Your upcoming short A Room in Cairo - in a few words, what's
it going to be about?
A Room In Cairo is an espionage thriller telling the
story of violence and self sacrifice in the name of nationalism.
How did the project first get off
the ground in the first place, and what were the inspirations behind it?
A Room In Cairo came together as a wonderful hodgepodge of
circumstances: Back around 2005-2006 I wrote this short about a mafia
cleaner named Carmen. I really loved the character but the project itself
never came together so the script sat collecting virtual dust on my
hard-drive for years.
2013 I was asked to write a short with two people in a room. I had just
produced my short film Love Fools, which was basically two people who
were in a relationship hashing it out in a bedroom. So I decided to go a
very different route. Going through my old ideas I came across the script
I wrote back in 2005. I read the opening scene. It was brutal and
beautiful. So I took the framework of the opening scene from that script
and built it into A Room In Cairo.
reasoning for changing the settings - America to Egypt, mafia piece to a
spy thriller - really was born out of the time frame in which the rewrite of
the script happened. The people of Egypt had toppled two regimes,
Mubarakís & the Militaryís, and were in the process of removing a
third, Morsiís. Iím a civil rights advocate at heart and I always find
humanity standing up with one voice to fight injustice thrilling. The
changing environment in Egypt mixed with their attempts to keep the
country stable was very interesting to me.
to that the Edward Snowden situation and the lengths American Intelligence will
go in the name of security and you have the inspiration for A Room In
Jamie Lyn Bagley
A Room in Cairo handles a rather current political situation, how
much research is going into that aspect of your movie?
LOT, lot, lot of research is needed for the project. In the writing itself
I had research some medical condition a character goes through. In prep
for production everything from what weapons certain government agencies
use as issued side arms was required. Also things like how to pick a lock,
look of government paper work, Iím sure my Google searching has set off
a few red flags.
my two actors Jose Gun Alves and Jamie Lyn Bagley have to learn Egyptian
Arabic for majority of their lines. All of Joseís are Arabic. It always
bugs me when movies set in different countries have all the characters
had two people do translation for the project, one of which is an
Egyptian. Madiha is not only helping Jose & Jamie learn their lines
properly but also giving invaluable insight into the Egyptian Culture that
allows both actors to truly portray their characters with more depth than
just parroting lines in another language.
A Room in Cairo set in ... Cairo, Egypt, I suppose, what can you
tell us about the locations you're actually filming at?
magic of cinema lets us pretend weíre in Egypt. Weíre still locking
down locations so until the dotted line is signed I donít want to jinx
will say one is a Middle Eastern restaurant/hookah bar. The inside is
gorgeous. The rest of the film is set in a hotel in Cairo which means
location hunting has been fun as some of New England Architecture has no
place in a location that is supposed to be set half way across the globe.
the transformative powers of production design by our dynamic duo of
Margee Wolf & Angela Shulman weíll be taking a small bedroom and
making it look like a crumby hotel in Cairo. Some visual effects magic
will add to the look. The window will look out into the city of Cairo.
few words about the intended look and feel of your movie?
Jose Guns Alves
colours in a limited palate. Some of the reference materials Iíve
watched in prep for the shoot are Only God Forgives, Apocalypse
Now, Drive, The American, Taxi Driver,
Lunch, Hanna & Syriana. Oh, and Skyfall. Canít
do an espionage flick without a little James Bond research material.
Our director of photography Joey Lavallee, I didnít even tell him what I
was referencing as a director when I asked him what he thought and bam the
same words came out his mouth that were in my head.
course in my mind all those film references mean a visual language. In
itís simplest it means vibrant colours, purposeful camera moves and the
virtual smell of celluloid. An old look done in a new way. No Bourne
camera shake. No over used slick technique.
talk about the movie's key cast and crew for a bit, and why exactly these
main cast, the people who are in a room in Cairo, are Jose Guns Alves
& Jamie Lyn Bagley. These two lovely people are Rhode Island based
actors Iíve had the pleasure of directing in the past but never in a
project this intense.
picked Jose & Jamie for a trifecta of reasons. One: Both are really
talented actors who I knew would throw themselves entirely into this
project. The characters are roles I havenít really seen either of them
play before. Two: I need able actors who looked Middle Eastern. I didnít
want the audience for a second think ďWhy is a white guy pretending he's
Egyptian?Ē Although neither Jose nor Jamie are Middle Eastern in decent
they both have a look that translate nicely. Third: No egos. So important
to me is to work with people who are humble and excited by the communal
creativity that is film.
rest of the cast is Michael Thurber, JP Valenti, Arissa Page, Aaron
Andrade & Andrew Andrade. They are the reason Jose & Jamieís
characters end in A Room In Cairo. These fantastic people have the
same trifecta - Talent, Look & Attitude.
Andrew Andrade, Arissa Page, Michael Thurber,
JP Valenti, Aaron Andrade
the camera is a great group of people who Iíve had the pleasure of
working with in the past. As mentioned our director of photography is Joey
Lavallee. Camera and iighting consist of Danny Roth, John Mosetich &
James DeMello. These four gentlemen are people I know I can trust the look
of my film with.
team includes Richard Griffin [Richard
Griffin interview - click here] as production manager and Mark Hutchinson
rolling triple duty. Heíll be my AD, sound and in post production
heíll be editing the picture. Something Iíve never let anyone else
other then myself do before. These two men are my brain trust and
incredibly generous friends.
Art department we have the aforementioned Angela Shulman as art director &
Margee Wolf production designer. These two women can do anything. Iíve
witnessed them in thirty minutes take an apartment set that was designed
to look like two preppy twenty something girls live in it and transform it
into the home of middle aged man grasping at his memories of times long
out our production team is special FX makeup Jordan Pacheco, who will make
sure our characters get their bloodiest. As well as Pat OíHara who not
only will be keeping our cast & crewís belly filled with one of the
best set menus Iíve ever seen but will also be our script supervisor.
Last but not least is my brother Aaron Poisson, who is our visual effects
artist and graphic designer. Heíll be the man who makes Cairo appear out
the window and bullets fly through the air as if they are well captured on
did I pick them? Theyíre some the best people I know.
As far as I know, A Room in Cairo is
presently still in its fundraising stages - so what can you tell us about
your fundraising efforts?
weíre in the great crowdfunding race many artists are in to help fund
projects. A Room In Cairo is using IndieGoGo as our platform.
Weíre looking to raise $1800 of the approximately $2200 budget through
this avenue. Amazingly weíre already at 60%, at the time of this
question and answer session, with a little more than a month left.
prepping to do the IndieGoGo campaign I did a lot of research. In
the end I came to a few conclusions - 1: Successful campaigns have a LOT of
planning. You need to constantly update your current & potential
funders. Leave information to be reveled. 2: You arenít going to
raise ALL your funds from people you know but itís a great place to
start. The release of our campaign started with only people the cast &
crew knew. Once we hit 30% we expanded it to our larger filmmaking
community and now that weíre past 50% all over the internet. 3:
The same old boring talking head Pitch Video talking about how great the
project is doesnít cut it any more. Entertain the people and they will
with that acquired knowledge I wrote a script for our pitch video, Iím
pretty sure Jose & Jamie have more lines in the pitch video then they
do in the actual movie by two fold. The video was filmed by Richard
Griffin [Richard Griffin
interview - click here] at James DeMelloís studio space. Iíve gotten messages saying
funders were compelled to donate by the pitch video alone.
Once your funds are raised,
how do you plan to proceed - and even if it's probably waaay too early to
ask, any idea when and where the film will be released onto the general
Room In Cairo is slated to shoot principle photography September 28th,
film gods willing I donít have to stretch an already tight budget.
There is also a photo shoot related to the opening title sequence filming
beforehand and a 2nd
unit day to a sequence that isnít in the room in Cairo. Weíre shooting
this thing on the 28th,
it is just a question of how broke I am after depends on us hitting and
film god willing exceed our goal.
date, I always hate to set a date before production happens but I will say
Iím toying with January 2015. The thought is to put together a night of
short films with A Room In Cairo showing last. Iím hoping we have
a few other filmmakers also premiering projects that evening.
Any future projects beyond A Room in
Cairo you'd like to share?
As cinematographer & editor Iím working on a lot of projects through
the end of this year. Principle photography on Accidental Incest: The
Musical, directed by Richard Griffin [Richard
Griffin interview - click here], wraps early this fall. Then Iím
onto Fairfield Follies, which is a freaking hilarious politically
incorrect holiday film helmed by Laura Pepper. December is the
premiere of John Mosetichís feature Permanent, which Iím editing
and Iíll also being filming Nathan Suherís short Scary Little
Fuckers. This is all on top of A Room In Cairo. Iíll sleep in
for projects Iíll be directing in the future I intend on producing two
more short films in early 2015. Details Iím keeping under wraps until A Room In Cairo shoots. These projects are all in prep to hopefully
film the feature film MAIZE fall 2015. So, Iíll sleep in 2016.
What got you into
filmmaking in the first place, and did you receive any formal education on
route that got me to being a filmmaker is, like me, weird. As a little kid
I loved to draw so I wanted to be an artist at Disney or
or both. I also wanted to be an astronaut, a police officer, a civil rights
attorney, an archeologist & a meteorologist.
In high school, this was future meteorologist time frame, I joined theatre to
hang out with my friends. I am a terrible actress but thankfully my
writing abilities were actually promising. I started writing one act stage
plays and even had two produced by my senior year. I wrote a full stage play that year as well, dedicated to my late Nana, I named the lead
character Violet after her. The following year while I was working
at a local theatre as stage manager Project Greenlight came out. I took my
stage play and made it into a feature film script. Obviously I didnít
win, but the film bug bit me and I decided to pursue it as my career.
went for my associates in Video/Radio Production from New England Tech.
The eight years since Iíve had a continuous education on set.
When it comes to making movies, you've
pretty much done it all, directing, producing, filming, editing and
whatnot - so which aspects of making a movie do you enjoy the most, what
could you do without?
favorite three jobs in film are writer, cinematographer and editor. As a
writer I create a narrative, a world and its characters from thin air
that the director and actors get to play with. You make the frame work in
which the director plays. As a cinematographer I sculpt the visual look of
the world out of photons using the view & tone of the director as
inspiration. As editor I weave together the visual story for the
audience to see the writerís story through the directorís vision and
the cinematographerís light. I love the collaborative art that is film.
No one person owns it. Film is a work of passion with many hands involved.
An artist orgy if you will.
could I do without? Every part of the process is a part of the machine
that builds the film. Iíd say the only things I could do without when it
comes to aspects of making a film is anything that causes chaos - egos, drama,
superiority complexes, etc, etc. These elements seem to seep into
the film work. I could do without them, matter fact I try damn hard to do
without them. I work with people who have integrity, kindness and
What can you tell us about your
filmwork prior to A Room in Cairo (in whatever position)?
somehow gotten luckily enough to work on a lot of projects. I work mostly
as a dinematographer. Projects include the short films Right There,
MotherLove & Love & Laundry Soap, as well as feature
films The Disco Exorcist,
Future Justice & The Gilgo
Beach Murders. Iíve also edited projects such as the short film Still Life and the feature Iím currently working on,
Permanent. Every year I get busier, like I said Iíll sleep
would you describe yourself as a director?
learning. Iím of the thought that a directorís job is largely choosing
the right people to work with. The right actors, the right crew. That and
Iíve been told another project of the job is decision making. ďYes to
thisĒ, ďNo to thatĒ. Which Iíve learned is really true. To quote a
terrible president Iím the decider.
a director Iíd say Iím someone who looks at the script visually first,
probably because Iím a cinematographer too. Intensely I think about the
look of the project. With my actors, I like to give them the room to
really craft their own character. I choose my actors because I know they
can bring to the character what I want and surprise me with what I
didnít even think about.
who inspire you?
Zemeckis, Quentin Tarantino, Sergio Leone, Joss Whedon, George Lucas,
Alfred Hitchcock, Fritz Lang, Nicolas Winding Refn & David Fincher.
Your favourite movies?
man, this is always a tough question. Ask me this every day for a year and
youíll get 365 different answers. There might be common elements but
still a different list.
say Who Framed Roger Rabbit, Psycho,
Kill Bill (both as
one movie honestly), Fargo, Se7en, Cool Hand Luke, UnForgiven,
Indiana Jones, A Fistful of Dollars,
Fight Club & The Hustler.
and of course, films you really deplore?
Feeling lucky ?
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donít. There are movies I donít like or arenít for me. I donít
really ďdeploreĒ any films. Iíve walked out a movie before - Waterworld. I thought the movie was so bad I walked out of the
theatre. I was twelve.
movie's website, Facebook, IndieGoGo, whatever else?
for A Room In Cairo: https://www.facebook.com/roomincairo
GoGo for A Room In Cairo: https://www.indiegogo.com/projects/a-room-in-cairo-action-thriller/x/484386
else you are dying to mention and I have merely forgotten to ask?
I think that covers everything. Iím surprised I got through the whole
thing without really swearing.
for the interview!