It’s been a long journey for local screenwriter and producer Joshua A. Cohen to bring his debut feature, Red Herring, to screens, one that found Cohen taking on a position as one of the lead activists for film tax incentives in Nevada. Six years after wrapping principal photography on the crime thriller, Cohen is finally bringing it to audiences, with a weeklong theatrical run at AMC Town Square starting on October 30, followed by a DVD and VOD release on November 10.
Obviously this is a passion project for you, but you aren’t the director. What was the motivation behind hiring an outside director? Directing is such a difficult and precision job. There’s so much that has to go into making a great film. There’s so many nuances that go into every single frame. And I did not feel that I was experienced enough to helm a project of this size. I really need to spend a couple of full productions watching big, established feature directors work from start to finish before I attempt that myself. If I got millions of dollars to make a movie, I wouldn’t trust it in my hands. I’d put it in experienced hands.
What took so long between the end of shooting and the movie finally being released? It’s been a very long and expensive learning process. We had sound issues on set, so that took a long time to fix afterward. I was a younger screenwriter, so there were some script issues, and it took the director/editor, Ousa Khun, and I a while in post-production to get this two-hour thing down to 90 minutes. Then there was a hard drive crash. I couldn’t get a hard drive back from one of my guys—I had to hire an attorney to do that. Each time you put your faith in someone, and they say they’ll get it done quickly and for this price, and it takes a lot longer and it costs a lot more, and then you’ve got to go hire someone else afterward.
What’s the current state of the film tax incentive? We got it changed from a pilot program to a permanent law, and we were attempting to get our funding back after it all went to the Tesla battery factory. We’re trying to find a way to get our funding back before the next [legislative] session, but otherwise it might be 2017 before we can really start making big movies here again.
Red Herring Robert Scott Howard, Tim Tucker, G. Eric Miles. Directed by Ousa Khun. Not rated. Opens Friday.