Taking a look behind the genius of Mirage with Kyle Valle

An Interview With The Film Maker:

Mirage the Film

Interviewer: Alex D.
Subject: Kyle Valle

AD: Kyle, you are 24 and this is your first film.  You wrote, produced, directed, starred and edited Mirage. What was it like to manage all of those jobs on your very first project?

KV: I wish those were the only jobs I had (laughs). It was a lot of work, especially with a timeline of two months and only one day to shoot the entire project. But I knew what I wanted and that was a starting point. In terms of it being my first film and having to manage all of those different jobs, it was certainly new, but invigorating. I’m used to running businesses and organizations so the leadership aspects were easy. In terms of learning all of the technical aspects, I just read up and drew on what I had already assimilated from a lifetime of watching movies and documentaries, and from classes in college. And it all came together. I truly believe being able to manage a number of those roles at the same time, especially directing and starring, really allows you to streamline the creative process and create a much more exciting project for all of those involved and of course for the viewers. And that’s exactly what I wanted and did with Mirage.

AD: What was the most difficult part of the process for you?

KV: Well, everything took a lot of hard work and required me to be on the ball 24/7. But probably the most tedious part was creating the story board, it took me a solid week. I was drawing at my desk, the dining room table, in my bed, it didn't matter, I just drew. Because I knew how crucial a role the story board would play.  Starring, directing and handling the production aspects on the day of principle photography would have proved to be excessive without a solid story board. I merged the story board with a shot list and a hand drawn map. This tool outlined the entire day of shooting and gave me the confidence that everyone would know what they were doing behind the camera as I was in front of it. But creating that hand stitched system was certainly the most tedious aspect of the job. I got to know the folks at the print shop pretty well though (chuckling).

AD: There were some crazy rumors floating around that you were almost hospitalized the day of shooting? What's the story there?

KV: Wow, yup. It turns out pulling an ‘all nighter' and working through the entire day in the middle of a desert that’s hitting highs around 120 tends to take a toll. As I was shooting my last scene, I knew something was really wrong, but without that shot I knew we'd have nothing, and with another day of filming being out of the question I just had to push myself; and wouldn't you know it, I got heat stroke (he pauses) not my fondest memory of that day. But we got the shot!

AD: Which path in the industry do you see yourself taking? Writing, Directing, Producing, Acting, Editing?

KV: Well I think in terms of a large scale motion picture, I’d like to do all of the above minus the editing, not that I don’t love it, but it is time consuming! But as far as right now in my career, I’d like to really pursue acting. It’s what I find most enjoyable at this stage in my life. But hey, if someone offered me a chance to write, direct and star or direct, produce and star I’d love it. Being a director/actor on all of my films is my ultimate goal; being able to manage the story from start to finish – that’s the promised land.

AD: Stone is a big hulking guy, but we see this incredible sensitivity and sincerity come across in his character. How did you prepare for the role of Stone?  

KV: After doing my research watching documentaries, the military channel, discovery, reading up, and speaking with veterans, I wanted all the actors to look as authentic as possible and Stone had to be big. I wrote him as a soldier built for combat, a 'master chief' prototype if you will. So I ended up putting on 15lbs of mostly muscle, or at least I hope it was (laughing). But in terms of building the character, I had a great advantage because I wrote him, so I knew exactly what he was trying to say. And once you have all of that, it’s then just about layering the obstacles, doing the homework and delivering.

AD: Yes you did look a lot bigger on film I was wondering if you had caught a bug or something.

KV: No, no (laughing) just got back into what I like to call swimmer shape.

Was there any specific meaning to the quote in the beginning of the movie?

KV: Yes, the quote expresses the over-arching theme of the movie, as well as highlights major thematic points. Those being the confusing nature of religion and war. Going deeper than this, I wanted to see how a religious soldier deals with the prospect of death; hence this telling quote from Grant, a decorated general, war hero and president. A man who was religious and violent.

AD: You had a decent sized crew list, were there any members who you would like to acknowledge?

KV: Everyone, everyone was amazing and the fluidity the day of shooting was something I believe is rarely seen, and every member of the cast and crew were total professionals in every sense. But specifically I would need to mention Erin Smith, she was with me from day one, helping with every aspect. I wouldn't have been able to put it all together without her. And Edwin Jimenez, our cinematographer, was excellent the day of shooting and was a great collaborator.

AD: Moving forward, what’s the next project that you think we will most likely see from “the boy genius”?

KV: Thank you for the Orson Wells reference, although I'm not sure I quite deserve it just yet (he laughs). Ah, next for me, well I’m working on a short, which serves as an introspective look at how we, as a society, look at wealth and morals. And I’m working on a feature but I’m going to have to keep my lips sealed on that one!