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An Interview with Joseph Mistretta, Star of Reckoning

by Mike Haberfelner

May 2016

Joseph Mistretta on (re)Search my Trash


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Your upcoming movie Reckoning - in a few words, what is it about, and what can you tell us about your character in it?


The movie, in a few words, is about love, revenge, death, genitals. Ha. Is that few enough?

My character, Eric, if he were to describe himself, would say he's a man on the rise. He's with the 'in crowd.' And what happens to him he would blame more on a victim of circumstance instead of his own actions, or inaction. If I were to describe him. He's a low level thug who's seen too many episodes of Sopranos with the inability to accept responsibility for his actions.


What will you draw upon to bring your character to life, and how much Joseph Mistretta do you find in Eric, actually?


The wardrobe is mine. I dress pretty eclectically and I brought together some of the more odd, clashing parts for this character. But clothes aside, I think had I gone down a different path in life, made a few wrong turns, I, or anyone really, could have easily ended up an Eric. So while I don't find a whole parts of myself in him, there's little snippets that I'll exaggerate on. Especially the fear. But I'll leave it at that.


How did you get involved with the project in the first place?


That's is surprisingly a loaded question so I'll try to keep it short. I'd been doing SPFX makeup for over 15 years on various shoots and had met Reckoning's director Travis Legge [Travis Legge interview - click here] on a previous film we did together (not sure if I can say it here) called What They Say. I used to do a little acting and wanted to transition to the front side of the camera. I saw his casting call, remembered a story I heard about Henry Rollins auditioning for a movie, and went for it.


With Reckoning still being in pre-production, what's your collaboration with director Travis Legge [Travis Legge interview - click here] like so far?


Collaborating with Travis has been a lot of fun. He doesn't waste a lot of time derailing from topic. The rest of us do that enough. He's very passionate about what he does and I think that helps make everybody no matter what they do or how small the part more passionate. I am looking forward to principle!


Since you are first and foremost known as a special makeup effects artist, will you at all work in this position on Reckoning as well, and if so, what are we to expect regarding that aspect of the movie?


Thanks for acknowledging that. I'm actually trying to separate the two when I act. In the past I've done FX as the main role and filled in a small acting bit on films but as I want to do larger, more involved roles I find that the role dominates my energies and doing that and a lot of FX to be too compromising. That being said, I am making a few props as I love doing in house FX work. So I will have some of 4 Finger FX Studios stuff in there (shameless plug moment). I'm more excited to be working with another FX artist and see it purely from the actor's view and not constant go-between.


So what's the schedule for Reckoning, and how far into preparation are you as an actor?


Here's a funny admission. I've not really looked at the shooting schedule. Just the days I'm needed. Blocked off my calendar and said, those days are booked. I think the longest shoot day from what Travis mentioned in rehearsals is only 12 or so hours. If the shoot day stays under 24 hours I'm fine with that. The longest I've done is 48 before passing out. (Thanks Don! Good times!)


Any future projects you'd like to share?


Yes! About 1.5 weeks after this wraps I'll be shooting a short film called The Dule Tree in which I play a man accused of murder. I'd love to say more but obligations and all. I can say I'll be working with IVP Productions on this and am very very excited.

Also, I'm in final stages of editing a film that is being submitted to a few film fests. We still have one more scene to shoot and will be shooting that today (Sunday 5/15/16). It's called In Memorium and has almost a mockumentary feel to it. Very excited about that as well.


As mentioned, you're known first and foremost as a special makeup effects artist - so do talk about that aspect of your career for a bit, and about your training and such!


I think like a lot of SPFX MUA's we got our love from the 70's & 80's horror films. I got my start when I was about 14 just doing zombie stuff with latex and cream make up. Learned quickly latex and hair don't mix. I had to grow back half an eye brow. But after that I just practiced a lot. I had some good friends who gave me a crap ton of make up which helped a ton. I would just spend nights and days in my room practicing different FX. Very solitary, no life stuff. But at that point it was still just something cool. I was forming a band at that point and that was everything. We were going to be huge (that failed). But when I was in college I was still doing FX regularly and got more into writing for the screen and a little less for music. At that point things in the FX area took over. It felt like the natural progression at that point if that makes any sense. Never any formal schooling for it. Just a bunch of books from Monster Makers, videos online and practice, practice, practice.

As far as my career in FX it's been a dream really. I've worked with wonderful people all over the Midwest and East Coast. The indie film arena is a breeding ground for ingenuity because so often I'd bring almost my entire FX shop with me to a shoot out in the middle of nowhere and all of a sudden the director would be like, and I've heard this exact line, 'I need a severed head in an hour!' And I'm like, 'no.' But we make something that works out of nothing basically and some of those style results, the low budget, nickle and dime FX are still the most realistic FX out there. If they're done right.

As I've been doing this for longer than I can count right now, I've geared away from on set FX and stayed mainly in house. Sculpting, mold making, fabrication, painting, etc. It's still crazy and deadlines must be met but it's my crazy and I'm okay with that. I've recently started a development and fabrication company that's an offshoot of 4 Finger FX called jcm Development ( Just to keep the gore separate from the rest.


What made you pick up acting eventually?


Acting was something I always wanted to do. There was just a part of me that wasn't ready. Actors have to be open and have a sense of vulnerability and a 20 something cocky, smart ass is neither of those. But my friend Nick who does work in film out in LA kept nudging me to do it. Finally it felt right. So I did. I'm still a cocky smart ass. But now I have a softer side too.


What can you tell us about your filmwork prior to Reckoning in whatever position?


It's scary out there. I've written TV pilots and screenplays, and developed a 7 season series. All of which are slowly simmering, waiting for the right person to bring them to life (read into that need crap tons of money). But you keep doing it and question it every day because it's what you do. But you do it because you wouldn't want it any other way. As far as on set work, at this moment of 11:48 a.m. I can't think of specifics. If I can I'll get back to this.


How would you describe yourself as an actor, and some of your techniques to bring your characters to life?


Not quite method but not not method. You have to put yourself in the character's shoes. You have to be them. But you also have to create them. It's like sculpting a personality and persona out of yourself. You can make changes in it. But once the camera rolls, that's the mold cast for your character sculpt. If you change things then the character changes. And it takes the audience out of the suspended disbelief.


Actors, special makeup effects artists, whoever else who inspire you?


So many that long lists bore people. But I'll say this: I find my inspirations for everything I do everywhere not just in the same field. I find 80's hair metal very inspiring for both FX and acting. I think Matt Damon is a terrifically talented actor. Good Will Hunting is probably my all time favorite movie and being able to do a project with him would be life altering. FX wise, oh man, the talent out there is so expansive. From the greats to the unknowns take it all in and appreciate it all.


Your favourite movies?


I can do this! In almost no specific order: Good Will Hunting, True Romance, American History X, The Matrix (part 1), Star Wars (original 3), Lord of the Rings trilogy, Harry Potter, Lucky Number Slevin, Casablanca, and I know the next two are TV shows but I've seem both series in entirety at least three times each. Buffy the Vampire Slayer and House.


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


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


Yes but it's completely off topic. I've been involved with this kick ass band that is brand new to the music scene. They are called Mafia Kill Shop and their debut album Sounds Of Violence is only available on bandcamp at - support them and the album digital download!


Thanks for the interview!


© by Mike Haberfelner

Legal note: (re)Search my Trash cannot
and shall not be held responsible for
content of sites from a third party.

Thanks for watching !!!



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a collection of short stories and mini-plays
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On the same day
a Burglar wants to kill you
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... and for the life of it,
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A Killer Conversation

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

out now on DVD