TRUMAN SEGAL: TAKING ON THE (FILM) WORLD BY STORM


Now presenting..... our story's protagonist.... Truman Segal.
I'm Truman Segal, from NJ. @s on Twitter, Instagram, Letterboxd are all @trumansegal. I'm originally from Queens though. Kinda. I moved when I was four or five. Remember it vividly though.

Truman taking home both Best Direction and Best Narrative.

HOW AND WHEN DID YOU GET INTO FILM? DID YOU ALWAYS KNOW YOU WANTED TO PURSUE IT?


Segal: I've been around film my whole life as my dad worked for HBO Sports for a while and then managed HBO Archives until it was shut down. He was on the non-fiction side of the medium as opposed to what I'm interested in, but I can't discredit this influence he had.


For ages I wanted to be an astronaut. And when I say ages, I mean ages. Since like 2nd grade.


And then in middle school I attended an event for middle schoolers at MIT, was completely lost, and decided that while yeah, space is cool, it's not worth knowing all those equations and shit for, at least for me, and I should do something that would genuinely make me happy and be rewarding more than working with math and science (which I do not enjoy, if you do, power to ya) for ages hoping for the slight off-chance I win some weird scientist lottery to be able to go into space.



EARLIER THIS YEAR, YOU RELEASED A SHORT FILM: UNINSPIRED (2018). WHAT WAS SO DIFFERENT FROM MAKING THIS SHORT COMPARED TO YOUR PREVIOUS WORKS?


Segal: I don't know if anything was necessarily different with Uninspired compared to anything else I've done in terms of production, except maybe that I just improve my actual producing and directing skills a ton every time I exercise them and learn what works and doesn't work for me.


The other big thing was that I had never actually spoken to Matthew Schwartz until like two days before we shot, and in the past I had only worked with actors I was super close with as all my friends act. But Matt was perfect for the part; We had a great, productive day on set and have been super close ever since.


I guess director/actor relationships strengthen actual human relationships or something. Maybe it's just that we're both Jewish and irreverent. He probably gives my favorite performance in the film. He has such a comedic essence to him and it's a blast to watch him completely embody and kinda bring life to a (purposely) nothing-character.


UNINSPIRED (2019)'s poster and its awards.

WHAT'S THE WEIRDEST / MOST FAVORITE SHOOT STORY YOU HAVE?


Segal: Back on The Long Way Down, that shot of Demetrio Ricardo as Richie pouring the omega vitamins into Louis Kravits' Josh took twenty-seven takes because of various sound issues or just people laughing. The humor comes from the fact that we had to use three full bottles of omega vitamins because Louis insisted on eating and swallowing however many was put in his mouth because he was "going method". He then threw up for a few hours.



ARE THERE ANY PROJECTS YOU'RE WORKING ON AT THE MOMENT?


Segal: Yes! I just finished editing my next short, The Lover's Manifesto or A Thesis on the Proceedings or Non-Proceedings of Love in Student Government. Expect that around July. I'm also in pre-production on two other shorts, Luna, a broad comedy, and Fervor, a surrealistic romance. Trying to get both done by the end of the year. I'm also producing Miles Dinou's The Hand and am in talks with a few other people to try to produce or at least distribute their stuff through IceEagle. 



WHAT ARE YOUR TOP FOUR FAVORITE FILMS? HOW HAVE THEY CHANGED THE WAY YOU WORK, OR THE WAY YOU SEE YOUR WORK?


Segal: Oh maaaan. I really hate ranking films. Let's see. Sion Sono's Love Exposure is the first one that jumps out at me because of just how grandiose it is emotionally, at least to me. It's four hours, a coming of age story, and has a really ridiculous, yet so devastating and grounded plot. It hasn't had the opportunity to affect my work quite yet, but it wouldn't surprise me if it sneaks up on me during Fervor's production.


Sergey Bondarchuk's War and Peace is another one that's stuck with me a lot recently. And that one's only seven hours. Maybe I just have a thing for long movies. In all seriousness, the way it manages to blend arthouse and entertainment so effectively is breathtaking to me and something I didn't know I wanted to achieve until I saw it, where now that crossroad done in that specific way might be the singular defining thing of my career goals. There's a bit of that sheer emotion on a grand scale in Lover's Manifesto. At least, as much as is possible in a three and a half minute short.


After that, I don't know. Inside Llewyn Davis and Mystery Train have been a part of who I am for ages. Those films mean more to me than most people would know. I'm currently writing this email under a Mystery Train poster hanging in my room.


Poster for THE LOVER'S MANIFESTO (2019).

YOUR PAST WORK ADDRESSES COMMON SUBJECT MATTER OF ALTERED REALITY AND INSANITY. ARE THERE ANY SUBJECTS YOU WANT TO ADDRESS IN THE FUTURE? WHY?


Segal: Altering reality is so fascinating to me because it can be used as such an effective tool towards or away from self-evaluation. The kids in The Long Way Down do crack and kill each other to escape who they really are: privileged, bored, suburban kids. Hypnagogia's Chet is totally unable to perceive any of his own shortcomings in his relationship with Nicole, and that lack of self-reflection is what ends up driving him crazy and into this endless feedback loop of him haunting himself and encouraging the same thought process. Melanie uses her heightened sense of reality as a path towards realization and she's the only one who comes out on top. I definitely want to get more political and romantic in upcoming films. I don't know how much I can bring to the table about the corrupting nature of power, but I'd like to try. Romance is such a personal genre that I feel like anyone can make a good romance film, they're just for different audiences for shared experiences. 



WHAT'S YOUR ABSOLUTE DREAM PROJECT? THIS CAN BE A THEME YOU WANT TO WORK ON, PEOPLE YOU WANT TO WORK WITH, OR JUST RANDOM CONCEPTS YOU THINK WOULD BE A LOT OF FUN TO WORK WITH.


Segal: I've been planning a Wolf of Wall Street-style Warren G. Harding biopic in my head for ages. I wrote a plot synopsis earlier this year and will definitely run with it as soon as I get the opportunity. The man had such a crazy life, in the worst way possible, and showing how that happened due to how he dealt with excess, power, and women who genuinely cared for him is such a cool idea for what could easily be a stuffy period piece, at least to me.



WHERE DO YOU WANT TO BE IN 5 YEARS?


Segal: Hopefully writing my first feature. I'd be out of college then I hope. If not, then working in a production office or something gearing up for that push.



WHAT DO YOU STRUGGLE WITH IN YOUR CREATIVE PROCESS? WHAT IS YOUR CREATIVE PROCESS IN GENERAL?


Segal: I think the biggest bump in my creative process is scheduling. In high school it's ridiculously hard to get everything and everyone together and it's not like I have a budget to pay people so they'd be incentivized to make time. Both Luna and Fervor have fallen through a few times just because I got discouraged in this point of the process and gave up for a few months.

Truman channeling Donna Sheridan.

My creative process in general? I write constantly, pretty much having a new script monthly.

If I think it's good enough AND fiscally attainable to shoot, I go for it. If not, I let it sit and use it just as practice, because any writing you do will make you a better writer. The next step is getting my production team together, which usually means seeing who's around to DP and produce. Then is the cast. Then the dreaded scheduling.


Production usually goes pretty smoothly for me, I do shotlists but not storyboards so there's some flexibility but also structure to make sure I'm getting the absolute baseline. After my script supervisor tells me we're all good on the shotlist and getting what needs to be done done, I'll get as much coverage and b-roll as I can depending on the time.


I usually edit alongside production to try to minimize the amount of work I have to do at once. After a few months of post-production, which is always the longest part of the process, I send it to a composer (I've used three) to write some stuff for it to enhance the pieces. Then, a few more edits.


Next, it gets sent to film friends to look at.


Finally, festivals. Then I release a trailer and gear up for release.

THANK YOU TO MY HOMIE TRUMAN FOR LETTING ME TORTURE HIM WITH QUESTIONS. AND TO THINK THIS FRIENDSHIP STARTED WITH A MOM AND DAD (2018) STREAM ON RABB.IT.

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