Directed by Charles Pelletier
From the award-winning filmmaking team of “That’s Opportunity Knocking” comes a new screwbyte comedy: The first road movie with no drivers.
When all that’s good about middle-class workers meets all that’s bad about corporate millionaires and all that’s wrong with technology, the inevitable result is a hysterical new comedy short that slashes the tires of corporate America.
Q&A with Charles Pelletier and Stephen Foster
Q1: Tell us a little about Driverless, which won for the Best Director category in Cosmic Film Festival.
CP: The main story is about a guy named Glen, who can’t keep a steady job because of his anger issues, taking a job at his uncle’s company. They have just laid off everyone in the self-driving car department except one employee, named Raj, the tech-savvy genius that has designed all the software. Glen and Raj are abandoned by bosses that don’t care, and the two of them desperately try to keep the company rolling by themselves. Throughout the film we meet, and our two heroes interact with, some of the people that are currently in the self-driving cars in the fleet. These are a nutty selection of individuals, and we ultimately learn a little bit about everybody. Ultimately the under-staffing makes everything unravel, and Glen and Raj are forced to take matters into their own hands.
Q2: Where did the idea for this film come from?
CP: I have always loved road movies ever since I was young and a friend of mine got me to watch Gumball Rally with him, which was an oldie by then. I have a completely different idea for a series that is basically a road movie, which has nothing to do with self-driving cars. One day I was reading an article about self-driving cars, and I thought, there’s the twist I’ve been looking for years. I ride a motorcycle, so a self-driving car doesn’t have much appeal to me. I think driving is fun. I’m not against the concept in theory, I just thought it would be a perfect topic to do a sendup of, as a road movie.
Q3: What were some key challenges when making this film? How did you overcome them?
SF: The major challenge was finding locations to film on our limited budget, but we found some wonderful spaces through Peerspace which gave us good rates and allowed us to film with a small cast and crew. We also filmed MANY scenes on the days we were on location so we could maximize the use of the space. Rehearsing on Zoom helped as well so we didn't have actors on set needing to learn their material. Being trained in theatre was really beneficial here. We had about 10 rehearsals for the actors to get them up in roles.
Q4: Tell us a funny anecdote or a memorable moment from making this film.
SF: Well, when we were filming the firecracker scenes, we actually burned a hole in the seat of our car due to the sparks from the firecrackers we used. I even burned a hole in the pants of my "Randy" costume. We were lucky the police weren't called on us, too.
Q5: How did you get into the film industry?
CP: I moved to Los Angeles in the 1990s, and after working at a few different places, I landed at Aaron Spelling Productions for quite a while. I was in the marketing department and got to work in the archives, where I got my fingers on a lot of materials they had acquired from older companies like Republic Pictures. So that was a great mix of exposure to new television and old cinema. After that I ended up working at Deluxe Film Labs for many years. But I’ve also done professional acting and directing on the stage, off and on, my whole life. Despite directing a lot of theatre, I actually spent many years writing films before I ever got the bug to direct one. My first film was a comedy short called “That’s Opportunity Knocking,” which is now on Amazon Prime Video.
Q6: What films or filmmakers have been the most inspiring or influential to you and why?
CP: I like the filmmakers who have fought to keep control of their own films. And generally, those are my favorite films. Many people don’t realize that the George Lucas of the American Graffiti era had to fight as hard as Orson Welles did, both of them visionaries who stayed true to their visions despite corporate bosses that wanted to take control. One of my favorite filmmakers is Miloš Forman, whose film The Fireman’s Ball got him run out of what was then Czechoslovakia. It was a satire, and I love satire. But apparently the communists didn’t like satire. People in control like to stay in control, and they don’t like being questioned. So people in control generally don’t like satire. I love satire, because it’s one of our few weapons against the people that repress us.
Q7: Do you have a favorite film project that you have done? Why?
SF: My favorite film project is the next one! LOL No, my favorite is "That's Opportunity Knocking" because I got to play a carefully crafted, off-center character that Charles wrote for me. The role of Wally was just plain madness and creative magic. When the script is right, it gives you everything you need on HOW to play the role. And that's how it is working with Charles, we have a language of understanding when it comes to creating comedy together. I also won 5 best supporting actor awards! (and one was from Cosmic Film Festival!)
Q8: What advice would you share with a new filmmaker about filmmaking or the industry?
SF: The same advice I give actors when I teach "Awakening the Actor Within": NEVER GIVE UP!
CP: I was listening to an interview with John Cleese recently, who is one of my favorite actors and filmmakers, and I believe he said something like, based on the observations of himself and others, an estimate of about 85% of the people in the film industry don’t know what they’re doing. I wish someone had told me that. If you know that, then the world makes a lot more sense. If you don’t know that, you start to think you’re the one who’s crazy. I think he went on to say that that number holds true in most professions, but I think the difference in Hollywood is that here, most of the 85% have the acute ability to talk as if they alone have all the answers. It’s kept my head spinning most of my life. But you have to laugh about it, and make it all fun.
Q9: Can you tell us about any of your upcoming projects?
SF: We have several completed scripts that are in the que to be filmed. We might shoot "The Little Johnny Dumplin' Show" which is a hybrid of "Hee Haw" meets "Waiting for Guffman" This would contain many country songs written by Charles Pelletier and I would play the lead role, Johnny Dumplin, a former child star who runs a small country show.
Q10: Where can people find out more about your work?
SF: The best place to find out about us and the film is driverlessthemovie.com
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