Interview: Jeff Hamilton (12/21/2011)

With the impending release of Trent Haaga’s directorial debut, CHOP (click here: http://chop.golnx.co/7 for more about CHOP, and click here for my review if you haven’t read it yet), right around the corner (Dec. 27th), I am presenting a trilogy of CHOP interviews.  Here is the second entry in the CHOP interview trilogy: Jeff Hamilton.  Jeff was a producer on the film, as well as the stunt man for CHOP.

[Ryan] Was there a particular film that made you think “I want to make movies”?

[Jeff Hamilton] Halloween has always been one of my favorite movies and I think that I would have to say that was probably the spark that lit the flame.

[Ryan] Who would you say is your favorite director working today? (and why)

[JH] John Carpenter.  He has some of the best movies that include horror, action, suspense, and humor.  The guy does it all.

[Ryan] And a favorite director of all time?

[JH] Franklin J. Schaffner and Billy Wilder come to mind.  I really think that they pioneered some of the more modern day story telling.


[Ryan] What advice would you give to people trying to get their foot in the door?

[JH] Be sure that this is the kind of work you want to do. Because if it isn’t you will be very unhappy.  This is one of the hardest industries to succeed in and if you aren’t serious you will be chewed up and spit out.

[Ryan] What was your most recent project?

[JH] I just finished producing a promotional video for Original S.W.A.T. Boots that will be shown in Vegas at a trade show and on their website.  Prior to that I produced the music video I AM The Doctor by Falling Still for CHOP director Trent Haaga.

[Ryan] What was the first film you worked on, and what was it that you did on that film?

[JH] Fear And Loathing In Las Vegas.  I was the Operations Manager of Front Street Studios where they did all of the set construction for the film.

[Ryan] What’s the earliest Jeff Hamilton film the public can get a hold of?

[JH] CHOP is my first feature that I produced, but I have worked on tons of films, TV shows, commercials, infomercials, etc.  I am really proud of my work as a producer for VH-1’s Remaking of Vince Neil, Vanilla Ice, and Taylor Dayne.


[Ryan] What filmmaking “jobs” do you do?

[JH] Oh my, just about everything.  I mostly work as a producer and stunt man right now, but I have been a P.A., 1st AD, production coordinator, line producer, actor, producer, art director, lead man, etc… I mean the list goes on.  One has to find ways to survive in this biz.  So, you do what you can.

[Ryan] Out of the jobs you do, which do you enjoy the most?

[JH] Well, stunts are probably the most fun on set.  After that, I would have to say directing and producing.  Those are the jobs with the most creative input.

[Ryan] What would you say are the pros and cons of working in the low-budget world?

[JH] Tough to say.  Each project is different.  Low budget usually means that you don’t have the studio suits telling how to make your film, however, trying to make art with little money is a constant battle to put out fires and get people to do more for less.  If I could work with a minimum of at least a few million dollars I would be happy.  That is the best low budget area to be in.

[Ryan] Can you tell us a little about your video-game work, and how you got into that?

[JH] I have worked on two of the last Call Of Duty commercials as well as doing motion capture for the Gears of War 3 spots and Ghost Recon: Shadow Wars.  Motion capture work is a lot of fun.  I get to stunts without having to risk too much injury from doing the gags with all of that gear on my body.  I wear a special suit with little markers and the programmers add all of the gear in post-production.  It’s pretty sweet.


[Ryan] How did you get into stunt work?

[JH] Basically I was working as technical advisor and special ability actor utilizing my background in the U.S. Army, and after working with stunt guys for about five years finally a stunt coordinator offered me a chance to do a few stunts on G.I. Joe and I have been doing stunts ever since, along with producing.

[Ryan] What’s the most dangerous stunt you’ve had to do?  And have you ever had any mishaps or close-calls?

[JH] I don’t know; do you consider being lit on fire dangerous?  I found it to be fun.  I like fire burns.  I would have to say that any time I have to do a high fall I consider it dangerous only because I don’t like heights unless I am strapped in.  I used to rappel out of helicopters in the Army and that was perfectly fine, but you put me next to the edge of a high area without some safety and I become a bit nervous.  Funny huh?

[Ryan] When you’re not working on films, what do you do for fun?

[JH] Who gets to have fun?  When I am not working I am looking for the next job.  That’s what sucks about being in this business.  You are always looking for the next gig.  It makes it challenging to go out and have fun, but when I do I love riding my Harley. Can’t beat being on my bike on a beautiful day.

[Ryan] What’s next for you?

[JH] I am producing a much bigger project for Original S.W.A.T. Boots next year along with Trent Haaga’s next project.  I am also developing a show for pet owners that I hope to sell next year as well.  Can’t really go into details, but I think dog owners will really dig it.

[Ryan] Anything else to add?

[JH] That’s about it.  Thanks for the interview.

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