Your new movie Bent - in a
few words, what is it about?
is a crime drama about police corruption told through the eyes of
Brenda Hoggins, an officer involved in a shooting gone bad. She's faced with a
tough decision when internal affairs becomes involved to get her to give up
her partner, Michael Brooks, who committed the shooting. Unlike most films
about this subject, this was done as a character study where themes of
corruption and guilt are explored. Both Kris Salvi (the writer, co-producer,
and co-star) [Kris Salvi interview -
click here] and I felt this was an urban western of sorts with all the
classic beats of a western, but told in the world of cops and in a gritty
With Bent being
essentially a cop movie, is this a genre at all dear to you, and some of
your genre favourites?
I've always had a love for film noirs of the 40's and 50's
with my favorites being The Big Heat (Fritz Lang, 1953) and The Maltese Falcon (John Hudson, 1941), but I especially love
the gritty neo-noirs of the 70's and 80's such as The French
Connection (William Fredkin, 1971), Mean Streets (Martin
Scorsese, 1973), Taxi Driver (Martin Scrosese, 1976),
Prince of the City (Sidney Lumet, 1981), and Year of the
Dragon (Michael Cimino, 1985). When prepping for this film, I took a
look at a number of films for inspiration, including some of these listed
above and also a western. In addition, Kris introduced me to a few films,
including the documentary, The Seven Five (Tiller Russell,
2014), which told the story about a real case of police corruption in New
York during the 1980's.
How did the project fall together in the first place, and to what
extent could you identify with the script?
history is rather interesting. Kris had the script for a while before I
came along and different directors and actors were to be involved.
Eventually, Kris felt that none of the directors were falling align with
his vision. By that time, Kris and I somewhat knew each other in passing
from seeing each other's work and always chatting. He sent me the script
for this and I really loved the themes and the grittiness in the story. I
felt that was something in my own film career that was missing as by that
time, I had, without really trying, gotten somewhat of a label of doing
light-hearted dramas or comedic films which I never really understood as I
felt I was exploring deeper subjects in my work than just surface level.
So, I was strangely offended by that. I took it on, not just to prove I
could do something really gritty, somewhat violent, and explore even
deeper subjects of society. Kris also felt I could do it, which surprised
me but I was more than happy to take it on. It also helped that I found
Kris to be a talented writer and actor, especially having worked with him
on my short film, The Deja
The biggest challenge for me was knowing that world and also identifying
with anything in the script. Whenever I get a script or write something, I
have to be 100% committed to it and be essentially in love with it much
like I would with a woman. Once you commit to a project, it's like a
marriage in that way. From reading the script, I knew this was going to be
a challenge for me and I wanted to step out of my comfort zone. I
identified with certain themes of guilt and always found it fascinating
how the corruption of real world cops was kept hidden and how this script
brings that out. So, I didn't necessarily identify with a character. In
other words, it wasn't love at first sight, but probably more like lust. I
liked exterior of what was happening in the story, but I wanted to take it
on to find out more under that.
Kris Salvi and Audrey Noone
Do talk about
Bent's writer Kris Salvi [Kris Salvi interview -
for a bit, and what was your collaboration with him like during
pre-production? And since he's also producer (with you) and plays a key
role in the film, did he ask for any creative control during the shoot?
was great. He and I would sit down together and talk about the story, our
vision, things we wanted to do, what would work, and what wouldn't work.
He always trusted my opinion and I trusted his. The other aspect of having
Kris involved was him introducing me to the world in which the film takes
place. He shared info with me about police, internal affairs, showed me
crime spots in his city, and shared interviews that he did with real
internal affairs officers. He was essentially my link to that world which
I was not fully familiar with, but found interesting as an outsider.
He didn't necessarily ask for creative control, but we did agree to always
talk to each other about decisions being made creatively to make sure our
visions were in sync. It turned out we both had the same movie in mind
which helped a great deal. If something wasn't working or something seemed
off, he was there to either advise or help find a solution. My biggest
concern was being authentic to the world, but Kris would try reign me in
by reminding me it's a movie and not a documentary. In other words, he got
me to loosen up and allow myself to take creative risks if I was fearful
of doing so.
can you tell us about the rest of your cast, and why exactly these people?
cast was somewhat picked by Kris prior to me coming on board. For me, I
knew most of these folks already so it wasn't hard for me to imagine them
in the role. That and I trusted Kris' judgement.
Audrey Noone [Audrey Noone
interview - click here], who plays Brenda Hoggins, was a choice Kris had in mind. She
had sent him a video audition she did and we were impressed by her. I was
especially impressed because I knew Audrey for doing comedy films, and she
and I also did a comedy together a few years prior. Audrey is wonderful
both as a person and actress. We did audition one other actress, but Kris
and I both felt that Audrey just fit it perfectly. Our instincts were
true. On set, she was always very conscientious about her performance
which made working with her very easy and pleasurable.
Audrey Noone and Justin Thibault
Justin Thibault, who plays Michael Brooks, was an obvious choice for both
of us. I hadn't worked with Justin and knew very little about him
beforehand, but he turned out to be an excellent addition to the cast.
He's an extremely dedicated actor who does a ton of research and delves
very deep into character. Directing him was easy because I didn't have to
say much. He knew exactly what we were looking for and delivered it during
every single take.
Chris Fisher, who plays Carmichael, was a last minute choice as we had
another actor who was going to do the role, but he was unable to last
minute. I hadn't worked with Chris either before this project, but Kris
suggested him. He brought a lot of subtlety to the role which was heavily
required as both of his scenes are laden with subtext. He is the character
that pulls the strings for the events that transpire in the whole piece.
From the beginning of my involvement, Kris was always going to play Earl
Duke. He mentioned to me that another actor was originally thought of, but
he ended up doing the role. I had no problem with that as I felt because
Kris wrote the script, knows the world and the characters that it was an
easy decision. Actors like Marc Powers (John Camp) and Christie Devine
(Nichols) were also easy choices based on Kris or I having a history with
them and feeling they were perfect for their roles. Even though their
scenes are short, they were both excellent to have on set and also knew
how important their roles were to the overall story, giving committed
talk about your directorial approach to your story at hand!
the get-go, I knew I wanted to make a very gritty looking film while also
keeping the themes subtle in the performances. As I mentioned before, I
watched a few films of this style and also shared those movies with the
actors and crew to watch to get a sense of the kind of film we were making
and what we're aiming to do.
I also had the actors do a table read and we explored every character. I
had each actor write a backstory and sometimes even talk to them in
character as a way of preparation and get them in the mindset. It was also
to help me be in their mindset in what they were thinking and feeling.
Then on the set, I would try to recall those elements they gave me and
would feed it back to them if I felt it was needed.
Overall, I wanted to make this real, or at least as real as I could. This
included having a police officer, who also happens to be an actor, come on
set to help choreograph the opening shootout scene.
few words about the shoot as such, and the on-set atmosphere?
film was extremely difficult to make. It truly tested my patience and
passion as a filmmaker because we had issues with locations, scheduling
conflicts, and an understaffed crew among other things not anticipated. I
wasn't even sure if I could finish it or that I could even make another
film afterwards. That said, we still had fun on set and there were often
laughs between takes. I had a great time working with the cast as well. It
was just everything surrounding it that made it very difficult to make.
Finishing it was something of a miracle and the fact that I'm as proud of
it as I am is a testament to everyone who was involved for sticking with
it, seeing it all the way through, and bring their A game everyday.
$64 question of course, where can Bent
As of right now, we're submitting to film
festivals. I'm also holding a screening at a local theater on Sept. 9th
along with my recent films including Imposter. We have, thus
far, been accepted into two festivals including the UNDO Divergent Film
Awards, where we are nominated for Best Film Noir/Thriller Short, and the
Shawna Shea Memorial Film Festival.
Anything you can tell us about audience and
critical reception of Bent
The critical reception has been solid, thus far, with many enjoying the
performances, story, and the look of it. I take great pleasure in that.
With any film, you're always bound to have the handful who either are
indifferent or negative about it. We've been lucky in that we have more
positive reviews than mixed.
Any future projects you'd like to share?
Feeling lucky ?
any of my partnershops yourself
for more, better results ?
The links below
will take you
As of right
now, I have been mostly writing new projects including shorts and
features. I'm currently planning a new short and have been working on a
feature screenplay that's just about finished. My goal is to merely keep
creating content and always trying to do something different or outside
movie's website, Facebook, whatever else?
for the interview!