For Kyle Patrick Alvarez, the route to a career as a director has been slightly less than orthodox. Now perhaps best known as the director of this year’s “The Stanford Prison Experiment,” Alvarez’s life in film has taken turns from being the assistant to Warren Beatty to the adapter of work by author David Sedaris. In this week’s episode of Indiewire Influencers, Alvarez talks with Indiewire Editor in Chief Dana Harris about all three of those experiences and some of his 2016 plans.
“Every movie, I think you look back on and think ‘Oh God, what was I thinking? That could have been such a disaster,'” Alvarez said. Those blinders to help get to that point were especially helpful on “The Stanford Prison Experiment,” a film that involved a number of physical and psychological challenges throughout the course of the shoot.
And the challenges were plenty before filming even started. A slew of notable industry vets had previously made attempts to tell a version of the doomed psychological study that gives the film its name. “I think I was the first person that said, ‘No matter what we do, no matter how big we make this movie, it’s a bunch of guys trapped in a basement. And it’s never going to change,'” Alvarez said of the approach that eventually got him the job.
Finding the right guys for that basement proved to be equally challenging. In the end, Alvarez opted for actors with a specific approach. “These guys had that attitude that when the cameras roll, it’s the movie. When they’re off, it stops,” Alvarez explained.
His advice to young filmmakers? “You have to say, ‘I want people to spend time with something I’ve made.’ You have to accept that to be confident,” Alvarez said.
For more, including which “Stanford” cast member kept his accent going between takes, listen to the full interview above.
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