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From Extra to Director: Shining a Spotlight on Indie Filmmaker Alexander Cooper

Filmmaker Alexander Cooper, center, on the set of "Parallel".

Alexander Cooper was always interested in film, particularly acting. He went to school in Stamford, U.K., and while he took some drama classes, he did not study filmmaking. Instead he took another route, and worked in the field of law for the nine years that followed. While working in law, he still had a desire to act, so he took on roles in various films. He played Jack Specter in The Sky Has Fallen and he was an extra in several film productions and television series such as Downton Abbey and The Imitation Game. As of today, Cooper has nearly 2 dozen acting credits to his name. While acting is where his love for film developed, after losing his job in law, he had a “hankering” to work behind the scenes in film.

Cooper knew he wanted to specifically produce feature films, and actively sought out those types of scripts. In 2015, he took a shot on a psychological thriller written by David Magowan called Parallel.

To assist in financing this project, Cooper turned to crowdfunding. He raised about 500 pounds which is equivalent to about $650 USD. He made up the difference with his own personal funds. On IMDb, Parallel is described as an erotic and chilling film, with a distinctly new approach and a killer twist.

Currently, the film is building a following and can be seen on Amazon Prime and Vimeo. You can watch the trailer for Parallel here:

For his next endeavor, the actor-turned-producer found his inspiration after coming across a story about forgotten newsmakers. He started writing a sports drama called Sandow, which he describes as “Rocky vs. Chariots of Fire”. The film is based on a real-life strongman that performed in a traveling circus. In this film, Cooper asks the question “What builds the perfect man?”. The film not only explores the physical side of the question, but it dives deeply into the concept that while many people viewed the physique of this “larger than life” man as perfect, on the inside, Sandow was flawed and broken. Cooper also reconnects with his love of acting in this film. He plays Launceston Elliot, one of the only people to truly know Sandow. He says directing himself at the time was great, and the opportunity made him realize that more than likely, if he is involved in a movie, he will direct it. He again, turned to crowdfunding to help with the budget. However, he categorizes this crowdfunding attempt as “a total failure”. Once again, Cooper took an obstacle and made it an opportunity, and took on the task of funding, directing, and producing the film himself. Sandow can be seen on Amazon Prime and Vimeo. You can watch the trailer for Sandow below:

For his next film, Cooper decided to take the comedy route. Weird Loop is a comedy mockumentary film, where Cooper plays a Russian secret agent. He says that people can truly relate to Weird Loop because the idea around the film is “this feeling [of] climbing stairs and [once you’ve reached the top] of the stairs, you get the feeling that you’ve gone back to the bottom of the stairs, again”. He can personally relate to the concept because when he worked in London for nine years, he felt like he’d progressed in his career and when everything “dried up”, he had to move back to his hometown. It’s kind of like starting over, again. He wanted to do this film his way and experiment with it. Weird Loop is also different from Parallel and Sandow because it did not require significant preparation, or thought on how much to spend or on location. He grabbed a camera, met the other actor in London, and shot the film in a day. Even without distribution help, Cooper is seeing how people are connecting to the film through feedback from comments. He’s also noticing that the reviews are building. Weird Loop can be seen on YouTube.

When asked about advice he would give to filmmakers that are discouraged or facing obstacles, he says, “don’t get discouraged ... from his experience, it’s extremely hard to have someone back you for a project, when no one knows you”. He pulls from a Quentin Tarantino quote and says “if you want to make a movie, make it; don’t wait on the perfect scenario”. From one conversation with Alexander Cooper, you can see that he understands the value of taking chances in film. As a director, he has his own style. He likes giving the actors freedom to experiment and go off script.

With his stamp on several genres of films, we can’t wait to see more from this talented director, writer, actor, and producer. Cooper is proof that sometimes you just have to jump and know that you will land exactly where you need to be.

As far as what’s in his future, Cooper has plans to do a sequel to Weird Loop. And in March 2019, Sandow will be screened at the London International Motion Picture Awards. The I See You Awards® is happy to follow this self-taught filmmaker on his road of storytelling.

To Alexander Cooper ... we see you!

The 3rd Annual I See You Awards® are sponsored by the Michigan Film & Digital Media Office, Emagine Entertainment, WWJ Newsradio 950, ES Communications Agency and The Lee Group.

Submissions to the 2019 Awards are now being accepted. Submit your film today! We hope to see you on the Blue Carpet in August 2019! For submission information, click here.

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