Featured PA Filmmaker - Nathaniel Deen

Friday, August 23, 2019 1:40 PM | Jennifer Butschle (Administrator)

By: Maria Shamkalian
PAFIA Vice-Chair

Please meet Nathaniel Deen, a local Pennsylvania filmmaker, who is now working on a full-length feature film based on a true story “BRAVE THE DARK” (original screenplay written by John Spencer) starring Jared Harris (Chernobyl, The Crown) and Nicholas Hamilton (IT). Nathaniel was the Sight & Sound Photographer for 15 years before becoming Broadcast Producer and is currently Lead Project Manager at Sight & Sound Theatres.  He is also the Production Manager for the filming of all the stage show DVDs, which have been featured in Fathom Events in movie theatres across the country.

1)    What is your most recent success and how did you accomplish it?

My most recent success is writing & directing a short film called, The Life That Is.  I teamed up with MakeFilms in Lancaster, PA to co-produce the project. I am proud that we were able to recruit local Pennsylvania talent and crew, as well as use local locations.    

2)    How did you get started in the film industry?

I have worked at Sight & Sound Theatres for nearly 30 years.  I was an actor for 6 years, but decided my talents were better suited behind the scenes. I  joined  the Art/Media Department as a photographer and was the Production Manager for TV spots, media for the shows, and filming the DVDs of all the shows.  I had always wanted to be involved in the film industry. My friend and coworker John Spencer and I decided to write our first feature film together.

3)    Why do you choose to work in PA and what do you love the most about working in Pennsylvania?

Pennsylvania is my home and has been for all of my life.  The diversity of people and their stories compliment the various landscapes across the state offering a multitude of creative options.

4)    What are some of your favorite shooting locations in Pennsylvania?

The hard part is which location to use first. Pennsylvania is home to botanical gardens, amusement parks, covered bridges, casinos and we even have our own Grand Canyon.  My favorite locations would have to be in and around Lancaster County.

5)    What do you love the most about your job?

I love the talented people I get to connect with each and every day.  Creating films requires a dedicated and professional team, that can take an idea and make it happen on the big screen. 

6)    Do you have any upcoming Pennsylvania-based projects?

I am in production with Inspiring Films on a full-length feature called “Brave the Dark”. It is based on the true story of Stan Deen, a local teacher who helps a local teenager come to terms with his dark past.  Brave the Dark will feature Jared Harris (Chernobyl, The Crown)  and Nicholas Hamilton (IT) The current plan is for principle photography to begin in October in and around Lancaster County.  I am super excited to see the impact shooting this film in Pennsylvania will have on the local economy.

7)    PAFIA has been working hard on increasing the film tax credit in Pennsylvania and bringing more film work to our local crew and talent, but we must all unite to really make a difference. What can you tell our elected officials about the importance of PA film industry and the difference it has made in your life?

The Pennsylvania Film Tax credit allows us to work where we live. Without it we would need to take our films to other states.  There is so much local talent in our area, and we need to raise the financial support to continue to take our craft to the next level.  Producing films in Pennsylvania will not only provide jobs for the local talent, it will also advertise that area to the audience. Keeping films in Pennsylvania will be a benefit to the state on multiple levels.

8)    What is your advice for the aspiring filmmakers? Some steps to take? Some mistakes to avoid?

Although film making is fun, it also requires a lot of discipline, determination, and maturity.  I believe that great films start with a well written & story driven script.  Do not start pitching your script until you have a great version to present to producers.

9) What are some good strategies to find more gigs?

Continue to hone your craft.  Get connected.  Getting into the film industry is about getting in front of those already working in the industry.  Be persistent but always lead with your work ethic and abilities, not your ego.  In this industry we are always looking for talented people who are experts in their field.  Be someone who is dependable and trustworthy.

10)  What are some of the most valuable lessons that you have learned about this industry and wish you knew earlier?

I have learned that in this industry you need to just be yourself and no matter what happens good or bad, hold true to who you are and your values.  Understand and remember why you want to be in the industry.

11)  What is your favorite film shot in Pennsylvania?

The movie “Rocky”.  I was living in Philadelphia when it was filmed and remember all the hype when it premiered. 

12)  What is your favorite project that you worked on?

My favorite project is always the current project I am working on. At this time, BRAVE THE DARK is my favorite project.  It is a very personal film and many amazing things have happened since we started production.

13)  What is your biggest aspiration in this industry?

I would love to continue to produce story driven films that give the viewer hope, as well as create characters we can relate to and look up to. With so much negativity in the world, it is important to have something tangible to hold on to. For me that is hope.

14) What would be the best way for our local PA cast and crew to submit to your upcoming projects? 

Check out inspiringfilmsllc.com or bravethedark.com or follow us on Facebook @bravethedarkfilm.  We will be posting and updating as we get closer to production


Pennsylvania Film Industry Association (PAFIA)
461 Cochran Road, Box 246
Pittsburgh, PA 15228
(717) 833-4561  info@pafia.org

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