My interview series continues with a guy I was lucky to meet while he was student teaching at my high school in 2009. Mike Dozier not only expresses my love for storytelling, but he also shared my love for Chicago Improv and competitive theater.
Mike Dozier is now the V.P. of Development at Unified Pictures. He made the move to California five years ago to follow his dream of writing and producing feature films. In the past two years, Mike has had films premiere at Tribeca, Toronto, Sundance, and the Venice Film Festival. Mike is also very fond of Veggie Burritos and Yellow Curry.
Me: So you went from English teacher to Hollywood guy doing Hollywood things. How would you say your English teacher training and experiences have helped you transit into making films?
MD: My job consists of a lot of reading. I read scripts and analyze the story, themes, and characters, while thinking about budget concerns and target audience. Having a background in English has strengthened my reading comprehension and ability to describe complex story concepts to a multitude of different personalities. For example, I might have to pitch a script to a financier, actor, director or fellow producer, these people view scripts in different ways, and spending time in a diverse classroom has given me the skills to connect literature to different personalities.
Me: What is it about the Storytelling medium of filmmaking that excites you?
MD: Filmmaking is truly a collaborative process. You have a number of different artists bringing their craft to a project, and with the right director and some serendipity, powerful and entertaining pieces of art can be made. The script is just one part of storytelling that goes into the film. You have actors, editors, cinematographers, set designers, costumers, and many more telling their own story inside that script, and that’s what always amazes with making and watching films.
Me: When you are writing, editing, producing, etc., where do you find inspiration?
MD: When struggling with writing, I remind myself there’s only one me, and that I just need to be aware of the life around me, and I reassure myself that I have a unique voice. I think it’s important for everyone to have that understanding that no one views the world like you, and understand that your outlook on life is worth sharing.
Me: Can you give me a great story from your years in Hollywood?
MD: There’s moments that can only happen in Hollywood. One night a few of my friends walked by this bar as Topher Grace (Eric from That 70’s show) walked out. It looked like an amazing party, so we all told the doorman some story on how we knew a friend in there and blah blah blah. It took some time and maybe my friend’s British accent to seal the deal, but we eventually got in. Inside, the bar was decorated with emojis and everyone was dressed as their favorite emoji. Seriously…it was an emoji birthday party. Luckily, no one really noticed us because Aaron Paul (Jesse from Breaking Bad) was on the dance floor with his wife, Julianne Hough (Dancing With the Stars) and Miles Teller. Vin Diesel was behind the bar, and former Cowboys Quarterback Tony Romo was DJing. I took advantage of the open bar, enjoyed about ten incredible cupcakes, and danced to DJ Tony Romo. We left late that night in slight shock, laughing hysterically. All we could say was, “Hollywood.”
Me: That’s crazy! So what advise would you give young filmmakers looking to make that leap into professional filmmaking in order to dance to DJ Tony Romo?
MD: Study and watch films and train your eye. Take advantage of the powerful filmmaking device you’re probably holding in your hand right now. Realize that your phone is more than Instagram and Snapchat. You can make a movie with it! But most importantly, tell stories that are significant to you. No one is going to tell your stories, that’s your responsibility.
Please share with #365GN