Midwest Filmmaker Profile: Doveed Linder
by Scott Michael Dunn @scottmdunn
Another contributor to local filmmaking in Greater St. Louis is Doveed Linder. He has marketable success, with an earlier project that was sold to a notable Hollywood studio. Linder has another feature film (anthology) in motion and it is very close to completion. He has never feared progress as he embraces every new opportunity by jumping in with both feet. His focus and determination represents his success. With a culturally diverse background and a very interesting cinematic perspective and professional direction, Doveed Linder is an extraordinary individual. From experience, his direction moves talent to the next level and forces the emotional contribution to become personal and real. He also maneuvers that discipline into his boxing training.
“That movie was an action/western movie called “Defiance”, which was picked up by Lionsgate Films. That was my first feature film…”
“The Box” is on the way to completion along with his boxing training. There doesn’t seem to be much that can be done to deter this gentleman from contributing to the entertainment industry. It is best to join or get out of the way as he climbs a metaphoric ladder: boundless and success driven. Check out his movie “Defiance” released in 2002 and his book about boxing, The Modern Era, Vol 1.Let’s start off with who you are and where you are from geographically, ethnically. Do you feel you’ve had an advantage in life?
I was born and raised in the suburbs of St. Louis, Missouri, first in University City and later in Ladue. I come from a half Jewish, half Catholic family, not particularly religious either way. My family growing up was middle class, perhaps upper middle. We didn’t live extravagantly, but I always had presents on Christmas and on my birthday. If I wanted to play a sport or do a certain activity, I always could. I guess you could say I had advantages that a lot of people in the world don’t have. I think the biggest advantage I had was that I had the freedom to pursue all of my interests, specifically filmmaking which isn’t considered a practical path. Instead of going to college and getting a degree, I started making movies with the intention of building a career as a writer/director of motion pictures. This was something I had wanted since I was five years old and my parents were supportive of that. They never suggested that I should take a different path.
“The owner of the gym asked me if I would work with some of the neighborhood kids a couple days a week in exchange for waiving my gym dues. A couple of days quickly turned into six days a week”
You are currently a boxing trainer and that has an interesting twist to your life story. Would you elaborate on where that all started?
In the late 90’s, I started to become a big boxing fan. From there, I learned to box and had a few amateur fights. In 2009, I moved to Los Angeles and started dabbling with boxing writing, eventually writing a boxing book that is coming out later this year. So, my passion of the sport has led to my involvement in a number of different ways. As a trainer, it started in 2004. I was working out at a boxing gym on the North Side of St. Louis. The owner of the gym asked me if I would work with some of the neighborhood kids a couple days a week in exchange for waiving my gym dues. A couple of days quickly turned into six days a week and I ended up training amateur fighters and putting them in fights. After a year of that, I had to stop and find a way to support myself. I became a personal trainer at a gym in Clayton called Sweat. My niche, of course, was boxing instruction. There were a few occasions along the way where I would work with somebody who wanted to fight, so I would spend a little extra time with them and get them to that level. But I wasn’t what you would call a “go-to guy” for people who want to get in the ring, nor am I now. Right now, I train one boxer who is about to make his professional debut. I knew him from the amateur days and we were always friendly over the years. I ran into him at an event a couple of years ago and he asked me if I would work with him. I’m very happy to do it, but I’m doing it to build his career, not mine. This isn’t something I’m trying to expand for myself.
Right now you are finishing “The Box”. How long have you been working on this project?
We started shooting “The Box” in December 2012. I started writing it in August or September. It all started when I moved from Los Angeles back to St. Louis in July of that year. Dave Rutherford, a cinematographer who I have been friends with and have worked with since I first started makingmovies, suggested that we make a short film together. I wrote an 18-page script called “The Box” and started passing it around for feedback. Somebody suggested to me that I take this idea and make a feature film – an anthology consisting of 3 or 4 stories, where this mysterious box is used as a link from story to story. That’s how it took off. We shot one of the stories in December and I started writing the other stories in 2013. I had no idea how we would pull this off. But I figured with an anthology format, we could start and stop as we go along without having to worry about significant continuity issues along the way. Starting and stopping over a three year period is a tough way to make a movie, but we’re finally seeing the light at the end of the tunnel.
You had a previous production that made it to market, Can you elaborate on that, what it was about, and how people can watch a clip or teaser trailer?
That movie was an action/western movie called “Defiance”, which was picked up by Lionsgate Films. That was my first feature film and my only other feature besides “The Box”. Like “The Box”, it was a long process with a lot of starting and stopping. It was a very raw effort because I was so young and inexperienced, but it was a great accomplishment for everyone involved. I’m probably more proud of that movie that I will be of any other movie I make from here on out. It was a massive first film in that it was set in the 1800’s, and we were working with horses, guns, special effects, hundreds of extras, etc. It was so demanding on everyone who worked on it and I have such a huge appreciation for everyone I met on that movie. If you want to see it, Google “Defiance 2002” and I’m sure you’ll find something.
“I just wrote a boxing book, which will end up being a series of books, so I’ll probably be working on that for the next few years.”
What are your plans with boxing and movie making? Can you balance the two at the same time? Which one are you most passionate about?
Like I mentioned, I’m training just one boxer and my involvement, as a trainer will depend on his interest and level of commitment. Right now, he’s taking a very professional approach, so I am as well. I just wrote a boxing book, which will end up being a series of books, so I’ll probably be working on that for the next few years. But movies have always been the thing I’m most passionate about. First and foremost, I need to finish “The Box”. I have a few other projects ready to go to when “The Box” is finished. My plan is to get those movies made and keep going with it. When I first started making movies, I was having a lot of success. We made “Defiance” and followed it up with a Stephen King adaptation called “Strawberry Spring”which was screened at the Cannes Film Festival. At some point, I hit a wall with filmmaking. I didn’t have the resources to do the things I wanted to do and I didn’t know what angle to take. Around this time, the boxing thing started showing up in my life. I kept trying to get my movie career off the ground, but boxing is where I found the open doors. Boxing has been good to me. It’s a sport that has really shaped me as a person. Here I am 15 years after I made my first feature and I’m finally working on another one. I’m back on track to make movies again and I now have this second career with boxing. As far as how I balance the two, I just find ways to make it work. The boxer I train came out one day to help me with “The Box”. I read that day that we might be fighting in three weeks, so we started training right there on the sound stage.
Tell me about the life of a boxing trainer. What does somebody like that do: the sacrifice, the commitment, the challenge? What does it feel like in the moment when you watch your protégé fight?
In a way, being a boxing trainer is a lot like being a film director. I spend a lot of time daydreaming. I develop a vision for what I want, but there has to be flexibility in that vision because it’s a collaborative process. Fighters, like actors, cinematographers, musicians, etc., are all unique and bring something to the table that a trainer or a director never counted on. Trainers and directors both have to study their craft and follow the history, as well as the evolution of it. My feelings about the actual fight are similar to the way I feel about going onto the location to shoot. It’s not my favorite part of the process. I kind of just want to get it over with. The real stimulation comes with the planning. In the ring or on the shooting location, there are often variables that you never counted on, so you have to be able to think on the fly.
What’s should we look for from Doveed Linder in the future, and how can we follow you?
The book I referred to is called “Boxing: The Modern Era, Vol. 1 (24 Interviews with the People of the Sport)”. It’s a collection of interviews with various people in the boxing world – the fighters, trainers, promoters, officials, etc., from the Muhammad Ali era all the way to the present. It was picked up by McFarland Publishers and will be out in the near future. “The Box” will be finished this year and I look forward to marketing it for distribution. The boxer I train, Raymond
Handson, is making his professional boxing debut at Lumiere Casino on February 20th. I hope for a successful night and that he keeps moving forward with his career and doing good things. Most of all, I look forward to the next movie after “The Box”. There are a few different possibilities and we’ll see how it unfolds. As far as how to follow me, I’m on Facebook, or you can book a session with me at Sweat gym in St. Louis, where I work as a personal trainer and a boxing instructor. Sweat has been a huge source of support. They give me a chance to make a living and also give me the freedom to pursue my other interests.