A graduate of James Madison University and California Institute of the Arts, John Suits has been deploying grit, humility, and professionalism to build an impressive resume of film production as a writer, director, and producer. In addition to various short films, Suits has helped bring various feature-length films to completion; such as 400 Days, Pandemic, Fear, Inc, and his latest project 3022. Wanting to learn more about his career and 3022, I was able to interview Suits for ScifiPulse.
If you want to see 3022 for yourself, it will be released in theaters, on demand, and other digital platforms on November 22.
Nicholas Yanes: Growing up, what were movies you loved experiencing? Are there any you still enjoy revisiting?
John Suits: Growing up there were tons of movies I loved watching over and over on VHS. My dad showed us a lot of really interesting, obscure movies from a young age, and I was a huge David Lynch fan. Since having kids, I’ve actually loved sharing some of the classic films from my childhood with them like Labyrinth and Goonies. With my kids, I haven’t yet ventured into the more provocative titles from my childhood but maybe in a few years, haha.
Yanes: When did you know you wanted to pursue a career in film making? Was there a moment in which this goal crystalized for you?
Suits: I feel like I have always been drawn to the world of film. I started to think about it as a career around my Junior year in high school, but I didn’t ever really think it was something that was possible to do and make a living at. I started making movies in college and just kept doing it until I eventually figured out how to turn this into a career.
Yanes: You have been a producer more than you have been a director. What position do you prefer? Additionally, how do you think being a producer and director has helped you understand the perspectives of those you work with?
Suits: There’s a lot I enjoy about directing and producing. If I had to pick one, I’d probably say directing because I like the creative process of working with the actors on set. Producing has definitely helped me as a director as I approach everything in a very practical way. I often use my ‘producer’ problem solving skillset to find ways to accomplish my creative goals in a way that are realistic within the confines of the production logistics.
Yanes: On this note, you were a producer on 400 Days. I was able to interview Matt Osterman about that film. So I need to know, in all out brawl between the two of you, who would win?
Suits: Hahaha, that’s a great question. Oh man, I definitely wouldn’t want to face Matt in a brawl. Maybe I’d challenge him to a thumb war.
Yanes: Your latest movie is 3022. What attracted you to this story?
Suits: I was attracted to this story because of the huge stakes and scale and because it’s ultimately a very intimate human story. Ryan Binaco, the writer, is incredibly gifted and was able to write a script that felt emotionally honest, which allowed me to invest in the characters and relationships.
Yanes: While working on this film, was there a character or theme took on a life of its own?
Suits: Yes, I was really impressed with all the actors and the way they brought the characters to life in often unexpected ways. The theme that took on a life of its own was that if hope – even when delusional – is actually a good thing or the most dangerous thing.
Yanes: Reflecting on your time making this movie, how do you think you’ve improved as a director?
Suits: Each time I make a movie, I take learnings from my past projects and that helps me to improve for the next one. I have two young kids and took a couple years off from making movies after my previous film Pandemic. During those year off, I’ve been directing commercials and branded content, which has been an incredible experience. It’s almost felt like going back to film school as it allowed me to test a lot of new techniques. I feel like being in this space helped me grow quite a bit as a filmmaker and it has been exciting to apply these new techniques to my feature work.
Yanes: On this topic, was there a particularly difficult shot that you worried you couldn’t get?
Suits: Yes, there were a lot of really difficult shots. The anti-gravity sequences were definitely the most challenging. Figuring out how to make a space movie of this scale on a sub-million-dollar budget was very challenging and required a lot of teamwork and creative problem solving from everyone on the crew.
Yanes: When people finish watching 3022, what do you hope they take away from the experience?
Suits: I hope people engage with the film in a way where they ask themselves – “If I were in this scenario, what would I do?” What I initially found so fascinating when I read Ryan’s script is that I could understand each character’s actions and motivation and even if I didn’t agree with their choices, I understood why they were making them.
Yanes: Finally, what else are you working on that people can look forward to?
Suits: I actually got back a few weeks ago from directing a movie called Breach with Bruce Willis, Cody Kearsley, Thomas Jane, Rachel Nichols, Callan Mulvey, and Timothy V. Murphy. It’s also a space movie, so it was fun to bring my learnings from 3022 to this one!