A former CIA contractor, who has faked his own death, forms an unlikely bond with a self-employed sex worker, while awaiting the arrival of his new identity.
Interview with Writer/Director/Actor Dan Eberle
Congratulations! Why did you make your film?
I liked the enigma of presenting a macho, existential character like Crowley the CIA contractor, as a tough, grizzled man, with uniquely vulnerable sexual predilections and an almost adolescent aspiration toward romantic love. He’s a man in transition, attempting to make the jump from life in a defensive crouch, to the actual human race. The story of a person in transition from dark to light is very inspiring to me, and emblematic of my own life journey. I’m sure I wasn’t aware of this during the writing or filmmaking process, but that struggle of transformation is a thing I really connect to.
Imagine I’m a member of the audience. Why should I watch this film?
At its best, independent film is about making creative choices that challenge mainstream sensibilities in some way. A big part of Sole Proprietor is the upending of audience expectations, mostly through the characters. I am most attracted to stories of crime and lurid, secret worlds, but that is just a container for stories about transformation and the human experience.
How do personal and universal themes work in your film?
Everyone feels they are trapped at some point in their life, often by the outcome of their own choices. Sole Proprietor is about a group of people who are seizing power to break out of bondage, and take back their lives. Some do it better than others, and everyone’s actions come at a cost.
How have the script and film evolved over the course of their development and production?
This is one of many features I’ve made, and I’d say of all of them, this one sticks closest to its original draft, at least from a technical and structural stand point. This is mostly due to the fact that I wrote the script largely with resources and actors in mind, so less revisions were necessary as we went into production.
From a character and story standpoint, our actors played an enormous role in evolving the depth of the material. Sole Proprietor was always a story without much exposition. In an elliptical narrative, there is an opportunity for actors to really invent their characters from whole cloth in a completely new and unexpected way, because there can be so many possible versions of the truth.
Nick Bixby took his character Greer in several unexpected directions, and constructed a complete narrative around him, that we only experience through the way we see Greer interacts with the world. There is so much information in those moments, and that gives his performance a level of depth and authenticity that transcends any movie bad guy trope.
For Alexandra Hellquist, who plays the titular Sophie, the story is a bit different. She read a breakdown of the character, who was originally a darker, Eastern European character with a harder outlook on life. We talked about the story, and then Alexandra lobbied to show me a completely different version of the character.
Alexandra showed up to the audition and played Sophie as a French woman with a fun-loving sense of humor, improvising all of her scenes, and I was immediately sold that her approach would no only be a more compelling counterpart to Crowley’s soul-in-crisis toughguy, but also give the film a much needed light source for all these dark characters.
What type of feedback have you received so far?
Critically, it’s still a bit early since it is just now coming out, but response has been largely positive. We always expected that a certain percentage of people would be disappointed this isn’t Transporter 2, but again, independent film is about challenging popular sensibilities, and when you set out to do that, you may not always please every crowd.
Has the feedback surprised or challenged your point of view?
For the most part, feedback to Sole Proprietor has validated what I have always known. If I make these films in accordance with my personal aesthetic values, and provide the most honest possible presentation of these stories, the audience will respond accordingly.
What are you looking to achieve by having your film more visible on www.wearemovingstories.com?
Making films that are different from the norm requires tremendous ongoing effort to expand the audience with whom your work resonates. I will do anything and everything I have to, to bring my work to a receptive audience, whoever they are, or where ever they may be.
Who do you need to come on board (producers, sales agents, buyers, distributors, film festival directors, journalists) to amplify this film’s message?
The film is now released, so press is the most important component to the film’s success. Luckily, independent films are all about the long game. My 2008 film, The Local, was being discovered by new audiences for years following its release. I am fine with a slow burn.
In terms of collaboration, I am most interested in cultivating relationships with potential stakeholders who can facilitate future work in this vein.
What type of impact and/or reception would you like this film to have?
Ideally, I’d like this film to gain some ardent and vocal followers, both audience and press, who will advocate for this, and future films.
What’s a key question that will help spark a debate or begin a conversation about this film?
While I appreciate the import of this question—essentially using disruption or controversy in order to garner attention—I don’t think it applies to what I do. I don’t set out to make a political or social statement with my work. I seek only to create characters and stories that are honest and true. While I do hope to move audiences in some meaningful way, I don’t attempt to predict or manipulate how they will feel or what they will think. If someone finds catharsis or learns a different point of view in my work, so be it.
Would you like to add anything else?
Just to encourage people to watch Sole Proprietor, now available on most VOD platforms!
What are you developing or working on now?
Currently, I’m developing a serial mystery about a returned veteran who seeks closure with his estranged, comatose father through a dubious man with whom he shares an extricable connection.
Interview: August 2016
We Are Moving Stories embraces new voices in drama, documentary, animation, TV, web series and music video. If you have just made a film - we'd love to hear from you. Or if you know a filmmaker - can you recommend us? More info: Carmela
Length: 91 minutes
Director: Dan Eberle
Producers: Danielle Primiceri, Ashley Sprenkel, Per Anderson
Looking for (producers, sales agents, buyers, distributors, film festival directors, journalists):
Made in association with: Insurgent Pictures
Release date: 8/12/2016