Random Reality – Josh Clinton Interviews Trever James of On the Lot

Josh Clinton: Hey Trever, how are you doing?

Trever James: Hey Josh. I’m doing good.

JC: Cool. So when did you decide that you wanted to make movies for a living or at least try to?

TJ: Probably when I was 4 or 5 years old. Either acting or directing. I made that decision really young. It was all I ever wanted to do.

JC: Was there a movie that you saw that made that decision for you when you were that young?

TJ: Yeah, the first movie I saw was the original Superman. I was like 4 when I saw that movie, and I remember after watching it I was hooked. I was like every other little kid then with the Superman panjamas, but I had like 8 pairs of them. That was really the movie that inspired me to make movies and be part of the movie business. So then I got into acting during high school, and then I decided that I wanted to get part of the bigger picture and made the decision to get into directing and focus on that more.

JC: Right. So how did you hear about On the Lot?

TJ: I heard about the show about a year ago. I saw it in a newspaper clipping and it said “Steven Spielberg and Mark Burnett team up to find the next filmmaker in a reality series.” I then just kept checking the Internet and found out that they were actually going to go through with it. That’s when I jumped on it and cut a trailer for my feature film. It was my first submission called “Blockbusters”. Then from there, it got a really good response and I was one of the first people to get uploaded onto the website. So I got a very good response right off the bat.

JC: Nice. Since you are off the show now, is there anyone left who you think is really good or could go far on the show?

TJ: I think Zach Lipovsky is a pretty good filmmaker as far as visually. He could make it to the end with his storytelling and what not. But I think also Will Bigham is the guy to look out for. He’s a really good storyteller and I like a lot of his stuff.

JC: Cool. Did you know ahead of time that they were only going to pick 5 videos to air each week and one would go home from that?

TJ: We had heard rumors that something like that would happen. They put out a press release. But we were really the ones that didn’t know for sure. I guess they wanted to keep it from us as a surprise. I was hoping to go the first week, because I was really excited to show my film. And it ended up that way, so it was really cool.

JC: Right. What do you think about the judges on the show?

TJ: I think the judges are pretty cool. I mean it’s pretty cool to hear comments from Carrie Fisher, Garry Marshall, and Michael Bay about your film. But I just wish that there was more time to explain things. Everything happens so fast. They show your film, the judges say a few things, and you’re like “okay, thanks”. I wish the show was set up to where they ask you questions about your film. Like “Trever, why did you chose to do this?” There are 100 million choices that the director has to make, so it would be better if everyone could know why we made the choices we made. I could have said I would have done this or that or the judges could have told me that I should have done this or that. It would just have been better if more questions were asked. But there was just not enough time for that, because it’s only a hour long show. It was cool to hear the feedback I got. I really took what Michael Bay said to heart. He liked my story, my acting, and my editing, but he said that I needed to find more of my sense of style and work on my cinematography a bit. For that particular film, though, I had five days to write, shoot, and deliver it with only $200 to my name. I didn’t have any money, so I did what I could. I’m very proud of the film I did, though, and I probably wouldn’t change a thing.

JC: What do you think about the host of the show? Some people are saying that she is one of the worst reality TV show hosts ever.

TJ: Yeah, I didn’t know about any of that until I got back home. I think she’s really really great. She’s a really cool person. I mean being on the show is a really different experience. I hear people say she fumbles lines and they just rip her apart online in reviews and such. But as a person she’s really nice and great, and really cares about all of the contestants. So I respect her and I think she’s cool and really great.

JC: So you said you wouldn’t change anything at all about your film?

TJ: No, I really wouldn’t. I guess if I had the opportunity to go back and shoot it, I would. But at the time, the choices I made I wouldn’t change anything. I did the best that I could with what I had and the time that I had. I really liked my film. It was a short and simple film, but I thought I had great actors. I had a simple story, but I really wanted it to be a little deeper and have a real moment within a comedy. So I think I pulled that off, but I think it was overlooked by the judges. I don’t think they really got that. Being on TV, it’s so quick. There’s no time to really talk about this short film. When you are watching a feature-length film, there is plenty of time to explain the characters and what they have gone through. But when it’s only like a minute and half to two minutes, things get overlooked very quickly. So really it’s style over substance. If your film looks great and has great special effects, they are going to respond to that more in a short film environment as opposed to someone actually delivering a great performance.

JC: Why do you think the viewers at home didn’t vote for your film then?

TJ: I’m not sure. I really have no idea. From everything that I have been reading and everywhere I walk, everyone has been saying that something was not right. I honestly feel that I should still be there. I have no idea what happened. Hilary is great person and a good writer, so I give my props to her. But I guess just maybe that it wasn’t meant to be. Maybe there is another plan in store for me and I got out of there when I needed to.

JC: Yeah. Well that’s cool. Have you noticed that you have been recognized in the streets more from being on TV?

TJ: Yeah. Everywhere I go, people do double takes. They are like “you’re that guy from On the Lot, and oh man, you should still be on there”. It’s like that everywhere I go, but it’s pretty cool.

JC: So what do you want to do in the future?

TJ: Before I went on the show, I moved out to Los Angeles with my writing partner, Luke, with no money. So for the last three years or so, we have written like 6 different scripts. We have a great manager, so I’m just going to pick up where I left off before I went on the show. We’re just going to go out and do some pitching and try to get something going. Whatever I can use from the show as far publicity goes. For the people that were watching the show, I got to show them a few of my films and I think I went out on a high note.

JC: Cool. Well good luck with everything and thanks for your time.

TJ: Thanks. Talk to you later.


On the Lot airs on FOX on Tuesday nights at 8:00 p.m. ET/PT time all summer long.

On the Lot airs on the CTV network in Canada on Tuesday nights at 10:00 p.m. ET/PT time all summer long.

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