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An Interview with Michael Kopelow, Star & Co-Writer of Counter Clockwise

by Mike Haberfelner

November 2016

Michael Kopelow on (re)Search my Trash


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Your new film Counter Clockwise - in a few words, what is it about?


It's about a scientist that invents a teleporter, that accidentally turns into a time machine. He attempts to teleport himself and ends up 6 months in the future only to find out that his wife and sister have both been brutally murdered. He then discovers that he's the main suspect in the murder.


How did the project fall together in the first place, and how did you end up on the writing and producing side of things as well? And are you  at all a fan of time travel stories in whatever medium?


George Moïse (director, co-writer) [George Moïse interview - click here] and I had been friends for a quite a while and been dabbling in each other's projects here and there, which eventually led us to writing together. We had a previous script under our belt and were scribbling on a few other projects when he asked if I'd take a look at this other script he'd wrote - Counter Clockwise. I read it and just got a feeling about it. The structure that George created was really clever but I felt it needed a re-write, I got a sorta vision, I actually explained it to George by saying we need to fuck this script up and for some reason it hit me that I wanted to produce it, make it. I approached George with my ideas for the re-write and producing it and it actually thrilled him. So we put everything aside and went to work, page one and hammered it out. Funny I'm not a tremendous fan of time travel films though one of my favorite movies is Time Bandits.


What were your sources of inspiration when writing Counter Clockwise?


It was interesting because I entered as a writer into a script that all ready existed. George already had a great structure and story. So my desire was to influence the world that it takes place in, the characters and possibly other random circumstances that could enhance the plot. So my influences weren't really time travel movies. Though I watched a shit ton of them to catch up. Mind you the reality of the movie takes place technically in a sorta 'day in the life of this guy', a really screwed up day in the life, but nonetheless so, I drew from movies like After Hours, Pulp Fiction, the Twin Peaks series, road trip movies as well as many of my own experiences with people I've met traveling.


Given the time travel aspect of your story - how hard was it to not just lose the plot with all the protagonist's travels back in time?


Luckily I had George who had already worked that out. He knew that world backwards and forwards. It took me a while even while writing and even through the filming to really know where we were in the story sometimes. Many times I had to stop and have George explain it again and again - Ok which Ethan is this? Where are we now? ...


What can you tell us about your co-writer, production partner and director George Moïse [George Moïse interview - click here], and what was your collaboration like before, during and after the shoot? And how did the two of you first meet, even?


Well we met a long time ago, I was his boss at a promotional job for Camel cigarettes that took place in bars & night clubs. He was making these crazy short films and hysterical photoshop art. I thought this guy is hilarious and incredibly talented and we hit it off. Over time he became my best friend, now he's like a brother to me, family. Before Counter Clockwise we were writing together & George would stick me in one of his short films here and there. We'd hang out drink shoot the shit a lot. 

As far as the process went... I'd say from the first day of re-writes up until the movie went into its final post, George and I worked or talked or had some kind of need to arrange or figure something out every single day. It was grueling at times and pushed our relationship to extremes. Looking back in comparison to what I've heard other filmmakers have gone through, it was never that bad for us. There was always a great deal of respect we held for one another during the entire process. As far as George and I after, we're even closer. We have so much more of a richer understanding and respect of one another and still just get together to drink and shoot the shit.


You also play the lead in Counter Clockwise -  so what did you draw upon to bring your character to life, and how much or Michael Kopelow can we find in Ethan? And have you written him with yourself in mind from the get-go?


Originally the lead scientist was written as a female. I was gonna play the part of the assistant. So no, playing Ethan was the last thing on my mind when we were writing it. It came down to a production decision moving forward as far as potential risk of losing the lead over time to another project as well as could our budget handle it. So Walter, the other producer, suggested I play the lead. We then went back into re-writes but fundamentally most of the dialogue didn't change too much. 

Playing Ethan was an incredible challenge because I wasn't able to focus on just acting, I was fulfilling multiple jobs on and off set. On top of this, the emotional core of who and what Ethan is and going through is/was very far removed from anything I could access inside of me at the time. 

I had to find him, create him, fast, I honestly couldn't relate nor could draw very much personally from myself. Thankfully George and Walter were there to push me and help me find it. Funny as far as acting, I eventually found that I could draw from the actual experiences of making the movie and would use that as motivation in finding some of the the emotions in certain scenes.


What can you tell us about the rest of your cast, and why exactly these people?


Besides the actual audition process... It's funny, George has this laugh when something is or someone is really good. I would wait to hear that laugh, then I'd know they were the right one for the part. I think everyone, really everyone is great. I'm not a big fan of watching myself but I don't get tired of watching everyone's performances in this.


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


Well, it was a long one! Including the re-shoots. I think we had close to 100 different locations. My goal as a producer was to set an ease on set. Basically we're all there to create. I didn't want a rushed rigid vibe. I tried to create an atmosphere where George could take the time he needed to get the shots he wanted, as well as the actors as well as everyone so we all can do our best. Not sure if that was the case but at least that's what I was shooting for.


Any future projects you'd like to share?


Yea, I've acted in a few projects since, a pilot I can't really talk about but I play a pirate, a movie called Phonebook where I play this lost soul of a dude. I've been working on a possible children's book about the imaginary world me and my sister created as kids and there's a scrip that George and I wrote before Counter Clockwise called Problems with Girls, a comedy that I'd like to see be made.


What got you into acting in the first place, and did you receive any formal training on the subject?


I was in high school. Eleventh grade. I needed fine arts credits to graduate and I didn't want to take baking or be on the yearbook committee, I just quit the soccer team and wood and metal shop were all full. So drama class it was and my friend Jason was taking it so at least I knew one dude. I loved it right away, I felt this feeling of - I do this, there's actually a class for this?! Hell yea! I think it was my first A. I studied like crazy. I stayed with drama class till I graduated and continued taking classes at night at different workshops. Eventually doing plays and musicals in LA, Then I got into Cal Arts. I'm still studying & training through workshops online.


What can you tell us about your filmwork prior to Counter Clockwise?


My first movie was Don't Tell Mom the Babysitters Dead. Then Point Break & eventually The Stoned Age.

I had an on and off again thing with acting. I'd do it for a while professionally then get interested in something else or get frustrated with the lifestyle and financial balancing act of it all. Making Counter Clockwise has solidified what I enjoy doing the most. I plan on not taking anymore 7 year breaks between projects or roles.


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


Thats a tuff one. It's different every time. There's no one way. But I can say this... for me, it starts with a lot of thinking, then a lot of listening to yourself. I sometimes see and hear who and what the character is right away. I just have no idea how to get myself to be that. To get there, so to speak. To sum it up, I'm a whatever-it-takes kinda actor, meaning whatever it takes to allow myself to be that, to believe that, until I just am.


Actors (and indeed actresses) who inspire you?


There are so many... I turn on the screen and am blown away all the time by so many actors and actresses.  I'm more inspired by movies as a whole and not so much particular actors but as kid it was Gene Wilder & Peter Sellers, Richard Pryor & Robin Williams.


Your favourite movies?


Again too many ...

But... The Lord of the Rings, The Matrix, Animal House, Caddy Shack, Fight Club, Gladiator, Young Frankenstein, Rocky, Princess Bride, Barbarella, Edward Scissorhands, Star Wars, Harry Potter, Jaws, ET, Goonies, Time Bandits, The Big Lebowski, Pulp Fiction, Elephant Man, Excalibur, Willow, Conan the Barbarian, The Jerk, Team America.


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Your/your movie's website, Facebook, whatever else?


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


Nope - thanks, I enjoyed your questions..

The movie gets released on Dec 13, 2016.

I hope ya'll dig it!



Thanks for the interview!


© by Mike Haberfelner

Legal note: (re)Search my Trash cannot
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Thanks for watching !!!



Robots and rats,
demons and potholes,
cuddly toys and
shopping mall Santas,
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
to the weirdly romantic,
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