Interviews

Fighting “Mom and Dad”: An Interview with Anne Winters

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Anne Winters is an actress and singer who gained fame for her recurring role of Carly on Netflix’s 13 Reasons Why, which is set to have its second season later this year. Having appeared in films such as Sand Castles and The Tribe, Anne shows some potential as a future “scream queen” with her latest role as she must evade her Mom and Dad, played by Nicolas Cage and Selma Blair in Brian Taylor’s upcoming dark comedy, coming to theaters, VOD, and Digital HD on January 19.

World Film Geek had the chance to talk to Anne about her experiences on the film.

Thank you, Anne, for talking about Mom and Dad. This movie was absolutely insane and I love insane movies so I ended up enjoying it.
Yay! That’s awesome to hear! Thank you!

Are you a fan of horror films?
Yes, 100%. I definitely love horror films. But, I feel recently, the more “super scary” they are trying to be, the less scared I actually am, which sounds weird. I’m kind of picky. I’m an actress so I’ve always seen behind the scenes and stuff so it’s hard for me to get out of it.

And that’s why I loved Mom and Dad because they weren’t trying to be like super, truly scary. It was the perfect scary movie. It felt like you were on a roller coaster. You’re not taking it completely seriously. You’re kind of laughing sometimes. You’re going “what the hell are they thinking”? You don’t have to think too hard. You just join us on this adventure and just have fun. And that what’s I love about scary movies and that’s what we did.

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Anne Winters as Carly in Mom and Dad

What attracted you to the role of Carly in the film?
I honestly wanted to play Nicolas Cage’s daughter, and Selma Blair’s daughter, and have a really great time and do a really fun horror movie (Laughs). I loved the script and who was cast. When I talked to Brian [Taylor], our director, we just really hit it off. His vision was super cool and different and interesting. I was like, “Wow! This is different,” and I’m always looking for something different. Something that’s not typical. And that’s what drew me to it.

Brian Taylor is known for films like the Crank films and this marked his solo debut. What was it like working with him on the set?
He is definitely out there, super crazy and always throwing out insane things for us to do. He was pushing us to give it our all. I love Brian. I think he’s great. His vision is super different from what you would think. So, it was always fun talking to him what he thought about certain scenes because it was different from what you would really think seeing it on the page. So when I saw the film, I was like, “Wow” because you saw Brian’s work come to life because when you read it, it’s so crazy and when you see it, it’s completely different. So it was really fun to work with him. He’s really awesome!

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The “happy” trio: Anne Winters, Nicolas Cage, and Selma Blair on the set of Mom and Dad

What was it like working with Nicolas Cage and Selma Blair, who play the titular Mom and Dad? Nicolas Cage was truly crazy in this and I thought Selma Blair broke against type because I always saw her as an innocent type character.
Yeah, I know it’s so weird because Selma Blair, at least how I’ve seen her, she is so serious. I don’t even know. Not like that at all. When I even met her, she was different than what I thought she would be. She’s super funny and hilarious. Dry sense of humor. She really got the hats on to play this character and it was really fun to watch.

And obviously, Nic is like, really crazy to watch as well. He goes from zero to a million in like seconds. It was fun to see him work in his head. To see him so in his head and about his character is so interesting. It was fun to also see them work together because they were funny together.

Did you face any challenges while shooting the film?
Every day was a challenge. But, the biggest thing I learned from it was to just “go for it”. Especially with the screaming. I’ve had people ask me, “Have you done horror movies before” or “Have you screamed so much before”. As a kid, I never screamed and when I became first got into acting, that was the one thing I said I wasn’t going to do. No screaming because I can’t scream. It was like whistling to me. And I just literally went for it.

You just have to go for it. You have to go for whatever you’re doing. Always screaming, always crying, always running. So I feel like the biggest challenge was to let go and not think about things too much. Just literally try it and see what happens. A perfect example was when I was falling down the hill. They wanted to rehearse it and I said, “No, let’s just do it! I’m not going to rehearse falling down a hill. How do you rehearse falling down a hill? Let’s just try falling.” (Laughs)

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Zackary Arthur and Anne Winters scream their hearts out in Mom and Dad

And that’s great and the reason I asked why you were a fan of horror films is because I thought with the way you performed in this film, I could actually see you as a future “scream queen” in horror films.
(Laughs) Yes! I would love to do that. It was really fun to do that so I would love to do more of this brand of horror movie down the road.

Finally, what can fans see you next in after this movie?
This film is actually the start of things for me this year. I’m not quite sure of the order. 13 Reasons Why is going to be coming around March, but it might get pushed back because of the fires that happened so we had to push filming back. That will be coming out and I’m in the whole second season. Then, I have Night School coming out in September with Kevin Hart and Tiffany Haddish, which is my first big comedy. Then, I have season two of Zac and Mia coming up. Season one is now available on Verizon Go90, and it’s free, so you can binge watch it. It’s super great. It’s about two kids with cancer and it’s honestly one of the realist and coolest things I’ve done to date. It’s really like a passion project so if anyone wants to watch something before other things I’m coming out with, this is one to check out.

Great! Well, Mom and Dad comes to theaters, VOD, and Digital HD on January 19. If you like a chaotic film full of horror and comedy, this is one film I would recommend and check out a potential scream queen in Anne. Thank you again for taking the time to talk about the film.

Thank you so much for having me!

A Special Thank You goes to Katrina Wan PR and Anne Winters for making this interview possible. For more on Anne Winters, check out and follow her official Twitter page.

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Time for a “Showdown in Manila”: WFG Goes Round 2 with Alexander Nevsky

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Last April, World Film Geek had the pleasure of interviewing former bodybuilder turned actor and producer Alexander Nevsky on his directorial debut Black Rose. I am proud to announce that Nevsky is back, this time with the long-awaited Showdown in Manila, which features an action ensemble cast including Nevsky himself, Casper Van Dien, Tia Carrere, Olivier Gruner, Cynthia Rothrock, Matthias Hues, Cary-Hiroyuki Tagawa, and Don “The Dragon” Wilson. The film will be coming to select theaters on January 19th from ITN Distribution followed by a Digital HD and VOD release on January 23rd.

World Film Geek had the opportunity to speak with Nevsky about the film and his inspiration to make the film.

Alexander, it’s great to be talking to you again, this time on behalf of Showdown in Manila. I got to see the film over the holiday and it is definitely a fun and wild action ride.
Thank you so much. I’m glad to hear. I didn’t direct this one. I think Mark Dacascos did a great job as a first time director.

How did the project come about as you helped come up with the story?
To be honest, I was inspired by the Expendables franchise. I know Sly [Stallone] personally and I was very inspired. I actually wanted to get all the guys who didn’t make it to the Expendables. I don’t know if you agree with me. I hope you will, but Mark Dacascos, Casper Van Dien, Olivier Gruner, Don “The Dragon” Wilson, for God’s sake. Tia Carrere, Cynthia Rothrock. I think they all should have been in The Expendables. Gary Daniels was in the first one. So, that was the inspiration.

When Craig Hamman wrote the script, I think he did a great because he had the drama and the comedy, but he also had a lot of action in the script in a way that we can present each character. Especially in the end when they all show up. You can still enjoy it. If you’re a fan of Olivier Gruner, you can see him doing all that crazy action. If you miss Cynthia Rothrock on the big screen, you will see her doing all that stuff. I was an amateur kickboxer and Don “The Dragon” Wilson was my idol! For me, to work with him, was a huge inspiration and thanks to Van Dien, we have all those comical moments.

I’m glad you enjoyed it because we had a theatrical release in Russia and it was actually pretty successful and it was sold internationally everywhere and in the U.S. and Canada, it will be released on January 19th in theaters and then January 23rd on Demand. For me, it’s a dream that continues to come true.

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Casper Van Dien, Tia Carrere, Iza Calzado, and Alexander Nevsky surround Mark Dacascos, who makes his directorial debut on Showdown in Manila.

This marked the directorial debut of Mark Dacascos, who is definitely a favorite of mine. He truly has experience in films as an action film actor. What was the experience like under his direction?
Well, as you know I did my directorial debut with Black Rose, so I understood all the pressure. I think he did a great job because he knew all the people he worked with and the people he brought to the film. So he was able to do it all. And as you know, Al Dacascos, Mark’s father, was the fight choreographer of the film. Mark assisted in some of the choreography as well because you know Mark is a versatile guy.

He started as a fighter under Al and he’s also a great on-screen fighter. He’s done so many great movies and fights well on screen. On top of that, he’s also a great actor. He can do it all as an actor! So he put it all together and his part is small, because he wanted to focus on directing, so to work with him was unbelievably easy and it was a lot of fun. We actually shot the film in the Philippines, in Manila, outside Manila, and in an actual jungle. There were so many locations, but he handled it pretty well and I’m proud of him!

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Cary-Hiroyuki Tagawa, Olivier Gruner, Casper Van Dien, Mark Dacascos, and Alexander Nevsky on the set of Showdown in Manila.

One of the film’s major positives is the ensemble cast. Mark has a cameo, but you have Casper Van Dien, Matthias Hues, Cynthia Rothrock, Don “The Dragon” Wilson, Olivier Gruner, and Tia Carrere. How did this come about because everyone made the most of their roles in the film?
Well, here’s a few things. When you have Mark Dacascos as the director and Andrzej Bartrowiak, the director of Romeo Must Die and Cradle 2 the Grave, as executive producer, it was pretty easy to get everyone involved. I knew many of the guys before. Don, Cynthia, and Mark actually had joined me in Russia several times when I was doing charity seminars and charity sports festivals for free. We would promote living a healthy lifestyle and promote martial arts and natural bodybuilding. So, I’ve known them before.

And Olivier Gruner. I’ve been a fan of his. He’s had great films like Nemesis and Savate. I was introduced to him by Matthias Hues, who is a longtime friend. We’ve done several movies together already. So it wasn’t that hard to get them and the idea of something along the lines of The Expendables with more comedy and martial arts action, they liked the idea. Mark called up Tia and she wanted to work with him. And Cary Tagawa, I’ve known him for a while and he’s also a great actor. So yeah, it wasn’t that hard to get everyone.

Mark’s father, martial arts legend Al Dacascos, served as the film’s fight choreographer. What did he bring to the table in terms of how to go about the action sequences?
I think what Al did was great because we didn’t have much time to prepare. I mean, it’s not a studio movie. When you have a studio movie like John Wick, which is Lionsgate, a smaller-level studio. They take several months to prepare all the stunts and fight scenes. We didn’t have the time because this was a fully independent production.

So what Al did was create a series of smaller fights that looked more real. They didn’t have to be long. I mean, there were long scenes in the end because we wanted to see more Olivier, Cynthia, and Don. But we did the smaller scenes especially for my character because Al told me that he didn’t want me to do something I wasn’t able to do, like Japanese martial arts. He wanted to make them more real and make the fights feel more real. And Mark is great because he knows so many styles of martial arts. And there’s another guy, Emmanuel Bettancourt, who is Mark Dacascos’ friend since childhood and Al also trained him. He’s a great guy! I got to fight him in the jungle. He played one of Tagawa’s bodyguards. He’s a great martial artist, a great guy. He also helped with the choreography.

So thank to Al, I think we made the fights more realistic.

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The Expendables of Showdown in Manila: Dmitriy Dyuzhev, Cynthia Rothrock, Casper Van Dien, Alexander Nevsky, Don “The Dragon” Wilson, and Olivier Gruner.

That’s great. I do like the flashy martial arts stuff but sometimes I need that sense of realism when it comes to fight scenes and this delivers with that.
And that’s exactly why we made it. I understand that a lot of these big movies will have these unbelievable stunts and fight scenes, especially with martial arts. You also have films with Keanu Reeves and Charlize Theron, I mean she was great in Atomic Blonde. She was unbelievable.

But, I think there are those who still want to see Mark Dacascos, Don “The Dragon” Wilson, Olivier Gruner, and Cynthia Rothrock, those heroes from the old action days, where it was all more realistic. I hope that audience will be pleased as well.

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Alexander Nevsky with his idol, Arnold Schwarzenegger, who saw his next film Maximum Impact and gave his thumbs up!

Finally, what are your next projects? From our last conversation, you mentioned the possibility of a sequel to Black Rose. Is that still on the cards?
It is! I’m doing it step by step, but my next film is Maximum Impact, which is actually directed by Andrzej Bartrowiak and was written by Ross LaManna, who wrote the original Rush Hour. That film is ready and let me tell you, the first guy to actually see the finished film was my idol, Arnold Schwarzenegger! He went to the screening and he loved it! I mean, he was my inspiration when I first started in 1986 and here we are thirty years later, sitting with me in the screening room, it was so great! It was a dream come true!

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Russian promotional poster for Maximum Impact. Thank you to Alexander Nevsky for the poster!

And what’s great is that your site is for real geeks and I am one of them! (Laughs) But yeah, Kristanna and I have been talking about Black Rose 2, but my focus right now is Maximum Impact. This is my first real action-comedy and you’ll see a lot of stuff seen in Rush Hour since it is from the creator of that film with Andrzej directing it. I hope you will like it!

Showdown in Manila will be released in theaters on January 19 followed by a Digital HD and VOD release on January 23 and I think afterwards it will be on Netflix and Redbox. Anyone who loves throwback action will likely enjoy this film. Thank you again Alexander for talking about the film.
Well, thank you for all your support. And tell all the fans and readers that I may be 6’6” 300 pounds, but I am definitely a geek as well, a World Film Geek too! (Laughs).

A Special Thank You goes out to Katrina Wan PR and Alexander Nevsky, once again, for making this interview possible. If you wish to follow Alexander Nevsky and check out his upcoming films, go to his official Twitter page.

The Ghost of “Wild”: An Interview with Jon Voight

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Today, WFG feels very blessed, thanks in part to EMR Media. If you truly have a love for movies, then you know who Jon Voight is. The Hollywood legend is known for his versatility in films, bringing memorable performances in films like Midnight Cowboy and Varsity Blues just to name a few. His latest film, Surviving the Wild, features Voight as the ghost of a 13-year old’s grandfather, who helps the youngster on an adventure to bring his ashes to the top of a mountain.

World Film Geek had the opportunity to interview Voight via e-mail about his experience on the film.

Thank you so much for taking the time to talk about Surviving the Wild. It was a great family adventure and a major driving force was your chemistry with Aidan Cullen. 

What attracted you to the role of Gus?
Well, I am a grandfather myself. My father was a teacher of golf – but he was also a great teacher of life and he had a wonderful sense of humor. He used to tell his grandchildren stories, so when I read the script, and this role, it reminded me a little of my own father.

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Aidan Cullen and Jon Voight in Surviving the Wild (SP Releasing)

You have always been a natural talent in front of the screen and in film, you came up with a few one-liners that brought a sense of comic relief to an otherwise family adventure. Were you able to improvise some of your lines in the film or did you stick to the script?

I played with the script a little bit, just a few adjustments, but it was a nicely written script.

Newcomer Aidan Cullen did a great job as Shaun, your grandson. Gus was more than a grandfather, but a best friend and mentor for Shaun. Were you like that with Aidan on the set as well because the chemistry between the two of you was so natural instead of forced?
I agree. We became friends. I have a great admiration for his talent and him as a person. We had lots of fun together making the movie.

In the film, you have limited screen time with Jamie Kennedy and Vail Bloom, and yet you still make the most out of it. What was it like working with those two, especially Jamie, who truly has come a long way from his comic fodder days?

 Jamie Kennedy and I worked together on Enemy of the State. We became friends there and I always thought he had a strong acting talent, in addition to his comic brilliance – and I am right. “Smile”. Vail gives a very strong performance in the film too. I have just worked on another film with her, where she plays my daughter.

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Lare Roberts and Jon Voight on the set of Surviving the Wild.

You have a really good range when it comes to your roles and this is by far one of my favorite roles for you. Would you do another film like this if given the chance?
I am very pleased that you like me in this film. It is closer to my own personality than most characters I have played. I enjoyed being Gus.

Surviving the Wild comes to theaters today (1/12/18) and this is definitely a terrific family film that brings the negatives of life and make them a positive. A special Thank You goes to EMR Media and Jon Voight for making this interview possible.

 

 

 

Becoming “Crazy Famous”: An Interview with Actor Gregory Lay

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Gregory Lay has always loved acting. A graduate of Boston University Film School and the Neighborhood Playhouse School of the Theater is a well-versed film, television, and stage actor. Having done short films, Lay got a role in the 2011 Hollywood film The Adjustment Bureau starring Matt Damon. Lay takes center stage as the lead role in Crazy Famous, a new funny indie comedy coming to VOD, Digital HD, and DVD on January 9 from Gravitas Ventures.

World Film Geek had the opportunity to talk with Lay about making the film.

Thank you Gregory for talking about Crazy Famous. I saw the film and I laughed my butt off. It was hilarious and I really enjoyed it!
That’s awesome man! That’s so cool you thought it was funny. It’s a real relief. It’s awesome! Thank you!

Before we talk about the film, can you tell me how you started your film career?
I’ve always wanted to be in films since I can remember. It’s always been kind of a before I can remember ambition that started. I went to Boston University Film School and I’ve always wanted to be in films. I’ve always loved and have been obsessed with acting and comedy my whole life. I went to film school and I did theater while I was there. I decided to take acting training after college. I went to the Neighborhood Playhouse in the city for two years.

Once that was done, I was trying to see how to get involved in film because you know, it’s a crazy competitive world out there. I did everything I could. I did as many student films as I could and as many off-Broadway films as I could. I learned as I went. Let’s see it was 2006 when I got out so it was like getting into a situation where you work with the best team possible. Developing crews of my own who are able to create stories in the vein that I want to on film.

It’s a process but my first major studio film was the Matt Damon film The Adjustment Bureau so it was from there, pushing the envelope. Getting into bigger projects, better projects and working with bigger people, better people. Since that credit, it’s all about that one little breakthrough. It was a small part, but still, working on a big studio film right off the bat. Seven or eight days working with those guys, it was great!

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Gregory Lay as Bob in Crazy Famous (Gravitas Ventures)

That’s great! Let’s talk about Crazy Famous. How did you get involved with the film?
I auditioned for a much smaller part and in happenstance, I got a call from the casting director, but the guy who directed the film, I knew him. We worked together on a film in 2011, and Paul Jarratt, the director of Crazy Famous, was an assistant director on the film. So I contacted him and decided I would be perfect for the lead role. I auditioned for the lead and I didn’t think I would get it. A month went by and I got the phone call. It was great! I loved the script. I thought it was hilarious and I thought it was going to be really funny. I went for it and I got it!

For those who haven’t seen the film yet, describe your character of Bob in your own words.
Bob is a guy who has been pressured, manipulated, and traumatized by his parents and their need to live vicariously through his fame and finding it impossible to find happiness. To find fulfillment, so he ends up doing whatever he needs to do to get the attention of his parents. So, he does something crazy and jumps the fence at Camp David. He gets arrested and still doesn’t get the attention from his crazy risks and paths so he takes one more crack at it, all to get the attention of his parents. It takes him to all these wacky places. That’s pretty much what drives a lot of human beings I suppose.

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Christopher Lloyd, Michael Keaton, Stephen Furst, and Peter Boyle as The Dream Team (Touchstone), which seems to have inspired Crazy Famous.

I hear you there. The chemistry between you and co-stars Richard Short, Victor Cruz, and David Neal Levin reminded me so much of the 1989 comedy The Dream Team, with Michael Keaton.
Dude! Loved that movie! I think I mentioned that when I read the script! I’m 100% with you. I watched that movie obsessively. That was one of my favorite comedies right there! That’s one of those movies I watched twenty or thirty times, one of those movies you just watch all the time.

I do that all the time (Laughs)!
Exactly, and people may think we’re crazy. They wonder why the multiple times, but there’s something about it that just brings it in and you’re still seething off it, whatever it is. But, The Dream Team was probably why I loved making this movie. I thought it could really bring that character-driven physical comedy. The absurdist comedy I loved from that era.

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David Neal Levin, Victor Cruz, Gregory Lay, and Richard Short in Crazy Famous (Gravitas Ventures)

Exactly, and I thought the chemistry between you guys on this film was great. What was it like working with them?
It was great! They are all so talented and they were all so open as well. Everyone was up for the challenge and we all just jumped in. One of the biggest challenges is when you meet a group of people and sell like that. You want to shorten that period of adjustment as much as possible. They hold back a little bit because I know in their head they want to do their job.

When you realize everyone is kind, cool, trustworthy, and positive, and everybody just lets it fly, you just see it and it was great. Our trust and the creative process developed through us exponentially as it went on. And it couldn’t have been a better fit. Everybody got along and was super giving, super generous. And they were super funny! Everybody got it! They knew what characters they were playing and the dynamic of the four of us and we all knew what we needed to go and we got it! That’s half the battle!

There was one scene in the film that I couldn’t stop laughing at. It was the scene where during your escape attempt, and Dr. Phil had no pants on and Larry is attempting him to bring him up an air vent. I have to ask. Did you nearly break or break at all, because had I been on the set of that film and saw that, I would have been dying even more than I did watching it.
Yeah, I’m pretty sure the entire crew broke for several minutes just to laugh (Laughs). Literally, because it was so necessary. Just imagine, what you don’t see in the movie is an actor dangling from the ceiling with a white harness around his bare butt cheeks, like in his crack. And spinning around a grown man, feeling like a fool (Laughs). So filming it is all about grabbing pieces and editing it together and making it look like he has no harness, and they did a great job! But yeah man, it took a while too and it was not fun!

(Laughs) Yeah I can imagine, because I kept thinking about him spinning around and Larry getting hit in the face and that’s all I pictured and I kept losing it.
Yeah, dude! For sure man! I’m sure I had to leave the room at one point. Because it’s obviously funny, not so much to give him his privacy (Laughs). You can’t just see that up there and not think about it. It’s just funny!

Bob is someone who is looking for fame and in today’s world, there are countless people who search for that fame as well. As an actor, what advice would you give those who aspire to follow their dreams and become involved with acting?
Find the reason why you’re doing it. Keep stripping layers. Find the way. What is it you want to say as a human being? Concentrate on the work and all the rest of that s**t will come, if it’s supposed to come. You can’t chase the results of something. You have to have faith in the process. Nobody starts at the top. Nobody starts confident. It’s a marathon. An experiential lifestyle, so focus on the work. Always the work and the rest will come.

Finally, what will you be working on next?
I actually wrapped up a feature film I also co-wrote called Hudson. I wrote the movie for David Neal Levin, who plays Dr. Phil in Crazy Famous. My friend Sean (D. Cunningham), who is a commercials director, and I wrote it. It’s a feature film about two strange cousins and David’s character is called Hudson. Richard Masur is in it. He plays David’s father. We just put it together, shot it, and got a great cast. The founder of the band Blind Melon even came up with a song for us.

And as usual, just hustling it out there. I have another film with my Simon, who I made my feature film debut with. We are working on our second film together. So yeah, that’s in post-production now as well. Other than that, I’ve just looking for new projects and see where it leads.

Great! Crazy Famous comes to DVD, VOD, and Digital HD on January 9. If you like films like The Dream Team or that absurdist comedy era, then you will enjoy this film! Thank you again Gregory for talking about the film.
And I am so glad you mentioned that! I’m so glad because we’re 100% on that one! Thanks for having me!

A Special Thank You goes to Katrina Wan PR and Gregory Lay for making this interview possible.

Bringing Back the “Dead”: An Interview with Hèctor Hernández Vicens

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Hèctor Hernández Vicens is a Spanish-born filmmaker who got his start in television as a writer for the series El Cor de la Ciutat in 2000 and would go on to write and direct episodes of the 2007 series Pol & Cia. He made his feature film directorial debut in 2015 with The Corpse of Anna Fritz, but his latest film is sure to get a love or hate response: a reboot of the 1985 zombie classic Day of the Dead. His latest film, titled Day of the Dead: Bloodline comes to theaters, VOD, and Digital HD on January 5 from Saban Films and Millennium Media.

World Film Geek had the opportunity to interview Vicens about making this reboot of the George A. Romero classic.

First of all, Hèctor, thank you for talking about Day of the Dead: Bloodline. I got to see the film and really enjoyed it.
Thank you for the interview and I’m happy that you liked the film.

Before we talk about the film, can you talk about how you got into filmmaking?
I’ve been working as a writer in television for about twenty years and then I started to study photography. I eventually directed my first film, The Corpse of Anna Fritz, which I also wrote the script with some interesting characters. We didn’t have much money for the film, but we made it. I wanted to finish and direct my own story because when you are able to direct your own story, you have that power and will to want to finish it, so that’s what I did. And I love movies as well, so that inspired me to direct.

What led you to do a reboot of Day of the Dead, which today is considered a classic zombie film?
Well, when I read the script, I realized it was quite different from Romero’s movie. So, it’s not exactly the same story and it’s not the same characters. And I love Romero’s movie, so I decided I didn’t want to remake it in the style of Romero because that is a classic. I decided to set it in a bunker because the bunker itself is one of the most important pieces of the film.

I wanted to bring emotion of the characters because I wanted to make a film whose philosophy was the same as Romero’s philosophy. When you share the same philosophy, it’s not just a movie. There’s the colors, the characters, the hate, the love, the friendship.

Have you been a horror film fan for a long time?
Well, I like all kinds of movies. I do like all different types of horror movies, of course. I love Romero’s trilogy (Night of the Living Dead, Dawn of the Dead, and Day of the Dead). I love great zombie movies and I love great horror movies.

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Jonathan Schaech on the set of Day of the Dead: Bloodline.

What was it like working with the cast?
We really enjoyed working together on the film. Jonathan [Schaech] is a great actor and to have him play a zombie is really fun and interesting because we came up with his character without really thinking that he’s not a zombie, but he thinks he’s a human. He has those human emotions. His character of Max is something who’s not completely a zombie. Yes, he needs to kill people and eat their flesh, but he hates the other zombies because they don’t have a brain. Max does have a brain, a human brain, so he is put in the worst situation. However, we created the character that allows the actor to speak from the heart and not just mimic. So, we made the character and interesting and deep zombie.

And the other characters are those you can feel for because these are people who lost their families. So, with the actors, we really worked in the sadness, the frustration, and the thought of people thinking about what happened in the past. So, we created these emotions that were demonstrated throughout the film.

Did you endure any difficulties while shooting the film?
I think the difficulty we endured the most was the timing. You always want to work through the film, work with the actors, and take your time. However, when you have a movie that is low-budget, in this case, I shot the movie in only four weeks. It’s something that is practically impossible. Especially when you have a small crew. But, the actors and the crew worked well together and we were able to pull it off. The only major issue was the timing.

Finally, are you working on any new projects that you can discuss?
I am going to work on my third film, which like The Corpse of Anna Fritz, I wrote and will direct. I will focus on the subjects and bring my style of characters and stories to life.

Do you have a message for the fans who are gearing up to see the film?
Well, I am a fan myself (laughs), so I hope there are those who will appreciate the film. There are going to be those who will say “You can’t remake a Romero film” and will probably call me a mother(censored) and I shouldn’t have done it (laughs).

I think this is a film for those who like 80’s horror films like Re-Animator, The Evil Dead, and Romero’s films. I think they will appreciate this film. People who only want action and action and not care about the characters or story, this movie isn’t for those. But, I hope most people will like the film.

I did see the original film years ago and having seen this film, I can safely say that I like both films. Your version did what you said it did, bringing a lot of drama mixed in with the horror. I like a film that has to have both the story and action combined. I don’t like focusing on one element. A good film has all those elements and this film delivers on that.
Well, thank you so much. I think to make a good horror film, you need good characters. And those characters are developed by the actors. It is the actors’ jobs to bring those characters to life and they are free to create those characters. If the movie has a philosophy as well as a subject, you can make a smart horror film. It’s not just crying and brooding. I didn’t want to do just brooding. I wanted to do a film where the characters are human.

Excellent! Well, Day of the Dead: Bloodline comes to theaters, VOD, and Digital HD on January 5. I think anyone who liked the original or who want a good horror film with a story will enjoy this film. Thank you so much again Hèctor for talking about the film.
Thank you so much!

A Special Thank You goes to Katrina Wan PR and Hèctor Hernández Vicens for making this interview possible.

Bringing a New British Action Hero: An Interview with “Stratton” Director Simon West

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He’s directed hit action films, such as Con Air, Lara Croft: Tomb Raider, and The Expendables 2. He’s worked with some of the top talents of Hollywood. He is Simon West and he is set to bring a new British action hero with the adaptation of Duncan Falconer’s iconic military hero Stratton, starring Dominic Cooper in the titular role. The film comes to select theaters, VOD, and Digital HD on January 5 from Momentum Pictures.

World Film Geek had the opportunity to talk with West about making the film and what he would like to work on next.

Thank you, Simon, for taking the time to talk about Stratton. I got to see the film and it was really good. I really enjoyed both the action and the drama meshed together.
Great! Thank you, thank you!

So you have directed some hit films such as Con Air, Lara Croft: Tomb Raider, and The Expendables 2 just to name a few. This one seems more close to home, being shot in Britain I’m guessing. What led to direct this film?
It is definitely on my home turf and my intention was to bring in a British action hero. I’m a big fan of James Bond and I’m a big fan of Harry Potter, and I felt we needed to have a third big British hero to bring to a worldwide audience. I was trying to think about who that could be, whether it would be a detective or a superhero. I wasn’t quite sure who that would be because there was quite a gap for it.

Then, I came across the Stratton books by Duncan Falconer. It is about the SBS, or Special Boat Service, which is the British naval unit which was the forerunner of the U.S. Navy SEALS in the second World War. They are very secretive and I heard about them. And I thought, these are the elite. No one talks about them or hears about them, and I thought that was brilliant. That was a great place to set a character.

I met with Duncan himself, who actually was a naval intelligence officer in the 70’s and I also talked with present-day guys. You realize what really happens in the spy world, is much more of a team effort than portrayed in the Bond films. You have the MI6 agents who help out but you also have the Special Forces out there doing the action stuff. So, they would call up the SBS to go out on these missions so it’s the SBS and the Special Forces out there doing all the action.

In the Bond films, he’s given a bit of leniency and lets the spy do all the work. So, I thought I would come up with a more realistic, gritty version of how that world works. And between nine books and my conversations with Duncan, we had a huge amount of material to draw from. I thought it was a great world to start a new action hero character.

You’ve mention you have looked at the Stratton books. I am just starting on the first book. Have you read all of them or how many have you read?
Well, I’ve read six of the nine so far. As soon as I signed on to the project, I had to get started on the film right away. And that’s really based on the first one. And we had to update it because the original book was set in the 70’s. So, we had to update it because technology of course has changed. So what these guys have equipment-wise nowadays is incredible. They travel underwater with handheld GPS devices and can go for five miles and they also have underwater crafts. And with the movie, we used a drone as part of the bad guy’s weapons. That wasn’t around in the 70’s. So, we had to update that, but the character is basically the same. It’s just the gadgets and gizmos are different.

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Dominic Cooper, Simon West, and Tyler Hoechlin on the set of Stratton

Originally, Henry Cavill was set to play Stratton but the role ultimately went to Dominic Cooper, who I thought did a pretty good job in the role. What was he like on the set of the film?
Dom’s great! He’s a character actor, and that’s why I chose him. He’s not an action star. He hasn’t done that many action films, but he was intrigued to play that kind of role. He’s played a lot of intelligent roles. And everything he’s done is different. In every film he’s in, he is transformed which is very convenient. For this film, he had to learn the gun skills, the fighting skills. But, I was really relying on him for his acting skills to portray this brooding character. He’s a man of a few words. He doesn’t have much of a dialogue, but he had to portray it through his face and internalize a lot.

Having said that, the weirdest of good luck actually happened on the set. It turns out Dominic is an incredible, skilled high-speed driver. It came out of the conversation when we were shooting in Rome.  He was frustrated about one of the films he was in that was about car racing because he was sitting in front of a green screen and had to fake it all. I told him that if he thinks he was good, take a test drive around the streets now and show me. He was incredible. He could drive high-speed through these narrow alleyways in Rome with just a couple of inches on each side so I didn’t need as many stunt drivers. And luckily, Austin Stowell (who plays Stratton’s partner Hank Munro), was brave enough to sit in the car with him while he did all the stunt driving.

So, all I had to do was strap the cameras onto the car and let them just do their thing. They were leaning out of the car, shooting guns, bumping other cars, doing hairpin turns and just going high-speed. That was all Dominic and that was something I never expected.

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Simon West on the set of Stratton

That is quite impressive if you ask me. Did you face any difficulties while shooting the film?
Well, you know, doing these kind of films is just like going on a military mission. We don’t have people shooting at us, so it’s a little less dangerous. But, you do face a lot of the same problems. I mean, we shot during the hottest summer in Italy in 150 years. So, it was like 104-degrees and we made Dominic and Tyler Hoechlin (who plays Marty Stokes) run up the beach in 100 pounds of scuba gear over and over again to get the shots. Tyler actually ended up in pain and we took him to the hospital to make sure he was ok.

Then there was the boat chase in London. You spend weeks preparing in this one location. And the day before we were to begin shooting, they find this poisonous blue algae in the water, which can kill you if you fall in the water. So, we had to change locations in a day’s notice. We were shooting high-speed boat chases in water that no one has been on before. Luckily, it came out great and we all made it.

But yeah, these kind of action films are like an actual military mission. You have the obstacles and you have to overcome them. You have hundreds of people and the linguistics as well. I do like it though because it is a big adventure and I enjoy making them.

Well, I can say this looks like it could definitely be the start of a new franchise. If a follow-up does happen, would you want to return to direct it?
Oh absolutely! You learn so much from the first film. You have what works and what doesn’t work. You understand the characters. I would definitely be interested in doing a second film and would love to work with the same people again. They were a great cast to work with and I love the spy world. I love the Special Forces. It is such a great world to watch but also to make. So, yeah, I would love to do a sequel.

Are there any new projects in the works that you can talk about?
Well, I will say I am always developing four or five things at once, but at the moment, I am definitely having interest in working on a sci-fi project. I realized I love watching sci-fi films, but I never made one. So, I’m looking for a good sci-fi film to make. Stratton was meant to bring a great new British action hero and I’ve done that. So, I want to find a really great sci-fi film next.

That’s great! Well, Stratton comes to theaters, VOD, and Digital HD on January 5. I definitely see this as the start of a new franchise and this is definitely one to check out. Thank you again Simon for taking the time to talk about it.
Thank you so much!

A Special Thank You goes out to Katrina Wan PR and Simon West for making this, the first interview of 2018, possible! For more information on Simon West, go to his official Twitter page and check out Stratton on January 5!

 

From Conversations to “Friends”: An Interview with “Almost Friends” Writer and Director Jake Goldberger

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Jake Goldberger is an indie filmmaker who burst onto screen in 2009 with the indie thriller Don McKay. He followed it up in 2014 with Life of a King, based on the true story of an ex-con who would set up a chess club for inner city teens in Washington. Goldberger’s latest film, Almost Friends, a story about dreams and overcoming the odds to achieve those dreams, will be released on November 17 in theaters, VOD, and Digital HD from Gravitas Ventures.

World Film Geek had the chance to talk to Goldberger about making the film, his influences in films, and how witnessing a very strange conversation led to the film.

Thank you Jake for talking about Almost Friends. I saw the film just last night and I really enjoyed it.
Oh thank you very much! I really appreciate you saying that.

Before we talk about the film, can you tell me how you got involved in filmmaking?
I had always wanted to direct movies before I even knew what it meant. When I was two or three years old, my parents had told me I saw Mary Poppins and that was the start. I’m not sure why but I went to film school at a place called Hampshire College in Amherst, Massachusetts and then I moved to Los Angeles and just started pursuing my dream.

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Kicking and Screaming (1995), a Noah Baumbach film that was an influence for director Jake Goldberger.

What was the inspiration for writing Almost Friends?
I’m a fan. A movie freak. I’m a fan of all genres. I want to see everything when I possibly can, from when I was growing up and even now. And there was a film I was really into called Kicking and Screaming, a Noah Baumbach film. I’ve seen it so much that I think I wore out the VHS tape. I loved the meandering pace. I loved the lack of hope. I loved that it was just about these kids just trying to sift through the conflicts of their lives.

I was also a fan of movies such as Say Anything and Singles, those Cameron Crowe films. The early ones that were based on the James L. Brooks movies, the Billy Wilder movies. Those sorts of stories. I think it’s an undervalued genre. The whole romantic comedy genre has gotten so clichéd and ridiculous. I wanted to do something more along the lines of those movies, regardless of whether they were in vogue or not. It’s something that I wanted to do.

Seeing the film, I can relate to the characters as I felt the film is about dreams and the personal issues these characters must go through to achieve those dreams. Did you bring your own experiences into some of the characters in the film?
Not so much, but this is an in interesting story. I was in a coffee shop up on Hillhurst in Los Angeles and I had a writing assignment. I had to write the first ten pages of a screenplay for this workshop I was in the next night. I had complete writer’s block. I had no idea what I was going to write.

This kid walks into the coffee shop and he had this sweet yet very painful and awkward conversation with the young woman behind the counter. Which is pretty much what you see in the movie, except the version I saw in real-life was longer and more painful (laughs). It was more awkward you can imagine. And so, I transcribed that conversation and I went home. I turned it into ten pages and I brought it into the workshop and everyone seemed to respond. It gave the confidence to want to keep going and just imagine what these characters were feeling in their own personal lives and then adding these other characters.

It’s not so much autobiographical. I’m not sure where it came from, except other than that conversation. If I wasn’t there when this conversation happened, I don’t know this would ever happened.

I think that’s fascinating. Just the fact you saw this conversation happened really inspired you to turn it into this film. I totally related because I felt like I was Charlie back when I was younger. I’ve been through something similar at one point.
Oh yeah! And I appreciate you saying that because I think we’ve all had those awkward conversations. They are a part of life, at least maybe for people like you or I. I related to that as well. I’d be lying if I said that part wasn’t autobiographical.

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Odeya Rush as Amber and Freddie Highmore as Charlie in Almost Friends (Gravitas Ventures)

I thought both Freddie Highmore and Odeya Rush truly drove the film with their roles of Charlie and Amber. What was it like working with them on the set as well as the rest of the cast?
I’m not BSing you when I say this. They were great. I had a really great experience with the actors. I mean, Freddie. He is super, super talented. He’s been doing this since he was five years old. He’s such a pro. It is interesting dealing with someone who is younger than me by a good amount of years and has been doing it longer by double the time.

When you’re dealing with professional actors at that level, it’s almost like dealing with athletes. When you go to a baseball game and watch batting practice, it’s just an incredible thing watching them play at the highest level. What’s great about Freddie is that he’s a super nice person. And he gets it. He understands the references. Every movie I asked him to watch, he watched it. And we were able to have fluid conversations throughout. And then, when it was time for him to step into it, he steps into it with such conviction and he takes notes.

He’s lingering around the camera now. He’s directed episodes of Bates Motel and I’m sure he’ll direct episodes of The Good Doctor, but when all of the other actors are in their trailers, Freddie is just standing with me and the camera crew and watching what we are doing. He is so, off-the-charts, smart. He is such a pleasure.

And so is Odeya. We shot this movie in eighteen days and she was there day one. Freddie didn’t start his until day two. We had to start shooting right away with Odeya and it was a lot of work and with a lot of difficult stuff for her character. She’s a pro. She stepped in and a very nice person also. She’s very smart and a great actress. It was really a pleasure working with them. That’s no BS whatsoever.

Did you experience any difficulties while making the film?
They are all pretty difficult. My first film, Don McKay, was shot in nineteen days. Life of a King, which was a Cuba Gooding Jr. chess movie I made, we shot that in fifteen days. And let me tell you. When you are shooting a movie in fifteen days with an actor of that caliber, it’s going to be hard for me to be daunted at this point. You basically have the guns to your head (laughs). You have got to get it done! You do not get it done by the end of the day, it’s not in the movie.

With something like Almost Friends, we shot the movie in eighteen days. When you’re working with someone like Freddie, who’s done TV, he gets it. He understands what shooting seven to eight pages of dialogue is like. On a big movie, you’re shooting three pages of dialogue. Some of these movies, you’re shooting a half-page of dialogue. For us, you try to spread the work out as best as you can and you want to shoot in order as much as you can. Again, on a movie like this, it’s very difficult so you need to surround yourself with the right people, explain exactly what’s going on, every single day.

Don’t ever take your eye off the prize. Yeah, there is a ton of difficulty, but at the end of the day, if you get a good movie, that’s what matters. And I feel we did on this one.

Finally, do you have any new films in the works?
I do have a couple of things that we are trying to get going. But, I don’t want to jump the gun just yet so my focus right now is Almost Friends.

Almost Friends comes to theaters, VOD, and Digital HD on November 17. I would recommend this film as it is a great look at dreams and what people must go through to live those dreams. Thank you again Jake for talking about the film.
Thank you so much! Really appreciate it!

A Special Thank You goes to Katrina Wan PR and Jake Goldberger for making this interview possible.

Bringing the “Mayhem”: An Interview with Director Joe Lynch

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Joe Lynch is a filmmaker known for his work on films such as Wrong Turn 2: Dead End and Everly. He returns to the director’s chair with Mayhem, a genre mashup that turns practically The Office into a mix of Troma and Miike. The film is set for release on November 10 by RLJE Films.

World Film Geek got the chance to talk with Lynch about making the film and his experience with horror films and who are his influences.

Thank you Joe for taking the time to talk about Mayhem. I saw the film and I was not expecting what I saw, but it is safe to say I may have just found a new favorite movie.
Oh dude! That’s awesome! Thank you! I don’t think anyone was expecting this, believe me, least of all me! (Laughs) That’s amazing to hear!

From my understanding, you’ve been a horror fan all your life. When did you begin watching horror films?
I began watching horror movies at the tender age of 2, when my mother snuck me in the theater to see Dawn of the Dead because she couldn’t find a babysitter. And I remember all of it. She was a horror movie fan from back in the day and it transpired onto me. And I’ve been a horror movie fan ever since.

I think part of it was that I was scared of everything as a little kid, so my mom thought she could show me what horror really is, at least in the 80’s when it was all slasher movies and monster movies. I would also get issues of Fangoria and she would show me how the “sausage” was made so to speak. I mean she was fascinated with that. I’ve been a fan of that ever since because those movies affected me in such a way I never experienced before on the TV or on a flat screen that would elicit a response. Whether it was screaming or laughing or feeling tense.

I remember seeing Poltergeist for the first time on HBO and when that assistant guy rips his face off, I was so terrified of that and I thought the images were affecting you like they were actually coming from the screen and onto you, like they were coming out from under the TV. It was like that scene kind of, infected me, so to speak (Laughs).

I’ve just been always a fan of horror movies and how they are geared to make people respond and make people be affected by the images and sounds they see or hear on the screens. And for a long time, I wanted to be a make-up effects artist. I wanted to be Tom Savini, Robert Kean, and all those guys. But over the years, I would see more and more movies and realize, “So wait, the director gets to do all of that?” I remember seeing Chuck Russell’s The Blob and go, “wait a minute, now I get it” because people were screaming and yelling and laughing.

So I was like, “so the director gets to work with the make-up effects people and the actors”. And I was trying to be an actor as well at the time, doing little things here and there, but it was like the director got to work with everybody! So I was like yeah, I wanna do that! And I’ve been making stuff ever since.

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Lynch on the set of Mayhem

Let’s talk about Mayhem. What led you to direct the film and in your own words, how would you describe the film for anyone who hasn’t seen it?
Well, for anyone who hasn’t seen it yet, Mayhem is a horror-action-comedy-thriller-satire-musical so to speak. It’s a big genre mashup and I like those kind of films. It’s a rollercoaster of different tones and different genres even. The plot is very simple. What if a virus that made you lose your inhibitions for a short amount of time and actually legally lets you get away with whatever you do based on a loophole, what happens when that gets released in a law firm?

And that’s the very basic set-up and that allowed me and the filmmaking team, both cast and crew to be able to poke fun a little bit at the corporate culture. Even to tap into the frustrations we all have with jobs that we don’t like, people we don’t like to work for or work with, the abuse we sometimes get from that. The passive-aggression that corporate cultures foster because they are afraid of being sued.

All of this was prime material for me, especially because I was working a corporate job at the time. Because movies these days, they don’t pay what they used to and the opportunities aren’t there as much. And if you really want to make movies, you kind of have to get a side job because movies have become for a lot of people, side work or a hobby in a way. Careers are hard these days. And in between the movies I have done, I always had a side job or something that pays the bills because that’s the responsible thing to do. You know, gone are the days when you could be in a development deal and you can be paid just for reading scripts or hanging out in an office at the Universal lot. That doesn’t happen as much anymore.

So being that I had to work this job many times over, I was getting frustrated because here I am, a creative person in a very corporate world and it just became creatively stifling. So when I read the story about a guy who just really wants to paint ultimately and just follow his passions instead of following the lead of what society tells him he has to do or what his parents told him is the level of success, you know, his passions lie in being artistic, that totally got me! That hit me really hard. So when I read the script and finished it, I said “I know this character” better than any of the other movies I’ve done . I knew this guy so much and I felt compelled to tell his story and when I met the producers, they said, “if you got something to say, we’re gonna be here to help you say it.”

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Lloyd Kaufman, co-founder of Troma Inc., considered the “punk rock” of cinema according to Lynch.

I will tell you, I am a huge fan of Troma films, being originally from New York.
Oh dude that’s awesome! I’m also from New York and Troma to me, was our East Coast Corman. Those guys [Lloyd Kaufman and Michael Herz] were our punk rock. Troma was basically punk rock for cinema. And when you’re a kid growing up in the 80’s, you’re like f**k man, these guys are on f**kin’ point. They’re giving a big middle finger to the establishment, including Hollywood. Who wouldn’t want to root for those dudes? With all the crushed heads and gory deaths and weird irreverent humor. They were my jam!

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Prolific Japanese director Takashi Miike, a major influence in Lynch’s films.

I thought Mayhem was inspired by both Troma and actually some of the films by Takashi Miike. Would you say that the film was inspired by those elements as well?
Absolutely! Troma is in my blood. My first job was with Troma, so I was thrilled to be working with Lloyd and the Troma Team to find out how to make movies from nothing. How to make movies efficiently. Also, to balance that weird line between horror and comedy and be able to take the piss out of things so to speak. So, Troma’s been always in my blood and it’s really hard to shake. I would say Wrong Turn 2 is more like a Troma film.

When it comes to Takashi Miike, ever since I saw both Audition and Visitor Q and Happiness of the Katakuris, and especially Dead or Alive, I said this is the guy knows the movies that I love to make. And that’s only happened very few times. Like Quentin Tarentino. I was like this guy is speaking my language of using pop culture and using movies as communication. With Takashi Miike, he’s using visceral cinema and pushing the envelope in a way that I always appreciated when I was a little kid and watching these movies that I should not be watching at ten years old like Re-Animator and Evil Dead 2, those from the splatter era.

Oh, I’ve been there (laughs).
And we’ve all been there. Miike for me has always been such a hero and Everly [Lynch’s 2014 film] was my love letter to Miike. It’s a lot more Eastern-influenced but in terms of tone and how Miike could just, well, I haven’t seen Blade of the Immortal yet, from what I’ve been hearing it is violently disgusting and harrowing but hilarious at the same time. I gravitate towards that immediately so Miike especially has always been a huge influence on me and it’s not the most commercial way of doing things in terms of what the American audiences are used to, so you have to have a much defined voice.

With this story, it felt like the satire and also the extreme measures that the characters have to take based on the plot, based on the fact that the story said these people could be doing aberrant things and they can get away with it, for the audience, if you have a great cast that can allow that to happen, it’s just the kind of license that Miike kind of gets away with. And I thought, I can try to do the same things here with a great cast and be able to sneak in the subversive kind of laughs and moments that only he can get away with.

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Steven Yeun as Derek and Samara Weaving as Melanie in Mayhem

The driving forces of the film are truly Steven Yeun and Samara Weaving as Derek and Melanie. How did they come onboard and what were they like on the set?
Steven, well, I am still a huge Walking Dead fan and a fan of his character Glenn. So, when we got the green light for the movie on a Friday, and on Sunday was the moment when Glenn kind of fake-died, the whole dumpster incident and both my wife and I as well as the world reacted to that so abruptly because it wasn’t a penultimate episode or a final episode, none of us saw it coming. I watched the entire world mourn for this character. And I was like holy s**t, the world loves this guy!

He’s so charming and so effective, such an everyman. And to me, that’s my global everyman. It’s not some white guy. It’s someone that can represent all of us. All races, all nationalities. Steven took immediately to the project, read the script, and was like “Wait, you want me to take the lead?” I was like f**k yes I do dude! I told him that he was my Richard Dreyfuss. And so he was in.

And with Samara, it was a really tricky role to cast because we needed someone who was vivacious and explosive and funny and passionate and kind of crazy, all at the same time. And I remember watching Samara in Ash vs. Evil Dead and in those last four episodes of the first season, and I said, if anyone can let Sam Raimi throw them around the cabin and dump cockroaches in their underwear, I can work with this person.

And we met over Skype, and I was already in the middle of prepping Mayhem. Usually, you don’t want to do auditions over Skype and it wasn’t even an audition. It was more of a conversation. Within five minutes of talking to Samara, I knew we were gonna get along great and I had one of those Barton Fink feelings that she was going to get along with Steven too because Steven is hilarious. He’s got a great whip crack, a very smart yet dark sense of humor. Immediately, we got along.

I felt if the three of us could get along and talk like this, and get along separately, then I think this will work. When they met on the set in Serbia, well, I shouldn’t say the sparks flew because they are both in relationships, but the chemistry was there right away in a platonic manner. Every day on set, they were a joy to work with.

Steven has been one of my greatest collaborators because he was on from the beginning and we banged the s**t out of that script, finding every beat we could to make it that Derek was both a sympathetic character but also compromising it. If you step back and look at it, there’s one line in the movie where the voiceover said, “Look, I did some f**ked up s**t and I totally have to live with that!” You don’t get that very often where the character admits his flaws. With Steven, you believe it and you believe that he’s sincere in his “half-apology” for it.

That was integral to us every day and Steven was challenging me every day, asking what the tone was for the day, how far we can go and how far is too far. And one of the strengths that Samara had on the set was she’s a very reactive actress. So, we would present these things to her and as Melanie, she would react off of that. That’s a rare feat and not many actors can do that very well, where they listen to instructions and take that information to make it their own and react as the character.

Like the scene in the bathroom where Derek and Melanie are talking about their favorite bands, that was primarily improved that we did the night before that we were blocking the scene out. And I wrote that scene and I came in the next day and told them, here’s the new scene. Originally the script said they wait and I was like that’s boring! And I love these guys so much that I wanted them to have a real moment as if there wasn’t a real virus where people are beating the s**t out of each other. Instead, these two would be at a coffee shop having this conversation. It endears you to them and it makes them seem real. And that’s a true testament to both those actors.

What I found interesting about the film is that the film was shot in Belgrade. What led to the film being filmed there and what was the experience like?
I made my previous film, Everly, in Serbia and I have to admit, I was not thrilled to go halfway around the world. But at the same time, I knew that was the only way to get the movie made. I had such a good time there and I said, I would definitely make another movie there. So when Mayhem was green-lit and as a filmmaker, you know “time is money”. Everyday counts.

So when we went cross-country with the different tax breaks and incentives, we realized that doing the film in the amount of time we needed was just not going to be possible to make in the United States. Otherwise, we would seriously detriment the movie itself. So I reluctantly said, why don’t we go to Serbia and the producers thought I was crazy! And they said that they would give us 25 days, which was 10 more days than any other place we called. It was a forlorn conclusion.

When I came back with some of my crew from Everly, such as Steve Gainer, my cinematographer, because we had such a good relationship there when we did Everly, and they tolerated us Americans, it made the shorthand much more effective this time around. We were a family even before I stepped off the plane and by the end of the shoot, we were this band of brothers and sisters that were able to make this thing work with a lot less of what to expect and a lot less time than we anticipated. I don’t think I could have made the film anywhere else.

Did you experience any difficulties while making the film?
Oh, every day was difficult! Because we were moving so fast because we didn’t have the time or money. We shot in one location and if you look carefully, you would profess that the building is at least ten stories tall. We only had three floors to work with. So every day, we’re racing up and down each floor as the production designer makes it look like different levels. Because we were in such a confined space, one person got sick and then everybody got sick. It’s kind of apropos about a dangerous virus and that place became a f**kin’ petri dish at one point where everybody was sick.

It was mostly about time, the time to be able to get the things we needed. It was difficult every day, but the crew loved making movies so much that they will go the extra yard and I had people like Steven Gainer who is just an amazing collaborator to work with. We were coming up with these innovative ways to not only give the film a polished look, but do it in a way that made us not break the bank at the same time. And then you have actors like Steven and Samara, who are used to working on TV.  And with working on that rigorous schedule, that’s the efficiency that we needed to make the things that would normally be difficult be more palatable enough to make your day. To make the movie you wanted and not compromise everything along the way.

So, every day was difficult, but if we didn’t have that level of difficulty, we wouldn’t have pushed ourselves so far.

Do you have any upcoming projects that you can talk about?
Yeah, actually, the one I can talk about is one I’m prepping up for right now. It’s called Taste. It’s my take on the whole “foodie culture”. I can’t really talk much more about it, but it’s definitely in the same vein as Mayhem where it’s taking the tropes of the horror movie and thriller, more of a thriller this time around, but ramping it up using satire as well because it’s something we all deal with every day.

You see people order food and taking Instagram photos and eat it or don’t even eat it at all. And all of the rock star chefs that are out there. Foodie culture or food culture has become this massive thing, this strange phenomenon. It is interesting in a world where people are taking these photos on one end of the world and people who are starving on the other. And I think that’s something that’s ripe for the picking so that’s one thing I’m working on right now and I’m really excited about it.

Mayhem comes to theaters, VOD, and Digital HD on November 10. If fans like The Office and Troma films, then fans will truly get a kick out of this film. Thank you so much Joe for talking about the film.
Thank you so much and I hope we can keep in touch!

A Special Thank You goes to Katrina Wan PR and Joe Lynch for making this interview possible. You can follow Joe on Twitter.

Bringing a “Miracle”: An Interview with Scott Waugh

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Scott Waugh is a former stuntman who delved into filmmaking as a director, earning acclaim for his 2012 film Act of Valor, which featured real-life active Marines in the film. He would go on to direct the film adaptation of the video game series Need for Speed. His latest film, 6 Below: Miracle on the Mountain, comes to select theaters on October 13 from Momentum Pictures.

World Film Geek got to speak with Waugh about the film, in which he gave a bit of a revelation as to why he chose to direct this film.

Thank you, Scott, for talking about 6 Below. I saw the film and it was quite good, giving me the sense of being there as part of the journey.
That was the hope! (Laughs) That’s the hope, man! For people to see what it would be like to be stuck on a mountain for days in below zero temperature.

You were a stuntman before becoming a director and you directed two action films. This was quite a departure as this was an inspirational drama. What inspired you to take the helm on this film?
They sent me the book [Crystal Clear by Eric LeMarque and Devin Seay] to turn the book into a movie as a producer and the pitch was that it was about a crystal meth addict who was a snowboarder and he got lost in the mountains in 2004. And it’s about the survival after eight days on the mountains, falling into water, trying to dry in below zero temperature. Losing both of his legs and eating his own skin to get out and I thought, ‘Wow! That sounds pretty intense’.

When I got the book, I saw the bottom of the title and it said “The true story of Eric LeMarque” and I was like, ‘Eric LeMarque’? I went to my assistant and I asked, ‘Did Eric LeMarque play ice hockey?’ He said, yeah he played for the Boston Bruins. I was like ‘Oh my God, send me a picture’. And when I saw the picture, I said ‘I played hockey with this guy when I was a kid for six years and his dad was my coach!’ I said I have to tell this story and I have to direct it because how many opportunities get thrown at you about a childhood friend about something so crazy like this?

I just wanted to take it and I felt like I really wanted to take the challenge of having one man on the mountains. We got lucky and were able to cast Josh Hartnett.

One of the fascinating things about the film aside from the core story was in fact the snowboarding sequences. I have to ask how that was done, because the angles they were shot at, they look like they could come right off a documentary.
People who know my work, I like to immerse the viewer into the action, giving them a sense of feeling what it is like. I worked with a really great friend of mine from college who has done a lot of snowboarding films. I told him what I was looking for and I’ve always been an avid skier. So I got to have a lot of fun and operate the camera while skiing too. I just wanted to give the audience an authentic view of snowboarding.

What was Josh Hartnett like on the set because he truly gave a wonderful performance in the role of Eric LeMarque?
Man, he was great! He really went the distance on this one. I personally think this was his best work. His acting is just superb and he showed up every day just ready to go for it. We shot the film in chronological order on the mountain and he wanted to experience it. He even showed the weight loss that Eric went through. He lost 25 pounds in three weeks and while it was really hard to show it on screen, he said he really wanted to do it for his own sake. I think it led to an incredible performance.

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Josh Hartnett as Eric LeMarque in 6 Below: Miracle on the Mountain (Momentum Pictures)

I agree with you on this being Josh Hartnett’s best acting role to date. One of the scenes that shocked me is when he is drying his clothes and he is sitting there naked in these freezing temperatures and I wonder how anyone could go through that because I surely wouldn’t be able to.
Yeah! (Laughs) And you know what’s funny? I told Josh about that scene and I said to him, ‘Umm, so what do you wanna do here?” (Laughs) And he looked at me and said, ‘What do you mean?’ and I said, ‘Well, you’re gonna get naked so are you cool with that?’ And Josh then says, ‘Yeah man, I’m good!’ So I said, “All right, let’s do it!’ (Laughs)

That’s a brave move and that just shows his dedication to the role.
Oh yeah! He was fearless, he really was. And those scenes where he’s ripping off his skin, I would be looking at the monitor and ask whether he really did rip his skin! His expressions were so real!

Yeah, that made me cringe because I thought that was really disturbing. My mouth was dropping!
(Laughs) Yeah. I mean, just the thought behind it was really disturbing. But, it was true so I didn’t want to shy away from it. I thought it was accurate and authentic to Eric’s real life story. I just wanted to portray that.

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The real Eric LeMarque

The film featured an appearance by the real Eric LeMarque. My question is that since the story was based on his life and book, did he have any creative input during the making of the film?
Eric was great. He definitely trusted me and he is a fan of my work. I would always reach out to him and ask him so many questions. How did you do this? How did you get here? Even though I read the book, I wanted to bring more information and I also really wanted to dive into his past. The book doesn’t really dive into his past that much.

And I found the flashback sequences interesting because they showed Eric as someone who was raised to have a “no-quit” attitude, but at the same time, he was broken and going on a road to redemption.
Yeah, I mean we are all defined by our past and Eric really had a hard childhood the way his dad was. I knew his dad and his dad was a really tough guy. He not only perpetuated Eric’s type of personality, but also helped Eric survive the mountain. I think it led him to the mountain and got him off the mountain with an unfortunate chain of events.

It felt like a “double-edged sword”.
Yeah, definitely!

Finally, what projects are coming up that you could talk about?
There is one I’m on, with Jackie Chan, it’s an action film called Ex-Baghdad. We’re still trying to find the second lead. It was supposed to be with Stallone, but he backed out. So, it’s a bit of a holding pattern, but I am going to be signing onto something but can’t reveal it yet.

6 Below: Miracle on the Mountain comes to theaters on October 13. Any fan of biopics and inspirational films will truly find themselves on a journey with this film. Thank you again Scott for talking about the film.
Thank you so much!

A special Thank You goes to Katrina Wan PR and Scott Waugh for making this interview possible.

Remaking “Dementia”: An Interview with Richard LeMay

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Richard LeMay is an award winning filmmaker who has become one of indie cinema’s prolific helmers out of New York. In addition to writing, producing, and directing Naked As We Came, LeMay also produced Water, which starred Michael Shannon and Idina Menzel. LeMay has gone from indie dramas to living his dream of directing horror films with the remake of the 1963 film Dementia 13, the feature film directorial debut of cinematic legend Francis Ford Coppola. The film will be released in select theaters on October 6 followed by a VOD and Digital HD release on October 10 from Chiller Films.

World Film Geek had the chance to speak with LeMay about his love of horror and how it transitioned to remaking this classic tale of terror.

Thank you so much Richard for talking about Dementia 13. I saw the original many years ago and this was actually a pretty good remake that did have some twists, but it was actually pretty good.
Oh, thank you. I really appreciate that!

Before we get into the film, can you tell me how you got into filmmaking?
Well, believe it or not, I started out as an actor. I was just doing really bad films (laughs). I remember that I wanted to make a movie just so I can be in something better than what I was in. I ended up writing, producing, directing and starring in one and the movie sucked. But, I fell in love with the other side of the camera. And that was the end of it. I never looked back and just kept making movies after that.

Were you always a horror film fan?
Yes! I’ve been a horror film fan since I was a little kid. My brother, my two sisters, and I would jump on the couch and watch The Wolf Man. I remember as a toddler, just feeling scared and I’ve had a lot of good memories through the years with horror films.

That’s great! So, what led you to direct the remake of Dementia 13?
Well, I was approached by Dan DeFilippo, the film’s writer and producer. At the end of the conversation, he and Justin Smith had already written the script and they were getting things moving. So, I’ll be honest, I had never heard of Dementia 13, until the conversation started. So, I got to watch it a couple of times and for me, the challenge was that you’re stepping into the shoes of a legend.

So, my goal was to respect the original and just put my stamp on it. I knew that I was never going to outdo Francis Ford Coppola. But, just to be mentioned under the same breath as him that was the reason to make the movie alone. I loved the script so I thought it was really fast-paced and kept you guessing. So that was the hook.

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Channing Pickett as Rose in Dementia 13 (Chiller Films)

What was it like working with the cast?
That’s one of my favorite things. I think with my background as an actor from many years ago, I have a good report. In the beginning, it’s what I brought to the table. My skill set has grown since. I always handpick my cast so I know what I’m getting into anyway. But, I couldn’t have picked a better group of people, both on and off set.

They were down to do whatever. You look at Channing Pickett, who plays Rose, you know, she’s running her face off through the film, screaming. And she screamed herself hoarse. She was down for it. So, it was a pleasure working with everybody.

Were there any difficulties that you had to endure while making the movie?
Yeah, I mean every movie does I think. I like to say every day is a [censored] fight when you’re making a film. And you just gotta keep moving forward. Like any film, we had linguistical nightmares. But at the end of the day, we were on a thousand-acre estate in the middle of nowhere, in the woods of Connecticut. So there was no cell service, we didn’t have wi-fi (laughs). So you’re pretty remote and unable to get in touch with anybody.

So we had a lot of safety concerns, and we brought people in to monitor those, because there was a tremendous amount of running. There’s stunts. There’s fights. We were taking it day-by-day, but I can’t say there was any one thing that stood out as a main problem.

This was actually quite a pretty good horror film. Would you do another film?
That’s my plan! I intentionally got into horror. Before this movie, I actually shot my first horror film, titled Blood Bound, starring Eden Brolin, Josh Brolin’s daughter and she’s going to blow people’s minds. I had just finished shooting that and begin editing when the conversation about Dementia 13 began. So, when I got the job for Dementia 13, I had to press pause on Blood Bound. I just recently finished it this summer, so you’re going to see it next year.

That’s awesome!
Yeah it is. So I really wanted to get into horror. I tend to look at horror, or pretty much anything as drama. I think you have to have your feet on the ground and whatever reality you’re creating. The horror element is just another layer to that.

It’s funny to me, because this movie is about a dysfunctional family, you know, dealing with their personal stuff. The horror element is the thing that brings them together. But, it’s a little too late (laughs).

Aside from Blood Bound, are there any other projects you are working on?
Yeah, well, I’m in the process of negotiation to shoot a new thriller in Los Angeles in the spring, but the deal is not done yet, so I can’t really talk about that. There are several things I’ve written and it’s a perfect world, I’ll be shooting a script called Dark Hallow, and that’s a supernatural horror film about witches and that’s pretty dark. So, yeah, I’m kind of excited to see where this road leads because I’ve always wanted to do horror films. So, I’m kind of living the dream right now.

Well, if this film says anything, it will be the beginning of what is an exciting road because you really brought the scares to the film.
Thank you! You know it’s funny because you spend your time editing a film like this and you have no idea how the audience is going to react. By the time you’re done, you’re like “I don’t know” (laughs). I do hope someone likes it.

Dementia 13 will be in theaters on October 6 followed by a VOD and Digital HD release on October 10. If anyone enjoyed Coppola’s original will surely like this remake with a bit of a twist to it. Thank you again Richard for talking about the film and will be looking forward to more of the scares from you!
Thank you so much!

A special Thank You goes to Katrina Wan PR and Richard LeMay for making this interview possible. For more information on Richard LeMay, you can visit his official homepage