Scott McMahon ~ Film Trooper

Scott McMahon

Scott McMahon

Featured filmmaker and actor Scott McMahon and I met on a Google+ filmmaker community. We’d happily exchanged comments and shared posts for several months. Then one day, Scott shared a post about filming in the extreme cold conditions on Mt Hood and I realized that Scott lives in Portland, Oregon, same as me.

It’s always fun to take a social media relationship into real life. We have a lot in common; we’re both trying to help artists become better business people.

I appeared on his podcast series:

Now, he’s a featured artist on Amused Now.

Before moving to Portland, Scott McMahon lived in Los Angeles. He went to film school, made several films, and was hired by Sony PlayStation to make cinematic movies for their platform. After he left Sony PlayStation, Scott tried to produce an independent comedy, but the economy had tanked.

Fortunately, Scott discovered “there could be a way to make films anywhere and sell them online using online business and marketing techniques.” For the past few years, Scott’s been trying to figure out how to do just that.

Unfortunately, after working at Sony PlayStation, Scott had a big budget mindset. He’d write a scene and realize, “This is too expensive. I just wrote a scene that’s going to cost a half million dollars. It was a big challenge creatively to try and go smaller.”

Dana Dae

Dana Dae

Scott McMahon recently released a feature film called The Cube. He created the film on a $500 budget without a professional crew. The Cube is a spiritual story about a couple who finds a red cube on their doorstep and throws it away.

The idea came on the night of his wife’s birthday. Scott decided to forget about all the stress at work and just enjoy the evening celebrating with his wife and their friends. He was totally inspired by their friend’s apartment in Portland’s Pearl District. When he came home, he couldn’t sleep. “This story just popped in my head. By the next morning, I could see very clearly what The Cube was going to be. I saw the beginning, middle and end. I wrote down the outline and realized that I could actually make this around my full-time job.”

“For the story, it was important to have something to say. My mom is from Thailand and my father is Irish American from New York. I grew up with the Catholic faith and the Buddhist faith. The Cube is an exploration of those theologies wrapped around a very supernatural object.”

Scott was also inspired by Richard Kelly’s film The Box. “I liked The Box, but it ended in such a downer. I wanted to make a new movie that had an uplifting ending.”

Scott planned to shoot the film at his friends’ apartment, but they moved, so he ended up shooting the film at his own house. He starred in the film with Portland actress Dana Dae. Dana decided to go hiking in Nepal, so she forced Scott’s hand to produce the film within a two-week timeframe. “I didn’t have a crew in place. I didn’t know enough people here in Portland, so I put the camera on a tripod and moved all the equipment off to the side and jumped in front of the camera.”

Scott got so wrapped up in the technical aspects of production that he made some interesting mistakes and learned quite a few lessons. You definitely need to watch the video interview to learn more about how he filmed and edited The Cube.

Scott McMahon has two websites: and

Film Trooper helps filmmakers become better entrepreneurs. Scott McMahon writes a lot about the concept of resource filmmaking, making films with just the resources that you have around you. Christopher J. Boghosian coined the phrase in his blog post I’m a Nobody Filmmaker for Ted Hope’s website: Hope for Film. Scott explained that Robert Rodriguez used the same approach when he filmed El mariachi.

“This stuff has been around forever. It’s just taken forever for me to get to that place. It’s a really big challenge to be creative with the limitations in front of you. The Cube broke that seal for me. Now, I start seeing all sorts of stories all around me.”

“I’m currently making a new film called The Latch Key, and it all takes place in my home again. It’s even smaller than the $500 The Cube.”

Scott McMahon plans to release this film under Arrow Inn Entertainment. “Once I realized that digital distribution was available to filmmakers, artists, authors and musicians, that we can reach a global audience through the internet, I started my own studio.” The business plan is to make films, web series and podcasts and digitally distribute them. This compliments Scott’s Film Trooper educational platform.

The idea is “make your films so inexpensively, it allows you the opportunity to make a profit down the line. Combine this with marketing and online business strategy and you can build a sustainable living through your art. Once you learn that you can be completely independent of the Hollywood system or any gatekeepers, if you can learn the basics of selling something online, then you go back, fine tune and supersize it later for maximum profit.”

Scott spent years trying to reverse engineer and figure out what film buyers want, so he could create a product that he knew might sell. “As artists, sometimes that doesn’t ring true to you.” Scott advises, “as long as an artist can really dig down deep and find something that means something to them, something that they are going to be passionate about, then that’s what they should follow. No matter how crazy it sounds or whether it’s going to make money.”

“Being an artist is sometimes a curse. You’re going to have this need to create something, to express yourself. You might as well spend that time creating something that rings true to you.”

“You may want to find who your ideal fan is. What would you want to give them to make them happy or to change their lives? You can take your gifts and abilities and give them to that ideal fan. I can guarantee that ideal fan exists in droves, as long as you remain true to yourself.”

So true Scott McMahon!

Watch the complete video interview on the Amused Now YouTube channel:

Amused Now Featured Artist Series

The Cube Movie PosterScott McMahon

Cynthia Kahn, Founder of Amused Now