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An interview with Harry Waldman, director of "Enter The Room"

Waldman creates powerful films that make the viewer feel a wide range of emotions and convey ideas that will linger in the viewers' minds long after the credits roll.

Filmtage : What inspired you to become an independent filmmaker, and how has your journey been so far in this challenging industry?

Harry Waldman : I have loved movies for as long as I can remember. Some of my earliest memories involve me watching movies when I was just a couple years old. While I have loved watching films forever, I was always someone who was a bit too "practical" when it came to my career, despite the fact that my Dad had been a successful artist since I was young. I assumed that you were supposed to graduate college and then work at a job that you weren't passionate about in order to pay the bills. The thought really depressed me, so I tried not to think about it too often and focused on my hobbies, which included watching movies, playing video games, sports, listening to music and hanging out with friends.

I studied business in college, which did ultimately teach me how to be a good leader as a film director/producer, but the actual content didn't interest me much. I assumed that I would get some business marketing job out of college that I wouldn't really be passionate about. I started to have these fantasies about finding myself working a marketing gig on a film production during my junior year of college, and while the fantasy excited me, it also depressed me because it didn't seem realistic considering my situation.

During the second semester of my senior year of college, shortly after watching "The Social Network", which is one of my favorite films of all time, and which I believe had an influence on what I have written below, I had a dream that I was going to a prestigious film school, taking various filmmaking courses, collaborating with other students to work on film projects, etc. Near the end of the dream, I met a psychic who told me that one of my closest friends (Inspired by Mark Zuckerberg stabbing Eduardo Saverin in the back) would steal my film idea, but despite this awful fact, I would become a successful filmmaker.

While I believe that I get along pretty well with most people, I can be a vengeful person if I feel that I was wronged. What truly shocked me about this dream was that I was so excited about the prospect of being a successful filmmaker, that it completely overshadowed my distress over having my film idea stolen by my best friend.

Suddenly, I woke up, jumped out of my bed, grabbed my backpack and jacket and ran to the front door of my apartment, getting ready to go to one of my "film classes". Then, I realized that it was 12:10 p.m. on a Saturday; that I had just been at a bar the previous night with friends; and that I wasn't a film student at a prestigious film school, but a marketing student at a business school; and I would graduate college and find some job that I hated; and that would be the rest of my life...this was the single most depressing moment of my entire life.

I stared at my bedroom wall in horror for about 20 minutes and then a lightbulb suddenly popped on inside my head. I told myself, "So you finally figured out your passion as you're graduating college. That's unfortunate, but you're still only 21 years old. You have plenty of time". I immediately came up with a plan for my filmmaking career. I would graduate college with my business marketing degree and find a decent paying job in business after college during the day while pursuing my filmmaking career during the evenings and weekends. This plan launched the beginning of my exciting filmmaking journey, from watching youtube videos on filmmaking and working as a production assistant on film sets while working in Insurance to pay the bills to being able to direct and produce my own films as my main passion, while working for a post-production company, handling video editing and video ingest. Overall, my journey in the film industry has been challenging, but incredibly exciting and satisfying. More often than not, things seem to ultimately work out and I hope that my fortune continues that way moving forward.

Filmtage : Independent filmmaking often comes with limited resources and funding. How do you approach the creative process to maximize the impact of your storytelling within these constraints?

Harry Waldman : I only write scripts for films that I know I can put into production on a limited budget as my projects are all out of my own pocket. Shooting at minimal locations is key. If possible, I try to shoot at my apartment or on public property. I have been fortunate enough to have been able to shoot at a few fellow filmmakers' places for my films and was allowed access to shoot at a park free of charge for my last film.

As for the cast and crew, while talent, access to quality equipment and expertise are important, I really look for those who are passionate about telling stories and seem very interested in my projects. This has allowed me to hire my cast and crew successfully with limited means as they care about being a part of a quality project with passionate individuals more than money.

Filmtage : Enter The Room has received critical acclaim for its unique style and narrative. Can you share the creative decisions and influences that contributed to the film's success?

Harry Waldman : I think that the story comes first and has the greatest influence on the quality of the final product. And I believe that the most effective way to tell a compelling story is by injecting it with complex and unique characters. After the story and characters, I take a lot of time preparing and fine tuning the script, which is such an important part of the process. And casting is so important. Finding actors/actresses that are the correct fit for their respective roles is just as important as finding talent who have the ability to act at a high level. Peter Mastne and Rich Holton definitely enhanced the film with their strong performances.

In addition, cinematography and editing are very important aspects of my process and I think that Lance Eliot Adams did a really good job as Cinematographer. And of course, having someone who can keep everyone on task so that we capture all of the footage we need is vital and Mo Nazar was a fantastic AD. My gaffers, Steve Wester and Ryan Zeller did a phenomenal job lighting the film, one of the more underappreciated aspects of filmmaking and Chris Colabella and Cody Adams were exceptional in the Sound department. When most people think of filmmaking, sound often doesn't come to mind, but I have witnessed bad sound derail plenty of good films.

Filmtage : Independent filmmakers often face challenges in distribution and reaching a wider audience. What strategies have you employed to promote and share your work with a broader community?

Harry Waldman : I am actually pretty new regarding distribution. While I have been making films for some time, "Enter the Room" is the first film that I have submitted to festivals, which began in September of 2023. I am new to distribution, but I believe that the Internet has given filmmakers so many options at their disposal, and I am confident that I will be able to spread the word about "Enter the Room" and other future films when they are ready to be viewed, and hopefully get as many eyeballs on my work as possible. Simply posting about my Selections and Award wins on my social media handles has allowed for "Enter the Room" to gain a lot of the attention that it has received.

Filmtage : As an independent filmmaker, you have the freedom to explore diverse and unconventional subjects. Could you tell us about a particular project that was close to your heart and the importance of bringing that story to the screen?

Harry Waldman : Of all of my projects, "Enter the Room" is the one that I hold closest to my heart because of how personal it is to me. The idea came from a rough relationship I had with my roommate during my freshman year of college. Almost all of the things that Brian gets on Jeremy's case about are actual things that my roommate accused me of. Living with him was a very unpleasant experience for me, and I felt that I had to get it off of my chest by telling this story. In addition to Brian being based on my college roommate, I added a disturbing and tragic backstory about him and decided that he and Jeremy being brothers would make for a more interesting narrative. While I am not nearly as uptight as my college roommate was, I can be a bit neurotic, so I took pieces of myself which I injected into Brian in order to make him more layered. In general, I believe that creating complex characters often requires giving them flaws that can make them unlikeable at times, and I always do my best to try to walk in the shoes of the anti-hero or villain in order to portray them in a more genuine manner.

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