First of all, why don't you introduce yourself to those of us who don't
already know you?
I am Charlie Vaughn. If you
google me, I am not the Charlie Vaughn that has a band, nor the pilot who
flew across the globe… there is even a picture of a gravestone from 1877
with my name on it. I need to
clarify, cause sometimes people get confused.
I get crazy comparisons to celebrities... Everyone from Edward
Norton (flattering), Hugh Grant (very flattering), and David Spade
(horrifying). But I would
love to be compared to Madeline Kahn.
No one has been able to fill her shoes… and I think the time is
right for me to take that title. But
I consider myself a documentary filmmaker who also writes, directs, and
acts. What can I say… when
you grow up in Iowa, you go into farming.
When you grow up near Hollywood, you go into film.
You have only recently starred in the film Corporate
Cutthroat Massacre. A few words about the film and your role in it?
I play Bernie Andrews, a mild-mannered kiss-ass who—along with his
coworkers, is asked to stay the night at work until some reports are
turned in. I immediately hit
up the office drunk, get snookered, and when fired, decide to stay at work
to win back the bosses' affection. It
offered me some moments of comic relief, which I really relish.
In my day-to-day life, I am my own comic relief, so it’s no
surprise those are the parts I get cast in.
I once had a casting director tell me I had the sex appeal of a pencil - to which I queried,
“8 inches long with a pink tip?”
She asked me to leave.
can you tell us about the film's director Creep Creepersin [Creep
Creepersin interview - click here]?
I have known Creep since high school actually,
though we were not friends. In
high school, he scared me a bit. He
was on the football team, and looked like the type of guy who would beat
me up. It wasn’t until he
started frequenting the video store I worked at that I got to know him.
He always rented the most outlandish titles, and that’s
when my respect for him began. But
it wasn’t until I had gone away to SF State to study film and had moved
back to my hometown that we got reacquainted.
He had married a friend and former coworker of mine.
I absolutely adore Creep and his wife.
I have spent many hours at their house watching moronic clips
on YouTube, or movies, etc. I
want them to adopt me. I
think it would be neat for them to have a son who is older than they are.
Makes people take notice, right?
Creep and his wife are
easily two of the funniest people I know… but their humor is the type
that is subtle, sly, and witty. I
can’t tell you how many times I have lost my sh*t at the things they said.
It’s nice to be
friends with people that independently ended up in the same field.
I don’t know anyone who works harder than those two.
You have recently
also made Brothers Cannibal with Creep Creepersin. A few words
about that one?
We started shooting but the lead actor broke his leg—not my fault—then
when we resumed shooting the lead actress had gotten pregnant—definitely
not my fault. So I believe we
will finish in January.
... and you are also presently co-writing Bad News
Beavers with Creep Creepersin which you'll be starring in, right? Is
there anything you can tell us about that one yet?
Well, a distribution company that specializes in Gay and Lesbian features
approached Creep. They were
interested in having Creep pen a Gay or Lesbian horror movie, provided he
had some input from a real live gay.
Naturally, I am the gayest person he knows.
We spent some time hashing out ideas, and we decided to go the
lesbian route for two reasons… I have never seen an out-and-out lesbian
horror movie… and since 13 year-old boys also are horror fans, I thought
they would rather watch lesbians running around rather than some screaming
queens. Creep agreed, and I think he was probably more interested in
writing some lesbian characters in peril… plus, we wanted to try to
empower female characters in horror rather than just make them the
victims. This certainly
wasn’t some epiphany on our part, but we wanted to add some strong
females to our story… and who would be stronger than a softball team of
lesbians called the West Hollywood Beavers? That’s how he came up with
the title Bad News Beavers. I
had suggested Lesbi-ana-rama, but Bad News Beavers is much more fun—not
to mention easier to spell. As
usual, the film has the gore and crazy characters that Creep is known for,
with some very, very funny dialogue.
And yes, I play the team mascot, Lance, a sharp-tongued gay man.
I felt honored that Creep asked me to play Lance… But I think
that’s the way he works. He
finds it easier to write roles when he has particular people in mind.
Creep behind for now: Is it true you are also working on a documentary
about blind homosexuals - and could you elaborate on that one for a bit?
Yes, my other hat in filmmaking is doing documentaries.
I got interested in doing a piece about sexuality and vision, since
so much of my sexuality is based on what I am visually attracted to… I
thought, wow, if I was blind, would I still be gay?
Are there gay blind people out there?
I began to do some research and found that not only is there a
gay/blind community out there, but not a single film about this segment of
the gay community. I have
found 3 absolutely incredible and inspiring people that I have included in
the film. We are still
shooting it, and plan to have it done by next year.
directing Flight to Sinai
of homosexuals: You just have to talk about your coming-out-musical Flight
Flight to Sinai was a short musical that I directed in 2008.
I was taking a screenwriting class at SFSU, when the producer,
Aaron Zaragoza, pitched the idea in class.
It was about a Gay Christian teenager who comes out to his parents
and gets sent to a camp to reverse his sexuality.
I am gay, and Christian, and understand the complexities and
questions that people have surrounding sexuality and spirituality, and I
wanted to see the best possible outcome for the project.
Originally, I was hired as casting director—having had previous
experience casting a horror movie called The
Clique. As the project progressed, Aaron kept looking for the perfect
director, and finally offered it to me.
I then had the task of writing the screenplay. While not a perfect film, I am extremely proud of it because
everyone who sees has a different take on it.
It definitely sparks conversations, which is what I was hoping for.
My background is in comedy and acting, but I decided to switch
gears and make documentaries, which ultimately ended up with me helming a
musical. So certainly no one
was more surprised than I about that turn of events.
How did you come up with the musical
approach for the film, and is musical a genre dear to you?
I love musicals, and don’t have a shred of musical ability.
Singing in public is one of my greatest fears, though I do force
myself upon audiences at various karaoke nights at gay bars.
They say comedians are frustrated rock stars, and vice versa.
But the decision to make Flight to Sinai a musical was not my
idea… the composer Dustin Manuel had written the short story and the
songs, I merely wrote the screenplay and directed it.
On Flight to Sinai, you have served triple
duty as not only actor but also co-writer and director. How stressful was
that, and which part of filmmaking do you like the most?
I love, love, love working with actors.
I love acting in films, and I love rehearsing scenes.
So much can be discovered during the rehearsal process… and not
many films directors I know of really take the time to work with actors.
That is one thing that many film schools overlook in teaching filmmakers.
My background in
acting makes working with the actors fun.
However, I gave myself a chunky scene, which in retrospect was a
mistake. It was so hard to wear the director’s hat as well as the
actor’s. I now have
profound respect for people like Woody Allen and Clint Eastwood who do it
all the time.
other films you have worked on you'd like to talk about?
One of my proudest movie roles was being an extra in Ed Wood.
better than meeting Johnny Depp playing a legendary B-Movie film director [Ed
Wood bio - click here] with Tim Burton directing. This
buxomy extra was sitting next to me, and she was flirting like crazy with
Depp. She said, “Oooh, Mr.
Depp, can I bum a cigarette?” He
gave her one, turned to me, and said, “You want one kid?!” Like a
moronic 16-year-old goodie two-shoes, I honestly answered, “I don’t
smoke.” One of the huge
regrets I have in my career. Just think where I may be had Johnny and I shared that
cigarette. Another thrill of
my extra-work was doing a film at Roger Corman’s studio in Venice Beach [Roger
Corman bio - click here].
He had these words of inspiration posted around the halls of the studio.
But instead of things
like, “Teamwork,” or “Believe,” they said things like,
“Remember, Little Shop was shot in 2 days,” or “We discovered Jack
you have any formal training in acting or directing?
I have acted in about 30 plays, as well as taken everything from stand-up
comedy classes to improv to dramatic acting classes. My advice to any aspiring director is to take an acting
class. Not only will you meet
actors hungry for work, but also it gives you tremendous insight into what
an actor goes through when working on a film.
Acting on camera can be incredibly stressful. Many directors don’t know how to work with actors, or see
actors as merely chess pieces on their set.
Yet, actors—like everyone else involved in the movie—are the
directors’ collaborators. That’s
why I am making movies instead of painting.
Painting is solitary… filmmaking is a collaboration.
Also, learn diplomacy. This
will take you far in whatever you decide to do.
did get you started in films in the first place?
I played soccer and did theater growing up.
You can guess which one I was better at.
Acting gave me a chance to get over tremendous shyness.
I would be much more comfortable performing in front of 300 people
than talking to 1 person. I
was in fact so shy as a kid, that people would ask me my name.
When I would say “Charlie”, often people would mishear me and
say, “Johnny?” Too shy to
correct them, I would merely nod my head “yes.”
Acting offered an escape from that… and I guess people in my
hometown would have rather seen me on stage than one the field.
But once during a soccer game I got the chance to act.
The star player and I looked exactly alike.
My team had gotten into the playoffs, when suddenly the star
player fell ill. The coach
got it into his head to put me in the star’s uniform, and run around the
field, serving as a distraction… so that the other team would be
covering me. His one
direction was, “Whatever happens, DO NOT KICK THE BALL!”
Well, halfway through the game, the ball was lobbed towards me, and
by instinct I went to kick it. I
missed, and thus brought an end to the charade.
In high school, my
parents thought a fun job would be to do extra-work in movies and TV.
Since we lived close to Hollywood, I got a lot of work.
Since at that time I wanted to only be behind the camera, I would
spend my time watching the crew instead of the actors.
But I got to appear in many infamous TV shows and movies, like Baywatch (3 episodes), What’s
Love Got to Do with It?, Prehysteria 3, and
future projects you want to mention?
One of the actors in Flight to Sinai
and I are writing a script called, Cockblock. It’s an
ensemble comedy about 8 people who are attending a Sex Addicts Meeting.
They meet, fall in love, but can’t have sex… so tensions abound. We plan to tackle
social satire and mix romance with slapstick.
MySpace, Facebook, whatever else?
(My Gay/Blind Documentary)
Actors (or indeed
actresses) who inspire you?
Walter Matthau was amazing.
Nielsen is a genius. So versatile. I like actors who
can do both comedy and drama. Clint
Eastwood, Gene Hackman. I
love my actresses… Rosalind Russell, Mae West [Mae
West bio - click here], Bette Middler, Dolly Parton. Yes, I have some gay
Feeling lucky ?
any of my partnershops yourself
for more, better results ?
The links below
will take you
Directors who have
You mean besides Creep? Hmm,
Alfred Hitchcock and John Waters. Both
sit at totally different sides of the filmmaking spectrum… yet I have
tremendous admiration for both. Psycho
is a nearly flawless film. Beautifully
acted, beautifully shot, and I feel just creepy after watching it.
John Waters is a master at social satire, and I respect him for his
nontraditional casting. His
characters are always offbeat, but also, John is a terrific author.
I am reading his book, Crackpot, which is just terrifically
Your favourite films?
Harold and Maude
is a wonderful story
of an unlikely romance. I
think the humor is so subtle, and Ruth Gordon is so great. I love silent slapstick… Harold Lloyd, Buster
Keaton [Buster Keaton bio -
Charlie Chaplin. Movies that
I can watch over and over are Hairspray,
Clue, Psycho, 9 to 5,
Mame, The Women, Flight to
of course, movies you've really deplored?
You know, I don’t hold grudges… so when I see a bad film, I tend to
not remember it.
you are dying to tell us and I have merely forgotten to ask?
I have had the good fortune of appearing in the first two videos for a new
group called AB & the Sea.They
are a San Francisco-based rock group… helluva nice group of guys… and
the videos are very fun. I
know their songs are on iTunes, but not sure when the videos will be
released. Also, I play
a futuristic rogue cop in a SciFi film called Trash
and Progress, (http://www.trashandprogress.com)
soon to be released.
for the interview!