Director Blake Freeman may come across as obnoxious in his latest role, but the director of the gamer comedy "Noobz" starring Jason Mewes is anything but away from the camera. As the film debuts on DVD and Video on Demand today, the multi-talented director sat down to discuss the trials and joys of making the road picture on a shoestring budget with only a lot of friends and a bit of luck at his disposal.
Billy Tatum: How'd you get started in the biz?
BLAKE FREEMAN: was dabbling in the acting world a little bit, got a job and came back to it after I sold my company about six years ago and found out that I wanted to make films. The first one was a comedy, a documentary about debunking aliens, the psychic and paranormal, which will be the second film to be released. "Noobz" is actually the first. I knew I wanted to do something near and dear to me, which is gaming. So, we wrote the script around something that we knew pretty well which was competitive gaming and we knew we had to make it comedy. So, this movie was a dream come true. We grew up playing video games and now we get to make a movie about it.
Billy Tatum: You went indie as opposed to going with a studio. Did the studio demand a lot of changes?
BLAKE FREEMAN: Yes. I wanted to make a movie that was realistic to the world of gaming and not insult the intelligence of gamers. The problem with some studios is that you have 12 to 15 people who have to put their idea in because they're obviously getting a salary. By the time your done, you dont have a movie that looks anything like what you started with. So, I wanted to keep this idea. In independent, we felt that "Ok guys, we made it ourselves. Let's make it the way we want to make it. Right or Wrong."So, we stayed with it. Independently, you have that freedom to do what you want. With the help of Microsoft and all of these other people that came onboard, we were able to give a realistic look at gaming. Obviously, we had to make it a comedy. If we made it serious, it wouldn't do that well except for hardcore gamers. That was our biggest reason for doing it independently and that's maintaining the ability of doing it the way we wanted to.
Billy Tatum: You're writer, director, producer. How hard is it to wear all those hats and when not to wear them?
BLAKE FREEMAN: It's tough. You never know how hard it is until you get into it. I always tell people that if I knew how hard it was that I'd do something different (laughs). But now I'm in too deep. It's amazing to be able to create something. Now, to know when to shut up, that's all trial by error. As a director, the way I see things is suppose you woke up and you could not deliver the lines as they were written. Immediately, as a writer/director, I could rewrite them right there. Then, have you just give me a version of it that fits how you're feeling at that point. I think when people go "You've got to stick to the script, no matter what" you have movies that are all over the place. When you have guys as talented as Jason, Matt Shively, Moises and those guys, they can start running off the script. There were times when we were over time because we were completely off-script, but we were still on camera and in character. It's a lot of fun, but those are times that you've got to let happen.
Billy Tatum: How important was improv in "Noobz"?
BLAKE FREEMAN: To me, it's the best part of it. Here's the problem with "Noobz". We only had $340,000. We were using the second best cameras that we could get at the time. They're the RED, amazing film cameras. Here we are using some of the best sound, the best picture. We only had 15 days to film this in. You had people up 24 hours. One guy didn't sleep for a day and a half. It was a tough, tough film to make. The actors were tired and we were running on pure adrenaline, but we all wanted to make this movie. Everybody came together. They took a pay cut and they all wanted to make it. It makes it more enjoyable knowing that everyone came together wanting to make this film instead of just getting up in the morning and doing "a job", just walking
through the film and not acting.
Find out how Blake got to put products from Sony and Microsoft in the film and just what drove him crazy about making "Noobz" tomorrow in the second part of my interview with "Noobz" director Blake Freeman.