcome! Thank you so much for having me!!!
Make sure to mark your calendars. Rideshare will be released on October 13, 2017.
Are you excited for Rideshare? Let us know!
Farid has a Double Masters in Psychology and Biotechnology as well as an M.Phil in Molecular Genetics. He is the author of numerous books including Missing in Somerville, and The Game Master of Somerville. He gives us insight into comics, books, TV shows, anime/manga, video games, and movies.
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