NFFTY Alumni Spotlight: Brett Allen Smith11/15/2012
(By Theresa Syn)
Meet NFFTY filmmaker Brett Allen Smith – winner of the NFFTY 2010’s Jury Award and director/writer of his first feature film Never.
Never is a feature film about blossoming friendships and modern-day sexuality. New to Seattle, Denim (played by Zachary Booth of Ira Sachs’ Keep the Lights On and TV’s Damages) finds himself falling in love with struggling, gay singer-songwriter Nikki (played by Zelda Williams from Were the World Mine, noobz and David Duchovny’s House of D). This complicates their friendship and ultimately redefines their understanding of sexuality and modern relationships.
Interestingly, it was NFFTY that paved the way of Never. “I had a short in NFFTY 2010 and had always been curious about the city, so I used the festival as an excuse to visit.” says Brett, “It was the first time I’d ever been in a totally new place and found myself perfectly happy to just wander the streets alone, which is essentially the basis for the main character, Denim, at the start of Never.”
Being a 23 year-old himself, Brett says that Never is a story close to his heart. “Never is the culmination of my twenties, which have definitely been some of the most confusing years of my life,“ he says, “Ï made Never because I wanted to find out if anyone out there was asking the same questions I was, and if anyone had any answers.”
Apart from directing and writing Never, Brett roped in big names in the industry to be part of the Never team – Cherie Saulter (producer), Andrew Schmidt (producer), Deborah Jelin Newmyer (executive producer). He also managed to work with actresses Nicole Gale Anderson (TV’s Beauty and the Beast) and Angela Sarafyan (Twilight: Breaking Dawn – Part II) with the help of casting director Lindsey Weissmueller.
Never also features original music by Nora Kirkpatrick of Edward Sharpe & the Magnetic Zeros. This collaboration came about in the form of a simple email. “I emailed her asking if she’d be interested in writing out music.” he says, “Honestly, I didn’t really think she’d go for it but she really connected with the script, especially with that character of Nikki, the musician, and what music meant to the film… Two weeks later, Nora wrote all three of the film’s featured songs.”
Being an independent filmmaker meant that money was a concern for Brett while filming in a new city meant that he didn’t have many local contacts. Fortunately, he found help in a community of Seattle volunteers who loaned equipment and donated food. He said, “None of us had spent much time in the city prior to production, so we didn’t have many contacts when we showed up – but in the end, half our crew consisted on young, enthusiastic local volunteers who just believed in the film.
Directing your first feature is definitely no easy task but Brett believes that practice makes perfect. “I’d stress the importance of nurturing your creative spirit. Making shorts, shooting music videos, writing scripts – anything to hone your craft, “he says, “It’s about practicing filmmaking and discovering your own voice as an artist.”
Check out the trailer of Never here:
Never reached it’s Kickstarter goal of $20,000! Congratulations Brett for this amazing achievement!
Do you want to join the ranks of our powerhouse NFFTY Alumni Group? Start by submitting your film today!