Printer Friendly Version


Genre: Drama/Comedy
Director: Adam Collis
Writer: Mark Edward King
Cast: Patrick J. Adams, George Lopez, Josh Hopkins, Cory Hardrict, Dash Mihok, with Nia Vardalos, and Chris Mulkey
Producers: Adam Robinson, Stefanie Epstein, Mark Edward King, James Mather Miller, F. Miguel Valenti, Adam Collis
Run Time: 100 Minutes
Rating: R “Language Throughout, Including Some Sexual References”.


ASU makes a spark in the independent film community: An interview with director Adam Collis

Travel any direction on Bell Road in North Phoenix and you are bound to come across a car dealership or ten. Local writer Mark King holds a strong connection and influence from these places; Mark grew up spending many hours at his father’s car dealership in Scottsdale. Spending time immersed in this world made an impact on Mark, one that led to him writing a film called “Car Dogs”, based in part on his experiences. This isn’t the only aspect that makes this independent film unique, however; “Car Dogs” also offered a one-of-a-kind experience for more than 85 students and 15 alumni from Arizona State University.

This immersive filmmaking program found roots in the fall of 2009 but didn’t officially blossom into a class structure called FilmSpark ASU until spring of 2015. Film professor Adam Collis, also director of “Car Dogs”, found it beneficial to provide first-hand opportunities for students to hear from industry professionals. Since 2009, Professor Collis has connected four Oscar-winners, five Oscar-nominees, three studio chiefs, the presidents of the Academy and the Directors Guild, and numerous blockbuster producers and award-winning directors with Arizona State University. For a student pursuing a career in the film industry, this connection is a valuable component towards success and also an achievement towards ASU’s goals of embracing innovation.

“Car Dogs” details the story of Mark, the ambitious son of a car dealership tycoon in Arizona. Mark, wanting career advancement, is tasked by his father to push/motivate his sales team in order to sell more cars in one day than has ever been done before. Though Mark doesn’t realize just how much one day can change his entire life.

The Foothills Focus had an opportunity to sit down with director Adam Collis to discuss the process of completing such a daunting task of making a film with students and professionals and also the importance of innovation in filmmaking.

The task of developing and promoting a program of connection, interaction, and education requires a specific kind of motivation and experience from a group of people. With ASU's development, there have been quite a few people who have helped develop this program into what it is today.

Collis explains:

Car Dogs begins when my boss at the time, Jacob Pinholster, came to me and said we have the fastest growing film program in the country, we have to get students on productions so that they can get a production credit. I half jokingly said, why don’t we make a feature film and we’ll give everyone internships and they’ll get academic credit, they’ll get this incredible learning experience and their first professional film credit for their resume. They’ll have someone to call if they want to go to Hollywood or if those professionals come here, the first person they’ll think of to call is them, it will help them build their professional network. All the pluses were in our favor. But what predates that, about 2 years before we even wanted to pursue Car Dogs, is that I was talking with F. Miguel Valenti who created the fastest growing program in the country and here he was doing exactly what the ASU’s President was charging everyone to do, which was thinking innovative and to think like entrepreneurs. That’s what Miguel Valenti was doing! He created the environment that Car Dogs and FilmSpark was born.

With a film production set taking on this aspect of education for student filmmakers, it's an interesting relationship that is bound to expose those experienced professionals to new ideas from younger amateurs who are growing up with different sets of ideas and advancements that are influencing the filmmaking process.

Talking with Collis about what he learned from the experience and the students, he says:

What I learned from my students was just how awesome it is to love the filmmaking process. On a lot of Hollywood productions, people are getting tired of it, for them it’s just a job. On Car Dogs, everyone was happy to be there everyday. It made me feel the way I felt when I was in film school, when anything was possible. You are just so deeply thankful to be on a film set, it’s such a gift. And seeing how excited and grateful my students were, made me excited and grateful to be there as well. I re-learned that feeling. The most valuable experience I’ve had as an act of admission was the wrap party, where student after student came up to me and said “thank-you”, gave me a big hug, and told me all they ever wanted was to be on a film set.

Film creators get influence from everything, but one of the most influential factors for any filmmaker are the films they grew up watching, the ones they return to watch again, or the ones that they actively pursue to watch currently. You can learn about a person by asking them about their favorite movies.

The final question for Collis concerned influences; specifically what film he would pair in a double feature with “Car Dogs”:

Can I do a triple feature? If I could do a triple feature it would be Car Dogs, Glengarry Glen Ross, and Ocean’s 11.

“Car Dogs” is currently in theaters.