Interview with “Daylight Savings” Director Dave Boyle

21 Jul, 2012

Director Dave Boyle

Dave Boyle, best known for his directing, is a man of many talents. He has written, directed, produced and edited many films including “Big Dreams Little Tokyo” (2006), “White on Rice” (2009), “Surrogate Valentine” (2011) and most recently “Surrogate Valentine 2: Daylight Savings” (2012). Boyle also recently acted in Richard Wong’s new film, “Yes, We’re Open” (2012). His latest film, “Surrogate Valentine 2: Daylight Savings” premiered at SXSW on March 10th and is also being shown at the 30th San Francisco International Asian American Film Festival. If you missed the first show on March 11th, SV2 will be playing at Camera 3 Cinemas in San Jose, CA on March 17th. Be sure to visit the “Surrogate Valentine” website for further information on future screenings. [Interviewed on March 6, 2012]

Dig In Magazine: When did you begin your film career?

Dave Boyle: My first job in the film industry was on a film called “Church Ball.” I was a security guard, in charge of watching the equipment at night. This was in 2005 or 2006 I believe.

Musician and Actor, Goh Nakamura in Surrogate Valentine

DIM: Did you go to film school? Where did you obtain your training in film? And what was your film training focused on?

DB: I did not go to film school. I took one film class, but I thought it was boring so I never went. But I forgot to drop the class from my schedule, and so I ended up with an “F” on my academic record. As it turns out, that class was a requirement to enter the film program, so even if I wanted to go to film school, I would have been rejected.

DIM: Looking at your film credits, it seems like you’ve done it all and worn many hats in terms of directing, writing, producing, acting and editing, what would you say that you enjoy doing the most?

DB: I enjoy all of the “hats” for different reasons. I consider myself primarily a director, though I have to edit to make a living. I think producing is the job I enjoy the least. It involves making lots of phone calls, which I hate doing. Plus, people are mad at you most of the time. I’ve only really acted twice, once in my film “Big Dreams Little Tokyo” and once in my friend Richard Wong’s film “Yes, We’re Open.” I had a good experience on Rich’s film, and I learned a lot from watching him direct. However, if I was an actor full time, I don’t know if I could do it. All of those auditions… seems exhausting to me. But if my friends cast me in something, I’m game!

DIM: How do you decide the type of work you want to do on a film?

DB: Usually, it is not really a matter of choice. If I want to direct something, that usually means I have to write it. If I need work, and someone offers me a job as an editor, I’ll take it! I’m paying my dues…I still have to take whatever work I can get.

DIM: You have made some really interesting and charming films, where do you get the inspiration for filmmaking and what is your process from idea to finished film project?

DB: I get much of my inspiration from people around me. This is probably very apparent in my “Surrogate Valentine” series with Goh Nakamura, in which many of the cast members are non-actors playing themselves. I like to meet interesting people, and every once in a while something clicks and I think to myself “this person would make an interesting character in a film.”

Dave Boyle in 'Big Dreams Little Tokyo' (2006)

DIM: Do you write roles for yourself and other actors in your future films? How do you choose your cast for your various films?

DB: I don’t think I’ll write a part for myself ever again. When I made “Big Dreams Little Tokyo,” I thought I wanted to be the next Woody Allen or Albert Brooks. I’m very proud of the film, but I am so much happier when I don’t have to get into wardrobe and put on makeup in the morning.

I do write parts with actors in mind. Sometimes that can be dangerous–you write a part for someone, and then you and the actor just don’t see eye-to-eye on how it’s supposed to go–but so far the approach has served my films well, and given them a unique vibe.

DIM: What draws you to making films about Asian Americans?

DB: I’ve been lucky enough to meet a lot of talented Asian American actors.

DIM: Actress Lynn Chen stars in both “White on Rice” (2009), “Surrogate Valentine” (2011), and “Surrogate Valentine 2: Daylight Savings” (2012), what is it about Chen that makes her perfect for your roles?

DB: She never tries to “milk the moment” and when she talks, the dialogue sounds the way it’s supposed to. She’s just really good, and brings a lot to everything she works on.

DIM: What made you decide to use Goh Nakamura and your other actors in SV and SV 2?

Director Dave Boyle on the set of White on Rice

DB: I thought Goh was an interesting and non-traditional choice for a lead actor so I constructed both movies around his unique vibe. In casting the supporting roles for both movies, I just focused on finding people that Goh would be comfortable with and who would complement his natural, albeit untrained acting abilities. In the case of Yea-Ming Chen (who plays herself in SV2), she had also never acted before but just like Goh I thought she would be a natural. She and Goh had been friends for a long time, and it was actually Goh’s suggestion that we consider her for the lead.

I like to mix non-professional actors with seasoned pros, so in both movies we have some great support from Lynn, Chadd Stoops (who plays Danny Turner), Michael Aki (of “Charlotte Sometimes”), Joy Osmanski and many others. We were also very lucky to have Ayako Fujitani (of “Tokyo!”) to play Goh’s ex-girlfriend in the 2nd chapter.

DIM: What made you decide to make a sequel to Surrogate Valentine?

DB: We enjoyed working together, and the first one seemed to be getting a warm reception. The discussion of making this into a “Goh” series started during post-production, and warmed up considerably when we were accepted to SXSW and picked up for distribution by Warner Brothers. Ultimately, we all just felt like there were more stories to be told with this character and we wanted to experiment with more long-form storytelling.

DIM: How long did it take to shoot Surrogate Valentine 1 and 2?

DB: Each one took about 17 days to shoot.

DIM: Surrogate Valentine 2 is showing at the 30th San Francisco International Asian American Film Festival, where else will the film be screened?

DB: SFIAAFF will actually be our second screening after the world premiere at SXSW on Saturday [March 10, 2012]. The next day, Goh and I will hop on a plane and come out to San Fran for our west coast premiere! After that, we’re playing at the Cleveland International Film Festival (where every one of my films has played so far) which always feels like a homecoming for me. We’ll be announcing dates as soon as they come up on our website: www.surrogatevalentine.com

About the author

Cindy Maram

Cindy Maram is Founder and Editor-in-Chief of Dig In Magazine. She is an accredited film journalist for Sundance Film Festival, Tribeca Film Festival, Mill Valley Film Festival, San Francisco International Film Festival and CAAMFest, as well as writer, vlogger, designer, digital, online & social media marketer. She possesses a B.A from UC Davis and a M.A. in Mass Communications + Popular Culture Studies emphasis in Film/Marketing/Writing from Cal State Fullerton.

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