Devin Hylton was raised in the mountains of Ashcamp KY, and his creativity began to bloom, even before he could crawl. Always creative and always curious about everything and everyone around him, Devin won several statewide poster contests in Elementary School. This was only the tipping point, as Devin went on to work in many creative fields, including publishing several Graphic Novels from companies as diverse as Markosia Enterprises and Arcana Studio. Devin has also had several properties optioned for feature film development. Always wanting to challenge himself, Devin began studying film making a few years ago, and is now in the post production on his first feature, “Lost Creek“. Devin is also an avid collector of antiques, a magician, and an inventor.
Interview with Devin Hylton
CHRISTA: At what age did you desire to become a writer and what was your first story ?
DEVIN: You know, I have a pretty good retentive memory, but I can’t really pinpoint exactly when I decided to become a writer or what my first story was. I was, however, always creative in many different ways. The earliest memory about any type of creative work, was a worksheet called “Spark Your Imagination” my second grade teacher gave out. It would have a piece of a machine or a part of a picture, and we had to use our imagination to complete it. I was lucky enough to win first place in those competitions. I won some regional poster and slogan contests as well. I was very lucky to win first place in a Census Poster Contest for the State of Kentucky.
CHRISTA: How would you best describe your writing style and what kind of reader do you feel you would connect to?
DEVIN: I try to be as different as possible. I guess if you held a gun to my head and made me tell you some influences, it would be a weird myriad of Film Noir Tropes, early variations of David Mamet, and just high concept stories. I don’t have a set time on when I write. I am always carrying around scraps of paper or the back of envelopes. It always starts off with a concept that I feel is different. Then I try and build a linear narrative around it. I always try to have plot driven stories, with characters that, while may not always be likeable, they are always interesting. I think the types of readers or viewers that would like my stories is anyone who likes high concept stories that respect their audience.
CHRISTA: What made you decide to take the transition from being a writer into writer/director?
DEVIN: I will always consider myself a writer first. However, after being in comic books for while, I wanted to branch out. I wanted and needed to challenge myself creatively. Coming with a background of Graphic Novels and Comics, I really believed that the transition from one visual medium to the other wouldn’t be as hard. I am still learning, and I want that to come across very clearly. However, since I started studying filmmaking two and a half years ago and started making films (shorts etc) about a year ago. I, and others, whom I trust in the business, have seen improvement, so I know I am on the right road. I am just trying to work as hard as possible and get better.
I still love comics and still write them. You can tell a story in a sequential format and people will be able to see it and hopefully respond to it. It allows you to do things, which you simply can’t do as an indie filmmaker at this stage. So I am not getting out of that world at all.
CHRISTA: What types of things inspire your stories and your films?
DEVIN: In anything I do, I try to do something different or have a take that is totally different than what anyone is used to seeing. Consequently, a lot of what could be considered everyday mundane things really seems to inspire me. For instance, there was an old vacant parking lot in a defunct shopping plaza where I was living at one time. I would just drive up there and sit with my paper and pencil. For some odd reason, I found that so inspiring and a lot of stories, especially some of my stuff for the comic book publisher, Arcana Studios, came from that particular time period. Lost Creek for instance, first came to me, when I was hanging out with this person that I used to know. I would generally go and pick her up, and on the way to her house, there were some decommissioned railroad tracks and a church that was called “Lost Creek”. One day I literally pulled off on the side of the road and my mind began racing a million miles a minute. I wrote the whole basic outline on the back of a Hotel receipt for the story that became, “LOST CREEK”. Inspiration is like waiting on a phone call. You know when it happens but not until then.
CHRISTA: You recently wrapped up filming on, “Lost Creek”, what can you tell the readers about the movie and what to look forward to?
DEVIN: Lost Creek is fantasy/drama that involves Ollie Marks who, after being tied up in a low key money laundering scam, murders his boss. Unsure what to do or where to go, he mysteriously gets an invitation to be a participant in a contest, along with three other people all on the cusp of turning 40 years old. They are to hike a mythical trail where the winner would get a chance to swim in the infamous “Lost Creek” and gain immortality. Ollie, realizing he is going on the run regardless, accepts the challenge. Soon the fantasy world he is hiking and the reality of the world he has left behind begins to violently overlap. If he is to be remembered for anything in his life, Ollie Marks finds himself in a race against time and a race against himself.
I think the people that watch it can expect a fun ride and heart breaking story of a guy who just wanted to be remembered forever as someone who mattered. It is about the lengths he will go to achieve that goal.
CHRISTA: How would you describe your experiences in the entertainment industry thus far, and is there anything you didn’t know going in that you later found out?
DEVIN: What is that old William Goldman quote, “The only thing we know, is we don’t know anything.” I think he included Hollywood in that line, but we can go with that. LOL I guess you can say that about life too. I always love when I meet new people, one of the first things I always ask them is who the most interesting and fascinating person they ever met? I also ask them, did they ever see themselves to be in the spot they are in right now, ten years ago? Everyone says, for better or for worse, NO to that question every time.
That is kind of how I would answer your question. It has been more good people seem receptive to helping and open to at least reading my work. What I found out later that I didn’t know going in, is networking hugely comes into play and that is something I had to become accustom to. I am an outgoing person, but I can be a loner sometimes. You have to be able to network and communicate. One day you may not feel like anything is going anywhere. The very next day, someone will want to buy a story. But Networking is huge, that is how I got my representation in L.A. and met a lot of great people. Social Media has really facilitated that and it makes it much easier.
CHRISTA: What kind of advice would you give to an up-and-coming writer or director who wishes to make a career doing this?
DEVIN: I feel like I am still learning. To those just starting, be prepared for rejection! Be sure to have a backup plan/career. Also, be OBSESSED with it and put everything and everyone aside for a while in order to improve your skills. Also, I believe people define success in different ways. Everyone wants to be successful, but the way I define success and the way someone else defines it, may be slightly different. To me, the director Jeff Nichols is a model of who I would love to aspire being and that is what I would like to work toward. He is a good indie director, who writes his own stories, and is well known enough to get an A-Lister or two, but he isn’t so well known that he can’t live his life.
CHRISTA: What would you say is the driving force behind you to embark on these journeys?
DEVIN: The simple answer is I just want to do something that I love and that people will respond to and maybe take something from it. If I can accomplish that, I will be happy.
CHRISTA: In terms of style, what type of writer and director would you say that you are?
DEVIN: I’d like to think, I am very professional, constructive and I try to be collaborative as much as I can. Film is a collaborative medium, so I am always open to hearing different ideas. However, there are some things, certain scenes, or a certain delivery of a line or the way a scene should be framed, that I will not budge on. I would say I am sixty percent open, but I also know what I want as well. In terms of tone, I like to write stories where “less is more”, but also have dialogue that kind of snaps. Even though a lot of my stories are plot driven, the human element is always the most important thing in my opinion.
CHRISTA: What do you like to do on your downtime?
DEVIN: Traveling, being around family and friends. Or I should say re-connecting with old friends, which I am doing right now. I also read anything I can get my hands on. I am a huge UK Basketball fan. I also love Thoroughbred Horse Racing, music, and I’ve been getting into still photography more and more. I’ve even tried my hand at magic!
CHRISTA: Who are some of your personal film and author inspirations?
DEVIN: Writing it crosses the from Garth Ennis, Robert Towne, J.D Salinger, Alan Moore, Steve Niles, Frank Miller, Neil Gaimen, Robert Towne, Alan Ball, Mario Puzzo, Andrew Kevin Walker, Alexander Payne, George Carlin, Stephen Gaghan, and a writer from Arcana, named John Barker. Last but not least, an old editor of mine, Lee Nordling. He taught me so much.
In film? I would say Paul Thomas Anderson, Martin Scorsese, Nicholas Winding Refn, Sam Peckinpah ,William Friedkin, Christopher Nolan, Alex Pyroas, David O Russell, Alfred Hitchcock, Chris Carter, Tom Fontana, John Ford, John Sayles, Jeff Burr, Cohen Brothers, Milos Foreman, Ed Wood, Stanley Kubrick, Kenneth Anger, Michael Mann, Sergio Corbucci, David Fincher, Brian De Palma and Stephen Spielberg.
CHRISTA: Who are some of your personal idols you would enjoy to work with?
DEVIN: Wow, there are so many both living and dead, who I wish were still with us. Right off the top of my list in terms of “famous” both in film and in comics, Sam Peckinpah, Nichols Winding Refn, Orson Welles, Paul Thomas Anderson, Kenneth Anger, Audrey Hepburn, Houdini, David Copperfield, Jim Steranko, Steve Ditko, Alan Moore, Christopher Nolan, Eugene O’Neil, Eliza Dushku, David Carradine, Phillip Seymour Hoffman. There are Cinematographers such as Conrad Hall, Roger Deakins, and Newton Thomas Sigel. I have always loved their lighting techniques. There are also a ton of people from around the region and the southeast that I would love to work with. In my opinion, it isn’t always about famous faces. That is kind of like “cookie cutter” to me, and that isn’t always a good thing.
Character actors, who you recognize their face, but their name may not always be recognizable. It seems that Hollywood doesn’t make people like that anymore, or as much. People like Jack Elam, Lawrence Tierney, and Garret Dillahunt have been recognized by and associated with a certain level of quality
More recently, I have seen people like Bill Oberst, Jr., Bianca Barnett, Kaylee Williams and others, who I would like to see in a genre that they aren’t always affiliated with, something different. I would love to work with them and have actually spoken with them a few times.
CHRISTA: Are you currently pursuing any new projects you can tell us a little bit about?
DEVIN: I am always writing, and writing. I have a few things I am working on. I have a short film “STEPS”, which is a Fantasy/Abstract Mystery that I’m hoping to shoot sometime this summer. I would also like to do a short feature, ”FLICKERING”, that will be an unconventional Horror film. If everything goes okay, my follow up to “LOST CREEK” should be a Thriller/Mystery entitled, “FACES”, which I hope to shoot, in the Spring of Next Year.
CHRISTA: What would you say that you love the most in your line of work?
DEVIN: The ability to be creative and the ability to play in a different sandbox at anytime and the best thing is hopefully doing something that someone will respond to.
To learn more about upcoming projects from Devin, follow the links below.
You can also purchase comics written by Devin at Amazon.com by clicking on the picture below.