An Interview with Adam Stephen Kelly

For years, Adam Stephen Kelly has worked as a movie reviewer for a variety of sources including Ain’t It Cool News and Screenjabber among others.  Adam has used his job as a reviewer as a springboard to work in the movie industry.  After producing several films, he recent directed and wrote his own first film in his native UK, a short entitled Done In.  I was so impressed by this film that it was a pleasure to talk with him about this project as well as his transition from movie reviewer to, hopefully, big-time mogul!

Martin Hafer: So Adam, now that you’ve just completed Done In, where do you go next?

Adam Stephen Kelly: I’m in a phasing-out period in terms of journalism. To do it justice is so very time-consuming and so it’s not the focus right now. For years it was while I was writing scripts and trying to get various projects up and running in the background, but since I had the opportunity to get Done In on screen, filmmaking is what I’m concentrating on. I’d like to think I’ve been somewhat prolific with my writing having had published an ungodly amount of content in the last four or so years, and also having made it to a platform like Ain’t It Cool News, but I want to see myself as Adam, the guy who makes films, rather than Adam, the guy who writes about films. That’s not to say I’m totally turning my back on it. I’d like to do bits and pieces here and there going forward, and it’s afforded me some amazing opportunities. Done In wouldn’t exist otherwise. I wouldn’t have known of my producer S.J. Evans if I hadn’t reviewed one of his films.

I can remember my very first interview clearly. I was 19 and incredibly nervous. Since then I believe I’ve managed 50 or 60 more, from horror legend Tony Todd to Luke Goss to Verne Troyer, with the last being Sir Roger Moore at the tail-end of 2012 to discuss the classic The Wild Geese. If that was to be my last interview, I’d say chatting to James Bond is a high to go out on.

MH: Wow … that is amazing…

So who are you? Sure, you’ve got a ton of talent and Done In is terrific … but what about you?

AK: Strip away filmmaking and writing about film and the Adam you have left is simply a 23-year-old guy who loves cinema. Better yet, entertainment as a whole. There are never too many films that I could watch in a single day, nor too many great TV shows, nor too many pro wrestling matches. It’s just what I like to do. As proactive as I may look in terms of the career, I have to be the ultimate couch potato.

MH: I am fascinated with the way you funded your film. Tell me about your Kickstarter and Sponsume campaigns.

AK: One way or another, SJ and I were always determined that Done In would come to fruition. Crowd-funding seemed like the natural first step as I have friends who had ran successful campaigns for their own short films and that to me was inspiring. It’s very easy to fall into the trap of assuming that just because you’ve launched a campaign that suddenly everyone is going to reach into their pockets and that your dream project is definitely a go. That couldn’t be further from the truth. While we never fell into that trap, it definitely took us our first campaign to realize just what it takes to be successful on such a platform. While we were fortunate enough to raise nearly £1000 (about $1700 US), we didn’t reach our target, as ambitious as it was. Our second, however, was very successful and we actually surpassed our goal. I’m thankful for the original campaign as I feel it taught me a great deal about the whole process. You’ve really got to be relentless as far as spreading the word goes, and that means spamming the heck out of Twitter and Facebook without worrying that you’re annoying everyone and their dog.

MH: And you managed to make this film with a budget of only about $10,000 dollars?!

AK: SJ is more of the guy to ask about equipment and such but we knew that we wanted it to look great, and naturally cameras aren’t cheap. It may seem redundant but we didn’t just want to bash out a short film and shove it on YouTube. We really believed in the script and wanted it to be the best that we could possibly make it – to do the material justice. That meant having a great director of photography, a terrific camera like the Canon C300, and an actor with the presence and ability to convey the emotion and heart of the story we tell in 8 minutes.

MH: How were you able to get the equipment and secure the services of a real live actor like Guy Henry?

You didn’t take him hostage and make him work for free, did you?

AK: Working with Guy was an absolute joy. He’s a tremendous talent and gives an impeccable performance in the film. As far as getting him involved goes, we reached out to his agent as appropriate and it all worked out from there. The key was finding an actor of great ability to do the material justice who was also a notable star with an audience we could appeal to for our crowd-funding campaign.  I’m ever so thankful that we were able to bring him in.

MH: Will you need to do another Kickstarter or Sponsume in order to afford your upcoming trip to Cannes?

AK: Haha, no, thankfully no campaign is needed to get to Cannes! We’re absolutely thrilled that it’s the very first stop on our festival tour. Even though at this stage it’s just the Court Metrage (Short Film Corner), which features a lot of films, as the official competition selection hasn’t been announced yet (but fingers crossed!), we’re generally just really happy to have been accepted.

MH: So, what’s your next project?

AK: As far as my next project goes, I’m not really sure! I have scripts and treatments knocking about, but Done In has really been the focus ever since I wrote it. It’s the old film-maker’s cliche of carrying a film around for so long and nurturing it like a baby, then you let it out for the world to see, but I now see just how true that is, so the focus remains on Done In. Seeing the incredible reviews has truly been overwhelming and we’re just really excited to see how it goes down at festivals.

MH: What sort of work are you doing when you aren’t working on your films or reviewing movies?

AK: I’m the Marketing Executive at Richwater Films, a British production and financing company that specialises in genre films. My friend Jonathan Sothcott, brought me in at the end of last year to work on the revenge thriller Vendetta starring Danny Dyer and it was a blast. It was actually promoting Done In that landed me the job, so again it’s a case of creating your own opportunities. Jonathan is one of the leading producers in the UK and so sharing an office with him and having first-hand experience of how he does business is incredibly rewarding and will undoubtedly enrich my film-making abilities beyond writing, directing and marketing!

MH: It just sounds like good things keep happening to you again and again… Good luck and thanks.

Interview by Lead Entertainment Writer and Film Critic, Martin Hafer