“You can’t do everything yourself.” — It’s important to work with a team that you trust and can share the workload with, if you work with the right people the process becomes more rewarding and fun.
As a part of our series called “5 Things I Wish Someone Told Me When I First Became A Filmmaker”, I had the distinct pleasure of interviewing Randy Nundlall Jr.
Randy is a film director from London with a BA (Hons.) in Film Production from the University of the Creative Arts. He has experience in directing narrative films and music videos.
His narratives typically feature themes of dreams, memories, loneliness, isolation, and exploring the mental state of his characters, combining surreal elements into his films.
Randy has completed his new horror feature film, “Infrared”, starring Greg Sestero (The Room and The Disaster Artist) which he co-directed with Robert Livings. The film is currently streaming on Prime, Tubi, Roku, and YouTube.
Thank you so much for joining us in this interview series! Our readers would love to get to know you a bit better. Can you tell us a bit of the ‘backstory’ of how you grew up?
Thank you for having me! I grew up in London with my parents and my sister. I was a super shy and introverted kid, who enjoyed playing video games and watching films, which unknowingly helped influence me to pursue a career in the film industry. I have always been drawn to storytelling and found that filmmaking was a great way to infuse this passion and express myself and the human experience in my work.
I went to film school and had experience shooting short films and music videos before moving to Sacramento, CA in 2014, when I was 22. I was fortunate to meet like minded, passionate people, who loved making films. This helped pave the way for my career and I learned a lot from my friends that I worked with!
Can you share a story with us about what brought you to this specific career path?
Growing up, my dad used to make short films with his friends. I really enjoyed meeting and working with all the colorful personalities, the camaraderie, and humor you find on set. I later started to make films with my childhood friends when I was thirteen years old (films that will never be seen by the public!) I really enjoyed bringing stories to life and was initially drawn into video game design for the same reasons. One of my dad’s friends, and my teachers at school told me that I should explore the film industry and I haven’t looked back since.
Can you share the funniest or most interesting story that occurred to you in the course of your filmmaking career?
I actually think filming in the abandoned school for Infrared was probably the most interesting experience I’ve had. The security guards, who were there at night, would tell us about the weird sounds and sights they would encounter during their shifts. When we looked in the school basement, there were creepy, old paintings that kids had done on the walls and there was one tiny alcove, which had a kid’s chair placed in there, which reminded me of “The Chokey” from Matilda. We were so fortunate to have access to the school and Rob’s wife, Sierra, deserves a big shoutout for guiding us in the right direction and to contact the school district.
On the other hand… It could be when my childhood friend, Jon accidentally broke all the plates in the dishwasher when I made my first short film. He walked backwards into an open dishwasher and all we heard was endless smashing. We’re still waiting for Jon to replace all the plates after 15+ years!
Who are some of the most interesting people you have interacted with? What was that like? Do you have any stories?
Honestly, I have met so many interesting people in the film industry and have been grateful to have developed so many friendships through film.Working with Greg Sestero was probably the most surreal moment for me. I remember growing up watching “The Room” with my friends and always discussing the enigmatic nature of the film (and we still do!), so working with him was such a pleasure. On set, he was quiet and was constantly walking around with a few pieces of printed paper. Both myself and Rob were trying to figure out what was going on (I speculated he was checking his emails), we realized that he came very prepared with notes for his character and would write down little tid-bits that other characters would say in scenes, so he could refer back to them later in the film. He was a great professional to work with, easy going, took direction well, and was willing to go the extra mile. He just finished his most recent film, “Miracle Valley”, which is definitely worth checking out!
None of us are able to achieve success without some help along the way. Is there a particular person who you are grateful towards who helped get you to where you are? Can you share a story about that?
Everyone that I have worked with from childhood to now has contributed to my success in some way, so this is a difficult question, but if I had to pick one… I would say probably my dad. He introduced me to the filmmaking world and let me use his camera and editing software when I was a kid, which I used to make films with my sister and my childhood friends. He literally gave me the tools that helped me discover my passion in life and is the reason I am sitting here today.
Can you please give us your favorite “Life Lesson Quote”? Can you share how that was relevant to you in your life?
One of my favorite Life Lesson quotes is… “If you don’t do it yourself, no one else will”. This is very true from personal experience! Growing up, I was very shy (and I still am) so I would wait for others to be proactive but in the end, you have to make the first move and continuously push yourself to put the work in, even when the going gets tough. Other people will contribute to your growth and success but in the end if you want to make something happen it is important to take the initiative to make ideas become reality.
I am very interested in diversity in the entertainment industry. Can you share three reasons with our readers about why you think it’s important to have diversity represented in film and television? How can that potentially affect our culture?
Yes, diversity is very important in the entertainment industry and it’s great to see more of it in the last few years. I am lucky enough to work with Rob, for a non-profit, where we teach filmmaking to adults with developmental disabilities and it’s such a rewarding experience to help them achieve their dreams and goals in the filmmaking world and advocate for them to have a voice in the entertainment industry. We were lucky to have two students work with us on some of the bigger shoot days for Infrared.
Diversity also raises large awareness to underrepresented and marginalized groups, which a lot of people aren’t aware of. It’s important as a society to help people feel included and understand the struggles that others are going through. What can we do to help others? How can we understand someone’s life experiences through their lens? There are many different groups that lack representation, for example, I have a mixed-race background and I feel that only recently we’re starting to see more representation within the film industry.
Lastly, I feel diversity is important because we get exposed to more stories, styles, and techniques that we can learn from. Growing up, I was very influenced by international cinema and in particular, European and Asian cinema. I feel that international cinema is more daring than the majority of mainstream Hollywood film and I think being exposed to this kind of diversity has inspired me to be more daring with the stories I want to tell and has enabled me to expose audiences to themes and visuals that might be uncomfortable to experience but are important to showcase.
What are some of the most interesting or exciting projects you are working on now?
Rob and I are currently in production for an upcoming Christmas horror anthology. We are aiming to get this released this year, during the holiday season. This is also found-footage, like Infrared, and loosely based in the same world. This has been such a fun project to work on and we can’t wait to share it with all of you! The film stars Greg Sestero, Vernon Wells, David Sheridan, and Felissa Rose!
Which aspect of your work makes you most proud? Can you explain or give a story?
I think getting an emotional reaction from my work is probably what makes me proud. We recently premiered Infrared in Sacramento and it was a joy seeing people’s reactions during the film. We received alot of positive feedback after the film and many people indicated that they enjoyed it. Outside of Infrared, I’ve had a few short films in the past, which explore feelings of loneliness and isolation, and I’ve had people reach out to me saying that they were touched by the films and personally related to them, which is the ultimate reaction for me. I truly believe that films are made to get a reaction or response or challenge people to think and if you manage to do that, you’ve achieved your job as a filmmaker.
Ok super. Here is the main question of our interview. What are your “5 things I wish someone told me when I first started” and why. Please share a story or example for each.
- “You can’t do everything yourself.” — It’s important to work with a team that you trust and can share the workload with, if you work with the right people the process becomes more rewarding and fun.
- “You can be shy and succeed.” — As I mentioned previously, growing up I was shy and found it difficult to come out of my shell. You find ways to challenge yourself and “break out of your shell”, while still being yourself. Filmmaking is a big part of who I am and I realized that I will do whatever I can to succeed, which in the end helped me overcome my shyness.
- “Make films you enjoy” — Audiences can sense passion in your work. If you’re not passionate about what you make and wouldn’t want to sit through your own film, the chances are that no one else will. Make things you care about!
- “You’re going to wear multiple hats when making films.” — This ties in with the last point, although you can’t do everything yourself, you’re probably going to be sharing the workload with your crew. For Infrared, myself and Rob, wrote, directed, produced, and acted. He also did camera and I edited. I have never acted and directed at the same time and it was such a different filmmaking experience.
- “Be adaptable and flexible” — This is very important as a filmmaker! Things are not going to go according to plan and are going to fall apart last minute. This happened with moments on Infrared and we still came out with a solid film. Actually, funnily enough, one of the segments we shot for our upcoming anthology had things fall apart very suddenly. We lost our location a few days before, an actor dropped out the night before, and other minor inconveniences! Ironically, with all the adapting we had to do, the film and story came out stronger than our original concept.
When you create a film, which stakeholders have the greatest impact on the artistic and cinematic choices you make? Is it the viewers, the critics, the financiers, or your own personal artistic vision? Can you share a story with us or give an example about what you mean?
Honestly, it’s always been about the viewers. My main intention when making a film is for the audience to take something away from the film, whether that’s something they relate to, a feeling, or purely being entertained. I remember doing a short film and my intention was to evoke an emotional response from the audience and when my girlfriend watched the film, she cried, which I think was a success!
You are a person of great influence. If you could start a movement that would bring the most amount of good to the most amount of people, what would that be? You never know what your idea can trigger. 🙂
My friends and family will probably laugh at this but positivity. The power of positivity can work wonders! For those who laughed at this, I swear I’m positive deep down!
We are very blessed that some of the biggest names in Business, VC funding, Sports, and Entertainment read this column. Is there a person in the world, or in the US whom you would love to have a private breakfast or lunch with, and why? He or she might see this. 🙂
Quentin Tarantino, he has a contagious passion for filmmaking! I would love to pick his brain about directing and screenwriting.
How can our readers further follow you online?
You can follow me on instagram at @randago I post all of my film updates and current projects in the making!
This was very meaningful, thank you so much! We wish you continued success!
Thank you for making the time to interview us! It is such an honor and I hope everyone enjoys Infrared!
Randy Nundlall Jr: 5 Things I Wish Someone Told Me When I First Became A Filmmaker was originally published in Authority Magazine on Medium, where people are continuing the conversation by highlighting and responding to this story.