“Greatland” Calling: An Interview with Arman Darbo

In 2018, WorldFilmGeek had the opportunity to have a great chat with Arman Darbo about his breakout performance in And Then I Go. I am pleased to announced that Arman has returned and via e-mail, we talked about his latest film, the dystopian wild ride of a film called Greatland.

A Special Thank You goes to October Coast PR and Arman Darbo for making this interview possible.

Arman, I am excited that you are taking the time to talk about Greatland as I had a blast talking to you a few years back about And Then I Go.
Thank you so much for talking to me again and following my work! I seem to always get involved in timely projects. And Then I Go was the story of a bullied and depressed kid who wants a revenge and goes to short the school. It was released just weeks after the Parkland school shooting in 2018. Now Greatland is about this dystopian world facing a pandemic and disputed elections…

How did you get approached for Greatland?
I got a lot of attention after And Then I Go. Many people in the industry liked the film and how I played Edwin. I was given the script of Greatland. The production asked my opinion on how to fine tune the character of Ulysses by making him sound like an authentic 15 years old kid living in this absurd alternate universe. Say, how I would react if I was pressured to get married to a tree and my surprise son was a rabbit… And if my Mom wasn’t a person but some kind of watch.

Can you give us some information about your character?
His name is Ulysses so you already know he’s going to go on some epic journey… He basically breaks away from this absurd dystopian world in order to save the girl he likes. Like every boy in Greatland, he’s been totally infantilized and feminized but inside, there is a lot of pent-up anger and rebellion.

This boasts a wonderful cast, including Eric Roberts and Nick Moran. What was it like to share the screen with these two greats?
Playing with famous actors is fun, everyone becomes kind of competitive, but in a good way. Like you want to give your absolute best. Eric was always singing or rehearsing his lines in goofy voices. He told me to never deliver a line twice the exact same way. With Nick, we spent more time together working and traveling between locations. We both love music and played a bit in between scenes. When we had a 9-page long scene, just the two of us talking, Nick and I did some cool improv.

What was it like working with director Dana Ziyasheva?
Very demanding, very rewarding! We spent a lot of time ahead of the shoot polishing the dialogues and rehearsing with other actors, especially with Chloe Ray Warmoth, my co-star and Nick Moran. Dana is extremely meticulous and always pushes her actors to give something extra and unexpected. I think it shows in the final results, the performances are just out there.

How long did shooting take and were there any issues you experienced during shooting?
I believe production lasted 18 days. There were scenes on water and with high tide, man I didn’t even need to act scared! I got to work with a dog, a cat and trained cockroaches. They have their entourage and they behave like royals: never complain, never explain. Wranglers can only do so much; you just have to wait and catch animals and insects at the right moment and at the right angle. There were stunts but I cut my teeth on kung fu movies in China. I was eight years old and tossed across a traditional tea house during a very intense brawl in Kung Fu Man. I climbed rooftops and sat in a car hanging off a cliff. In Greatland, I had a stunt double for falling off my bike.   

With film and TV production coming back, are there any new projects we can look forward to seeing youthat you can talk about?
It’s a little early to tell yet and some bigger projects are still suspended to how things will evolve with COVID. For now, I am focusing on my other passion, music. I worked with the score creator Matthew Chilelli on Greatland and wrote the Philanthropist theme, something really eerie and dark. Now I am making beats and wrote an album of music for a video game. As for films, the ending of Greatland is quite open and it would be cool to see what happens next to Ulysses and Ugly Duck😊

Greatland is now available on Amazon VOD. Those looking forward to seeing something fresh in terms of dystopian style cinema will want to check this out and Arman, thank you again for taking the time to talk about the film.
My pleasure! Stay healthy and cool!

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