Sunday, June 28, 2015

Meet Gregory L. Hines, Writer and Director of MOD-X

Gregory L. Hines is the writer and director of the forthcoming sci-fi short film, MOD-X. He has worked as an artist in such media as music, drama, writing, and photography. Upon receiving an honorary discharge from military service in 2012, he moved to Southern California, residing in between Los Angeles and Las Vegas. Learn more about MOD-X at

1. What gave you the idea for MOD-X?

In the summer of 2014, my friend and I wanted to film a movie together, and we ended up with an idea about a bounty hunter tracking down a criminal in a post-apocalyptic world. Unfortunately, our schedules never could match up to film together, but I ended up writing a script called X1978. Eventually I developed the script further, and it became known as MOD-X.

2. In shooting the film, what did you do (and where did you film) to create a post-apocalyptic setting? 

I have always been of the belief to use what is accessible to you to raise the production value of your film. In my case, I live in the Mojave Desert and wrote a script around the landscape. My "in-camera" approach to create a post-apocalyptic Earth was to capture the fantastic mountains and the vast voids of the land. Additionally, I found a junk yard that gave us the perfect setting for our end scene called "The Deadlands."

Taking these shots, I was able to hand them off to my Visual Effects (VFX) team who started a process of matte painting, manipulation, and enhancements, thus adding to the world of isolation and desolation.

3. Your film has taken 14 days of production and several months of post-production. Could you tell us a little more about what that process has been like?

Tiresome. The process of making a film can be a long and arduous process, and it takes teams of people to successfully complete a project. MOD-X had its fair share of hurdles from over eight rewrites and having to replace two members of the cast mid-way into filming. This put constant demands on the cast and crew such as constantly learning aspects of an ever-changing script to dealing with the extreme environment of the desert. However, as a team we did succeed in getting the shots we needed by staying positive, focused, and determined---a bit of humor also went a long way.

Once we got into post production, the stress of lugging tons of gear into the vast enclaves of high winds and dirt were finally over, but the overwhelming task of assembling the film into a cohesive story both visually and audibly had just begun. Because the sound was unusable, I had to completely reconstruct every sound in the film in a process called Foley and sound design. Additionally, all of the actors had to come and rerecord their lines in another process called ADR or Automatic Dialogue Replacement. As you can imagine, this took over two months to complete, but it gives the film a unique and dynamic feel. Currently, we are waiting for the VFX team and our composer to complete their work.

4. What are some things you've learned about ways to make a quality film on a micro budget?

Most beginning filmmakers worry about gear or what camera they should use. The number one aspect to ensuring a smooth and successful film is to plan, plan, and plan. In doing so, take your time and do not rush or you run the risk of it coming back to haunt you later in production. Another aspect which I noted earlier is to use what is accessible to you. Take a drive and scout your area and ask yourself, what stands out and what is unique? When asking people to help you, always show respect and gratitude for anyone's time. A poor attitude is a sure way to turn people off and lose help. Lastly, be excited about what you do. I found that my excitement and drive was infectious, which attracted the right types of people to MOD-X. People want to work on a film that has a great story and work with dedicated and professional people, and most of all, people want to have fun!

5. What's your advice to other independent artists who want to make films but don't have any funding?

Starting out with a simple script without unnecessary fight scenes, explosions, and VFX. Keeping the process simple will allow you to concentrate on the meat and potatoes of filmmaking. Additionally, resource with people through the filmmaking community in whatever way possible to meet fellow artists. Bargain with people in exchange for services to accomplish your project. One of my cast members worked for free on MOD-X, but in return I filmed a short film for him which allowed him to get his project off the ground. Lastly, be creative, know that it is okay to fail, and don't be afraid to ask for help--and most importantly, HAVE FUN!

Thanks, Greg!

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