ED- The Eerie Digest is thrilled to introduce Writer/Director/Producer Alyn Darnay from the East Coast’s land of sunshine, Florida. Alyn it’s so great to see so many great works being created on the East Coast. Many viewers have forgotten that Film does not totally revolve around Hollywood. Tell us about your beginnings and how you have risen in the film business.
AD- Thanks for asking Joseph, and yes there is great work going on in Florida, always has been. As to my beginnings here’s a condensed version. I began in LA, as most of us have. I was a reader first, and then did work at MGM and 20th before settling down at Famous Players Corp. under Academy Award Winner Albert Zugsmith. Learned a lot from that guy. Then I took off for Europe and worked on films for companies in Rome, Paris and England. Back in the States 4 years later I found a home in Chicago doing commercials for some of the biggest agencies and companies in the world. Proctor & Gamble, McDonald’s, NBC, Sears, Volkswagen, Conoco Oil, Kraft, M&M Mars, Oscar Meyer, Hilton, Gerber, Entenmann’s, Swift & Company, Green Giant, and Quaker to name a few. I moved to Miami in 1992 and formed Chaos Films to provide Film, Video, and HD services throughout South Florida, The Keys, and the Caribbean.
AD- Chaos Films has had a long successful and award winning history working on everything from Features to Commercials, Music Videos to Corporate and Educational Documentaries. At first we worked almost exclusively with companies coming in from Europe to shoot here, mostly commercials, music videos, and films. We opened a branch office in Stockholm for a few years that coordinated those projects and also did work throughout Europe. That ended with 9/11 when no one wanted to fly anymore and companies found closer locations in Morocco and the south of Spain. We shifted to more music videos, commercials, corporate documentaries, and production management in the US and opened another office in Chicago for a couple of years to handle additional work from the Midwest. Now we’ve condensed our service area and stay strictly in South Florida, with occasional jaunts to Nassau and several nearby islands. Which is fine, since we can duplicate any location around the world right here, easily, and with more good shooting days than LA. There’s a reason we’re called the Sunshine State.
ED- How do you define the team behind Chaos Films?
AD- Talented. I don’t know where LA production companies ever got the idea that there was no good production or acting talent in Florida. Absurd. I’ve worked with some of the best people in this business and I find their equivalent living and working right here in Florida. At one time Chaos Films was 20 creators strong; but now we’ve redesigned the
team as a small, talented and dedicated film unit. Lean by design and expandable as needed with some great freelance specialists we work with all the time. Designing the team to the specs of each project gets our clients the best product for their bucks.
ED- You have created many commercials for some well known brands, please tell us about these.
AD- We’ve done a lot, the company’s credit list is several pages long and includes such companies as H&M, Disney, RC Cola, Taco Bell, Perry Ellis, Ericsson, Snapple, Ferrari, E!, Times Mirror, Workforce One, Department of Urban Renewal, and London Equities, but then again we’ve been around for about 18 years now. So instead of listing them all let’s suppose I talk about two of my favorite projects.
South Florida is the Marine Capital of the America’s, there are more boats here than anywhere else. “Marine Industries Association of South Florida” came to us and wanted a commercial and film made to entice people to take jobs in the industry since there was big need for new employees. So we looked into it and found that they couldn’t even explain the diversity of the industry or where it all fit together. So we figured it out for them and created a Multi-Part Film and an Educational Interactive DVD that was so successful that it exceeded it’s original parameters, won many awards, and wound up in every college library in the US and many more abroad.
The Food Network was about to launch a new show staring Ming Tsai and they wanted to shoot a series of promos in the Keys. Their show had an action theme and needed to show Ming doing everything from deep-sea fishing to underwater harvesting to cycling down the road to cooking and baking at a fully functioning kitchen set on the beach. We were given two days to put it together and two days to shoot it. This was in the height of tourist season, which made it harder, and some of the ingredients Ming wanted to use, that we needed to show him catching, such as spiny lobster was out of fishing season. We shot it down on Isla Morada, arranged everything including casting, land crew, high speed cameras, underwater crew with cameras and housings, transportation, permits, housing, meals, boats, gear, fisherman, and state fishing clearances all in 48 hours. This difficult shoot went off with out a hitch and we created promos with stunning images. The Food Network was very happy.
ED- Music Videos are your forte as well; please tell us about these and some of the groups that you have featured in them.
AD- Again there have been so many, but there were a few that stand out in my mind for one reason or another. Bliona is a pop singer from Albania with a hard-edged angelic Rock sound. We didn’t know at the time that she was the most popular singer in her country; we just liked her voice and look. The song was called “Boom Boom Boom” a catchy number with a great hook. We did two versions of the song, one in English, one in Albanian. It was all shot around Miami, on several beaches, in speeding hot cars with a follow crane, from helicopters, and then in a Mansion we had decorated specially for an intricate dance number. It came out beautifully and played in Albania day and night for months.
Another one I liked was for a fantastic British Girl Group called Fierce. They did an undated version of an old Anita Baker tune called “Sweet Love”. We shot it on 10th Avenue Beach in a day and a half. It was an amazing shoot in that aside from all the actions and stories we were telling we built a full size dance stage from scratch on the beach in front of the Deco Beach Patrol Building complete with 600 mini-lights for a full company of dancers and the girls. It became the most requested video on MTV Europe for weeks.
Lastly, there are the Hip Hop Videos, always interesting, always-high energy, and always challenging; in ways you’d never expect. I have so many stories, but the ones that really stand out were with Ali Vegas, OOWEE, and Petey Pablo.
AD- With pleasure. “BarTicks” is a short I was tinkering with back in 1997. I created this weird little comedy about four guys who inhabit a Tiki Bar somewhere in South Florida. I wrote, directed, and played all the roles and it appeared as though they were all talking to each other. Funny piece. The IFP/South sponsored it and it won an award at the Ft Lauderdale Film Festival. I pulled it after the Fest and put it away until Michael Posner of the Delray Beach Film Festival asked me about it earlier this year. He wanted to run it in front of a film by Jerry Van Dyke. I said ok. The audience loved it, who’d a thunk it. So I got this idea to update the film, combine the existing footage with new footage of these crazy guys 13 years later, and show what they are like now around the Bar. I’m going to shoot it later this year.
“Smooth Operator” is a film I shot from a script by my partner in crime Larry Gotterer. He’s the funniest man in the world and his award winning writing is the best. He wrote this script and I wanted to do, but a company in California had an option on it. When the option expired, I convinced him we should do it ourselves and we did. It’s a dark comedy about a woman who’s taking apart her husband piece by piece, literally. It’s screened at 8 Film Festivals around the world so far.
“Bummed Out” is our current project. It’s the pilot for a cable series. All I can say about it is that it’s an off-the-wall buddy comedy written by Larry Gotterer and we are deep into pre-pro. Filming starts Mid-June throughout South Florida.
ED- You’ve also written a successful book, can you tell us about it.
AD- Sure. My book is about Scriptwriting. It’s called “The Script…A Breakthrough Guide To Scriptwriting” (ScriptWritingBook.com). It’s been out a little over a year and it’s just sold its 2,000 copy. I’m very proud of it. If you read the letters I get from readers you’d be amazed at how much they are learning from it. I should remind you that I’ve been lecturing in Scriptwriting for several years now and am on the staff of The Miami Film School. My next book is on Directing; it should be out early next year.
ED- Where do you see yourself, and your production company, heading in the future?
AD- Tough Question. There’s a paradigm shift going on in the business right now, everything is changing, evolving into something new. Just what that’ll be remains to be seen. For now I’m concentrating on things that interest me. More films for sure. More music involved projects of one kind or another. Of course the commercial projects that always come to us. The future looms interesting, and for us, bright as usual. From Chaos comes Creativity.
ED- Alyn, we want to thank you for your time with us and hope that you will keep us and our readers up to snuff in all your future work. I, for one, will enjoy hearing more from you in the not too distant future. Many thanks again………