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Exclusive interview with Flying Lessons director/producer Derek Magyar

December 04, 2012

Before the Trailer recently spoke with actor Derek Magyar who made his directorial debut with the film “Flying Lessons.” Magyar has starred in the Tribeca Film Festival cult hit “Boy Culture,” the Lionsgate thriller “Train,” and appeared on TV shows including “Charmed,” “Boston Legal,” and “The Cape.”
            The indie drama stars Academy Award-winner Christina Lahti and nominee Hal Holbrook along with Cary Elwes, Jonathan Tucker, and Maggie Grace. Grace plays a troubled young woman, Sophie Conway, who returns to her small home town after her father’s suicide. She has to face the friends and lovers she left behind and also make sense of her tangled relationship with her mother. Magyar also produced the film with Jenny Hinkey.
            New Films Cinema will release “Flying Lessons” in select theaters December 7. Since November 1, the film has been offered on cable, satellite, and online VOD. You can follow Derek on Twitter @DerekMagyar.
Before the Trailer (BTT): You made your directorial debut with “Flying Lessons.” What attracted you to this project?
Derek Magyar (DM): The script initially attracted me to the project. One of my best friends had written it so it was something I had a passion about, to be a part of it as just as a producer and actor in the film. It kind of felt natural for me to direct the film.

BTT: What were some of the challenges and obstacles you faced with this film?

DM: I think there are challenges and obstacles that everyone faces. Between making your days, if the budget is there, you have the strongest cast possible. At the end of the day, we were lucky we were able to get through all of it.
BTT: What have you learned?

DM: It’s kind of a broad huge answer. It changed me as a man and really gave me insides into all aspects of filmmaking and also really helped me and influenced me as an actor and how do I approach the work and all of the elements that it involves. I made mistakes that I will not make again but you learn from the burn. I also did things right that I can make better as well.
BTT: On Facebook, you posted that “Flying Lessons is becoming something bigger than I could have ever imagined” and that New Films Cinema, the distributors for Flying Lessons have made an alliance with LIONSGATE and MGM and “Flying Lessons” is one of the films that is a part of this alliance.” What other details can you give us about this alliance?

DM: That was quite a while ago but LIONSGATE is a part of the film, some of the international territories, and having the film come out domestically in 10 cities as opposed to 5 initially. It is more then I could have ever asked for my first film. It’s a real dream come true and I take everything that I learned from this film and apply it to my second film and hope that my second film is a lot better than my first.

BTT: Tell us about one of your most memorable moments from your time working on this project.

DM: Definitely one of the most memorable parts of it would be when I worked with Hal Holbrook. He’s a really exceptional man and a real kind of teacher. It was just an honor to work with him and become friends with him. It is something I will never forget and I look forward to working with him again. 

BTT: The film was shot in 2010 and is being releases so close to 2013. What was going on in the meantime?

DM: It is just a process of distributing it, editing it, cutting it, putting it together, making it right, and doing all the things that need to be done. It took its time. It was a difficult process but I am glad it eventually happened.

BTT: You have written, acted, directed, and produced for various projects. How seamless is the transition for you between each role?

DM: You know it’s pretty hard to transition between them all. I really haven’t acted and directed at the same time. I don’t know if I could handle that kind of stress and change that demeanor. When it comes to producing and directing, I had to transition my focus on some things that are much broader then performance and focus on things that are going to make the film successful. When I am approaching things as an actor it’s specifically about the work and only the work.
BTT: As producer, how do you get the funding for your projects?

DM: It took a long time to raise and I asked people that I knew and friends of friends. The best way to keep a movie yours is by raising the money yourself. I was lucky enough to be able to do that. It took a long time but without a question, it was worth it.

BTT: You are set to star in Sony’s “Phantom” (2013) with Ed Harris and David Duchovny. Also in Fox Searchlight’s “Fencewalker” with Katie Cassidy, Natalie Dormer and Theo Rossi. What can you tell us about these projects?

DM: They are all exciting projects. “Phantom” is a great movie that I did with Ed Harris and Bill Fichtner. It’s really exciting. I think it should be a lot of fun and entertaining. “Fencewalker” is a character drama that I did with Chris Carter directing. It’s a coming of age story. We’ve got Mehcad Brooks and Katie Cassidy.   

BTT: We see that you wrote and are set to direct, star, and produce “The Secrets We Share” (2013). What can you tell us about this project?

DM: I am going to be playing a small cameo role. I am really focusing on directing and producing it. This is my first stab at writing something. I am excited about it. It’s still kind of finding its light. It’s going to be an interesting exciting small character drama.

BTT: You have made guest star appearances on TV shows including “The Cape,” “Medium,” and “Boston Legal.” Tell us about one of your most memorable moments from television.

DM: They have all been memorable in their own way. I really enjoyed working on “Criminal Minds.” It was a great job and great people to work with, cast and crew. Obviously being a part of “Star Trek” was a really amazing thing for me. I have always enjoyed everything that I have done in television. Television is a very exciting medium. I look forward to doing more,

BTT: What is your message to aspiring filmmakers?

DM: The message is to never give up no matter what. You are going to fail many times. You just got to keep going.


Check out the official trailer for "Flying Lessons" here:


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