Something is happening in Kissimmee, Florida, and director Tyler Measom had the opportunity to create a visionary masterpiece to show you — our visitors — what this new phenomenon is all about. We did an exclusive interview with Tyler and have all the exciting details about the making of Finding Whelmed (watch the full film here)!
Measom is an award-winning director of some incredible documentary films, including I Want My MTV and An Honest Liar. His films capture the essence of belief with emotion and remarkable imagery.
Experience Kissimmee: Let’s start with an icebreaker. If your life was a movie, what would it be called?
Tyler Measom: Tyler Tries – because if I start something, I have to finish it. I don’t like giving up on things. “I’m going to finish it, and I will finish it” is my mentality.
EK: What projects are you working on after the Kissimmee documentary?
TM: For quite a while now, I’ve actually been working on a big project for a major streaming service. It’s a three-part documentary series about the world’s greatest forger. I’m co-directing with Jared Hess (who directed Napoleon Dynamite), who’s a fantastic artist to work with.
EK: Where does your inspiration come from?
TM: Well, because I’m on projects for so long, I make sure I choose projects that I know I’ll be in love with years later. I wouldn’t have done the EK documentary if I didn’t love the concept of it. Sometimes, people will suggest ideas to me, and I feel very lucky for that. For instance, for the MTV film, someone came to me and said I should do a documentary about the birth of MTV. And I mean, who wouldn’t want to create that film and hang out with Sting, Pat Benatar, and Billy Idol (yes, shameless name dropping)?
Because I’m on projects for so long, I make sure I choose projects that I know I’ll be in love with years later.
EK: Did you find inspiration while you were here in Kissimmee?
TM: Yes, I really did. There’s a beauty when you’re on set with people and this joy of everyone creating and making things. People are more willing to throw ideas out when it’s a positive atmosphere. Everyone was from Kissimmee except for a few of us, and it was evident that they were just happy to be a part of something incredible. It’s usually just me working on a documentary, but this time, it was a fantastic team of well-trained people.
EK: How was it being on the other side of the camera and actually in the film?
TM: Fortunately, I was playing myself, so I knew my character very well. As a director, it gave me an entirely new respect for what it takes to be in front of a camera. What it takes for you to forget who you are and put yourself in the moment. I had to push aside that I was directing. I’m way more comfortable directing, but acting was great too.
EK: When did you start pursuing filmmaking and what made you want to be a director?
TM: I’ve always been creative and was raised in a semi-creative family. When I was 10, I saw Indiana Jones and the Raiders of the Lost Ark and I was just mesmerized. I was amazed the story could be told and perfectly captured and completely enthrall me. So, at that point, I thought about being a filmmaker. When I was 17, I found someone working in movies, so I attached myself at the hip to that person and learned everything I could. I’m pretty lucky – I don’t think many people can say they’re doing what they dreamed of doing when they were 10 years old.
EK: Do you have a signature style of directing?
TM: A lot of my films deal with belief. This current one is all about belief and deception – why we believe certain things. This world where people can completely push aside facts to believe what they want is so interesting to me. Most of my films move quickly and cover a lot of ground so I like to keep secrets as long as I can.
EK: Do you have any directors that inspire you with their subject matter?
TM: Morgan Neville, who just directed the Mr. Rogers film – A Beautiful Day in the Neighborhood. He chooses amazing subjects and does them very well. He’s my spirit animal of sorts when it comes to the artist world. He’s a great filmmaker and human being.
EK: Did you have a favorite thing you did while you were in Kissimmee?
TM: I really liked Wild Florida (Airboats and Gator Park). It was great to be there early in the morning, with the sun coming up and the water was just beautiful. It was a little cold in the air, just a little crisp. It was great just sitting with the team and getting that great interview.
EK: What is your secret talent?
TM: I can juggle and can also spin things! If anything is flat like a tray or book, I can spin it on my finger.
EK: We heard that you’re interested in comedy. Is that true?
TM: (laughs) Well, I used to want to be a comedian for a while when I was a kid. I love comedy and enjoy it so much, but I realized early on that it’s just not something I wanted to do. There are lots of parallels between comedy and filmmaking, though. They are both all about how long you can maintain a secret. How long can I hold this audience until I give them the punchline or the end of the story?
EK: What keeps you up at night?
TM: So, I’m obsessed with the subject of sleep, and I may do a documentary on it in the future. But I’ve learned about second sleep. Essentially, humans wake up in the middle of the night (2 or 3 in the morning). For a while, I hated waking up like that, but then I started to embrace it. I’d get up and for an hour or so do something creative. Our brains are in this half dream/half reality phase, and I find this to be a really great time to be creative.
EK: If you could spend a whole day off kayaking or going to the waterpark, which one would you choose?
TM: Undoubtedly kayaking.
EK: Was there anything that surprised you about Kissimmee?
TM: How clean everything was. The grass was manicured everywhere, and the roads were fantastic.
EK: Well, did you find anything while you were here in Kissimmee?
TM: I’m not saying it for the sake of it, but I honestly did find Whelmed. I was extremely happy and content. The weather was nice, and the people were amazing. There was really a coming-down period when I got back home – it snowed, and I couldn’t believe I was in sunny Kissimmee only a couple days before making art. I felt better when I was in Kissimmee. It was an experience that I loved and will cherish. I believe because of it, the film we made was that much better.
I honestly did find Whelmed. I was extremely happy and content...I felt better when I was in Kissimmee.
EK: What are you most excited about for people to take away from the film?
TM: My pretty face for sure (haha). No, I do think that we, as Americans, are unique with our vacations. I think vacations can become just things that you have to do. A lot of the time, you don’t put a lot of thought into it. In realizing that your community (Kissimmee) is a place where people can take vacations, I hope visitors see that there are so many places to take families when you visit this region.