Daniel Sukara is a Producer, one of the script writers, and the First Assistant Director for Hell. He’s in charge of organizing the set and managing the crew, ensuring we stay on schedule to meet what are some pretty ambitious goals for every weekend of shooting. He works in production in LA, and has made a number of films of his own (one of his shorts is currently making the festival rounds), so he’s talented and knows his stuff.
Dan, if I send you some questions early tomorrow, think you could write up some answers for them so I can feature you on my blog?
HELL! yes! (see what I did there? Referenced the movie in my response? Yeah, I don't trust my jokes either...)
We’re definitely leading the blog post with that. How’d you get started working in film production?
I went to a performing arts high school and there was a film class there, so almost every weekend there was a short film that needed help and I was involved in almost every aspect - acting, writing, producing, script supervision, costuming, and especially make-up effects (I was the go to guy for anything bloody and gory). It was an industry that I knew I wanted to be in, and I was pretty good at it, so I continued to pursue it outside of high school.
Not too long after I got a job as a runner for a production company that made commercials and music videos. I did that for a few years until they started to go under and had to let me go. Then, desperate for work, I accepted an offer from a friend to start filling in days on professional, union sets. Long, brutal, 12 hour minimum with no chance of sitting down unless it was lunch, days. I even pulled a couple of 24 hour days. And in a weird way I kinda miss them...now I work post production scheduling. From home. I am literally sipping a cocktail in my pajamas at 1pm while I write this. Dream big, kids.
What are some movies you’ve worked on?
Not including the countless student and short films I’ve been involved with, I worked for a bit on National Treasure 2 and The Informers. TV is where I spent most of my set time. I was on Wanted (which was a fun cop show that had crazy action and explosions on almost every episode I worked), Jericho (where a day of shooting was held up due to an escaped prisoner hiding out very close to our set), Cane, Moonlight, and The Cleaner, among others. I also ran the set on Wayout.TV which was an internet sketch show created by Damon Wayans - mainly to showcase his kids - which was sadly never launched. But that was so much fun. It was an incredibly laid back, almost high school movie kind of set, loaded with comedians who just kept us all laughing hysterically every day. All that and we got paid to do it!
You’ve made several short films of your own. Say words about them.
Ray Gun was the first that I wrote and directed. That was made a long time ago. Like “doesn’t exist on DVD” long time ago. It was a fun little ode to sci fi movies and radio shows from the 1940s and 50s. I even had props and costumes made for it that I still have...which has lead to awkward moments when someone sees that there is the dress of a Martian princess hanging in my coat closet.
A few years after that I wrote and directed a brief, silent horror movie about a nightmare creature come to life called Static. And most recently is one that I wrote called Allergic to Flowers, which is about two loser, slacker, pseudo-friends who, after just being dumped by their significant others, have to work delivering flowers on Valentine’s Day. It’s an anti romantic comedy, and it’s doing the film festival rounds at the moment. Really proud of that one. I drew on my firsthand experience of delivering flowers and getting dumped to dream up this story. It was a lot harder than I expected...
You grew up in LA, yeah?
I did. My family is originally from Ohio, but I was conceived, born, and raised in Los Angeles. I always feel the need to emphasize that. I think it’s because LA natives, especially in the Hollywood area, are so rare. Meeting one is like seeing a unicorn.
Do you feel like everyone who grew up in LA either works in, or wants to work in, movies?
Not entirely. I mean there are plenty of people who grew up with it, but most people I’ve met in production came here from different parts of the world to make it. And it’s usually those people who find the most success because it’s so different from where they come from, and it’s so fresh and unique that they really hustle when they arrive. But a lot of the people who grow up here kind of just see it as another industry and get jaded real quick. Like, when I see a movie shooting on my street, I rarely think “Ooh, I wonder who the stars are in this one!” I mainly think “they better not block my goddamn driveway again, I got things to do…”
What are you most excited about, working on Hell?
So many rad things have already happened while working on Hell (from the writing sessions to the read throughs to the pre-party) that I almost can’t comprehend how much more excitement is waiting for us. But what I’m really looking forward to is just getting in there and working with everybody. Meeting the cast and crew at the party (and especially after seeing them at the Lost Church the night before) has made me a total fanboy of this group. You have no idea how bummed I was to leave for home that Sunday, and ever since I’ve been counting down the days like a kid at Christmas. Being able to be a part of this group, on a great project, with everybody down for the cause....that’s just mind blowing. I seriously can’t wait to get this movie filmed. Although I’m pretty sure I’m going to be bummed again when we wrap production.