Well, I had been working on film sets doing the grunt work and learning the ropes for a bit. I realized pretty quick that the only way to get up the ranks was to create my own opportunity. Taylor Muse (who sings in the band Quiet Company) had been my room mate while he lived in Nashville, and I used to manage his old band the Connotations. He went back to Austin and got his new band Quiet Company off the ground. They had released a record and were doing ok down there in Austin. I offered to direct a music video for them and they just left a couple days off during their tour to stay in Nashville. We shot the video for Fashionabel and it went on to play on the MTV website and we won some Film Festival awards at Crossroads, World fest, and the Fearless film fest. That led to some other jobs and interviews in magazines. So it was really a matter of the fact that we both were trying to get our respective careers going. We’ve stayed close friends. Taylor is the godfather of my 2nd child, and I shot a documentary on the making for their new record “Transgressor” that came out online at the end of 2014 entitled “I Heard The Devil Say My Name Out Loud”. Its a really cool rock and roll record, and I’m glad I got to be part of the process.
From a visual perspective is their a song, movie, or a TV show that you draw inspiration from?
I take inspiration from everything in that regard. I study it, break it down, and steal it for my own purpose. Its kind of like hip hop music in that Film can be recycled and remixed an infinite amount of times. But each time it does it changes, and you can make it your own. All the masters stole from each other, and no matter how you shake it there is usually a best way to shoot something. I think you either have to be really forthcoming with that homage, or change it so much that no one would ever know you took it. And music, movies, television. they all feed my brain. I use certain types of music to help me with pacing as I write, in the way others use it to exercise.
In the early stages starting out, what were some of the obstacles you had to overcome?
Finding others to surround myself with that share the same work ethic. I think there are a lot of people who get into film making with this hope of being the next big celebrity, or to get their picture in a magazine. That type of thing. But they aren’t willing to give up sleep, or their off days, or just to sweat for it the way that I was willing to. I spent months working extra hours to save the money to get my movie “The Lashman” off the ground. For me it was a record store that I was doing 60 plus hours in to make money for rent and to feed my kids as well as taking all the extra and putting it back and not touching it. It wasn’t glamorous at all. Add that to having to sleep in a barn during production, and the countless sleepless nights spent writing, editing, etc. Just to make it happen. People just aren’t willing to give up on those type of creature comforts. Those kind of people were hard to come by, and when i find them I try my hardest to never let them go.
Out of all the clients you have had so far which one took your work to the next level? Also which one is your personal favorite?
One thing always leads to the other. I mentioned the Quiet Company video, and that got me on to other jobs. Had some really great success with the stuff i did with Larry Underwood on the Dr. Gangrene show. That got nominated for some Emmy's which helped me get into some big rooms. I did a few music videos for a band called Numerics years ago. Lloyd Aur Norman who was in that band calls me up one day and the next thing I know I'm doing all this work for Big Loud Mountain and their roster like Florida Georgia Line, Dallas Smith and Chris Lane. They used the stuff I produced on the Today Show, Good Morning America, and just last week, American Idol. Its weird how stuff like that works. Things that may not have seemed like a major success at the time, turn into something down the line. But with all of the people I mentioned, Taylor Muse, Larry Underwood, and Lloyd Aur Norman, they all just were friends who I enjoy working with. The work grows from those friendships. We all got better. Hard to really pick a favorite.
If you could work with anyone In the industry who would it be?
I would drop everything if i could direct a movie produced by Roger Corman. I like how he was a producer/director and a distributor and successful at both. Id also love to work under Robert Rodriguez for the same reasons. The guy has this DIY ethos I admire, and he set himself up in a way that allows him to be home to work. Its a family affair, and that's the dream for me I guess. Be able to sleep in my own bed, kiss my wife good morning, feed my kids breakfast, and walk out to a studio and make movie magic. Musically, I’ve been a big fan of Weezer for most of my life. I think I could do something great for them. And Id like to make something with Willie Nelson, Hayes Carll, or Ray Wylie Hubbard. Some of those Texas boys. I really dig Rap music videos too. So Id love to get a shot at one of for Jay-Z, Kanye, or Childish Gambino. They just go big every time, its hard not to want to be part of something like that. I could go on and on.
The city of Nashville has grown over the years. How has that helped your business and how has the helped shaped your art form?
I adore Nashville. I'm a transplant from Texas, and that's what I love about it. The whole town seem to be full of gypsies just roaming far from home and wanting to be creative. It still has a southern charm about it in a way that New York or Los Angeles never will. And its constantly shapes my thoughts and ideas. So much has changed even since I got to Nashville in 2001. I spent the whole of my twenties here, and am raising my family right here. Its not lost on me that we are standing in the shadows of some creative giants. I still go down to the Ryman sometimes and am just awe inspired by the history in that place. Im proud to live here in Music City.
How does it feel to be nominated for an Indie Ville TV award from best director?
It is always humbling when someone recognizes your work. Its especially nice that its something coming from right here in Nashville. I was shocked when they contacted me, and I’m honored to be nominated for an Indie Ville TV award.
What is next up for you? What project(s) are you currently working on?
Well, my movie The Lashman is wrapping up its theatrical run right now. A new movie i produced for Matt Riddlehoover titled Paternity Leave is set to premiere at Nashville Film Festival to kick off its festival tour. I'm really excited about that one. I’ve completed a few episodes of a Documentary series entitled ‘The VP Underground’ for Villain Place that will be coming out soon. And I just completed a new short of the Tallypo legend, which is a story I’ve been carrying around since i was a kid. We have some cool plans for that. Other than that, I’ve got a few other projects in early stages of development, and quiet a few music videos that are complete and just waiting for a release. I feel like this past year has been the busiest of my life. Hope that holds true for the next one too.
What advice would you give someone wanting to pick up the camera to become a director?
Stop waiting for something to happen and make it happen for yourself. Just get a camera, and a few actors. Write something simple and just start shooting. You will learn a great deal by just getting out and doing it. Hollywood probably isn’t coming with a top hat and brief case full of money, so stop waiting on that knock at the door. Shoot it with whatever you have available. Just use your phone if you have to. Sneak into places, get kicked out. Be willing to be terrible, and use that to get better at your craft. Work for it, sweat for it, bleed for it if you have to. Just make something already.
How can people find Cameron McCasland online?
Ive about maxed out my friends list on Facebook last year and had to set up a like page, which feels weird. I’ve tried over the years to be really personable online, and I always try and use my name on websites. You can find me on Twitter, Instagram, Reddit, etc. usually by just searching my name. I try to answer all my tweets.