Trevor Algatt directed End of the Cornfield. Check out our interview with Trevor and learn more about his experience directing the fiction podcast and his future projects.
What initially drew you to the project (End of the Cornfield)?
The depth, complexity, and richness of each character’s background really grabbed my attention. And the restless fire of youth juxtaposed with the simplicity of Small Town, USA made for such an interesting contrast.
As an actor, director, producer, and composer, you’ve worn many creative hats. In what ways do your other creative roles inform your work as a director?
It all kind of bleeds together. A little bit of knowledge about audio production, or some blog you read on the internet, or a song you love, a poem—these things might all feel isolated at first, but I believe everything we consume makes an impression on our psyches. And if we’re paying attention, relevant aspects of the journey will bubble up when we’re immersed in the creative process.
Just being open to life, paying attention, savoring the textures… that’s the richest source of all. A mentor once told me, ‘You have everything you need to be a brilliant storyteller by the time you’re 6 years old.’
And the most impactful art, I believe, always simply asks questions.
I do my best to let those concepts guide me.
End of the Cornfield takes place in a small, rural town in Ohio. How did the story’s location inform your direction?
It was a trip reading about the actual town—how small it really is! I’ve been to small communities like that for short periods of time, but never lived in one. I tried to put myself in the shoes of the people there: What do they love about this lifestyle? This place? What do they perhaps not love about bigger cities like Los Angeles or Atlanta or New York? Why raise kids there?
From there, it gets easier to infer what the characters in the story might be rebelling against, and what their blind spots might be.
How do you even begin to break down a project as a director? What was your process like?
My only hard and fast rule is: read the entire script as soon as you can. From there, I try not to have a ‘system’ or process. There are so many variables that can throw a pre-made vision off track. It’s always been my belief that an effective director is really just a guide, a second set of eyes that can zoom out to that 30,000-foot view, and help shape the story as the ideas, perspectives, and uniqueness of the rest of the team all start to take root.
But it all starts with the script and honoring the writer’s vision as much as possible.
What was the recording process like?
It was fun! We only had a few Zoom sessions under our belt, so the actual recording was still a process of discovery. We went through each episode from start to finish once or twice, then went back and worked beats and sections, then typically did one or two more full-episode recordings before moving on to capture any one-off ‘efforts’ (heavy breathing, struggling sounds, etc).
What is your approach to post-production?
In general, it’s also pretty organic. This was a unique process because everything post-production is being done remotely. I took a few weeks to go through all the recorded audio for each episode, then assembled ‘skeleton’ passes for each one, using what I felt were the best takes, and making small edits for pacing and story beats. I sent those off to Abbey for a second set of ears, and uploaded the full audio project files to Google Drive.
Abbey has a wonderful instinct for finding collaborators, so the whole process since then has felt much more like a ride for me than anything else. Andrew’s theme music is just perfect—and I never even spoke with him!
And Joseff’s post-production, sound-scaping, etc have been an absolute treat to hear. Abbey and I share the philosophy that if the right team is in place, stepping back and giving room for everyone to bring their unique creative vision to bear (with a few notes and tweaks) almost always produces the best and most surprising results.
What are some of your upcoming projects?
A feature film I had a lead role in is premiering at Brussels International Fantastic Film Fest (BIFFF) in a few weeks, and we’re hoping to have good news about a domestic premiere (and sale!) soon.
I’m also working on some music—some personal music, as well as an album of meditation music for a project with a friend—and exploring photography, and auditioning (gratefully!) a lot.
But the biggest project is my 6-week-old son! Most difficult and most wonderful thing ever.
Favorite place in LA: Any place with smoothies
Favorite hike in LA: The John Muir Trail ruined all L.A. hikes for me. I thru-hiked it with a friend a few years ago, and nothing will ever compare.
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