Your new movie Cut! - in a few words, what is it about?
apparent is never the truth as an ex-con and aspirant filmmaker set out to
manufacture a horror film by scaring people for real; however, when it goes
too far and someone actually dies, the pair decide that killing for real on
film is the way to make a truly terrifying movie.
Since Cut! is about a couple of horror filmmakers, is any
of the film based on personal experiences (apart from the killing I hope)?
is more about never
underestimating anyone despite what their outward perception may be. This
is what drew me to the story. Many times, especially in this business, I
feel that people are judged in the first few seconds, and often never
given an authentic chance. Cut!, in
a very twisted way, offers hope to those who may never get that chance
otherwise… of course, this correlation is in a VERY twisted way.
Other sources of inspiration when writing Cut!?
originally began when a major studio was showing interest in another film
David Banks and I had written. Instead of waiting to see if that film would
go, Banks and I decided to just go for it and shoot this one. It proved to be
a good decision as the other film ended up not moving forward at that time.
What was your collaboration with your co-writer David Banks like?
And how did you two first hook up even?
Banks and I first met in an acting class nearly 15 years ago. Before too
long, we began writing scenes together to put up on stage. He mostly did
comedic roles, while I was laboring through the heavy dramas. Our writing
formed a nice blend of the combined genres while maintaining the
un-caricaturized feeling of still be real. The more we wrote, the more we
wanted to continue writing. It was an extremely fun time of unlimited
creativity. Of course, some ideas were better than others.
What can you
tell us about Cut!'s approach to horror (as in suspense vs sudden
shocks, atmosphere vs all-out gore and the like)?
am a big fan of letting the viewers figure out for themselves what may be
happening. I think that a person can create many more terrifying images in
one's own head than I could ever capture on screen, hence our thematic
logline: what the eyes see and the ears hear, the mind believes. I believe
strongly in setting the suspense through the music and sound design. In
this capacity, we were fortunate enough to work with Emmy and Golden Reel
winner Solange S. Schwalbe and Christina Horgan to ensure our “vision”
of attacking the auditory senses first… and boy, does it!
talk about your over-all directorial approach to your story at hand for a
goal was to stay out of the way and let our amazing actors do their thing.
There was so much talent on this set that I encouraged them to bring a lot
of their own creative ideas to their performance, which ultimately turned
our set into a giant playground of artistic work. Although they remained
close to the scripted words, the subtleties that were drawn out were
phenomenally captivating and make this film a great one to watch over and
over. Each new time, something else can be taken from it.
You also appear in front of the camera in Cut!
- so what can
you tell us about your character, and what did you draw upon to bring him
to life? And have you written him with yourself in mind?
old adage is “write what you know,” and my character does have a claim
to being created by some actual events. The irony of making this movie in
itself is a direct reference to my character trying to make a movie in the
story. This gave plenty from which to draw. I do feel, however, that if
someone were to fully play oneself in something, it would be one of the
most difficult things imaginable. When doing a character, the thoughts and
actions are always excusable, but if you are yourself, people will judge
you for what you say and do. It’s the same reason we feel like we really
know “reality stars.” We see them in their everyday environment and
their actions and motivations are considered the true make-up of who they
are as people, even if it is just a front.
few words about your key cast, and why exactly these people?
the acting in this movie is tremendous and should propel many of the cast
to much more work in the future.
Banks won Best Leading Actor for his role in Cut!
as an eccentric serial killer at the 2014 Independent Film and
Television Festival. His performance draws back to my earlier comments of
combining his comedic undertones within the influence of a serious
environment thus making his character truly unpredictable. He’s fun to
Scarber plays a mentally-confused homeless man who is asked to do the
unthinkable. I have always been a fan of Sam and finally getting to work
with him was an exhilarating experience. His presence on film is
Salem (ER and General Hospital) was referred by a good friend, Mike Simon,
who’s also in the movie. After spending just a few minutes speaking with
her about the role, I knew that it had to be hers. Of course, pitching
that I wanted her to play a prostitute was not the easiest, but she
handled the role like a rock star. I cannot even imagine anyone else doing
the role as well as she did.
known Allen Maldonado (The Equalizer) for many years and he always ends up
playing a “Jamal” in my movies. It’s been a running joke for 3 films
now and fun trivia. Phenomenal actor and a great friend.
Moir (108 Stitches) [Chris
Moir interview - click here] was another long-standing friend, who actually played
the lead in the first film I ever directed back in 2004, Will
To Power. Chris also wore many hats on this film and was willing to
take some incredible chances as an actor. Chris was friends with Billy
McNamara, which is how he was introduced into the project.
Stone (daughter of Dee Wallace Stone) [Gabrielle
Stone interview - click here] and Suze Lanier-Bramlett (The Hills
Have Eyes 1 & 2) [Suze
Lanier-Bramlett interview - click here] actually play themselves and I don’t want to give it
away, but one of them just may die. It could be the first time someone was
playing oneself in a movie and actually died as oneself.
can you tell us about the shoot as such, and the on-set atmosphere?
were able to secure an incredible location for our key set, which was an
actual warehouse geared towards film production. Nathan Sindel, who owns Mogul, allowed us to use his facility, which played right into our story
and really proved to be a central character itself. The atmosphere of the
warehouse and the old metal feeling perfectly depicted the tone of what we
were hoping to achieve. We shot mostly at night in Los Angeles and hope to
give viewers a great tour of the many “looks” of the City of Angels.
future projects you'd like to share?
am currently set to direct the paranormal thriller Garrett
Manor, which we are looking to begin filming mid-March. We are
currently casting, but will be at the breathtaking Ardoyne Plantation in
Houma, which is owned by the wonderful Schaffer family. This was the same
location where the movie Deadline was filmed, which was, unfortunately, Brittany Murphy’s
final film. I am also executive producing The
Body Defenders, which is an incredibly fun and original sci-fi, 3D-animated feature being put together by Patrick Garcia out of South Africa.
Your first claim to
fame was of course as an actor - so what can you tell us about David
Rountree, the actor, and some of your techniques to bring your characters
don’t think I work under a classified technique, I just try to become
the best listener possible on set and react to the circumstances that are
present. My goal is to just prepare for the first moment of the scene and
then allow my emotions to go where they may, sometimes it works better
What got you into writing, directing and
producing eventually, and which do you prefer, actually?
always enjoyed the art of story-telling, but never thought there may be an
actual avenue to do so in a professional environment until I found acting.
As I grew more wise in the industry, I found myself wanting to be a part
of the entire process. I was fascinated by all of the steps that it took
to get a completed project, and like proving a math theorem, I started
evaluating the overall formula. Writing, directing, and producing are
completely different, yet all necessary elements to achieve completion. I
don’t think I prefer one over the other, as I consider them all part of
the greater team. Directing is fun because it gives life to the pieces of
the outlined puzzle handed over by the writer and producer. Once those
pieces are drawn, the post-production side connects them all. When I work
on a film, I do my best to sit through every aspect from start to finish,
even if I am just there for moral support.
can you tell us about your filmwork prior to Cut!, in whatever
started Psycho Rock Productions back in 2004 and have been fortunate
enough to write and produce five feature films, while directing four of
them. 108 Stitches, which was
released just prior to Cut! saw
a 15 major city theatrical release. The romantic baseball comedy stars
Golden Globe winner Bruce Davison, Larry Thomas (Seinfeld’s Soup Nazi),
Erin Cahill (Red Widow), Ryan Carlberg (Van Wilder), Kate Vernon
(Battlestar Galactica), Last Comic Standing winners Dat Phan and Josh
Blue, Chris Moir (Cut!) [Chris
Moir interview - click here] and, again, Allen Maldonado (The
is also a fun cameo by baseball legend Roger Clemens. It can be found
everywhere on VOD.
How would you describe yourself as a director?
from an acting background, I feel that I empathize with actors. To me,
that is very important because as every student in school learns in
different ways, every actor should be approached differently to get the
best performance possible. Film is the visual art of story-telling and
without being able to find a way to have chemistry within your cast, the
story will be a hard sell. My goal is to have an audience caring about the
characters because if they are invested in them, they will ultimately buy
into the story.
who inspire you?
Feeling lucky ?
any of my partnershops yourself
for more, better results ?
The links below
will take you
like the paths that Kevin Costner and Ben Affleck have taken. Both remain
in front of the camera, but have proven to have a talent for being on the
other side, while maintaining a solid family life. I recently went to a
Q&A with Kevin Costner and really appreciate his drive to do for
himself, all while maintaining the time to nurture his relationship with
his family. Kevin began his career rather late, but decided to be
proactive in making things happen. I have a lot of respect for people who
do not just sit around waiting for someone to do the work for them. He is
also very appreciative of the businesses and takes nothing for granted.
Your favourite movies?
have quite a range of movies in which I enjoy, but I think my taste may
have been formulated by what was going on in my life when I first saw it.
Growing up, I loved Savage Steve Holland’s One
Crazy Summer. That movie gives me fond memories of hanging out with my
younger brother as we used to quote it all the time. The nostalgia of
movies Bull Durham, Major League,
and Stallone’s Over the Top remind
me of my best friend as we would imitate key scenes on the baseball field
or arm wrestling with each other. As I got older, I began to appreciate
other movies like A Few Good Men
and Shawshank Redemption. Once I
began writing, I enjoyed smart stories that were peppered throughout with
clues like some of Alfred Hitchcock’s films or Seven
and 12 Monkeys. Now that I have
a 3 year old daughter, I find myself watching and getting hooked into
movies like Frozen, although
I’m not sure if I should admit that here.
and of course, films you really deplore?
question. After going through the struggles to achieve a completed movie,
I no longer pass judgment on other films. There are too many elements and
players involved to negatively critique someone else’s work. I do not
know the circumstances that may have been presented and feel that I have
no right to speak negatively. I may personally like one film over another,
but kudos to anyone who actually completes a film as that is a tremendous
accomplishment in itself.
movie's website, Facebook, whatever else?
you are dying to mention and I have merely forgotten to ask?
am very fortunate to be in a position to make movies. I feel that if I am
inspired to do what I do, then there is a chance that my work will one day
inspire others to also go after their passions. And instead of abandoning
their dreams, I hope they may also truly believe “why not me?”
for the interview!
you so much for taking the time for having me do this. It has been a
privilege and an honor.