AN INTERVIEW WITH GLENN PAYNE
Director of Driven
Fanworld: You are involved in many aspects of film making – acting, writing, directing. Which one do you find the most rewarding?
Glenn: Hmm… I suppose they’re all rewarding in their own way. Directing is definitely my first passion, but it’s also the one that takes the most years off of your life. Piles and piles of stress. :) If we were talking about an “in the moment” feeling I’d go with acting. You do the work and you can feel how it landed right when it’s done, whether it’s on a stage or a set. Whereas, the others take a good while to reach the viewer.
Fanworld: What would you say is your biggest strength/strongest quality as a director?
Glenn: I think being an actor is a huge advantage for a director. You can really put yourself in the head space you can expect your talent to be in. I also edit my own films so that helps tremendously when it comes to planning out scenes and how they should be shot or what you’d like the rhythm of the film or scene to be like. My background is in Fine Art so I can feel that influence a lot when it comes to visuals in any given film I’m working on.
Fanworld: Do you have a particular film maker who has influenced you the most?
Glenn: That’s surprisingly tough because the longer you work at it the more stages you go through as a film watcher. Christopher Nolan (Prestige, Dark Knight, etc) had a huge impact on me, as well as Edgar Wright (Shaun of the Dead, Hot Fuzz), Vince Gilligan (Breaking Bad), and Greg Daniels (The Office, Parks and Rec), to name a few. I find myself stopping shows or movies and rewinding scenes several times. Usually it’s to see how they edited a sequence or something along those lines. All of the filmmakers mentioned above changed the way I looked at storytelling at various stages in my life.
Fanworld: What makes a film great for you? Are there certain things that make a film better for you?
Glenn: Whether I want to or not I watch for several elements in a film. Is the acting good, the writing, camerawork, editing, music, etc. I’ve always found that’s the best way to learn, to critique everything you see and debate why parts of it are successful or maybe not so much. It’s always a collection of each department combining forces to create one rounded piece of artwork. Making films definitely erases some of the movie magic you might feel before you get into the craft. It definitely makes subpar projects feel worse than you would have thought previously, however, excellent films are truly that much better because of it, so it’s a trade off I guess.
Fanworld: Again, you are creative in a lot of ways – writing, acting (especially improv), painting, directing. Where do get your inspiration? What sparks your ideas?
Glenn: Everything really. You can see anything throughout a normal day that speaks to you for one reason or another. Strangely enough, really well made Art (of any discipline) can really inspire me to explore that idea or method. You have to be careful though, because it’s easy to try to do too many things at once and that’s a good way to split your focus. I definitely work on many different things but I try to give them all their own separate amount of time.
Fanworld: How was Driven different than your previous films and shorts?
Glenn: The biggest change was it all being inside one car. That was unlike anything I’d ever made before. We joked about how I thought it would be an “easy” shoot because it would only be one location, when in reality it ended up being over 20 locations, because the car had to be somewhere different for almost every scene. Those limitations really forced me, and the rest of the team, to think outside the box while staying inside the box, so to speak.
Fanworld: What is something you learned from making Driven?
Glenn: I learned that life will continue to surprise you. I’d never worked with an actor with a resume quite like Richard’s before. You hear horror stories sometimes about really successful actors being a nightmare on set. That made Casey and I both a bit apprehensive, however it couldn’t have been further from the truth with Rich. He was so incredibly patient, calm and cheerful throughout each day. We were shooting overnights, outside in the craziest winter storm Mississippi had had in the last 30 years and he was a complete joy to be around. It was inspirational in a lot of ways. It reminded me that if I’m able to climb the ladder in this industry I have to make a point of being extremely giving and inclusive to the entire team no matter project I might be working on. That’s the standard that Rich set and I’ll always remember it.
Fanworld: Which character resonated with you more, Emerson or Roger?
Glenn: I honestly connected with them fairly evenly, I think that’s a testament to how fantastic Casey’s writing was for each character. They both had a lot going on internally and were very complex, while still being really enjoyable. My life is definitely closer to Emerson’s than Roger’s but they each hold a special place in my heart.
Fanworld: Where and when did you first meet Casey, and what do you think made you two “click” so well?
Glenn: We met through our improv group “West of Shake Rag”, in which we’re still both active members. I think we just find similar things interesting, which includes talking about and breaking down how those things work. For example, not only do we both love improvising, we also both love talking about and debating the technical aspects of improv. Even though we have a large number of things in common, I think we’re different enough that we come at them from different angles. With that in mind, I think that allows us to push each other in ways that we couldn’t if we were exactly the same. I come from a visual background and she comes from a literary one, but we both challenge the other in our weaker areas.
Fanworld: Rumor is you’ve been a Supernatural fan for many years. What do you feel SPN does well, and were there any SPN-influences while making Driven?
Glenn: I have! My good friend Heather Roebuck (Assistant Director on Driven) and later my other good friend Jeanna Collins, turned me onto the show. I think I found it at a crossroads in my life. I had just gotten divorced and was trying to figure out who I was as a person. I traveled the country with my sister selling artwork at outdoor festivals, so I found a lot of random connections with the show. The first five seasons were especially good at crafting two stories simultaneously. Sam and Dean had their own struggles dealing with their abnormal upbringing. The loss of their mother, their sometimes absent father, as well as the loss of their own childhood really. They were trying to find their place in the world and that was very hard. At the same time, a bigger story of angels and demons was being told all around them. This larger biblical ticking time bomb tied in really nicely with these two brothers who didn’t really know their place in the universe, and yet their places were always intended to be integral to something huge.
Fanworld: Any good films, series', or books you discovered while in lock-down and would recommend?
Glenn: I read a book called “The Silence” that I got in our goody bag from when Driven played at FrightFest in London. I enjoyed it a lot. “Sex Education” on Netflix was fantastic if you haven’t seen it yet, and I ALWAYS recommend everyone watch Breaking Bad because it’s easily the best piece of long-form storytelling ever created. :)