David actually goes by his last name generally, Keenan. There’s a lot of Daves out there he says. It’s just easier. Keenan was born and raised in Las Vegas. He went to one year of film school in San Francisco and been out here in Los Angeles for 8 years trying to make it work one day at a time. Currently, he makes his living through bartending at The Sunset Tower Hotel in WeHo and working in the beverage industry. They keep him afloat and give him the flexibility to work on personal projects in his directorial pursuits.
What got you started in film?
100% a lifelong thing. I’m both fortunate and I’m not because you meet a lot of people who say “I don’t know what I want to do.” or “You’re so lucky knowing what you want to do.” But at the same time, I want to be in charge of the most expensive form of art in existence. Every other form takes a lot less money and with movies, it takes a village. It takes time and dedication. I remember I started writing a script in third grade, and I never thought of it as a career possibility at that age. Basically, I thought you could work and make movies on the side, boy was I wrong. I’m just so excited about getting lost in films and realizing the feelings you have because of films.
What is a movie that has shaped your career?
The first movie that really took me aback was The Client in the mid 90’s. It was the first movie that I realized was causing me to feel something, like suspense when I was in no danger, and that wowed me. But many of films like that are very dense you know? You don’t want a full steak every meal sometimes you just want the Kraft mac-n-cheese. However the more you experience the more you grow and expand and your loves change. I think some of the most rewatchable movies are Groundhog’s Day, Kill Bill, and The Graduate. I just really love 90’s films, even White Men Can’t Jump! I went through a brief pretentious period where I didn’t like those films but then I came back around because they’re great.
Do you have a favorite director or style?
I don’t think I could pick one. I love Fincher, P.T. Anderson, Tarantino, and Nolan. I just have so many favorites! I just shot a short comedy horror and horror was never my favorite but I like to expand my tastes.
Do you have a favorite project you’ve made?
I am my worst critic. I get in my head so much especially when I’m writing/directing especially because, at this point, it’s my money so I’m also producing it. So as the writer it’s hard to be free because the producer side of me kicks in and says “You don’t have the money for this.” I got lucky and had a good idea for my horror comedy short. Link to trailer HERE
This project was spawned completely from a location. It really inspired me and added a huge amount of production value. I was at this location and suddenly realized it was the perfect vibe for a horror film. As time went on slowly comedy crept in and I had the idea for the Behind-The-Scenes of the bar where horror movie villains go to drink on a night off.
But there are things now, looking back, that I might want to add if I can but I’m debating about it. It’s a done project but I might just add a beginning scene to give the short more of a spine.
Do you do your own location scouting?
I’ve always been a one-man-band which is good and bad so yes I usually have to find my own places.
Is there a motto you live by that helps guide you?
I definitely love “Less is more”. I learned that very well in film school when shooting our thesis. Everyone kept trying to make a 20-minute film and the professor just said “What if you cut it down to 8 minutes? You’ll have over twice as much money and time for your projects.” I really try to adhere to that because you’ll watch things, especially with our attention spans getting shorter and shorter, and think that its way too long. You really don’t have much time to grab the viewer.
Maybe not applicable to film but still important, “You can’t get mad at what you already know.” It’s something I really like. My friend told me that quote a few months ago and it really stuck with me. Because you already know this person is going to act this way so I can’t get mad at it so it forces me to be proactive and think ahead about situations.
What is your ideal day off?
Watch a movie or two. I would cook a big nice dinner, it’s my therapy. It helps me stay creative. Probably see my family too, I never have enough time to see them so it’s nice to see them when I can.
If you could have an infinite supply of something less than $5, what do you choose?
Pen and paper. There is something about the texture and feedback of writing that typing will never emulate. It slows down the process a little because you are aware of everything. Unlike typing which corrects everything in the background and sometimes even gets ahead of you with suggestions. I have so many notebooks of just…writing. It’s very therapeutic to helps just write things out. I have an old typewriter which is the happy medium between the two. The sounds and feeling are just so different.
Do you have a secret talent?
A lot of people don’t know this but I am really good at math. It’s not like I worked hard at it, I was just wired for it. I always did well in math and science because it’s so black and white. There is no room for error, no subjectivity. I always hated writing and English and other creative things. Which is funny because here I am making movies!
Watch Rotsy HERE Password: rotsy416
Is there anything recently you have read or scene that you would recommend?
The Lobster. I knew nothing about it going into it and fell in love. I actually watched it back to back, in the night and then the following morning, because I couldn’t stop thinking about it.
A fun cookbook my cousin got me last Christmas by this YouTube guy Binging with Babish. It’s just so fun. He combines cooking and movies while also teaching technique. I can never follow recipes so I can pick and choose what I like.
I really liked Bo Burnham’s last stand up. He’s just so smart and always ahead of everyone. His Netflix special is just a great, fun experience that is very self-aware and meta. I also enjoyed the darkness of Neil Brenan’s stand up too.
Finally, I recommend The Last Word cocktail. It’s a great cocktail that every bartender should know. It’s a Gin drink but I add Mezcal for that extra smokiness.