Phillip Andrew Morton, a complete filmmaker, has worked with some of Hollywood’s elite as a director, producer, editor, and writer. His work has been seen on television and movie screens across the world. He is currently directing Spanish Lake, a documentary focused on the emotions of a middle-class American town devastated by economic hardship, white flight, and escalating crime.
Interviewed by Stephen M. Thompson, Ph.D.
Welcome to OpenBeast. Tell us about yourself.
I’m a midwestern transplant to Los Angeles, one of those creative guys with a dream to make movies. I’ve worked in Hollywood in many capacities: I’ve been a movie trailer editor, a documentary director, and writer. My most previous job was as a VFX supervisor on the film “Battleship”.
Talk to us about your Spanish Lake project.
SPANISH LAKE is a documentary that serves as a community study of an unincorporated area of the St. Louis suburbs that has experienced economic hardship and white flight during the past 20 years. It’s a very personal project as I grew up in the area of Spanish Lake, it was and still is home to me in many ways. I interviewed 100 people who currently and or previously lived there and then threaded their stories together to create a visual and oral history of the area. I feel that this documentary is unique in it’s’ execution: there isn’t a narrator; each person fills in a little piece of the story. It’s a very emotional film that deals with some controversial topics.
So are you formerly trained in film making?
Yes, I attended Webster University in St. Louis and graduated from there with my degree in film production. In the eight years I’ve lived in Los Angeles, I’ve learned an incredible lot as well. Editing movie trailers for three years taught me a lot about storytelling.
What’s your best gig thus far?
SPANISH LAKE is hands down the most fulfilling project I’ve ever worked on, everything else pales in comparison. I’ve truly enjoyed every step of the process and it’s given me so many great memories that I’ll forever treasure.
How is Hollywood treating you thus far?
I’ve been very fortunate here in Los Angeles, I’ve met some good friends that have helped my career. I have also worked incredibly hard, twelve hour days have been pretty standard at most of the jobs I’ve had. To work with professional actors and filmmakers has been a dream come true.
Any upcoming projects you would like to discuss.
I have a screenplay that I wrote a couple of years ago that I would like to be my feature debut as a director. It’s a film about idolatry and celebrity worship, and the real lives that movie stars live outside of the spotlight. I hope that it becomes my next big project after Spanish Lake.
If you could live anywhere where would you build your dream home?
Gosh, this is a hard question. I’ve never been to Italy, but from what I’ve seen of the area and the culture there, it looks incredibly inviting. So without even visiting, I’d say I’d build somewhere in the Tuscany countryside.
For more details about Phillip Morton visit www.phillipandrewmorton.com