The last few years have been turbulent times for the fans of alt-rock chart-toppers Splender. Rumors of the band reuniting for a tour (and possibly another album) have been abundant as recently as 2011. While those projects never came to fruition, the group members have been keeping busy separately. Guitarist Jonathan Svec and bassist James Cruz joined the indie alternative rock group Edisun, while drummer Mark Slutsky is currently working with international touring artist Philip Sayce. The group’s lead singer Waymon Boone, however, has made the most drastic departure from his work with Splender.
Boone began directing music videos after Splender’s dissolution, and later was a member of a writing panel for the hit NBC show The Voice. He was also at the helm of the Sacramento rock trio Headrush for a time as well, creating and releasing new musical material which culminated in the Drive Me Out Of Here EP in 2005.
The main focal point of Boone’s career, however, revolves around the creation of his own film studio/ production company, Boondock Films. To date Boone has directed multiple music videos for various artists, as well as releasing several self-penned and directed short films which have gone on to garner awards (Daddy’s Little Girl – winner of Best Short at the Las Vegas Cine Film Festival and The Conversation – winner of Funniest Short Film at the Big TV Awards).
Currently Waymon is in the process of putting the finishing touches on his first feature-length film, The Devil’s in the Details, which he wrote and directed. The film stars Ray Liotta (Goodfellas, NARC, Identity) and Emilio Rivera (Sons of Anarchy, Collateral), wherein Liotta will portray Dr. Bruce Michaels, a military psychiatrist who finds himself caught in the middle of a deadly Mexican drug war.
Boone recently corresponded with Ampkicker.com to discuss the upcoming film release, his production company, the rumors revolving around his musical projects and his future enterprises.
AK: Firstly, let me thank you for taking a moment out to pen a few comments for our readers. It’s immensely appreciated—
Boone: It’s my pleasure.
How did you first get involved in directing? Prior to filming music videos had you done any other work behind the camera? Where did your technical skill set develop?
Well actually music is where I came from first, but when I went for my education I actually went to film school instead of music. I thought music was too instinctive for me to learn anything, but studying camera movements and Shakespeare seemed to fill spots that needed to be filled. I’ve always had a love and passion for the medium, but it seemed very intangible at the time. But I am someone who achieves every goal that he sets for himself.
I remember shooting a Splender music video and the director showed up drunk and out of it on the set and I started to direct the band out of necessity— (lol) I had the bug.
Where did the concept for “The Devil’s in the Details” germinate? Had you written the script prior to directing music videos, or did the concept come to you after having directed the videos and the short films you’ve done?
I set a goal that I wanted to shoot 10 music videos and 2 short films before I tackled a feature. That exact number for some reason. So I ended up exceeding those numbers by a lot and got involved with the rap mogul Master P. I shot music videos for his entire family and did his TV show pilot. So then stepping up to direct features was simply a natural progression and overdue from my original numbers.
Strangely, being the lead singer of a band that toured the world non-stop and signed to three major labels and its structures also prepared me for this job. There’s more responsibility than can be imagined commanding a crew of 4 to 50 any given day and dealing with various actors, allowing them to still find their way while directing what you need.
I moved back to L.A., built a film studio (Boondock Films) and got to work. My “Wally-World,” as I call it.
I literally woke up one day in a panic and called my brother Justin, who’s also my producer, and said, “30 days from now we’re shooting a movie. I don’t know who, what, when, where, or how, but it shall be done.” He looked at me sideways and said, “Ok.”
I had had the script… it was really a scene actually. It was about a man walking into a bar and meeting a 2nd man. They talk about life and drink. Then the 1st man wakes up, kidnapped in a bunker and the 2nd man enters the room and says, “Why did you sleep with my wife?”
That was all I had. Then I came across this news story about a man who was kidnapped in Arizona by a drug cartel and it was the missing link to my scene. Then I quickly developed it into a full script.
Then a funny thing happened, I got a little cocky (lol) and I thought.. “Hey, this script is pretty damn good,” and, “I wonder what it would be like if I could get a casting agent involved?” Something I had never worked with at the time.
So I made random calls out of the yellow pages to about 8 casting agents. Every one of them either hung up the phone on me, or I’m still waiting for a return call: except one. This fantastic woman named Emily Schweber, she took sympathy on me I think (lol). She said, “Listen, you sound like a nice guy and passionate about what you’re trying to do. The most I can say is I’ll read it. If I like it, I’ll help you.”
That’s all I could ask. She took it over the weekend and then called Monday and said, “I love this. I want to cast the entire movie.” I was blown away.
We shot principle photography then ran out of money (lol). So I cut a trailer to simply beg for cash, and the trailer managed to get into the hands of two studios who then both bid on buying the film from me. We then later sold it again at Cannes. So, inside of one year of doing this I had already sold a feature film in Hollywood twice. It’s an independent film maker’s dream story come to life: Just as I had accomplished in music.
Did you write the script with any actors in mind? Were you expecting to land someone of Liotta’s pedigree?
No not at all. It’s a very life-changing event when your phone randomly rings and it’s Ray Liotta on the phone saying, “I love your script. Let’s make a movie, dammit!”
There is a template for Ray’s involvement with visionary new directors, for instance Joe Carnahan on NARC— To your knowledge, did that influence or impact this project garnering his interest?
Strange you should ask that. I’m actually friends with Carnahan and had cut a trailer for this film he was interested in doing. Unknown to me, Liotta had actually called Carnahan to make sure I was real, so-to-speak.
I later sent Carnahan a giant gift basket, because Liotta played as pivotal a part in Carnahan’s career as he did mine. Working with Ray was the greatest thing to happen to me. He’s so very specific in details: very few broad strokes with that man. He seemed to be impressed with the speed and quality of changes I would make to suit the character better. He plays a military therapist, so things had to be just right.
Where does your vision as a director emanate from? Do you have any personal favorite directors or films that you draw/ drew any inspiration from?
Well I’m a huge Hitchcock fan, period. Anyone that knows me know that. He redefined cinema. I also love this generation of directors. I think Danny Boyle is my favorite. David Fincher, Edgar Wright, and Darren Aronofsky are at the top of their game and, of course, Michael Mann.
I know there was a significant clamor for more Splender material, and there was a discussion of the group reforming for a tour as recently as 2011— Now the indication is that there will be new material included for the soundtrack for the film. Is that still the plan? How many tracks should we expect?
Well, that one I’m not sure about. We were going to reunite, make a new record and tour a couple of years ago, but it never happened. We’ve talked about the idea of maybe doing a few new tracks for one of my films. So we’ll see.
What is the current status of the Headrush project? Will that material ever see a release? Is it being incorporated into any ongoing music projects?
No, unfortunately that will never see the light of day. It was an amazing band and experience and people. We cut a full album at the time called Weight Of the Water, but the label folded and drowned right before its release and took the steam out of the entire engine. Almost a day after that happened I had got a call from Mike Shipley (who mixed the Splender and Headrush albums, not to mention everyone from Green Day to Tim Mcgraw). He had this band from Australia that he wanted to co-produce with me. So that’s where things headed at the time.
Personally, your musical material was a revelation in regards to how lush the sonic landscape of an album can be (with the layered vocal harmonies, atmospheric guitar, etc.). Do you feel your work in the visual medium is similarly tiered?
I certainly hope so. I am a perfectionist, but film will take me more time to get there because it’s not as self-centered as music can and should be. A lot more layers of work to the cake need to perfect it. The credits on my albums have 3-4 musicians: the credits on a film are much, much more.
Do you feel there is a mood you were trying to evoke with your first feature, or were more looking to find your footing in the directorial role? I know your director of photography and lighting directors have a major impact on the look of the film: did you have any set ideas of the type of “look” you wanted the film to have? For instance, David Fincher and Coen Brothers’ films have a definite identity in the visual sense— would you say you had a thought for the atmosphere you wanted to create?
Well for the most part I wanted it to be claustrophobic and uncomfortable. I had a definite look I wanted to go. The film takes place about 60% in one room. We used old 60’s Anamorphic lenses and shot everything on Reds (RED cameras): the red one, the Scarlet and the Epic.
Are there any other projects you’ll be beginning now that this film is wrapping up? I know the editing and marketing of a film is a very involved process – but what’s on the horizon after this film’s release?
Well right now the film is being completed in the last stages of post. My job is done on it. I have 4 more scripts that I’ve written and really want to do. Like music, I’m a go-getter and overly ambitious. I’ve said many a time that my T-shirt reads, “Fuck it. Go for it.” (lol) But it looks like my next movie will be a heist film I’m almost done writing called The Future Of Money.
Splender fans will certainly be pleased to know that the group has certainly not faded into obscurity, and film fans should be eager to feast their eyes on The Devil is in the Details when it hits theaters in 2013. Stay tuned…
For fans of: NARC (Joe Carnahan), Collateral (Michael Mann), Sons of Anarchy, Basic (John McTiernan)