Based in Oklahoma City, Oklahoma, Klein Haley works as an assistant director and production assistant throughout the state. Previous credits include “Reservation Dogs,” “American Underdog,” “Killers of the Flower Moon” and “Tulsa King.” In addition to his work as an assistant director, Haley is also an independent filmmaker with his upcoming short film “In the Face of Evil” premiering later this year.
How did you get started in the film industry?
I went to the University of Oklahoma (OU) and studied creative media production. The connections I made there got me started in the industry.
Did you have any formal education or training related to the film industry before starting?
At OU, I had several production-related courses where I learned the basics of what it takes to produce video content, but nothing can really prepare you for a real set better than working on one.
Did you have any formal education or training related to your specific department on-set?
You’re basically a one-man band as a student filmmaker. I had to schedule and organize all my shoots. Most of what I know now, however, was learned on the job and from observing others.
What are some of your most recent successes (credits or accolades) related to your career in the industry?
In the past 10 months or so I’ve started working more consistently as a first assistant director, which has been really exciting and a great learning experience. It allows me to be more involved in productions, both creatively and logistically, and has taught me valuable lessons I can take into my own projects.
What has your career in the state’s film industry taught you?
It’s taught me how to be a better leader and given me a clearer view of what I want to achieve in the future. I’ve also learned so much about my home state that I didn’t know before. I’ve traveled Oklahoma extensively over the past few years and met some truly amazing people in the process.
What is the highlight of your career thus far?
Last year, I wrote and directed my first film out of college. It was a huge undertaking, and I’m super proud that we were able to take on the challenge and make something so special. I also had the privilege of working on “Killers of the Flower Moon,” which was particularly special as I got to observe some of the best filmmakers in the world go at their craft. I learned a lot on that production that has influenced how I approach projects now.
What is your favorite aspect of working in Oklahoma’s film and television industry?
My favorite aspect is definitely the community and family we’ve created. There are so many talented people working here and they create a really special environment on set.
What’s the best piece of advice you have for someone starting their career in Oklahoma’s film industry?
Relationships are crucial. Not only do they get you jobs, but they’re the foundation of departments and sets. Find people who you can learn from and best exemplify what it is you’d like to achieve. Always be listening and paying attention. Work hard and lead by example. Bring a positive attitude and you’ll find success.
How does someone in your field/department best promote/market themselves to those hiring in your industry?
Reputation goes a long way. Every job I’ve gotten has been via word of mouth. You need to establish yourself as a reliable and pleasant person to work with. For the AD department, it’s all about being attentive, communicating and finding creative solutions to whatever’s thrown at you. If you’re able to remain focused while also creating a good environment on set, you’ll have no problem landing gigs.
Are there any local film organizations, resources or events that have been beneficial to you in your career?
I’ve attended a number of conferences and events hosted by the Oklahoma Film + Music Office, all of which were great opportunities to meet locals in the industry. If you’re not a fan of networking and trying to talk yourself up, the Film Education Institute of Oklahoma (FEIO) is a great way to get hands-on experience and work directly with professionals.
What’s the one item you can’t live without on-set, and why?
A walkie-talkie. I like knowing what’s going on and letting others know what’s going on.
Would your career be impacted without the state’s film incentive program? If so, how?
I would likely have to move out of state. The incentive is the single biggest factor in getting productions to shoot here.
Where do you see yourself – AND – Oklahoma’s film industry in the next five years?
I hope to be making a living by writing and directing my own projects, as well as producing and ADing other projects I believe in. I think Oklahoma has the potential to be the next big film hub, similar to Atlanta’s rise in recent years. With an expanding incentive program, as well as increases in workforce and resources, we could do some really big things.
What are you working on now or next?
I’m currently working on “Tulsa King” with a few movies lined up in the fall. I’m also prepping to direct my first feature early next year.
Each featured individual or business is given the provided questions to answer in their own voice. Other than formatting and grammar, the answers are personal to each featured voice, and are not provided by the Oklahoma Film + Music Office.