Noam Kroll is a Los Angeles based narrative filmmaker and entrepreneur. He is the founder of the boutique commercial production company Creative Rebellion, runs the popular filmmaking blog www.noamkroll.com, and is currently in pre-production for his second narrative feature film.
Where are you from and what made you move to Los Angeles and what got you started in the filmmaking biz?
“Something always drew me to Los Angeles, and I don’t think it was necessarily just the film business.”
I grew up in Toronto, but have wanted to live in LA since before I can remember. I still have notebooks from elementary school that have the Hollywood sign drawn on them, and at that time I had never even been to California! But something always drew me to Los Angeles, and I don’t think it was necessarily just the film business. I really liked the culture out here, the weather, the food, it just fit with my personality.
When people ask me if I moved out here for the film industry, I often tell them – No, but I feel very lucky that the film industry happens to also exist in LA. I love cinema and I love Los Angeles, and the fact the two co-exist in the same place is the perfect one two punch.
In terms of getting started in the business – I had been shooting little films since I was a kid, and at a certain point it turned professional. It’s hard to say exactly when that was – probably in my early 20’s when I was still in University and started getting asked by people I knew to shoot and edit projects for them – music videos, local commercials, etc. From there, I just continued to freelance and eventually launched a small production company (and later my blog), both of which continue to be a primary focus today, along with directing narrative feature films.
Who would you say are your filmmaking/artistic influences are and how do you stay creative? We also noticed all your films have an amazing twist. What inspires them?
“A twist can totally misfire if it’s not treated delicately.”
Anyone that has been an influence on me as a filmmaker over the years has had one thing in common: They were trailblazers. Directors like Jean Luc Godard, Alfred Hitchcock, Stanley Kubrick, David Fincher, Gasper Noe, and Darren Aronofsky all pushed the boundaries of cinema in one way or another, and are all influences on me artistically.
When it comes to staying creative, it’s really all about staying inspired. A big part of it is watching loads of films, reading tons of scripts, and writing all the time. I’ve found that if I simply commit to focusing on film every day, the inspiration takes care of itself, and I am more productive across the board. Every movie I watch, every book I read, gives me an idea and makes me want to get out there and create. The desire to stay creative is the easy part. Executing it is where it gets more complicated!
I do tend to put a twist in a lot of my films, and I’ve just sort of realized that recently – it was never even a conscious thing! When I think about it, I guess that some of my most memorable movie-going experiences are tied to incredible films that were able to pull off a masterful twist. Because it’s a fine line… A twist can totally misfire if it’s not treated delicately, and nothing is worse than a bad twist that comes out of left field and has no logic to back it up. But when it’s done right, it sticks with you, and it can be a really powerful storytelling tool. It’s also very conducive to the mystery/suspense genre which I love working in.
What’s been your favorite projects to work on so far? And what are you up to next as a filmmaker?
My favorite film projects are the ones that I feel like I really learned something from, and that have helped me grow as a filmmaker. Often times, these films tend to be the ones that are most well received too, which I’m sure isn’t a coincidence. Tiny, no-budget shorts like Micro, Brother Sister, or The Mechanic, have all had healthy lives and have taught me so much, as has my feature film Shadows On The Road, which I will release this summer.
Currently, I’m knee deep in two separate feature film screenplays. I’ll have both done by the summer, and plan to shoot one later this year. They are written at different budget levels – one is a micro-budget, and the other is a low budget – and whichever gets financed first will shoot first! Both are dramatic thrillers and exist in a similar world.
What do you do to relax when you’re not working on a project?
I love to play guitar. It’s one of my favorite creative outlets and gives an immediate satisfaction that filmmaking rarely can. I feel like it’s important to get away from film from time to time, and guitar offers a nice way to stay creative, but distance myself from my work. The same can be said about road trips, little weekend getaways where you cut yourself off from work for a few days and enjoy a drive. Really, any time away helps me hit the reset button – especially with my wife, Jen, and our dog, Peanut. They keep me sane, even in the craziest of times!
What’s your dream project?
I’m a huge fan of French cinema and have always wanted to shoot a feature in the south of France. If I had enough of a film budget to take a production down to the French Riviera, I’d be there in a heartbeat. The talent in France is second to none, so being able to cast actors of that calibre locally would be enough reason on its own to shoot there. Not to mention the jaw-dropping scenery, which already serves as the backdrop for a couple of feature concepts that I hope to shoot one day.
What’s your worst finding a location horror story?
I shot a film in rural Ontario (Canada) about 6 years ago, and had one of the worst nights of my working life thanks to a location mishap. The area we were shooting in didn’t require a paid permit, and as such we hadn’t had to go through a proper location scout, or deal with anyone from the town.
The location itself was underneath a bridge, right next to a river. When we arrived at about 10pm on the night of the shoot, the road that would take us in was closed off. We couldn’t drive our camera truck or lights in there, and it was pouring rain. For a number of reasons, we had no choice but to figure out how to get there and shoot regardless of the weather, so we spent hours wrapping up the gear in tarps, and hiking it all the way over to the bridge (probably close to a mile in the mud) as the rain violently poured down. When we finally got started shooting, everyone felt so sick and tired. My DP actually threw up and called in sick the next day. Had we just known that the road would be closed off, it could have all been avoided.
What’s the strangest thing anyone has ever pitched you to shoot?
One of my earliest filmmaking gigs was shooting a commercial for a dog toilet. Does that count?
Check some Noam’s shorts here:
Shadows On The Road – https://vimeo.com/215591970
The Mechanic – https://vimeo.com/102871670
Brother Sister – https://vimeo.com/88851627
Micro – https://vimeo.com/152176332