Breaking the Waves and
Breaking into the Biz
By Jana Ritter
His story starts like many other starry-eyed film school grads, rudely awakened by the real world film industry. Even with a BFA from the New York Film Academy, an invaluable internship with Jamie Kennedy Entertainment and a festival-winning title under his belt, Charles Van Loucks still hasn't cracked the Hollywood code to simply find a decent paying job. But unlike the countless disheartened others, Van Loucks is flipping the script and breaking out with his own way of breaking into the biz. To start, he's running TV commercials advertising his desire to land a job in the film industry and will soon be featured on an L.A. billboard. We caught up with Charles before his first foray into the industry where he'd be attending a post-Oscar party. One of the gifts which will be included in the now famous gift bags? You guessed it: a DVD featuring Charles.
What was that "light bulb" moment that first inspired you to become a filmmaker?
Growing up, I kind of took charge of the video camera during our family vacations and being able to capture the full essence of so many special moments really impacted me. Those home movies allowed us to go back and relive those exact moments in time and I realized how powerful that was.
What are some of your favorite film projects you've worked on?
The first short film I directed, "The Creation of Evil," is definitely one. It's a dark drama about a young man going through a tough time and ultimately, becomes the Joker. I had a really creative and talented DP who added a Sin City visual style. We ended up winning at the Honolulu Film Festival.
Another great project, "The Human Side of the Mars Rover" is a documentary and for NASA's Jet Propulsion Laboratory. During my last year at New York Film Academy, they challenged us to pitch ideas that would add a human touch to alien subject matter. Mine was selected and we were invited to shoot at their laboratories. What I loved most about the experience was seeing people as passionate about making robots as I am about making films.
What filmmakers have most influenced you?
Wes Anderson, Christopher Nolan, Lars Von Trier and Tarantino, of course. I admire them all for different reasons, but I think my overall favorite is Adam McKay. He goes from doing big comedies to obscure random things with talent like Will Farrell. Creating projects out of pure creative instinct without a monetary purpose behind it, to me, is the best filmmaking of all.
You certainly have a creative approach to breaking into Hollywood - you're going to run your own TV commercial and be featured on your own billboard. How did you come up with this idea?
Handing out your resume just doesn't seem to cut it in the job world, especially the film industry. I realized I needed a way to reach as many people as possible and get my personality out there as well.
How do you think people will react?
I'm hoping they will be receptive and see it as different and interesting. Hopefully, they see me as someone using the kind of creativity and ingenuity that is valuable in this business. There might be some haters and people accusing me of buying my way in too.
They might wonder how someone fresh out of film school and who obviously doesn't have a job could pull this off. Right?
Of course, and I have no problem admitting that I took out a loan to pay for the ads. If you want something bad enough, you're willing to do what it takes.
What do you want to come out of this ad campaign and what is your ultimate career goal?
Ultimately, I want to be a director. But right now I really want to work as a director's assistant. I know the job involves a lot of different aspects that have nothing to do with directing, but there is a lot you can soak up simply being around the real deal. As long as I'm making enough to survive, I'm up for any job I can learn from.
Are you working on any new projects of your own?
I've got a few things brewing. I'm writing and directing a couple of hip-hop music videos and a Dos Equis style performance piece for a professional BMX rider/actor. He's sponsored by Monster Energy Drink and they might even help finance it, which would allow us to go as big as we want with our concept.
I've also got two documentaries in the works. I think the film medium and its power of influence also holds a huge social responsibility, so I'm very passionate about non-fiction films as well.
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