Your new movie Imposter
- in a few words, what is it about?
Imposter is a silent drama that serves as a visual representation of the
struggles one deals with having anxiety.
What were your sources of inspiration when writing Imposter?
Personal experience played a huge role. Right from the get-go,
I knew I wanted to make a personal film about the subject. There have been
plenty of films about anxiety and what it is like to have it, but I put a
different spin on it by showing it as to how I view it. When I think of
anxiety, I think of it as being like a personified being that's always
reminding you of your negative thoughts or planting negative seeds. For
me, it is only something you feel, and no one else can understand it just
like how we don't know what others may feel. Therefore, we suffer in
silence and anxiety is very much a silent disorder. These were the main
inspirations for the film, including why I chose to have no dialogue.
To what extent can you identify with any of your movie's
I think I can identify with almost
every character in the film. The main character played by Tom Mariano is a
lot like me in that I don't always feel like I am the right person for a
job or that I'm fooling someone when I say I'm capable of doing something.
I'm also a lot like the artist played by Sheetal Kelkar because, as a
filmmaker, I find myself in situations where I end up comparing myself, or
I feel exposed to the public about what flaws my work may present.
is rather metaphorical in its storytelling - so do talk about your unique
approach to your subject matter for a bit!
Again, anxiety and the idea of the Imposter Syndrome was something that
fascinated me. How I view it versus how others perceive it is very
different I'm sure. For me, your mind has an amazing ability to paint
pictures that seem real, but they are not. With this film, I wanted to
touch on that and how our inner demons are just that. It's all vapor,
but it feels so real to us because of how we can feed into it. I wanted
to show the tragic and dark side of this while also giving a small sense
of hope. As I mentioned above, I find anxiety to be a silent, but
deadly, disorder that can strike hard which is why I chose to make this
a silent film. The visuals were crucial for me and the sound, I felt,
should represent the noise we hear that anxiety can produce.
A few words
about your overall directorial approach to your story at hand?
worked with each group of actors in the bus scene and developed
backstories for each one. I was also very adamant about keeping a subtle
approach throughout while bringing out the human aspects of the
characters. More importantly, this is a highly visual piece, and I wanted
to make sure each camera shot dictated what I wanted to get across.
can you tell us about your key cast, and why exactly these people?#
cast includes Tom Mariano, Brendan Meehan, Sheetal Kelkar, Jamie Braddy,
William DeCoff, and Adam Masynk. My producer, Lisa Wynn, and I spent hours
looking through headshots and looking at different actors. We didn't hold
auditions for this particular project, but instead we hand-picked actors.
Tom Mariano came recommended to me by Lisa. I had known about him for a
while before that, but never met him or seen his acting. I worked with him
on set where I was a production assistant, and he and Lisa were producing
together. I liked his attitude, and we got along quickly that it just felt
right immediately. He brought a great realism to the role that was
important to make it relatable.
When casting Brendan Meehan, we needed someone who merely looked like Tom
as a young man. Brendan not only looked like he could pass for a young
Tom, but he also carried a lot of talent to bring it to life. One of my
biggest concerns with his role of the jester was that it would come off as
funny given what the character would be wearing and do, so it was
important to me to cast someone who can bring the reality and tragedy in
which I was aiming. Brendan did an excellent job of working with Tom to
create a unified vision and character. By the time we got to the set, they
were very much in sync with each other.
Sheetal Kelkar is someone I met when I was doing her demo reel. She was
new to film acting and was looking to get clips made. She had reached out
to me and inquired about my services. I directed two scenes for her reel
which proved to be an incredible collaboration. Originally someone else
was going to play the role but wasn't able to commit, so I then remembered
Sheetal after having just worked with her, and she was perfect for the
role. When we did her scene in the gallery on set, she had a number of us
in tears. It was a beautifully powerful moment.
Jamie Braddy, I had been aware of for a while, and I always enjoyed her
personality and thought she was a very talented individual. Like with
Brendan, we needed someone who not only bared a similar resemblance to
Sheetal but can also portray the vulnerability the role required. Jamie
nailed it. As written and as seen in the film, the character covers her
exposed body with a painting to symbolize how the character feels naked or
exposed when showing her work to the public. Jamie was an amazing trooper
given this factor as she spent the whole shoot in her swimsuit while
holding up this heavy painting. We even had a scene that took place at a
bus stop during the bitter cold of January. Jamie never complained once
and always did every take with grace and professionalism. We had blankets
on stand up and warm cars nearby between takes as well. Unfortunately,
because the lighting conditions changed so drastically, the scene had to
be cut, and we opted for a similar scene on the bus.
William DeCoff is an actor who I have known for a long time in passing,
but we never actually worked together. Lisa and I both wanted to work with
him, so it was a no-brainer to cast him. He is a true consummate
professional from his preparation of the role to the shooting. He was
Finally, Adam Masynk is someone I knew since high school. He was a year
ahead of me. The funny thing is we didn't talk a ton during that time. We
just knew each other in passing. After we both graduated college, we later
discovered that both of us were in film production. Lisa happened to be
good friends with him and had worked with him on another project, too. It
was just a natural fit that we both agreed to. Adam, like William, is a
true pro when preparing for the role and very detailed in his character
talk about the shoot as such, and the on-set atmosphere?
shoot was probably one of my favorite experiences I ever had as a
director. It was like a smooth well-oiled machine. Everyone knew what was
needed and required, did their jobs, and always pitched in whenever it was
needed. Everyone on the set was a true professional from cast to crew. The
crew consisted of members of On Edge Productions which Lisa and Tom both
run. I came to them with this idea and felt that their crew would be great
and I finally wanted to get a chance to work with them. Typically, I have
smaller crews on my shoots, and this had the most people I ever had on a
set. They made it super easy for me to focus on directing and crafting the
As mentioned above, when we did a scene at the bus stop, it was difficult
because of how cold it was and how the lighting was drastically changing.
Doing the bus scene, for me, was very tricky because of the number of
people we had and the amount of coverage we needed to get. When we shot
that scene, the whole cast was incredibly patient.
It was also somewhat of an emotional shoot, especially when it came to the
art gallery scene. We all had tears in our eyes from Sheetal's and Jamie's
performances. It was at that moment that I knew we had something special
$64-question of course, where can Imposter
As of right now, we are just submitting to film
festivals and awaiting our first selection. We plan on touring, not only
the festival circuit but also schools and other events that relate to
anxiety and depression as I think it can raise awareness.
Anything you can tell us about audience and
critical reception of Imposter
The critical reception, thus far, has more than exceeded my
expectations. It has easily been my best-reviewed film to date with many
seemingly enjoying the metaphorical imagery, the fact that it is a silent
film and the ending.
Any future projects you'd like to share?
have an upcoming short film currently in post-production called Bent. It
is a crime drama about corrupt cops. It was written by Kris Salvi, who had
co-starred in my previous film, The Deja
Vuers. Unlike my other films
which carry some surreal elements, this is a very grounded and gritty film
which I was very excited to take on because of my love for the genre and
as well as film noirs.
The feature in which I co-produced and was also the 1st assistant
director, Higher Methods (directed by Nathan Suher [Nathan
Suher interview - click here]), is having its first public
screening in September. From there, it will be hitting the festival
Feeling lucky ?
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I also always have different projects in the works from shorts to features
and a few book projects, including a follow-up to my previous book, The
movie's website, Facebook, whatever else?
for the interview!
Thank you as always, Michael, for
supporting the work of others and promoting them!