Scott Sampila is the producer of Fall and Spring (1996), Resin (2001) and the award-winning Remarkable Power (2010). He is also a master mixologist at some of the swankiest bars in Santa Barbara and is developing a new TV show called Bartender Wars. He’s also one of my oldest friends and longtime collaborators.
Q & A With Scott Sampila
When did your creative life start?
Well prior to you there was no creative life. Chicago cop dad, I lived with my grandma, I had a mullet, was a little thief, got kicked out of school. Then I come to UCSB, met you, we start making videos like Disco Dance Off, Mormon’s on Bikes, Corn Bread Dead People Cereal and everything changed.
Ah, the good ol’ days.
That shit was crazy. It was so fucking fun. I’d never done anything like that in my life. And I started thinking to myself…could I possibly do this as a career? Unfortunately, I stupidly thought the answer was yes. And my life’s been fucked up ever since. (laughs)
For starters, I was planning to go to law school after college until your motherfucking ass talked me into doing Sobel’s movie (Fall and Spring, 1996 directed by Steve Sobel). Every cell of my body told me to do the responsible thing, move back to Chicago and go make something of my life but you wouldn’t take no for an answer and I started thinking about how fun making those videos was and…I guess it’s my fault. I should have told you to go fuck yourself.
I’m sure that would have done the trick.
Exactly. I was doomed from the start.
Do you have a day job or did your genius decision to devote your life to making art finally pay off?
I am a master mixologist bartender, thank you.
How’s that working out for ya?
It pays the bills. Which is more than I can say for my filmmaking career. That said I’m developing a TV show that revolves around competitive bartending.
The first competition show where the judges can get hammered?
Where does creativity come from?
Good question. For someone like you, you were born with it. For someone like me, it was manufactured. I was always definitely more left brain but I guess you brought out the artist in me. And now it’s a part of me and I love it. You can’t help yourself.
True. I have no choice. There’s no escape. So we never become big Hollywood successes. Why not?
Combination of stupid mistakes and bad fucking luck.
Life’s a bitch.
The thing is I wouldn’t be married to my wife and have these two awesome kids if things had gone differently so I can’t be too negative. That said, we intended to become the next Bender and Tarantino. Clearly, that didn’t work out. But we had a good run. I don’t regret what we did.
We wrote a TV show that got sold, wrote tons of scripts and made our movie (Remarkable Power!) You still bitch about taking the dogs subplot out but we made a fucking movie man with known actors and that’s more than most aspiring filmmakers do. And who knows we might make another one day I don’t know.
But looking back at the effort so far did we “make it?”
What advice would you give a college grad looking to declare a major in film?
Great question. My answer? DO NOT FUCKING DO IT!
Any life lessons learned along the way?
Here’s the thing. I’m still bummed out that we didn’t make it. I think we’ve both kind of obsessed on that failure. I mean we pursue this fucking thing for so long and it doesn’t quite pan out. It haunts me but shit, at least we tried, we did something, we made a movie which is really fucking hard.
There’s part of me that regrets and a part of me that accepts. I don’t know it’s still pretty fresh, I’m still processing it.
Do you need a tissue?
So have you officially given up or do you think you might get back in the saddle after this domestic fixation wears off?
When I moved to Santa Barbara I kind of took a timeout from Hollywood because that town is a beast and it was fucking me up. I think I just got really angry that it hadn’t worked out and project after project was stalling out and we lost our agents and all that. I needed a break.
Seems you’re still on it.
I’m almost ready to reengage.
We still have MK-ULTRA.
Ah man, don’t get me started on that. What a fucking disappointment. When did we write that script?
The first draft was in 2003. I think we did our last draft around 2010? Crazy part is Hollywood still hasn’t touched the subject.
I guess we still have hope then.
Just admit it, you want back in badly.
Honestly, if the Graphic Novel got me like $10K that would be sweet. Beyond that….I’m not holding out much hope.
So you’re a little quitter?
(laughs) You’re about to get bitch slapped. Seriously though, that’s always been your bag. You’re like the king of not giving up and probably won’t until you’re in the grave. And I respect that about you. But come on, we both know that making it in Hollywood is like winning the fucking lottery. Even if you have tons of talent.
I hung in there for 20 years but I just didn’t want to keep doing that for the rest of my life. You will of course because you don’t give a shit.
Are you happy?
I’m totally fine. Could I have more money? Sure.
Are you afraid of failure?
I’m over it.
IF YOU’RE AN INVESTOR LOOKING TO GET RICH IN HOLLYWOOD PLEASE EMAIL SCOTT AT [email protected]