This week we had the opportunity to talk to two friends of Rough Copy, independent filmmakers Travis Hicks and Matt Allen. Hicks and Allen are two film graduates from Trident Technical College and recently collaborated on their first work, an audacious short comedy called Ticket to Ride. Ticket to Ride tells the story of two down on their luck friends hatching an elaborate revenge scheme against the convenience store clerk whose untimely break causes them to miss playing their weekly lotto numbers and costs them seventy million dollars.
We caught up to the duo and got to ask them a few questions before the premiere of Ticket to Ride at the Charleston International Film Festival, an annual event that draws independent talent from every corner of the globe.
Derek Stewart with Rough Copy: How did you guys meet and what sparked the idea for Ticket to Ride? How long have you been working with the cast and other members of development?
Travis and Matt: We met at Trident Technical College here in Charleston, SC where we both studied film production. While working on class projects, we realized had the same interest in film and shared the same sense of humor. Our collaborating started mainly with acting. Over the course of several years, we both independently wrote and directed films always keeping each other in mind for acting roles. Last winter, Matt returned to Charleston after graduating from The Savannah College of Art and Design. At this time, we were both itching to do another film and decided to take our collaboration to next level by co-writing and directing this project.
The initial concept for Ticket to Ride came from an experience that Travis had when attempting to buy a lottery ticket. We were set on doing a short comedy, so we took Travis' experience an began to elaborate on the basic idea of what you would do if something or someone kept you from playing your lottery numbers, only to find out later that your numbers hit the jackpot.
We've both worked with the two lead actors, Daniel Jones and Bruce Williamson, on previous films. They are both very talented actors and we have wanted to put them in something together for a while. While writing "Ticket To Ride" , we already had both of them in mind for the characters of Wendell and Phil. Harry Lipnick, the cinematographer, is a friend and colleague's of Matt's from SCAD. He was working for National Geographic in NYC when we sent him the script. He was also itching to make another film and quickly jumped on board. We approached Seamless Pictures, a local production company that we've worked with in the past, and they filled up most of the major production positions. We also used our Kickstarter campaign to recruit current students of Trident Technical College's film department. Our post-production team, Michael Howell ( Colorist) and Tyler Swafford (Sound Supervisor), are also SCAD alumni. Despite full time jobs in the industry, these guys worked tirelessly to help polish this film.
RC: Crowdsourcing is still a fairly new way for aspiring artists and entrepreneurs to raise funding for projects. People have used kickstarter.com to earn capital from a potential audience of millions for everything from board game development to building a farm. You guys used this to successfully fund Ticket to Ride. Can you tell us a little about what that process was like? What role did social media play in funding it?
Travis and Matt:Kickstarter is definitely a great avenue for raising money. You would think the majority of Kickstarter funds would come from family members, but we were surprised by the number of donations that came from friends,local investors, and producers. Social media is a definitely an indie filmmaker's best friend. It played a major role in reaching investors for the Kickstarter through sites such as Facebook and Twitter . It also had been a great marketing tool to build awareness of the project.
RC: Many people say comedy is subjective, but those people aren't very funny. What is the best comedy movie ever?
Matt: That's pretty much impossible to narrow down. However, if you had a gun to my head on this one, I would have to say "Raising Arizona"
Travis: "Ace Ventura"
Who are some of your comedic influences?
Matt: There are so many, but just to name a few: Writer/Directors: Joel and Ethan Coen, The Farelly Brothers, and Judd Apatow Actors: Jim Carrey, Gene Wilder, Buster Keaton, Ben Stiller, Will Ferrell, Jack Black, and Bill Murray
Travis: Jim Carrey, Bill Murray, Steve Martin and Bill Hicks are my biggest actor/comedian influences. As far as filmmaker comedic influences; definitely the Coen brothers, Wes Anderson, Charlie Kaufman, The Farrelly brothers, Woody Allen and the Monty Phython gang.
RC: From what we've seen in the trailer, Ticket to Ride looks like a truly unique comedy in a genre that has been fairly repetitive in recent years. At the same time it looks to pay homage to some of the classic buddy movies of the 90's. Could you tell us a little more about the creative process behind the movie?
Matt: Thank you for that compliment! We wanted to break the traditional "comedy formula" a little bit but still bring in the elements of quirkiness and wit seen in films like " Raising Arizona", "Dumb and Dumber" and "The Big Lebowski". We wanted the two main characters to feel like "loveable losers" almost like a middle-age version of Harry and Lloyd from "Dumb and Dumber". When creating the two foil characters, Steve and Carl, we wanted to create big personalities in average everyday people. What we ended up with was a mismatched crazy bunch of characters that entangle themselves in a night a chaos and hilarity.
RC: When did you first decide you wanted to go into film?
Matt: I have loved movies since I was a kid, but I made the decision to jump off the cliff into the land of filmmaking ( aka- long stints of unemployment, all night writing sessions, and dreams) when I couldn't imagine myself doing anything else with my life.
Travis: I've always enjoyed entertaining people from an early age. It was around high school that I started getting seriously interested in acting, which led to me wanting to write and direct my own material.
RC: Do you have any future projects in mind or is it too early to tell?
Travis: We're actually currently in the beginning process of development and writing for a new feature length comedy. Still a little too early to go into details.
RC: Lastly, we have to ask a question very important to the internet's heart. Would you rather fight a horse sized duck or a hundred duck sized horses?
Matt: No contest here, a hundred duck size horses, it would be like a scene from "300" and I would get to be the giant. I can't get the visual out of my head...
Disclaimer: one hundred sets of baby horse teeth would probably kill me
Travis: Tough one... I think I would have to go with a horse sized duck. I think I could take it, perhaps even get a ride out of it. One hundred duck sized horses I feel would be too distracting and ultimately they would get the better of me.