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Crank: When did you start making films?

Dusty Brown: When I was at UCB in New York City my longtime collaborator and friend Greg Bratman and I were asked to take over hosting Rob Huebel’s Filet o’ Film. We were exposed to so many great shorts there and decided we needed to start making our own so that we could program into the monthly event, and that’s what we did!

What is the number one lesson you’ve learned as a filmmaker so far?

How to allow a project to take on a life of its own. This usually happens because of limited resources.  I’d have an idea, write that idea and then when we get to production the idea can’t be done the way I had envisioned it. So the question becomes, “what now”? How do we adapt to keep this train going when you lose a location, or an actor or a source of income? If you can figure that out, you suddenly have a project that can surprise you… for me that’s the ultimate satisfaction. 

What sparked the idea for HELLEVATE?

I knew I wanted to shoot a funny/horror thing that could just have one location and one actor. Being stuck in an elevator is a very recognizable trope, so the question was how to start with something almost cliche and make it as unpredictable as possible in a short amount of time. 

Who helped you with this film and how did you come together to make it? 

I had four collaborators on the film. The primary collaborator and my co-producer was Adam Teninbuam who is an amazing visual effects artist. We had thought it would be fun to work on something together so I came up with this. Then my DP, re-recording guy and music guy (Stephan Knuesel, Lee Salavan and Matt Veligdan) are all long time friends and collaborators. 

How long — from start to finish — did it take to make this film?

The short took a few days to write and three hours in the middle of the night to shoot. Then Adam (VFX) had to make the TV drop out of the elevator and my face burn off at the end in post which took a bit longer. 

How would you describe your filmmaking style?

I love to work fast and to change things on the spot if need be. Adaptability is key for me.

Take us behind the scenes for a moment during the making of HELLEVATE.  

The scary elevator was in Adam’s building in Brooklyn. Two days after we shot Hellevate it was ripped out and replaced. No reshoots!

What advice would you give to first-time filmmakers?

Make the kind of movie you want to see. Learn to sift through criticism to the gems that help you realize your vision and forget everything else. 

What projects are in your future?

Working on a comedy/thriller with Tony Hale and several more genre shorts on their way! 

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About the Filmmaker 

Dusty Brown is a filmmaker, actor and musician. Most recently he co-wrote a pilot for SHOWTIME with Glenn Kessler and currently has a project in development with Tony Hale attached to star.  His short film “The Nobodies” (Vimeo Staff Pick, Funny or Die Staff Pick, Short of the Week Staff Pick) featured Jim Gaffigan, Tony Hale, Jack McBrayer, Ellie Kemper and Sutton Foster and is being developed into a feature.  As a songwriter, Dusty’s first album was developed into a play called “The Ballad of Rusty and Roy” which premiered at the New York City Fringe Festival and won the top honor for musical composition. Find more of his work on his website: or follow him on Twitter: @dusty_brown_ & Instagram: @dusty_brown