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An Interview with Lee Kolinsky, Director of Stand Up Guy

by Mike Haberfelner

July 2015

Films directed by Lee Kolinsky on (re)Search my Trash


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Your new movie Stand Up Guy - in a few words, what is it about?


Stand Up Guy is about Roman (Michael Riccio), the son of a mob boss who at one time ruled the city. Roman was supposed to inherit the empire, but had been set up and put in jail for 15 years by his childhood friend Angelo (Joseph A. Halsey). Now that Roman's out, he begins looking for revenge and to take back his family business.


With Stand Up Guy being a gangster movie - is that at all a genre you're especially fond of, and some of your genre favourites?


Iím very much attracted to crime movies. Not necessarily just gangster films. I like the idea of people trying to make it rich quick any way they can. I am interested in the behavior of criminal activity. In some cases it may be clear that money or power is the motivator, but there is usually some other reason that motivates as well. In Stand Up Guy, Roman lost everything he knew, his friends, his family, his inheritance. Those are the motivators for his quest. As for other genres, I like almost everything -- action, comedy, sci-fi, drama, western. I am pretty much all over the spectrum.


(Other) sources of inspiration when writing Stand Up Guy? And to what extent can you actually identify with both Angelo and Roman?


The Good, The Bad and The Ugly was a major influence for this film. I had written the stories for two other gangster films: Send No Flowers and The Blue Lizard. This was my shot at a gangster trilogy. I tried to fit the FBI agent, the gangster and the gangster wannabe to that mold.


Michael Riccio

I can relate to both Roman and Angelo. Roman had everything he could want in the world and was betrayed by his best friends. The betrayal is something I can relate to. And Angelo was jealous of his longtime friend who had everything. Another area where I can relate.


As far as I know, Stand Up Guy was your directorial debut - so why did you choose exactly this story?


Yes, itís my first time out as a director. I had directed some informational commercials for one of my companies. Internal use only. When I met Michael Riccio a year or so ago, we discussed doing a project together. He mentioned to me a few ideas that inspired me to write. Michael also wanted me direct and I had asked a few other people what they thought and was supported by director Steve Sage Goldberg and director Fred Carpenter.


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


I really just wanted a lot of anger to push though as well as give a feel for manipulation. Roman is extremely angry, but he is also being manipulated by Agent Cappelli (Russ Camarda). Angelo thinks he is manipulating everyone so he can stay on top and getting away with it. He is also angry heís had to fight so hard to get to the top. Agent Cappelli is trying to manipulate everyone, not caring who is on top. He wants to look good to his superiors and get them off his back.


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


Performances are extremely important with short films. Not that they arenít with features, but a short has very limited time to grab the audience. So cast is really something I donít want to mess with. At least thatís how I feel more and more each time Iím on a project.


Joseph A. Halsey

Comfort level was one of the reasons why we cast the actors we did. I knew everyone we cast was great at their craft and that makes a guy like me feel good when going into a project. Iíve worked with all of the other actors prior to Stand Up Guy. Joseph A. Halsey was in Junkie Heaven, Russ Camarda was in Send No Flowers and Bullified, Tony Kost was in Send No Flowers and Robert Hellmers was in pretty much everything Iíve worked on.


Michael Riccio was the newest actor to our fold. He did amazing work as Roman. We worked on the character from day one and he was so excited about being part of the film.


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


The atmosphere was very professional. Steve Sage Goldberg and Cecily Mihok-Trenka had my back every step of the way. It was one of the best sets we ran together and the crew was totally on the ball. Thanks to the whole crew for supporting and working on the film.


Anything you can tell us about audience and critical reception of your movie yet?


We started rolling out the trailer at this point. The reaction to that has been great. It received a nomination for best trailer at the Long Island International Film Expo. We should be submitting the completed film to festivals within the next few weeks.


Any future projects you'd like to share?


Sure, I have two short film projects which I co-wrote. One is called Remember Me?, directed by Cecily Mihok-Trenka. That one is a dramedy. The other is called Hunterís Moon, directed by Sean Q. King. That one is an intense drama with horror elements. Both films are outside my crime genre and Iím really appreciative to be a part of them.


Lee directing Joseph A. Halsey

As far as I know you entered the filmworld as a screenwriter - so what can you tell us about Lee Kolinsky the writer, and did you receive any formal education on the subject?


I was a production assistant once on an independent Liev Schreiber film. It really didnít work for me. Other than that Iíve always been a writer. I went to school for filmmaking and screenwriting. I have several feature scripts written and my heart is certainly in the creating of great concepts and turning them into scripts.


What can you tell us about your filmwork prior to Stand Up Guy?


Iíve made four films prior to Stand Up Guy. Two of them were features, both directed by Fred Carpenter. We met through a mutual friend. Fred read one of my scripts and decided to take a shot and brought me into his film family. The Blue Lizard was made in 2002 and can be seen on The second, Send No Flowers, can be seen on demand on Timewarner, Comcast and Cox Pay Per View. The other two films were shorts directed by Steve Sage Goldberg. They are Bullified and Junkie Heaven. Bullified can be seen on DirectTV and AT&T Universe. Junkie Heavenn is hitting the film circuit.


How would you describe yourself as a writer and as a director?


Iím a patient filmmaker who wants to move fast and efficiently. If that makes sense.


Filmmakers, writers, whoever else who inspire you?


In no order, David Mamet, Clint Eastwood, Steve McQueen, William Goldman, John Hughes, Wes Anderson and a whole slew of writers/flimmakers. Family and real world experiences also inspire me. Itís pretty much the basis for my work. Attitudes for characters come from that.


Your favourite movies?


In no order: Highlander, Flash Gordon, The Good, the Bad and the Ugly, Kellyís Heroes, The Magnificent Seven, The Great Escape, The Wild Bunch, Millerís Crossing.


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


I donít really deplore any movie, but Iím not a fan of editing where I canít catch up with the story. Any movie I walk out of the theatre with a headache.


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


Thanks For the interview. Appreciate it.


Thanks for the interview!


© by Mike Haberfelner

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Thanks for watching !!!



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

is all of that.


Tales to Chill
Your Bones to
a collection of short stories and mini-plays
ranging from the horrific to the darkly humourous,
from the post-apocalyptic
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tales that will give you a chill and maybe a chuckle, all thought up by
the twisted mind of
screenwriter and film reviewer
Michael Haberfelner.


Tales to Chill
Your Bones to

the new anthology by
Michael Haberfelner


Out now from




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


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