By Mary Thacker
“From an early age, I always wanted to tell stories, and movies are the most personal medium for doing so,” Alexander Pyle states enthusiastically. “A lot of young people say that they want to make movies, but what they really want is to become famous. I’m more comfortable behind the camera.”
The Rockwall-Heath High School Senior, with the help of his brother, Joshua, is making a documentary about a fictitious resident of Rockwall named Bruce Hayward. The pair was pleasantly surprised at the number of people who were eager to be involved. The brothers were able to recruit a diverse cast including: school principals Tom Maglisceau and Mike Pitcher, pediatrician Dr. Kurt Pflieger, Rockwall Mayor David Sweet and RISD Superintendent Jeff Bailey.
Alexander’s process involved asking each of his actors the same basic nine to ten questions with some altered depending on the person’s relationship to the fictitious Bruce Hayward. “I formulated the questions so that the audience could imagine this person in their life. I wanted to create a paragon of humanity’s goodness to fill the shell of Bruce,” Alexander explains. The actors were given a great amount of freedom to help create a picture of Bruce through their answers, but the overall story will take shape through Alexander’s editing. “I’ve given myself a solid month to edit. I think it’s an important thing for directors to do. It makes me uncomfortable to hand over all my footage to someone else. I know what I want. There’s no compromise, no discussion,” he states firmly.
The two brothers have a Hollywood connection through their father, Kevin, who at the age of 18, moved to Los Angeles to make his fortune as a singer and drummer. In between musical gigs, he worked at a variety of odd jobs, including building movie sets. Alexander’s father wasn’t nearly as successful with his music as he was with finding his soul mate. He met his wife, Laurel, in LA. “She fell in love with him, because he was the cool drummer in the band,” laughs Alexander. The brothers were born in LA, but the family moved to Texas years ago in order to provide the boys with the best education possible.
Alexander plans to continue his education at the University of North Texas this fall where he will major in filmmaking. “When I was in 7th grade, my family toured UNT, and I was enamored immediately. At that point I wanted to study music and play bass in the One O’clock Lab Band. But my interest in doing that petered off, and I didn’t know what I wanted to do. But North Texas was always in the back of my mind,” Alexander relates.
“I remember when my dad drove us to the Jazz Festival in New Orleans. He wanted to hear Brian Wilson perform his new album Smile. That album shaped my whole perception of music and art in general. My dad said, ‘The world’s been waiting almost 40 years for this to come out.’ He made us sit in his car, and we drove around and listened to it. It taught me that music doesn’t have to be a song with all the usual elements—chorus, verse, chorus—it doesn’t have to follow any rules. I realized I could apply that to other things in my life. That’s when I started analyzing movies as pieces of art, not just as something to watch,” Alexander recalls.
Things suddenly came together this year when Alexander and his best friend, Ryan Graham, filmed a show at Rockwall-Heath High School with the encouragement of his AV teacher, Jennifer Easterwood. “I called it Hall Patrol Squad Alpha Go! which was inspired by television shows Reno 911 and Cops. (Alexander and Ryan filmed two episodes of their show which can be found on YouTube.) Ms. Easterwood told me that if I could come up with an idea, she would probably let me do it. I pitched a lot of ideas that she rejected including 2001: Space Gatsby which would have been filmed as if Stanley Kubrick directed it.” It was while filming with Ryan that Alexander realized what he really wanted to do with his life. “It makes me happy in a way that nothing else does,” he explained.
He is excited about starting at UNT in the fall. “They have a prestigious television station that’s won a couple of Texas Emmys,” Alexander enthuses. “Anyone can pitch a show. Hopefully, I can get one of my ideas green-lighted or work with someone else on his project. I want to get as much stuff done as I can before I enter the professional movie world. I also want to volunteer DJ at their radio station, which has won award-after-award.”
Both Alexander and Joshua are huge film enthusiasts. “Wes Anderson is one of my top inspirations,” enthuses Alexander. “He was just a kid from Texas who made a low-budget film called Bottle Rocket with his friends Luke and Owen Wilson, and he made it big. The Coen brothers are a huge inspiration, as well, because they showed me you don’t have to be afraid to experiment with different genres.” He continues, “And Jim Wynorski, the king of B movies, could take a script and shoot a movie in 3 days. He showed me that if I have an idea, I can do it—no matter what the budget, no matter what the deadline. Directors Stanley Kubrik and David Lynch showed me that I can make a movie that’s just as completely insane as I want it to be as long as it makes sense to me,” he concludes.
“I’ll be honest…I’ve never been motivated to do much in my life, but when I’m getting ready to make a movie, putting it together—when I’m behind the camera or when I’m editing—and it’s my vision made tangible—it’s like no feeling in the word,” enthuses Alexander.
After Alex finishes his career in Hollywood, he hopes to return to teach film-making in high schools or to develop his own film school. “I feel like it would be irresponsible of me not to attempt to impassion the next generation,” exhorts Alexander.
Alexander has posted a trailer for his movie Bruce Hayward Lived Here on Facebook and at brucehaywardlivedhere.tumblr.com
The movie’s premiere will be at Rockwall-Heath Performing Arts Center and is free to the public.
The premiere has been pushed to June 5 at 6:30pm due to scheduling conflicts. It was originally scheduled for May 29.
Hall Patrol Squad Alpha Go! (HPSAG!) (Pilot Episode)
Hall Patrol Alpha Squad Go! (HPSAG!) (Episode 2)