[UPDATE 7/17/12: David & crew have been working on preproduction of his next film, “The Smoking Gun,” a modern day Western-noir depicting the war on drugs. Click here to check out the trailer.]
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You wouldn’t guess it at first, just by looking at him. But then in conversation you’d perceive the cool intellect with which he navigates the world of ideas. Honesty behind a wry smile. Typically, young men who daily wear the same olive drab jacket, a small rotation of t-shirts, and sturdy Carhartt pants with a firearm perched on the hip aren’t the most thoroughly versed in state and federal law, or so creatively coherent. He’s a contrast of stereotypes, really. Most guys his age are more concerned with conquering the newest first person shooter video game, scoring a date, or being the life of the party this weekend. But he’s no mere consumer (although admittedly an avid film-viewer). Producing something is his calling, and little will get in his way.
David Kirk West is a 22-year-old native of rural northern California, now residing in southern Oregon – all encompassed in what he still refers to as the State of Jefferson. His heart beats at the rhythm of liberty and individualistic survivalism. It takes far more than peer pressure or heated conversations to convince him of a perspective alternative to his own. Armed with a razor-sharp wit and analysis of the truth, West is a thoroughly independent thinker, embracing grim realism with the fortitude of a man several times his age.
[see more photos of David and the Brothers West]
Over the several months that I’ve known him, I’ve noticed two distinct characteristics about West: drive and consistency. Never once has he taken captive a conversation with friends to complain about the obstacles of his project, or even make any number of valid excuses to quit the film. Rather, he passionately shares his vision and renewed hope for each stage of the production process. He casts the same vision for his brothers and several friends in the film industry, as he assembles his production company under the name Buck The System. He organizes and dreams out of a small, yellow room in his family’s home, surrounded by overflowing bookshelves and a “Don’t Tread On Me” flag. Many young people would do well to adopt his brand of faithfulness and a tireless work ethic.
With the upcoming release of his short film as a three-part web series, I posed some questions for West to dig just a little bit deeper into the mind behind “One Man’s Terrorist.”
+David Kirk West on Film, War and Liberty
For those who haven’t yet seen the trailer, what’s the film about?
The film tells the story of a family of Southern Oregon insurgents during a United Nations occupation of the region. It’s told primarily from the perspective of the youngest brother.
As a young, local southern Oregon filmmaker working on his first major project, what were the struggles you encountered during the writing and production process?
Writing was a breeze. It went from concept to completed script in less than two weeks. Filming was by far the most difficult part as that is when things go from a one man show to a real team effort. Working around the schedules of unpaid, easily distracted actors with varying levels of commitment to the project is the real challenge.
Coordinating schedules for a handful of actors and then getting them to actually follow through is a huge hurdle. Lots of people think it sounds really cool that you’re making a movie and say they’re down to help. That usually lasts right up until it’s actually time to start filming. Then they’re suddenly showing up to set five hours late or just ditching you entirely after deciding that they’d rather just go hang out with a girl.
Now that I think about it, women may actually indirectly be the biggest impediment to no-budget filmmaking.
What are your plans for releasing the film? Will it gain wider distribution?
I’m hoping to enter it in a few film festivals, but my main plan is simply to release it online.
We’re going to be releasing it as a three-episode web series initially, and eventually as a single 40 minute short film. We’re planning to make a limited number of DVDs and Blu-Rays as well which will be used primarily for fundraising purposes for future films.
What’s your intention with “One Man’s Terrorist” as the title of your film?
All I really want to do is simply get people empathizing with the people that suffer under U.S. occupation. I wanted to put Americans into the shoes of insurgents and get them to realize that these people are not terrorists, and they don’t, “Hate us because of our freedoms.” I want people to realize that they would do the same thing if their home was occupied.
Why use a clip of former Texas Rep. Ron Paul in the trailer? What’s the clip from, and what does it contribute to your project?
Well, in part it’s because I’m a HUGE and unabashed supporter of Ron Paul. He’s the only candidate from any part of the political spectrum with a truly anti-war record. But the speech really does fit the theme of the movie perfectly.
I believe that it originally came from Ron Paul’s weekly “Texas Straight Talk” update, a weekly three to four minute message you can hear by calling a “1-800” number every Monday.
The film seems to center around violence and force. Are all the guns, explosions and militant figures intended to provide the ‘entertainment factor’ or are they critical parts of the story?
They’re definitely part of the story. And in more specific ways than one may at first imagine. Certainly I try to keep things reasonably excited to keep the audience interested, but ultimately the violence in this film is a necessary vehicle for the message.
It’s really not intended to be entertaining because of its violence. If it was simply meant to be entertaining you’d probably see a lot more violence and macho posturing. But I’m saving all that for my next film…
You’ve stated online that you’re a “Christian, Libertarian Revolutionary, and Anti-War Veteran.” How do those interact? How does your faith inform your political stances and efforts as a filmmaker (or vice-versa)?
One follows the other, really. As a Christian, I believe that we are to love our neighbors, treat them as we would like to be treated, and abstain from theft and violence. I believe that libertarianism is the logical political philosophy for someone with these moral beliefs as libertarianism is based on the non-aggression principle. Libertarianism views taxation as theft and laws against victimless crimes as an unjustified use of violence even when the intent of these actions is well-intended of social engineering. I believe that this is a consistent application of Christian morality as I can find nothing within the Bible that would justify theft or the non-defensive application of violence as anything other than what they are, even if it’s,” for a good cause.”
And, of course, as someone who is anti-aggression it only makes sense to be anti-war. Even wars that are fought in the name of an ostensibly just cause generally results in great damage to the life, liberty, and property of other people and must therefore be undertaken only in the most dire of circumstances. War in the name of preventing a theoretical future threat is COMPLETELY unjustified.
Based on your experience as an Army Ranger veteran who was deployed overseas, what one or two words would you use to describe the War in Iraq? The people in Iraq?
The war? Unnecessary. Senseless.
The people? Normal. Human.
You’ve held some limited pre-screenings of the film. What has been the response thus far? Are you seeing people react the way you anticipated?
Honestly… it’s been MUCH better than I anticipated. When you’re filming something as high-concept and low-budget as “One Man’s Terrorist,” there are often times where you really doubt the final project. Things aren’t going your way… you start experiencing setbacks…an actor doesn’t show up…you can’t get the shot you want right…
There were times in the first week or so of filming I didn’t even know if I would or should finish the project and if it would be any good if I did. But ever since I started showing it to people their response has been consistently VERY positive. Multiple people were like, “Oh… I didn’t realize you were making an ACTUAL movie! I thought you were just screwing around with a camera when you said you were making a movie!”
At one of the showings I even made a couple girls cry, so that was good (#contextisforweenies?). Probably the best compliment I’ve been paid so far was when someone said, “Thanks for showing me that. I feel really enlightened now.”
What do you hope “One Man’s Terrorist” accomplishes? Are there specific actions you hope viewers will take after seeing it?
Really, I just hope that people would take the message to heart. I hope the film is something that can change people’s minds about war. I’d love for people sympathetic to the message to share it with their war-apologist friends and family.
Of course, I also hope is starts helping me build a fan-base. I feel that film is my calling and that with my unique voice and experiences I could really offer something to the liberty movement by becoming a noteworthy filmmaker. Hopefully “One Man’s Terrorist” will help me start building a reputation in the liberty community as a filmmaker worth following and supporting.
Oh… and of course I hope that everyone registers Republican so that they can vote for Ron Paul in the primaries!
What are your projects in the hopper? Should viewers expect more “liberty-themed” productions in the near future?
Absolutely. At this point, I’m dedicating myself completely to film making. I have a VERY ambitious slate of projects lined up. Buck The System‘s (my production company) next film is going to be an action-packed, pulse-pounding meditation on the merits of vigilante justice and non-governmental defense set against a backdrop of dingy back-alleys and sex trafficking. Like “Taken” if it was written by a survivalist and an anarchist philosopher. We’ll have more details in the next few weeks as “One Man’s Terrorist” releases online, but right now we’re shooting to have the film finished by the end of May so we can submit it to the Oregon Independent Film Festival in Eugene.
We’re aiming for MUCH higher production values this time around. This one is going to be a real team effort, and we’re going to either be upgrading to a DSLR or getting a DP [Director of Photography] with his own camera. We’re trying to put together a real team so that we can eventually raise a serious six-figure budget and shoot a feature film. I have a modern-day western about the war on drugs that I’ve been working on for almost two years now. We’ll see when we get around to making it, but our goal is for it to be sooner rather than later. We’re not fooling around. We mean business, and we aim to misbehave.
Where can we learn more and follow your work?
Check out my blog at: Buck-The-System.blogspot.com
And “like” us on Facebook at: Facebook.com/BuckTheSystem
Watch the three episodes of “One Man’s Terrorist” on February 15th, 22nd, and 29th on Youtube.