The People Behind The Film
Kight Haberer is the kind of guy you’d like to invite if you want to oil any social friction that may be putting a break on your party. Born and raised in Dallas, he carries about him a laconic loquaciousness that must have something to do with growing up in the brash oil town of the Lone Star State. Speaking with a more standard American accent than we expected, and with a demeanour that seemed more appropriate to the east coast, his wry humour and confidence meant that we spent far more time chewing the fat than makes for a happy post interview edit, as we had to leave two-thirds of our banter on the virtual cutting room floor.
Kight was already a passionate film maker in his infancy. He picked up his first video cameras in the days when you had to carry around the VCR in a separate satchel to the camera. He was only six years old and his production partner was his brother Kevin (who is now a producer / writer and actor in LA). Kevin is known for playing the young Michael Caine in Secondhand Lions – just so you know. Around 1985 they moved on to the dizzy heights of a combined VHS camera / recorder that was so small you could just about carry it on your shoulder… as long as you had a medical certificate signed by at least two independent medical practitioners. Together they re-recreated favorite films and movie moments and always worked on videos for class presentations instead of talks. Kight is a passionate advocate of film and teaches film studies. His former production company, known as Flying Canvas Pictures, is now the subject of a dispute with his business partners and, frankly, it’s a bit messy and upsetting and we don’t want to drag you into the mire of broken dreams and shattered lives. So, we won’t mention it. To make a living he works for a new TV network called PVP Live which is all about eSports. “eSports? What the hell is that?” you may ask. Well, to find out, read on.
Spielberg… when he reframes the camera as he’s shooting, instead of cutting, that is fantastic.”
Although a huge fan of Spielberg’s camera technique, Kight favours the more left field directors Danny Boyle, the Coen brothers and David Fincher. It is their pure relish in storytelling that delights him. He particularly loves to show ‘Trainspotting’ on his introductory film lectures as a way to highlight how you can tell a gripping tale without resorting to the staid techniques of the corporate film world. For ‘A Neighborly Dinner’ Kight wanted to bring it all right back to simple basics. He wanted to challenge himself by writing a film that didn’t require any trickery, explosions or twenty sets. In doing so the whole set up was only there to serve the story, and he could only rely on the quality of the actors to make it work. No special effects to get him out of a plot hole here. He literally sat down at a diner and asked around the waitresses and customers to discover the most ridiculous argument he could. That must have been a surreal dining experience. Always the romantic though, he still thinks that the story is more than just a comedy of “manners.” For him it also illustrates how two people can love each other but just let barriers to communication throttle all hope of happiness.
I like to trust the actors, and let them have their moment.
Kight has been making TV, videos and films for a long time now, so he appreciates the need to prepare and over-prepare long before the first day on set. As well as all the necessary technical arrangements, he spent many hours working on getting the actors comfortable with some of the lines, and building up a back-story that gave some depth to the emotional wedge between them. This means that once on set the actors have enough solidity to not only perform the script, but to be able to adapt it and absorb last minute adjustments or directorial suggestions. The beginning and end were pretty much to script, but much of the central element was improvised, which gives the piece a reality that makes it compelling. Getting actors able to perform like this could be challenging, but Kight has built a good network of local talent, especially as he’s worked with Adam Dietrich (Mark, who happens to run a casting agency) before. As it turns out most of the casting was on word of mouth and confirmation meetings.
The possibilities of this company are through the roof.
We mentioned earlier that Kight now works for PVP Live as a producer. It is a sport news channel with a difference in that it specialises in eSports – it’s a bit like ESPN (Entertainment and Sports Programming Network) for video games! Outside of South Korea and the US you’d be forgiven for exhibiting a slightly confused look and scratching your head, but this is already a big industry predicted to be worth over $1bn by the end of 2016. In the two years between 2010 and 2012 its viewership increased 500%. In 2013 there were over 70,000,000 viewers. In Britain a company called Gfinity has built the UK’s first purpose built gaming arena and will be holding the Gfinity Championship throughout 2015 with a total prize pool of $500,000. PVP Live features news, league tables, dedicated player websites etc. It’s all pretty heady stuff for Kight, who has had to jump on to a steep learning curve, going from narrative film making to producing a news channel. In order to do this he is visiting as many colleges as possible to learn the news trade. He predicts (and hopes) it’s going to be so big that when next we meet it’ll be in his personal Gulfstream.
It was all completely dangerous and people could have died… but it looks great.
What has really drawn Kight to working with PVP Live is that they will also allow him the time to continue making his own films. Some of his other work includes an action double bill separately called Cowboy and India. The films are about two hitmen, and each film is taken from the perspective of one of them as he hunts down the other. Strict narrative continuity has been done away with, so that the twists and plot turns make Dallas (the 1980’s one) seem narratively realistic. The films cost between $7000 and $10,000, as they employed all the elements of an action flick with gunfights, car burnings, wreckings and zip-lines galore. “Man! That was a blast.” Brina Palencia, who played June in ‘A Neighborly Dinner’, has since worked with Kight on another of his productions -‘Unexpected’. This is a pre-cursor to his feature film ‘North of Ordinary’. I won’t mention the story line, as it’s kind of secondary to the excellent and deeply chuckle-worthy script. His latest venture is called ‘Lunchbox’, which will be completed as soon as he can find the cash for the special effects. Lets hope that PVP Live pay on time.