Actor-turned-filmmaker Richard Speight, Jr. took some time from the NaFF Red Carpet to talk to us about his directorial debut, America 101, screening as a part of the Tennessee First Shorts 2 on Wednesday, April 24 at 5:00 pm.
Richard Speight, Jr. is a name you might not recognize but there’s a good chance you’ll know his face. He’s appeared in television series such as Justified and Supernatural and films such as Thank You for Smoking, Noobz, and Band of Brothers. Speight lives in Nashville and has attended NaFF in previous years as what he terms “a lurker” just quietly seeing films and enjoying the festival.
“I didn’t know what film to make till I had this idea.” Speight says of America 101. “The plan is to stay in the world of writing and directing. I’ve always been involved in the writing side so the directing side is a bit new but I loved the experience of filming America 101 so I’m definitely going to be back at it.”
Speight believes that as a writer/director he is being taken more seriously than when he represented films as an actor. “When you’re the writer/director people are more interested in hearing what you have to say, because I feel like festivals are so supportive of the making of movies and as an actor when you go to a festival you certainly are an important part of the film, but you showed up long after the sweat equity and the hard labor of getting the financing of creating the idea, getting it on paper, and assembling the team, so you are just part of the process. When you are the producer, writer, director…you started out with nothing and came out of it with a complete structure so you sort of are the boots on the ground that built the whole thing. I think that’s why festivals are so gracious towards the filmmakers.”
Since Speight has been to NaFF both as an attendee and now as a filmmaker, he really understands the NaFF experiences from both angles: “I really think (NaFF) is a very well run festival . Everyone is really really nice. They’re excited to have you. I’ve had some great experiences at other festivals but they feel a little bit disjointed, like… who knows what’s going on. I always feel like the Nashville Film Festival is just a well-oiled machine and consequently it’s really fun and relaxing to be a visitor and be a filmmaker involved in it, and Nashville as a city is such a great city to host this kind of event. It already understands entertainment at a high level because of the music involvement and so switching avenues and going the film side is a natural fit for this city. This is a very warm welcoming city with a lot to do and a lot to show the emerging filmmakers.”