May 26, 2023

Stephen Gilliam, Filmmaker, Cine-r, Graphic Designer

Stephen Gilliam, Filmmaker, Cine-r, Graphic Designer
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What happens when an Air Force brat with a graphic design background plunges headfirst into the world of indie filmmaking? We had the pleasure of sitting down with Stephen Gilliam, talented filmmaker and co-founder of Wages of Cine, to discuss his journey into filmmaking and his love for horror. Stephen shares his experiences and insights in this fascinating episode.

Follow Stephen on Instagram - @stephengilliam
or keep up with his toy photography - @toymanoids
and of course Wages of Cine - @wagesofcine

Hire Stephen to make you a movie poster on Fiverr

Check out Wages of Cine on YouTube

Submit your film to Wages of Cine on FilmFreeway

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actually had my first panic attack right before college graduation.

Welcome to another episode of Chewing the Fat. I am your host, Big Robb. Thank you so much for tuning in, downloading the episode. I really do appreciate that. Thanks for the folks that have reached out through Instagram and through the website at Especially around the Mother's Day episode, I really appreciate you reaching out and feeling some connection with that episode as far as...

dealing with aging parents. If you haven't had a chance to listen to it, I recommend you go take a quick listen to that as well. But also stay right here for right now because I'm excited about my guest in studio right now. He is a indie filmmaker. He is co-founder of Wages of Cine. He is a graphic design raconteur. Please welcome Stephen Gilliam. Hey. Hey, hey. How are you doing, Stephen? I'm doing good. Good, man. Thank you so much for coming in.

Yeah. I'm excited to be here. Yeah. Stephen and I, I guess, as a lot of these stories go, we met at probably Le Chat Noir. Right. That's where our first introduction to each other were. Probably around either the Black Cat Picture Show or just some of the shows going on there at Le Chat. And I just fell in love with what you were doing with Wages of Cine because you guys were the first

independent film company really that I had ever heard of in Augusta that was consistent and active and doing stuff. So I just thought it was really cool and you guys just have such a big heart to help other people. I know I've mentioned that on other episodes before. Other guests have mentioned that too, especially ones that are in the film.

industry here in the Augusta area. But to get to know more about you, Stephen, are you from Augusta? I've definitely lived in Augusta the longest. So it's definitely like I consider it my hometown. I was an Air Force brat. Born in Texas, went to Germany, lived up north in Ohio, then New Hampshire. And then I came down to Augusta, Georgia. Okay. So I was in fourth grade. So from fourth grade on up, I've been in Georgia. Okay. Okay.

Not a whole lot of like these. Do you still have connection back to New Hampshire? Not New Hampshire, but I do have a family like up in West Virginia and Ohio area. Okay. Do you ever go back and do some visiting? Um, we do. I like try to like once a year go up to Kentucky. You have like a family reunion or Christmas type of thing. Oh, that's awesome. That's awesome. Get to see some snow once in a while. Yeah. Yeah. So you're the majority of your, like I said, your life has been here in Augusta. Were you always into like...

You're very much into the horror genres. Wages of Cine is very much into the horror genre. Horror, sci-fi, yeah. Yeah, you know, fantasy. Were you always into that type of stuff growing up? You know, it's weird because I looked back growing up and I was into like Star Wars and action stuff. So, and I was actually afraid of a lot of horror films. Like I saw Predator, had to be like, I don't know, second grade or third grade, and it terrified me. Like, I wasn't supposed to be watching it. Like I was snicking, my brothers had just watched it.

And it messed me up. I was terrified to go outside, and I was, a predator was gonna get me. And even years later, I was in middle school, I was still afraid to watch movies, like Tremors and stuff. My friends were like, no, you gotta watch this, you gotta watch this. Maybe it was that that's kind of made me start to love horror that kind of like, ooh, it's like, you know, I'm afraid. The forbidden fruit. Yeah, then you watch it and then it's fun. And it's like, I think from there, it just kind of grew from there. Then you start seeing the art of it. I wanna make a skeleton that blood comes out of his eyes. Yeah.

Yeah. Did you do any of that type of like stuff? Did you get started making your own films and stuff when you get into high school or something? My dad had a, a beta max video camera back in Germany. And once in a while he'd let us take it out and I'd make little stop motion star Wars movies or like transformers and have them like deal little like things I could do, stop and go, stop and go. So I've done things like that. Back then, you know, we didn't have like phones in our camera or cameras in our phones. Yeah.

So it was like hard to get a hold of something that was decent. I shot stuff like on handicams and stuff. I never tried to make a story. It wasn't until years later, I was actually in college before I started to try to put a narrative together through video. I'd always like, I'd worked with like comic stories, things like that. But it was a while before, except college. Wow. And where did you go to college at? I went to school at the Art Institute of Atlanta. Oh wow. Okay, okay.

And what was your film? Graphic design. I majored in graphic design, but I took some classes in video and after effects. And I was like, this is great. I can use a lot of the graphic design in this. So it worked out really well. That's awesome. So you're in Atlanta. You were in Atlanta at the Atlanta School of Art? Yeah, I went. Physical. I mean, it's so odd now, because so many people

are work remote, well not work, well yeah they work remote, but they also can go to school remote. It's like, oh yeah, I went to Yale. It's like really? But you've never left Augusta. Yeah. I've had several friends, I've been to the Art Institute, but they went online. So I was like, oh okay. Yeah, that's very cool. So after college, what was the plan? What was... I didn't know. I actually had my first panic attack right before college graduation. I didn't really understand why at the time because I didn't feel like super stressed, but...

It was the doctors like, you about to graduate and then you're like real world. You don't, you're, you're scared. You don't even admit it to yourself. But it's like, yeah. And it was a while before I kind of landed like a job that was like in my field. Like I worked a retail, I was doing like, I got like a stock boy job at the mall and I started working at a camera store. And I was like, you know, kind of in the things I liked, but it wasn't like, Hey, this is your degree put to work. And it was like, I feel like about four years before I landed like a solid, Hey, I'm working in my field.

Wow, was that in, did you stay in Atlanta? No, I came back, my plan was to come back to Augusta for like a month and just kind of relax. And I went up for job interviews in Atlanta and it seemed like everything was so expensive and I was just like, I'm just gonna stay in Augusta for a while and see what happens. And then luckily I landed a job that kind of stuck in Augusta, I'm like, well, I'll stay here for a while. And then a while became a while longer. And a while longer, and a while longer. Here I am. Yeah, yeah, no, that's cool. So when did...

the idea for Wages of Cine come about? It came through with Dan Beck, because the other member, Eric Miller was our other member. They had like kind of like these cheesy movie nights. And like when I did hang out with them, cause they were like friends first and I got introduced to them. They were talking about like all the movies they were watching. And I was like, well, we need to get together and kind of watch these. And I think Dan was the one who kind of, he put together a little Facebook group, just mainly for us to kind of talk about.

Cheesy movies. Like, well, let's do like a, we did, our first thing was a podcast where we did a, we watched a movie and we talked about it. And I don't know how many people, maybe nobody listened. I think we had some people reply. So one or two listeners. I was like, well, if we're gonna do this, this is gonna put us on camera and we'll record our podcast. And it kind of grew from there. We were making movies on the side, not really under wages of cine. It was just, we were just making them. It's like, well, let's kind of make movies under wages of cine. Sorry about that. That's okay. Let's make movies under wages of cine.

And that way, if they're bad, nobody really knows it's us. Cause we're just gonna call it, you know, it's a wages of cine movie. But then like people started liking some of the stuff we were making. So we were like, well, now we got to tell people we're wages of cine, this is us. So that was kind of a long answer to that. Where did the wages of cine come from? Yeah, no, that's great. And for the folks that don't have the transcription, wages of cine is C-I-N-E like cinema, wages of cine. I believe that was Dan Beck. I think Dan Beck was all in the name.

Yeah, that's a good turner phrase. So let's back up then. So how did you become friends with Dan and Eric? I mean, was that like a work thing? Was that just a hangout? Back then it was called Augusta Film. I was going there and I was making a movie called Sons of God. And I knew I, I think I met Dan at the meeting several times, but Dan actually came out and helped do lighting and grip on that movie.

And we started talking on the side and like he was in a lot of the same things I was into. And then afterwards I was making a movie that I'm still making Confederate zombie and he, he became a huge help on that. And he brought in Eric Miller who he was friends with and he started helping out a lot. And that's kind of where we all became friends. Very cool. Became close and working together. So to back up, yes. And yet again, I'm great at the storytelling thing. So.

So how long between getting that graphics job and starting to film your own stuff back in Augusta was that like?

Well, the first time I filmed a project was working at a camera store here in a town. And Dwayne Brown, he was making a movie. The drive was getting scared. And he wanted some help. And I was like, I've worked with a camera before and I can do, I did After Effects. This is what I knew the best. But we actually started on Windows Movie Maker on the first few cuts. And before we realized, you know, we got to step it up. But he needed some help. And I'd stepped in there to help out. And that was where I was the...

Maybe like 2004. Oh, wow. And that was kind of my push and like, hey, the technology is now to where we can do this and make something that looks decent. And a little bit more affordable, a little bit more accessible. Yeah, it was still, it was tapes back then, but still it was something you could take and plug into a home computer and edit. And I'd never really experienced that before. So that was the first like, wow, this is possible. Opened up a whole new world. That's awesome. Do you feel like...

The, like, it feels like there's a, well, I don't want to say resurgence, there's always been like underground, you know, B-movie, cult movie followings and stuff like that. Do you feel like that because of the accessibility of equipment that looks really good that we carry around in our pockets already has changed that landscape? I mean, definitely. I mean, from back then, like there was nobody.

that we knew of that were making movies. I mean, now we look back, there were people that were shooting stuff on VHS, and I love watching that stuff because you have to be so creative to figure that out. Now, everybody seems like they wanna take their chance at making a movie, which is great. Make a movie, you gotta see what you like. But there's definitely a lot more. Like, I mean, local film festival, like we work with, you know, watching some of the movies there, there's every year more and more entries and a lot more beginner entries we're seeing. So it's good.

I say keep up, you know, and if they love it, keep on making, make that second movie, make that next movie that's even better. Right, right. So it becomes more of a proving ground. You make something you're like, and of course, all your family, your friends are going to say it's great. But when you put it before, you know, judges or a film festival or something, and they're like, that's not quite going to cut the mustard. And it's a good learning experience. I've submitted to several festivals and they, the ones I enjoyed was when they give me feedback and like,

this is why it's good or bad. Let me learn from it. So it's always good to get that feedback. And you're involved, I know with Black Cat Picture Show at Le Chat Noir, the International Film Festival that we do down there, you guys would have a Wages of Cine Award during the festival. They're going into the ninth year of Black Cat Picture Show now. But was it last year?

you guys decided to do your own film festival as well? Or was that two years ago now? We've always had the, originally it was 31 days of horror, now it's 31 days of cine. Last year was the first year we actually had a, like sit down in person festival at the shot. And that was mainly, we wanted to be able to have on, be on film freeway. And on film freeway you have to have a physical showing of it. And it's like, well, this is also a good way to get a lot of people.

together who's all made stuff. So it was a packed house. I was really, I mean, people I'd never met before, which is always scary. You usually get, you know, your circle comes in, that's cool, but to get that crowd you didn't even know you're reaching show up. That was, that was a lot of fun. So that was our first physical like festival last year. Yeah. I know I got an opportunity to actually direct and shoot and submit a film for 31 days. Probably about four.

four or five years ago, which is a really cool process. And it's funny because I shot mine all on a phone. Right. You know, and I did it on the computer. And I'll be honest, shooting on the phone has been way more enjoyable for me in the past few years than shooting with all the equipment. I don't know if it's just because you know, even though you start putting lights up and you're still doing audio and stuff, it's the idea, I got my phone, so this isn't really like.

that extreme, but even though you're taking the time to make it good, it's feels not as pressure. Maybe the pressure is not there and you're enjoying it more. Interesting. But I've enjoyed shooting on my phone way more than point out all the gear. Yeah. So it all, yeah, yeah. So it kind of takes the pressure off and which is odd because I mean, there's still, you know, thousand dollar phones. It's not a thousand dollar camera. It's a thousand dollar phone. Right. You know, so. We're still using all the same apps to do lighting correction. There's all the work is still in there. It's just, it's just a different format. Yeah. Yeah.

A little easier to get into tight spaces and stuff like that. But you know, and that's the thing is you can get lenses for your phone now too. I mean, I shot mine with an anamorphic lens for a phone. That's kind of, you know, that's crazy. And there's been Hollywood productions that have shot on phones. Yeah. I mean, they look great. Yeah. What's the one? There was a, there was a Will Smith movie that they shot all on phone. Focus. Oh yeah. Yeah. Okay. They shot that entire thing on phones. Now.

when you look at the behind the scenes and all of the rigs that they have these phones connected to and stuff. And yeah, it's like, Oh, okay. But, but yeah, but you know, if it, if it makes you feel a little bit more comfortable behind the screen on your phone and it's in this, you know, huge gorilla grip, you know, gear or whatever, you know, more power to you. I think it makes you feel like you're putting the focus more on the story. And for me it's like, yeah, this is, we're telling a cool story. So that's what's going to count. It's not that I'm shooting on a, you know,

thousand dollar lens. But in it, that's what you want. You want to tell a good story. You want to entertain somebody. Yeah, yeah. You know, you know, that's I never even thought about it that way. It kind of takes some of the, you know, barrier of the, the physical barrier of the equipment away, you know, so you're not behind this, you know, huge, you know, rack of, you know, lenses and all this other gear and stuff like that, focus pullers and things. You're just kind of right there.

So it can be a more intimate experience for the director, for the actors and stuff like that. That's a pretty interesting perspective on that. We used to kind of joke around to, we'd go to festivals and we'd talk to other directors. And sometimes the first thing they would say, oh, what'd your movie about? Well, I shot it on a red. It was like, that's the first thing you want to mention. It was like, it was shot. I mean, great camera, but what's your story about? Right, right.

What am I going to, am I going to see the red camera in this when I watch it? I think if they could put it like in a mirror shot. Right. Just so you know, we won't see the shot of the red in the mirror. Yeah. Yeah, that's, that's interesting. Because I guess they think that that brings some sort of level of perceived perception. I mean, perceived, you know, quality professionalism to the production. Yeah. I mean, I.

I mean, when I'd buy a new camera, I'd put anything I could to make that lens as big and powerful, just because people are like, oh, wow, you know what you're doing. You know, it's on auto right now. It's on auto. I don't know how to do like any of that stop stuff. I'm not sure what that's all about. So with the Wages of Cine Film Festival, is that you currently accepting? We are. You can go to the Wages of Cine website.

17:09 or you can find us on Facebook or Instagram. And we are taking entries. There's a list of rules on there. I believe it's five minutes or less. And yeah, I'm looking for horror. I was gonna say, is there like a specific genre or a type or anything like that? Yeah, we showed this in October. So this is our 31 days of scary stuff. Okay. And then horror has got so many different, you know, you've got gore, you've got, you know, supernatural, suspense, thriller.

You've got comedy. You got comedy horror. That's some of my favorite stuff. And that's, those are those films I know that I've seen like at Black Eyed Picture show that I enjoy the most. And I think that's kind of how we positioned the Wages of Cine award. It's like, this may not be the best movie out there, but it literally had the most heart. Right. It's like you could tell the people were having the most fun making this.

And there's something about that. It's hard to define or kind of pin. You know it when you see it. But it's like, you can't just sit out and like, hey, I kind of want to make a cheesy horror movie. It has to be done naturally. And it's something that you're trying your best to make something great. And then you capture it. You see it. You see like, man, they put everything into this. And it's fun to watch. They get transfers. And it's that same thing, like going back to video stores. Like we used to rent videos. You'd see these movies that you'd never heard of before.

artwork was amazing on the cover and he'd rent it and you could tell the director, they didn't have a budget and they're doing with the best they can. It's something transferred like, wow, they really, everyone in here was working their best to make the best movie they could, despite the limitations of budget or whatever they had. That's the fun. There's something about you, you can pick up on the fun. Yeah, yeah, absolutely. And you were talking about the artwork and stuff like that. You also do...

film posters and artwork and stuff like that as well, using that degree of yours. Yeah, finally, finally. Is that something, again, that you were like, a way to put that degree to work, or it's just a passion of yours, you like being able to, because I guess now you have this connection with the film side of it. And that heart and that fun, it's like, hey, I'm gonna give them a really cool.

you know, poster or artwork for their project. I always tell them, I was like, I want to oversell your movie with the poster art. Like I want them to see the poster and think, oh my goodness, this is going to be the best thing I've ever seen. And despite, you know, it might be, but, you know, if it's not, I still want people to think, wow, going in. Because that's what sold me growing up, you know, I judged a book by its cover based on the video title or the cover. Right. Or you. And this is something I don't think.

I don't think the young kids nowadays will understand. But like getting the newspaper and going to the film section, you know, going to the movie section and seeing the, you know, the poster art in, in advertising, whatever the movie was coming up, out this Friday or this weekend or whatever it was and deciding, all right, I've got my, you know, but 50 for my matinee ticket, where am I going to spend my allowance money? Yeah. And a lot of that was chosen by titles or, or

movie posters. Right, like we didn't have, you know, we couldn't just go and look at a trailer whenever we wanted to. Exactly, there was no YouTube, there was no, you know, thing like that where we could just like, oh, I just want to see just trailers of movies. My wife gets mad at me all the time because there's a trailer app and I will sit there and like, look at, watch trailers. She's like, what are you watching, trailers? She's like, why? I was like, I just want to see what's out there. I want to see.

It looks interesting. Let me see what the movie is about. Maybe I'll want to see it when it comes out. There's so much I'm missing nowadays. Like, what, when was this made? And I'll see a trailer. I'm like, wow. That is so cool. So if, is, so with the, with your poster making and stuff like that, that's something you're doing, um, through Fiverr. Okay. And that was one of those things that I think I, I forget where I read about it. Hey, there's like a freelance site you can offer or something like that. It'd be kind of cool. When I signed up,

And I didn't get any jobs, I think it was like over a year. I thought I had everything filled out properly. I'm like, what am I doing? And one day I was like, let me just see. I think I had my prices set for what the industry standard for a poster design would be. Let me just, one day, let me see if I can get anybody, if this thing even works. I've never seen, heard anyone get a job on here. I was like, I've never talked to anybody. So I just dropped all my prices the lowest on the site. And I had my portfolio up there, and I just kind of hoped for the best. And a guy from Argentina.

and made a short movie and he got me for five bucks. And I made him a poster and that one poster gave me a good review. And after that, it's like that opened the flood gate somehow. I don't know what it was. It's like I got on their algorithm or something. But from there, they started coming in. And now it's like, I've got two posters due tonight. Oh, wow. It's more than $5 you're making. Yeah, now I've raised my prices now. And when things get too busy, I'll bump the prices a little bit higher just to kind of keep things leveled out. Because I still work a day job.

you know, balancing family life and all that. So it's a, it's a, it's a second job. It really, I put in some hours, but it's, it's something I enjoy. Yeah. That's really cool. Anything else going on? You got any film projects? I mean, well, other than Confederate Zombie that, you know, going on over a decade. Hey, you know, but you also were working on Dwayne's film, Great Kentucky Goblin Spree that also went on what that was like eight years, nine years. Yeah.

I mean, that was close to a decade as well. Right. And was it just a year ago, wasn't it? It was May 13th of last year we premiered it at Le Chat Noir. Yeah. Yeah, after that, I said I was going to finish the way and that was my goal. And I was going to work on Confederate Zombie. But the whole thing with Confederate Zombie is that it's almost done. And I just want to take a break. And I just need to finish it because there's actors. We're losing some of the actors, you know. There's some of them are dying of old age and things too. But it's like, you know, you have to complete it.

That's my goal is to always complete a project. Yeah. It said it'll get there, but maybe I have to go on Fiverr and hire some freelance editors to get it done. There you go. Just to finish it up for you. Yeah, and speaking of losing folks, not to bring down the vibe, but you did mention Eric Miller, who is no longer with us.

That was a big loss to wages, to your family and your circle of friends, but also to the film community here in Augusta as well. So he's definitely sorely missed. He was actually one of my actors in, he and his son were actors in my short film that I did. So it was a terrible loss for the community. So I can definitely understand about wanting to complete something just

because you want to complete it. But I just want to make sure that we give a shout out to Eric there. There's probably not a day that I'll see something, like especially watching a movie, because we text each other while watching movies, like, hey, do a screen grab of something silly or just goofy and just laugh about it. And still I catch myself like, oh, I want to share. It's like, no, that's not something I can do anymore with. But you look back at the memories, and you're glad that you had those memories. They'd be able to know someone like that.

Yeah. It's sad, but it's life and you appreciate the time you had. Yeah, for sure. So back to the question, Confederate Zombie, any other projects that you're working on or writing or? Not for me. I know the other members of Wages of Cine are working on projects. I have focused mainly on the posters lately and that's been my, and you know, it's Confederate Zombie, but posters has been my main.

focus for the past year or so. Really, I think quarantine kind of put me in that mindset because we couldn't get together and make things as often. And I just never got back in the groove of it. I know Dan Beck and Eric Poe have a movie they've been working on, and they've been helping out on a lot of other short projects. We've had people come into town that come out and we've helped crew or set up some lights and stuff, or even done some little acting things with. But not to where it used to be. I'm slowly getting back to where...

you know, where it used to be. Now, what are your thoughts on Augusta and its potential for film and for that industry? Cause I mean, Atlanta is exploding. There are articles just about every day about a new, you know, film company that is building studios or they're expanding studios. I know they're building studios in Athens. That's, you know,

keeps coming closer and closer. I know, I just talked to a guy last week. They were shooting a documentary down in Savannah. So it's like, it's here, but it's not here. Why? I mean, I think it's just, I mean, Atlanta is going to be the bigger city. It's going to be the hub. And I mean, I guess, I don't know how that industry works. I don't know if like they would have like a office or something that would kind of branch out into those areas. I know like when they come to town,

they get a crew together and there's connections and networking for people like, hey, there's a new film coming in town, so everyone will kind of, the regulars will get together and they'll, and I think it's, I don't think it's like an inside thing. I think you can join into those groups pretty easily. But I guess finding out that they're even there, you just have to, like Southeastern filmmakers is a good networking area. And even like the Black Hat Picture Show is a great networking area.

I just, you know, seeing who else is out there and seeing for me, like I've done, like I helped out with commercials, doing grip and stuff like that. And I hated it. I don't like being on a professional, like, you know, commercial shoot anyway. In a film, it might be a little bit different, but I like kind of being in my indie scene and doing my thing. But working on a big, it's still, it's a job. And, and if you gotta love what you're doing. So I do have a,

friends who lived in Atlanta and he was working as like a PA and stuff for a lot of the big films. You say like, I'm doing a new Marvel film or, you know, Will Smith, like you say, Will Smith, he's like, he was in town, I got to see him. He loves it. I couldn't do it. It's not for me. He loves it. And that's, but for Augusta, I don't know what's keeping that from being like in Augusta, like you're saying. Yeah, I feel like it's, I feel like it's there. I feel like

we have everything that people would need. I don't know what it's, well, sometimes I feel like that Augusta just needs to get out of its own way. You know, there's a lot of political stuff that just seems like people are short-sighted and are trying to take care of themselves while they may hold an office or something like that instead of looking forward and making sure that there's something available to future generations. Right. Yeah, I definitely don't know the ins and outs. I know we've had some great...

locations that have appeared in big films. They tore down the old prison that has been in, I know like at least two films. So I don't know, I don't know what it all is involved in. Yeah, because even at that, that's one of those things just like, why would you tear that down? People paid you to shoot in there. Just don't fix it up. Just make it up. But just rent it, just make it have.

someone that schedules the rental time there. I think, I mean, eventually after we get enough of those, you could do like the Augusta movie tours, you know, like they do in Savannah and they do in Atlanta. Right, for sure. Yeah, because we just had, was it Mel Gibson's when we were shooting downtown? You know, not too long ago. Clint Eastwood's been here shooting. I mean, you know, there are some big names that have come through and shot here. Yeah. I think the first major film.

and I'm doing air quotes that you can't see, major film that I remember coming to Augusta was when they did the remake of that darn cat, Disney. Hey, that's a major film company. But they just, for whatever reason, chose Augusta for a shooting location and they used the Lamar Building and it's like a government building or the FBI headquarters or something. I don't.

I might be remembering the story of one of the film meetings, Rick Kelly, who's helped out with a lot of up and coming film people in Augusta. I believe that is the production that got him interested in film. And he opened up his own lighting and grip company. I believe. I don't want to have that farm rolling back. Something along those lines. I believe it was that darn cat, though. That's pretty cool. He bought a truck. And he's been one of those guys that, back in the day, if you needed something, that's who you go to, is Rick Kelly. And he would help you out. That's awesome.

I believe they still, like now they operate under a different name, but they still offer lighting and grip services in Augusto. That's really cool. That's really cool. You keep saying the word grip. What does grip mean for people that don't know what grip is? Oh, yeah. I'm probably going to get it wrong, but it's the people who handle all the holding, carrying the stands and setting up the lights and... Like you're literally gripping things and then setting them in place and then moving them from spot to spot. They're especially, you get specialized, you get people who just do the wires and electricity and stuff like that. But for me, it's like...

I'm going to grip. I'm going to be the one who's not doing the camera work. I'm going to be the one carrying all the gear and setting up stuff. Right. Well, yeah, and I guess it kind of morphs depending on the size of the film you're on, if you're independent. You know, if you're doing an indie film, a lot of time you are your own grip. You're the director, you're the writer, the shooter. You're wearing all the hats. The audio, you're doing everything. Oh. That's awesome. Stephen, so what's bringing you joy right now? Right now...

Spending time with my family, spending time with my girlfriend. She has three amazing kids. Being able to hang out with young people, it makes you realize, hey, I need to keep that youth in my heart. I like to go out and just kind of thrift for toys. Oh, wow. And usually, I like toy photography. Oh, OK. That's one thing I like to do, just kind of relax.

That's my own thing that's not like work related or it's like, you know, so I just sit and do a, I'll post some action figures and take some I think are interesting shots and put them up on my Instagram. Will you have a special, is that, is that the plastic Gilliam? Um, yeah, yeah. Now it's called, I call it toy manoids. Toy manoids. Okay. But yeah, it was a plastic Gilliam is where it started. I was like, cause I was putting it on my own page. I'm like, I think some people are might be tired of seeing.

You know, G.I. Joe's and... Right. She's just got to specialize it into... I hear it's its own thing. That's really cool. Do you have a favorite, like, subject for that? I mean... As far as like, I mean, I definitely love anything that was like, now it's considered vintage, anything from the 80s. Lately, it's been like Ninja Turtles. And it's weird, I wasn't even... I liked Ninja Turtles growing up, but I like it better now.

I look back and think, these are weird, the art involved in the sculptures. And yeah, any sci-fi, a lot of the weird stuff, like I mean, any kind of gross out figures, especially from the eighties. Like Trash Braille kids. Oh, definitely. Yeah, I just started reading a comic book, The Garbageville Kids versus Madballs. Oh, wow. Like what in the world? Like how would that work? But they make it work, and it's kind of more of a comical, fun comic, but great artwork, really gross. Yeah.

Kind of that, you know, Ren and Stimpy, when they go to the extreme, like gross out clip. That's how the whole thing just kind of has that look. That's awesome. And do you have a, I mean, we know you like the horror and you have a favorite movie that's like, if you're trying to convince somebody to get into what you're doing and to have a peek inside the psyche of Stephen Gilliam, then you're like, check out this movie.

You always recommend this movie to somebody. Do you have a favorite? Goodness, I feel like there's so many. Evil Dead, the first one, just because it was so low budget. And I mean, they were shooting back, like, that wasn't super, it was like a still 16. Right, like 16. But it was like, you know, the bear, you know, what they could afford. I definitely always recommend that one. It's the reason I'm thinking Bubba Ho-Tub, I don't know why it's popping in my mind. Bubba Ho-Tub is just a great movie that. Yeah.

It's, I mean, they're getting low budget and they have like minimal locations, but super fun story and it's horror and comedy. Oh yeah. Maybe it's a Bruce. I got a Bruce Campbell thing. I just watched the new Evil Dead a few weeks ago. So maybe, so it's got that on my, that's the last time I went to the theater was to see Evil Dead Rise. So maybe. Does Bruce make a cameo in there? Yes. Okay. Spoiler, but it's not like, you know,

I don't think it's what people would think. And it's definitely a, I don't- It's kind of more of a nod and a tip of the hat as opposed to just outright kind of. Yeah. It's very well hidden and not distracting at all. That's cool. That's something to look for if people go to that one. Yeah, and I think, talking about somebody who's had a really interesting career in those type of movies, I think Bruce Campbell's great. And for him to now be in the, you know-

the Marvel universe to see him show up in these different Spider-Man movies and things like that. I just think that's really cool. Great for him. But I agree. Bubba Ho-Tep is one of those. It's a really interesting one. That's one of those ones that like when I watched it, I was like, this is just so fun. It's one of those fun movies. I'm like, what are you watching? It's like, don't worry about it. If you don't...

If you're going to sit and criticize through the whole thing, why are they, that's my wife talking, why are they, it's like, don't worry about it. You know what? I'll just watch this later. It has a little bit of everything though. It's like, I mean, it's comical because of the situation, but it's like, you also feel for them. You're like, why do I have a, I feel emotion for them. It's there. It's like, oh man, you care.

All right, Stephen, this is the second part of the show where we talk a little bit more deeper into you, find out more about you and your journey with mental health. I believe very much that everybody kind of goes through the same things, maybe not in the same exact way, but there's just so many similarities that we go through as people in our mental health, whereas you may have that morning that you just, you don't want to work, you don't want to get out of bed, you want to leave the blinds closed, and you just need to stay in bed.

Or you just need to shout if you're driving into work because something is just gnawing at you. For you, though, how do you keep the darkness at bay?

I think it's just constantly reassuring yourself that things are going to be okay. I mean, I think my problem is I convince myself like, this is all too much. I'm overwhelmed. And that when I sit and like, at the end of the day, I'll break it down. Like, was it really that? Like was I really, I couldn't handle it. Cause I obviously I handled it. But I think we bring, I don't want to say every, for me, I bring a lot of stuff on myself like, Oh, this is happening. I need to feel this way.

And I was at the time like, why am I doing this? I can just let this go right now. But I have to just kind of convince myself every when it happens, like, don't let this consume me right now. Let it go and it's gonna work its way out. Just telling myself. Yeah, yeah. A lot of self talk. Sure. Yeah. And sometimes that's hard though. Definitely. Because like you say, you're feeling it. You're like.

you're caught up in the middle of it and... And it doesn't always work. Sometimes I give in and I get overwhelmed and frustrated and I just let it take me down and then it takes me a couple of days to kind of shake it off and become myself again. Yeah, and I think in those times, one, it's great that you recognize that you're feeling that way. And even if you let it kind of overwhelm you, you realize that you were feeling that way. I think those are the cues that we should use to reach out.

to whoever our circle is, our trusted circle, inner circle, those friends that you can say, hey, I'm having a hard time with this. Hey, this is bothering me. Can I just talk? Can you just come over and we play a video game? Something that you can help to, like you said, get it, realize that it's going to work out and need that reassurance from someone that you trust, that you care about, that you know loves you.

I think those are the times that when you feel that, don't wait to act in that way, to reach out. Don't wait to reach out. Being able to reach out, like you said, you're doing self-talk, reaching out to yourself, talking yourself off-ledge. If that's what it takes, do that. But if you've got a family member or loved one that you can say, hey, I just need to reach out to you. I just...

We just talked for a few minutes or whatever. I think that's really important as well. For me, I'm lucky enough, I have several people and I can vent different things to different people. Because some things are, I need to vent about work. I can go home and just kind of unload and just like, I don't need advice so much. I just wanted to say, hey, this happened today and I didn't like it. And there's other things I can go to my parents and like, hey, what did you do in times like this?

So it's nice to have those different people of kind of comfortable, you know, like you're saying you need to feel comfortable like sharing this part or this part. Well, and I think, like you're saying, because there are different areas that some people are gonna have more, and even though you may not be looking for advice at the moment, but people who may at least have more empathy in what you're going through in that. If it's a work-based thing or a,

customer that hired you on Fiverr that's like, you know what I mean? Somebody else that understands that, you know, you know, that side of things, like trying to be an independent, you know, business owner basically, um, that you can really, you know, hash that stuff out with or whatever. Um, you know, because if you talk to your parents about film work, they may not understand that completely. They want to be there and support you of course, but that may not be the, they don't have that full like, they're not in it. That understanding part is not it.

It almost seems, it's surface level and it's genuine. I'm 100% sure it's genuine, but you want somebody that can understand deeper as to why it's frustrating. Because other people are like, why does that bother me? I just don't do it anymore. Right, just like. I have to do it, I have to do it. It's in my blood. Yeah, it's like, I couldn't get the temperature of this light right. It's like I had two different temperature lights. What do you mean, temperature on your light? Yeah, you need somebody that understands. And I think that's great to be able to have those different.

people that you can reach out in those times of need, for sure. Any times that you can think of that really recently may have caused you to kind of need to reach out? I mean, yeah, actually. I mean, this past couple months have been pretty stressful, work-wise, family-wise. Yeah. It's one of those things where I have to...

I'm fortunate enough to take a break sometimes. Because there's, I mean, when I'm worried about things, I bury myself in work. And anything to kind of distract me from like whatever's going on. Yeah, but I've definitely had to reach out to like my parents and some friends to just, you know, hey, this is how I feel and it sucks. And they'll say, yeah, that sucks. Talk about it, makes you feel better, a lot of times, I mean, just to get it out there.

But yeah, because then it's not bottled up. Yeah, it's not you. And you realize that you're not alone because there's everybody who's going through something. And you realize, because you look out, even when you're walking out in public, you're like, man, everyone's doing so well. But they're not. And there's people who are struggling. And I hate that they're struggling, but there's a comfort in knowing that you're not alone in your problems. Like, if you have gone through it, there's someone else who's most likely gone through that and worse. Yeah. Either they're going through it, they're

they've been through it or they're going to go through it. Yeah, it's that quote that, everybody's fighting a battle you know nothing about. So no matter how they look on the outside, they're fighting something. And I think there's comfort in that. They say that at any moment in your life, you can always say you've come through all of us.

hardest times in your life so far. You know, so if you've made it through those times, you can make it through these next times too. I'm always able to look back at something like, how am I going to get through? How was I going to get through that is how I felt, you know, and I did something it worked out and, you know, it might not have always been like the best outcome, but I'm still here and things are still moving forward and that is reassuring.

All right, Steve, this is the third segment of the show. This is one everyone either has a problem with or they really enjoy. Please welcome to the Fast Five, Fast Five. It's time now for the Fast Five. Sorry, I'm still working on theme song thing. It's just easy for me to sing here in my falsetto. So Fast Five is powered by Poddex. It's an app you can get.

created by my friend Travis Brown. Great icebreakers, conversation starters. If you need to interview someone, you can pop up the app and ask some weird questions, or you can get physical decks as well, which are pretty cool because you can keep those. I sometimes will leave those with tips at a restaurant or whatever. Just leave them on a pod decks question card. It's pretty fun.

And if you go to the website, slash pod decks, you can use the promo code chew and save 10% off your decks. But I'm gonna use the app and is no wrong answers. Doesn't matter what anybody says, there's no wrong answers. It's just first thing pop to the top of your head. You ready to go? I think so. All right, here we go. Question number one.

Would you rather chug orange or grape soda? Orange. Awesome, okay. All right, is there, take a ring to your ear. I like the taste better, but man's gonna probably give me a heartburn. But yeah, I enjoy it. Okay, I figure I should probably do orange as well. I got really disappointed the other day. I got a Fanta. I was like, all right, cool, orange Fanta. This is gonna be good. I opened it up and it was a.

It was a Fanta Zero and I'm like, first of all, why do you exist Fanta Zero? Why would Fanta need to make a zero calorie version of anything? It's just really disappointing. But yeah. All right, question number two.

What did your 15 year old self imagine you'd be doing right now? I definitely hoped I'd be making comic books. Really? Yeah. Yeah. I was really into comic books and sequential art. And I realized I'm not that great of a drawer. Huh. Even though with your degree in graphic design. Yeah. I can't draw like the same characters, like a comic book artist over and over in different poses so I can create, you know, a image that I think looks good. Yeah. Not sequentially.

Interesting, interesting. My friend Rob Momertz, who was on the show last year, he actually illustrated a really cool comic book series called Clawed. It's a cat that is taking over the universe. It's pretty funny. But yeah, I can definitely understand that. I think it's a completely different skill set than just making something.

The way technology is now, it's still in the books, and we'll see. Yeah, yeah. All right, and question number three.

Do you like to plan things out in detail or be spontaneous? I like to think I plan things out, but a lot of my decision making probably is spontaneous, more spontaneous. Just kind of like, oh, I'm sorry. I know what I need to do, but yeah, I'm not, it's like, I woke up like, all right, well, this is what I gotta do. I'm gonna do this. Yeah. I think I like to, especially if it's like a trip or something, I like to plan the broad strokes. Sure. It's like, hey, we're gonna go to Asheville. We'll definitely need to eat.

But then when you get to there, it's like, okay, spontaneously, oh, this place looked interesting. Yeah. I don't even want it detailed, like, at this time I will be here. Itinerary, yeah. I want to just have fun and go with it. Yeah, I like it, I like it. Hey, question number four.

This will be a good one for you. What gives you the creeps? There's a term for it. Whenever you see a cluster of circles, I forget the name, start with a T, something phobia. But it's like whenever you see these cluster of circles, it happens a lot in organic stuff. It suspects something primal that reminds you of like a, like if you see it on your skin, it's like an infection or something like that. But you'll see it a lot like in a, not honeycomb has it, but it's not.

to a degree where it really bothers me. It's like trichophobia, something. I'm gonna have to look this up. I'm gonna have to find out the name of this thing. For a while, I was like on Instagram, you'd see people just posting photos of it. Every time I get the willies, I'd just be itchy and, oh wow, for like, you know, hours after. The only phobia I know that begins with T is atrischodechophobia, which is the fear of the number 13. But I'm gonna need to look at this other one with the clusters of circles. Clusters of, yeah, holes or circles.

to like that. Cool. All right. And question number five.

If you could live anywhere in the world, where would it be? I mean, I'm living here right now. I think that's my choice. Wow. I think I can live anywhere. And there's not a place I would like, oh, I mean, I wouldn't want to go there. I think you can make the best of anywhere you're at. And I have had the choice to move, and this is where I've stayed. So right now, I'm pretty happy in Augusta. Even though I complain about Augusta, but this is where home is right now.

That's awesome. That's probably one of the best answers I have ever heard. All right. It's amazing. Well, thank you, Stephen. That is our Fast Five and that is the show. Thank you so much for being here, man. I really appreciate it. Thank you. If folks want to keep up with you on socials, what's the best way to find you? You can find me on Instagram at Stephen Gillum, or you can use my toy page, Toymanoids. I'm on Facebook and you can look up Wages Cine on Facebook as well.

Awesome. Well, I'll make sure that I put the links to those up on the website at Of course, and I'll put the link up for like the Wages of Cine YouTube channel as well, because that's got a lot of your work and a lot of your movie reviews and the, a lot of the 31 days stuff is up there and everything like that. So you definitely want to check that out. And if you are a filmmaker, let me encourage you to go ahead and look for Wages of Cine on and submit your film to the film festival.

Thank you again for being here, Stephen. I really appreciate it. Yeah, it's been fun. Awesome. Awesome. And if you would like to support this podcast, I'd appreciate it if you bought me a coffee at But until next time, I look forward to the chance we have to sit a spell and chew the fat.

Stephen GilliamProfile Photo

Stephen Gilliam

Multimedia Artist

Stephen has been designing and creating for over 20 years designing art for movie posters, book covers, album art and more. Stephen grew up in a time before the internet and the his weekly art gallery was strolling through the video rental store admiring all the amazing works of art promising an amazing film inside it's cover. His first experience behind the camera happened in 1984 at the age of 5 while using his father’s Betamax camcorder to make stop animation movies with his Star Wars figures. Stephen earned his Bachelor’s Degree in Graphic Design from The Art Institute of Atlanta in 2001. After graduation Stephen gained the attention of a coworker who recruited him to assist in making of a short film. Stephen cut his teeth on this short film learning to use professional editing software, running a camera and working with a crew.
Since then Stephen has been addicted movie making and poster design. Most recently Stephen has been involved with the movie making team which he helped create, Wages of Cine.