We had the good fortune of connecting with Dax Phelan and we’ve shared our conversation below.
Hi Dax, what is the most important factor behind your success?
I’m not sure that there is one most important factor. I think there are probably multiple factors that tie for first place. In the world of filmmaking, whether it’s a 30-second commercial or a 3-hour feature film, it’s essential to have a vision for the story you’re planning to tell, a sense of taste that enables you to determine whether a story is worth telling or not, and the ability to recruit talented people who can help you execute your vision at the highest possible level.
Can you open up a bit about your work and career? We’re big fans and we’d love for our community to learn more about your work.
After graduating from the American Film Institute with an MFA in Screenwriting, I began my career as a Creative Executive for veteran producer Mace Neufeld (“The Sum of All Fears”), so I have a strong storytelling background. It’s been a tough road and I’ve had to evolve and branch out into other fields several times in order to keep moving onwards and upwards. For the past 15 years or so, I’ve been working on feature films mostly. During the pandemic, I did a 30-second PSA about the importance of wearing masks. It won several dozen awards and led to some commercial work. In the past, I was never interested in making commercials, but I have to admit that I enjoy the challenge of telling stories in such a tight time frame. Still, I’d be lying if I said I wasn’t anxious to return to producing and directing features. I have several in the pipeline, including “Kirkwood,” “Claudia Durant,” “The Journeyman,” and “The Policeman.” I suppose that, if there’s one throughline connecting the bulk of my work and setting it apart from the work of other filmmakers, it might be my commitment to authenticity. I strive to make everything as realistic as possible because I feel realism is more emotionally involving for the audience.
Any places to eat or things to do that you can share with our readers? If they have a friend visiting town, what are some spots they could take them to?
I would really tailor our itinerary according to my friend’s particular interests. However, if left to my own devices, I’d try to give them a comprehensive tour, so that if they returned in the future, they’d know which places they wanted to revisit in more detail. In DTLA/Chinatown: Grand Central Market, The Bradbury Building, The Last Bookstore, Pacific Dining Car, San Antonio Winery, The Little Jewel of New Orleans, Howlin’ Ray’s, Ocean Seafood for dim sum, Papa Cristo’s, the secret little bar between the first and second floors at Taylor’s. In Hollywood/Thai Town/Los Feliz: Drive Mulholland Drive at night, Musso & Frank’s, Ruen Pair, Frank Lloyd Wright’s Ennis House, Lou Wine Shop and Tastings. In West Hollywood/Beverly Hills/Century City: Matsuhisa, The Cheese Store, Dan Tana’s, Greystone Mansion, Nakatomi Plaza. In Santa Monica/Venice: The Santa Monica Pier, Shutters, C&O’s, the canals, the boardwalk, the farmer’s market. In Malibu/Agoura Hills: Drive the PCH, pier fishing at the Malibu Pier, Taverna Tony, The Old Place, Cornell Winery & Tasting Room, Zuma Beach.
Shoutout is all about shouting out others who you feel deserve additional recognition and exposure. Who would you like to shoutout?
My late mentor and friend, Academy Award-winner Seth Winston. My producing partners, Eric M. Klein, James Su, Terence E. Groves, and Benjamin Cheek. The cast and crew on all of my films. My small circle of friends. And, of course, my family.