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An Interview with Joe Cornet, Director and Star of A Prayer for the Damned

by Mike Haberfelner

February 2020

Joe Cornet on (re)Search my Trash

 

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Your new movie A Prayer for the Damned - in a few words, what is it about?

 

It revolves around a mysterious cache of Confederate gold that had been heisted from Richmond, Virginia at the end of the American Civil War. Originally stolen by a Southern Secessionist League to finance a second American Confederacy, the fortune is then pursued by a bounty hunter as well as a demented preacher. After several encounters with the “characters” in a strange New Mexico town, these two clash in an ending with more than one wild twist.

 

With A Prayer for the Damned being a western, is that a genre you're especially fond of? And some of your genre favourites? And what can you tell us about your movie's approach to the genre as such?

 

I have been fond of westerns my whole life. The stories are often rooted in history and I am a historian. Some of my favorites are Red River, Pat Garrett and Billy the Kid and The Good, the Bad and the Ugly. I feel that A Prayer for the Damned combines and mashes up the various film styles. I love in a new perspective.

 

(Other) sources of inspiration when writing A Prayer for the Damned?

 

Certainly, history. The basis of the story is rooted in a real event.

 

What can you tell us about your overall directorial approach to your story at hand?

 

I prefer an epic style with all my shots composed for widescreen.

 

Where was A Prayer for the Damned filmed, and what was it like shooting there? And how did you find your location even?

 

It was mostly filmed at Whitehorse Ranch near Landers, CA. It is a marvelous western movie town, completely set dressed inside and out and historically accurate. They also have a vast wardrobe available. The owners, Peter and Maureen Menyhart, are well versed in the lore of the old west.

 

You also play one of the leads in A Prayer for the Damned - so what can you tell us about your character, what did you draw upon to bring him to life, and have you written Cole with yourself in mind from the get-go?

 

Certainly, there are a few aspects of me in the character and yes, I wrote him for me. He is quite a bit more tortured and stoic than I am! I tried to approach him as a tough, measured man who is deep down very good while trying to live down some not so good things he may have done.

 

Do talk about the rest of your cast, and why exactly these people?

 

The cast are all wonderful actors. I was in an acting class (taught by the great Clu Gulager) with several of them over the years so when I started casting, I knew exactly who I wanted for each role. Pay particular attention to the performance by Curt Lambert as The Preacher.

 

A few words about the shoot as such, and the on-set atmosphere?

 

It was a good set experience, full of camaraderie. Many days were extremely hot on location so that kind of informed the whole look of the film!

 

Anything you can tell us about audience and critical reception of A Prayer for the Damned?

 

Regular audience screenings were well received. It has been in several film festivals, including one in London, and has won awards in all of them.

 

Any future projects you'd like to share?

 

Yes. I am just now delivering our second western Incident at Guilt Ridge. It is an action tale (with a good deal of humor) about a payroll heist gone wrong. I am also putting the final touches on a third western called Promise. It is an epic tale of redemption, loyalty and love. It also stars the great Don Murray! All three of our films are being released through Random Media.

 

What got you into the filmworld to begin with, and did you receive any formal training on the subject?

 

I have had a lifelong passion for film and film history. I set out to be a filmmaker when I was in my late teens, but life took me on another turn for a number years. About seven years ago, I started looking at some little film projects I did in my late teens and early twenties. A friend suggested I give it a shot again. So, I began studying digital film and editing (I was self-taught as a film guy and not really into digital when it first appeared) and I took some writing and acting courses. I always viewed my “formal training” as watching film as well as reading some of the great books of film theory.

 

What can you tell us about your filmwork prior to A Prayer for the Damned?

 

Mostly self-produced shorts and a few acting gigs here and there.

 

How would you describe yourself as an actor, and how as a director?

 

As an actor, I like to immerse myself in the role. Get into the backstory and the motivations of the character. As a director, I like to give the actors I hire a lot of latitude to make decisions and take chances. That is why I hire the actors I do because I trust them.

 

Filmmakers, actors, writers, whoever else who inspire you?

 

The list is endless, so I’ll just wing it: Alfred Hitchcock, Sergio Leone, John Ford, Howard Hawks, John Frankenheimer, Richard Burton, Peter O’Toole, Clint Eastwood (as a director as well!), James Stewart, Dennis Hopper (also as a director!), Michael Caine, F. Scott Fitzgerald, John LeCarré and Ian Fleming!

 

Your favourite movies?

 

Again, endless but here goes: Lawrence of Arabia, Once Upon A Time in the West, The Searchers, True Grit, Beckett, Dr. Strangelove, 2001 A Space Odyssey, Goldfinger, The Manchurian Candidate. It goes on!!!

 

Feeling lucky ?
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Find Joe Cornet
at the amazons ...

USA  amazon.com

Great Britain (a.k.a. the United Kingdom)  amazon.co.uk

Germany (East AND West)  amazon.de

Looking for imports ?
Find Joe Cornet here ...

Thailand  eThaiCD.com
Your shop for all things Thai

... and of course, films you really deplore?

 

I really don’t bother with anything I deplore!

 

Your/your movie's website, Facebook, whatever else?

 

Facebook: A Prayer For The Damned (which is also our page for all San Rafael Productions releases)

Instagram: @aprayerforthedamned

 

Anything else you're dying to mention and I have merely forgotten to ask?

 

I think that covers it for now. Thanks!

 

Thanks for the interview!

 

© by Mike Haberfelner


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Thanks for watching !!!



 

 

Robots and rats,
demons and potholes,
cuddly toys and
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love and death and everything in between,
Tales to Chill
Your Bones to

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Tales to Chill
Your Bones to
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a collection of short stories and mini-plays
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tales that will give you a chill and maybe a chuckle, all thought up by
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Tales to Chill
Your Bones to

the new anthology by
Michael Haberfelner

 

Out now from
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On the same day
a Burglar wants to kill you
and your Ex wants
to make up ...
... and for the life of it,
you can't decide
WHICH IS WORSE!!!

 

A Killer Conversation

produced by and starring
Melanie Denholme
directed by
David V.G. Davies
written by
Michael Haberfelner
starring
Ryan Hunter and
Rudy Barrow

out now on DVD