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INTERVIEW: Independent Film Director Usher Morgan

Hi Usher, welcome to VENTS! How have you been?

Doing well, thanks for having me!

What got you into filmmaking?

I’ve always wanted to be in the movie-making business, and a few years into owning my own book publishing company, I decided to make the move and direct my first film. Been having a blast since!

How did your upbringing influence you as a filmmaker?

I spent a big chunk of my childhood watching films – my dad fueled much of my early interest in westerns, noirs and comedies and I can honestly say that some of my fondest childhood memories were family movie nights. Growing up, I knew that I was going to make my way into the film industry eventually, but I always thought it was going to be in the capacity of a visual effects artist or a film editor. I took VFX classes and studies film editing and did a lot of side jobs as a movie editor and VFX super in my early 20’s. I even ran my own post-production studio in Las Vegas for a while. All of that gave me a big leg up when the time came to shoot and cut my own stuff.

Let’s talk about Pickings – how did you come up with the idea for the film?

Pickings actually started as a short film, I was captivated by the idea of a crime boss sending his men into a bar for collection protection and then learning that his people never made it out. It’s a great noir premise that I thought I could expand on and once I started digging into the characters the feature started writing itself.

Was it an easy writing process?

Well, the first few drafts came fairly easy to me, but once I became confined and constricted by our very small budget I had to sit down and rewrite the film to fit. That was a really big challenge, especially for a film as ambitious as Pickings.

Was it easy to move away from comedy, as seen in you short film Prego, to a much darker tone in Pickings?

To me it was, because it was a story I really wanted to tell, and when I obsess over a story it doesn’t matter how different it is from what I’ve done before, I just write it. Prego was a silly comedy that presents a satire on choice, it’s not a movie to be taken super seriously even though it has some serious moments in it. Pickings on the other hand, is a neo-noir crime film with a much more serious tone, but it has plenty of comedic moments in it as well.

Having found success with your previous film – did you feel any pressure on you as you were working on this new material?

Not really, however I did feel somewhat pressured to write the feature version of Prego, since it was pretty well-received and had gone viral by that point – folks wanted to see the full story, but that’s not something I’m really interested in doing. I think Prego should only exist as a short, perhaps I’ll change my mind in the future, but at this point – it’s unlikely.

Check out the trailer for Pickings HERE.

For more info: ushermorgan.com or pickingsfilm.com

About RJ Frometa

Head Honcho, Editor in Chief and writer here on VENTS. I don't like walking on the beach, but I love playing the guitar and geeking out about music. I am also a movie maniac and 6 hours sleeper.

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