Every single year, Sundance Film Festival brings artists and audiences together for the premiere of groundbreaking work. This year, we had the opportunity to speak with many creatives and professionals who have worked on some of the incredible work being spotlighted at this incredible festival.
Director: Jake Van Wagoner
Project: Aliens Abducted My Parents And Now I Feel Kinda Left Out
Synopsis: A lighthearted yet touching family narrative set against the backdrop of the beautiful Utah landscape, Aliens Abducted My Parents and Now I Feel Kinda Left Out is a story about embracing what makes us different, finding belonging, and staying true to yourself.
How long have you been in the industry and where do you draw your inspiration from?
Jake Van Wagoner: I have been in the industry for 12 years now. Some of my favorite films are Hook, The Goonies, Back to the Future, Mrs. Doubtfire. Those 80s/90s movies with big imaginations, comedy and heart. I love how each of those films balances the comedy with grounded emotions. There’s also a character in each of those movies that everyone can relate to, and thats what I think is most interesting about the filmmaking. Creating characters that people can relate to.
What made you sign onto this project?
Jake Van Wagoner: I was looking for a film to direct that checked those boxes that I mentioned. When I heard the title from Austin (screenwriter) I didn’t need to hear anymore. I loved it. It said everything you need to know about the movie. It was quirky and fun, there was heart and emotion. It was an immediate yes.
How do you know if a film is going to get into Sundance?
Jake Van Wagoner: Ha. I am still in shock that we got in. We aren’t your typical Sundance film, but we submitted on a whim and I’m so grateful we did. I think if you make film that you put everything into, that is honest and grounded, you have a shot.
Can you describe what it was like collaborating with the other pros (like the director) about feedback?
Jake Van Wagoner: As the director and producer on the film, I relied a lot on the other producers on the film. We have worked together for years now, and we trust each other. We know each other’s strengths. When one of us is passionate about something, it’s a good sign that we need to trust those instincts. Working with Austin was amazing. We were synced up through the whole process. It was really nice to have so many people that I could trust throughout the process.
Do you have a favorite editing sequence? If so, what was it?
Jake Van Wagoner: I’m so proud of the film as a whole, but specifically the end sequence. The stars aligned during production for those scenes, and we were really able to nail them in the edit. Between the performances and the music and the camera movement, I’m very proud of that sequence.
Let's talk about your experience using Premiere Pro. What was that like? How did it help you accomplish your work?
Jake Van Wagoner: I love premiere. It’s intuitive, easy to use, and efficient. What advice would you have for directors on working with editors? Trust your instincts. Don’t worry if things aren’t working right away. Be patient and work together to get every scene right.