Dean Parker on the set of his upcoming short film, which has the working title The Bartender and the Drunk, coming this fall.
by Cassie Mattia
Loveland, Ohio – Have you ever sat down and thought about what it takes to make a great film? Have you ever wondered just how the lions in the Lion King remake look and sound so real? Did you ever look beyond the “scary” parts of a horror movie and look into why those scary parts are so effective? This is what makes a good move excellent and, well, Loveland local Dean Parker knows exactly what it takes to make an excellent movie!
Dean Parker attended Loveland City Schools where he began his journey into film making. Parker began making films at a very young age where eventually that developed passion took him to Ohio University’s Scripps College of Communication to study Integrated Media Production. Dean is also a former paid intern, writing and doing videography and video editing at Loveland Magazine. Several awards and opportunities later, Parker landed himself in L.A. interning for Lifeboat Productions! After following Parker’s amazing story, I decided to invite Dean to Loveland Magazine’s One-on-One series so that he could share with our readers just how he has accomplished everything thus far! Sit back in your chair, grab your popcorn and enjoy, One-on-One with Dean Parker.
I just want to say before we start, Wow you have quite an impressive resume in the film industry! Where did all this passion for film and the performing arts come from? Was it passed along from your family or was it a newfound talent?
Dean – Thank you for the kind words. I don’t really know exactly where my passion entirely came from, to be honest. It’s really a mix of a bunch of things. I’ve just always liked stories and being a part of creating stories. I used to read all the time growing up and would like to write short books for fun. My dad also had an old camera that I would use to film silly videos with me and my friends. I think it’s fascinating how books, theater, and films can leave an impression on someone through the stories they tell and how they tell them. So, I think that impression stories left on me, especially through film, made me want to become a part of that industry and create. Definitely a newfound talent, for sure.
You went to Loveland High school, GO TIGERS, what did you learn at LHS that has helped you through your career path? Did you partake in any special courses at Loveland for film, if so, what were they? Brag about yourself for a minute! Share with our Loveland Magazine readers some of your high school accolades!
Dean – At the time when I was at LHS, they didn’t have the really cool video production class they just added. The only course they had was the LHSNN class, which is the school news. I was the lead editor for the news, and I had to learn how to use new editing software and how to meet deadlines on a tight schedule. That was a fun class because I got to collaborate with the other anchors on coming up with different news specials and skits. Other than that, I had to teach myself everything else. Mr. Barrett, who runs LHSNN and the video classes, was also very supportive of me especially when it came to the different shorts I was making. I was also very fortunate to meet a really cool group of friends in high school that were also interested in becoming filmmakers. We all worked on various projects together and we taught each other different things that helped us grow. In fact, those students started the LHS film club, which I believe is still around? Hopefully, it is! Beyond that, LHS let me have the premiere of two of my films in the auditorium, which was extremely nice. They were very supportive of me and a lot of the students came to see the premieres, as well as our principal and superintendent. I was very grateful to everyone for coming out to see the films.
You later made your way to the Ohio University, why did you select OU? What degree are you going for? Share with us your experience at OU and how it has helped you become the amazing film artist you are today!
Dean – My degree at OU is called Integrated Media Production, which is basically a create your own major within the media school. I selected OU because of its great media program that includes some amazing opportunities. I’ve participated in an advanced narrative production class called 419 Productions. In that class, we got to make a major short film that takes us an entire year from prepping, to raising a budget, to actually filming and editing it. Then we have a premiere at the end of the year. I have participated in many other student film sets and have learned so much from each one, mainly due to the other students who teach me different things. I also work in my school’s video equipment room and have familiarized myself with most of what we have there. And then there’s amazing our LA program, which takes students out to LA for real-world experience. All these things have helped shaped me into the filmmaker and person that I am today. I have learned so much more about the film over the past three years than at any other time in my life.
Let’s really get to know Dean! Tell us about your family! Who inspires you? Would you say your family has helped you become what you are today? Anyone in the family into film making? What were some of your favorite films growing up? Have you drawn inspiration for your films through some of your favorite films of the past?
Dean – My dad runs his own company which makes home inspection software. My mom works as a territory manager at BGR. I have two sisters, one of whom currently goes to LHS. My other sister plays soccer at Miami University. I’m inspired by Chris Martin, Lin-Manuel Miranda, Damien Chazelle, and Bo Burnham just to name a few. My family has always been so incredibly supportive of me in my film endeavors. Some of them even came out to visit me in LA and I showed them around. They always watch my films and have helped me attend film festivals too, which I am very grateful for. I actually don’t have any family members that are into filmmaking, but my great-grandfather owned a drive-in movie theater so maybe that’s where I got my urge to be in the industry. Growing up, I loved Toy Story and Harry Potter movies. My favorite movies currently are The Social Network, Whiplash, Lord of the Rings, and American Beauty, just to name a few. I definitely have drawn inspiration from some of these films and into my work.
I visited your website deanparkerfilms.com and looked over all of your films and they are so interesting! Dean, tell us about the films that you have made and what has inspired each of them. I saw you made a film called No Love in Loveland, tell us about how Loveland inspired you to create this film. What is your favorite film you have made? What film took the longest to make? What film are you most proud of?
Dean – For No Love in Loveland, it was inspired by what I was feeling during my time at LHS, or more so during my freshman year. I thought it was interesting how the dating culture was in school and all the different ways of how quickly people got into and out of relationships. Not to mention all the crushes people had on each other and how they went about approaching that situation. Maybe it was because a lot of people knew each other at our school due to the size. It was a bizarre and funny time and I wanted to make a film that showcased that. So, I played on how our city was called Loveland to poke fun at the situation.
Regret is by far the most personal film I have made. I would like to tell you exactly how I was inspired to make that film but it’s still too personal for me to fully explain. All I’ll say is that it was inspired by a time in high school where I was struggling with the thought of something to come. Now, it was with this film that I met my good group of Loveland film friends. I needed crew members and they reached out to me and offered to help. I continued to work with those guys on my other two films after that. If it wasn’t for this film, I don’t know if I would’ve met them and I’m grateful that I did get to meet them.
Images I came up with shortly after the time I wrote Regret. I was inspired to make the film after meeting certain people and seeing how the way they presented themselves online and the image they were trying to show off was different than when I really got to know them. I’m proud of all the work we put into making that film. It was by far my most ambitious project at the time, especially due to the length and complexity of the shots. We all had a fun time working on it though, and the cast and crew got really close. I would also say it’s my most successful film so far, due to the number of festivals we were fortunate enough to be a part of.
Together was actually based on a short story a friend of mine wrote. When I read the story for the first time, I knew it could make for a good short film. I spent time talking to the writer of the story about what she intended and then putting that to film. It was exciting to interpret someone else’s story, write a screenplay for it and then bring it to life. I think that’s my favorite film I have put out so far. Currently, the film I’m editing right now is taking the longest to make (it’ll be worth it, I promise). But prior to that, it was Together. That film had some complications at the beginning of production that put filming on halt for almost two months. We scrambled to get that film shot in time before I had to go back to OU for the sophomore year. Then I had to edit it while I was at school and my roommate was using his free time to make the music. But it all worked out, thankfully.
You have collected some unbelievable awards over the past few years! What were some of your proudest awards? Tell the readers about how recipients are selected for these awards and what you had to do to be considered. You have been to a number of film festivals, which I’m sure was really exciting for you to be part of! What are some of your favorite film festivals you have attended? Have you been invited to any extremely exclusive film festivals?
Dean – Thank you again for the kind words. I’ve been very fortunate to be a part of some very neat festivals. One of my favorite festivals I was selected into was the Nashville Film Festival, which is a major festival. Unfortunately, I didn’t get the chance to attend, but just being selected was very exciting. Being a finalist for some awards and also winning one at the All-American High School Film Festival was also great. I got to attend that festival and it was one of the best experiences of my life. I also enjoyed attending the Golden Lion Film Festival here in Cincinnati. I won the best short film award and best of fest award back in 2016, which was so crazy. That festival has greatly expanded since I was a part of it and it’s cool to see how they’ve grown. The thing is, with all the great accolades I’ve been fortunate to receive, there is actually much more losing than winning. I’ve been rejected from way more festivals than I have been accepted. This is a very common thing for all filmmakers submitting to festivals. But to me, I see it as another reason to get better with every project. Also, each festival is different and is looking for particular films to make up their lineup so that it also plays into how one gets accepted. I submit to all my film festivals through the website filmfreeway.com. If you are a filmmaker looking to submit to festivals, that website is currently the #1 festival submission platform.
Ok, you have been in L.A having the time of your life! You are interning for Lifeboat Productions? Tell us about your experience thus far in L.A. I saw that you got the opportunity to be at the Jimmy Kimmel show? What was that like? Talk about the new film you are producing Virtually in Love.
Dean – L.A has been quite the experience and I definitely see myself living there. Yes, I interned at Lifeboat Productions as a production office and development intern. Most of what I did there is read tons of screenplays and then provide coverage, which is basically a form of feedback. I also helped around the office by prepping the conference room, answering phone calls, greeting clients, and anything else they might’ve needed me to do. They also had me pitch a screenplay in development to the company executives, which was great practice for me.
LA is a much different world than Loveland. Way more people, buildings, and cars. In fact, there really isn’t anywhere to park. Traffic happens all the time, any hour, any day of the week. But it’s all part of the experience. And there’s always something to do. Lots of events and cool places to see. Through my school, I’ve gotten to do some studio tours like Warner Bros, and Sony Pictures. I’ve also gotten to go to Universal Studios Hollywood and Disneyland. And I’ve run into some celebrities as well. I once saw Ryan Gosling while I was out for dinner, which was crazy.
I’ve gotten to attend Jimmy Kimmel twice, actually. The most recent time I went, Quentin Tarantino was the guest and he was promoting his new movie Once Upon a Time in Hollywood. In fact, at one point, Leonardo DiCaprio came out and surprised the audience with an invite to come to the movie premiere. So, I went and got to see the movie a few days before it came out. If you go onto YouTube, you can find the video when this happened. https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=uEEkXCCgz2o.
I got to write and direct one of the short films for our school program while we were out in LA. The film is a science-fiction drama called Virtually in Love, which is sort of like an episode of Black Mirror. The film takes place in the near future and is about a man who is struggling to make a romantic connection in a time where everybody is disconnected due to technology. We had an open casting call and got to work with some really cool LA actors. We had a lot of tight deadlines with making the film but managed to get it done well. It was a great learning experience and made me reflect on what I know about filmmaking and how I can get better. That film will also go through a festival run for a bit and will be released shortly after.
Now is your chance to promote yourself! Tell us about your future plans! Any films or big projects in the works? Any fun opportunities?
Dean – I am currently still editing a short film I directed back in the spring that is set to come out sometime this fall. It’s currently titled The Bartender and the Drunk, but that is just a working title. We actually have a Facebook Page you can go check out if you want to follow updates on the film. I am really excited for this to be released. I had a stellar cast and crew, and this is the first short film I’ve directed where I didn’t write the screenplay. We also self-funded this film through GoFundMe and were fortunate enough to reach our goal of $2,500. Once the film is completed, I’ll be using the rest of the budget to send it off to various film festivals.
Besides that film, I’m going to keep helping out on projects when I get back to school, and my buddy and I are also looking to possibly make a short in the fall as well. After I graduate, I plan to eventually move out to LA with some friends to get started working in the “real world.”
Now let me ask you some fun, but random questions! What’s your favorite color? Who’s your favorite director? Any hidden talents? What’s your favorite food? Who do you emulate? What’s the last film you saw? Any recent films you have seen that you recommend? Lion King original or Lion King remake? What do you hope to be doing in 5 years?
Dean – My favorite color is blue. My favorite director is Damien Chazelle. I can sing, but anyone who knows me well knows that’s not a hidden talent. I can also make a really good grilled cheese apparently. My favorite food is a tough question. I like steak and calamari a lot. I’m kind of a picky eater but I’m getting better. I guess I emulate my dad. My sisters tell me that a lot. The last film I saw was The Farewell, which I recommend. I also recommend Booksmart, and Toy Story 4, which is my favorite film of the year so far. I’d definitely pick the original Lion King; the remake was not good at all. In five years, I hope to be working in LA on or at least starting to work on my own feature film, whether or not done independently.
To keep up with Dean Parker and his film career you can visit deanparkerfilms.com.
DEAN PARKER’S AWARDS
VISUAL ARTS SEMI-FINALIST: 2016 Cincinnati Overture Awards
- WINNER: Best College Student Film, 2018 Tampa Bay Underground Film Festival
- WINNER: Best in Show – College Division, 2018 American Youth Film Festival
- NOMINEE: Best Editing, 2018 Tampa Bay Underground Film Festival
- NOMINEE: Best Musical Score, 2018 Tampa Bay Underground Film Festival
- NOMINEE: Best College Film, 2018 Austin Student Film Festival
- SEMI-FINALIST: Los Angeles CineFest – November 2017 Edition
- WINNER: 60th CINE Golden Eagle Award for Narrative Youth Media
- WINNER: Best Editing, 2016 All-American High School Film Festival
- WINNER: Best High School Student Short Film, 2017 Tampa Bay Underground Film Festival
- WINNER: Best Youth Film, 2017 Boise Film Festival
- WINNER: Best Structure, 2017 Premiere Film Festival
- WINNER: Best High School Film, 2017 UPIKE Film & Media Arts Festival
- FINALIST: Best Overall Film, 2016 All-American High School Film Festival
- FINALIST: Best Drama, 2016 All-American High School Film Festival
- FINALIST: Best Cinematography (Sam Smith), 2016 All-American High School Film Festival
- NOMINEE: Best Student Film-High School, 2017 Alhambra Theatre Film Festival
- SEMI-FINALIST: Los Angeles CineFest – August 2016 Edition
- HONORABLE MENTION: Best Dramatic Student Film, 2017 Lionshead Film Festival
- 2017 OFFICIAL SELECTION: Nashville Film Festival
- 2017 OFFICIAL SELECTION: Scout Film Festival
- 2017 OFFICIAL SELECTION: Benicia Film Festival
- 2017 OFFICIAL SELECTION: Lake Charles Film & Music Festival
- BEST OF SHOW: 2016 Golden Lion Awards
- GOLDEN LION AWARD: Narrative Film, 2016 Golden Lion Awards
- BEST CINEMATOGRAPHY (Sam Smith): 2016 Blue Ridge Young Filmmakers Festival
- BEST CINEMATOGRAPHY (Sam Smith): 2017 Premiere Film Festival
- 2016 OFFICIAL SELECTION: All-American High School Film Festival
- 2016 OFFICIAL SELECTION: Royal Starr Film Festival
- 2017 OFFICIAL SELECTION: Ballston Spa Film Festival
- 2017 OFFICIAL SELECTION: Lake Charles Film & Media Festival
- 2016 OFFICIAL SELECTION: Drop Your Shorts – Fall Edition
- 2017 OFFICIAL SELECTION: Film Forum on the Lake
- SPECIAL PRESENTATION: 2016 Hoosierdance International Film Festival
NO LOVE IN LOVELAND
- SILVER KEY AWARD: 2016 Cincinnati Scholastic Art and Writing Awards
- 2015 OFFICIAL SELECTION: All-American High School Film Festival
- 2015 OFFICIAL SELECTION: Film Dayton Festival
- 2016 OFFICIAL SELECTION: Texas Independent Film Festival
- 2016 OFFICIAL SELECTION: Los Angeles CineFest – March 2016 Edition
2016 OFFICIAL SELECTION: Scout Film Festival
Dean’s Associated Products
Wake Up Mark (2018; Director – Michi Heckler)
The Horseman (2018; Director – Annabelle Fisher)
Viceroy (2017; Director – Stone Taul)
Emma (2017; Director – Samantha Houtchens)