Meet the Filmmaker: Jon Casler, “Paul Rivaz Gets Back Up”

Q: Why did you become a filmmaker?
JC: I was taking a game development class in 2011 where we made animations with the video game engines. It was by far my favorite class, so I resolved to go to film school in the future to learn how to make ‘real’ live action movies. 5 years later, I’m still making movies!

Q: What are we going to see at the EFP? Has it screened elsewhere and what are your plans for it?
JC: This film has never had a public screening. It was my documentary production project for Colorado film school for the fall 2015 semester. I knew I wanted to do a film about a comedian, because I love comedy and comedy shows. Fortunately, Paul Rivaz, who I had met only a few months before, agreed to do it, though he told me he thought his life was boring and nothing was going to happen. Then, during the course of the filming, his acting mentor Mike Nuccio died, and he landed a job in Africa, and was preparing to make that move, in addition to trying to survive at the low paying job he held at the time. I filmed so much material it was very overwhelming to try to cut it down to 8 minutes for the class. I also wasn’t very skilled at screenwriting back then, so I wasn’t satisfied with my class cut. I kept working on the film off and on for about another year. I finished a second cut, and a few months later the hard drive it was stored on got corrupted. Fortunately, I uploaded a copy to youtube in case this happened. Unfortunately, I still wasn’t happy with the cut. Because it was an interim cut, there’s some jumpy edits that are now unfortunately baked into the film forever. I may film the Q and A and add it to the film, because Paul’s life has gotten a lot better since 2015, and it would make for a perfect happy ending. Because the footage was destroyed, I don’t have any more plans for screenings in the future, except for Paul’s wedding, if that ever happens.

Q: What else are you working on?
JC: I’m working on writing and producing my own shorts, webseries, and documentaries. I am also figuring out how to backup all of my professional footage that remains, which is about 20 TB! Right now, I am deciding between a FreeNAS RAID server, LTO tape, or archival Blu-Ray. I have an upcoming project about a man in Utah who rescues, hunts, and keeps Mink as pets. I want to use Paul and some people I met in acting class in an upcoming bromance short. I’m a big proponent of the American Film Market, so I’m also creating a concept for a feature to make and sell there.

Q: Tell us one weird thing about you and/or your movies?
JC: This movie was the first time I was part of the crew that captured the last professional footage of someone who died soon after. It’s happened again twice more.

Q: Where can people go to find out more about you and your work?
JC: Paul helped to build me a website, HeadlinerMedia.com, though I never update it. After this screening, I resolve to get it updated!

Q: Is there anything you’d like to say about The Emerging Filmmakers Project?
JC: It’s important for filmmakers to support each other in Denver because there’s not a broad consensus in the general population of the value of film production in this state. They like watching it, but not funding or helping it’s creation, which is a real shame, because Colorado has so much to offer for film here. So we just have to do the best we can through projects like the EFP, which do get seen by national industry people. In fact, one of the Walking Dead crew told me that I should focus on getting a film into the EFP, he was very impressed by what he saw.

Paul Rivaz Gets Back Up will screen at The Emerging Filmmakers Project on Thursday, May 16th at The Bug Theatre.