This week’s Geek of the Week has just about done it all in the entertainment industry. From film, TV, music videos, photography and special effects; this is one geek with an impressive resume. I’m talking about Philly native, Doug Sakmann. Doug Sakmann is a true master at what he does. He uses all his skills he has acquired to dabble in multiple fields and genres. Sakmann has produced SFX looks for the NYC Zombie Crawl(as well as being its MC), working on Motion City Soundtrack’s “True Romance” music video, and even working with Amy Poehler on her Comedy Central show. The list truly goes on and on and it will only continue to grow. Checkout the trailer to his recent project which produced and supervised the special effects.
I was able to ask Doug Sakmann some questions about his experiences in the entertainment industry.
What inspired you to become a director/producer?
I’ve always been in love with the entertainment industry, even when I was in grade school I was shooting VHS movies with my friends and watching all the horror movies we could find at our local video store. As I got older I started acting and getting more involved behind the scenes with production but I have to say my defining moment to my start as a director and producer happened when I got involved with Troma Entertainment (now the oldest and longest running independent studio in the world). I started with them in 1999 as an actor in Citizen Toxie: The Toxic Avenger 4 and Lloyd Kaufman and the Troma Team allowed me to get involved behind the scenes more than any other set I had been on before. I got involved with production, SPFX and Stunts and decided then to focus more on the behind the scenes work that led to me becoming an award winning producer and director and SPFX artist.
Besides directing and producing, you also do special effects. How did you become interested in that?
Special Effects was always the number one aspect of production I was interested in. It’s basically a form of magic, when you are creating the illusion of someone getting murdered in fabulously gory ways, or transforming into a monster or some other kind of creature you are helping the audience enter a world of fantasy. You’re helping people escape from their everyday lives and giving them something to marvel in. It’s the same world a director or producer, or even someone who does live events like a haunted attraction works in and that was always a big part of why I wanted to be involved in the entertainment industry. That is why I work in so many aspects of production, I like to be able to be in control of the world I am creating and the best way to do that is to know how all the parts move and work together. I live for Practical FX, i’m not a huge fan of CGI. So over the last 18 years I have developed my own methods for FX, all self-taught through a lot of trial and error as well as working on many sets alongside other FX artists and learning things from them as well. I always have said the best way to learn is just by getting out there and doing it.
What was your favorite project you have worked on?
I know it’s a weird thing to say but for the most part the most recent project I have worked on becomes my favorite project. I’m lucky enough that very rarely have I worked on a project that I am not professionally and emotionally invested in, especially if I am doing SPFX or heavily involved in the production. I just want everything I work on to be the best it can be and the most successful it can be so I give it my all. And the more work I do the better my work becomes. We have a lot of cool projects coming out in the next 6 months that I can’t talk about right now so you’ll just have to stay tuned to www.dougsakmann.com to see what’s next!
What Advice would you offer someone looking to get into the entertainment field?
If you’re looking for a crash course in filmmaking and can deal with high pressure environments (and in the NY Area) I would recommend contacting Troma Entertainment for an internship! (www.troma.com) It will definitely set you in the right direction as to what aspect of the production field you want to pursue, or if it’s not right for you, you will find out pretty quickly. You have to be passionate about your work but also be able to have fun doing it. If you’re not having a good time doing what you love, you should move on and find something you do like! Don’t settle!
Lastly, I have to ask you: What is the Geekiest thing about you?
I am a huge geek for all things horror and gore related, I have a boner for Halloween and my house is covered in all kinds of props and action figures, weapons movies, posters and more. I am also a huge comic book geek although I don’t get to collect as much as I used to because I have run out of room. I have thousands of comics from my days growing up that I refuse to let go! I’m sort of a fanboy packrat but since I started early in life I don’t have much room for a lot of the newer things out there…I try to be selective about the new franchises I get attached to because there are a lot of cool things coming out in the horror, sci-fi and comic worlds! Also I do a lot of fabrication work myself in terms of props and costumes and other FX creation and I currently struggle to have enough room to contain the ever growing collection of that!