Your new movie Grandpa's
Psycho - in a few words, what is it about?
It's about a man that
thinks he is doing good in the world. It's about a young woman (Kelly) who
refuses to be told how she should live, act, behave, think or even exist.
It is about a young girl and her mother trying to find a path to live on.
This film is not a "typical" horror... It's more psychological
in nature. It is meant to make the viewer imagine what this world
must be like for not only Grandpa but his daughter and granddaughter to
have to be subjected to him and his ideals. What it must be like for the
girls he believes he is truly helping. Without giving away any spoilers
this film gives a voice to what the traditional horror films would call
the "victim". Kelly is our "victim" and she is
anything but. She is strong willed, brave, confident, unapologetic
and a fighter in every sense of the word, that won't let anyone or anything tell her how she should live or what to believe no matter
what the cost. She will not be subject to the men in her world treating
her in any way but the way that she chooses to be treated. Some people may
see this as a story about a psychotic grandfather and his
"girls"... However I would say that they are only looking at the
surface and they are not allowing themselves to truly see Kelly, Lisa and
Megan for the very strong women that they portray in the film. Jessica
Moore, gave this film life and ground to stand on with the way she played
as who she is and let no one stand in her way of that. My hat is off to
the entire cast for what we asked them to go through psychologically.
Psycho being about a religious zealot gone off the rocker - your
thoughts about religious extremism as such?
believe spirituality is a very individualized thing. To comment on what
one believes versus what another does seems closed and a bit lack luster.
Religion and spirituality are very different however they go hand in hand
in many cases and I support all those in their beliefs. Who am I to say
what is "right" or "wrong". I am just a guy that likes
to tell stories that under the right circumstances might not be too far
through your filmography I've found one short called Visiting Grandpa,
also starring Gunther Grambo - now are these films at all related?
I wrote this as a short film for Gunther Grambo a few years back. We got
some pretty amazing feedback on it so I decided to write a feature version
of it and see what I could make happen with it. Seems to have worked out
sources of inspiration when writing Grandpa's
Psycho - and (to ask a probably silly question) is any of this
based on either of your actual grandfathers?
a silly question at all to me. The inspiration came from a few places. I
wanted to write a film that would showcase Gunther in a way that would
work for his career and mine. I also wanted to make sure that I wrote very
damaged people that had strong ideals that they could stand up and be
proud of. I always want my female characters to be strong and stand for
something. Hell I want all my characters to stand for something and
believe in it without wavering at the first sign of conflict. I didn't
really know my Grandparents too well, they all passed away when I was
pretty young. However, I would like to think that they were people of
conviction, and if they believed they were doing the right thing then I
hope that they did it without regret. Which for me would be an inspiration
in a round-about way I suppose.
written somewhere in my review that my synopsis might make "Grandpa's
Psycho sound a little moronic", which it clearly isn't of
course - but were you ever tempted to just let go and turn your story into
an outright comedy?
No. I started out in comedy as a clown with "the greatest show on
earth" and in a lot of ways that helped me develop my writing and
story telling. However, I lean towards the darker, gritty stuff that can
be rooted in reality.
What can you tell us about movie's
very specific approach to violence?
think the mind is a very powerful tool. I think this film will make a lot
of people very uncomfortable because I chose to imply violence and allow
the viewer's mind to wander and wonder all at the same time. One could
argue that if you call this film violent and twisted... It might very well
be your own psyche and imagination that is leading you to that place.
Don't get me wrong there is some very twisted psychological moves in the
film but it was very much our plan and choice to only lead you to the
violence and let you do the rest.
Do talk about your
overall directorial approach to your story at hand!
shot this film in 12 days on a very very small budget. George Lyon and I
have worked together several times in the past; he and I both talked in
great detail on how to approach this film on a very narrow and concise
path. We made a plan and we did everything we could to achieve that plan.
We knew going into it that we wanted a psychological thriller/horror that
would capture an audience that would give it thought and see beyond the
surface. We knew we wanted to do a lot of what we call "flow with the
scene"-shooting. I would block it with the actors, we would
shoot some standard coverage and then George would throw the camera on his
shoulder and he would find the heart of the scene as he just flowed with
it. George is an extremely talented cinematographer and he shot a truly
beautiful film (and that's not even taking into account what little he had
to work with to do so). I suppose the question would end up being did we
succeed in our plan? The plan was to finish a movie to the best of our
ability under the circumstances we happen to be under (which btw were
newer "green" actors that had only done a few films and some of
them had never been in a film before at all, 27k budget and 12 days to
shoot) and get it out to the world and let them be the judge. This team of
actors and crew where incredible to say the least. I hope that my
directorial strategy/approach will always be collaboration with the people
around me while maintaining the vision of the film through to completion.
content being rather adult in nature, and one of your key characters being
a mere child (Alexandra Kane) - how hard was it to actually find an
actress for the role, and how do you handle a girl her age on a film like
yours, how did you manage to get the just right performance out of her?
wasn't very hard to find her. Tracey Kane (Allie's mother) and I have been
close for several years now and I had used them both in Nick Fradiani's
music video a few months before shooting Grandpa's Psycho. I just called
her up and said "Hey, do you trust me?" She said "of
course", so I asked her if she would like to make a movie with her
daughter. She and I had many discussions about the film and how to keep
Allie safe and sane. I had a child therapist that specializes in childhood
trauma do a few sessions with Allie before the film to make sure she
understood the difference between real and imaginary. I also only gave her
a modified script that only had her scenes with no graphic language or
content. Then I had rehearsals for a month leading up to the filming where
Allie met Gunther and they could bond and get to know each other. Then
when we got to set I made sure that Allie was always at the forefront of
my process when she was going to be involved with anything that might
upset her. We talked about it all, we got creative and we just had fun and
played together. Making movies is the greatest thing in the world, and as
long as I could remember to have fun and never lose sight of my integrity
and desire to keep all of the women in this film safe and comfortable I
knew we would end up with a really twisted film that would make a lot of
people uncomfortable. Allie was amazing and we did everything I could
possibly think of to make sure that she knew that this was not real and
that she was always safe and had the choice of participating. After the
filming we did a follow up with the therapist to make sure Allie was still
in a good healthy mindset going back into her life. As for getting the
"right" performance from her... I asked her to listen to the
people talking to her, think about what she wanted to say to them and then
say it.... But most of all let's have some fun... and she did. Very very
talented young lady to say the least.
can you tell us about the rest of your cast, and why exactly these people?
Grambo and I met on a little film I did called Marco Polo Boys (on amazon
if anyone wants to subject themselves to a film made in 9 days that is
100% improv) and after that film he began studying acting with me every Monday
night. Several of the people in the cast have studied with me in that
actors collective that I run on Monday nights in Connecticut where we all
live currently (well most of us, the rest come from NYC). I already told
you about Allie and Tracie. Jessica Moore on the other hand was a gift.
She came to me through a friend on the magical world of social media. I
reached out and asked people if they knew any talented actresses that were
looking for the most challenging role they would play to date. Many people
sent me emails and headshots and wanted to read the script. But then
Jessica Moore, this very elegant, tall blonde articulate woman that had
many many credits playing the "white girl" or the "rich
white girl" or the "princess"... She was stunning and
talented and I thought to myself self, "if you can get this girl in
this film she will kill it" and she did. Basically we talked on the
phone for about an hour I told to keep and open mind and if she could see
the strength and power that Kelly has then I would make a film that would
change the way every casting director would look at her again. She read it
and a few hours later she called me up and said "let's do it". I
said "are you sure?" to which she replied "yeah" to
which I replied... "And you are good with me stripping you naked,
chaining you to the floor, putting a creepy old man in front of you and
having him accost and beat you for several days in New England in November
in a cabin with no heat?" She replied "I love this character and
I have been dying to do something that I can sink my teeth into and actual
act in. So yes please. Let's do it"... I was right... she killed it.
The other castmembers are other acting students and friends that I have
worked with over the years. Except Ashley Tremonte (the woman in the
opening scene)... I had sent her the script to read for another part and
she actually asked me if she could have the role of the girl in the
opening scene. I asked her if she was sure and that it would be setting up
the film for the full amount of crazy that it was gonna be. She told me
straight up and with confidence that she would be proud of this role and
that it would be the biggest challenge for her to date. I gave it to
her... She showed up and was a champ through the entire shoot. All three
of those ladies were absolute beasts and never complained once. Those
women trusted me, Tracey trusted me with her daughter... that is probably
what I am most proud of in this process... The women that read this script
and then trusted that I would keep them safe through it all. I thank them
for that now and as often as I can.
talk about the shoot as such, and the on-set atmosphere?
is the most amazing thing on earth. To be allowed to do what I do and be
surrounded by the team that I have assembled over the years has been
nothing short of incredible. I had friends fly in from all over the
country to be a part of this film. I had friends of friends donate time
and food and hotel rooms to make sure everyone was comfortable and safe
every night. I had friends and relatives let me use their locations and
tools and cars any pretty much anything else I needed to help make this
little film become a reality. I shot in my home town of Staford Springs, CT. That town is full of so many wonderful and welcoming people. They were
all so supportive and open to the idea of me doing this film around them.
Most of all it was FUN... we laugh.. we laugh a lot. If you don't have a
solid sense of humor and are able to understand sarcasm and joking then
you probably shouldn't work a job that demands 12 to 16 hour days with
very little sleep and even less pay sometimes. We were a family. We are a
family. I trust them and they trust me. We laugh, we yell, we hug, we
work, we do all over again day in and day out... and not always in the
same order. I love being on set. There is nowhere on earth I would rather
be than on set in directing and producing films. I couldn't be more
grateful to everyone that believed in me and believed in this project.
From the the EPs Ryaz, Tom and Victor to the PAs. This set was
incredible. It was safe. It was diverse. It was film. And it was one of
the greatest memories I will ever have because of the people I got to do
can you tell us about audience and critical reception of your movie so
far... People either love it or hate it. Even the people that hate
however seem to hate it because of how twisted it is, so I feel like that
must be a win. right? We just really appreciate people taking the time to
watch the film and give us their feedback, good or bad...
Any future projects you'd like to share?
I have a couple things in
development: The Worker is what I hope to shoot next. It's a
vigilante thriller about a DCF (department of children and families)
social worker that decides he is tired of watching children being hurt
in the flawed system so he is going to do something about it.
The other project is
titled Wronged which is a revenge thriller about two sisters
that are looking to get revenge on their step-father and mother for the
things they did to them their entire lives.
I am also looking to
collaborate and work with talented people all the time. I am very open
to new projects and ideas.
got you into filmmaking in the first place, and did you receive any formal
training on the subject?
about movies is amazing to me. I probably go to the movies on average 5 to
6 times a month if not more. I started out in front of the camera and
then moved behind it briefly before moving from LA from NYC. All of the
formal training I have is in performance. Film making for me was done at
the school of hard
knocks in Los Angeles CA with a very solid group of friends. We would get
together almost every day and shoot project after project trying to get it
right. Films like Even If, What's That Make Me, Breathe,
& directed by Desmond Faison), just to name a few. Then I helped
produce other people's films. I went and asked questions. I read books. I
worked. And then I worked some more. I surrounded myself with people I
respected. People I trusted and people that were clearly more talented and
smarter than I was and am.
What can you tell us about your
filmwork prior to Grandpa's
is a ton of it! Some of it is absolute crap. Some of it is pretty great.
Most of it including this film are just the beginning of what I hope to
do. Collectively with my school of hard knocks family and the rest of the
people I surround myself with - we just love to work. We are not the best
at what we do. We are not better than anyone else or smarter or funnier or
more talented... we just really really love the work and we hope to always
be proud of the work that we put out. I hope to always put out something
that is better than the last one that I made.
How would you describe yourself as a
types of questions are always hard. But the best way that I could describe
myself right now as a director... Validated. Growing. Learning. Inspired.
Grateful. I love being a story teller and most of all I hope that the
people with the power to give me permission to work more and more open the
door and invite me in.
Filmmakers who inspire you?
ones that fail but don't quit. The ones that go unnoticed but have more
talent than they know what to do with. The ones that understand that what
we do is a business and we have a job to do and we can't get lost in our
own egos while doing it. The ones that found a way to make this their
lives and continue to put out good work and create stories that are worth
watching. I hope to be one of them someday.
Feeling lucky ?
any of my partnershops yourself
for more, better results ?
The links below
will take you
Depends on the day and my mood. But to name a few in no particular order
It's a Wonderful Live, Man on Fire, Tombstone, Varsity Blues, The Program,
Taxi Driver, Seven, Fight Club, How to Lose a Guy in 10 Days, 10 Things I Hate About you,
The Dark Knight Rises, Batman Begins, Avengers, X-Men, Footloose, Dirty Dancing,
Road House ...
go on and on ...
... and of course, films you really
sure I am gonna venture down this path... Everyone that has accomplished
the feat that is getting a film out to the masses deserves the
respect of the work that went into that project. I may not be a fan of
some work but to "deplore"... I can't think of any. Making a
film a reality is too difficult for me to look down on anyone that has
pulled it off.
Your/your movie's website, Facebook, whatever
On Facebook I am Danny LeGare (you'll know it's me by the Grandpa's
Psycho posts everywhere).
Anything else you're dying to mention and I have
merely forgotten to ask?
you! Thank you to all the cast and crew. Thank you to the EPs. Thank you
to Ryaz Ansari for believing in me and knowing that I could pull it off.
Thank you to my dear friends and family that have never wavered in their
support. Thank you to everyone that watched the movie and loved it or
hated it. Thank you to everyone that took the time to read this. Thank you
to my beautiful girls and all the love, laughter and kindness they bring
into my world. Thank you for letting me stand on this soapbox and talk
about myself and indulging it. Thank you to whom ever the next person to
give me permission is. Thank you to all the people that tried to knock me
down because all it did was make me stronger. Thank you to all the people
that didn't help me up because it made me learn how to stand on my own.
Thank you to the brave, strong women that were in this film and trusted me
to keep them safe while the suffered for their craft. Thank you for
validating me Osiris Entertainment and RedBox. I am now officially a
filmmaker and no one can ever take that from me. So, Thank You!! I don't
think I can say it enough.
Thanks for the interview!