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Interview with Carey Head of "The Queen's Miscreants'

“How taken aback was I? I think my first words were: ‘Well, shit.’”

When Carey Head’s directorial debut, Clocking Out, won the grand prize at the 2015 48-Hour Film Festival, he and his team were stunned.

No one reacted for several seconds. The stage remained empty, the announcer holding out the trophy, waiting for the winner to collect their prize. After all, this was Carey’s first film. He and his team, titled “The Queen’s Miscreants”, had just beat out a number of experienced filmmakers; how?

“One of my favorite things about Clocking Out is the simplicity with which it tells a basic tale: it’s a story about a man struggling to maintain his inner joy in the most mundane  of circumstances (work), until he is free to find his own happiness at the end of the day.”

The story of this short film is definitely one to which many can relate. And Carey Head is no exception.

Who Needs Employability, Anyway?

Carey’s always been a storyteller. As a teen, he and his cousin would make “simultaneously terrible and incredible” short films with his grandfather’s VHS Camcorder. “I think we created ‘Sweded’ versions of Raiders of the Lost Ark and Rambo twenty years before Be Kind Rewind came out. Sadly, the movies were taped over by my mom in favor of Remington Steele.”

In college, Carey continued to grow creatively, becoming involved in theater acting, directing, and stage production. Then, the journey came to a halt. For twenty-three years, Carey found himself working in I.T., the result of an all-too-familiar need to “be employable”.

“I felt incredibly stifled during the nine to five days. I still had ideas and a strong desire to create, but felt stymied. My love has always been for the collaborative and comedic, and it was impossible to get anyone to join my madness.”

On his fortieth birthday, Carey made a bucket list for the year, which he titled, “the Four-Oh Project.” As a result, he took a beginner improv class in April of 2013 with Charlotte Comedy Theater (CCT).

Screw It, We’ll Improvise!

By the fall of 2013, Carey was performing improv as often as possible. He was inspired to return to the creative fields he had studied in college. But now, he had two more decades of life experience behind him, as well as the skill set he picked up at CCT.

From improv, he’s learned “to be less critical and concerned about where things are going”.

“I didn’t write for years and years because I hated my first drafts. What I know now from having created countless stories on the stage is that, no matter where you are in the story right now, there is always an opportunity to find an interesting character, relationship, or story arc.”

 

From Stage to Page to Screen

In the audience of the 2014 48-Hour Film Festival, Carey remarked to his wife that, “too many [of the films] seemed to give the story the short shrift”.

“I felt the improv theater folks could do a good job at the competition, since we were experienced with creating great stories on the fly.”

However, Carey never really intended to sign up. “After all, I didn’t know anything about filmmaking, and I’ve always struggled with doing anything where I might end up looking foolish or incompetent.”

Motivation came from an unlikely source; Amy Poehler’s book, Yes, Please, inspired him to take a chance. Within the first 24 hours of declaring his intention to enter the festival on Facebook, Carey had fifteen people from CCT volunteer to join him.

“The Queen’s Miscreants” is a team of improvisers with an improviser as its lead, so they do what they do best.

Their process? “We got the team together and used improv skills to quickly run through and build off of different ideas until we came up with a concept we liked. It literally is a group effort.”

Carey’s a fan of character-driven stories, so that is where he always begins: with the character. “I get a strong sense of my main character and his relationship to the environment, and then let things play out as they will.” It’s an approach he regularly hones on the CCT stage.

Since winning the 48-Hour Film Festival, Clocking Out has screened at a number of festivals in Georgia and North Carolina.

“Going to these festivals has reinforced my perception of independent filmmakers as an incredibly supportive and exciting group of people to be around.”

Between festivals, Carey and “The Queen’s Miscreants” have been busy. For the One Hundred Words Film Festival, the team created BRB, a short horror film. After that, Carey was independently chosen to direct the web series, Dick Kelly (coming soon!)

But what lies aHead?

“I could think of any number of career goals for myself at this point: show runner, full-time director, etc. I think, however, that I prefer to just follow my passion for creating the best stories I can right now and see where my own story takes me.”

Ask Carey

Carey’s advice to fellow would-be creatives?

“Each moment is the beginning of the next chapter. It doesn’t matter how long you waited to get started, that you didn’t go to film school, etc. It all starts when you prioritize your craft and start creating and sharing.”

All this just goes to prove, this Head is full of great advice (Puns. Sorry I’m not sorry).


Keep up with Carey and The Queen’s Miscreants on Facebook, and check out the Charlotte Comedy Theater, too!

True Films On Tapper pt.1 - Chris Baker

How did you get your start making movies? 

I’ve loved movies ever since I was a kid. I was really into watching films, watching all the behind the scenes features and learning about special effects at a really young age. But I didn’t get into the process of making them until after high school, right after seeing the movie Titanic strangely enough.  People were going to the theaters to see that movie so much... I loved the idea of making something that affected people like that.

Tell us about your film Glory Days (one of our first selections for Films on Tap!)

Glory Days was a short film we made for the 48hr Film Festival. We drew the genre ‘time travel.’ Once we pulled that, we started brainstorming all kinds of ideas, but I knew I wanted to do something that had a little more of a comedic edge. 

It’s a story about a young man who’s visited by his older self in the future. He’s come to stop himself from ruining his life as a result of too much drinking. But in the movie, the older character – instead of leading his younger self away from this lifestyle – he ends up being drawn back in to his old partying ways.

Any recent set life stories you can share?

Recently I was on the set of a short film where I was playing Jesus, and I was crying over a pile of dead Christmas trees. While I was dressed as Jesus in my neighborhood, a van full of older women pulled up and asked why I was dressed as Jesus. I told them, and they asked that I give them a short blessing. So I did a quick cross, I said “Peace be with you” and they were very happy and drove off. That was really unexpected and fun.

How did you get involved with Films on Tap?

I wanted to submit to Films on Tap because it’s a great venue to show short films in a relaxed environment. People are drinking beer and it’s a great thing. I love beer and I love movies, so why not pair them together and have a great time?

Who are some other film groups in Charlotte we should know?

The Charlotte Film Community is a great place to meet people and network with actors and crew members. The Back Alley Film Series shows cult films you won’t see in the theater. That’s definitely always a fun place to go and see a movie that’s outside the box.

Your go­-to Charlotte beers... Go!

Definitely Birdsong’s Jalepeno Ale and NoDa’s Hop Drop and Roll.

Do you see yourself making short films a few years from now?

Ultimately, my goal is to be able to stay here in Charlotte and make features. Right now I’m making commercials and kind of selling myself as a commercial director, while doing some fun short films on the side and hopefully entertaining audiences. I’d love to be able to make movies around here instead of having to move to New York or LA. Those are really great places, but I want to keep film growing right here in Charlotte.

Hopefully in the future we can keep doing this on a much larger scale.

Full Interview Below

Introduction to Films on Tap!

If you’re wondering what in the world it is we do at Films on Tap or why we do it, I know exactly how you feel. I first discovered this hidden gem of an event almost two years ago via a 2-­sentence post on Reddit: “Come out to support local filmmakers + watch short films paired with beers.” 

Personally, I was sold solely on the premise of pairing two of my favorite things in the world together (film and beer) and being able to support local artists in both crafts. But to be honest, I wasn’t really sure what to expect. My guess was this was probably a student ­run thing, and I’d be sitting through a few college senior projects. I half­-expected the standard, super serious, “coming of age” narratives, or thinly veiled political metaphors, or experimental (potentially drug-­induced) films maybe. But I was 100% okay with all of these scenarios because.. 1) I’d loved making all of those films myself not too long ago and 2) Beer though.

 When I got to the event, I immediately knew I was wrong about everything (not a foreign feeling to me). This was a full­-blown, professional production, and every detail had clearly been carefully thought out by two local filmmakers: the indomitable Sean Beck and Nicole Driscoll.

 This first event was held in the back room of Heist Brewery in NoDa. Every guest was greeted at the ticket booth with a full red carpet and a professional photographer offering to take your photo in front of a custom step-­and­-repeat backdrop. We each received 5 tickets which could be redeemed for a sample of beer. The catch was that you’d have to wait and receive one beer per film – a pairing which also had been carefully planned by the event coordinators and the featured filmmakers. 

Each film was introduced by its respective director with a brief synopsis, a handful of behind­-the-­scenes anecdotes and why we’d be drinking the particular beer reserved for their film’s time slot. The concept is that there’s a story within each film and each craft beer that’s brewed. Darker films might be paired with stouts or porters; comedies typically are paired with something a little lighter. Some films appear to be simple on the surface, then hit you with a powerful punch when you least expect it — not unlike some Charlotte­-brewed IPAs.  

Just to be clear, my predictions for what type of films we were in for were also 100% off the mark. We got a hilarious time-­travel comedy, a short horror film (with a fantastic and clever twist), a documentary, an animated short, and a music video. The quality and range of both the films and the beers showcased that night was nothing short of remarkable.

Once the credits rolled on the final film of the evening, I was also surprised to see that most of the guests stuck around. Not in a ‘Oh, we got these beers and now we need to finish them’ kind of way. Tons of viewers (including myself) were eager to get out of our seats and introduce ourselves to the featured filmmakers. I’ll admit it: I behaved like a starstruck fangirl, congratulating the directors of my favorite films and high-­fiving the actors and actresses who had portrayed my favorite characters of the evening.

 And I think that’s where the magic of this event truly is. While attendance has exploded with every iteration, the size of the event is still small enough where you can find yourself sitting next to one of the featured directors or even the stars of the shows, and everyone here is incredibly supportive and eager to talk shop. It’s also fair to assume every single person in attendance has at least two shared interests with you, which takes out a lot of the guesswork and awkwardness of networking with the amazing and talented members of Charlotte’s film community. 

Another reason I fell in love with Films on Tap: There’s something about listening to a filmmaker nervously present his or her work for a live audience ­­ understanding how much time, heart and effort went into each piece ­­ and then watching it all pay off with the audience’s reaction that just makes for an extraordinary experience. I’ve attended every FoT event since its creation, and every time it’s inspired me to go straight home to re­-watch my old (cringe­-inducing) college pieces or rediscover old, never-­produced screenplays (that have been resigned to die on my shelf). My head spins for weeks afterward with new ideas, and that need to ‘create something or bust’ returns.  

I joined the Films on Tap crew after their second event for all of the reasons above, and because it’s just one of those things that makes you realize and appreciate the level of talent we have right here in Charlotte, NC. If you’re a member of the Charlotte film community, this is a fantastic event to network with writers, directors, actors and producers. If you’re a movie buff, go for the quality entertainment. If you love supporting local artists, this is a double whammy.

And of course, if you just feel like drinking some beer – there’s tons of that, too.