Oregon is well known for a few things, including its beautiful nature and dedicated craft brewery culture, but Bend has also become widely known for being the home to the world’s last Blockbuster. Local Bendite, Taylor Morden has already begun filming a documentary on this very subject. Taylor has also been a constant presence in Bend’s film scene in recent years, working on many submissions to our own festival, and winning awards for his work in independent film.
BendFilm took a moment to ask this local filmmaker about his upcoming project, and what it means to be a filmmaker in Bend.
How did you find out about BendFilm and Bend, Oregon in general? What about it appealed to you?
I had lived in Bend for about a year when a friend of mine told me his company had some extra passes for the film festival. He knew I was a filmmaker and asked if I wanted one. So I went.
The biggest draw for me was interacting with other filmmakers and talking about the process of movie-making. The panels, parties, and QandAs after screenings are what makes it so much better than just seeing a movie.
The short film you made last year during the 72-Hour Filmmaker Scramble ended up winning the Best of the Northwest award at the BendFilm Festival. What’s it like to make a short film in such a short span of time?
I’ve made several 72-hour shorts and worked on a few 48-hour shorts. I really love the time constraint because I think it forces you to be more creative and let go of that level of perfectionism that can really hold up filmmakers.
The process is just like any other film making project, only faster. You write, shoot, and edit a film in 3 days. So, you can’t really 2nd guess anything, and you have to just keep moving until you turn in a finished film on Sunday evening.
It seems like you’re mainly a documentary filmmaker now in addition to running your own independent studio, Pop Motion Pictures. How did you find your way to this career?
I started out as a musician and got my first real taste of film making by making music videos. From there I got into commercials, weddings, corporate videos, and anything else you could point a camera at.
I primarily make feature-length documentaries, but I also love making narrative shorts and working with actors to tell original stories.
Pick It Up! Ska in the 90s is your latest documentary, which features interviews with important ska artists of the 90s. How did you approach these interviews while trying to maintain a consistent narrative?
We didn’t have a narrative in mind when we started, so we let the interviews dictate the story. We asked the artists to tell us what their experiences were like and when common threads emerged, that became our story. As the story started to take shape, the interviews became more focused.
You’ve worked on quite a few projects that have been in BendFilm, and you’re very active in the local filmmaking community. How do you balance your own personal projects while still working on others?
It’s not always easy to balance so many projects at once, but that’s what I love about things like the 72-hour film scramble… it’s all contained in 3 days so you can pause the longer projects and focus on that. In general, I think as a filmmaker, you have to keep changing things up. These documentaries take 2-3 years to make. So sometimes you have to just go work on something else to break up the monotony. Then when you get back to the bigger projects they can seem fresh and exciting again.
Bend has become a celebrity of sorts for being the home of the last Blockbuster location. You’re currently working on a documentary on the store, and I’m assuming its one of your biggest projects to date. Could you talk about how the process has gone so far?
When I started filming at Blockbuster it was early 2017 and they were among the last 12 remaining stores. I never could have predicted that it would be the last one in the world! The project has grown accordingly and I’ve been able to put together a great team to help keep up with the new larger scope.
It’s amazing to me how many people seem to really care about the story of this lone blockbuster. It has been tough, working on 2 feature films at the same time, but I knew it was important to tell this story of the world’s last remaining blockbuster video.
Do you have any advice for people looking to start their own careers in film?
My advice for aspiring filmmakers is simple. Make stuff.
Don’t wait until you can afford that nice camera or until you know everything there is to know about filmmaking. Just make stuff, and if it sucks, try again and do it better. You don’t need anyone’s permission to be a filmmaker except your own.
The image quality that your cell phone can shoot is 100x better than the VHS camcorder I was shooting on in the 90s, and you can edit videos so easily now compared to the 2 VCR setup I started out on… so there’s really no reason not to go make a movie right now!
Get your film festival passes today to see Shelton screen Bull Durham and revisit some of his classic films at this year’s festival OCT 10-13 in Bend, Oregon.