Filmmaking has taken a drastic shift over the past few years when it comes to getting your name out. While many directors still pursue the traditional manner of releasing short films and working on features, there's a great online presence who have turned their attentions to webisodes and weekly content. Many of those who have stuck to their guns and pushed out content on a regular basis have seen great success, giving them the freedom to create on their own terms and receive online stardom in the process. In the past few months, the local web series Slice to Life
has caught the attention of the local entertainment scene, gaining most of it's following through word-of-mouth and traditional promotion beyond the web. The series features its creator, Tobijah Tyler, in the role of Alyn, a 30-something man living in SLC working his way through prior relationships while seeking out reasons to continue on. Today we chat with Tyler about his career in film and the series so far.
Slice to Life on Facebook
Gavin: Hey Tobijah, first thing, tell us a little bit about yourself.
I love making movies and I’m lucky to be able to.
Gavin: What first got you interested in films and what were some early influences on you?
I always wanted to make movies. Even as a child I knew somehow I would make films. Indirectly my mom, sister, and brother. My mother worked a lot and my sister and brother were older. If they wanted to go out they would leave me at the movie theater. I loved it. I watched a lot of films beginning at an early age.
Gavin: What made you take an interest in filming yourself and taking a lead behind the camera?
Acting isn’t an easy thing for
me. For Slice to Life
, I looked for an actor to play Alyn and a director. I wanted to produce and put more production value into the film. Acting in Slice to Life
and directing was the realization that if this web series was going to be made, this is what it would take.
Gavin: You studied theater, among other topics, at Utah State. What made you choose their program?
I enjoyed the business program at USU. It was Sid Perkes through Terrance Goodman who rescued me to the theater program when I was about to get into a little trouble.
Gavin: Once you were done with USU, what made you decide to stay in Utah rather than return to California?
I actually returned to California after college. One of my mentors, Ross Peterson, whom I TA’d for in college, directed me toward an internship at University of Utah that lead to my first job in film, as a PA on Stephen King’s The Stand
. I kept a place in California and Utah for a long time. I go to California a lot as well. I have many contacts there.
Gavin: Over the past few years, how has it been for you working on films and forming your own production company?
Working freelance film is a challenge. The awesomeness of working in film is each individual production. I love making movies. Working on productions, especially with people that you have worked with before quite often can be one of the most rewarding parts of my life. Working in film is also an oscillation, you may never know what will happen from one year to the next. You learn to set your lifestyle to this circumstance and you better have many irons in the fire.
Gavin: How did the idea for Slice to Life come about?
I attempt to write a script a year. I was sitting down to write a script that I am actually currently writing now, when it hit me that I hadn’t directed anything for a long time. I felt it was time to put something into production that I could do for little to no money. I looked around at all the talented souls I had around me and I began to write Slice
using the locations and people I knew. Slice to Life
Gavin: Considering the format as a web series, did you write everything out together or did you piece it along as you approached each episode?
I used the feature film format to write, but I had the pacing
of 3-5 minute webisodes in my mind as I wrote. I think it came out on the page that way. I am influenced by the Dogme 95 movement and Cinema Verite. With the advancement of digital, I knew I would be able to produce this content.
Gavin: When casting, do you rely more on friends you know, or do you actively audition and seek out actors you haven't worked with before?
Most of the people in Slice to Life
never acted before, but they are performers. Most of the people are in bands or musical groups. All the people in Slice Of Life
are some form of artist and I used there
abilities to get the performance onto the screen. I notice potential in people as performance artist. As a director, it is your job to pull the performance. I have people that I will continue to work without of pull of actors I know and will continue to develop relationships with actors in the future.
Gavin: What's the typical process for you in filming a single episode, from concept to final product?
I could talk about this till the cows come home. I have been an Assistant Director in film, TV, industrials, music videos, commercials, and the like. You piece it together like a jigsaw puzzle. I used many of my AD skills to coordinate shoot dates with actors schedules. As for the concept, it comes from the written word. What is on the page is important. What the actor pulls from the page is more important. What the director reveals from the page through the actor is most important.
Gavin: Unlike a lot of other shows produced locally, you've gone more grassroots in promotion and word of mouth. What made you decide to take that approach?
It is what this project is. I have hopes for this project to find its audience. I do believe there is an audience for it. Like most things, it will take time which may not be in the near future and I am OK with that.
Gavin: What's the general feeling been like from people who have checked out the series?
Most people tell me they like it. I have enjoyed the people who I have worked with in the industry who like it. Most responses have been pleasantly surprised. The film industry is tough, hearing it from industry professionals means a lot.
Gavin: Do you have a planned ending to it or some kind of season finale, or is it more of an idea where it will continue as long as you have interest?
Tobijah: Slice to Life
has been shot in its entirety. 26 webisodes total. The climax of the film is intense, I believe we did a solid job of laying down the bread crumbs into the conclusion of our series. Alyn can’t help but take it too far.
Gavin: Are you actively looking for any help from the film or acting communities to help at this time, or is the current cast and crew pretty self-contained for now?
I am always looking for talent. It is important to me to help careers of up and coming filmmakers in all aspects of film
. I will continue to make content and films. Whether it is with recognizable actors or up and comers.
Gavin: Are there any other projects or plans currently underway that you'd like to share?
I am constantly working with filmmakers on potential projects in many of my abilities as a filmmaker. I work as a 2nd AD on Granite Flats
, which we hope will get greenlit again. What an awesome show to work on.
Doing breakdowns and budgets for potential jobs as well as pushing a couple of projects of my own.
Gavin: What else can we expect from you and Slice To Life over 2015?
The climax to Slice to Life
will happen around Easter 2015. I can’t express enough how excited I am with the ending. I believe it says so much on
what this project is about. Before that I hope to increase our viewership to the hundreds of thousands.