Spotlight on Screenwriter/Director Adrian Roman

I would like to welcome Adrian Roman to the BTS Entertainment Corner this time. Some of you may remember his name from the last column, my interview with Jessica Bell, as he’s the director of The Blood Thins in which Jessica is the lead actor. Here is some more information on Adrian.

Adrian Roman is a screenwriter-turned-director. His award-winning feature screenplays include Cilla and Cole (an updated Bonnie and Clyde), Dick Sloan (A Sophomoric Comedy), and Nickolas Venture (A Redemption Story). Adrian’s short screenplay, Civil Conversations (Political Drama) has received International notoriety. He has directed several shorts, TV commercials and infomercials as well has his first feature film, Ashes to Ashes (Romantic Thriller) in post production.

A quote from Adrian “Film, not unlike any other visual art form, can inform and transport us. At its best, we have both an emotional and intellectual response to it.”

1. Well, Adrian, let’s start from the beginning—that is, your beginning. Where were you born, where did you grow up, and when did you get into writing? 

I was born in Queens, Astoria, New York. My parents moved to the Washington, D.C., area when I was three. Then, when I was eleven, we moved to the mountains of Maryland to a very small town called Thurmont. Camp David, the President’s retreat, is there. I started writing short stories and poetry when I was seven years old.

2. As a writer, producer and director, do you ever feel like wearing so many hats on a project can be an advantage or can it be too much sometimes? Do you take a break after a project? I know I do. Or, do you jump right into something else?

Wearing many hats to get a film completed is extremely taxing. I always say I’m going to take a break after principal photography but the reality is that I am usually the Editor as well, so breaks are few and far between. I always have multiple projects going so while I am in Post Production on one film, I am also in Pre-Production on another.

3. I got to see you in action on the set of The Blood Thins and you were very focused. How do you flush out a scene, is it in your head as you write the screenplay, does it hit you when you get to the set, or is it a little of both? 

It’s both. I see it as I am writing and I try to do as thorough and detailed a Pre-Production as possible, but, I allow myself to enjoy the collaborative experience with everyone on set. Sometimes people have a thought, an idea, that never occurred to me and I know when we should try it. It’s exciting when something spontaneous happens on set.

4. What do you expect from the actors you work with, complete adherence to the script, a little wiggle room here and there, or are you very loose with suggestions and improv within the scene? 

It’s rare to get to do a Table Read where adjustments and changes can be made without the pressure of shooting so I generally stick with the script. I like to see what an actor has in mind first, on how they want to play it, and then work with them from there. There have been times when an actor does something that I never imagined when I wrote the script, sometimes it’s magical and beautiful. That said, I generally know how I want the film and the scenes to feel, how they should move, and I trust my instincts. But again, some actors and crew have ideas and I will say, “That’s it, that’s better!” I like ideas as long as no one gets “butt-hurt” if I say no. I do know what I want when it comes to the end result.

5. As an independent artist (not just films, you do paint and play music as well), how has the industry changed for you in the last several years? Social media–good or bad for Indies? 

I can sit alone and play music or stand at my easel and paint. I write alone. Filmmaking is collaborative, which is both wonderful and challenging. With the advent of DSLRs and iPhones, the industry is flooded with content; but not always great content.

On the other hand, look at how many outlets there are now. A film can be successful and profitable and doesn’t necessarily need a theater run. I’m not competing with the ninety-thousand good films made worldwide, I’m competing with the five hundred great films. I need a great screenplay (story), great acting, and great sound to make a film people will like. If it is cinematic and has a great score, then all the better. People just want to watch a great story, when filmmakers forget that, they’re dead.

On the topic of Social Media, I think it’s good for making connections and keeping up with and supporting everyone.

6. When can folks out there expect to see your upcoming projects and where might they find them—past projects as well? 

The Blood Thins is very close to a release but I am at the mercy of Post Production Sound. I’ve been approached by five distribution companies but Executive Producer Scott James and I are not ready to cut a deal with them.  We are working on our distribution plan. We’ve learned that you have to be very careful with distributors.

We don’t want our film to get buried under a sea of films that are very low quality. As far as past projects, I have another feature, Ashes to Ashes, but it’s had contractual entanglements with one of the lead actors and I’m not sure when that will get resolved. Then, there is both The Tome, a Horror/Comedy and Pale Darkness, a Detective/Serial Killer Crime Drama. These are completed scripts in various stages of development.

7. Any advice for up and coming filmmakers? Warnings, or any regrets? 

If someone wants to advance their career as a filmmaker, then I believe they need to start thinking about making a feature and get away from shooting one short after another. You can make a hundred shorts but when it comes to getting funding to shoot a feature, you are still considered a “First-Time Director” until you’ve made a feature.

The shorts I made were great training-ground projects as I did not go to film school. Indie filmmakers need to know that they will sometimes be doing ten jobs to get the film in the can. It’s a lot of hours. I have no regrets. I chose to do this and can’t imagine doing anything else. It’s not a part-time job for me, it’s twelve to fifteen hours a day, six days a week…sometimes seven. I’ve always loved movies and making films means I get to tell visual stories and make art; so for me it’s worth it. It’s easy to make bad movies and brutally hard to make a good one, but I’m up for that. The Blood Thins is a film I’m proud of and it was a pleasure because everyone who worked on it were all beautiful people.

I was lucky. It will be released soon.

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Comedian Brian T Shirley has been in the Business for 20 + years. His act is derived from growing up poor, divorce, the USAF, partying, relationships, infomercial's, sports, and more. He has performed all over the U.S., Canada,The Bahamas and Japan. He also works Country Clubs and corporate events all over the U.S. He has done special engagements such as a tour of Japan to entertain the troops, opening for Huey Lewis and The News, The "Laughter for Love" benefit for Va. Tech, & a Country music festival for Dodge trucks. Brian has performed @ The Jokers Wild Comedy Club inside the Atlantis Resort on Paradise Island,The Bahamas & for Carnival Cruise Lines. Brian is also a philosopher.he's written 2 books of wisdom &wise sayings called "Make Love Not Warts", and "Four Score and Seven Beers Ago..." (Which recently won the "Amazing Book Cover Art Award" in a contest sponsored by LeRue Press) BRIAN"S THIRD BOOK , "A Funny Thing Happened on the Way to the Club" contains short stories about his life on the road as a professional comedian. Brian has created and hosts a WEB Series about being a stand-up comedian on the road called "BTS On The Raod" which can be seen on Youtube, American Hearts Radio WEB TV Network every Saturday @ 8 PM EST and in the online magazine No Strings Attached-E News. Brian's a weekly guest host on a segment called "BTS Entertainment Corner" on Janice Hermsen's radio program "What's The Story" every Friday @ 2:30 PM EST on Brian also co-hosts a monthly radio show on The Lina Jones Diamond Network called "The Lina and Brian Hour". Brian has done Voice over work for the award winning WEB Series "U.S.E." (2014) and the feature film "Inside Ben" (2016) and he's a main character in the animated feature "Professor Gravitron Saves The Universe" (2016).