Scotty Wright [Interview]

Today we have a pretty unique interview that I am excited to share with you fine folks. Scotty Wright is a brilliant mind, who is working his way into the world of film and television starting from the ground up. And he is doing it in a place that is rapidly becoming known for its plethora of great talent that may be a reason as to why so much great talent and art is (slowly) beginning to be brought to the world. The city is Nashville. While it has always been a staple in the world of music, we are beginning to see even more of the city in the world of film and television. Granted, country music is still a major player in the Nashville scene, as it will always be, and has definitely interwoven itself into the film and television community. But, thanks to folks like Scotty and others in the Nashville film community, it is sure to rise above its neighbors, and have a thriving out pour of amazing works of art to share with the world.

And on a side/different note, Scotty is also my….cousin(?). My father married into his family almost 20 years ago, and they have been a delightful bunch to get to know. I have only met Scotty once in my life, which was at my dad’s wedding just outside of Nashville, when I was 14, circa 1999. Scotty is a few years younger than me, and being an angst riddled 14 year old who recently discovered Eminem back then, I’m sure we didn’t communicate much. But, now we are all grown up and leading our own leaves across the globe. And while I haven’t seen Scotty in almost 20 years, I did manage to have a helluva good time with his old man & mine at a Scorpions show at the Grand Ole Opry in 2016, featuring some amazing hot chicken as well. While this has absolutely nothing to do with what I wanted to talk about with Scotty, I thought it was a fun little antidote some of you may give a shit about. Also, both of these occasions are the only time I have stepped foot in the city of Nashville, and I have to say they were both incredible, and I have a fondness for the city that I don’t truly understand. I just know that I am always rooting for them to succeed.

So Ladies and Gentlemen, I shall stop the rambling, and share some great words with a man who will surely be the future of the world of Nashville cinema, and the world of film altogether. Please enjoy some amazing words from the brilliant Scotty Wright!

When did you first develop your love for the world of filmmaking? Where did the passion stem from?

I very clearly remember seeing 2 movies in theaters growing up. The first was Mr. Holland’s Opus. My parents took me with my grandfather to the theater and I was just mesmerized despite being about 4. The second was Muppet Treasure Island. My parents got me a cassette of the soundtrack and I must have run that tape on repeat for at least a year. Both my parents really encouraged me to read growing up. If I was bored, it was “go read a book,” so I tended to spend a lot of time in stories. It really wasn’t until Chris Nolan’s The Dark Knight was in production that I took notice of filmmaking as an art and a profession. From the day they announced Heath Ledger to play The Joker, to me sitting in the Opry Mills 70mm IMAX theater in Nashville, I would check all the movie blogs and websites I could find to figure out how they were doing it. With a lot of encouragement from some incredible teachers in high school, I decided to pivot from a musical direction in college to an entirely film production course. This took a lot of people by surprise, my parents, scoutmasters, friends. But it ended being the best decision I could have ever made. In May it will have been 3 years since I graduated with a Bachelor’s Degree from Middle Tennessee State University, my mother Kathy’s alma mater. Since then I have worked on multiple feature films, worked on countless Reality and Scripted television shows for major Network and Cable outlets, and travelled the world doing what I love.

I have been hearing through the proverbial grape vine that things are really heating up in the Nashville film scene. Historically it has been a music town, but what is happening in the world of film? Is there a community of talented folks such as yourself that we should all be watching out for?

I would hesitantly agree that prospects for Film production are heating up in Nashville. I say hesitant because while there is a solid community of talented filmmakers here, we as a city are lacking some vital ingredients that would really put is in an even better position. Being a music town, there’s a constant need for video content in the form of music videos, tour content, or live event recording, but film is a whole other beast. It has been exciting to see feature films like Novitiate and Lovesong and so many others, but I would love to see more. The hard part is that Atlanta is so close and they have a much better infrastructure in place for consistent feature production. There is more money incentivized by the State to film there, there are more rental houses, there are more specialized shops; in general, it’s a bigger city with all the benefits (and negatives) of that. What Nashville has going for it are its people, who I have been lucky enough to work with for 5 years now, and they are incredibly talented and ready to break though on bigger projects, but unfortunately the jobs don’t always come to town. I like to say that Nashville has the talent and Nashville has the crew, but we don’t quite have the cash or the space or all the resources that go into Major feature films with multi-million dollar budgets. Those things take time and lobbying to our local representatives, which many colleagues have been working towards for years with only recent support.

Recently you worked on two comedy specials filmed in Nashville. One was Brad Paisley’s Comedy Rodeo, and the other was one of my favorite specials of 2017, Bill Burr: Walk Your Way Out. If you are able, can you give us an insider’s look into working on projects like these? What was it like behind the scenes of events like these?

First of all, thanks for watching! It never gets old hearing that someone has seen a project that you worked on because the process takes so long, and depending on what it is, I might be pretty far removed from the project by the time it is released. On Bill Burr’s show, I was contacted by a production company that got my info from a crew that I had worked with previously on a Jim Jeffries taping in Nashville. They called most of us back to work on Cedric the Entertainer Show as well, and these types of shows like calling the same people because they understand the format and how the day is gonna go generally. On Bill Burr, I was a Production Assistant assigning walkie talkies to various members of the crew and assisting with general requirements like Craft Service, Lunches for Crew. Its pretty cool to see a high level creative person in the midst of their process and this certainly was one of those occasions. Mr. Burr came in and was very focused the whole day on his performance and talking through the different angles with our Director and Director of Photography. I remember specifically him spending a lot of time on the opening shot of that special because its a Steadicam move. A friend of mine, Tony Reyes, is a brilliant Steadicam operator and he was rehearsing that scene with Mr. Burr for awhile until they were both certain it was going to work smoothly.

On the Brad Paisley special, it was a lot of the same crew again, however this time, I had started working in the camera department. Unfortunately, we were a little understaffed that day, so with that  I was lucky enough to get bumped up from Production Assistant to 2nd Assistant Camera, which means instead of grabbing lunches, I was assisting the 1st AC with building the camera rigs and helping the Camera Operators test their shots. I knew the 1st AC, Marsha, from several jobs before and recognized that I was capable and pulled me into her department as quick as she could and knowing her, I did exactly what she told me to! For these types of live standup shows, we run about 6 cameras on various setups: tripods, dollies or sliders, handheld, and Jib. The shows being about an hour and a half, we have to stay pretty on it to make sure that before the show starts, before rehearsal starts, that our cameras won’t run out of power or memory (for the recording), so it involves a lot of planning and heavy work on the front end. During the show, we try to be as aware as possible to the needs of our Camera Operators, but you can keep eye and ear out while you watch some of the show.

In your heart of hearts, what would you consider to be your dream project to work on, in any capacity? What would you consider to be your masterpiece should you manage to get your hands on it?

Oh man. Super easy. If I ever get the chance to work on a James Bond movie, a Spider-Man film, or a Batman picture, I could die happily the next day. I have loved those characters since I was a kid. Part of what’s made them so fascinating is how well they have been reinvented time and time again and how each incarnation finds it own place in audience’s minds and hearts. An opportunity to put my spin on one of those characters or be involved with it would be a dream-come-true.

That being said, I have a real soft spot for documentaries, having made a couple shorts in college. I also love the art of interviewing; people like Dick Cavett, David Letterman, Stephen Colbert, James Lipton, and many others make simple conversation so compelling that you forget how difficult it can be to open up to another person let alone on TV or film. Some sort of documentary into the subject and art of interview and interviewers would be really compelling to me.

What does the future hold for you? Anything you would like to plug to our readers?

Well hopefully quite a bit! In the Summer of 2017, I accepted a postion as a writer for 615 Film. We write film criticism and reactions to recent news. I have been an irregular contributor to the podcast Poor Man’s Movie Reviews (available on iTunes) for about 9 months. At the begining of January, I finished work on a new show for CMT, called Music City, that will begin airing in March. I worked as a staff Digital Imaging Technician on that show which was an incredible learning experience to be the middleman between the Production team and the Post Production Team in Los Angeles. I can’t wait for people to start seeing that. I am currently working on a new show for E! that unfortunately I can’t say too much about thanks to legally binding paperwork. In terms of film, my friend Tiffany Murray, an excellent 1st Assistant Camera, wrote and directed her third short film that we filmed in Nashville at the end of January, and hope to have finished around Summer-time to hit the film festival circuit. I, myself, have a film in the late stages of composing and mixing that will be testing those waters soon as well.

What was the last thing that made you smile?

I was scrubbing through footage on a show one night to make my regular Media logs, whenI got an email from the Director of Photography asking me to double check something for him. He jokingly signed the email “miss you,” because my hours are so different from everyone else’s and i’m always in my windowless room at the Production Office that he only sees me maybe for half an hour every day. Its really nice when working with out of town crews and new people to mesh well and have a solid friendly professional relationship. The hours are pretty intense. We work 12 hour days sometimes 5-7 days in a row, so getting along with your crew is massively important, so little things like that where my boss is joking with me are a really nice sign that the job is going alright.

Check out this first look of Music City that premieres on CMT, March 1st:

About rontrembathiii
write. write. write.

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