Kyle Hester – The Chair
By: Ruth Hill
As I have been delving quite deeply into the treasure trove of the entertainment world, I have discovered some exciting gems that are sometimes overlooked. Independent films (or “indies” as the savvy professionals call them) are on the rise in this ever-changing world and what was once only in the hands of industry professionals, is accessible to the industry outsider. These days, all the rage is to create your own indie film and start a crowdfunding project where fans of those involved and/or their work contribute money towards the final project. Unfortunately, so many of these fall by the wayside due to poor planning or lack of funds. Thankfully, there are those within the industry who are persevering through the many obstacles to realize their dream and they are igniting a fire within the hearts and souls of fans, friends and admirers. Recently I was introduced to one such trailblazer and, indeed, he is one who has tirelessly worked for years to see his myriad of visions come about. He is none other than Kyle Hester and I was incredibly privileged to chat with him about his experience in the industry as well as his grandiose (but attainable) plans for the future.
What inspired you to become an actor?
When I was in seventh grade, I was watching the TV show “Fame” and I noticed the dancer Leroy in the show. He did this really cool jump splits over a mannequin and I thought, “I want to do that.”
I’ve noticed a couple of Christian-inspired films in your credits. What are your thoughts about those?
I am one who believes in getting involved in every kind of film imaginable. I will do everything from Pure Flix films, which appeal to religious audiences, to The Chair, which is diametrically opposite. Every film I’ve been privileged to be a part of is a great experience.
Speaking of The Chair, I understand it is based on the graphic novel of the same name. Was it more difficult to play a character based on a graphic novel than if it had been based on something less visual?
Actually, I found that it allowed me to immerse myself more into the character. I got to become the character in the comic book. In this story, the warden gets to be a really bad guy instead of being a regular kind of bad guy. We were encouraged to go to the extreme, almost like a comic book character would.
The interesting thing with The Chair is that this is the first time I became a producer, not just an actor. And it happened almost quite by accident. At first, I truly was a reluctant producer. I have never been one who got involved with the political issues surrounding films–just seems weird. But every person they called in as a prospective producer was making too many demands and so they asked me and I was like, “Okay.” Now, I’m so glad I did because I had a lot of fun producing it, and it was a very interesting experience.
How has the rise of crowdfunding impacted independent filmmaking?
Well, there are some awesome projects out there and if you succeed with crowdfunding you really can get your stuff out there. The biggest problem is that too many people don’t know how to do it and they are easily frustrated. Too many people look through “rose-colored glasses.” They assume that all their followers will support them and they might even think they don’t have to do anything to get the support. The problem is that if the crowdfunding project just sits there, it doesn’t instill confidence. People don’t see it as a viable project, so they don’t invest in it.
The first thing you need to do is find out who is genuinely interested in participating. After you establish the interest level, you have to have cool stuff to offer to people at the different levels. Just giving people a “cool shirt” is not the best option. It can be an option, but you need to provide a wide variety of cool rewards.
With our upcoming Preacher Six crowdfunding project, I am not even starting the campaign until we get at least 30,000 followers. With our film The Chair, we were able to get over 40,000 followers which enabled us to make the film. Crowdfunding is a great tool, but you need to run your campaign the right way in order to succeed.
What can you tell us about Preacher Six and Desiree?
First of all, Preacher Six is NOT a religious film. A lot of people look at the title and think right away that this is going to be some Christian movie, but is it not. It centers around the character Father Josh, who comes from a small town. In his small church, people keep getting murdered. So, since his parishioners are gone, he goes on to a bigger church. And now the problem has gotten even bigger. It is a brilliantly evil comedy with blood and action. We are getting ready to launch our crowdfunding campaign fairly soon so be sure to watch out for updates. Also, my wife, Tracy Ray (https://twitter.com/TheTracyray/ ), is writing the screenplay.
With Desiree, we are actively raising funds for this film. It is a feel-good story about a young woman who escapes her abusive environment. I know, it almost sounds like a Lifetime film, but it is much grittier. It is truly inspiring and I am proud to be a part of it. We are nearing our crowdfunding goal and we can hardly wait to raise the rest of the money and tell this story.
Also, we are working on Zombie With a Shotgun. We are getting ready to launch our funding campaign for that as well. I am co-producing it and we are really excited to get this webseries made into a feature film.
Awhile back, you made a short film called A Day in the Life of Plain Jen. The story ended a bit inconclusively. Any chance we’ll ever see the rest of the story?
Actually, that was supposed to be a feature film. We made a short film because we never could get the feature off the ground. There just wasn’t enough interest. Maybe one day.
What is your advice for anyone entering the acting profession?
Unless you are crazy, don’t do it. I guess that means I’m crazy. [laughs] Be prepared to devote your entire life to this career. It’s not something that happens overnight.
After spending just a few minutes with Kyle, you just cannot help, but be impressed and inspired by his outlook and his passion. Not only does he bring his expertise to every aspect of his craft, but he treats everyone with whom he comes in contact with great respect. In spite of his prowess, he has kept himself grounded and he makes all of his fans and supporters feel like an integral part of his projects. His knowledge and excitement is decidedly contagious and I would invite all of you to support him and his upcoming projects as listed below.
Find out more about his current crowdfunding project Desiree:
Check out his upcoming crowdfunding project Preacher Six: