June 26th 2012
GNW Exclusive - An interview with Jak Locke
interview by: W.D. Conine

Jak Locke, previously featured on Geek New Wave for his video game, Black Lodge 2600, has sat down with us recently to talk about his upcoming film project; "Targeted" and "Targeted!!!". His group is currently trying to raise money for the two short films via an IndieGoGo campaign you can find here and Jak Locke's personal website can be found here.

Jak Locke: I never quite know what to call what I do. I've heard that whatever brings in most of your income is what you are, but I hate that. Like, someone who works as a cashier has just as much potential for depth and humanity as anyone else does, but a lot of people only care to make the easy classification and move on. So I make a living as a musician but I like to create as many different kinds of things as I can.

W.D. Conine: And your next creation you're working on now is a multi-part film project, "Targeted" and "Targeted!!!". What can you tell us about this project?

JL: They're two western short films that share settings and characters but have extremely different plots. One goes for a stylish action feel that tells a story of hubris and betrayal, and the other is a truly terrible script I wrote when I was 6 about a young man learning the ropes of an old west town. We'll be shooting both films simultaneously with the same cast, crew and attention to detail.

WD: What compelled you to do this? Why this western script specifically and why film your original, 6-year-old version?

JL: I wrote lots of scripts when I was growing up, and my friends and I would shoot many of them on my parents' camcorder. Last month I was archiving old Atari 8-bit floppy disks to my PC and ran across a document of one of the scripts called "Targeted!!!" that I'd written when I was 6 that we never filmed. I showed it to some friends of mine and one of them joked that I should film it.

It was such a bad idea that I couldn't stop thinking about it! I thought, wouldn't it be funny to shoot this pointless story and horrible dialogue with the most loving attention to direction and presentation? I started researching historical fashions, weapons and locations and began pricing wardrobe and props.

Eventually there was so much money and so many talented people dedicated to the project that I realized it'd be an awful waste of great resources to just do the joke film and call it a day. I'd really regret it if I did that! So I wrote a new story and script earlier this month using many of the same characters and settings. We're all very excited to put it all together.

WD: How in depth are you going with the period? In your announcement video, you talked about the props involved, having clothes made specifically for the film. Are you going to an old western type of town or renovating select locations for the film?

JL: The theme from the beginning for this has been "as much accuracy as we can manage!" I've done hours and hours of research on so many different aspects of life in the mid-to-late 1800s over the past few weeks. Revolver loading mechanisms, history of the military and the Pinkerton agents, even common slang, some of which I've found myself using without realizing it until I get the confused looks!

For being in south Louisiana, we've found some fantastic places, particularly for many of the interior scenes that will only require minimal set dressing. We shot the announcement video in the location we'll be using for the saloon scene, which is actually an old abandoned dance hall just sitting in the back of a diner in Thibodaux. That's how we've come across most of our locations so far -- somebody knows somebody who has a really great place and will let us shoot. So we've definitely got a good DIY ethic in action with things like that, and we've also got very experienced and professional people in the crew. I think that sort of duality is very cool, and I'm hoping the best of both worlds will be the result.

WD: How much experience do you have in film? Is this your biggest project?

JL: Not counting the things I made as a kid and teenager which I'm sure are scattered across a few dozen VHS tapes somewhere, I've directed and edited five of my music videos and about fifteen short subject films which are all linked at jaklocke.com. I've acted in a few independent films too, which is always very educational. I learned more from one day on a set than I ever did reading books about it.

"Targeted" / "Targeted!!!" is definitely the biggest film project I've ever attempted. I think the highest budget so far was two dollars for one of the music videos which we used to buy a Wall Street Journal that appeared in one of the segments for maybe ten seconds. I like what we've been able to do up to this point with no money, so I'm really excited about what we might be capable of if we don't have to cut so many corners as we're used to. It's also the largest team I've worked with in any medium.

WD: Do you have any plans or ideas for the eventual release of the films? Film festivals or the like?

JL: I'm going to submit it to as many film festivals as I can find! What's the point of making something if not to share it with others? If nothing else, there will be an eventual DVD release that will have both films and a lot of extras. I've got ideas for some crazy tie-ins that are going to be a lot of fun too -- a retro-style game, a ridiculously bowdlerized "children's audiobook" adaptation of the updated script, and a soundtrack album to name a few.

WD: It's been awhile since westerns had a major presence in film. Are you a big fan of the genre or was the old west just a fun setting for the script?

JL: I have to guess that 6-year-old me liked westerns enough to want to write his own! Really though, there's such a rich persona to the era, even if you're going strictly by-the-book historically, that a lot of the scenes and situations nearly write themselves. What a charismatic period. I can see why so many westerns were made, they're a whole lot of fun to write.

WD: Going into this project with a budget, with real money invested by many people, does that change how you view the project? Is it a bit intimidating?

JL: In my music career I've always said that I put on the same show whether there's 20,000 people watching or 2 people watching, and this isn't any different. Rather than being intimidating, it's really extremely energizing and encouraging to know that others are as interested as we are in seeing these made. Having a larger budget simply makes more things possible.

WD: Once the Targeted films are finished, assuming all goes well, do you think you'll continue making fully produced films?

JL: Yeah, I could definitely see doing this sort of thing again and again. It's overwhelming in a good way. Getting to each next step is extremely rewarding, and there are a lot of steps so I can easily see a potential for addiction here.

WD: Well, thank you for your time. Lets finish up with one more question. What does film, the artistic medium, mean to you?

JL: Film's always fascinated me because it's a balanced collaboration of a lot of different artforms, isn't it? Writing, pacing, visual composition, acting, music and sounds -- they all have to work well and work together. Change one element and you can completely change the whole film. People and elements working together. That's what film is to me.

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