Filmmaker Derek Frey was born and raised in suburban Philadelphia and has helmed Tim Burton Productions since 2001. Frey is currently producing Disney’s Dumbo, a live-action reimagining of the animation classic set for release in Spring 2019.
Prior to Dumbo, Frey executive produced Miss Peregrine’s Home for Peculiar Children for Twentieth Century Fox and Big Eyes for The Weinstein Company. In 2012 he co-produced Frankenweenie, which received an Academy Award® nomination for Best Animated Picture. That same year he produced the music video Here with Me for The Killers.
Frey associate produced the 2010 blockbuster Alice in Wonderland, as well as Dark Shadows, Sweeney Todd: The Demon Barber of Fleet Street, Abraham Lincoln: Vampire Hunter, Corpse Bride, and Charlie and the Chocolate Factory. He produced the documentary A Conversation with Danny Elfman and Tim Burton; wrote the Frankenweenie-based short film Captain Sparky vs. the Flying Saucers; and edited the comprehensive and award-winning publication The Art of Tim Burton. In 2009 he worked closely with curators from the Museum of Modern Art (MoMA) on the creation of the highly popular and ongoing World of Tim Burton touring exhibition. Derek began his professional film career assisting Burton on Mars Attacks!, Sleepy Hollow, Planet of the Apes, and Big Fish.
Frey also directs independent films and music videos. His 2016 Hawaiian horror featurette Green Lake appeared in over forty film festivals, picking up multiple honors including Best Film at the L.A. Shorts Awards, Hollywood & Beyond Film Festival, and Honolulu Film Awards as well as Best Director at the Los Angeles Horror Competition and NYC Indie Film Awards. In 2014 his adulterous dramedy Motel Providence received the Golden Palm Award for Best Short at the Mexico International Film Festival, as well as Best Director at the World Film Awards and Best Comedy at the Media Film Festival. For the unorthodox working-class comedy Sky Blue Collar (2013), Derek was named Best Director by the Chicago Comedy and Mockfest Film Festivals.
In 2012, Frey directed The Ballad of Sandeep which moved audiences with its poignant tale of outsourcing and dynamic performance by actor Deep Roy. The film won Best Director at the Independent Film Quarterly Festival and Best Featurette at the Las Vegas International CineFest. Frey’s most recent directorial works Kill the Engine and God Came ‘Round are currently enjoying successful runs on the festival circuit.
GOD CAME ‘ROUND – Director’s Statement
I was excited to receive an advance copy of Trever Veilleux’s album Professor T and the East Side Shredders just prior to a flight home to Philadelphia from London. I’ve known Trever since 2001, after watching his band, Technical Difficulties, perform an impressive gig in Hilo, Hawaii. I introduced myself, and many music videos, films and adventures later, it’s a collaboration that continues to inspire me. Listening to the new album uninterrupted on the flight I found it to be a brilliant and sweeping journey through an array of musical genres. The track God Came ‘Round spawned in me an instant vision for a music video. Inventive lyrics involving aliens, ghosts and leprechauns encapsulated many of the paranormal elements I find fascinating and are commonplace in my creations.
Deep Roy came to mind straight away because I knew he had the range and ability to play multiple characters. Deep is a good friend that I met in 2001 on the set of Tim Burton’s Planet of the Apes, where Deep played several simian roles. We last collaborated in 2012 on the award-winning featurette The Ballad of Sandeep. Considering Deep has appeared in Star Trek, Star Wars, Doctor Who and played all 165 Oompa Loompas in Charlie and the Chocolate Factory, I knew he was the only man for the job. I expected logistics to pose a challenge with Deep in LA and me working on a project in London. However, the day after I conceived the idea, Deep coincidentally emailed to let me know he would be in London for most of the summer. I asked if he would be up for being in the film and he responded with an immediate yes. In God Came ‘Round Deep played roles requiring a multitude of costume changes – including a Venetian rose seller, an alien invader, a ghost, a leprechaun and God. I thought it made perfect sense to have actress Aiko Horiuchi play the female lead, seeing as I met her through Trever’s band when they played the Charlie and the Chocolate Factory premiere in London in 2005. (Aiko played the role of the Tokyo Candy Shopkeeper and went on to play the terrifying Kayako in an installment of The Grudge.) Let’s just say the opportunity to tell an unrequited love story between an Oompa Loompa and the Grudge was one I couldn’t miss.
Filmed over one day and three nights around Camden Town, Primrose Hill and Belsize Park in northwest London, God Came ‘Round was a blast to shoot. Despite several locations, everything went according to plan and on schedule, largely due to the cast and crew of creative friends. I owe Deep Roy an enormous amount of gratitude for being game for anything I threw at him or threw up on him. A big thanks to Trever Veilleux for creating such a poetic and heartfelt song within a fantastic album, and allowing me the freedom to interpret God Came ‘Round.
I hope you enjoy!