A conversation with John Lyons Murphy
The producer of Broken Kingdom and Kingdom Come talks about his experience making an independent film
The Tech interviewed John Lyons Murphy, producer of Broken Kingdom and Kingdom Come. Murphy spoke about his experiences with both films, as well as his thoughts on independent film as a whole.
The Tech: To me it seemed that Broken Kingdom wasted no scene or bit of dialogue. There was really nothing superfluous and everything really contributed to the overall experience. It goes without saying that Daniel Gillies wrote a pretty incredible story, but I wonder how having such a limited amount of resources, especially money-wise, could contribute to that sort of efficiency, that crispness.
John Lyons Murphy: I think that there are other people who have probably said this, but when you are sort of limited, it forces you to be more creative and more expedient with what assets you do have. So what that means in terms of practicality is trying to limit your locations, your shoot days and limit the amount of characters you have in the piece. There’s a lot of different ways you can do that sort of thing. But I think that essentially limits can kind be freeing in a kind of weird way because it does force you to be more creative.
TT: What do you think is important about independent film? Why should people go to see an indie film instead of maybe going to see something produced by major Hollywood studios?
JLM: Well it depends on what you’re looking for. I love Hollywood movies when they are good, and I love indie films when they are good. I think that the aim with a lot of indie films is to make something that isn’t a mass-market product, or [that appeals to] a massive cross section of people. It is much more niche. It is much more aimed at, usually, an older crowd that is not just [looking for] the popcorn movie culture. It sort of depends on what you’re looking for — what mood you are in. If you want something more challenging, if you want something more grown-up, touching or moving — something that you’ve never seen before. Or if you want to go and watch robots blow up, that’s cool too if that’s what you want to do. It’s really more [a matter of] what you’re looking for in the moment.
TT: So money was a huge issue for Broken Kingdom as said time and time again in Kingdom Come… It seems that this is a common issue for a lot of films. Is there anyway that the average viewer can support independent film in a constructive sort of way?
JLM: I think so. With the emergence of things like Kickstarter and just social media in general where you can kind of prove that there is a market for something before you even make it. That’s a good development that I wish we had had when we started [filming Broken Kingdom] years ago. That and going to see them in the theater is great and if you can’t do that go and rent them. Buy them. Buy them on iTunes, don’t just BitTorrent them. Don’t steal them [laughs]. That’s a way to support indie film. There’s a few different ways.
TT: If I remember correctly, one of the reasons that people didn’t want to finance Broken Kingdom was because it was about a young prostitute from Colombia — it wasn’t a very attractive sell. How should audiences feel about this, that the kind of films that we have access to are sort of pre-censored in this way?
JLM: Yeah, I think that is a bummer. Especially for American audiences because there are a lot of films that you’re not going to see get made because it is all about how much [the film will make] for the investors and rightly so. Your job for the investor as executive producer is to get that money back and make a profit. So if they don’t think they can put it into a certain box where the marketing is easy and there is a built in audience, it is going to be a lot harder for you to make the film, to get the financing. It’s better overseas in a lot of cases. Especially in Europe where there’s more help put in place, so to speak, there’s government run funds and stuff like that. Generally, everyone else pretty much is more supportive of indigenous filmmaking as opposed to the States where we grew up with the studio system and it’s very much a capitalist way of producing films. Where in Europe, there are the government grants that you can get to make more private or niche or smaller market films.
TT: What do you think sold Broken Kingdom? What sealed the deal for the people who did end up supporting the film?
JLM: I really think it was the belief in Daniel Gillies. His passion for what he was trying to do and how far he was willing to go to make it happen. That’s what started the project, that’s what drove the project and that is what in the end, finished it. It wasn’t just the end of production when it was all in the can. It was Daniel in the editing room with our editor. It was pounding on doors to actually get people to watch the movie and submitting it to festivals. Leveraging relationships and all these different things — Daniel once he is dedicated to something he is very much an unstoppable force. I think that Daniel’s will is what drove Broken Kingdom the whole way through.
Editor’s Note: This interview was edited for clarity.