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NFFTY Alumni Spotlight: Justin Dane Chambers


(By Theresa Syn)

NFFTY filmmakers keep making waves in the world of film. This week, it’s 24-year-old Justin Dane Chambers, writer and director of the new feature, Broken Roads.

Justin’s first feature-length film is a story about life and loss. Teenager Aldo Russo (played by Aidan Bristow) loses his mother in a tragic car accident forcing him to move to a small town to live with his only surviving relative – a grandmother (played by Sally Kirkland) he never knew he had. This unexpected arrangement awakens demons for both grandmother and grandson. It is a life-changing journey of rediscovery, kinship and a life beyond loss.

Aldo Russo (played by Aidan Bristol, left) with his on screen grandmother Mrs. Wallace (played by Sally Kirkland)

Justin says he wrote Broken Roads to inspire, and to give hope to the hopeless. “I knew I had to tell a story that I could relate to, and loss seemed to be around every corner,” he says. “It frustrated me that everyone felt broken in some way, and that those were the cards they were dealt. And that’s the end of it …  I wanted to do away with those beliefs and show people that just because something bad happens to you in life, it doesn’t mean your life is over. It’s just another hill to climb that will forever change you.”

The entire film was shot on two locations over only 16 days, thanks to a great crew. Justin also managed to rope in a cast of seasoned professionals. This included Academy Award-nominated actress Sally Kirkland, as well as Aidan Bristow, Shoshana Bush, Rolonda Watts and Ross Marquand.  “The cast was outstanding. We’ve received nothing but praise from everyone who has seen the film.”

Captain of the ship, Justin handles a large crew for the production of Broken Roads

Broken Roads was produced budget of  $1,500,000 (IMDb). That’s a large amount for an independent filmmaker to cough up but Justin tells us how he managed it: “The first thing is to NOT make money a concern. That will crush you with fear.” He says, “Start out on your journey with the mentality that a film has to be made whether you have the money or not. So when you start to raise funds, you will already have material that will captivate and draw investors. Also, tell everyone and anyone what you are up to and what you need. No one will know that you’re raising money unless you tell them.”

Broken Roads has proven to be quite an indie success, picking up theatrical, domestic home entertainment and global foreign distribution. The film will also be released on DVD at major retailers in February 2013. It doesn’t stop there; the Library of the Academy of Motion Picture Arts & Sciences recently acquired the screenplay of Broken Roads for their permanent Core Collection­ adding it to the list of timeless Hollywood works of art for generations to come.

Justin goofing around behind the scenes with his lead actor, Aidan.

However, the film’s success means something even more personal to Justin. He recalls an incident after the screening of his film, “There was this young man who was probably about 17 or 18.  He came up to me and said, ‘I just wanted to thank you from the bottom of my heart; You told my story. That was me. And now I feel like I have hope.’ If this film has one effect on somebody; to just inspire someone to be better, I feel like it has done its job.”

For those who are looking to direct their own feature films, Justin has one thing to say, “BE NICE – because that will get you so far. If you’re kind to everyone, no matter how bad your day is, success will come from that. People will want to work with you and for you. In turn, they will help make your dreams come true!”

And with the announcement of his new film coming out in January, we’re sure this won’t be last we’re hearing from this NFFTY alumni and talented director.

Check out the trailer of Broken Roads here:

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