Five Questions With Filmmaker Danny Buday

Battle-Scars---WebDanny Buday wrote and directed Battle Scars. Previously, Danny wrote and directed 5 Star Day, starring Cam Gigandet and Jena Malone. 5-Star Day won the Jury Award for Best Feature at the Stony Brook Film Festival and was honored as the Opening Night Film at the Newport Beach Film Festival. Danny has an MFA in directing from the American Film Institute (AFI). He resides in Los Angeles, CA.

Buday’s film, Battle Scars, will be at the 2015 GI Film Festival.

Where are you from and what is your film background?

I was born in South Carolina, but grew up mostly in Chicago and Southern California. I started writing and directing short films while at Cal State Long Beach during undergrad. After college, I applied to graduate school at the American Film Institute (AFI) and was accepted into their directing MFA program. I graduated from AFI in 2005 and continued to write and direct shorts, music videos and commercials while developing my first feature. In 2010, I made my feature film debut 5 Star Day – starring Cam Gigandet and Jena Malone. 5 Star Day won the Jury Award for ‘Best Feature’ at the Stony Brook Film Festival in New York and was voted ‘Best Feature Debut’ at the Beverly Hills Film Festival. Battle Scars is my second feature film as writer/director.

Who are your biggest influences in film and why?

Great filmmakers like Sidney Lumet, Stanley Kubrick, and Terrence Malick. As well as the classic storytelling mastery of Coppola, Scorsese and Eastwood. However, I’m especially drawn to filmmakers like P.T. Anderson and Alejandro González Iñárritu, folks who push the narrative envelope but never seem to feel too over-the-top stylized. Anderson’s Magnolia and Iñárritu’s Birdman are specific examples of this and are both crowning achievements. I love filmmakers and directors who put story and character above all else but somehow still manage to maintain a distinct sense of style and rhythm. As a storyteller, I’m intrigued by that balance. Being able to use the camera and all your filmmaking tools to their fullest potential while also serving the story, that’s the goal. And the people I listed above are the masters. 

What was the hardest part about getting this film made?

Like I’m sure all filmmakers will lament, as a director you’d always love to have more time and a bigger budget, but with Battle Scars the biggest challenge was logistics. Coordinating all the variables needed to complete the film on a tight 3-week shooting schedule was definitely challenging. Having the time to explore and create memorable moments and complex performances with actors on set while also balancing the needs of a tight production schedule is always tough. That said, I’m super proud of all the amazing hard work both the cast and crew did to make Battle Scars come to life. Everyone involved did an amazing job and I’m super excited to premiere the finished film at the upcoming G.I. Film Festival

What do you want viewers to take away with them after watching your film?

After watching Battle Scars, I hope audiences take away a better awareness and sense of compassion for the silent, psychological traumas that affect our soldiers. People see the external injuries of soldiers and most of them instantly feel an overwhelming sense of compassion, yet thousands of soldiers are coming home with PTSD each year and we can’t seem to find a way to focus the spotlight and attention on the tremendous amount of internal and unseen pain and suffering these brave men and women are coming back home with. Hopefully audiences take away a new perspective and appreciation for a soldier’s individual journey and struggle to maintain their sense of self after seeing such atrocities overseas in Afghanistan. The challenge with Battle Scars was to not be too heavy-handed with regards to the message of the film and let the parallels Luke (our main character) encounters while trying to transition back home guide the audience through Luke’s struggle to re-adjust stateside.

What is a fun fact about you that would surprise people?

A fun fact that may surprise people about me is that when I was growing up I was an active member of the Civil Air Patrol, (a US Air Force Auxilary) and received the Gen. Billy Mitchell Award. In addition, both my grandfathers (Charles Gaspadarek and Daniel James) were both in the military. My Grandpa Gaspadarek retired after serving 20 years as a Chief Master Sergeant in the Air Force and my Grandpa James served during WWII in the Army. In fact, my mom grew up as an “Air Force brat” and went to high school in Japan while my Grandpa Gaspadarek was there stationed overseas.

Battle Scars, directed by Danny Buday, is playing at Angelika on May 22. Click here for tickets.