Your new movie Gravedigger - in a few words, what is it
about, and what can you tell us about your character in it?
Vigilante lawyer exacting justice on a few bad people - how was that for short?
Gravedigger was a great experience that has led me to the
world of directing for my new film Grinder.
What did you draw upon to bring your character to life, and how much
Brandon Ruckdashel can we find in Mike Ruble?
think I was too busy shooting and getting the sound right to focus on
Ruble, but as I always say the writer creates a two-dimensional character
and that third dimension is added by a good actor. My life
experiences and stories always shine through into the choices I make when
looking at a script. The one major lesson is to never act in something you
are also behind the camera on. With my upcoming film, Grinder,
I’ll be strictly behind the lens.
How did you get involved with the project in the first place, and
how did you end up on the production and cinematography side of things as
story short… Keith [Keith
Collins interview - click here] and I have known each other for a number of years
(reports vary but about ten years and we were introduced by a massage
therapist and a bottle of goose). He called me up to do Meat Puppet, which
was a passion project he was making about two years ago, and in Atlantic
City after the screening one thing led to another, we agreed to make
another film. Gravedigger, like most of my work, was born from the desire
With Grinder, I’m taking a lot of my Gravedigger lessons and applying them.
Keith was a brilliant producer and wish I could involve him with Grinder
in some way.
Do talk about your director Doug Bollinger for a bit, and what was
your collaboration like?
has worked a lot and he really is an actors' director. He brings a
breadth of experience with working on big movies which really helped us
move as fast as we did, we shot the movie in under 12 days. Working
with him has informed a lot of what I plan on doing with Grinder.
As Gravedigger's cinematographer, how would you describe the
visual style of the movie?
The Shield. We didn’t have a million dollar budget and I went after a style
that took that into account. I was very influenced by The
French Connection and The Shield, which both used 16mm (or the digital
equivalent) and a lot of hand-held. Looking back I would definitely do
hand-held a lot less on this film, my elbows were forever falling asleep. Grinder
is going to be a further evolution on those technical
lessons from Gravedigger. Now I know how to talk with a DP and
exactly how much guidance should be given to a technical department.
What can you tell us about the shoot as such, and the on-set
set. Keith and I have both had our time wasted on numerous sets and films,
so going in we all agreed no one would be there for endless hours.
We called people, we shot their scene, we sent them home.
No hurry up and wait. For me, I make movies.
I’ve worked with numerous Corman alumnus [Roger
Corman bio - click here] and they all shoot
efficiently. I want to continue these lessons with Grinder. Jim
Wynorski [Jim Wynorski
interview - click here] taught me to make a feature in 2 days. As much as I
honor that respected lesson, I’ll be shooting Grinder
in about 12.
You have only recently worked on another film, Meat Puppet,
with quite a few of the Gravedigger-crew - you
obviously have to talk about that one for a bit of course!
experience that taught me numerous lessons, think I covered that earlier
while talking about the gestation of Gravedigger. With Meat
Puppet our production team had a lot of toys, which they used.
We had dollies and jibs and all sorts of cinematographer
candy. Gravedigger didn’t have these and with Grinder
to find the middle ground.
Any future projects you'd like to share?
definitely, my next movie up is Grinder
which is a psycho-sexual thriller
set in NY. My fans know the kinds of films I make and what to expect
and I promise not to disappoint.
What got you into acting to begin with, and did you receive any
formal training on the subject?
were a lot of girls in acting classes, I thought the odds would be better.
I have a musical theater degree but the most I’ve used from it is the
timing and International Phonetic Alphabet, I’ve done commercials in
Before getting into movies, you have done quite a bit of theatre,
right? So how does performing on stage compare to acting in front of a
camera, and which do you prefer, actually?
differently, both are extremely difficult, but I am of the Mamet school of
thought. I could teach a plumber to act, the trick is getting out of your
way and not overthinking the work. Stage you have to ignore
the audience and film you ignore the camera. The biggest
difference is the use of energy, with film you have to have a greater
control of your energy within the frame, and stage…. SING OUT LOUISE!
really that’s the joy of doing non-union movies. I plan on
working with a lot of fresh talent for Grinder
and hopefully launching a
Can you still remember your first time in front of a movie camera,
and what was that experience like?
little short called Landscaper’s Daughter - Port Washington, NY,
below freezing temperatures, a rain machine… it was a Vietnam war
scene… needless to say after the whiskey got me out of the hypothermia I
Over the years you have worked on quite a few erotic movies and TV
series - so want to talk about some of those, and what is working on those
not the usual question. Most people cut to the required
“so… are you guys actually... like... you know… well, you know.”
Yes I know and generally the answer is... maybe. Love
those sets, and the directors I’ve worked with. They have
taught me invaluable lessons about shooting and how to work as a
technician and not an artist. I’m not saying the work isn’t art,
but with a play everyone overthinks it. When you shoot a movie
called “P.O.V.” and it’s renamed “Slutty, Busty and Bad”, you
stop taking yourself so seriously.
Other films of yours you'd like to talk about?
the Game, on almost every DVD shelf in Barnes and Noble. My
work with Tony Todd in that film is priceless. They gave me a scene
with him in which he delivers a monologue and I work my freaking ass off
trying to hold a frame. He, of all the actors I’ve worked with,
made me pull every single fiber of my being into the scene… did I
mention I had no lines… I act with my middle finger and a ring.
Truly a treasured experience.
Grinder will hopefully be on everyone’s computer screen this fall. I spent
9 months doing post on Gravedigger, Grinder
has a more succinct script and
should be finished much faster.
How would you describe yourself as an actor, and some of your
techinques to bring your characters to life?
of the role and life experience. When approached with a project you
need to see through all the BS that you get fed and see it for what it is.
With Grinder I’m seeing a lot of different talent and I
don’t feed them the typical “I’ll make you a star”-line. The
trick is as I’ve said to get out of your own way and say the lines. Yes,
sometimes the script is bad, but a crafty rephrase can always save a bad
line. That comes with experience. The pace at which I usually
shoot doesn’t allow you to sit down with a script and analyze it. I have
maybe 15 minutes to look at a scene and understand everything. That is the
way things should be.
Actors (or indeed actresses) who inspire you?
who tries to challenge or scare the audience. I’m fickle like anyone
else. I had a young actor in for Grinder
today, Jeremy Russial I
think his name was. He impressed me. It takes a lot to
sit down at a table and talk to a crazy 30 something would-be director,
who hasn’t finished his shooting script, and not run away screaming.
Your favourite movies?
Feeling lucky ?
any of my partnershops yourself
for more, better results ?
The links below
will take you
next one I will be shooting, Grinder. After that… the next film I’ll
... and of course, films you really deplore?
probably didn’t make it through the first 2 minutes… I don’t like to
Your website, Facebook, whatever else?
">Grinder at www.facebook.com/GrinderMovie
Thanks for the interview!
for interviewing me!