FilmWork is proud to have the spotlight on the growing variety of independent filmmakers throughout the world—in this feature, we put the spotlight on filmmaker Christian Blake. If you have a film production that you want FilmWork to cover, or want contact the author, email him at [email protected]
Christian Blake has for the last few years honed his filmmaking skills at Cinesol Film Festival competitions in the hopes of one day joining the ranks of Hollywood directors such as Ben Affleck and Michael Bay. Raking up a bevy of local awards, the 21-year old writer-director has been focused on one thing— film.
Growing up with video editing software fostered his DIY-way of filmmaking, “When I was in elementary—I worked with iMovie, wanting to make a skateboarding videos.” Eventually, he realized his calling after viewing Steven Spielberg’s Jurassic Park: “I wanted to be a paleontologist at the time, and then I realized that I wanted to be able to put those creations on the screen but making that sort of movie is what I wanted to do,” Blake said.
In the years since, the filmmaker has developed a fondness for world-building epics, citing two specific directors as influences: Christopher Nolan and Peter Jackson. The former is responsible for the Academy Award-winning Lord of the Rings trilogy. He says, “[They’re] these slow-cooker films that are so perfectly put together and realized that he has to cut for his [audience’s] sake. I’m drawn to the story and intricacy—it makes me want to build my own worlds.”
On the other hand, he finds himself drawn to the realistic and narrative storytelling that other directors offer in their filmography: “I aspire to be like Christopher Nolan, he’s a one-of-a-kind genius,” he said. Narrative structure that respects the audience’s intelligence draws him into Nolan’s work: “His stories usually start [in media res], through an intricate web-like process, I want to be able to create that.”
For the most part, the young filmmaker has been persistent in developing his own narratives— adamantly refusing to stop making films: either in long or short form. His most recent project, one of several in pre-production is the final entry in the Life; Exaggerated trilogy—a series of short parody films that pits movie blockbuster characters against each other in one cinematic universe. The Avengers. Bane. The cast of Inception. All of them have a place within this vast circle of world-building, except that the Thor: God of Thunder is a bit of a klutz, fumbling like a prideful fool (portrayed by Blake sporting dyed blonde hair and contacts no less), and the rest of the Avengers are no better—they’re a bunch of scrappy heroes with savior complexes.
Whether they blunder through their exploits or not, Blake is drawn to the iconic nature of the hero—Guardians, a feature-length project that is in the making (among several others) features the story of a man who gets recruited by three college students to become part of an elite team of vigilantes. Likewise, his horror-thriller Ridgewood High follows the exploits of high school students and a security officer as they battle through a legion of rabid zombies that have overtaken the eponymous school. And yet, something runs deeper than the unwilling heroes that characterize his work, and it is the theological themes that tie his filmography together. “I like the idea of putting a scripture before my movies because it gives the film relevance and a foundation,” he said.
As it has made a foundation for his current work, Christ and religion also illuminate his future: “I have written a script for Dracula. A period piece, I would love to remake it […] It has the sense of the original but based around one hero. There’s a need for these hero[ic] figures. From the man who died on the cross for us 2000 years ago…till now.” During the course of our phone conversation, he cross-references Superman, Captain America, and Batman— presenting this cavalcade catalog of modern mythological comic book heroes and canon; he passionately describes these archetypes as modern interpretation of Biblical psalms that are present within cinema.
Ultimately, his ambition lies in directing his own projects based on gaining experience through his own film studio: Legit Pictures. “I try to think like Ben Affleck, learning what I can, building my reputation—so that people are more familiar with who I am.” In spite of the multitude of films that he’s made—and continues to make—he chalks everything down to real-world experience. “I went to school for biblical studies, and really it’s been experience that has helped me the most. Cinesol—trying to make me a better filmmaker with its competitions. Races that push me into a specific time frame. I tell myself: ‘Let’s make it as amazing as it possibly can be—it’s the raw experience going through the moments.”
Finish the article and download Life; Exaggerated here