PROFILE: JAMES WARD BYRKIT, Director (IMDB)
Jim is one of the most creative people I have ever met. I had the opportunity to shoot a portrait of him earlier this year. His answers to these questions are fantastic. Please check out his website here. Also, make sure to look at his KCRW commercial that kicked it all off for him as a director. It is awesome.
As a working professional, do you believe that school/training is necessary? Has it helped you or is it more about connections?
That’s a great question. What I’ve noticed is that school is mostly about creating the first points in the web of connections you need to make in order to function in your field. I ended up learning more from my fellow students than I did from my teachers. And one of my first jobs resulted from bugging a guest speaker. School at least gives you a context for what your creative field may include. You learn to navigate personalities, which is a huge part of any collaborative effort. After I got my graduate degree from CalArts, I opened a creative studio along with four other students, and it served as our continuing education. We realized we had to keep experimenting and self-generating projects in order to be relevant in creative arts. School taught us just enough to realize we didn’t know anything.
If you could take three characters from different films and put them in the same film, who would they be? What would be the genre? Who would write and direct?
You’re asking a director, so that position is filled. My favorite writer is John Logan, who I collaborated with on “Rango.” He just knows what he’s doing. He’s not faking it. The three characters would be Maria from “West Side Story,” Lee Marvin’s “Walker” from “Point Blank,” and the guy piloting the Imperial TIE fighter in “Star Wars” — the one that gets knocked into Vader’s ship by Han Solo. That is a classic love triangle with epic possibilities. Logan will make it all make sense, but clearly it’s a an adaptation of “Two Gentlemen From Verona” with a little bit of “Tequila Sunrise.” Two men. One serving the evil space empire, one just out of Alcatraz. And one beautiful love bomb working in a dress shop, pretending to be Puerto Rican. Do the math.
Ok, seriously, are you Rango?
I get asked this a lot. Rango is a blend of Johnny Depp, me, Gore Verbinski, and all the artists who added something great along the way. I did the initial sketch for Rango way back at the beginning and voiced him in the first animatic version of the movie. Gore and I wrote much of his dialogue together, combining our brains to find just the right oddness in his speech patterns. I would often add the weird outbursts or bits of business like the cigar in the bar with Bad Bill and the resulting fire belch. Rango is all of us. He lives in your heart. Like plaque.