8000 Ft Up
We are excited and fortunate to have local, highly talented, writer/director Alan Williams bring his high evaluation thriller, 8000 Ft Up, to screen at AIFF.
AIFF – What drew your interest to make a thriller set in the mountains of Tucson, Arizona?
Alan – In all honestly it was its simplicity. We had a very limited budget (no budget) and limited resources. "One" location and a handful of characters was what we needed. When I read the script, it was apparent that we were going to be doing a Hitchcock movie- A psychological thriller with sexuality but no sex, violence or blood.
In addition, we wanted to make a film that not only featured the talents of a Tucson based cast and crew but ALSO took place in Tucson as a backdrop.
AIFF – What were some production challenges of shooting in remote locations?
Alan – Here is the funny part, as much as we tried to be remote, there were people everywhere! We tried so hard to secure remote campsites but we simply could not avoid the noise of other campsites nearby. In addition, we were not allowed to build campfires on Mt Lemmon so we had to shoot the nighttime campfire scenes as a remote location in Three Points to get away from city lights and noise. the problem was there was a ton of traffic noise from the nearby Sasabe Highway. The constantly passing Border Patrol vehicles wreaked havoc on our sound.
AIFF – What were you looking for in your actors when you cast the film, they gave excellent performances?
Alan – I work very, very intimately with actors. I have a process that we go through where we create a three-dimensional character that may not have even been realized by the writer. I need actors that are hungry and open to that process. I look for actors that are adventurous and open to collaboration. Some directors don't give their actors enough credit. It's the actors that have the answers, we just have to discover them together.
AIFF – How did you go about creating the visual style with Avai d’Amico?
Alan – Because there was no sex, no blood, no car chases ad no explosions, we had to make this thing interesting to look at. Things had to be dynamic because much of the film is people sitting and talking at a campsite. I am heavily influenced by filmmakers like Scorsese, Spielberg and Hitchcock to name a few and movement in film is critical. Since we didn't have the crew or the equipment for complicated camera moves, Avai's gimbal became pure gold. It would have taken hours to set up the kind of camera movement I wanted if we were laying track, setting up jibs or cranes, etc. But, the gimbal gave is a tremendous amount of freedom to move freely in very dynamic terrain.
AIFF – We hope your film will encourage more productions in Arizona, do think we can become a force in the industry again?
Alan – I 100% believe it. That's why I stayed here after film school in 1993. I firmly believed that Tucson could be a force in the industry and still do but we MUST invest in our local filmmakers. There is talent here but everyone keeps looking to Hollywood to come save us. Don't get me wrong, it's very exciting when a big project comes to town but they are coming here looking for producers, writers, directors and cinematographers- they are bringing all that and then leaving. But, WE have talented filmmakers HERE. We have the ability to make our own films and create an indie film force that can stand on its own but not if people don't take notice of what they have in their back yard rather than keep looking over the fence to see what's going on next door or, worse yet, wait for Hollywood to come back.
8000 Ft Up was named Best of Arizona at the 2022 Arizona International Film Festival.