Monday, February 4, 2019

Interview with non-fiction writer Usher Morgan

Writer Usher Morgan is here today chatting with me about his new self-help book, Lessons from the Set.

During his virtual book tour, Usher will be awarding an autographed copy of the book to a randomly drawn winner. To be entered to win, use the form below. To increase your chances of winning, feel free to visit his other tour stops, too!

Usher Morgan is an award-winning screenwriter, film director, producer and studio executive residing in New York City. Morgan started his career in book publishing and later became involved with film production and distribution. He produced his first documentary film The Thought Exchange starring David Friedman and Lucie Arnaz in 2012, followed by his directorial debut, the award-winning short film Prego.

Morgan’s first feature film, Pickings was released to AMC theaters on March 2nd, 2018 and made its way to VOD in August of 2018. His directing style is influenced primarily by film-noir and spaghetti westerns. The Los Angeles Times calls Usher Morgan, “a talent to watch.”

Please tell us a little bit about your book.
Lessons from the Set: A DIY Guide to Your First Feature Film, From Script to Theaters is a step-by-step filmmaking guide that takes a cinephile’s “Do It Yourself” approach to low-budget indie film production and distribution. This book will offer you some valuable, practical insight into the process of making a commercial feature film on a low budget and releasing it to theaters – whether you’re starting with $1,000 or $1m.

Lessons from the Set will guide you through the process of writing, planning, directing, producing, marketing, and releasing your first feature film. You’ll learn how to overcome writing challenges and improve the quality of your screenplay, how to make $0 budget short films and perfect your craft, how to plan your film, master filmmaking tools, and set the stage for your upcoming shoot.

This book is peppered with life-saving tips, tricks, and filmmaking techniques that will save you a lot of time, money, and energy on set, in pre-production and in post. You’ll learn how to release your film to theaters, how to tackle festivals and win awards, how to handle press and get reviews, execute marketing efforts, and approach the filmmaking process with both an artistic soul and an entrepreneurial mindset. Lessons from the Set was designed to give you all the tools and resources you’ll need to complete and release your film successfully in any market and help you set the stage for a prosperous career as a full-time indie filmmaker.

What inspired you to write this book?
After making my first feature film and releasing it to theaters nationwide, I wanted to create a book that detailed the step-by-step plan by which any independent filmmaker can produce and release their own work commercially, and maintain control over their final product.

Excerpt from Lessons from the Set:
Above All – Be a Writer

Movies are the amalgamation of artistic talents and technical know-how, coming together to tell a story through moving pictures, and, while technical know-how is readily available, it is the artistic talent that’s a little harder to come by. And above all other talents, in my opinion, is the ability to write that will ultimately make the difference between success or failure in this business. Think about it: how many bad movies with big budgets are being made every year? And how many of those big-budget films are made by amazing technicians who’ve mastered the visual arts? Almost all of them, but it seems that the one thing that’s missing from these films is the great script, and that’s because good screenwriters are hard to come by.

It takes real courage to jump through a glass window while your whole body is on fire; it takes real patience to work with actors; it takes a lot of energy and creativity to light a scene and a really good eye to maintain it on camera; it takes a great ear to handle a mix and an amazing skill to masterfully paint a face. But above all else, the process of writing takes everything from you. It takes time, it’s personal, and it can be very emotional, and without it nothing else really matters. Every single artist and technician who works on a movie set is working for the sole purpose of realizing the written word and putting it on the screen for the world to see. The script is the film’s blueprint, it’s the holy grail, it’s the beginning of all things – and it’s the art that I think you should spend the most time mastering. The better you get at writing, the better you get at making movies and the greater your chances of success in this industry. Now, there are many great directors who aren’t writers, and that is an approach you can take, but I think that much like everything else in the DIY world, if you know how to do it yourself, you’ll save yourself a lot of time, money, and resources. The journey you take to “prove yourself” as a competent director won’t hinge on mere chance, personal connections, or the need to secure someone else’s screenplay.

What exciting story are you working on next?
I’m currently in production on a few short films, and will be entering production on my next feature later in 2019.

Do you write full-time? If so, what's your work day like? If not, what do you do other than write and how do you find time to write?
I write, direct and produce my own work. No day is anything like the other, and my schedule can get pretty hectic. But overall I’m having fun! Which is what life should be about, right?

What would you say is your interesting writing quirk?
I love writing in coffee shops, I try to visit as many of them as I can. At this point I think it’s more of an obsession than anything. My goal is to write in every coffee shop in New York City within the next 5 years or so.

As a child, what did you want to be when you grew up?
I dreamed about becoming a VFX artist for a long time, but ended up falling in love with writing and directing.

Anything additional you want to share with the readers?
Feel free to check me out online via my Website, Facebook, Instagram, or Twitter. And also visit Amazon!

Thank you for being a guest on my blog!

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Goddess Fish Promotions said...

Thanks for hosting!

Cali W. said...

Thanks for the giveaway; I like the excerpt. :)

Victoria Alexander said...

Sounds like an interesting book, thanks for sharing :)