From Lawyer To Full-Time Filmmaker: Smith and Weed

While the future is always uncertain—both men have returned to making a living on larger projects—they definitely see themselves continuing to work together, and with the people that helped them make Guardian of the Realm.

 

Often the strenuous task of making a movie can tear the best of friends apart. In the case of Ted Smith and Wyatt Weed, the filmmakers behind the independent feature Guardian of the Realm, the stress brought out the best in each other. The long-time friends reached new heights artistically and as collaborators while filming and editing their sci-fi fantasy extravaganza. Shot in Los Angeles by a coven of transplanted St. Louisians, the film will close the local showcase as one of the most anticipated pieces. In a recent telephone interview with the duo, it was hard to get the filmmakers to talk about anything but Guardian, including themselves.

Weed and Smith met at a local science fiction convention in the ’80s, as each had created cat creature costumes for the event. The similar costumes led to discussions as well as the discovery that both shared a passion for crafting costumes, models, and miniatures. Weed remembers, “When we met, we built the same stuff, but out of different materials.” Weed primarily worked in balsa wood, while Smith was the “poster board master.” Smith says the desire to “just build stuff” came from the fact that “growing up, there just weren’t the toys like there are now.” Not every film had the major toy-marketing machine behind it; if they wanted to relive a movie, they had to replicate it.

A shared passion for the art of special effects and the movies that utilized them led both men to refine their art and use it to tell their stories. Smith studied fine arts at Lindenwood University, while Weed tackled acting and photography at various schools, eventually winding up in media production at Webster University. The buddies continued to help each other on various projects, cultivating their skills on short films. “We learned miniatures out of necessity,” Weed elaborates.
While making shorts and creating effects in St. Louis was satisfying, both longed for something greater. In 1988, Weed, recently divorced, “took a leap of faith.” With 500 dollars in his pocket and all his possessions in a car, he headed for L.A. with only one contact: a producer he had met at a convention in New Orleans. Weed was able to secure work on the straight-to-video classic Laughing Dead eight days after his arrival in the City of Angels.

Smith was so taken by Weed’s success, he immediately gave his 30 days’ notice. Weed assured his friend he could find work, because he was already doing better work than many of the technicians in Hollywood. The two look back on it now and question whether they would have “the balls” to make such a jump today.

“I never tell Mom how bad it really got at times,” confides Smith. Agrees Weed, “I can make Ramen noodles 20 nights in a row and never have the same thing twice—but there was an excitement to it.”
The two continued as friends, sharing adjoining apartments and working in effects houses, eventually moving on to such titles as Titanic, Contact, and Red Planet. The work was satisfying, but it did not allow the duo the freedom to create their own worlds. In the fall of 2001, Smith pitched Weed the idea that became Guardian. The two worked together for a year and a half on the script. “It was great just to have somebody to bounce ideas off,” says Smith.

Ironically, after their years in Hollywood, they found the funding for their project back home in St. Louis. A high school friend of Smith’s, Robert Clark, was interested in financing a low-budget film. In conjunction with producer Scott Baker, another of Smith’s high school alums, Clark agreed to back the script. Smith was tapped as director, and Weed acted as first assistant director on set—but his real contribution came in post-production.

“Wyatt took the torch and ran in post. He never stopped amazing me,” Smith gushes. Weed describes the relationship thusly: “Ted rarely stopped me from going off on a tangent. He gave me enough creative freedom to make it fun for me. That went a long way.”
Though the shoot itself was trying—they were meticulously lighting and dressing each scene, and constantly moving the camera to pull as much production value from their limited video format (“Treat it with respect. Treat it like it will be seen on a 40-foot screen,” Weed advised)—the postproduction process was even more brutal because, as Smith puts it, “We were broke after we were in the can.”
After setting up an editing suite in Smith’s cave of an apartment, Weed would load the footage in the computer and sync the takes all night. In the morning, Smith would review the night’s work and pick his favorites. After an initial edit, the duo had to return to their roots, learning effects—this time digital—and improvising when promised work from outside contractors fell through.

After all the trials and tribulations, the duo is ready to create a buzz on the festival circuit. While they have had interest from distributors, they aren’t ready to sell just yet; Smith sees this as the next phase of their great adventure, a chance to interact with audiences and other filmmakers, and enjoy the ride.

While the future is always uncertain—both men have returned to making a living on larger projects—they definitely see themselves continuing to work together, and with the people that helped them make Guardian of the Realm. Weed sees it as “a tag team situation.” Smith continues, ”Wyatt did an amazing job, and I want to build for his next show.” The friendship and collaboration will continue, in large part due to Smith’s filmmaking axiom: “If you’re not having fun, it’s not worth doing.”

Bobby Kirk is the Film Editor for Playback St. Louis.

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From Lawyer To Full-Time Filmmaker: Smith and Weed

Often the strenuous task of making a movie can tear the best of friends apart. In the case of Ted Smith and Wyatt Weed, the filmmakers behind the independent feature Guardian of the Realm, the stress brought out the best in each other. The long-time friends reached new heights artistically and as collaborators while filming and editing their sci-fi fantasy extravaganza. Shot in Los Angeles by a coven of transplanted St. Louisians, the film will close the local showcase as one of the most anticipated pieces. In a recent telephone interview with the duo, it was hard to get the filmmakers to talk about anything but Guardian, including themselves.

Weed and Smith met at a local science fiction convention in the ’80s, as each had created cat creature costumes for the event. The similar costumes led to discussions as well as the discovery that both shared a passion for crafting costumes, models, and miniatures. Weed remembers, “When we met, we built the same stuff, but out of different materials.” Weed primarily worked in balsa wood, while Smith was the “poster board master.” Smith says the desire to “just build stuff” came from the fact that “growing up, there just weren’t the toys like there are now.” Not every film had the major toy-marketing machine behind it; if they wanted to relive a movie, they had to replicate it.

A shared passion for the art of special effects and the movies that utilized them led both men to refine their art and use it to tell their stories. Smith studied fine arts at Lindenwood University, while Weed tackled acting and photography at various schools, eventually winding up in media production at Webster University. The buddies continued to help each other on various projects, cultivating their skills on short films. “We learned miniatures out of necessity,” Weed elaborates.
While making shorts and creating effects in St. Louis was satisfying, both longed for something greater. In 1988, Weed, recently divorced, “took a leap of faith.” With 500 dollars in his pocket and all his possessions in a car, he headed for L.A. with only one contact: a producer he had met at a convention in New Orleans. Weed was able to secure work on the straight-to-video classic Laughing Dead eight days after his arrival in the City of Angels.

Smith was so taken by Weed’s success, he immediately gave his 30 days’ notice. Weed assured his friend he could find work, because he was already doing better work than many of the technicians in Hollywood. The two look back on it now and question whether they would have “the balls” to make such a jump today.

“I never tell Mom how bad it really got at times,” confides Smith. Agrees Weed, “I can make Ramen noodles 20 nights in a row and never have the same thing twice—but there was an excitement to it.”
The two continued as friends, sharing adjoining apartments and working in effects houses, eventually moving on to such titles as Titanic, Contact, and Red Planet. The work was satisfying, but it did not allow the duo the freedom to create their own worlds. In the fall of 2001, Smith pitched Weed the idea that became Guardian. The two worked together for a year and a half on the script. “It was great just to have somebody to bounce ideas off,” says Smith.

Ironically, after their years in Hollywood, they found the funding for their project back home in St. Louis. A high school friend of Smith’s, Robert Clark, was interested in financing a low-budget film. In conjunction with producer Scott Baker, another of Smith’s high school alums, Clark agreed to back the script. Smith was tapped as director, and Weed acted as first assistant director on set—but his real contribution came in post-production.

“Wyatt took the torch and ran in post. He never stopped amazing me,” Smith gushes. Weed describes the relationship thusly: “Ted rarely stopped me from going off on a tangent. He gave me enough creative freedom to make it fun for me. That went a long way.”
Though the shoot itself was trying—they were meticulously lighting and dressing each scene, and constantly moving the camera to pull as much production value from their limited video format (“Treat it with respect. Treat it like it will be seen on a 40-foot screen,” Weed advised)—the postproduction process was even more brutal because, as Smith puts it, “We were broke after we were in the can.”
After setting up an editing suite in Smith’s cave of an apartment, Weed would load the footage in the computer and sync the takes all night. In the morning, Smith would review the night’s work and pick his favorites. After an initial edit, the duo had to return to their roots, learning effects—this time digital—and improvising when promised work from outside contractors fell through.

After all the trials and tribulations, the duo is ready to create a buzz on the festival circuit. While they have had interest from distributors, they aren’t ready to sell just yet; Smith sees this as the next phase of their great adventure, a chance to interact with audiences and other filmmakers, and enjoy the ride.

While the future is always uncertain—both men have returned to making a living on larger projects—they definitely see themselves continuing to work together, and with the people that helped them make Guardian of the Realm. Weed sees it as “a tag team situation.” Smith continues, ”Wyatt did an amazing job, and I want to build for his next show.” The friendship and collaboration will continue, in large part due to Smith’s filmmaking axiom: “If you’re not having fun, it’s not worth doing.”

Bobby Kirk is the Film Editor for Playback St. Louis.

Be the first to comment

Leave a Reply

From Lawyer To Full-Time Filmmaker: Smith and Weed

Often the strenuous task of making a movie can tear the best of friends apart. In the case of Ted Smith and Wyatt Weed, the filmmakers behind the independent feature Guardian of the Realm, the stress brought out the best in each other. The long-time friends reached new heights artistically and as collaborators while filming and editing their sci-fi fantasy extravaganza. Shot in Los Angeles by a coven of transplanted St. Louisians, the film will close the local showcase as one of the most anticipated pieces. In a recent telephone interview with the duo, it was hard to get the filmmakers to talk about anything but Guardian, including themselves.

Weed and Smith met at a local science fiction convention in the ’80s, as each had created cat creature costumes for the event. The similar costumes led to discussions as well as the discovery that both shared a passion for crafting costumes, models, and miniatures. Weed remembers, “When we met, we built the same stuff, but out of different materials.” Weed primarily worked in balsa wood, while Smith was the “poster board master.” Smith says the desire to “just build stuff” came from the fact that “growing up, there just weren’t the toys like there are now.” Not every film had the major toy-marketing machine behind it; if they wanted to relive a movie, they had to replicate it.

A shared passion for the art of special effects and the movies that utilized them led both men to refine their art and use it to tell their stories. Smith studied fine arts at Lindenwood University, while Weed tackled acting and photography at various schools, eventually winding up in media production at Webster University. The buddies continued to help each other on various projects, cultivating their skills on short films. “We learned miniatures out of necessity,” Weed elaborates.
While making shorts and creating effects in St. Louis was satisfying, both longed for something greater. In 1988, Weed, recently divorced, “took a leap of faith.” With 500 dollars in his pocket and all his possessions in a car, he headed for L.A. with only one contact: a producer he had met at a convention in New Orleans. Weed was able to secure work on the straight-to-video classic Laughing Dead eight days after his arrival in the City of Angels.

Smith was so taken by Weed’s success, he immediately gave his 30 days’ notice. Weed assured his friend he could find work, because he was already doing better work than many of the technicians in Hollywood. The two look back on it now and question whether they would have “the balls” to make such a jump today.

“I never tell Mom how bad it really got at times,” confides Smith. Agrees Weed, “I can make Ramen noodles 20 nights in a row and never have the same thing twice—but there was an excitement to it.”
The two continued as friends, sharing adjoining apartments and working in effects houses, eventually moving on to such titles as Titanic, Contact, and Red Planet. The work was satisfying, but it did not allow the duo the freedom to create their own worlds. In the fall of 2001, Smith pitched Weed the idea that became Guardian. The two worked together for a year and a half on the script. “It was great just to have somebody to bounce ideas off,” says Smith.

Ironically, after their years in Hollywood, they found the funding for their project back home in St. Louis. A high school friend of Smith’s, Robert Clark, was interested in financing a low-budget film. In conjunction with producer Scott Baker, another of Smith’s high school alums, Clark agreed to back the script. Smith was tapped as director, and Weed acted as first assistant director on set—but his real contribution came in post-production.

“Wyatt took the torch and ran in post. He never stopped amazing me,” Smith gushes. Weed describes the relationship thusly: “Ted rarely stopped me from going off on a tangent. He gave me enough creative freedom to make it fun for me. That went a long way.”
Though the shoot itself was trying—they were meticulously lighting and dressing each scene, and constantly moving the camera to pull as much production value from their limited video format (“Treat it with respect. Treat it like it will be seen on a 40-foot screen,” Weed advised)—the postproduction process was even more brutal because, as Smith puts it, “We were broke after we were in the can.”
After setting up an editing suite in Smith’s cave of an apartment, Weed would load the footage in the computer and sync the takes all night. In the morning, Smith would review the night’s work and pick his favorites. After an initial edit, the duo had to return to their roots, learning effects—this time digital—and improvising when promised work from outside contractors fell through.

After all the trials and tribulations, the duo is ready to create a buzz on the festival circuit. While they have had interest from distributors, they aren’t ready to sell just yet; Smith sees this as the next phase of their great adventure, a chance to interact with audiences and other filmmakers, and enjoy the ride.

While the future is always uncertain—both men have returned to making a living on larger projects—they definitely see themselves continuing to work together, and with the people that helped them make Guardian of the Realm. Weed sees it as “a tag team situation.” Smith continues, ”Wyatt did an amazing job, and I want to build for his next show.” The friendship and collaboration will continue, in large part due to Smith’s filmmaking axiom: “If you’re not having fun, it’s not worth doing.”

Bobby Kirk is the Film Editor for Playback St. Louis.

Be the first to comment

Leave a Reply