Your new film The Dark Place
- in a few words, what is it about?
The estranged heir to a wine fortune must unravel a conspiracy that frames him
for murder, threatens his inheritance, and endangers his very life itself!
What were your inspirations when writing The
Dark Place? And honestly, to what degree could you identify with
your character Keegan?
Family, for a lot. We are more or less stuck with them. Even the
families that we find or that we make, weíre stuck with them, too.
Good points and bad. They, in turn, are stuck with us. So what happens
when you have pretty particular way of seeing the world? What does that
do to your family dynamic? And then, what happens when a huge threat
strikes and takes it all away? I packaged all of that up in the
trappings of a mystery-thriller and away I went.
It's funny. People ask me how much Iím like Keegan, or how much I
identify with him, when really itís how much Iím like all the
characters and I identify with each one. Theyíre all shards of me
blended together, remixed with dramatized elements from situations I
found myself in, heard about from others, or thought wouold be pretty wild
to live through.
Okay, like Keegan, I can be a bit of a dickÖ.
Dark Place being a mystery, is that a genre you're at all fond of?
And how easy/hard was it to not let your complex story just slip away?
My main loves are sci-fi and horror. Thatís a lot of what I watch and
read. But mysteries and thrillers are the lighter, slightly less
fantastical versions of both of those things. So Iím attracted to
those stories, too. Iím drawn to things that make you feel and make
Very difficult, actually. I spend a lot of my time paring back ideas.
Simplifying. If I say Iím a complicated guy, it comes across as being
pretentious, but I donít mean it in that sense. I think about things a
lot. Have the deep conversations with people. Love stories you have to
follow along and do some work to keep up with. So that winds up cropping
up in my work. The key point is not to get too confusing, deep, or
complicated. I donít want to lose folks. So that was a challenge in
all the revisions of this story.
would you describe your directorial approach to your story at hand?
If you are lucky ó and I was on this set ó you find good people with
lots of talent and a deep passion for their roles. The only thing you
really have to do then is nudge them in the right direction and theyíll
take it the rest of the way, surprising you as a result. Same works
with the crew, the DP, or the editor. If Iíve done the work with the
script and found the right people to execute, theyíre going to make
magic. I just have to keep everyone going in the right direction.
can you tell us about your cast, and why exactly these people?
Many of them Iíve worked with before, either on Judas Kiss, which I
produced, or in shorts that Iíd made. Iíve known Sean / Brent
Corrigan for years. Heís a wonderfully talented actor. I love seeing
what he does with the variety of characters heís played. Timo was a
find on JK. He became a good friend. I saw him as one of the leads.
Allison I met on the festival circuit. And Eddie just blew me away in
the audition process. They're all fantastic actors.
Blaise was just pure luck. Our original lead dropped out at
nearly-the-last-minute for personal reasons. I had no idea how we were
going to find someone who could pull off all the levels required for
Keegan. In walks Blaise, says he read the script twice because he
identified so strongly with the character, then proves it with his
acting. So glad I found him. Such a multi-talented guy.
talk about your shoot, and the on-set atmosphere!
We had some initial production problems that made the first few days
tense. They were totally unforeseen and came out of left field, but they
still stressed everyone out. It took some fast work on my part, on
(producer and editor) Steve Parkerís part, and the other producerís
part to deal with things, get everyone back on the same page, and drive
on to the ending. I think weíd have gone another week, we were running
so well by the end.
It was a good team.
can you tell us about audience and critical reception of your movie?
been interesting. We made a movie with gay characters as leads. Itís not
a ďgay movieĒ though. (Endless late night conversations unpacking all
of that!) I think it puzzled people at first. To divide the world in two,
gay festivals wondered if it was gay enough and straight festivals
wondered if it was straight enough. Audiences enjoyed it in every
festival, gay or straight, it played in though. Even won an award for
Best Mystery / Thriller from TLA. But yes, itís been an interesting
future projects you'd like to share?
Next up is a horror
comedy. Iíll tease it with one word. ďGreenĒ. Will
hopefully have more news about it in 2015.
What got you into
filmmaking in the first place, and did you receive any formal training on
My background is as a therapist and social
worker. My first Masters is in Counseling Psychology and Human
Development. First 12 years or so of my professional life was working with
a variety of populations and some tough mental health issues. But even
while all of that was going on, I was writing, making shorts, working on
other productions, going to film festivals. I guess building my craft. A
few years back, I got accepted to UCLAís MFA program in Screenwriting,
so I went back to school, got another degree, learned so much from so many
talented people, and have been fortunate enough to make a go of it as a
writer / director / producer. So, overall, a bit of both
What can you tell us about your TV-series Inside/Outside
You found that, did you? In the early
1990s, in Northern Virginia, there was a small and vibrant LGBT filmmaking
scene, doing both scripted and doc. One of the scripted projects was
Inside / Outside the Beltway. It was a full on drama / soap series,
created by Dennis Brooks. We basically did everything Queer as Folk ó
the British version, let alone the American version ó did, years earlier
and with a hell of a lot less money to work with. We made 31 episodes over
five years. At the height, we were seen on public access stations in about
14 cities in the US. And despite the popular perception, we won a bunch of
awards for the quality of the program we made.
Alas, we were too early to the party. The social media technology wasnít
there. Digital video ó we did everything analog, with linear editing
machines! ó just hit the year we wrapped. We were never able to break
out of the box. Today, we probably could have done it. But Iím pleased
with what we made. It was my first writing gig shown before a critical and
opinionated audience. The best teachers, possible.
Other film and TV work of yours you'd
like to talk about?
Iím excited about the book series my
company optioned. Itís called The Dark Numbers ó I know, I
canít get away from things with ďDarkĒ in the title ó and itís
basically Harry Potter meets Doctor
Who. IPG came on board to help get it
off the ground in Hollywood. Pretty exciting!
One can't help but notice that your
films and TV shows frequently pick up gay themes. Care to elaborate?
Yes! Theyíre fun! When I was growing up, there just werenít that
many gay images on screen, definitely not outside the after-school
special / campy / tragedy kind. That made an impression on me, so much
of my initial work was writing and creating to that need, whether real
or just internal to myself. The wonderful part is that itís only
in the last five years that gay characters have been appearing in
stories from genres like sci-fi, fantasy, and horror. So whatever stories
are told, theyíre new and fresh, in a way profoundly different than
whatís already been seen.
With how much has changed over the last decades, uniquely gay stories
are somewhat ó somewhat ó less important than they were years ago.
We now have one generation and are fast working on a second that have
never known a time when they couldnít see a gay, lesbian, and now
trans, character on TV or in the movies. And not just stereotypical
characters. Itís pretty amazing.
Moving forward with my own work, Iíve shifted from that specific an
audience to a more general one. The beauty is, I can include gay
characters now without being pigeonholed and sidelined into a specific
niche. Itís a wonderful advance!
have formerly also worked as a therapist and social worker. So in what
ways does this influence your writing and film work?
Itís tainted and brined it all. Itís helped me to find the
ďrealĒ in the ďunreal.Ē Iíve loved the most fantastical of
stories that are somehow grounded in reality. It makes you think the
fantastic is really possible. So I think my background has helped
me to lash my characters to real thoughts and feelings, even if the
expression of those are in heightened and far more dramatic worlds than
what we regularly find ourselves in.
Also, on a more practical level, Iíve seen the real world. I know how
tough it is for many people. I know the pain we all carry around inside
of us. It makes it easier to relate to actors, producers, studio people,
crew. Iím not perfect, but I think I can keep things in perspective
that way. Movies are important. Movies are made while people are still
starving in the streets. Like I said, perspective.
would you describe yourself as a director?
Decisive without being overbearing. Calm. I think I only raised my voice
once while on set. Okay, my voice can boom like Smaug in Erebor, but
thatís usually only when the batteries died on my walkie. And I needed a
fresh cup of coffee. And didnít know where theyíd moved craft services
who inspire you?
Iím so much more wrapped up in the writing side of things when it
comes to names and technique. Serling, Gaiman, Espenson, Chayefsky. New
and old, I watch, read, and aim to be half as good as those people.
For filmmakers, itís usually more movie-by-movie. I get amazed at what
people accomplished in certain films. Like Park Chan-wook and
Chung-hoon Chung in Stoker, James Cameron in Terminator or
Aliens, Sidney Lumet in Running on Empty or The Verdict.
Even Kurt Wimmerís b-movie Equilibrium. I try to figure out how
they did what they did. Enjoyment, depth, action scene, performance. I
try to be like them in those movies. I have a ways to go, but itís fun
Your favourite movies?
Too many to list. The
first movie-drug I took was Star Wars when I was 7. Iíve been
addicted ever since. And a good film in any genre just grows my addiction
and of course, films you really deplore?
Feeling lucky ?
any of my partnershops yourself
for more, better results ?
The links below
will take you
difficult it is to make a movie, I sort of celebrate anyone who has made
it through and released a flick, especially when the budget was more than
a few dollars. So I try to be appreciative of the effort they made to
produce something from nothing.
movie's website, Facebook, whatever else?
The website for the film is at
You can find it on Facebook. My personal website is
though I really just post to Facebook/TheOneTrueJody.
I have film production company with Steve Parker, the editor and
producer on The
Dark Place, called Cthulhu Crush Productions. You can
find that and some idea of the new movies weíre working hard to make
real, at CthulhuCrush.Com.
you are dying to mention and I have merely forgotten to ask?
of the more comprehensive interviews Iíve given. I feel naked and
exposed. I like that. Are you free for dinner?
for the interview!