Interview With Writer/Producer/ Director Gino Alfonso: The Hostage Indiegogo

I recently had a chance to chat to Gino Alfonso about the Indiegogo campaign for his upcoming horror feature The Hostage. We discuss the pros and cons of using Indiegogo and other means of crowdfunding to make a film, creative freedom and pre-production processes.

Q: How important do you find crowdfunding as a means to provide filmmaker’s with true creative freedom?

A: I think crowdfunding is a great way for filmmakers to have the creative freedom to tell the story they want to tell and not be tied down by the studio system.

Q: Does the experience of crowdfunding your films with your fans feel more communal?

A: I feel it makes it very communal, giving your backers something tangible and moving fast helps and having the same team on your projects too.

Q: What are the things you consider when brining a film into pre-production?

 A: I always look at the 6 P’s of production Piss Poor Planning = Piss Poor Production you have to take everything into account during prepro

Q: Why should people contribute to your crowdfunding campaign?

A: I think people should contribute to The Hostage because it is an original urban horror film that will entertain and scare the hell out of you!

Q: What is your film going to be about?

A: The Hostage is about Two amateur drug dealers sell to a buyer that screws them out of $10,000 they decide to kidnap his girlfriend that unbeknownst to them is possessed by a demon looking to bring on Armageddon. In tradition of Evil Dead (2013), Trespass (1992), The Autopsy of Jane Doe (2016) and Reservoir Dogs (1993).

Q: How did you get into filmmaking?

A: I got into filmmaking at a young age when I saw Jurassic Park when I was 10 years old, that was when I learned what being a Director was and seeing Steven Spielberg’s name on the screen.

Q: Do you have any lessons for those who might just be starting out trying to make their own films?

A: Lessons in starting out and making your own films, just go out and do it there’s to many resources out there today not too build your network. Everyone wants to make movies, even if you’re in a small town there’s always an actor or 3 and someone that knows how to run a camera just go do it!  

If you would like to check out Alfonso’s Indiegogo click on the link below.

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Interview With Director Alexander Jeremy: Crowning

Hey Everyone. I recently got the chance to talk to Alexander Jeremy for the second time, my first ever follow up interview, about his new film Crowning, which sees a young pregnant women adapt to her changing life. In our interview we talk about silent cinema, corner shops and hiding in bushes.

Q: How would you describe this film in a word?

A: Weird.

Q: What do you feel this film says about pregnancy and the idea of it?

A: I guess it kind of challenges our presumptions, you think she’s one thing and then she’s not. We see pregnant women as sacred and in need of care, but we thought we’d play with this.

Q: A few of your films have heavily featured a corner shop is there a deep meaning or wider connection there?

A: It doesn’t have a deeper meaning other than its the corner shop closest to my house! I know the guy who runs it, and he lets me film in there!

Q: How did you find filming this film in lockdown compared to the experiences of Milkrun earlier?

A: I’d learnt a lot from Milkrun, mainly that i can’t do everything by myself! I still wanted it to be no-budget (about £500 budget all in!) but I wanted it to have more polish than Milkrun did. So I got in some great people to help me out.

Q: When the character enters her home and says something to the effect of ‘I’m home’ who is she talking to?

A: She’s talking to her imagined husband. She creates a dreamworld for herself, the perfect pregnant woman with the perfect house, home, jewellery etc. She’s a bit mad – but I guess it’s a comment that the writer Hannah was trying to make about desperately trying to live or aspire to a certain life, even if it causes you much pain and makes you delusional.

Q: Do you have any funny on set stories?

A: I mean, there were so many shots in the rushes where I was just in the background, using my phone as a wireless monitor. I just stand there in the background like a freak. We’d have to cut a lot because I just kept popping up. What a fool!

Q: Sparse dialogue is used with deliberate intent here, what were you trying to convey with it?

A: It’s a style I’m playing with at the moment, sort of a development of silent cinema, but then combining that with modern equipment, cameras – ambient sound etc. It also helps us with budget, so there is no need for sound recording! How does the Crowning make you personally feel? I don’t know. Again, I like playing with style, trying things – I often don’t really know what it means but it definitely makes me feel something. I just try to follow that (whilst maintaining a somewhat coherent narrative.)

Q: Sequel plans, what’s next for you?

A: No sequel plans, but I’m potentially thinking of developing this kid of style into a feature film! An almost silent feature. I think it could be cool, using the low-budget approaches I’ve been developing, trying new things etc. I also have a more conventional bigger budget short I am in post with at the moment called The Spaceman, which stars Amanda Abbington, Woody Norman and someone else I can’t mention yet! Stay tuned.

You can check out Crowning on Youtube now, and as always my review is also up on the site now.

Interview With Actor/ Singer/ Dancer Kaylee Harwood

Hey Everyone, I recently had the chance to talk to Actor/Dancer/Singer Kaylee Harwood, we talk about everything from the Tonys, to life on set, and role preparation.

Q: What has been your favourite production to be a part of so far in your career and why?    

A: My two years on tour with Beautiful: The Carole King Musical definitely offered the most varied of my experiences so far. We played a lot of major cities all over the US and Canada, some of which I’d been to before, and some of which I got to visit for the first time. We’d stay in each city anywhere from one week to two months, which can give you a great sense of a place. For someone like me who loves traveling (on par with my love of performing), it was a huge highlight. Not to mention the incredible music we got to hear and perform every day. I was a swing, which meant I had to keep five roles (including Carole King) in my head at all times. I could be called on to perform anytime, sometimes weeks in advance and sometimes even in the middle of the show. It really kept my creative mind engaged. 

Q: What drew you to the theatre in the first place?  

A: I have always been around the performing arts (watching and doing) but I was relatively late to Theatre. Even though it seems obvious to me now that my interests as a kid were in preparation for the career I have now, I was pretty timid to audition for Theatre, coming from a classical dance and singing background. I had a number of excellent teachers and mentors who helped me bring all these skills together. As an audience member, I am grateful for early exposure to Theatre through my family. Musicals, plays, chamber music, concerts, etc. Certainly once I found my personal love of performing, there was an uptick in the number of productions I attended. Once we’re through this madness of the pandemic, I can’t wait to sit alone with strangers in the dark again. It’s my favourite thing. 

Q: How would you say a theatre production differs from that of a film/game or TV production?

A: So far, I have much more experience in Theatre, but from my time on set and recording VO, the rehearsal time is a huge difference. Not-for-profit Theatre in Canada commonly has about 3 weeks of rehearsals (8 hours per day, 6 days per week) before putting it in front of an audience, and even then we hardly ever feel ready. Stepping onto a set having only rehearsed my lines at home and doing my own personal work is a whole different thing. It’s exciting and only mildly terrifying to know that what you do on the day is preserved for eternity on Netflix for all to see! The anticipation of an audience in Theatre, on the other hand, is exciting and terrifying in its own way. Will they laugh when we think they will? How do we know if this bit is working? That sort of thing. Along those lines, another difference is the exchange with the audience. I love being on stage or in an audience, part of the collective experience. Some people think we can’t hear or see them out there in the darkness, but we sure can. As for VO, I voiced a video game last year and when it finally came out it was fun to find my characters!

Q: What is your process? How do you slip into the mind of your subjects? 

A: I don’t have a strict process that I carry into every role, per se. It’s a varied approach based on the needs of the story or character. I do heaps of research, no matter what. Sometimes I have accent coaching, depending on the role. Sometimes the vocal or physical demands of a role are such that I do specific training, but bare minimum I like to come into any process having done as much prep as possible, with an openness and adaptability to whatever transpires. The key is staying flexible, I think. I don’t perceive my job to be putting on the life of someone else. I think of it more as stripping down to my bare bones, trusting the director to guide with heart, and becoming part of something greater than myself. If I lead with expectation or ego it all just goes badly. 

Q: What do you do in your down time in-between rehearsals? 

A: Pre-shutdown, my M.O. was constant travel. Even when on tour, if I had a few weeks off, I would go somewhere new. Between contracts, I’ve been known to just pick up and fly wherever I could get the cheapest deals, to the point that for the longest time I didn’t have a fixed address. But in recent years I’ve found a slower pace and a lovely landing pad. I’m itching to get back out exploring again once it’s safe. 

Q: Talk us through what an average day is like on set or stage for you?

A: Completely different from each other. Namely the hours. Once I’m into a run of a show, I sleep late, go about my day (if there’s no brush-up rehearsal or matinee), late lunch/early dinner, off to the show, and unwind after. On set, the hours are much longer, and it usually starts earlier with hair and makeup, then wardrobe, blocking rehearsal, chill while they work their magic, then off to the races. Completely different, both excellent. 

Q: Do you have any funny stories?

A: When I was doing the revival of Jesus Christ Superstar on Broadway, we had a bunch of press appearances. I was in the ensemble and we backed up Judas on the title song, which we often performed for TV spots, etc. I had a really neat dress that looked like a tent with all sorts of zippers and pockets and folks always commented on it. One day, we were performing on The View and Whoopi Goldberg got into the elevator right after me and asked where my dress was from. I had to confess that they built it for me. Once off the elevator, I asked Whoopi for a photo, quickly realizing I didn’t have my phone on me (having just performed), so the next words out of my mouth were, “Wait here!” Off I ran to get my phone like such a nerd, and sure enough when I came tearing back around the corner, Whoopi was there waiting. That dress was also a conversation-starter with Jessica Chastain backstage at the Tonys. I was making an entrance from the same wing as her, and like clockwork she asked where the dress was from (she was wearing a stunning gown, of course). I had to break her heart as well. She told me she was very nervous about having to go on stage to present, and I told her I was nervous about dancing, but then my music cue started so there was no time to dilly-dally. 

Q: Who was the most interesting person you have ever worked with?  

A: Maybe only interesting to me, but nonetheless… I did a couple episodes of a TV show called Reign and my first day on set was directed by Megan Follows, who is a legend. Canadian royalty. She starred in the Anne of Green Gables miniseries in the 80s. I had grown up obsessed with this series and like many young Canadians thought I was Anne Shirley. My first day filming, I was all alone, just seen through a castle window, so I didn’t have to pull myself together to say any of my lines, thank goodness. But she came up to introduce herself and I was melted butter.  It was such a full-circle moment, and she was so gracious and encouraging. 

Q: What would be your dream project?

A: I love being part of new work. It’s any actor’s dream, I think, to be in on the ground floor seeing something take shape. I love working with writers in the room, and I feel honoured to have had many opportunities in my career to do so. I think my next dream would be being part of an Original Cast Recording of a new show.

To hear more check out Harwoods podcast 

Photo credit Kristine Cofsky.

I hope you enjoyed the interview.

If you enjoyed this review, then please head over to my Patreon to support me, I offer personalized shoutouts, one on one Q and As, the ability for you to pick what I review next and full access to my Patreon exclusive game reviews. Check it out!

Interview With Cade Thomas: Director/ Producer For Ribbon

Recently I had to chance to talk to filmmaker Cade Thomas about his film Ribbon; see my review of it up on my site now. In the interview we talk about the death of capitalism, the effects of consumer culture and finding the humour in the day to day; to break up the cycle of buying and selling.

Q: What is the message of this film?

A: I have heard people say they feel the film is saying different things and most of what I have heard was intentional. Most people say it’s a film about growing up and learning to be open to new experiences. That is certainly one of the film’s themes, perhaps the most blatant. However, embedded in this comedy film are themes about the death of capitalism, mistrust between the classes, consumerism’s lack of care, and finding balance amongst extreme philosophies – while also having a meta-reading as an allegory for my own filmmaking journey. However, I always viewed these themes and messages as treats for more critical audience members and never wanted it to distract from telling an engaging, often comedic story that everyone could enjoy. My film is a comedy, no matter how pretentious I sound when talking about it.

Q: How much can it be read as a swipe at modern consumer and capitalist culture?

A: When toying around the idea for this film in my head, the most interesting aspect of it was what it was saying about our modern consumer and capitalist culture. The film’s main set piece is the town’s dying mall – which symbolizes the death throes of late-stage capitalism and its impact on American cities. The film is so littered with company names and logos that they are almost inescapable in the film. (Fun drinking game: Take a shot every time a company is mentioned by name or a logo appears somewhere onscreen.) Our nightmare is inescapable. We work all-day and get sold things all-night. But, did you see the new dog mascot?

Q: If you had to describe your film in a word, what would it be?

A: Offbeat.

Q: Who is your filmmaking inspiration?

A: I enjoy a wide variety of filmmakers. I love the films of David Robert Mitchell and look forward to whatever insane films he makes next. I would say RIBBON owes a lot to the works of Alexander Payne and Richard Linklater.

Q: Does your film aim to shed new light on how modern corporate culture is effecting the every person?

A: I hope to show the viewpoint of a new generation becoming “working age” and not wanting to turn out like the generations before them have. The oldest members of Gen Z are entering the workforce and we haven’t seen that in film yet. In many ways, this film is a Gen Z vs. Millennial movie between the two sibling protagonists. I also hope the film says something about class. Our protagonists, Maggie and Michael, are firmly middle-class – while our supporting characters are a homeless woman and a new CEO who essentially inherited the role from his dead father. The key friction of the film is how each character views the world they are in and their fundamental distrust of the others based almost entirely on their class.

Q: Where is the line between making a point and comedic satire for you? Where did you draw the line?

A: To make the joke? Or not make the joke? The number one thought in my head at all times. If I can make a joke while making a point, then I don’t question it. A joke for a joke’s sake will have to be a pretty funny joke for me to include it. I would say most of the jokes in RIBBON have a deeper meaning to the story, themes, or characters – whether that clear upon first viewing or not. One of the jokes that always seems to get a laugh is “Olive Garden joke” during the climax of the movie. Sure, it’s funny because it’s making fun of Olive Garden, but that’s not the only reason I put that joke there. To me, it’s humorous because it’s an advertisement playing over our protagonist’s darkest moment. Maggie is literally crying because her entire worldview has come crashing down as she is being shoved on stage to dance for her chance to win money – all while a chipper cross-promotional advertisement plays that practically begs people to care about the mall again and tells you how to save money when you buy at Olive Garden. It’s easy to dismiss comedies, because of how disposable many mainstream movies have been in recent decades. On the other side though, a film can’t be too preachy to the point that it alienates the audience. There’s a middle ground. And that middle ground is Olive Garden.

Q: What was important for you when considering how to form your characters?

A: I start with trying to come up with interesting relationships, then create opposing traits that would make the characters good foils of one another. From that, you fill in the character more – their desires, their fears, etc. I was very interested in telling a story with dual protagonists on opposing character arcs. That ended up informing other aspects of the film. Direct opposites and parallels became a recurring convention in the screenplay.

Q: If you could go back in time to when you were first starting out as a filmmaker what advice would you give yourself?

A: Find people who are as interested as you in filmmaking. And never stop creating things.

Q: Future plans and projects?

A: I have a few different projects coming up!

Stay tuned to my YouTube channel:

That’s where I’ll be posting all the things I make – whether that’s short comedy ideas, commentary videos, documentaries, or feature-length films.

Q: Any funny on set stories?

A: The cast and crew had a lot of fun making this film. We all became closer friends making this project. When making an ultra-low budget movie, you have to improvise a lot and learn to roll with the punches. We filmed the jail scene on what seemed like the coldest day of the year, but I asked my actors not to appear cold onscreen as to not distract the audience. We took multiple breaks to run to the car to warm up and had to reset between each angle. Ultimately, you really can’t tell that the actors were dying of hypothermia, which should have won them an award.

If you want to see other examples of the fun we had on set, you can watch RIBBON’s Blooper Reel which is also on my YouTube channel.

If you want to check out the film head over to

If you enjoyed this interview, then please head over to my Patreon to support me, I offer personalized shoutouts, one on one Q and As, the ability for you to pick what I review next and full access to my Patreon exclusive game reviews. Check it out!

Interview: Blade King Voice Over Artist

Hey Everyone, I recently had the chance to chat to voice actor Blade King about what life is like as a VO artist, in the interview we talk about life on set, breaking into the industry and fond memories.

Q: How did you get into voice acting, what is your origin story?

A: Well I guess it starts with my unique ability to understand others as well as the ability to blend into the crowd at a moment’s notice.

Q: What was your first voice over project and how did/ do you feel about it now Vs then?

A: Nothing really big or out there, which is why I’m looking for something interesting and I’m down with almost anything, and I’d say it makes me feel unique no matter how small the part.

Q: If you could go back in time to when you were first starting out what would your advice to yourself be?

A: I’d have to say, be more confident and comfortable in your own abilities and use your traits to become a better you.

Q: How would you describe the process of being a voice actor?

A: I’d say slow if you are just starting out, but with the right kick can get you somewhere.

Q: What is a typical day on set like for you?

A: A typical day currently would be waking up next to my fiance and my baby daughter and seeing my baby girl grow each day.

Q: What was your best VO experience and what was your worst?

A: I’d have say VO ING with my friends on small projects

Q: Do you have any funny stories?

A: It would have to be how I can be pretty awkward at times when people meet me for the first time, lol one time someone caught me in a pic looking like a t-rex, I do not take super good photos when. I don’t know about it.

Q: Future plans/ where can people see you next?

A: well I’ll have to say it depends on you and the people who gives me the time of day I suppose lol.

If you enjoyed this Interview, then please head over to my Patreon to support me, I offer personalized shoutouts, one on one Q and As, the ability for you to tell me what to review next. And access to my game review catalogue Check it out!

Interview With Puppeteer/ Animator Chris Brake: Scraps

Hi everyone, I recently had a chance to talk to Chris Brake, the puppeteer behind Scraps and the in-development Canned Laughter. In the following interview we talk about all thing puppet related, Sesame Street, Tim Burton, and puppetry’s place in the modern cinematic landscape.

Q: Who would you say is your biggest filmmaking influence?

A: Depending on what day of the week you ask me, it could be Alfred Hitchcock, Spike Jonze, Steven Spielberg, Billy Wilder, Robert Altman, John Cassavetes, Tim Burton.

Q: How did you get into puppetry?

A: I’ve always had a fascination with puppetry that started with the TV shows and films I watched growing up.  As with most kids, ‘Sesame Street’ was my gateway, but I then went on to fall in love with ‘The Muppets’, the Gerry Anderson ‘Supermarionation’ shows, and some of the more anarchic stuff like ‘Round The Bend’.  What I really adored about all of those shows was that they presented this completely alternative reality where the whole world was re-designed to fit the puppets.  Every show felt like a complete escape into an entirely imagined space, and there was something really appealing about that to a boy in the suburbs.

Q: What sort of messages do you try and convey with your films?

A: I’m always drawn to stories about outsiders who kind of sit on the fringes of society.  The main theme that seems to run throughout all of my work relates to how they create their own little world where they feel accepted or loved within it.  They’re always either about finding peace with whatever makes you different or moving on from whatever you think defines you.

Q: Do you think puppetry still has a place in modern cinema?

A: Absolutely.  Puppetry allows you to tell stories in such a way that you can be symbolic or allegorical in really different ways than how might be explored in a ‘normal’ live-action film.  But at the end of the day it’s a tool, and when filmmakers use that tool really well it can be profoundly moving and generate incredible depths of empathy from an audience.

Q: What challenges did you encounter trying to get your film made and how did you overcome them?

A: Mounting a puppet film presents a lot of technical challenges, but the key to overcoming them is always preparation.  I tend to storyboard every shot in my films so that I can have discussions with the Puppeteer and the Cinematographer about where the camera needs to be placed, what actions the puppet needs to undertake, and therefore what potential issues need to be considered in order to accommodate both the puppet and the Puppeteer.

Q: How do you go about planning the design and look of the puppets you use in your shorts?

A: I always start with a sketch, often before I even have a script, and from there I tend to develop some concept art before handing that over to the puppet builder or fabricator.  From there they then add their own interpretation of my sketches and develop the look further.  With puppetry there’s also technical considerations around what mechanisms need to be included within it, so the build of the puppet has to accommodate those requirements under the skin of whatever the design is, and in such a way that the puppeteer is able to easily operate it.

Q: If you could go back in time to when you were first starting out in filmmaking what would you say to your younger self?

A: Write what you love, not what you think other people will love.

Q: If you won an award for one of your films who would you thank?

A: Everyone who took a chance on me.  (Might be a long speech.  I fully expect to get played off the stage).

Q: Future plans?

A: Hopefully a debut feature.  Watch this space…

If you enjoyed this interview then check out Chris Brake’s Scraps and if you have anything to spare check out his Kickstarter.

Interview Writer/Producer/Director Monte Light: Space

I recent had the chance to chat with writer/director/ producer Monte Light, about this horror thriller film Space. In which an astronaut finds themselves trapped in space fending off an evil entity. In the interview we talk about the final frontier and why it is so scary. Enjoy.

Q: Who is your filmmaking inspiration?

A: I have so many throughout film history. Off the top of my head, the big ones would be Howard Hawks, Leigh Brackett, Stanley Kubrick, Alfred Hitchcock, John Carpenter, Wes Craven, David Mamet, Dario Argento, Kenji Misumi and lots more.

Q: How would you describe this film in a word?

A: Claustrophobia.

Q: What was your catalyst for getting this film made?

A: ‘Space’ is the quintessential micro-budget, independent genre film. It was a labor of love, self-financed. It utilized talent both in-front of and behind the camera, who did it for the sheer love of the story. I called in every favor I could. I worked with amazing artists, some of whom had been working on my projects for almost twenty years before we made the film.

Q: If you could go back in time to when you were first starting out as a filmmaker what advice would you give yourself?

A:  I would tell myself to start writing feature length screenplays from the get-go. I first picked up a camera when I was sixteen, and I was obsessed with the actual construction of movies, (the cameras, lenses, lights, non-linear editing, use of score and sound cues, etc.). So I spent a number of years making several short films, but actual feature length screenwriting didn’t start for me until college, and I wish I would’ve started on that earlier.

Q: Do you have any funny on-set stories?

A: The spacesuit helmets were an absolute beast to use. They were constructed in Australia, and because of shipping issues we only got them a few days before we started filming. They were never quite fitted correctly to each actor’s head, since we had to move so fast, and the visors were constantly fogged up by their breath. There is a scene where three of the actors had to appear on-camera in their helmets at the same time, and because of the found footage style we had to roll on long takes. So before each take our poor costume mistress, Madi, had to fit each helmet individually, then de-fog the next, and then probably have to go back to the previous because the helmet had slipped down. The whole time the actors are trying to remain as still as humanly possible, but you got to breath, right? I’d be ready to call action, and then something would happen to one of three helmets. It got to the point where it would take ten or more minutes to get those damn things perfectly situated, and then try to shoot out a scene. Needless to say, my language may have been a bit salty that day.

Q: Space is such a vast isolating place; how did you turn that into a tight claustrophobic thriller?

A: You know, it’s funny. I wrote the screenplay at the beginning of 2018, and we filmed the movie by the end of that year. I was very interested in the psychological effects prolonged isolation would have during deep space travel, as well as how communication technology would need to evolve to facilitate that travel. I thought it would be an excellent way to explore the found footage horror genre in a way not seen that often. In real life, when we watch astronauts communicating to us from outer space, we’re always seeing them in cramped, industrial looking environments, performing mundane tasks. The vastness of space is out there, beyond the spaceship walls, a vacuum that will kill those astronauts quickly. But we never see that, (hopefully). We just see low hanging walls. The experience of traveling through space is an inherently claustrophobic experience, like being in a submarine. In addition, I was fascinated by the challenge of maintaining tension and gripping storytelling for almost forty minutes through just split screens and “zoom” calls. Mind you, this was several years before the COVID-19 pandemic forced everyone inside and onto their computer screens. It’s interesting how quickly the theoretical can become a reality.

Q: What was important to you when crafting the scares/thrills for this film?

A: I knew because of the budget constraints and the kind of story I was telling, I needed to put the characters front and center. This is a slow-burn horror film, and that was done deliberately. Rather than focusing on jump scares or makeup effects, I wanted to impart a creeping sense of anxiety that mounts over the course of the whole film. So my biggest challenge was to create the reality of being stranded in deep space using almost entirely “in-camera” tricks and techniques, as well as getting the best actors I could to capture the reality of astronauts being put to the ultimate test. What was the message of the film? To me, the message is very much a pro-science one. As much as we like to focus on all the selfishness, ignorance, and arrogance that humans are capable of, there are also brilliant, positive people in the world making our lives better through research, medicine, and even examining outer space. I wanted to tell a story where the worst possible survival situation could be overcome through the power of scientific thought.

Q: Sequel plans or other upcoming work?

A:  I am in post-production on a black-and-white, surreal vampire thriller called ‘Blood Covered Chocolate’. That should hopefully get a release sometime next year, 2022, which would be really cool. It’s the one hundredth anniversary of the release of F.W. Murnau’s ‘Nosferatu’, the first vampire film, and a large inspiration for ‘Blood Covered Chocolate’. There are currently no sequel plans for ‘Space’, but I do adore outer space science fiction and the great world hinted at in the movie, so who knows?

Q: If you won an award for this film who would you thank?

A: Without a doubt, I’d have to thank The Price is Right. The budget for ‘Space’ came from that show, when I played the game of Plinko.

If you want to watch Space you can check it out on iTunes and Amazon Prime, and as always check out my review on site now.

Interview With Dan Karlok: Crappy Mother’s Day

I recently had the chance to interview director Dan Karlok for his latest feature Crappy Mother’s Day. The film follows three generations of women who get together to celebrate Mother’s Day together only for things to go comically awry. We discuss motherhood, home-made vokda and the finer points of script writing.

Q: Who is your filmmaking inspiration?

A: Frank Capra. His mix of comedy and drama were always right on.

Q: How would you describe the film in a word?

A: Wacky

Q: What was your catalyst for making this film?

A: The writer/producer Bill Rutkoski approached me with the script. I thought it was funny. We had done numerous other projects; documentaries, short films and projects for tv etc., but this was our first feature film. The big challenge was shooting the whole thing in 8 days!

Q: Do you have any funny on-set stories?

A: Too many. Some would be too incriminating! Let’s just say, one of them involves a gorilla head, boxer shorts and home-made vodka.

Q: If you could go back in time to when you were starting out as a filmmaker what advice would you give yourself?

A: more aggressive and take more chances.

Q: What was the worst Mother’s Day that you were ever a part of? 

A: I wish I had a good funny story for this, but unfortunately I don’t. Not to be a downer, but probably the Mother’s Day right after my mom passed was the worst.

Q: What other crappy day of the year films would you like to make next? Crappy Father’s Day? Crappy Christmas?

A: Crappy Father’s Day would be great. It writes itself! (don’t tell the writer Bill Rutkoski that!) I actually think it could become a tv series. It’s a crazy film family and the stories would be abundant.

Q How did you balance the comedy and the more sincere elements of the script? What was your mix?

A: With this script, the funny is in the words. The actors don’t have to be funny, they just need to say the lines with believability and the funny will come materialize. The same with the sincerity. You need to find the truth in the words whether or not it’s supposed to be funny or serious but then be able to change on a dime. It’s very tough to get the right mix. Sometimes it’s a happy accident. We were very fortunate to have an awesome ensemble of talent who could do both and I’m very proud of them and what we accomplished.

Q: If you won an award for this film who would you thank in your acceptance speech?

A: There would be a lot of people! One person doesn’t make a film. It takes quite a few people and as a director, you need to trust them and let them do what they do. If you’re smart, you hire the right people and let them do what you hired them to do. But in answer to your question, it might sound corny, but I would thank my mom and dad. When I was growing up, I wanted to make movies since I was 7 or 8. My parents never tried to talk me out of it and were always very supportive.

If you would like to check out Crappy Mother’s Day it can be found on all good VOD platforms and storefronts and as always check out my review of the film on site now.

Interview With Bill Oberst Jr: Painkiller

I recently had the chance to interview Bill Oberst Jr for his latest film Painkiller, which you can find a review of on site now. The film sees a man plagued by personal lose try and reclaim the tatters of his life through violent retribution. During the interview we talk about stars of silent cinema, the immortal work of Ray Bradbury and the dark truths of the human heart.

Q: Who is your biggest inspiration?

A: A man who rarely spoke – a silent cinema actor named Lon Chaney. He was dead decades before I was born, but as a lonely boy in the woods I connected with him through the pages of Famous Monsters of Filmland magazine. I was so moved by, and attracted to, Chaney’s intention to portray the humanity in the monstrous that it drew me into performing. In Ray Bradbury paperbacks I found a similar sensibility, and The Wounded Monster became the serving metaphor of my life. There’s a line in a play by James Saunders: “There lies behind everything a certain quality which we may call grief.” That’s true. I think recognizing that truth is the beginning of a life’s wisdom. 

Q: How would you describe the film in a word?

A: Illuminating.

Q: Do you have funny on set stories?

A: Michael Paré, who stars, knew more about fight scenes and blood squibs than the rest of us combined. It was fun to watch Michael ask for more squibs (most actors want fewer) and to push to make the fight scenes more real. He knows action! Working with pros like Paré always reminds me who’s boss. 

Q: The film covers very real world issues; did you find a personal stake in the subject matter whilst filming?

A: Yes. Executive Producer, co-writer and co-star Tom Parnell actually lost a child to opioids (the film is dedicated to his son.) I did feel a responsibility to well represent the millions of parents who have suffered similarly. My character is also living out a revenge fantasy, murdering those he deems culpable, which forced me to morally strip down to my naked vengeful self. I believe in the redeeming power of love, but my first instinct is never love. Darkness often reigns.

Q: How did you manage to capture the loss and personal destruction the character feels?

A: Our director, Mark Savage, says that knowing what is in the dark makes it less dark. We master by knowing. And on camera you can only show what you know. I know that suffering is the core of life. I know that it is the core of my faith. Perhaps it’s just a peeling away of life’s lies that allow the showing of truth. 

Q: How would you describe your character?

A: He is hurting, and he is haunted, both by what he has done and by what he has left undone. 

Q: If you could go back in time to when you were first starting out what advice would you give yourself?

A: Go to the funeral of your importance. Forget fame – just say what your soul needs to say and let it be. 

Q: What is your favourite moment from the film? 

A: There is an interaction between my character and a dog. The dog steals the scene. I loved that dog! 

If you would like to check out Painkiller then you can find it on all good VOD platforms, and as always be sure to check out my review on site now.

Interview With Jamie Insalaco: Writer/ Director For Will Reading

Written by Luke Barnes

Hey Everyone! I recently had the chance to interview Jamie Insalaco about his film Will Reading. The plot of the film revolves around a group of friends who meet up to help their friends widow find some money their friend has hidden from the IRS. Within the interview we talk, about the meaning of friendship, do it yourself filmmaking and the Coen Brother classic No Country For Old Men

Q: How would you describe this film in a word?

JI: Everything!

Q: Who is your filmmaking inspiration?                                                            

JL: So many! The song drops in where old The Simpsons episodes would drop a musical number (“Marge vs the Monorail”), and the referential comedy of that writers room is certainly an inspiration. I appreciate Kevin Smith’s indie can-do “Why not?” spirit – and YouTubers showing how much they could do with so little really got me going. Will Reading is full of homages to other movies.

Q: What was your catalyst for making this film?        

JI: I knew I wanted to make a movie and I also knew I’d have to do it myself – so the situation dictated which story treatment I would develop into a script and that eventually became Will Reading.  The runner up was just too ambitious: it revolved around a wedding.  Too many locations, too many costumes, too many extras… but it was kinda similar in the respect that it would have a long dinner scene and a fight as the climax.  I don’t think I’d ever make a movie like this again in terms of no crew, extreme limitations on the script and so forth.

 Q: What was the message behind this film?                                        

JL: I think the viewer can take a few different ideas from the movie… and I guess I prefer to let them pick! One message that comes from the character journeys is “Know thyself.”  At least for Steve and Tom. For Dave and Wendy, it’s more of a “Give Trust a Chance” situation.  The movie takes place after the Great Recession economic downturn, so that certainly influences the messaging and colors a lot of what’s going on, how people are reacting to their situations and what the movie is saying about life at this time in the twenty first century in this little pocket of the United States

Q: Friendship is a key theme of the narrative in Will Reading, how would you say your film tackles this theme, what are its intentions?

JL: Relationships are always tricky.  As opposed to family, when it comes to relationships we choose – romantic or platonic – maybe we expect or at least want them to work perfectly.  And when they don’t, we end up with these “I thought I knew you” ideas floating around in our heads. What does it say about me that I chose this? Particularly here in Will Reading, Steve wants his relationship to go back to the way it was with Wendy when they were teenagers.  That’s a big ask. Wendy needs to get back to a place where she can trust Dave – the nature of these relationships have to change so they can move forward – that’s the thing we’re really trying to show here.

Q: What would you do if you found a large amount of lost or hidden money?

JL: I’d probably leave it where I found it!  I’ve seen NO COUNTRY FOR OLD MEN too many times. The line, “At what point would you quit bothering to look for your 2 million dollars” is burned into my brain! A large amount of money will always be missed, there are ALWAYS consequences to any action – the bigger the action, the bigger the consequence.  My answer is NO COUNTRY!  Everybody go watch NO COUNTRY.  Leave the money where you found it!

Q: Sequels or future filmmaking plans?

 JL: A sequel is highly unlikely but not completely off the table.  It’d be more of a spinoff rather than a Will Reading 2: On the Move direct sequel.  I have a short in the works and as far as features go, a horror movie and a “one last job” movie – one of which will probably be my next indie feature, unless something drastically changes!

Q: If you could go back in time to when you were first starting out as a filmmaker what advice would you give yourself?  

JL: Be bolder. Drink more coffee and keep going.  There were shots I wanted in Will Reading but they were too technically difficult to pull off by myself. Now, I have the experience and understanding to execute them – think it through. “There’s probably a way to cheat that in post if I plan it out right on set.”

Q: Any funny on set stories?

JL: Sometimes we’d get giggling and couldn’t stop.  I would hand out bottles of water as a mini break, to try and alter the mood. From then on, if anything went wrong, the cast would suggest I hand out water – like, if the battery on the camera died: “Water will fix this.”  Someone couldn’t get through a long bit of dialogue, “Have some water.”

Q: If you won an award for this film who would you thank in your acceptance speech?

JL: Of course the cast, who really brought Will Reading to life, and then a long speech about my wife and my mom, who were constantly behind me even though they are not particularly interested in filmmaking – they were just there for me.

If you would like to watch Will Reading you can find it on Amazon Prime right now, with a wider release planned for the near future and as always I have a review of the film up on my site right now!

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