Interviews: Director Brett Bentman Talks About His Post-Apocalyptic Thriller Apocalypse Road

Brett Bentman is the writer/director of the new post-apocalyptic thriller Apocalypse Road, which is currently winning raves on the VOD circuit. 

Following a post-apocalyptic event, two sisters are hunted down and separated by a gang of ruthless killers intent on creating their own twisted form of law and order. The sisters must fight through this new, dangerous world to stay alive in the hopes of being reunited, and escaping to freedom."

The film stars Katie Kohler (Subterranea), Ashlyn McEvers (22 Jump Street), Billy Blair (Machete, Machete Kills) and Nellie Sciutto (Shutter Island). It is out now on VOD from Wild Eye Releasing. You can read our review here and check out the trailer and stills for the sequels Apocalypse Road 2.

We caught up with the talented screenwriter and filmmaker to talk past, present and beyond. 

TMS: Is filmmaking what you do for a living these days? 

BB: Not entirely. We have a production company, b22 Films, which works on commercials and short films as well. The goal is to only do features, and that day is coming, but we have to pay the bills. 

TMS: And I guess that’s one thing most folks don’t get about independent filmmaking – unless you make a Star Wars or a Saw you’ve still got to ‘pay the rent’ by working other jobs. Has that been your experience? 

BB: Most of the cast and crew of AR have day jobs. That’s the gig for now. The beauty of it is that you get so much more out of someone like that. They know time is valuable and they dive in head first and bust their butt because it beats the hell out of whatever they do when they’re not on set. I am lucky to have that kind of team, rain or shine, behind me. 

TMS: You also need a strong support system behind you, I imagine? 

BB: Exactly right. There is a core four for us; myself, Scott Ross who handles all our sound needs, Michael Ray Lewis, who shoots our films, myself and Tiffany McEvers, who does wardrobe and just about anything else you toss in her path (she’s also my beautiful girlfriend) We also have a great EP, Bill Nicholas, who is a long time friend and producer. Without those four people with me on a film like AR, it doesn’t get done. 

TMS: Do you have a lot at stake – even personal investment - tied up in your productions? 

BB: If you don’t have some skin in the game, you’re not doing it right. Although we had a private investment for the film there are always parts of the budget I supply myself, usually insurance and gear. I want everyone to see me as a team player, not just a director. 

TMS: When do you consider the risk worthwhile? 

BB: That’s a good question. I have been a salesman for years… I am still selling, only this time it’s a movie. I like to support people who have been with me all these years. I get emails all the time where people want me to read their scripts or help direct or write something. That’s all fine and good, but I will always help my friends first. It makes me happy to see the people who hold me up, getting held up themselves. 

TMS: Do you have a plan for your career? 

BB: I know what I want to do next if that’s what you mean? There is a DUKE CITY movie that we’d love to shoot in New Mexico next year and I have the most original script idea I could ever imagine on my computer. I’d love to film those two next. There is also a horror script I really believe in on my desktop… who knows? Whatever window opens, I can assure you, I will be ready to jump out and start rolling! 

TMS: Would you prefer to keep working on original productions or would you be quite happy if, say, a major studio asked you to helm their next big franchise?

BB: It would be ideal for a studio to approach me. I want to start directing other people’s works, but I still have some really cool stories to tell. Can I do both? 

TMS: Reviews. How much do they mean to you? 

BB: Love that question. I want to say they don’t, but they do – and I read them. They sometimes make me angry, not gonna lie. All press is good press and if someone hates your work, it’s still YOUR work, which is something they probably cannot say for themselves. 

TMS: Now that you’ve got several films under your belt, do you think doors will open for you?

BB: I do. They already have. I am so far from where I want to be, but I have so many opportunities that will hopefully come to fruition soon. The waiting is hard, but it’s part of the gig. 

TMS: What’s the best piece of advice you’ve been given from anyone? 

BB: Steven Michael Quezada played Gomie on Breaking Bad and he’s a great friend and we have worked together for years on different films. He was in the move, Kreep , which I wrote and directed and he knew the situation was tough on me, first feature and all. One of the other actors had some crazy scheme to walk out on production and Steven actually stood up for me, some no name Dallas based filmmaker. It wasn’t verbal advice really, just the idea that good people will look out for your best interest. This movie business is about relationships. Without them, you are nothing. The best advice I can offer to a filmmaker; choose your producers wisely if you able to.