Your new movie The
Mason Brothers - in a few words, what is it about?
The film is basically about a group of brothers that get set up during
a bank heist for ten million dollars resulting in one of the brotherís
death. Also about the brothers trying to figure out who set them up and
The Mason Brothers
being a crime thriller, is that a genre at all dear to you, and some of
your genre favourites?
Absolutely! Crime thriller is mainly
what I write about and I have an assortment of scripts in that genre. I love
that genre! When I was a kid some of my favorite films were Heat, Point
Break, The Untouchables, Reservoir
Dogs, and LA Confidential. Some of my
modern day films I love are Inception, Drive, and The
Town. I have always
wanted to do a heist film and wanted to do it as my first feature film to
make my directorial debut with. Crime thriller and heist films are my
favorite films by far as I listed some of them above I enjoy the most.
(Other) sources of inspiration
when writing The Mason
Basically all the films I mentioned above
(Inception, Drive, The Untouchables, Reservoir
Dogs, LA Confidential, Heat, and Point Break). All these films as a whole have been an
inspiration to me to follow and write/direct a genre I love. They all have
inspired me to make a heist film.
Mason Brothers is rather non-linear in narrative approach - so how
hard was it not to lose the plot in the process?
It was hard. But I knew what I wanted before writing it and had a plan
of how to write it. I write the majority if not all of my scripts
non-linear/non-chronological for several reasons. I think it makes the
story a whole lot more interesting and always keeps the audienceís
attention at all times as they are trying to figure out what the heck is
going on. It also makes the audience piece together the puzzle kind of
like Inception or a Christopher Nolan film.
To further what I mean, I knew how I wanted the story to go as I was
writing it and broke up the timeline of events at certain parts I thought
would flow just right to make for an ultimate surprise climax ending. With this style of writing you can take any script/story that is not
action based or have a whole lot of action in it and make it a great film
that captivates an audienceís attention just as much as a movie with
action in it throughout the entire film. Itís another style to keep
peopleís attention through an entire film just as an action film does.
Mason Brothers being restricted to an at best handful of
locations, how limiting and maybe also liberating was that to you as a
It was great! In fact I have always wanted to write/direct a film like
this. This film can be made into a stage play if we wanted to because of
the few locations and theatre based setting. I thought about making it
into one in fact after the release. This type of script is harder to write
and one of the most difficult/challenging scripts to write as a writer. It
forces you to be a lot more creative and write to budget. This type of
script and film also forces me as a director to get the best performances
out of the actors as much as possible. Since there is not a lot of scenery
changes the acting, cinematography, music, story/plot, and plot structure
(i.e. it being non-linear and jumping around in the timeline) has to be at
its best to keep peopleís attention. Especially it being a crime
thriller based film.
What can you tell us about your directorial
approach to your story at hand?
I wanted the story to be
very character driven and the audience to be drawn into each character on
screen based on their current situation. Also for the audience to be drawn
into each character based on strong distinguished personalities of them
all. This combined with taking certain shot types/camera angles/lighting
my cinematographer (Errol Webber) and I came up with to explain the story
at hand. Then taking this story and breaking it up into pieces as a
non-linear approach jumping back and forth in the timeline throughout the
You also play one of the
leads in The Mason
Brothers - so have you written your character with yourself in
mind from the get-go, and what did you draw upon to bring Ren to life?
Absolutely! I write myself into all my films as a lead or strong
supporting and have done so since my first short film. I do it as a trademark in my films as some other directors do (Ben Affleck, Quentin
Tarantino, Kevin Smith, Clint Eastwood). You spend so much time making a
film, even years. Itís hard not to play somewhat of a big role in it as
well from a strong supporting to even a lead as I did in this film and do
in most of mine.
Most of my characters I play in my films are the silent violent type.
Not a whole lot of dialogue but his actions speak for his words as he can
be very violent and no-nonsense. I drew upon other characters I have written for other scripts of mine and kind of a gunman from the old west
type personality. Silent, straight forward with things, takes lead of the
group, takes action when needed to set the example and gets the job done.
can you tell us about the rest of your cast, and why exactly these people?
people are great. Very talented actors and people in general. My team and
I carefully chose which actors we thought would fit each role based on
talent/look during the auditions. As the rehearsals started before filming
they knew exactly what I wanted. They make my job a lot easier as a
director on set. In fact a lot of the time I didnít even have to direct
that much on set because they knew how the scene was supposed to be played
out and acted based on what I was looking for from rehearsals.
talk about the shoot as such, and the on-set atmosphere!
was great and exciting! Everyone worked well as a team and we finished the
shoot on schedule and on budget. Making a film is all about having a hard
working crew that works well as a team. Having good morale and attitude is
a must which starts with the producers/director/assistant director on set
setting the tone of the film and leadership. We had a good group of people
that were passionate about the project which set a good attitude on set.
$64-question of course, when and where will The
Mason Brothers be released onto the general public?
14th will be the theatrical release in Los Angeles right after the April
11th premiere at The Egyptian Theatre in Hollywood California. Followed by
that my distributor will release it to VOD shortly afterwards along with
the foreign market, TV, etc. Not sure of an exact time frame. But within
2-5 months I can imagine at most at least for VOD.
you can tell us about audience and critical reception of The
Mason Brothers yet?
Not yet. After the April 11th
premiere and April 14th theatrical release I will know for sure.
Any future projects you'd
like to share?
For sure, I am currently writing my next
feature which is about a group of 5-7 criminals/strangers that are totally
opposite of each other in character that collide together in one location
trying to achieve one main goal. I donít wanna explain anymore as it
will ruin the film. But that is a brief oneliner on what it is about.
Itís another crime thriller film. If you like The
Mason Brothers this
will blow you away as the best is yet to come.
What got you into filmmaking in the first
place, and did you receive any formal training on the subject?
I have always loved movies as a kid and wanted to get into
directing/writing films at some point in my life. However it wasnít
until I moved to Los Angeles in 2012 that I really got the opportunity. I
went to a filmmaking school about 2 and a half years ago for about a year.
Graduated from the program and started making my own short films. In fact
we made short films in the school and I continued after I graduated. Then
I opened my own LLC and made this first feature film.
can you tell us about your filmwork prior to The
I made short films prior to The
Mason Brothers. Attended a film program/trade school in East Los Angeles
and started making short films there. I continued making short films after
graduating. Then won an award and some nominations for 2 of them at a
festival. I then took that momentum into making this feature film.
How would you describe yourself
as a director?
I pay a lot of attention towards the shot types/angles for the entire
film and how the film will be displayed on screen in that sense as it is
very important to me. Itís what makes the film have a style with the
moving shots, dolly in/out shots, dolly orbital shots, and extreme close
up shots during certain parts of the film, etc. This combined with the
overhead lighting effect I do in a lot of my films to create a certain
dark desaturated style that suits crime thriller films well in my opinion.
I also focus a lot on the actorís performances and pay a lot of
attention to detail in general. I am very structured in my approach from
pre-production, production, and post production as I produce my own films
as well as directing them. People showing up on time and things going on
schedule from what was planned I am big on.
Filmmakers who inspire you?
Refn, James Cameron, Xavier Gens, Christopher Nolan, Brian De Palma, and
Inception, Terminator 2, Aliens,
The Divide, Point Break, Interstellar, The
L.A. Confidential, and Heat.
... and of course, films you really
None that come to mind right now really.
Your/your movie's website, Facebook, whatever
Feeling lucky ?
any of my partnershops yourself
for more, better results ?
The links below
will take you
(the film's IMDb)
can also find me on Facebook by searching Keith Sutliff and my company
name as well at KS Pictures LLC. You can find me on Twitter at KS
Pictures LLC as well.
Anything else you're dying to mention and I have
merely forgotten to ask?
Thatís it, covered most of it.
After this film I plan to do the other feature I explained above as my
Thanks for the interview!