Flyover Film Festival Director Ryan Daly asks Will Oldham about his recent stint in the short film Pioneer.
Q. How did this project come about?
A. David Lowery wrote to me and explained the idea of the film. That’s how the project
came to my attention.
Q. How long was the shoot? Were there a lot of rehearsals and did the script
develop as the result of the rehearsals?
A. The script was fully-formed, and the final edited on-screen dialog is only modified as
a result of the spontaneity of Myles. The shoot was two full days. If I remember right,
there was a day and a half of rehearsal, in Dallas, that both Myles and I were a part of.
Q. You began acting at a young age, as an adult what are some of the challenges in working with a young colleague?
A. Myles’s father was a unique force, in that he wanted Myles to do well, and at the
same time he had great respect for Lowery’s direction, and an obvious love and respect
for Myles. The “challenge” of working with a younger fellow is a welcome challenge;
there had to be a bond of communication between him and me for things to work. The
innocence was in him, and I had to learn how to get him to give it up to me.
Q. What are some of the benefits the short film offers that a traditional feature cannot?
A. I have a weakness for movies with a great economy of cast and location. The short
allowed, in this case, Lowery to rely on two people and one location to bring the writing
to life. I won’t say I speak for everyone on the crew, but I would guess that PIONEER
for most of us was liberating in its restrictions. It appears harder to use such limited
resources over a feature-length movie without the movie becoming weighted down by its
execution, and the focus drifting away from the content of the script (which could be the
aim if the script is negligible).
Q. Is it still important to watch cinema in a community environment?
A. It depends on the film. Sometimes it packs a harder punch to witness the intensely
private in a public space, and there are times when the safety and comfort of a private
place helps a movie work. Taking in a movie is always about connecting with others,
regardless. I think Dave Bird and I watched THE TRANSPORTER on a laptop while
sitting on the floor of the Philadelphia airport, and this was a perfect hybrid experience.