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Robert “Bronzi” Kovacs On His Unique Career Path and The Making of ‘Death Kiss’

Robert “Bronzi” Kovacs On His Unique Career Path and The Making of ‘Death Kiss’

Robert “Bronzi” Kovacs is a force to be reckoned with!

For decades, Robert “Bronzi” Kovacs has been turning heads with his uncanny resemblance to one of Hollywood’s most legendary action and western actors, Charles Bronson. However, it wasn’t until recently the Hungarian-born actor and stuntman was discovered by American audiences. The whirlwind journey began when “Bronzi” was spotted and cast by indie filmmaker Rene Perez in a western-horror flick, ‘From Hell To The Wild West.’ In what seems like the perfect natural progression, the duo re-teamed for an amazing homage to Bronson’s prolific ‘Death Wish’ film series, the very appropriately named ‘Death Kiss.’

Written and directed by Rene Perez, ‘Death Kiss’ centers around a vigilante with a mysterious past who goes to a crime-infested city and takes the law into his own hands, at the same time protecting a young mother and her child. Cool and stylish, the film serves as a beautiful throwback to the Cannon films of the ’80s. Filmed in picturesque Northern California, the film also stars Daniel Baldwin (John Carpenter’s ‘Vampires’), Richard Tyson (‘Kindergarten Cop,’ ‘Two Moon Junction’), Eva Hamilton (‘Ruin Me’), Stormi Maya, Leia Perez, Reese Austyn, and Sam Story.

While “Bronzi” does bring his familiar aesthetic to the projects of which he is a part, it’s important to note that he is far from one-dimensional. A professionally trained actor at Maria Mezey Theatre School (Budapest), his love for the wild west and classic American film have led him to travel the world. One of the most seasoned professionals in the game, Kovacs has worked as a carpenter, professional horseman, musician, stuntman, acrobat, former military service member and judo player. It’s an impressive resume to say the least! Best of all — he’s just getting warmed up!

Jason Price of Icon Vs. Icon recently caught up with Robert “Bronzi” Kovacs to discuss his unique career path, the challenges he’s faced along the way and what the future might hold for this star on the rise!

You’ve followed a unique path in the entertainment industry. How did you get involved with the arts early in life and what made you pursue your passion for acting professionally?

I always loved acting and movies, ever since I saw the American Westerns in Cinema as a child. I was horse breeder as a young man and accomplished equestrian rider so performing as a cowboy in Live Western shows in Europe seemed like a great way to showcase my talents in front of crowds. I wished to hone my craft even further, so I even enrolled in professional acting classes.

Robert “Bronzi” Kovacs

As a fan of cinema, what are some of the films that had a large impact on you early in life?

The classic westerns, especially the films of Sergio Leone. The biggest impact was seeing ‘Once Upon a Time in The West’ on the big screen. The Harmonica character portrayed by Charles Bronson is a fine performance. Perhaps my favorite. I loved Bronson in ‘Chato’s Land’ and ‘Mr. Majestyk.’ These films really inspired me.

How did you break into the movie industry?

I was cast in some independent western short films and a few commercials for a very popular European market chain but did not make a feature until an American director discovered my talents at a western show in Spain.

I know you worked as a stuntman. What were some of the most exciting and challenging stunts you’ve performed?

I have done it all and mostly in front of live audiences. I have had choreographed fist fights in full cowboy regalia, saloon clearing brawls with dozens of costumed actors and stuntmen, broken wooden doors, glasses and bottles over people’s heads! I have fallen off of buildings, been chased by a wild stage coach and even run through fire and smoke during a shoot out — multiple times a day! The more the crowd applauded the more I enjoyed it.

Speaking to your work as a stunt professional, I’m sure you have certain expertise. What do you consider your specialties?

I have a fair knowledge of period rifles and pistols. I often do reenactments of historical battles, but my expertise is Western Riding. I have bred and raised horses since a young boy. I like anything having to do with horses so performing on a horse is always exceptional, often utilizing my ability to shoot and perform while riding full gallop. It takes control and concentration.

What was your first role as an actor?

I was hired to entertain as the sheriff at a western theme park Fort Bravo in Almeria, Spain. This trend continued at live performance venues throughout Europe for many years.

‘Death Kiss’ is one of your latest projects. How did you first meet director Rene Perez?

Rene was filming a television series in Spain and saw my picture on a saloon wall. He asked the bartender about the old Bronson photo and the bartender told him , “No! That is Bronzi!” Rene reached out to me and related he wanted to work together.

‘Death Kiss’ was you second project with him. What does he bring out in you creatively when it comes to your performances?

He is very clear in what he intends me to do, but allows me to explore the character. Rene would give me the motivation and allow me to portray those feelings on screen.

You gave an amazing performance in ‘Death Kiss.’ Did you have any reservations about playing this role?

Thank You! I appreciate that you enjoyed the performance. I was very excited when I heard about ‘Death Kiss’ and agreed with no hesitation. After working with Rene on the Wild West movie, I knew he could make a film that would satisfy fans of the action genre and create a character that would be engaging.

While you are playing a familiar face in the film, I’m sure you bring a bring a bit of yourself to any role. What did you bring to this character that might not have been on the original written page?

I like to do acting through body action and facial expressions. I am used to working in front of crowd and sometimes it is loud and chaotic. Often words are not an option, but you can show so much with your body and a stare.

What were the biggest challenges you faced with the project?

My English is getting better now but it was a real challenge during “Death Kiss.” Fortunately, Rene speaks Spanish fluently, so he and I could converse this way much easier. The other problem I had was manipulating the revolver for the shoot outs while wearing thick heavy leather gloves. I could shoot but reloading the pistol often proved difficult and sometimes looked awkward.

Robert “Bronzi” Kovacs and Eva Hamilton shine in ‘Death Kiss.’

What are your favorite memories of being on the set of ‘Death Kiss’?

I enjoyed working with such amazing professionals like Daniel Baldwin and Richard Tyson. Great well-known actors and so gracious. Always supportive and willing to give advice. Also, actress Eva Hamilton was delightful as well. There was such great camaraderie on set and positive energy. Everyone wanted to be there and make a great film.

Are there any plans in the works for you to reprise your role as this character? 

I am not sure what Rene intends to do with future installments of “Death Kiss,” if any. I’ve received many messages on social media about fans wanting another appearance by the stranger and Daniel Baldwin seems to be in favor of another foray as the Radio DJ Dan Forthright. It would be fun to see him more involved in a sequel. Maybe another vigilante on the loose…

Is there a dream role that you one day hope to play?

I would love to do a western with a classic epic feel; large in scope with shoot outs and posses. The good guy rides off into the sunset at the end.

You have a few projects in the works. What has you most excited?

‘Escape from Death Block 13’ is coming soon and is so much fun. It has prison fights and so much excitement. I don’t want to give away too much, but it will blow you away. Gary Jones is really making something great. I’m also looking forward to the ‘Mat Rats’ movie — a different kind of film for me. It is a feature comedy about a kids wrestling team. The producer wants to make ‘Bad News Bears’ meets ‘Rocky.’ It’s a great script and my character is kind of a bad guy; maybe not a really bad guy but a real scary guy known only as ‘The Dago.’

I feel we can learn something from everyone and we can look to you as an inspiration. What is the best lesson we can take from your journey?

I dreamt of performing in films for so many years. I keep working and keep performing. I am fortunate to get such attention now. It is a blessing. The best thing is to never give up your dreams. You work hard and keep doing what you love.

Where are the best places for your fans to follow your continuing adventures online?

Thank you for asking! The best place is on FacebookTwitter, and even on Instagram but still trying to figure this out. All the pages are linked on my official website at www.RobertBronziActor.com.

‘Death Kiss’ is now available on VOD and hits home video via Uncork’d Entertainment on December 4th, 2018. 

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DRIVEN: Mackenzie Astin On His Life, Evolution and “Welcome To The Men’s Group”

DRIVEN: Mackenzie Astin On His Life, Evolution and “Welcome To The Men’s Group”

They say the apple doesn’t fall far from the tree, and Mackenzie Astin is certainly no exception to the rule. One of the insanely talented sons of legendary actors Patty Duke and John Astin, he found himself taking on the family trade very early on in life. Armed with his acting chops and a dazzling smile, it wouldn’t take long for Hollywood decision makers (along with legions of teenage girls) to notice! Mackenzie exploded onto the radar of American audiences in the mid-80s with his role as Andy Moffett on the wildly popular sitcom “The Facts of Life,” where he appeared for over four seasons. He would continue honing his craft for years to come, appearing in memorable motion pictures including “Iron Will”, “Wyatt Earp” with Kevin Costner, “The Evening Star” with Shirley MacLaine, and Whit Stillman’s “The Last Days of Disco.” While he stepped away from acting for several years, he ultimately couldn’t shake the bug, which led to other notable roles including Noah Baker on TV’s “Scandal” and Bill Dunn, Carrie Mathison’s brother-in-law, on “Homeland.” His passion for creation has continued to grow over the decades, leading him to seek out some of his most challenging and rewarding roles to date. Such is the case with his latest role in director Joseph Culp’s new film, “Welcome To The Men’s Group.”

Largely inspired by the phenomenon of the “Men’s Movement” of the past 30 years, “Welcome to the Men’s Group” hails from director Joseph Culp and co-writer Scott Ben-Yashar. The film centers around an eclectic group of eight men who, one Sunday a month, refrain from beer and football to sit in a circle where they share their personal issues in the noble hope of becoming a bit more evolved than their fathers. On this day, things do not go as planned when one member appears headed for a breakdown, and long-standing conflict and secrets threaten to destroy the trust between the men. In addition to Astin, the film boasts an ensemble cast which includes Stephen Tobolowsky (“The Goldbergs”), Golden Globe Nominee Timothy Bottoms (“The Last Picture Show”), Phil Abrams (“Parenthood”), David Clennon (“Gone Girl”), Joseph Culp (“Apollo 13”) and Ali Saam (“Argo”).

Jason Price of Icon Vs. Icon recently caught up with Mackenzie Astin to discuss his life in show business, the lessons learned along the way, his evolution as an actor, and the making of Joseph Culp’s “Welcome to the Men’s Group.”

We know you come from a successful show biz family. What gave you the bug to begin exploring the arts?

Wow! There’s a very simple answer and then there is a more involved answer. The simple answer is sibling rivalry! [laughs] Sean, my big brother, started working before I did. My mom did an ABC After-School Special called “Please Don’t Hit Me, Mom!” They reached out to her to see if her son, Sean, would be interested in playing her son in the project. They were both into the idea, so he went to work with her on this TV movie. I went to the set to visit at some point. At the time, I think Sean was 10 years old, so I would have been 8. When I went to the set, he was getting a whole lot of attention, so I was like, “Wait a minute! I want to do this!” [laughs] I nagged my parents enough that they relented and, a couple years later, I was lucky enough to start in with the family trade!

What went into finding your creative voice as a young actor?

As a young actor, I think your creative voice is somewhat limited by the parts that you are able to get. I would say that early on that my creative voice was probably inspired by Cousin Oliver on “The Brady Bunch.” [laughs] By that I mean, I played the annoying white kid on a number of different shows and then was the regular annoying white kid on “The Facts of Life.” In terms of finding the voice, coming from a family of actors… Come to think of it, Icon Vs. Icon made me think of my parents’ divorce! [laughs] I think there is a natural proclivity to want to be in a creative field. It was never really a question, when I was a kid, that this was sort of what I wanted to do and what I could do. I remember helping my mom memorizing her lines for jobs and having a good time reading scripts with her. I remember her saying, “Hey, you’re not bad at this!” That’s nice to hear when you are a little kid! To the original question, I’m not sure that necessarily comes out so much with kids or at least not in my case. For me, I think it came out when I was a little bit older. There was certainly no creative voice involved on “The Garbage Pail Kids!” [laughs] Dissidence is what you heard! [laughs]

A young Mackenzie Astin and the cast of “The Facts of Life.”

What are some lessons you learned early on that helped shape the accomplished actor we see today?

I got lucky in that I was able to take a little break after “The Facts of Life” and go back to high school as a regular civilian, if you will. That was probably the best learning experience because coming from working as a regular on a fairly popular television show, I kinda thought that my shit didn’t stink, and I had somewhat of a swelled head going into high school. If there is anything that will level your head, it is American public school! [laughs] Later, I was grateful when I was able to recognize that when I went to high school that my shit did indeed stink just like everybody else’s. The playing field was leveled in a lot of ways, which was really, really valuable for when I started working again because I think I had more respect for the good fortune to be able to be in the entertainment industry, to be able to find work within the industry and to be able to understand the value of being on a team. I played baseball in high school and that’s where the idea of teamwork was deeply instilled. We had a great head coach for the baseball program who helped teach us about the value of teamwork. I think I was able to bring that into my career in my early 20s. I think it made me a lot easier to work with, if you know what I mean! [laughs] I was all in for the ball club instead of just being interested in making sure I came off okay.

When did you come into your own as an actor?

I’ll let you know! [laughs] Ya know, it’s tough to say. I was kidding with my wife the other day that my face is getting old enough for the right parts for me. [laughs] It goes both ways. I don’t know if actors are ever really satisfied or ever really feel like they’ve hit their stride, which can probably be a positive thing because you’re constantly looking for an opportunity to sink your teeth into something. So, I’ll let you know when I get there!

Please do! [laughs] Let’s talk about your latest project, “Welcome To The Men’s Group.” How did this land on your radar and made it a project you wanted to pursue?

I think they couldn’t get my brother, so they reached out to me! [laughs] That’s a joke! Seriously, it was just a regular old audition that came down the pike with large print across the appointment slip that said, “Must be OK with nudity.” I read the script and I felt that it made sense and I was OK with that because the human form has been around pretty much as a long as humans! [laughs] I think that maybe here in American we are maybe held back a little bit by the puritanical dynamics that existed at the outset. Over in Europe, I think people are a little more evolved and it’s not such a big deal to see the naked form, be it man or woman, so that wasn’t really an issue in my thinking. What appealed to me is that it’s a bunch of people sitting around talking about their problems, which is actually what life is! I thought it was representative of some valuable conversations that are necessary, I think, for the advancement of the human people — men in particular. Joseph Culp, the fellow who wrote, directed and stars in the film, has mentioned that the timing is pretty good for the movie in that there has been a lot of awareness in the past few years in American society about the role that men are playing and that we have a lot of work to do. I think that’s true. I’m cautious to say that this is a film that can attach itself wholly to #TimesUp and #MeToo because that runs the risk of, as I’ve come to say, Manspreading and Mansplaining in the same motion. However, I do think there is some value that the film can offer in respect to those movements in that there is a lot of talking in this movie which means, by definition, that there is a lot of listening in this movie. I think the real value that men might be able to contribute to society right now, in particular upper-middle class white men who are represented pretty well in this movie, is to sit back and listen. We have a lot to learn. We have a lot to learn from women. We have a lot to learn from people who are not as advantaged as upper-middle class white men are as we come into the world. I think there is a lot of value that people can take from the film in terms of being willing to listen.

What went into preparing to take on this role and did you find it had a big impact on you?

This movie was fortunate in that we had a week of rehearsal before we began filming, which you aren’t necessarily always afforded in independent film. We had the opportunity to work through the script a few times together as a team, which I think really helped people to get a grasp on their characters and what their character’s role was. That’s a funny way to put it but it allowed us to explore what our jobs were in terms of moving the story along and telling a full story. Thankfully, everyone in this film has a lot of experience. You have guys Timothy Bottoms, Stephen Tobolowsky and David Clennon coming to the table with pretty impressive resumes! It was the perfect opportunity for a youngster like myself to learn from their example. You also have some guys who maybe haven’t yet had the larger successes as Tim and Stephen have had like myself, Phil Abrams, Ali Saam and Terence Rotolo, who also had tremendous opportunities to show what we can do! I know that once we finished filming everyone was very excited to get stuff from the movie to put on our respective reels. This is the kind of screenplay you don’t come across too often where there is really an opportunity for sensitive and unabridged work. In television, a lot of times the scenes are short, and you don’t have a lot of time to move the story along, so you aren’t allowed the opportunity to show tremendous nuance. In a film like this, there is a shitload of nuance! [laughs] If I can put it so coarsely! I think for all of us as actors, an opportunity to play scenes that breathe was really, really, really appealing. Thankfully we were shooting on film, so it wasn’t too crazy expensive! [laughs]

What did you bring to the character that wasn’t on the original written page?

Growing up in a family with five older brothers from two working actors, my intrinsic ability to listen was valuable for the character of Tom! [laughs] He is sort of the audience’s avenue into the group. He’s the new guy, so it’s through his eyes that the audience experiences these guys for the first time. I sort of consider myself an observer of people, just generally. I think that was something that was already in my bag of tricks that was available for Tom to use, which is lucky. Also, in my own personal life, I can be pretty darn judgmental, which is something that is worth working on. I think that sometimes I have difficulty disguising my judgement, so that might have been of some value for the character of Tom as well because you can read a lot of what’s going on from his face! [laughs]

“Welcome To The Men’s Group” is a terrific ensemble. What are your favorite memories of working alongside these seasoned professionals?

It’s hard to pick a favorite! Stephen Tobolowsky is such an incredible storyteller, so there were a couple of experiences at lunch where he would tell stories that had all of our forks paused in the air on the way to our mouths! [laughs] We just stopped and listened with our mouths open because he is so gifted at storytelling. That’s what we do for a living — we tell stories! So, when you have a collection of actors with the amount of experience that all of those guys have there are tremendous stories that come along with it, so it’s hard to pick a favorite. Listening to Timmy Bottoms tell stories, not only about his career as an actor but the experiences he’s had living on a ranch outside of town and taking care of and breaking horses, you realize that he’s actually a cowboy! [laughs] His stories about life outside the business are truly amazing! His perspective is pretty interesting too because of the tremendous success he had early on and his experience in and out of show business over the years. He gave us so much from which we can learn. Hearing the perspective from Ali Saam about being an actor of color in this country and being Iranian in this country was an experience different from mine as an upper-middle class white guy. Hearing stories from Dave Clennon about all of the incredible pictures he has worked on was another highlight. It’s tough to pick a favorite! I can say this — one day we got to the location and everything was locked. I guess the fella who had the keys to the house where we were shooting was late or something like that. The entire crew was there, and we were ready to get to work but we couldn’t get into the damn location! Before anybody could think of what to do next, Timmy Bottoms is climbing up the side of the house to the balcony where the sliding glass door was unlocked! He got in through the bedroom, came down and opened the door, so we all went inside and went to work! [laughs] Watching a guy in his late 50s or early 60s shimmy up a drain pipe like it was nothing was something that truly sticks out in my mind! Tim’s an amazing dude! He will get stuff done!

The stellar cast of “Welcome to the Men’s Group.”

Well, as a self-professed observer of people, you definitely picked the right project, didn’t you? [laughs]

Oh, man! What a great one! [laughs]

You mentioned writer/director/actor Joseph Culp. What did he bring to the project and what was it like working with him?

It was great! Ya know, Joseph and I fundamentally have a lot in common in that we’re both the children of successful actors. Joseph has really taken it to the next level in that he is an acting teacher, a writer and director. The kind of experience and mindset you end up with growing up as a child of successful actors is something that is really valuable when it comes to storytelling. It’s just this stuff that is in him naturally. That’s something that some people go to school for years to learn. That was terrific to watch him work! It’s a very difficult thing to do — write something, star in and direct a project. It takes a deft hand to be able to do all of those jobs separately and with respect to one another. I know if I was directing myself, I would be pretty critical. That’s human nature! He was able to maintain a critical eye of his work but also knew when it was time to move on. That’s something that is really, really hard to do. It’s also a brave story for him to tell with respect to the character that he plays because, ya know, we all want to be the hero and it takes a lot of guts to tell the story of someone who appears to be the hero but has layers underneath.

It is exciting to see the work you are doing these days. What are you looking for in the projects you take on at this point in your career?

To be honest, I don’t necessarily have the opportunity to be too choosy at this point. It’s an exciting life in that I’m not exactly sure where the next job is coming from, but I really can’t be too choosy. I audition for a lot of stuff and I’m grateful when I get stuff but, with that in mind, there are certain things I try to avoid. I worry a little about the stuff we are putting out there for the kids to watch. There is a line from “Slap Shot,” which is a pretty interesting movie that I think might be misunderstood in a lot of ways. It was written by a woman and it’s about a lot more than guys playing hockey. There is a line that the owner of the team says late in the film. She says, “I have a theory that children repeat what they see on television.” It’s an amazing moment to look back on from 1973 or 1974 because she’s right! I think that exercising a little bit of caution in terms of what we are putting out is a good idea for the future. With that said, when it comes time to pay the rent, in American television sometimes there’s a body count! I was laying this out for my dad a couple of years ago, worrying about what kind of content we are creating and worrying about my place in it. He said to me, “You have to ask yourself if you’re willing to dance with the devil in order to pay the rent.” Within a year of that conversation, I had done the watusi, the two-step and the tango! I had done quite a bit of dancing with the devil and that’s the sacrifice that one has to make in order to put food on the table. To answer your initial question, I look for something that I can believe in, but I will take what pays the rent!

Is there a role or genre you haven’t been able to tackle yet that still intrigues you?

Wow! Hadn’t even considered that. Jeepers, I don’t know. I mean, I played a mime! [laughs] I’ve played a clown, a god, several murderers, a few priests and a cowboy! Gosh, I don’t know, I might have checked all the boxes! [laughs] Honestly, there is nothing that jumps into my head right away. I’m happy to work in whatever medium will have me! I live in Baltimore not far from my dad, who runs the theatre program at Johns Hopkins University, so the opportunity to work on stage with him and his students is something that comes up here and there. That is of tremendous value, to be on stage and work within the theatre because that’s where it all comes from! Television and film are a lot of fun, for sure, but it all starts on stage!

How have you evolved as an actor over the course of your journey?

Ya know, I think I’m a little more forgiving of myself, which is something I think comes with age. We can often be our own biggest enemies. I’ve found, at 45, I’m a little more forgiving of me than I was at 25. I’m also taking better care of myself, which is probably the thing that helps me work more than anything! In terms of growth, I think I’m still learning and growing. That’s at least what I hope. Otherwise, it gets boring! [laughs]

Mackenzie Astin

What other projects do you have on the horizon? Is there something that has you excited at the moment?

I’m working on something right now that has me really excited, but I can’t talk about it, which is interesting and fun to be a part of something of which you can say, “I can’t talk about it!” [laughs] I think it’s safe to say that it’s a project that I hope helps teach Americans about who we are, how we got here and how to get ahead from the point where we are now.

What’s the best lesson we can take from this film and from your journey as an actor?

I hope people see this film as an opportunity to be reflective in their own lives and to be willing to discuss, perhaps in a group setting with the men in their lives, the stuff that we don’t necessarily talk about too much. It’s my opinion that only through discussion and the dialogue of those things that we will give ourselves the opportunity to move past them and grow as people and evolve. From my journey? Let me tell ya, I was in a big ol’ car wreck back in 1996. I ended up with what I think was terrific live advice out of it. A friend and I were taking turns sleeping and driving while going from LA to Durango, Colorado. He forgot whose turn it was to do what because I was sleeping and then he was sleeping! [laughs] He fell asleep at the wheel and we rolled over at about 75 miles per hour. I don’t remember much of it, but I was told, because my friend was nearly conscious for the whole thing, said that when we were skidding into the median that I started screaming, “Slow down, slow down.” As we rolled, I screamed “Hang on, hang on!” So, if there is life advice that I could give, it’s – “Slow down and hang on!”

That’s amazing! With that said, I want to sincerely thank you for your time today!

Thanks, Jason! It was a pleasure to speak with you! Thanks for letting me talk in such long sentences! [laughs] Be good, maybe I’ll see you on The Shore!

I hope so! Take care, Mackenzie!

You too!

“Welcome to the Men’s Group” is available on VOD from November 9 from Leomark Studios. Visit the official website of the film at www.themensgroupmovie.com.

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1/1: Jeremy Phillips & Lindsey Shaw On Bringing Stunning Indie Gem To The Masses!

1/1: Jeremy Phillips & Lindsey Shaw On Bringing Stunning Indie Gem To The Masses!

The directorial debut of Jeremy Phillips (co-writer of “Dig Two Graves”), “1/1,” is a gripping and visually daring drama designed to instantly plunge the viewer into a realm all its own. The story centers on Lissa (Lindsey Shaw), a 20-year-old girl on the verge of escaping her dull life in rural Pennsylvania. Her world is shattered when a possible pregnancy forces her to take a hard look at her life, she realizes her excessive lifestyle must come to an end. Forced to deal with her pain without the benefit of numbing, she returns to the source of her suffering, and in the process discovers the truth about a tragedy in her life. Produced by Cassidy Lunnen (“Baby, Baby, Baby”; “The Go-Getter”), “1/1” boasts an amazing soundtrack, written and produced by the Australian-American rock band, LIARS. The sharp and unique take on the typical coming-of-age story, the film allows the audience to experience Lissa’s personal growth through a dynamic soundtrack and beautifully choreographed sequences of mixed-media montages. Icon Vs. Icon’s Jason Price recently sat down with director Jeremy Phillips and Lindsey Shaw to discuss the making of “1/1,” the challenges they faced during the creative process and the impact the project had on them as artists.

Tell us where the story in “1/1” originated?

Jeremy Phillips: I’m originally from the area where it was set and shot. I came out to California to go to film school here at USC. I would go back to the town over the holidays, like Christmas or Thanksgiving, and would see people I grew up with. That led me to become very fascinated by this place where I grew around, now that I had 3,000 miles of distance. That started me down a path of research of reading school documents, government documents and “What to Expect When You’re Expecting.” That was really the origin of this story. John Hughes had also just passed away and I had regrettably never seen any of his films, which was a shame. I watched them all and said, “This guy is a fantastic filmmaker!” I was really inspired by that! Filming in Pennsylvania was fascinating because it is the most time I had spent there since moving away. There were a lot of good people and support from people who were excited we were doing it there. The only aspect I didn’t love was that it was really, really cold when we were there!

Lindsey Shaw: Yeah, the cold was challenging but it also played a part in the story.

As an actress, what attracted you to this project and made you want to be a part of telling it?

Lindsey Shaw: I have to say, the way the script was written and presented was hugely intriguing. It was like a poem. Actually, I still have that script today! It resonated with me on a deeply emotional level. There’s a lot of darkness explored in this film and I think I had some experiences ready to share where that’s concerned! [laughs] For real! The way that the emotion was written, the sadness and anger, was so beautiful and purposeful. That really came through in the script and it became an obsession of mine to make sure that I will be able to do this film. It surely would have broken my heart had I not been able to do it.

Jeremy Phillips: We looked at hundreds of people for this role, but Lindsey was so Lissa. My favorite part of this process was seeing Lissa come to life in a way more fully, richly and emotionally than I thought she would ever be as she was written on the page through Lindsey. That and working with LIARS on the soundtrack were the best two things that happened to me on this project.

The score to the film is a work of art. How did the collaboration with LIARS come about?

Jeremy Phillips: I was just a fan for a long, long time. When I was writing the film, we did eight months of storyboards. There were hundreds and hundreds of storyboards and every shot was boarded out. While doing that, we would listen to “WIXIW,” which was out at the time. The sound of it, the primitive electronic sounds with the emotion of the songs, really connected with me. In a way, it became entangled. In fact, I had storyboards that were named after their songs or references to their lyrics. Cassidy Lunnen, our producer, reached out to them. They read the script and they were interested! They saw some footage, went out to Denmark and made this beautiful score.

There are many moving parts in this film. What were the biggest challenges with your respective roles?

Lindsey Shaw: Filming the scenes toward the end of the movie, between my character and her mother, was exhausting. I don’t think that I’ve ever hit a wall like that while filming. I remember at one point looking at Jeremy once like, “Again?” [laughs] I was just at the point where I was incredulous that we could do this again. I think the biggest challenge was existing in this place for a long time and reaching the surface again as we finished.

Jeremy Phillips: I think the biggest challenge for me was the time that this has taken. From the early days of the research to writing the script to the storyboarding to the editing the film took a very long time. It was eight months with two editors and me in a room. We actually remixed the film about three times. It was a very slow and thoughtful process where every cut had an intention. That is what we were going through and there would be discussions when we felt it was over-cut or undercut. The two editors and I were all old school film fans, so we looked at things like “Raging Bull,” “Raiders of The Lost Ark,” ”E.T.: The Extra-Terrestrial” and “Lawrence of Arabia” for inspiration. The visual effects were time-consuming as well. We had Blur Studio do them, which is owned by Tim Miller who directed “Deadpool.” It just took time and being patient was something I learned a lot about! [laughs]

The film’s mixed media approach is unique and draws the viewer in immediately. What inspired that approach and is it something you will explore in the future?

Jeremy Phillips: That’s great to hear. How it was developed, and it was written into the script, something like this … “She paces in front of the doctor’s office.” It’s shown as a jagged series of cuts that are on Super 8 and 35mm film. The general sweep of it, as a coming of age film, is that the aesthetics of the film mature along with her character. By the end, the film features more composed and edited shots. The idea for that came from my love of big movies. I love “Blade Runner.” Ridley Scott creates a whole world for you. Even in some of the lesser ones, you still feel as if it’s a complete world he has built. I also love “Inception” and “Black Panther” is my favorite movie of the year because I feel like Wakanda is a real place. I wanted to make those types of movies but I knew no one would ever give me money to make a movie! [laughs] I thought by putting the audience behind the character’s eyes, you could create a world. I started thinking about that, how memory works and she experiences life and that’s where the mixed media approach developed from. Like I said, I really love movies in general. I would say the people who inspired me the most for this film were David Fincher, Christopher Nolan and Danny Boyle. There are a lot of similar shots that if you watch their movies might turn up in this movie, if you know what I mean.

Filmmaking is a collaborative effort. What did you bring out in each other creatively?

Lindsey Shaw: That’s a great question!

Jeremy Phillips: Yeah! I’m going to get really real here. Working with Lindsey made me an adult! [laughs] It’s one of the greatest experiences of my life and I’m glad to have had it!

Lindsey Shaw: Oh, wow! That’s another way of saying he had to babysit me and keep me out of trouble on set!

Jeremy Phillips: That’s absolutely not what that meant! [laughs]

Lindsey Shaw: Honestly, what I think Jeremy brought out of me were these intense feelings that I had. I had never done any work like this; it’s definitely the weightiest thing I’ve ever done. He helped me go into these really personal spaces to bring this character’s life. This film is also, by far, the most personal thing I’ve ever done. I think he made that possible.

Jeremy Phillips: Conversely, Lindsey made that possible for me to go there and direct those scenes.

Lindsey Shaw: Yeah, we were just so, so in it.

Jeremy Phillips: Then we would go off and smoke cigarettes behind the houses. [laughs] It was chemistry!

Lindsey Shaw: [laughs] We became really close. It was really awesome and it felt safe to explore those things. When you do that, you learn more about yourself and the world, so it was wonderful.

Jeremy, you assembled one hell of a cast for this film. What went into finding the right mix of actors to bring these characters to life?

Jeremy Phillips: Thank you! There were several different ways. We did auditions for all the parts. Specially, with Judd [Nelson], what is interesting is that he somehow found the script. We didn’t reach out to him or go to anyone on his team but somehow he read it, really liked it and got in contact with our casting director. He said he was very interested in playing the role and we all said, “That’s perfect!” It kind of brought this perfect “Breakfast Club,” father/son rebellion stuff or whatever, all together. He’s an amazing person who is full of surprises. Like that green bean scene, the scene was written as quiet and tense but he did in the scene really threw everybody off and made it all come together in a unique way. He did that with every scene.

Lindsey Shaw: Judd was an absolutely wonderful artist and it was great to be around his energy. Like Jeremy said, he brought some wonderful moments to the film in a way that only he could, just like he did in “The Breakfast Club.”

Jeremy Phillips: Then there is Dendrie [Taylor], who knew our casting director, Monika Mikkelsen, and I loved her in “The Fighter” and several other things. Working with her was a true learning experience. I learned so much about acting and life through working with Dendrie.

When you look back at the process of making this film, what lessons did you take away?

Jeremy Phillips: Never do anything for free! [laughs] The Joker said that! He said, “If you’re good at something, never do anything for free.” The Joker is right!
Lindsey Shaw: I don’t know … Listen to your mother?! [laughs]

As you mentioned, this story is taken from real-life and the dysfunctional nature of families and drug addiction in young people is not uncommon. What can we learn about people experiencing the same circumstances as Lissa?

Lindsey Shaw: It’s important to know that you’re not alone. That’s really the biggest thing to take away from this. There are pretty heavy scenes in the film, but I think in the end it comes down to just community, support, love and people being able to see you when you can’t see yourself. I mean, yes, it’s about these big themes, but I don’t think we should get carried away with these stereotypes or broad themes about pregnancy, or domestic violence or drug abuse. I think that those are just circumstances, and there’s no message there. Obviously, you have to do whatever works for you. I mean, we’re not condoning anything each way. No matter what you’re going through, you’re not alone.

Moving forward, what are you looking for in the projects you take on?

Lindsey Shaw: Honestly, I would like to do some funny stuff for a minute! [laughs] I feel like I need to find my funny bone again because I have done so many intense things in the past, be it “Pretty Little Liars” or this film. If I could marry those two worlds with a black comedy, that would be great! Are you listening, Jeremy? Write that up! [laughs]

Jeremy Phillips: For me, my wife wrote a thriller script that I’m dying to direct. I really hope I get to make another movie and, if so, I really want to work more in genre. I love crime movies and horror movies. If I get to make a lot of movies, maybe I will get to make something personal like this again but for the time being I am looking for something different. I really love the Marvel movies, so that is kind of where my head is at right now.

What is the best lesson we can take from your journey as artists?

Jeremy Phillips: I’ll actually not give a flippant answer to that! First, I would encourage anybody who wants to make a film to get up off their ass and start doing it. Things will come together as you will it to be; good people will find you. Second, just be prepared for the emotional brutality of disappointments that will continuously come over the course of time you will devote to it, which could be over many years. You have to be devoted to it. If you want to do it, you have to be all in and it will take over your life.

Lindsey Shaw: You know, each project is a challenge and I learned a lot with this role. More than something I took away, I feel like I left something there in a good way. There was a lot to unpack and go through there emotionally and I feel but I was able to let some stuff go as a result of that.

Jeremy Phillips: I wasn’t going to say this but I am — Film school doesn’t quite prepare you for making an independent movie. Heads up to anybody who is in film school! Send me an email and I’ll be more than happy to tell you that film school doesn’t really let you know how hard this is. I want to start a class called “The Shit They Don’t Tell You At USC.” [laughs]

Lindsey Shaw: Oh! USC would eat that up! [laughs] Copyright that idea!

Thanks for your time today guys. I enjoyed what you created with this film. I can’t wait to see what you bring our way in the years to come!

Lindsey Shaw: Thanks, Jason!

Jeremy Phillips: Thank you!

Jeremy Phillips’ ‘1/1’ will be released July 17th, 2018 on VOD, DVD and Blu-ray (with special features and unreleased Liars track available). For more information about the film, visit www.oneoveronemovie.com.

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ANYTHING: Director Timothy McNeil On Bringing His Work From Stage To Screen!

ANYTHING: Director Timothy McNeil On Bringing His Work From Stage To Screen!

Based on his award-winning play, Timothy McNeil’s feature directorial debut, ANYTHING, is a story about the infinite possibilities of love. Written in 2007, the play was first performed by McNeil and his old friend, the Oscar-nominated actor and producer Mark Ruffalo, at a benefit for their acting teacher. “When Mark and I did a scene,” McNeil recalls, “I was encouraged by the reception and decided to mount a full production with the Elephant Theater Company where I was a member.” The play went on to win the Los Angeles Drama Critics’ Circle Award for Best Play of the Year, and was also nominated for an Ovation Award for Best New Play, and a GLAAD Award.

The film centers around Early Landry (John Carroll Lynch) who, following he death of his wife and an ensuing failed suicide attempt, is forced to move to Los Angeles so he can be cared for by his over-protective sister, Laurette (Maura Tierney). After a few months, he asserts his independence and starts a new life in Hollywood. A buttoned-down middle-aged man living among hipsters, hustlers, and hobos, Early is initially a fish out of water, but quickly becomes enamored of this strange, new world. He is especially taken by his next-door neighbor, Freda (Matt Bomer), a beautiful transgender woman who finds Early every bit as exotic as he finds her. Loneliness and a shared need for companionship opens their hearts to a remarkable new relationship, as they both discover they’ve found what’s been missing in their lives.

Jason Price of Icon Vs. Icon recently caught up with Timothy McNeil to discuss unique career path, bringing ‘Anything’ from stage to screen and the challenges he faced along the way!

How did you get involved with the arts early on in life?

When I was 25, I was living in Houston, Texas. I was sort of depressed and I was selling wine wholesale. I always watched films and thought, “I can do that! I can act.” I believed I could act, so I took a class at 25 and I moved out to Los Angeles at 28. I started studying at the Stella Adler Academy of Acting in Los Angeles. That’s when everything started to open up as far as creativity goes. That’s really where my writing began as well. So, I acted for a while, started writing and then started directing. That’s the short answer I suppose!

Who had a big impact on you and your craft?

I think that Mark Ruffalo has been a tremendous mentor to me, as far as the film side of things go. We’ve done a lot of theater together, but he helped me a great deal when I was approaching film for the first time. He’s been a great mentor. Another great friend of mine has been Benicio Del Toro and he helps me a great deal. Those are the people who come to mind right off the bat!

“Anything” is terrific. Tell us how the idea for the story came to be.

It started off as a play that I wrote in 2007. It was a reaction to what I felt was the difficulty in the marriage debate in California at the time because I live in Los Angeles. From there, I’ve began to develop a story about a transgender person and the person from the South, which is where I’m from originally, and how they begin to establish a relationship and find the shared love of so many different things. That was the genesis of it. From there, I began to develop it from a play to a film. Again, Mark Ruffalo was instrumental in that because he asked me to make it a film and then he pushed me to direct it! I had been directing a lot of theater and he thought I would make a nice director for the film. That’s where it comes from!

How did the material change from a play to a screenplay to, ultimately, a feature film? I imagine a passage of time impacted the material.

Completely! The Trans Movement has moved forward in a beautiful way since 2007. There is still a way to go, of course. As far as the script goes, some changes were made as far as the writing goes because plays have a certain texture or nature or the writing itself is more poetic or more spoken. I tried to pull the play out of it, if that makes sense! [laughs] I think I did pretty well with that, but I guess that’s something people will decide for themselves. That was the major difference in the updating of Freda, which was important to the film.

How did the final version of the film compare to what you expected to end up with as a finished product?

For a first-time director, I was a remarkably happy with it! I’m not normally the happiest person but I’m very happy about it, Jason! It’s crazy! [laughs] I think it’s because of the great actors and the remarkable crew that really shepherded me through the process. When I look on the screen, the idea of the movie comes through in the way that I wanted it to and I am really, really happy about that! I can see certain things that I could have done better but I’m really happy in that way!

The cast for “Anything” is remarkable. Tell us about finding the right mix of people to bring these characters from script to screen.

The first piece was John Carroll Lynch. I had admired his work for quite a while and then Mark Ruffalo introduced me to John. Right from the beginning, after really talking to him, I said, “That’s my Early!” He read the script and decided he was in! He was in for the first four or five years, through the process of trying to find financing and all of that. The second piece was Matt Bomer. I saw him acting in “The Normal Heart” and I thought it was such a remarkable performance. I met up with him and thought I had met my Freda, so that was great! The third piece, which was just as important and integral, was the character of Lorrette. When I met Maura Tierney, I knew she was the one. I met a lot of great actresses who could have played the part but when I met Maura, I just knew it was so right! I think that’s up on the screen as well!

John Carroll Lynch and Matt Bomer in Timothy McNeil’s ‘Anything.’

You lived with these characters in some form for more than a decade. Did these actors bring something to these characters you might not have expected?

That’s a good question and so true! First of all, I was really happy with myself that I wasn’t picky about the characters, if you know what I mean. I was able to let the actors be and they discovered so much that it surprised me, particularly John. I say that because I had played Early on stage. I think what he did was bring such a deep sensitivity and emotional intelligence to the character, so much so that it was astonishing for me. The same is true with Maura and Matt. They were both so extraordinary and I didn’t have to do too much directing at all.

As you mentioned, you live in Los Angeles and that is where the story within “Anything” takes place. Tell us about the city and how it impacted you and this film.

I came from Houston, as I said. When I arrived in Los Angeles, I felt a bit set free. I don’t mean that as a knock against Houston. Los Angeles allows people to invent their lives in a way and I think New York probably does the same thing. That’s what Los Angeles is to me. Not to get too pretentious or precious about it because it’s a place but it was a creative birthplace for me. That’s really what it was! Los Angeles allows a human being to explore different pieces of their self that other places sometimes don’t and that’s why I think Los Angeles is critical to this story.

Once you were on set and shooting, did the script evolve?

The script was pretty much shot as written but there were a couple of moments that we changed. We didn’t do too much improv but the actors were fully capable of that and occasionally would say, “What about this?” And I’d say, “Yeah!” But it was fairly minimal. The script was fairly solid as far as the arcs of the characters and thematically. It was important to have that right from the get-go.

As a first-time director, I’m sure you learned from this project. What were the biggest challenges?

The camera! I had an amazing director of photography whose name is James Laxton. He was also the DP on “Moonlight,” which he had shot right before he came to shoot “Anything.” I leaned a lot on him. The understanding of how to use the camera in a way that’s different to tell the story was eye-opening to me and the revelation. It made me so happy and I was learning something every day, which was really beautiful! It was a great experience for me that way and particularly with the camera.

What were the advantages of coming from the theatre world into the filmmaking world?

I think, when you talk about theatre, there are couple areas where theatre can give actors and directors great aid. One is character and the specificity of depth of character. The other is the understanding of thematic ideas and how to communicate those ideas. I think theatre informs all three of the actor’s work; Maura, John, Matt and all of the actors in the movie are all accomplished actors, not only on film and television but in theatre. That was good, and I can say we were all on the same page thematically! That was a big thing!

What are your favorite memories from this project?

I think there were five or six times when I was watching a scene being shot and I was truly astonished by what the actors did! I sort of dropped the headphones in my lap and I was the happiest human being on the planet to be honest! [laughs] I think those are the moments I remember the most but, on a film set, there’s so much camaraderie. It’s really beautiful if people are there pulling for the movie and we had that! I think that’s the other thing I took away from it. I also had amazing producers, Jason. It’s so weird when I talk about it, but I didn’t have a bad experience on even one day! We were a little rushed but that’s to be expected and it wasn’t a problem because we were prepared!

John Carroll Lynch in Timothy McNeil’s directorial debut, ‘Anything.’

How have you evolved as a writer over the years?

I think I’ve gotten deeper as far as my characterizations go. I’m also working through a lot of the same themes present in anything, but I’ve begun to understand them on a deeper level, which I think is important. At the same time, I’m getting much better at getting rid of the things that don’t serve the big idea and a piece of writing. That’s a huge transition for a writer to make. That has happened for me and I’m grateful for that. That keeps evolving! It’s a hard thing to kill your darlings as Hemingway said but that’s the truth! [laughs] You’ve got to be able to sacrifice stuff, you know? [laughs]

Where do you look for inspiration?

Rebellion! To be honest, rebellion is always interesting to me, along with the resistance against oppression and repression, which exists even in a relatively democratic country like ours. Those things are always inspiring me but also human beings striving to get back to their soul, if you will. I know that sounds ridiculously precious but that inspires me as well. Those things just move me! My wife also moves me, so I know it sounds crazy, but she does!

You have a lot going on. Where are you headed in the future with projects?

I’ve got a script that we’re trying to get set up which is about a man dealing with an intense amount of grief in a novel way. I’ve had an awful lot of death in my life lately and I’ve been trying to make sense of it. I did it through the writing of this particular script. It’s a solid script and I’m excited to see if I can get behind the camera again!

We can look to you and your accomplishments as an inspiration. What’s the best lesson we can take from your journey as an artist?

I appreciate you saying that, Jason. I will say this — never stop! Everybody I know has stories to tell. If you work hard maybe you can get those stories told. Just be disciplined about your day as best as possible and get those stories on paper. Let them be known. I think that’s really important. I’m kind of an old dog now at this and the film thing has really opened up for me. I’m really happy about that and grateful but, I will tell you, it’s important to learn your chops and get down to business. Get into rooms with actors and don’t be afraid of rewriting. Fight for your story!

That is terrific advice! Thank you for your time today! I appreciate it and wish you continued success!

Thank you, Jason! It was great talking to you!

Timothy McNeil’s ‘Anything’ opens in theaters in Los Angeles on May 11th.

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John Carroll Lynch Talks Career, Longevity & Role In Timothy McNeil’s ‘Anything’

John Carroll Lynch Talks Career, Longevity & Role In Timothy McNeil’s ‘Anything’

Through the years, John Carroll Lynch has established himself as one of the premier character actors in Hollywood. He’s a man known for elevating the quality of every project of which he is a part. Lynch first gained notoriety for his role as Norm Gunderson in The Coen Brothers’ classic, ‘Fargo.’ He is also instantly recognizable for his television work on the ABC sitcom ‘The Drew Carey Show’ as the title character’s cross-dressing brother, as well as on ‘American Horror Story: Freak Show’ as Twisty the Clown. His films include ‘Face/Off,’ ‘Gran Torino,’ ‘Shutter Island,’ ‘Ted 2,’ ‘The Invitation,’ and ‘Zodiac.’ Most recently, he portrayed McDonald’s co-founder Maurice “Mac” McDonald in ‘The Founder,’ where he starred opposite Michael Keaton. As one of the hardest working actors in the business, he has continued to keep his career momentum building by taking on increasingly challenging roles. His latest role in writer/director Timothy McNeil’s ‘Anything’ is no exception to the rule.

The film centers around Early Landry (John Carroll Lynch) who, following he death of his wife and an ensuing failed suicide attempt, is forced to move to Los Angeles so he can be cared for by his over-protective sister, Laurette (Maura Tierney). After a few months, he asserts his independence and starts a new life in Hollywood. A buttoned-down middle-aged man living among hipsters, hustlers, and hobos, Early is initially a fish out of water, but quickly becomes enamored of this strange, new world. He is especially taken by his next-door neighbor, Freda (Matt Bomer), a beautiful transgender woman who finds Early every bit as exotic as he finds her. Loneliness and a shared need for companionship opens their hearts to a remarkable new relationship, as they both discover they’ve found what’s been missing in their lives.

Jason Price of Icon Vs. Icon recently caught up with John Carroll Lynch to discuss his unique path, his evolution as an artist and the challenges of bringing his character in ‘Anything’ from script to screen.

You are a familiar face with your eclectic work in film and television. How did you get involved in the arts early on and pursue it as a career?

I had been doing plays in elementary school and that was always fun! I went to see a high school production of “Camelot” that my brother was in and my sister was working backstage on the crew. It was a really, really good production! It was so good that this high school production moved to a community theater and had another run! My brother played one of the knights and he has a beautiful singing voice. He came out and started singing the opening song to all the people. In my head, I was like, “He’s a knight. One of Arthur’s knights.” Then I had this kind of reverb moment where I was like, “No, no. He’s my brother … but he’s a knight … but he’s my brother … but he’s a knight.” I was like, “How is this happening? How can he be someone else, simply because he says he is?” That was the beginning of it for me! I said, “I want to try that! I want to be someone else by just saying that I am!” That’s what started me off on doing that. Over the course of time, I realize that was my opportunity of telling stories. The fundamental element of my life has been to tell stories.

Pursuing a career as an actor can be a scary step to take. Did you have reservations about taking the plunge?

I never really thought about it in that way. I thought of it as something that I could not do but had to do! It was such a primal thing that I didn’t even think about it in those terms. Certainly, I was terrified but the idea of not doing it didn’t make any sense at all to me. It called to me in such a clear way! As I got older and said, “I’m going to do this for living,” it never occurred to me that I wouldn’t! Gratefully, I’ve been very fortunate to be one of the few people who has said that, and it has happened that way. It was always about this idea of transforming and being someone else. More specifically, it’s got to be more and more about what stories we are telling, what we are saying about ourselves and how we can take these tools, illuminate the human condition to ourselves and others and hopefully change their hearts, minds and the world.

Who had a big impact on you and the way you approach your craft?

With every piece of work I have done, be it a play or television or film job, I’ve learned something from somebody doing it, so it’s a long list! Early on, I worked with a place called Catholic Youth Services. There was a priest who is running the place who was a frustrated actor himself and had decided to create the opportunity for high school and elementary school kids in Denver. His name was Father Dennis Dwyer. This is where I was really introduced to straight drama as I had only done musicals up until then. After that, there were people in college. Then it got to be people who I was not only directed by but worked with. Early on, I worked with a former artistic director of the Guthrie Theater named Garland Wright. While people don’t know him outside of the profession, those who do know him as a theater director know that he was one of the most gifted and fundamentally life-changing artists of his lifetime. He died very young, in his 50s, but he was an extraordinary director and somebody who introduced me to the idea that you could have an aesthetic or individual voice in this business. His voice was so strong and so beautiful. To be working for him at the age that I was, in my early 20s, was amazing. He has been a primary point of conversation throughout that time, in my work, all the way through to well after his death until now.

What are the keys to longevity when it comes to a career in the arts?

Just having the good fortune of having people hire you is a big part of it! [laughs] Longevity in this business is based on people going, “Yeah, I’d love to have them in my project!” I got great advice early on, “Do your work with joy. Go home.” I like that, and it’s certainly been part of what I’ve done. I try to always be value-added and never take away. I’m constantly trying to learn more about the way in which stories are told, how I can support them and how I can support my fellow storytellers, be it the people who I work with on the crew, all the way up to the directors. I love actors and acting. I love storytelling and I’m very passionate about it. I’ve been fortunate that people continue to say, “Yes!” That’s really the key to longevity; getting people to say, “Yes!”

Your latest project is terrific. How did “Anything” come onto your radar and what made it a story you wanted to be a part of telling?

I had worked with Mark Ruffalo a couple of times. We were out having a drink together and he said, “Ya know, my friend Tim [McNeil] is writing the screenplay from a play has written. You should read it.” It was a few months later when I got a call from him saying, “This is Tim’s number. Give him a call.” Tim and I started talking about it. This was a long while ago. I don’t know how far after the play was written, which was 2007, so I’d say it was only two or three years after the play was written that this conversation started. He agreed that it would be great if he directed it and I would play the part of Early. It took a long time to gestate, as independent films often do. Matt [Bomer] came on board and was such a fantastic collaborator and wonderful to work with. His Freda, she’s terrific! We got to rehearse together before we started working on it. The thing that really drew me was the truth that the story tells, which is you can’t mistake love wherever you find it. It is an unmistakable thing! Love is not dependent on anything but love itself. I’m really a big believer in, “Let’s stop worrying about it and get it out of the way because it’s such a precious commodity.”

John Carroll Lynch and Matt Bomer in Timothy McNeil’s ‘Anything.’

Tell us more, if you would, about preparing for this role. How did it compare and contrast to what you’ve done in the past?

The beauty of this for me was that I had such a long time with the script! With most projects, I don’t have that long to live with the character. I lived with Early for a long time. I also read Eudora Welty and other things about the South because Tim had asked me to do that. Tim was fundamentally bringing this to life. He had written a play, written the screenplay and played the part on stage in Los Angeles, so he knew it backwards and forwards. When Matt and Maura [Tierney] joined the cast, it really started to bubble. Everybody in the movie came for the right reasons! That’s one of the great things about Independent film — everybody is there for the right reasons! They’re there to tell that story and that really helped this project become something greater, as well.

Each project brings its own challenges. What were the challenges you faced with this role?

Time is a big factor! [laughs] we had a limited amount of time because of the budget of the film. The film is kind of a cocoon of a film because it has a lot of interior scenes. We were doing a lot of scenes back-to-back in the same room at different parts of the film. To keep those things straight in rapid succession was an interesting challenge. We talked about the fact that I got to live with this character for so long, but I think the biggest challenge after that was forgetting I had lived with it at all. I needed to be present in the moment with my fellow actors in those circumstances and embrace those moments for the first time. That was a wonderful challenge, one that I always appreciate when it comes to theater and one that I really appreciated about this project. It’s very different when you come to something and a week later you were on the set, which happens quite a bit if you are fortunate enough to work. You get a piece of material and a week later you’re doing it. In cases like that, you don’t get the chance for it to steep and it’s very fresh. With “Anything,” it got a chance to steep for a very long time, so the challenge was to keep it fresh. The last challenge, I would say, was that I normally don’t get to play an arc this big with this amount of material and transformation in a character. It was my goal to shepherd, as best I could, the journey of the character inside the material. That was a really important part of the work that I did. It was exciting to do that, and it was particularly exciting to do that as I was preparing to direct for the first time. Literally, I had two weeks of prep for “Lucky” and then I went into rehearsals for “Anything.” We shot “Anything” and then I went back into prep for “Lucky.” I had just done a lead role in an 18-day shoot when I started working with Harry Dean Stanton on his lead-role in an 18-day shoot! It was great for me to be thinking about it holistically as a storyteller with Tim and Maura, as the primary collaborators, along with the producers and everybody else who also contributed.  

John Carroll Lynch in Timothy McNeil’s directorial debut, ‘Anything.’

You came a long way from your early years as an actor and continue to take on challenging projects with each passing year. How have you evolved as an actor along the way?

I understand how the whole process works a lot better than I used to. I know what’s possible and I know how to push the envelope more now than I did before. The gray part for me is that as much as I’ve learned about how to act better, I’ve also never lost my love of it. It’s never stopped being fascinating and it’s never stopped captivating my heart the way it did when I was 13. I’m so fortunate to be as interested in it today as I was then.

Where do you see the journey taking you?

I want to direct more. I definitely want to do that. I certainly want to tell more stories like “Anything.” I want to support us all and come to the agreement that we are all worthy of love. I’d like to continue to do stories like that. At the same time, I don’t mind throwing elbows and reflecting human evil! I don’t have any issues with that. I would say that the primary thing that I want to keep doing is to keep supporting stories that I think are important to tell. Working with the people that I’ve gotten a chance to work with, especially over the past few years, has been truly exciting. I love where they are headed, and I love what they are talking about and I want to continue to have those conversations! I also have some material that I have written that I would like to find a way to produce. Those are the things I’m looking forward to doing moving forward!

We can look to all you accomplished as an inspiration. What’s the best lesson we can take from your journey?

Try and fail and try and fail and try and fail and try and fail and try! [laughs]

Well, it doesn’t boil down any simpler than that! [laughs]

Yeah! That’s what it is! That’s what it is! Try and fail and try and fail and try and fail and try and fail and try! [laughs]

Thanks for your time today, sir! It’s been a pleasure to speak with you. Thanks for all the great roles you’ve taken on over the years! I can’t wait to see where the journey takes you!

Thank you, Jason! I appreciate that! I’m sure we’ll cross paths again in the future. Have a great day!

Timothy McNeil’s ‘Anything’ opens in theaters in Los Angeles on May 11th.

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UNSTOPPABLE: Director Adam Green On The Long Road To ‘Victor Crowley’

UNSTOPPABLE: Director Adam Green On The Long Road To ‘Victor Crowley’

Director Adam Green continues to his quest for world domination.

With his early success, many were quick to write Green off as a flash in the pan, despite the fact he had already been cutting his teeth for years in the business. At the helm of ArieScope Pictures, Green continued to feverishly pour his heart and soul into his work. His tireless efforts would result in a plethora of unique films such as ‘Frozen,’ ‘Grace’ and ‘Chillerama,’ not to mention the always hilarious ‘Holliston’ television series, which is also the brainchild of Green. As the years passed, the growing popularity of Victor Crowley would result in two sequels, ‘Hatchet II’ and ‘Hatchet III.’ There were no signs of slowing down for Green as he soon teamed with Joe Lynch (Mayhem, Everly, Knights of Badassdom) to create and host one of the most successful (and addictive) podcasts on the charts with ‘The Movie Crypt.’ While this Cliff Notes version of his resume makes it sound like a walk in the park, Green will be the first to tell you that’s this is simply not the case. Over the past 5 years, since our last interview with him, he has endured the trials and tribulations of a rocky divorce, the loss of his best friend, (legendary GWAR frontman Oderus Urungus aka Dave Brockie) and emerged from depths of a deep depression to continue his climb to the top!

In August of 2017, fans of the ‘Hatchet’ franchise were blown away by the news that a surprise fourth installment was filmed in secret by Adam Green and was ready to be unveiled! After a successful crisscrossing of the nation to celebrate the 10th anniversary of ‘Hatchet’ and premiere of the film on the ‘Dismember America Tour,’ the legend is finally coming home!  ‘Victor Crowley’ arrives on Blu-ray, VOD and digital platforms via Dark Sky Films on February 5th, 2018. What’s it all about? Easy. In 2007, over forty people were brutally torn to pieces in Louisiana’s Honey Island Swamp. Over the past decade, lone survivor Andrew Yong’s claims that local legend Victor Crowley was responsible for the horrific massacre have been met with great controversy. When a twist of fate puts him back at the scene of the tragedy, Crowley is mistakenly resurrected and Yong must face the bloodthirsty ghost from his past. Set a decade after the events of the series’ first three films, ‘Victor Crowley’ reunites Hatchet mainstays Kane Hodder (Friday the 13th 7 -X’s Jason Voorhees) and Parry Shen (Better Luck Tomorrow) for an all-new, horrifying journey into the haunted, blood-drenched bayou. The ensemble cast of ‘Victor Crowley’ also features Laura Ortiz (2006’s The Hills Have Eyes), Dave Sheridan (Scary Movie), and Brian Quinn (truTV’s “Impractical Jokers”).

Jason Price of Icon Vs. Icon recently caught up with Adam Green to discuss the long road to ‘Victor Crowley,’ the challenges he faced along the way, and his continuing evolution as a filmmaker. It’s a wild ride, so strap in and prepare to be inspired!

It’s been about five years since we sat down for an interview. We last spoke for a “Hatchet III” press day. Your world changed exponentially in that time. My final question for you last time around was — “How do you view your evolution as an artist?” You were going through so much, personally and professionally at the time, you said you hadn’t taken time to think about or appreciate all you had done. So, five years later, I pose the same question — How do you view your evolution as an artist?

Wow! That’s a really good question. I’ve been doing these for a while now and that’s probably the best question I’ve gotten. Fuck! [laughs] Ya know, I try to not think about it too much because I don’t want to, artistically, get caught up in trying to plan things out too much; especially since I’ve learned that you can’t plan anything out, no matter what you do. This franchise was supposed to be over with part three. If you had asked me three years ago, I would have told you there was absolutely no way in hell there would have been another one. Then life happened. I think the best way to answer the question about my artistic evolution is that I think I’ve learned a little bit more to roll with the punches and not hold onto things so tightly. One of the best learning experiences that I had was with the “Holliston” comic. It was the first time that I had ever released my grasp on something just slightly and let someone else into that world. The guys who wrote and made that comic book did such a great job that, when I read it, it showed me what other people see in that show. It made me realize what it really is and love it. I was at a point where everyone was saying, “When is season three coming?” All I could see with “Holliston” was the death of my friend and it hurt too much. Every time I would try to write it, the stuff I was writing would be so dark. We would rehearse, and I could see the rest of the cast was uncomfortable with the material, nobody was feeling it and I was trying to force it. Giving control to someone else really, really helped. Now, it’s not so much about trying to plan out everything and control it as much. It’s more about responding to what’s actually happening, which is very true with “Victor Crowley” as well. I worked out so much of the dark shit that I went through in this in such a funny and entertaining way. I wish everybody could do that because it’s so much healthier than locking yourself in a dark room for a year, not talking to anybody or starving yourself to death, which is what I was doing three years ago at this time.

Adam Green remains under the watchful eyes of his pal Oderus Urungus aka the late Dave Brockie.

You are an inspiration. You put yourself out there on the Movie Crypt Podcast and social media. Even when you are facing big obstacles, you persevered. What keeps you driven?

I don’t know. Sometimes I wish I wasn’t. I wish I would fall in love with dentistry or something that would be a little bit more of a reliable thing to do! It’s the moment. I think if anyone is going to be honest about this industry, it’s mostly bad news, mostly struggle and mostly bad shit … but those good moments are so powerful! They keep you going. When something actually gets shot and you’re standing there on set with your friends, you are so overwhelmed by how hard it is and you never have enough time or money. You have all of those frustrations, but you look to your left or right and think, “I genuinely love these people and that I get to do this. It’s incredible.” When you have a thing like this tour that I just finished. Night after night after night, you get to watch the people that you made it enjoy something so much. As good as anything I have ever made has played with audiences, nothing has come close to this one! I think that it helped that nobody knew it was coming, there was no time to build up any type of expectations and suddenly it was here. The fact that it got a standing ovation almost every single night but two. Even those two were half standing ovations but those don’t count! [laughs] As far as I’m concerned, it has to be every single person on their feet or it doesn’t count! The people in the first few rows didn’t realize that the rest of the audience was standing up, so those two don’t count as standing ovations in my book! [laughs] I’ve never seen anything like that for a movie. I think I needed to make this and it saved me in a lot of ways, which was so unexpected. I think the fans needed it. I think they missed Victor Crowley. You have to listen to the fans. You don’t necessarily have to do everything they say to do because otherwise all I would do is make sequels to every single thing I make. At a certain point, you hear something so many times that you’ve got to pay attention to that, which ties in to what I was saying about starting to live a little bit more reactionary, instead of trying to plot everything out. For example, thinking something like, “By this age, I need to have done this. I need to make two movies this year. I need to have three web series, my own company, a weekly podcast.” All I was going to do was kill myself — not that I’m stopping doing all those things! [laughs] I just approach it all differently now!

You mentioned the feeling on set when you surround yourself with a great team of people. With “Victor Crowley,” there are old faces and new faces with the cast. What do these people bring out in you creatively?

Yeah, I’m blessed to have these people and it’s not just the crew. It’s the crew, especially! For a lot of the things I do, it’s the same key players behind the scenes. I think that’s something that has helped the “Hatchet” series last as long as it has. You have the same principal people coming back. I don’t think there is another franchise that really has that. It just changes everything! There’s a trade-off with it. If you could have asked me, when I was 8 years old, what the dream case scenario was, it would have been me telling stories, making things up and only working with my friends. I got that in every way, shape and form. I should feel like I did it and I got the golden ring and be happy with it, but the trade-off is that if you only want to work with the people you want to work with, you’re going to have to do it on a very small, independent level. Everything has been such a struggle from getting these things made to actually making them and beyond. I’ve never once had anything that was marketed. I’ve never had real money behind it with commercials or billboards everywhere. “Holliston” had some billboards and stuff but what was weird is that FEARnet put everything in New York and LA and neither place carried their network! [laughs] There is always something that seems to go so wrong! A lot of people, at this point, aren’t even surprised anymore! They’re like, “Only you!” [laughs] Having those people to lean on brings out the best in you because you are so trusting.

It’s something I stress on the podcast a lot; if you’re gonna direct, you’ve got to remember that you are only leading. You’re not the one making the movie. You’ve hired these people and surrounded yourself with them because they are so good at what they do. Your job is to have the vision, tell the story and guide everybody but also let them do what they can do. I think that’s why we are able to outshine whatever the budget might be. People always ask, “What is the budget?” I don’t even know how to answer that. The little amount of money we are given is one thing but what actually ends up on the screen is worth so much more because of all the favors that we pull in. Bear McCreary is probably one of the biggest composers working today. He does everything, yet he still produced this score! Sam [Ewing] and Jason [Akers], who wrote the score, did so under, Bear and Bear produced it. You can’t put a price on something like that. The same holds true with the sound designer, Matt Waters. Matt has done the sound design on every single thing I’ve ever done, and he just won his second Emmy for “Game of Thrones.” He does not need to be doing this and he literally did not get paid a cent but he’s part of the family, so he is there. Those types of things are absolutely invaluable and I would be nothing without the people around me. The DVD and Blu-ray for “Victor Crowley,” there is 90 minutes of special features that my assistant, Austin [Bosley], shot. The distributor never pays for those things, which is nothing new. I think toward the end of the early 2000s, the whole concept of needing special features went away, which is really sad. I live for those things! When it’s a movie I like, I want to be able to see the making of it, hear the commentary and all of that stuff but it’s something that is kind of going away. With this release, it was like, “If you have anything, we’ll take it, but you have four days to do it.” I couldn’t do it with everything else I was doing. For the first time, I was going to accept defeat but then Austin was like, “I’ll do it!” What he put together is so incredible! I don’t know if you got the “Raiders of The Lost Ark” or “E.T.” Blu-rays that came out a couple years back but on both of them they had this fly-on-the-wall thing. It was eight minutes of untouched behind-the-scenes footage. No interviews or editing. You’re just watching Spielberg make the movie. I would pay anything to just be able to see another hour of it! That’s what we’ve done this time. One of the special features is called Fly On The Set and it’s an hour of untouched footage where you watch the entire movie get made from start to finish as if you were there. It’s invaluable to somebody who wants to do something like this. The point is, there is also a 25-30-minute interview with me. At the end of it, I go back to what I said at the end of “Hatchet I” and what I said earlier about the people I’m surrounded with that did this. They can’t teach you that in film school. You can’t buy or rent the latest software. It’s something you have to build from the ground up.

With ArieScope, we’re coming up on our 20th anniversary this October, it’s always been about adding to this family. The same people keep coming back and that’s why I have a career. That and the fans. I’ve never had a chance to have something marketed or bought. It’s always had to be the hardest way possible but it’s a testament to anybody else who wants to do this — We’re not all going to luck out and get handed a big, wide release or a studio movie to direct. I use the word handed very lightly because I’m sure anyone who ever finds themselves with that opportunity has worked very hard for it. I’ve still yet to have that happen. That’s not true. It has happened but then the movie doesn’t actually get made or some executive leaves or something fucks it up every time. [laughs]

Adam Green brings ‘Victor Crowley’ to the people.

What are the biggest challenges you faced with bringing “Victor Crowley” to the screen?

As always, the budget and amount of time was a challenge. Maybe a year from now, I can finally talk about all of that stuff and I can’t wait! I’ve had to sit there on the podcast every week and listen to the guest and Joe [Lynch] complain about only having 25 days or only having 3 million dollars. It’s so hard to not ? … If you listen to the show, you’ll always hear Joe, right when it starts go, “Shut up, you!” He knows what I just did was unheard of! The problem is that if you say that stuff before or right after something comes out than that’s what people see when they watch it. It’s been so wonderful to read reviews or see comments where people are saying, “Well, clearly this is the biggest budget “Hatchet” movie yet!” And this thing was anything but! This thing was made on solely sheer will, blood, sweat and a lot of tears. That was the biggest challenge. I like to write myself into not a corner but a challenge. With a franchise, it would be so easy to fall back on giving what people you know already want or to keep referencing the previous films constantly. With this, setting so much of it inside sinking airplane, it just elevated everything. This is the first movie that actually had suspense and terror in it, as far a “Hatchet” film goes. The other ones aren’t scary at all. They are funny, and they are violent. “Victor Crowley” brings suspense to the franchise for the first time because of the airplane. You have a situation where Angie’s pregnant but if you get off the plane you’re going to die. That’s just a grave situation!

It’s cool to look inside your career and the film. What’s the best lesson to take away from your journey as an artist?

I guess it’s two parts and circles back on what I was already saying. Like I said, I think it comes down to trying to create more reactionary things as opposed to planning it all out so specifically, so when it doesn’t go your way, the devastation is so brutal. If you can try to go with the flow a little bit more, I think it only helps your art. Be like a sponge and absorb what’s happening around you, what you think and feel and don’t be afraid to show that. That’s what gives you a voice and something to say. With the horror genre, especially the slasher sub-genre, anybody can come up with ways to kill people or jump scares. That’s not impressive. My dog could do that. You want to create something that can actually entertain people, have them engaged, smiling, laughing, cringing or crying. In the case of the “Victor Crowley,” there were screenings where people actually cried! It was so unexpected! In the first interview I did this morning, that was what the journalist was saying, that was the last thing they expected to get out of it. It was because I was pouring myself into it. Even though this is such a ridiculous franchise and storyline, that’s so important for people to do. Not a lot of writers are willing to do that. A lot of them write to escape their own life and make everything up but if you can put yourself in everything you do, it’s going to change everything.

Arwen and Adam: An Unstoppable Force.

Secondly, surround yourself with the right people and hold on to them. It never fails; whoever is bringing the money always wants to break up the team that you have. A lot of it is because it’s their money, their risk and they want some control and they don’t want you closing ranks on them immediately from the get-go. They think you are surrounding yourself with people who are going to yes you to death and box them out. Thankfully, even though it has been a fight on certain occasions, I think they’ve always seen that’s precisely why we work. The people who are a part of ArieScope don’t yes me to death and aren’t afraid to say, “I don’t agree with this idea. What about this … ” I remember on “Hatchet I,” I forget what the idea was, but there was a PA who had thrown some idea out. It wasn’t the right idea, but it was the kernel of whatever we ended up doing. It was a situation where the sun was coming up and we were out of time and everyone was fried. A PA made some suggestion that ended up helping us out in the long run. So, surround yourself with good people, lean on those people and fight to keep them there when someone wants to separate you!

What’s the best way for fans to support you and help get your visions to the screen?

The best thing is seeing each release legally. That is huge. To take that one step further, don’t just wait for Netflix or to stream it. Buy a physical copy. That’s what has hurt the indie scene so much! There was a time where even just Blockbuster Video was ordering several hundred thousand units for their stores. Right there it was saving movies at this budget level because it brought the risk factor. If you really like this stuff, buy a physical copy and don’t just stream it, if possible. Obviously, never, ever pirate anything. Not a comic book, a song, a movie or whatever. You are killing everything when you do that. To support ArieScope and myself specifically, we sell everything on our website, www.ariescope.com. Everything comes autographed and there is no extra charge. I’ve never charged for my autograph or photograph at conventions, but we make a couple dollars on everything and those couple dollars keep the studio open. To date, nobody has ever personally received any of that money because it’s a very boutique shop. It’s always been just enough between that or The Movie Crypt Podcast’s Patreon or the Feed Arwen A Treat program to keep this place open. Everything happens here. I live here more than at my house, as does Joe and a lot of other people. This is where we create, shoot and edit. It’s really a haven of sorts, so when you buy something directly from us, that’s what your supporting!

Awesome! Thanks for your time today, Adam! We will catch up soon. It won’t be another five years! Thank you for the content you bring each week and with each film. A big Steven Tyler congratulations on all you achieved!

[laughs] Thank you, thank you very much. That means a lot. I really appreciate that! Take care!

For all the latest news and content from Adam Green, visit ArieScope’s official website at www.ariescope.com. Connect with Adam Green on social media via Facebook, Twitter and Instagram. Get a weekly dose of industry insight and amazing guests with Adam Green and Joe Lynch on The Movie Crypt Podcast!

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BACK FORK: Josh Stewart To Shine A Light On Opioid Epidemic With Upcoming Film

BACK FORK: Josh Stewart To Shine A Light On Opioid Epidemic With Upcoming Film

Josh Stewart – Photo by James Acomb

Through the years, Josh Stewart has become a familiar face to audiences around the globe. His journey began as a young actor on the stage of the Landmark Theatre in Sutton, West Virginia. His path would soon lead him to New York City where he studied at the T. Schreiber Studios and became a company member of the 13th Street Repertory Theatre. He continued his theater work in Los Angeles where he performed in Light Bulb and Beacon alongside industry legends such as Robert Forster and Brooke Shields. A multifaceted actor, his talents didn’t go unnoticed and he quickly branched out to other mediums. Stewart made his studio feature film debut in David Fincher’s “The Curious Case of Benjamin Button” in 2008. His other film credits include two directed by Christopher Nolan—“Interstellar” and “The Dark Night Rises” (as Barsad, right-hand man to Tom Hardy’s malevolent Bane), “Transcendence” with Johnny Depp and co-starring roles in “The Collector” and “Beneath The Dark” (opposite Jamie-Lynn Sigler). 

On television, he has played a series of wide-ranging roles: Holt McLaren in the FX series “Dirt,” Detective William LaMontagne, Jr. in “Criminal Minds” and Benjamin Finney in the final season of the NBC series “Third Watch,” along with appearances in such shows as “CSI,” “Grimm,” “The Mentalist,” “Southland” and “The Walking Dead: Cold Storage,” a series of webisodes based on “The Walking Dead.” His passion for creation led to his directorial and writing debut, “The Hunted,” in which he also stars and co-produced. In this “found footage” film, two fame seeking hunters trek into the secluded woods of West Virginia armed with only bows, a camera and their desire to grab some big-time media attention… only to find themselves the prey of savage supernatural forces. The film, which screened at TIFF, was been picked up by eOne Entertainment for North American distribution. 

In 2017, Josh Stewart’s journey has led him back home to West Virginia. He has just launched a crowdfunding campaign to bring his new film, “Back Fork,” to life. With the project, Stewart hopes to shine a light on the prescription opioid epidemic that has ravaged his home state and continues to impact people from all walks of life around the nation. “Back Fork” is the story of an everyman, Waylon, struggling to hold his life and family together after a heartbreaking tragedy. He and his wife, Nida, barely recognize themselves. Their inability to continue on and to heal, leaves them hopeless. With the growing burden of the unanswered questions of why, and a heavy dose of self-blame, it’s only a matter of time before Waylon turns to the magic of the pills to make the problems disappear. He finds a kindred spirit in his sister, Raylene, as he sleepwalks through life with addiction. It’s only a matter of time until Waylon finds himself at a crossroads. He learns that he’s been asking the wrong question all along. The question isn’t why, rather, where do I go from here? He’s then able to see that we’re all wounded animals. Sometimes we die, but sometimes we live. 

Jason Price of Icon Vs. Icon recently caught up with Josh Stewart for quick Q&A to discuss his journey as an actor, the lessons he has learned along the way and the challenges he faces in bringing his creative vision for “Back Fork” to life.  

Let’s start at the beginning. How did you get involved with the creative arts early on in life?

To be honest, I didn’t find acting until I was in college. I grew up playing sports. A teacher of mine from high school worked in a community theater company and got me in a play and that was it. I was hooked. I finally had found something that made sense.

You got started on stage at the Landmark Theatre in Sutton, West Virginia. What are your fondest memories of cutting your teeth and performing there?

You know, it was just this crazy time of finally having that thing in my life that I knew I had to do. At the risk of sounding cliché, I had found my way. We all wait for that moment when we know what we want to do with our life. That, and also working across the street at this Italian place called Café Cimino. Their meatballs were amazing.

When did you realize a career in the entertainment industry was something you wanted to pursue?

Pretty much straight away from theater. I was 21-22 when I started. So I finished school then after a brief stop in North Carolina, I moved to NYC to study acting.

Did you have any reservations about taking the plunge?

Into acting? Not at all. I knew what I was supposed to do. It just made sense to me. there was no looking back at that moment.

Who were your biggest influences as a performer?
Terrence Malick and Chris Nolan. There are so many actors but two that I worked with, Tom Hardy and Casey Affleck. I have a huge amount of respect for what those two can do.

Were there any mentors along the way who gave you an extra push when you needed it?

Yeah. I mean, we all have those figures over the course of our lives that are always there to give you that nudge or kind word when you need it. There have been many that have helped me along the way. Some that I’m still very close to. All of them will be forever cherished.

Josh Stewart

The entertainment industry is a tough business to be a part of. Where do you find yourself looking for inspiration?

Creating. It’s so easy to become stagnant with the B.S. this business lays. It’s a constant struggle. Writing. It’s something I don’t need anyone else’s help to do. That’s really the unfortunate thing about film making, if you’re not playing by their rules with their money, good luck getting a film made. Unless, of course, you’re wealthy and can do it yourself. [laughs]

You have been a part of a lot of awesome projects in the past. Which of them have had the biggest impact on you?

Oh man. “Beneath the Dark” is special, “The Collector,” “Third Watch,” “Batman” and “Benjamin Buttons.” They’ve all been fulfilling but “The Hunted” I made. That’s my baby.

Let’s talk about “The Hunted.” What inspired the story?

Well, I had a ghost screaming at me and my roommate in West Virginia for about 6 months. [laughs] Pick up the DVD, the full story is in the extras!

What was it about the project that made this the right feature to explore the world behind the camera?

I think the simplicity of what I wrote with the intention of making it on a budget on accelerated schedule. It’s really hard getting anyone to take that shot on you, give you the money to go make a movie. So, writing something in a way that would minimize that risk, was essential.

You have a new project called “Back Fork.” This is a film very close to your heart. What can you tell us about it and the impact of the epidemic it highlights?

“Back Fork” is a story about life, love, loss, and the prescription opioid epidemic. It’s a simple story at heart and I think that’s where a lot of these stories live. Everyday people in everyday situations and life turns on its head. And it’s crazy how quickly that it happens and we’re all left to pick up the pieces. I think the takeaway is, we’re all wounded animals in some capacity, you know? None of us are perfect and we’re all just doing the best we can given the circumstance and that’s all we can do. So, this story highlights addiction on the personal level. On a family level, and it wonders slightly into the community as well.

You grew up in West Virginia and your heart seems to bring you back there quite often. What inspires you about this area of our country?

West Virginia is just an amazing place. Cinematically, it’s beautiful. The people are amazing. They’re very passionate in a lot of ways which I think is something that gets overlooked. I think the landscape, physically and metaphorically speaking is relatively untouched from a cinematic stand point as well. There are so many stories to be told.

What goals or aspirations do you have going into the process of bringing this film to life?

I think with any project, it always starts with a story that’s living inside of you and you have this fear of it going untold so it becomes about this journey of getting it told. And that, I think becomes the biggest goal, is just being heard with it.

You will be working with AJ Cook on this project. How did the two of your originally cross paths?

AJ and I have worked together on “Criminal Minds” for quite some time. I think it’s been 12 years now since the first episode I did.

What do you feel you bring out in each other creatively?

Well, there’s just a comfort level that comes along with a 12 year working relationship. Everyone has their own way into a character or into a scene, however you want to look at it. Knowing and having an understanding the way someone does that makes your life easier. You know what someone is going to bring to the table and vice versa so now we can just focus on telling the story, which is what we’re there to do. There’s a good amount of trust that gets established over that many years of work.

What can you tell us about the other people either in-front and behind-the-scenes who will be bringing this story to life?

I’ve got to producers from West Virginia that I worked with on my first feature that will be back for the second round, Bob and Jeff Tinnell. Once you walk through the fire with someone, it’s easy to do it again. They’re West Virginia boys and film makers themselves, so they get the land and they get the process.

You recently launched a Kickstarter to fund the project. What can you tell us about the campaign and the hurdles you have to overcome as an indie filmmaker in this day and age?

Yes, I’ve wandered into the deep waters of crowdfunding, which is no easy task. I think it’s nothing short of a miracle any time a movie gets made, especially an indie. A film takes an incredible amount of time and energy to complete on any level, then with an independent, you’re doing all of this for very little to no pay. It’s a lot to ask and a lot to commit to for that kind of time. So it’s just the dance of finding that right fit. Finding those people who care enough about your story and have enough faith and confidence in you that you can pull this thing off. And look, from a business stand point, I get it. You’re giving someone hundreds of thousands to a couple million dollars to make film. That’s someone’s hard earned money that they don’t take that lightly and rightfully so. This process can take years to get film made.

When it comes to your work as an actor, is there a role or genre you always had your eye on tackling?

Nah, there’s never been anything specifically. I mean yeah, everyone wants to be a cowboy at some point, but it’s more of finding those great characters and stories. Something that grabs ahold of you, you know? I’ve been blessed enough to play in a little bit of everything which has been great. There’s something that’s interesting and fun about all of them.

What stands out to you as some of your creative milestones?

I don’t know about milestones, but I think writing a script might be one of the things I feel the most accomplishment from after I finish. For me personally, it’s so hard to get it right or get it to where it works the way you want it to. There’s a reason everything starts from the script. You get the script right, and follow it, you should have a good movie.

Looking back on your career so far, what do you consider your biggest evolution as a performer and filmmaker?

I think just continuing to grow and evolving into a more rounded story teller. Starting to write more, direct more, tell more of my own stories. That seems to be the area I’m finding the most interest or more fulfillment these days.

We can definitely look to you as an inspiration with you have accomplished. What is the best lesson we can take from your journey?

Oh man, I think I’m still learning that about myself and what I’m getting out of life. I hope that we all tell the stories that we have in hearts, because they deserve to be told and the world deserves to hear them.

Are you involved with any charities or organizations related to this epidemic that we can help spread the word on?

I’m not involved in any specific groups but I think the most important thing is continuing to shine a light on this problem. Help to keep the conversation going. Contributing to that narrative in whatever way you can.

To learn more about Josh Stewart’s Kickstarter campaign for “Back Fork,” visit the official page for the project at www.kickstarter.com/projects/1159798350/back-fork.

Support the film at:

Follow Josh’s continuing adventures through social media at Twitter, Facebook and Instagram

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Director Sophie Goodhart On Bringing “My Blind Brother” From Script To Screen!

Director Sophie Goodhart On Bringing “My Blind Brother” From Script To Screen!

Jenny Slate, Adam Scott and Nick Kroll in "My Blind Brother."

Jenny Slate, Adam Scott and Nick Kroll in “My Blind Brother.”

When one of her sisters was diagnosed with multiple sclerosis, writer/director Sophie Goodhart channeled the experience into the critically acclaimed 2003 short film “My Blind Brother.” The short was nominated for the Palme d’Or at the Cannes Film Festival. Over the next 13 years, Goodhart would experience many false starts and near-misses in her quest to expand the short into a feature film. However, her persistence and determination has paid off in spades! “My Blind Brother” stars Nick Kroll, Adam Scott, and Jenny Slate in a hilarious tale that takes sibling rivalry to new heights. Bill (Kroll, Adult Beginners, Date Night) has always lived in the shadow of his overachieving brother Robbie (Scott,”Parks & Recreation”, The Overnight, Step Brothers), an arrogant athlete and local celebrity who happens to be blind. After years of thanklessly helping Robbie achieve one goal after another, Bill finally catches a break when he finds a connection with the charming Rose (Slate, Obvious Child, Zootopia), who is dealing with her own crisis. But when Rose starts dating Robbie, Bill must decide if he can finally put his own happiness over his brother’s and compete for the ultimate prize. Also starring Zoe Kazan (What If, Our Brand is Crisis). Jason Price of Icon Vs. Icon recently had the pleasure of chatting with writer/director Sophie Goodhart about the film. The two discussed her unique path as a filmmaker, the challenges of bringing the film from script to screen, what the cast brought to the characters she created and more!

Let’s start at the beginning. How did you get involved with the arts early on and what led to you pursuing a career as a filmmaker?

I actually started in news. I went to University where I did history and economics and from there I went to ABC News. I was so bad at it! Then I went into documentaries and that is sort of where I always wanted to be. I loved documentaries and I worked for the BBC, Channel 4 and ITV. I did weird shows like one called “Pet Rescue,” which was 75 half hours following ducks being rescued off ice and things! I found myself doing this documentary about the river police. I was filming someone who was basically trying to commit suicide off a bridge and I suddenly thought, “Oh my God! I’m a vile human being. I cannot believe I am doing this. I am making this man’s possibly last few minutes of life deeply uncomfortable.” I just felt kind of depressed about what I was up to, so at 30-something I went off to graduate school and said, “I’m going to learn how to shoot and come back to make really beautiful documentaries that are very, very cultured and sort of exquisitely intellectual.” While I was there, what I realized was that I preferred writing fictional characters and then being able to get them to do whatever I wanted without the guilt because they weren’t real! [laughs] I realized I could make films about things I was interested in without human casualties. I made some shorts while I was at film school and really loved the process. My last short did really well and I thought, “Well, here I go!” I didn’t ever plan to make it into a feature. I did the short and then wrote 10 other features, some of which got optioned. I got some of them greenlit and thought, “This is going to be great!” And it took fucking 12 years or something! [laughs] I thought, “Here I go! I am going to be this great success!” Basically, I had to spend the next decade of people asking me what I was up to, pretending I had to go to the loo or go and get some food because I was just unable to get funding. I had so many false starts where this actor said he was going to do it and I thought I would make it in the next year but it would fall through. By the time this film happened and Nick, Jenny and Adam said yes, I was so sure that it wasn’t going to happen. I didn’t tell anyone and I was also quite pregnant! I thought, “Well, it doesn’t really matter because it won’t happen. I will just squeeze the baby out and carry on avoiding people at social functions!” [laughs] And then it did happen! I feel quite relieved and can go to Christmas parties and shit!

Did having to wait a long time to make this film a reality impact you and the final product?

In the end, the timeframe helped me because if I had gone any earlier, I obviously wouldn’t have gotten Nick, Jenny and Adam. It was perfect timing and I think they make the film. I love the script and felt very confident about it. I knew that what I was writing about was something I cared passionately about. The sibling relationship was very interesting to me, along with the treatment of disabilities and the romantic aspect. Working with these three actors meant that it became much more than that and it kind of took on a life of its own. Jenny, Nick and Adam are really bloody good! For me, what I am most interested in as a director is content. Being able to make my script a real thing was the thing I was most focused on.

Sophie Goodhart, Nick Kroll and Jenny Slate on the set of "My Blind Brother."

Sophie Goodhart, Nick Kroll and Jenny Slate on the set of “My Blind Brother.”

You lived with these characters for some time. What did Nick Kroll, Jenny Slate and Adam Scott bring to them that you might not have expected?

You know, from the first moment of talking with them, they all really brought themselves to it. Jenny is so intelligent and an emotionally sophisticated actor. She is really willing to go to an internal place that I feel lots of people aren’t. She is able to go darker and more uncomfortable while making the character completely compelling and sympathetic while also showing the worst of herself in some way. Adam commits so strongly being able to play someone who doesn’t give a fuck! He really went for Robbie’s self-centeredness, which I loved. When he finally does show you this beautiful vulnerability, it is so surprising because he had committed so strongly. I feel like each of them pushed what I had written and made it more powerful. Nick can express with his face that kind of furious resentment without doing or saying almost anything. He can do it silently all the time — just by moving his eyes or blinking! It is just how he holds himself and he has such interesting physical comedic abilities. They all brought an immense amount to the characters! There were moments that were improvised. I, at the beginning, thought, “I’ve written this script and I love it, so I’m not sure I want to improvise.” Then you kind of realize who you are working with and you are like, “Oh, I have to let these people be able to take this other places.” There are quite a few moments in the film where that happened.

What was the biggest challenge of the film and the biggest lesson you learned along the way?

Sophie Goodhart's "My Blind Brother"

Sophie Goodhart’s “My Blind Brother”

There were a few challenges. One was trying to get a comedy with a disabled character made. People are very cautious and don’t have a huge amount of money for independent cinema anymore. We couldn’t shoot it for nothing because it was shot on water, so we had to find someone that was brave and forward thinking, which took awhile to find Tyler Davidson. I was very, very pregnant when I was shooting and that was also a challenge! I had the baby and then had to go back into the editing room four days later. Shooting on water is not an enjoyable experience, if you have not very much money. That was very hard. As far as lessons I learned, it took me a while to take on the role and say, “Here I am. I’m the director! Don’t worry, I know what the fuck I’m doing!” Even though I did, I think there were moments at the beginning where I was too grateful because I had been unemployed for such a long time. I spent the first while saying, “Thanks everybody, you are amazing. Thanks, is everyone alright,” rather than just getting on with it and doing the job. I also think that there is a tendency to want to be liked. Whether it is pushing to get another shot at the end of the day or saying, “No, no. This needs to happen,” I think because I hadn’t done it before, I was a bit to concerned with being a good person as opposed to making the film as good as it should be. In the end, it all worked out and I got very, very lucky with the actors. They never took advantage of me being a novice. I think next time I know to possibly push more.

Being a writer and director, you are involved with all parts of the filmmaking process from start to finish. Is there a part of the process you enjoyed more or less than another part?

I love the writing and it is probably where I feel most confident. I loved, loved, loved pre-production. However, I found editing to be quite a challenge. I was working with Jenny Lee, who was the editor of “Skeleton Twins.” She saved me so often! I was surprised how hard some of the editing was and I can’t tell if it was because I had a brand new baby and was exhausted! I found it hard to keep track of where the film was and was a particular moment working. I say that because you see it again and again and again and feel like, “I don’t have a fucking clue!” [laughs] I get this sometimes day to day, where I let my emotion cloud my intellect. I can look in the mirror in the morning and think, “That is the ugliest face I have ever seen in my life.” Then, an hour-and-half later, I see it and say, “It’s fine. Who cares. Good enough!” I might see it a bit later and think, “No, no. It’s a nice face.” That is sort of what happened to me with the film. Depending on my mood, I tend to think I’m a genius or it is all a disaster! Jenny guided me through as a steward, pilot and captain. I wouldn’t work without an editor that I totally trusted. A film can be made in the edit room. My relationship with my cinematography, Eric Lin, was really fundamental. If I get the opportunity to go again, I know I will once again enjoy how wonderful a collaboration can be. Eric and Jenny made such a difference on this film!

Jenny Slate, Nick Kroll and Sophie Goodhart on set.

Jenny Slate, Nick Kroll and Sophie Goodhart on set.

You definitely had a unique path in your career and with this film.

Are you talking about me being unemployed, Jason? [laughs] Yes, it has been a unique path!

Yes, indeed! [laughs] What is the best lesson we can take away from your journey as an artist?

Oh, God! I don’t know. I know some people might say, “She was unemployed forever! She should have stopped seven years earlier and got a proper job.” So, some people would say it is stupidity and other people would say, “Well done for hanging on!” I think that maybe the lesson is, if you see it as a happy story, is that I got to make a film at the end and that denial and delusion are useful tools and that if you keep on trying it probably will eventually happen. Also, make sure you try to carry on writing what you actually want to write because you get the opportunity to make it. I don’t know if anyone is going to give me money again to make another one, however, the one thing I am very happy about with the film is that I walk away knowing that I totally stand by everything I said in it! That is a nice consequence!

That is terrific! I loved the film and think you did an amazing job bringing it to life. I can’t wait to see where the journey takes you next!

Aww, that is so nice, Jason! Do tell everyone you know to watch the film, so I can get to make another one! [laughs]

You’ve got it, Sophie! It’ll be my pleasure!

‘My Blind Brother’ hits theaters nationwide and On Demand on September 23rd! Check out the trailer for the film below.

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SCHERZO DIABOLICO: Adrian Bogliano & Francisco Barreiro On Making The Film!

SCHERZO DIABOLICO: Adrian Bogliano & Francisco Barreiro On Making The Film!


Adrián García Bogliano (“Here Comes the Devil,” “Late Phases,” “The ABCs of Death,” “Penumbra”) has spent the past several years making a name for himself within the horror genre. His latest film, “SCHERZO DIABOLICO,” the prolific and inventive Bogliano has created a tale of dread concerning a seemingly mild-mannered man who enacts a disturbing plan for vengeance.

The film centers on Aram, (Francisco Barreiro, “We Are What We Are,” “Here Comes the Devil”), a low-paid accountant living a dull existence. With a nagging wife who berates him for not being assertive, he quietly suffers while awaiting a long-deserved promotion. But there’s more to Aram than his quiet demeanor lets on: He has been secretly devising a scheme to get what he feels he is owed. One day he asserts his power menacingly when he kidnaps a schoolgirl (Daniela Solo Vell, “Eddie Reynolds y Los Angeles de Acero”) and keeps her tied up in an abandoned warehouse. What seems like the perfect plan soon unravels into his worst nightmare as his carefully constructed scheme comes crashing down piece by bloody piece. In this twisted thriller, Bogliano uses his startling visionary style to subvert genre conventions while keeping us guessing as to what will happen next in what becomes a gritty game of cat and mouse. As Bogliano’s his most ambitious work to date, “SCHERZO DIABOLICO” has captured the imagination film fans and critics alike, while establishing the young director as undeniable force in the world of horror cinema. The film was an Official Selection at the 2015 Tribeca Film Festival, Cannes Film Festival, Sitges Film Festival and other major events. In short, it is the latest chapter in what is sure to be an amazing career for the young, passionate director, who has no plans for abandoning the genre he loves.

Jason Price of Icon Vs. Icon recently caught up with Adrián García Bogliano and Francisco Barreiro to discuss their blossoming careers, the challenges of bringing “Scherzo Diabolico” from script to screen and what the future might hold for these stars on the rise!

What attracted you to the entertainment industry early on in life and ultimately made you pursue it as a career?

Adrián: I wanted to be a part of the film industry since I was a little kid. My parents both studied film. They transferred their passion for film to me. I started writing fanzines and very small magazines in the early ‘90s. I also started reviewing films and stuff like that on the radio. I had also started writing my own scripts, so it was something I always wanted to do. I never hesitated on that! When I was a teenager, I started realizing what a director was responsible for and I realized becoming a director was my goal.

Francisco: For me, it was a little bit different. I didn’t know I wanted to be an actor until I was about 18 years old. I always loved theater and films but I didn’t have much experience in school. I started studying theater for three years at a school in Mexico. Since then I began working in theater and then began to make some films.

Your latest project is “Scherzo Diabolico.” Before we talk about the film, how did the two of you first cross paths?

Adrian Garcia Bogliano

Adrian Garcia Bogliano

Adrián: I saw Francisco in a movie and he really impressed me. It was the original “We Are What We Are,” the Mexican film. Francisco was absolutely great in the film! All of the cast was really solid and I was really impressed by Francisco’s performance. I was contacted to make a segment for “The ABC’s of Death” and it was going to be the first thing I was to shoot in Mexico, so I approached Francisco to see if he wanted to star in the segment. He wasn’t able to because he had other commitments at the time. We established a relationship then. When the time came to do “Here Comes The Devil,” I approached him and I wasn’t sure if he wanted to take part of that because when I came to him with the script, we were going to shoot in three weeks in Tijuana. I didn’t know if there would be enough time or if he would be interested. He was very willing to do it and he did an amazing job! “Here Comes The Devil” was a film where his part wasn’t a lot of meat to the part but he made the character really shine. He brought a lot of things to the character that I didn’t even imagine were possible with that character. I was really impressed with that and we wanted to do more things together. Finally, when we got the chance to do this movie, we wanted to do it together. I wrote this for him and my intention was to explore all of the possibilities.

How did the initial idea for the story of “Scherzo Diabolico” come about?

Adrián: I think it had to do with my love of a couple of movies and a lot of friends and people who were around my age. From the film perspective, I think it had to do with my love with two films that are very different but they have similarities. The first is a Swedish film of the 1970s called “Breaking Point” by the same director who did “Thriller: They Call Her One Eye.” “Breaking Point” is a really weird film about male fantasy. The other is Peter Medak’s “Romeo Is Bleeding.” It has been one of my favorite films since I was a teenager. I thought both of those films were very interesting with their really weird male fantasies where these guys interact with women. I thought that was a very interesting starting point. I also felt those male fantasies had a lot to do with what society tells us what we need to achieve in terms of success and happiness. That was the starting point.

Francisco, what did you bring to this character that wasn’t on the original page?

Francisco Barreiro

Francisco Barreiro

Francisco: I think I tried to work a lot in many subtle things. I felt the character was very complex. I was excited to have the powerful and amazing chance to explore very deeply in a character that changed a lot throughout the film. The main thing was to bring something very subtle and very human that the audience can connect with and feel is very real. For me, I felt this character could have a huge impact. He is not a bad guy and he only wants to be the next boss but he makes bad decisions. It is a complex study of a character and it was very interesting. Everything was there when I read the script and there were a lot of possibilities to work with. I tried to bring something deeper. For example, the character interacts a lot with other characters but, at the same time, he is often by himself. It was interesting for me to build a script in my mind, to make some dialogue silently in my mind, to keep developing this complex character. When the audience is watching this guy in silence but he is thinking and something is happening in his mind. I think we discovered some things. I used to talk a lot when I was alone and I would talk louder by myself. I tried to bring little details to make the character more real and more human. I was very into the details and that was the most interesting part of the work for me.

As a director, did you want to attempt something you might not of had a chance to do in the past?

Adrián: Yeah. There are always things like that with each project. With this project, there were a couple of different things. One was pretty crazy! We wanted to make this film with a very strange technology. It was very hard but it was interesting. We shot this film with a DSLR camera with an anamorphic adapter, which is a very heavy and bizarre thing they used in the old theaters to screen anamorphic movies. It is not a lens but a huge piece of metal that is very heavy and it gives the film a very particular look. I don’t think anybody has ever made a film with one of those. It gave the film a very particular look and aspect ratio that is very interesting. It is a very wide aspect ratio. That was exciting to try that combination of an old technology with a DSLR camera. The other thing I wanted to try on this film was to make a movie with a very, very small crew. I have made a bunch of micro-budget movies when I was just starting and this film was actually much bigger in terms of budget but I wanted to keep the crew really small. I wanted to try to make a movie with the smallest amount of crew possible and remain very concentrated and focused. It was very difficult but I was happy to try that and I would do it again for the right kind of movie. It is something that works very well. It is an idea I got a few years ago from watching Shane Carruth’s “Primer.” When I saw the credits, I realized there were about five people on the crew. I wanted to make a film that, even though you realize it is an independent movie, it doesn’t look cheap or bad. Everything you need for the story is there but you realize that it was made with a super small crew. Obviously, if you only have five people, each one of them has to do two or three different things during the shooting. It is a very interesting process and it keeps you very focused and on top of everything.


Looking back on this project, what was the biggest challenge you faced and the biggest lesson you learned along the way?

Adrián: The biggest challenge to me was to do a film like this with such a small crew in Mexico City, where people are used to working with bigger elements. I feel like there is not a big tradition of guerrilla filmmaking. There is some people doing it, some great names there doing that, but there is not a big tradition. It was interesting to go there and ask people to do this because to some people it looked like we were completely crazy! “How is it that five people with this strange looking camera are making a feature film?”

Francisco: For me, the challenge of playing this character was a 1 in 1,000 opportunity. This kind of character is pure gold and the type you are waiting all of your life to play. That is a real challenge. An extra challenge was us having this guerrilla production. It was a great effort for everyone to make this film a reality. What I learned is that to keep trusting and working with friends. This film for me was a very ambitious film and, at the end, it became a really great film that I love. You just have to trust!

Music plays a big role in this film. What can you tell us about finding the right fit?

Adrián: Some of that music was already on the script and some of it, after we had the first cut, we started looking for the right pieces. I had a lot of ideas for the movie but I think the tone of the movie actually appeared in front of me. I realized how the movie should feel after listening to the piece that gives the film its title, “Scherzo Diabolico.” It is not only a musical thing but it is also a joke in Italian. The idea of a diabolical joke was very interesting to me and I realized it had to have these overtones of black comedy on it to really work and to give the audience the idea that it is some sort of a joke. I wanted to give the audience the idea that, at the end of the movie, the joke was going to be on Aram’s character. When I understood that, the rest of the pieces were easy to pull.


Where do you see yourselves headed next when it comes to the types of projects you might pursue?

Adrián: In my case, I expect to keep making horror films. This is the genre that I love and I like to try very different things within the genre. I think the genre gives you so many opportunities to try very different things and to talk about very interesting subjects. That is what I plan to keep doing! I want to keep within the realms of the genre, while always trying new things. I plan to keep making movies with different budgets in different countries. After making “Late Phases,” which is my biggest film to date, the idea of going back to making the guerrilla style movie was something really exciting. I think it gave me the opportunity to try things that with films that are a bit bigger you cannot really do. To me, it is interesting to try different things and different sizes of projects all of the time.

Francisco: As an actor, my real passion is in theater. I have been working in theaters for the past 12 years of my life. That is my lifeline, where I feel most comfortable and feel the most capacity of decision, so I am going to keep working in theater. In the other side, I just try to look for a good challenge and good films where I get to work with my friends. For me, it is very important to work with friends and people that I know I can trust and admire. I will try to look, be patient and wait for different and more difficult films that can put me in some risk. I like that feeling and I like that challenge, so I will be waiting for it! In the meantime, I will be doing theater!


Many people can look to you both to be inspired. What is the best lesson we can take from your journey so far?

Adrián: As a director, I think it has a lot to do with what I said previously. I think you have to keep working and keep doing new things. If you are a director, the only way to grow is by making movies and doing new things. You cannot measure your career in terms of increasing the size of your next project in terms of budget. It has to be more exciting and have new challenges. I think for many directors, unfortunately, the goal is often to make bigger films in terms of budget. I think that is a mistake. I think every movie is something different. The most interesting thing you can do is to keep pushing yourself, keep making movies and trying to find new ways to tell stories. The other thing is to doing movies about something you are passionate about. I am passionate about horror. I love movies and I see every type of film but my passion is horror, so I am trying to stick to it and trying to be better with each film within the genre. That is important. There are a lot of directors that use horror to move to something else. That may work for some people but I think the best thing you can do is something you love and really believe in. If you feel it enough and are passionate, you can try to master the craft.

Francisco: I think the actor in film is more complex than the role he may play. I am interested to try these filmmakers, these films and these stories where the actor can be more than just something representing a character. I am very interested in finding out what this means for me and continue developing the human study. I am always watching to look to people to understand little details of how they work. I also hope to continue following my passion and doing the work that I love! I want to continue to try and rethink what the real role of an actor in a film is. That is a very interesting and complex thing that I have been discussing with a lot of other actors. I think there is something very interesting there.

Thank you both so much for your time today! What you created and will continue to create is truly inspiring. I wish you continued success!

Adrián: Thank you so much, Jason!

Francisco: Thank you!

Scherzo Diabolico,’ the new genre masterpiece from the mind of Adrián García Bogliano, is now available on VOD and Digital HD platforms from Dark Sky Films!

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Blu-ray Review: Flashback To The Golden Age of Indie Film With ‘Sleep With Me’

Blu-ray Review: Flashback To The Golden Age of Indie Film With ‘Sleep With Me’

'Sleep With Me'

‘Sleep With Me’

This week, Jeremy Morrison, takes us back to the golden days if indie filmmaking with a look at one of Olive Films most exciting new releases, “Sleep With Me.” First, a quick synopsis:

Friendships are put to the test when best man Frank (Craig Sheffer, A River Runs Through It) announces to the bride and groom-to-be, Joseph (Eric Stoltz, Mask) and Sarah (Meg Tilly, The Big Chill) that he’s in love with Sarah. Despite protestations to the contrary, newlywed Sarah finds herself drawn to Frank in the romantic drama Sleep With Me.

Sleep With Me, directed by Rory Kelly (Some Girl) from a screenplay co-written by Kelly, Duane Dell’Amico, Roger Hedden, Neal Jimenez, Joe Keenan and Michael Steinberg, features Parker Posey (Irrational Man), Joey Lauren Adams (Bio-Dome), June Lockhart (TV’s Lost in Space) and Quentin Tarantino (Reservoir Dogs) in supporting performances and is photographed by Andrzej Sekula (Reservoir Dogs, Pulp Fiction).

Cast: Parker Posey, Meg Tilly, Joey Lauren Adams, Eric Stoltz, Craig Sheffer

J-Mo Says:

SLEEP WITH ME is a perfect example of what indie film was in the early to mid nineties. Eric Stoltz, Craig Sheffer, and Meg Tilly lead the who’s who cast of indie stars and young up and comers. The title caught my curiosity when I read that the film featured six screenwriters, all tackling their own scene. The release is barebones, and though it looks great, I would have loved to know more about the film. Finding info online proved near impossible. Honestly I loved the movie so much I just want to know more about the genesis of the project.

Meg Tilly shines in SLEEP WITH ME as we watch her relationship with Eric Stoltz fly through turbulent air on their way to a conclusion that feels more realistic than other efforts that tackle the same type of love triangle. The surrounding cast bring their best in this picture. Parker Posey and Joey Lauren Adams stand out, but the real joy for me was watching Dean (Chainsaw from Summer School) Cameron as ‘Joey’ as he popped in and out of scenes with cynical wit. Fans will also enjoy a brief appearance by Quentin Tarantino in the third act.

My only gripe is with the lack of supplemental material, but only because I was left craving more after the film ended. I highly recommend this Olive Films release for hardcore film fans and the casual viewer alike. — Jeremy Morrison, Film Geek

Check out this film and a plethora of other amazing releases from Olive Films via their official website — www.olivefilms.com.

Jeremy Morrison – Staff Writer
Co-creator/host of the Acid Pop Cult Podcast, film reviewer, screenwriter, Jeremy has more than eight years experience in television and film production. His childhood fascination with the naked breasts featured in the “Friday the 13th” franchise prepared him for absolutely nothing in life. J-Mo lives by one motto: #wecantallbezacksnyder
Twitter: @acidpopcult
IG: @almostgothim

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