Your new film Half Moon
- in a few words, what is it about?
The film is about a prostitute that goes to meet a guy at his hotel
room and he seems to be a really good guy but turns out to be a werewolf-
The story is really a suspense thriller as the guy tries to
explain his story about how he became a werewolf and why she should
What were your main
inspirations writing the film?
was my inspiration - not that I know people that are werewolves but I
know what it's like to feel trapped or scarred or hopeless. I
know pimps and hookers so I drew from the experiences I have seen.
The film was shot on a
very low budget. Did the lack of funds in any way compromise your vision
or rather fuel your creativity?
was very lucky that I have worked on mainstream films like Spider-Man 2
or Barbershop, I've seen first hand how bigger budget productions use
their money. I researched everything beforehand, I wrote to what I had
access to. I watched the film and see things that I know I could have done
more entertaining if I had more time and money. But I wrote it for a
However unformulaic, Half
Moon is still a werewolf film. Do you have a special
fondness for that genre, and your genre favourites?
am a fan of horror but honestly wasn't a huge fan of werewolf movies. I wrote and directed this film before the whole
Twilight Saga which
made werewolves cool again with younger audiences. In my eyes Wolf
Man, The Howling and
American Werewolf in London are the classics. If
you're going to do a werewolf movie it has to be on that level or better...
felt like I couldn't compare, I considered doing a zombie film or a
vampire movie, I was taking to my mother and she asked me do I like
werewolf movies and I told her not really and she said why not? I started
to list off all these reasons and problems with werewolf movies, they are
all set in the woods, the leads always in flannel shirt
etc... and when I was done she says to me well do something different. I
really started to think about that, then I thought about movies that take
place in one room, and started watching the old Twilight Zone
TV shows and brainstorming - it
all started to fall into place. I decided to not try to compare to
the classics, just do a cool story my own way. I think it worked.
reviewers (not me though) have described your film as "My Dinner
with Andre with werewolves". Are you at all happy with this
honored that people say that. My Dinner with Andre is a great
film. I would hope people watch my film and enjoy it. I understand that if
your expecting a typical gore fest werewolf movie you may be disappointed, but
the story draws you in and grabs your attention. As a filmmaker I hope
people enjoy the film for what its worth.
From what I've read, you have not written
the film with Tori Black in mind, but you did want a porn actress in the
lead. Why, and what can you tell us about the casting process?
not exactly true... lol.
As a director I knew the role of Rose
would have to be played by someone that would have to some range and be
comfortable with her sexuality. In the film Rose is 19 year old prostitute,
a runaway, but she has street smarts and sees the goodness in this guy who is
trying to convince her he's a werewolf. We auditioned 26 women for the
role, and when you think horror film or hooker, you have many actress that
don't understand how to approach the role or my vision of the film. They
had to be attractive yes but also have a bit of attitude and
a sense of venerability. Tori has that. There are few adult film
actresses Tori Black, Sasha Grey, etc... that can act and have a crossover
appeal. I thought she was too tall for the part and too pretty, but she
gave an amazing read, she then came in a second time with no makeup and
flat shoes and nailed it. As a director you have to give the part to the
person who is best for the role.
few words about your leading lady Tori Black, who in my eyes at least gave
an exceptional performance?
spoke to Tori off camera and explained to her the role in a heart to
heart. This role in this film is giving you the opportunity and it can
change your life. A lot of times if an adult film star or a playmate is
given a role in a film like this it's victim number 4 running
around with their boobs out until they trip and fall, then the slasher
comes and kills them - lol. This is an actor's piece - yes there is
some nudity and yes there is a love scene but the meat of the film is two
people making a connection telling stories about their
lives. Many directors, producers and studios would never have taken a
chance on an adult film star in the lead of their movie, I took that risk
because I believed in my story, my strength as a director and I believed
in Tori. She had the potential to go far as an actress if she
decided to move out of the adult business and go in that direction.
What can you tell us about
male lead Marek Matousek?
is an amazing actor. He was the only actor that came in that myself and my
co-producers felt nailed it from the time they walked in the door. He was
a constant professional and a great guy. He is this type of actor any
director would want to have in their project and it's only a matter of
time before he makes it big. It was an honor to have him on board. The
role of Jacob the charter spends 90% of the film in a chair. Marek makes
you feel for the charter of Jacob to relate to him and thats a hard
task to accomplish for an actor to do with little movement. Every emotion that
I wanted the viewer to feel whether laughing or crying or fear, Marek got
the audience to feel that in his performance.
I'm very proud of him and
the other actor, Torey D Sutten who plays Kevin the Pimp - Torey is the
sweetest, nicest guy but had to be mean, hurtful and intimidating in
the film. He did a great job as well.
There seems to have been some
fall-out between you and Tori Black just prior to the release of Half
Moon. Would you at all like to comment on that?
this is very unfortunate: First off this film was produced 2 years ago, Tori
Black was a rising star and this was her first and to this date only
mainstream leading role. As a producer, writer, director, we had a set
budget and unfortunately lost a backer in the film. Money was
shuffled around and some crew checks bounced. Instead of going out and
finding more co-producers, I asked Tori Black if she would like to cover
the production cost under the condition she would receive an executive producer's
credit and be repaid her loan upon the film receiving distribution
and the production company receiving its gross receipts.
Which she agreed upon. It took a year for the film to be completed between
shooting second unit, doing a sound mix, adding visual effects and then
finding a good distributor in Breaking Glass Pictures. In that time Tori's
star has risen very high. She is a 2 time AVN Performer of the Year. Myself, the distributor and the PR companies asked her
a sit down to discuss the marketing campaign. At first she was on board
but soon declined and declined all attempts to
do any promotion which is sad. We had numerous mainstream talk
shows and outlets that wanted to speak with her about the film. She would
have been compensated for the promotions and it would have been amazing
press for her and the film. All companies decided we would respect her
wishes and do the promotional tour with myself and the rest of the cast.
She says she was mistreated or taken advantage of and that is so far
from the truth. Everyone involved did their very best to communicate with
her and keep her happy. She was the star of the film and that was
important to me. She decided to say some things that were very untrue via Twitter to her 75000 plus
follows - untrue statements in this context on
that forum to such a large number of people is similar to
yelling fire in a crowded theater when there is no fire. My legal team
advised me to make a formal statement and address the situation. I
wish her the best in her career.
the present behind for a while ... how did you get into filmmaking
in the first place, and did you have any formal education on that subject?
wanted to be a filmmaker since I was 10 years old. I wrote scripts and
made home movies in Jr high. I even went to Columbia College of Chicago
and got my BA in Film. I started Sunrayz Films in College and directed
numerous music videos, so I know a thing or two about production.
far as I know, you did work on quite a few mainstream films in various
positions, also of the big budget variety. How did that prepare you for
shooting your low budget film, and how did shooting Half
Moon differ from big budget filmmaking?
was very lucky to go a a film school that taught me the underground way of
making films and the idea that if you want to do it then just do it, don't
wait, don't ask for permission, find a way to make it happen. I've
worked on plenty of mainstream movies and watched productions
blow their money. I used my time and the money very wisely. For example I
knew that there had to be a werewolf in the film. Having someone designing
a werewolf suit from scratch for the film would have been a lot of money
so I tried to think what companies make professional werewolf suits that I
could rent for the film. I thought who makes the effects for haunted
houses and I researched hundreds of companies. I took a road trip to the annual
House Convention in Vegas. It was the most fun (I met Elvira Mistress
of the Dark) and I found a company that made cool suits, it literally saved
the production tens of thousands of dollars.
future projects you'd like to talk about?
company Sunrayz International Films will be a production house for horror
and action films. A little grindhouse-ish but funny cool popcorn movies. I'm very excited we have 3 films in preproduction, one I can't talk
about but the other two I can. I don't know which one will be next because
my co-producers are still crunching numbers, but the action film is kind
of an urban version of Taken called Pimp Slap, the
script is amazing and we are taking it out to a few fighters.
film is the one getting a lot of buzz just off the tittle, Crack
House of the Dead... in 3D. I'm running tests right now with some 3D cameras that I'm considering
shooting on - I'd like to do it in 3D but only time will tell.
You are also
involved in the adult film industry under the alias Tee Reel. Would you
like to say a few words about that aspect of your career?
funny because before I worked in the adult industry I had been
in mainstream and thought the worst of the industry and the
people in it. I was such a hippocrite. I was directing music video's and
they kept sending me models that did both adult and mainstream. I befriended a
girl and she totally changed my perspective. She was sweet funny and
really talented. When I came to Hollywood she offered me a
production job and I got pulled in from there. I met more honest nice straight forward
people in the adult business than I did in so called mainstream. Plus at
the time I was making more money. It's funny that after two years in
working in adult films there were Hollywood directors or
producers that would have never talked to me 2 year before that now wanted
to be my best friend. I worked in the adult industry as a producer, performer, and
decided to invest my money in mainstream projects. Tee Reel is to Jason
Toler what Puff Daddy is to Diddy, it's another side of me used for other
business purposes. I like being able to reinvent myself. I used the
name TJ Sun when I used to direct music video's. The business has been fun
and good to me, I just don't want to ever be trapped doing just one thing.
I look at guys like Sylvester Stallone who did an adult film
early in his career, or Bruce Willis who did frontal nudity in
one of his films. It's 2011, it's not a big deal.
who inspire you?
are so many...
I have great mentors, John Singleton, George Tillman
Jr, Carl Seaton are just some of the mainstream directors that
showed me to
not be ashamed of my past or encouraged me to do me and
not try to follow other people's paths or exspecations. Then there are
people who are just really cool and I like their work, from Kevin Smith,
Quentin Tarantino, Robert Rodriguez,
Spike Lee, Christopher Nolan, David Slade, the list goes on...
Your favourite films?
Feeling lucky ?
any of my partnershops yourself
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The links below
will take you
Candy, Brick, John Woo's The
Nightmare on Elm Street 3, Vamp.
and of coure, movies you really deplored?
like bad movies too, bad films inspire me just as much as good films.
Rawhead Rex is my favorite bad good movie! I hate sitting around a
of film people that think so high and mighty of a film or genre and turn
their noses to other films. I've watched films and have taken something
and been inspired by everything either what to do or what not to
do in my own films.
Facebook, whatever else?
Type in my name find me
and the movie on facebook!
Code "halfmoon" to get
the film at a discount price.
The film is also on
blockbuster.com, target.comm amazon.com, barnsandnoble,com etc...
local cable provider's on demand channel and search for "1/2 Moon".
Anything else you are dying to
mention and I've simply forgotten to ask?
Thanks for the