INTERVIEW: Director Kyle Couch Talks The Tent And Learning From Filmmaking

The Tent is a survival film in a post-apocalyptic world directed by Kyle Couch and starring Tim Kaiser (Star Trek: Horizon) as David, a man surviving on his own until another survivor emerges and brings doubt to David’s way of life in the process.

“The Crisis” is an event that devastated Earth and set up the world in The Tent. Fortunately for David, his childhood included some survival training. Now on his own, David lives in a tent at the edge of the wilderness. He’s alone for a long while and doing his best to keep away from creatures who stalk the darkness and may have caused “the crises.”. David meets Mary (Lulu Dahl, A Billion To One), and the pair soon learn to live together in the face of a bleak world.

PopAxiom spoke with Kyle Couch about making movies, Steven Spielberg, and the remake he’d love to be a part of that, if it happened, is near-sacrilegious.

Michigan Made

Born in Monroe, Michigan, Kyle says, “I became interested in filmmaking at an early age. As I progressed through life, opportunities kept rising. I kept my ear to the ground and went after opportunities when they came up.”

Kyle “ended up getting a job in production for a non-profit making films,” where he’s been for ten years.

Most would-be filmmakers eventually move west. “I’ve had that thought in my head of moving out to LA and pursuing it. But you get married and have kids, and it changes things. You want to be around your own family.”

However, it’s a hyper-connected world today. “All that said, I’ve found success staying in Michigan and building a resumé by making indie films,” Kyle adds mention of our new reality. “Now, with the Internet and streaming movies, you can essentially be anywhere and make a film.”

The Tent-movie-kyle couch

About The Tent

Kyle’s a filmmaker, and it was only a matter of time before tackling a feature. “I’ve been making short films for a few years at that point. I wanted to make a feature. Every time I took a short film or documentary to distribution, it was challenging for shorts.” Kyle’s experience taught him that “It’s crucial to get that feature film under my belt.”

Kyle focused on making the feature happen. However, he developed a little tunnel vision. “In that thinking was also a mistake — I rushed. I learned a lot from making The Tent. The biggest lesson was to slow down.”

At first, while creating The Tent, “there was a little bit of that immature thinking that I have to get this out there.”

For Kyle, that feeling of rushing “clashed with my desire to put something out there that’s worthwhile. What maybe started off initially as a rush to the finish line ended up being this experience where I started seeing my growth as a filmmaker. “

How does Kyle boil The Tent down? “The logline: a man living out in the wilderness is approached by a stranger who questions his way of living. On a longer note, it’s a character-driven, emotionally climactic story.”

Making Movies

Kyle dives deeper into the lesson he learned from making The Tent. “We easily set up time clocks in our brains. ‘If I’m not successful by a certain age.’ But it’s so far from the truth. My biggest recommendation to anyone who wants to make a feature film is to slow down.”

Kyle admits that social media makes slowing down a challenge. “We’re watching everyone’s progress all the time. The only person you should be comparing to yourself and competing with is who you were yesterday. Find your journey and your path.”

Funding is the life-blood of any film but even more so for films working outside the studio system. “I come from the non-profit world. A lot of times we’re not necessarily looking for people to invest, we’re looking for people to donate.”

Selling the story is of utmost importance. Kyle says, “A big thing for me was looking at, what is the narrative here? Everything breaks down to storytelling. That’s true from working on the script to directing the film to editing.”

However, making movies is a business, and to get the money, you’ve got to sell a product. “A lot of people think it all begins with the writing of the script, but the storytelling begins with getting financing. You’re selling people on the idea of your story.”

Kyle’s fundamental question boils down to: “What is the story that I’m using to sell this feature.”

the tent-poster-kyle couch

Wrapping Up

Like millions of people around the world, Kyle is a life-long fan of films. So, what filmmakers influenced his style? “A big influence on me as a filmmaker and I hate to sound cliche, but Steven Spielberg. He’s a huge influence on the kind of stories I want to tell. He always involves a family element, and that’s huge to me. Family comes with a great emotional connection already, and then building a story on that is fantastic.”

“The movie Jaws,” Kyle says, was a significant influence to The Tent. “I wasn’t trying to make a creature-feature, so we held off as long as we could.”

“Another person who I enjoy,” Kyle adds, “M. Night Shyamalan. Anyone who’s seen The Tent will recognize how we’re not wearing everything on our sleeve from the get-go. I love the idea that he likes to take seemingly normal situations and add this supernatural layer under it that we’re not expecting. I admire his ability to marry those two things together so seamlessly.”

We arrive at the question about remakes. What remake would Kyle dream of being involved? “Oh, man, if there’s one movie I’d love to be a part of the remake, it’s Back to the Future.”

Kyle’s aware that there may are plenty of fellow cinephiles praying for and against a Back to the Future remake ever happening. He expands on his reasoning, “I only say that because I’d love to see how we’d inject the culture of 30 years ago into that story today. I know people are rolling their eyes. I love that movie with a passion.”

The Tent is available at Amazon, Google Play, and other streaming services. Richard points audiences to the Survive The Tent website. “The site has tons of extra features and hidden little things that we created to work in tandem with the film. You can watch it either before watching the movie or after.”

Kyle’s advice to viewers of The Tent: “I promise if you look at it before the movie, then watch the movie, then watch those things again, it’ll change the way you think about the story.”

Is The Tent on your watch list?

Thanks to Kyle Couch and October Coast
for making this interview possible.

Want to read more interviews? CLICK HERE.

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Ruben Diaz
Writer, film-fanatic, geek, gamer, info junkie & consummate Devil's advocate who has been fascinated by Earth since 1976. Classically trained in the ways of the future.

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