Your movie Mike
Case in: The Big Kiss Off - in a few words, what is it about?
BKO, as we affectionately call it, is about a low-budget private
detective, Mike Case, who works out of his car and advertises on
Craigslist. When hired by the sexy yet unstable socialite Victoria Billows
to find her missing husband, Case finds himself face to face with raving
lunatics, new age con artists, and of course, beautiful women.
With the movie being an hommage to classic film noir, is
that a genre at all dear to you? And other sources of inspiration when
Case in: The Big Kiss Off?
My amazing director of photography Michael
Blue and co-writer, Sherman Hirsh are both huge film noir fans, so when we decided to do a
film noir, they took the lead
in knowing the genre—and I have been catching up since!
I had done a music video parody of the Journey song “Don’t Stop
Believing” and had created some wacky characters for that, so I wanted
to roll them into a feature—and thus Mike
Case in: The Big Kiss Off
Inspirationally, I love Dead Men Don’t Wear Plaid, a classic
“comedy noir”, Double Indemnity,
The Letter, The
Maltese Falcon and M, to name just a few of the classic noir
Les with Erica Ocampo
What can you tell us
about your writing partner Sherman Hirsh, and what was your collaboration
Sherman and I have a wonderful collaborative process,
we would meet at diners and have lunch and took for hours about story and
characters. Sherman is a wealth of movie knowledge, and that came in
handy in creating Mike
Case in: The Big Kiss Off—he knew the noir vibe inside and out.
You also play the lead role in Mike
Case in: The Big Kiss Off - so what did you draw upon to bring
your character to life, and how much Les Mahoney can we find in Mike Case?
And have you written the character with yourself in mind from the get-go?
Case in: The Big Kiss Off
specifically so I could play Mike Case, and I think inevitably
there is much of me in him—sarcastic, edgy and quirky are all traits
that both him and I share. I wanted him to have some elements of the
classic private detectives like Bogart and Robert Mitchum, but with a
vulnerabilty that those hard-boiled guys didn’t really have. I think the
end result works, but that is ultimately up to the audience!
What can you tell
us about the rest of your key cast, and why exactly these people?
Mayer plays one of Mike’s love interests, Detective Lt. Lorena
Dietrichson, and she was cast after a friend of mine introduced her to me.
She is lovely, smart, witty and quick on her feet—more than a match for
Mike Case. Atoy Wilson is a great friend of mine in reality, so
casting him as Bootsie, Mike’s master of disguise source of information
was a natural—we just had a great fun using our existing chemistry in
our scenes together. Dale Shane as Vinnie brought the house down with his
improvisations, while Devai Pearce’s moodiness as Victoria Billows made
a great foil for Mike. Oh, and Maxim covergirl Erica Ocampo was a
great femme fatale!
the lead actor, writer and producer of Mike
Case in: The Big Kiss Off, how much creative control did you
demand during the shoot, and what can you tell us about your director
Justin Baird, and what was your collaboration like?
was a lifesaver for me, as he came in to direct very late in
pre-production, when Sherman had to drop out due to health issues. I was
very worried I was going to have to direct as well as everything else, so
Justin stepping in made all the difference to me. To be honest, I
let Justin run with the ball—as director, he had to be the guy keeping
the creative ship afloat, and he did a great job.
What can you tell us about the
actual shoot and the on-set atmosphere?
It was a whirlwind,
since we only had Blue (our DP) and Justin for nine days—so we had to
get everything done in that period. Despite the stresses of getting the
movie done in such a short time, the on-set atmosphere was great, and very
collaborative. This was essential, because most of the dialogue was
improvised at the moment, so the actors had to have the freedom to play.
A few words
about critical and audience reception of your movie?
Well, we submitted Mike
Case in: The Big Kiss Off
to one film festival, and it promptly
won four major awards: Best Director, Best Score, Best Actor and the
biggie, the Grand Jury Prize. A clean sweep! The movie
has rated well in all the major platforms, Amazon Instant, Snag Films,
Google Play, etc, and it travels well also, having been streamed in places
as diverse as Zambia and Papua New Guinea!
Will we ever see Mike Case again in another of your movies?
That is likely, as Sherman is writing a sequel. The next movie
will probably be more dramatic, with some comedic undertones.
You have recently also finished the movie At Granny's House
so what's that one about?
Talk about a change of pace from Mike
Case in: The Big Kiss Off! At Granny's House
is a suspense thriller
in the Hitchcock vein about what happens when a young women moves in as
care provider for an elderly woman. It has been called creepy, scary
and full of twists and turns.
With At Granny's House
being a horror movie - is that a genre at all dear to you, and
how would you describe your movie's approach to horror (as in suspeense vs
sudden shocks, atmosphere vs all-out gore)?
Well, I would
call At Granny's House
a suspense thriller rather than a straight out horror
film—although plenty of people who have seen it put it in the horror
genre. Just goes to show, huh? I grew up loving
Hitchcock’s movies, so At Granny's House
leans in that direction—more suspense than
surprise, although there is some of that also.
talk about the cast for a bit!
We have a great cast to go
along with the great story. Rachel Alig, known for the Showtime
staple Bikini Spring Break, plays Rebecca, our caregiver with a
hidden agenda. Rachel is a wonderful actor, and she really brings it to
this role. Glenda Morgan Brown plays Granny, and people who have
seen the movie are just blown away by her performance—a fully developed
character with lots of surprises. Bill Oberst jr [Bill
Oberst jr interview - click here], plays Boarstag, a private detective investigating strange
circumstances at the house. And, speaking of horror films, Bill was
recently named the “King of Indie Horror” in a recent fan poll, so we
were very happy when we could fit into his very busy schedule. And, oh yeah, the fourth principal character is Ted Steiner, who becomes
Rebecca’s love interest. He is played by me :)
... and a few words about
the shoot as such and the on-set atmosphere?
We shot At Granny's House
the childhood home of my wife (and co-producer) Tammy Ridenour, in rural
Colorado. Her mom still lives there and she was willing for us to take
over the house for the duration of the shoot. It became like summer
camp with all the cast and crew staying in the house or nearby. It
was an amazing experience, and the whole team came together to do
something frankly amazing in the time we had.
Bill Oberst jr in At Granny's House
film you've shot only recently is Available - so you obviously also
have to talk about that one for a bit!
Ah yes, Available!
This is a spy thriller about a guy who receives a surprise
invitation from an old flame in Germany, and little does he know he will
be thrown into a web of modern espionage intrigue.
We shot Available in six different cities in the USA, four cities in
Germany (including Oktoberfest!) and Prague in the Czech Republic.
Any idea when and
where At Granny's House
and Available will be
released onto the general public yet?
Indeed! We are
planning a Los Angeles theatrical run for At Granny's House
and are expecting DVD and streaming premieres about the same time.
Available will be done later this year—call it a Christmas present!
projects you'd like to share?
Of course! We are
shooting what are now calling Asian Treasure in the USA and Asia
this fall. More about that later! I am also working on a edgy sexual thriller to be shot in 2016. Very
What got you into acting
in the first place, and did you receive any formal training on the subject?
got into acting rather late in the game, having never done any drama, etc
until I got bit by the acting bug in 2007 at the age of 46. I then
took all the classes I could, and was totally hooked. I remember the
day when I was on stage, and I realized that I would rather be on stage,
than in the audience—quite the epiphany for me.
prompted you to eventually pick up writing, directing and producing as
well - and which do you prefer, which could you do without?
could do without producing, but the writing, directing and acting are part
of my soul now. It all started because I wanted great roles as an
actor—so I figured I’d better write them! Then, I became a
producer to make the movies happen, and a director to make them happen the
way I wanted to see them. Simple! (no, not really J)
can you tell us about your filmwork prior to Mike
Case in: The Big Kiss Off?
Oh, lots of stuff!
From starting at zero, I have become known for quirky characters,
both comedic and dramatic. I love edgy, complicated guys!
filmmakers, whoever else who inspire you?
Tom Hanks, Alfred
Hitchcock, Paul Thomas Anderson, among many others!
I’ll go by genre:
Sci fi: Star Wars (A New Hope, of course!)
Western: 3:10 to Yuma
Comedy: Planes, Trains and Automobiles
Action: Die Hard
War: The Pianist
Gangster: The Godfather 1 & 2
... and of course, films you really deplore?
Sandler — he doesn’t even seem to care if he makes good movies!
Dishonorable mention: Will Ferrell
films' websites, Facebooks, whatever else?
Case in: The Big Kiss Off:
You can watch the movie at:
At Granny's House:
Feeling lucky ?
any of my partnershops yourself
for more, better results ?
The links below
will take you
you are dying to mention and I have merely forgotten to ask?
actually, we are currently doing a crowdfunding campaign to raise the
money necessary for a weeklong theatrical run in Los Angeles for At Granny's House. This is our best shot to get the movie a wide
audience, and I would appreciate your readers' support. Every dollar
More info here:
for the interview!