Our dear friend Adam Werth is here to give you his version of what it's like to work in the movies!
Hello, Adam! Tell us, what do you do?
I am a Director, Writer, and 1st Assistant Director in film, television, and commercials. I am also a stay at home dad when I am not on set.
Whoa! That's a lot! How did you get into that?
The dad part? Well, when a man meets a woman...
Oh. I was a child actor in local theater and commercials in the Toledo, Ohio area growing up. That got me hooked on telling stories. When I was in high school I had a project to make a trailer for a book. I chose Cujo. I fell in love with being behind the camera. I took the opportunity to make as many videos as I could. I went to film school at Grand Valley State University where I learned not only how to make films, but the critical role of each department. I came to LA and started working as a Production Assistant and Assistant Director. After a decade of hard work, I am now privileged to be writing and directing feature films. Though I work on mostly low budget horror movies, I am excited to have both a sci-fi thriller and a medieval action adventure movie coming out soon.
What’s your favorite part of your job?
I love being able to tell stories. I grew up in a fairly economically depressed city. Movies, sports, theater, museums and games all helped people forget about their problems, even if for just a little bit. Having the ability to temporarily help people escape their worries through storytelling drives me.
What advice would you give to people who are interested in getting into film?
Make sure it is something you love and save your money. The film industry is not glamorous. The hours are long and often the work conditions are not ideal. You will be turned down as often as, if not more than, you will be hired. Save what you can so if you hit a rough patch you will be okay. You never know what people are going through or what the future holds. Don't be a jerk!
When and why did you start DMing, and for what systems?
The first time I DM'd was around 2001 or 2002. It was on the Star Wars Role Playing Game. I have always been a giant Star Wars nerd. My friends and I used to have massive lightsaber fights in our yards once it was dark enough to see the lights. I was a latecomer to D&D. I had played many other systems before finally relenting. Now I wish I hadn't been a jerk to the people who tried to get me to play in the 8th grade.
How often do you DM now?
About once or twice a month. During the height of the pandemic it was once or twice a week.
What is your favorite part of DMing?
I love to be with friends and tell stories and build characters. I also love to try and reward players for coming up with fun backstories.
Can you tell us your best memory from the table?
I was running an Old West game for a few years. In one session, the party was in a fight with one of the main bad guys, a gunfighter who had turned himself into a trickster god. The goblin gunslinger (this was the player's first campaign), who had previously worked with the bad guy, tried to stop the fight by calling on their previous bond. He rolled a natural 20 on the persuasion roll with a 4 on the guidance roll. I was so proud of the player. They had always been a shoot first kind of player and after that they started to really lean into the roleplaying aspect of the game.
Do any skills you use for your day job help you when you DM?
Absolutely. I like to homebrew campaigns, which draws on my writing skills. Sometimes I test movie plot lines within campaigns. Directing and Assistant Directing are both similar to DMing in different ways. As a Director, I oversee lots of moving pieces to help an overarching story come together. As a DM, I keep track of what the player characters and NPCs are doing, how all of these actions affect the world around them, how the other storylines are progressing even when the players aren't paying attention to them, etc. As an AD I am trying to help a bunch of creatives tell their story in a timely, safe, and exciting way. If that isn't a DM I don't know what is.
What advice or house rules would you share with new DMs?
I love to let players perform cantrips as a reaction at the cost of a level 1 spell slot. It can add a little extra frantic aspect to some fights and traps. My favorite of these moments was a cleric using guidance to help the rogue avoid blowing himself up when he didn't bother to check if the door of an "abandoned" warehouse was trapped.