Your new movie Blood
Rush - in a few words, what is it about?
Popular model Nicole Diamond finds herself
trapped in an upside-down car in the middle of nowhere.
With her damaged cell phone unable to dial emergency numbers,
she’s forced to call random people until she connects with a mysterious
man named Casey, who seems willing to help, until it becomes clear:
Roadside assistance is the last thing on the stranger’s mind.
were your sources of inspiration when writing Blood
Rush - and even if this might sound like an odd question, is any
of the film based on personal experience?
It actually was based on experience, at least
vicariously, inspired by accounts from friends who’d been in abusive
relationships. Also, when my
co-writer and I began working on the script, the
Chris Brown/Rihanna domestic abuse incident resurfaced.
It was incredibly ironic: On one hand, you had Rihanna, who seemed
to have it all – looks, fame, riches, talent – entering into a
relationship with an abuser. On
the other, Chris Brown also seemed to have it all, yet he possessed a rage
he was clearly incapable of controlling.
People on message boards were excusing Brown's behavior, claiming
“Everyone makes mistakes” and “He was younger then”, as if beating
a woman senseless could be put under the category of “Oops!” or as if
such behavior could in ANY way be attributed to maturity.
There's always the question of whether a person should be forgiven,
but ordinarily that follows the accused showing even an ounce of remorse,
which with Brown, at least publicly, was nonexistent.
other source of inspiration was smartphones, and how these days, so many
people refer to them as their lifelines.
I wanted to see how that would play out in a literal context.
What can you
tell us about your co-writer Rob Greenberg, and what was your
I wrote my first script solo, and it took nine
months to complete. For
shooting my first movie, I needed something simpler, at least
logistically. I didn’t want
to lock myself in a room for another nine months, so I recruited my
long-time friend and prolific screenwriter, Rob Greenberg, to help.
To me, writing is an intensely introspective
exercise, and something I need to do alone.
So, Rob and I developed a method where we’d pass the script back
and forth, each adding new pages and discussing any edits we’d made to
Once we got going our collaboration was actually
pretty smooth, and we moved at a good clip.
We also felt the topic of domestic abuse
is important, and it hasn’t been covered very much in movies of late,
and so it became our story to tell.
Rush is mostly limited to just one location, the inside of
Nicole's car - so how limiting or maybe even inspiring was that for you as
I remember a story about a Japanese filmmaker who
was considered the greatest of his time.
He was offered an unlimited budget to make his next movie.
There were no obstacles, he could dream up and shoot anything he
desired. So… he committed suicide. The
point is, obstacles and limits can be helpful, much like guardrails on a
When I was about ready to shoot Blood
took a two-day course that was designed to demystify the filmmaking
process. The message of the
course was to simplify, which meant write a new script with a minimal
number of characters, one location, no kids, no animals, and no special
effects. When I presented
these confines to Rob, his response was “That’s impossible.”
To me, “impossible” is merely the start of a juicy challenge,
and I love a juicy challenge.
The limitations were both difficult and inspiring.
How much story can you evoke from a single location, a single
character, or a single damaged cell phone?
And how can you keep an audience glued to their seats for ninety
minutes with those restrictions? I
remember seeing a movie called Buried, which went beyond a
single-location – It all took place inside a coffin!
Now THAT’s a tough gig, but they absolutely made it work.
The acting, directing, cinematography and sound were exceptional,
and I figured if they could pull it off, I should’ve been able to pull
my movie off, considering I had more space than a coffin (despite the
fact that I was a first-time filmmaker).
What can you tell us about your overall
directorial approach to your story at hand?
I think it’s easier to direct material you’ve
written, because you’ve given birth to a new world, the characters who
inhabit it, and the collision course they’re on. I
love when actors understand their characters to the point where they can
ad-lib or suggest lines that are fitting of those characters.
I’m wide open to those things, as well as suggestions from anyone
on the crew, because you never know what people may come up with.
I took the same approach with my staff when I was in the corporate
world, because it’s silly for anyone to kid themselves that only they
have solutions or good ideas. I
ended up using a number of ad-libs from both Stella and Madsen in this
I’m also stubborn about capturing what I see in
my head, though I’m willing to settle by getting elements of shots,
which can be pieced together in post via visual effects – which in
independent filmmaking is not only cost-effective, but considering
time/budget constraints, often necessary.
It also helps if you’re a director who enjoys taking a hands-on
approach with visual effects.
Also, I like a casual vibe on set, despite all the pressures.
Drama’s reserved for the screen.
Rush features the voice of fan fave Michael Madsen - so what was
it like working with him, and how did you get him even? And why doesn't he
make an on-screen appearance?
One of my stunt coordinators said he knew Mike,
so I told him if he could get me in touch with him, I’d hand him my
first-born. I guess Mike
changed his cell number, and that connection never materialized.
Later, Rob and I learned that a producer he’d worked with had a
connection to Mike, so I got the script through to him, which thankfully
he liked, and next thing I knew I was on the phone with Mr. Blonde. It
was a great conversation, and soon after, he was on board.
Mike’s a powerhouse.
His emotional range is incredible.
Directing scenes can be like getting from A to B in a rental car,
and it can be a bit jolting when you realize your rental car’s a
Ferrari. Needless to say, it
was great working with him.
In terms of not showing his face on screen, the
reason was, very simply, that the story didn’t call for it.
People have told me that that was a pretty ballsy move for a
first-time director – having such a great actor on board, yet not
showing his face – but the calibre of actors attached to my movie
didn’t change my job description, which was to present the story as I
saw it on screen.
What can you tell us about
the rest of your cast, and why exactly these people?
We held closed auditions for the lead role in the
heat of Los Angeles, and as luck would have it, I managed to catch a cold.
All the actors were good, but my antihistamines had me on the verge
of dozing off. And then Stella
Maeve walked in. There was
something very New York about her, something very kindred.
She began and I was immediately floored.
I witnessed my character come to life off the page, and it was a
magical moment. I knew right
then I had my lead.
Evan Taubenfeld was recommended by someone I’d
worked with. His audition was
great, and I knew he’d have great on-screen chemistry with Stella.
Not just that, but both he and Stella were up for the gruelling
task of literally hanging upside down for roughly ten days, and that was
the spirit I needed from the actors.
A quick anecdote about Stella – the role of Casey was cast after principal
photography, so Stella was acting opposite an on-site reader.
reader told me he was going to convince me he was the perfect fit for the
role of Casey. I tried to
explain to him as tactfully as I could that I had someone else in mind for
the role. The next thing I
knew, he started not showing up on set.
So, the person reading for Casey changed hands a few times, but
regardless, Stella was great in staying in character, which is another
testament to what a great actor she is.
talk about the shoot as such, and the on-set atmosphere?
Our biggest challenge, aside from freezing
temperatures, was hanging our actors upside-down inside the car.
Planning could’ve been a lot better in terms of loading them in,
and we lost time due to our lack of preparation.
We had to reposition the car so they had some (versus zero) back
Regardless, Stella and Evan were great sports.
Evan had to be perfectly still, despite his discomfort, returning
to the same positions over and over. Stella
had a 90-page script to memorize while struggling to be clear-headed in
the midst of hanging upside-down. Those
two will always be my heroes for what they endured and how well they
The atmosphere on set was upbeat, despite the
freezing temperatures, the darkness of the material, and our actors’
massive physical challenge. And
it was a lot of fun hanging with the animals and reptiles, though we were
told not to lock eyes with the wolf, (actually, there were two wolves and
two snakes), as they’d perceive that as a threat.
And one of my producers was terrified of snakes, which I found
amusing, because I thought the snakes were adorable.
The mouse was, too. And
the deer. And birds.
you can tell us about audience and critical reception of Blood
Following its release, I was reading the first
review and literally sweating. Thankfully,
it was positive, but I was waiting for the other shoe to drop, thinking
the next review would rip the movie to shreds.
Surprisingly, the next one was even more positive.
thing is, the movie’s somewhat experimental in nature.
The title, Blood
Rush (which the distributor wanted renamed from
“Flipped” for more “immediacy”), sounded horror-ish, but it’s
not really a horror movie. It’s
more of a psychological thriller, which may not be what horror fans
expect. And the upside-down
aspect, which is very unique, is tough for some people to view for the
movie’s duration. Regardless,
I’m sincerely grateful for anyone who does connect with the movie.
Any future projects you'd like to share?
got a couple things in the works – one being a heist script, the other
got you into filmmaking in the first place, and did you receive any formal
training on the subject?
I’ve always been active in the arts –
drawing, writing, etc. Later,
I got into computers and sound recording, and ultimately I landed a job as
a web programmer and webmaster, which encompassed all those things.
When the corporate world became stale to me, I wanted to make my
own movie, as I believe film is the most powerful medium of all the arts.
the education front, I took some film-related college courses, and while
in the real world, I produced some cheesy corporate videos. Prior to making the movie, I took the aforementioned two-day film
course, I’d read a ton of books on the craft, and I also watched a slew
of director commentaries on DVDs, which are often full of gems for
filmmakers. However, my
greatest learning was achieved, of course, on the set of Blood
What can you tell us about your
filmwork prior to Blood Rush?
When my co-writer, Rob, made his own comedy
feature (Saturday Morning, available on Netflix) several years ago,
it was interesting to witness the process on set. When his production wrapped, a producer
who claimed he was going handle post-production stiffed Rob, so, drawing
on my experience, which was pretty limited at the time, I helped him
finish his movie off. I took
on the editing, sound design, foley, and whatever else needed doing.
I was shocked when Rob informed me the movie won best editing at
one of the film festivals he’d entered.
would you describe yourself as a director?
“Patient”, to put it in a word.
I’ve dealt with some pretty hairy things in the tech world, like
helping rebuild a brokerage firm’s tech services following the 9/11
attacks, playing negotiator with someone who’d stolen sensitive
corporate data who was attempting blackmail, and hardening a server that
had just been cracked by one of the world’s most infamous hackers
(before he was hauled off to prison).
You learn to keep your cool and work pragmatically toward a
solution when a service dies and a head trader starts screaming, accusing
you personally of costing them unheard of amounts of dollars for every
minute you’re taking to fix their problem.
experiences aside, I like a calm set, because I believe peaceful
environments bring out the best in people.
And I believe in inside-out direction, meaning I don’t want to
recite to actors how a line should be delivered, but rather have them
understand the mindset of the character, where they give a more genuine
and organic performance. I’m
a big believer in teamwork, greatly appreciating everyone on board, their
ideas, and their feedback.
who inspire you?
My favorite director is David Fincher.
There’s a coldness to his imagery and darkness to his humor with
which I really connect. Also,
it seems like every Coen Brothers movie is a self-contained film course. Quentin
Tarantino has the ability to take the absurd and make it grounded (I mean,
two hitmen having a philosophical discussion about foot massages before
doing a job? Beautiful!).
I find Guillermo del Toro to be incredibly imaginative.
I also appreciate Spike Jonze for the risky material he takes on
(how many directors could’ve pulled off Being John Malkovich?).
Overall, I guess I’m attracted to those skilled in working with
dark tones, but at the same time, who possess a childlike imagination.
Your favourite movies?
Fight Club, Being John Malkovich, Goodfellas, Scarface,
Godfather I & II, The Matrix, Hable con ella (Talk to Her)
and Amélie, to name a few.
and of course, films you really deplore?
Feeling lucky ?
any of my partnershops yourself
for more, better results ?
The links below
will take you
There’s a lot to learn from great movies, but
you can learn more from really bad movies.
So, for that reason, I can’t say there’s any movie I deplore.
I mean, how could anyone be down on something that offers such an
incredibly rich, educational experience?
movie's website, Facebook, whatever else?
you're dying to mention and I have merely forgotten to ask?
I’ll just shout out this – Support
independent film! :)
were really great questions, and it was a real pleasure chatting!
Thank you so much for your time, and thank you to your readers for
their time, too!
for the interview!