Your new movie Dalmatian
- in a few words, what is it about?
is a lone wolf type of guy who finds himself in a new town in a coffee
house in 1980. He is struck immediately when he sees a beautiful young
woman seated by herself. Doug finds a reason to strike up a conversation,
the two begin dating by seeing The
Empire Strikes Back
and have three children. Unfortunately, as we find out, Doug is
emotionally absent and misses out on a lot of family experiences and they
split up. In 2017, Doug and Carol, now divorced,
coffee house and Carol fills Doug in on what he’s missed out on. Scenes
intersect throughout the thirty-five minute movie between the two time
What were your
sources of inspiration when writing Dalmatian,
and was any of this based on personal experience?
was in South County Writers Group
out of Rhode Island in mid 2017.
Unlike most writing groups I’ve been in, this particular group actually
has its members write on the spot , in each other’s company, for twenty
solid minutes ‘in live time’ after someone chooses a prompt
(theme) for everyone as a starting point. Most of the people wrote poems
or short stories, but I figured I’d go ahead and write a short play
during the course of the evening. I
had likely been further inspired by a group I was working with earlier in
the year called Play in a Day, produced by Michael Gonza out of Natick,
MA, which challenged playwrights, actors, and directors to write, produce
and perform ten minute plays in a twenty four hour time-frame.
jumps back and forth between 1980 (the beginning of the characters'
relationship) and 2017 (long after that relationship has ended) - so what
was the idea to tell the film on two time levels, and how hard was it to
not lose track eventually?
I wanted to show how much people can change in that arc of years; how the
enthusiasm people have when meeting someone new can eventually turn into
after their relationship has turned sour.
me, I did not want to ‘lose people’ with the time jumps and especially
since the same actors (Jack Shea as Doug and Ashley Shea as Carol) play
the characters in both time frames, I had the characters directly address
the time jumps. In addition, they wear different outfits for the two time
frames, we set up the set differently for the two time frames, and the
musical score (by Tony Cadamadre) used a different aesthetic for each
At least for me, Dalmatian
was despite all its drama also a pretty humourous film - would you at all
agree, and if so, do talk about your movie's brand of comedy for a bit?
sure, there has to be some comedy in this piece to make it palatable. I
really do find myself to be walking in the footsteps of Larry David (Curb
so a lot of the particularly quirky moments that Doug has in life really
more or less represent my own struggles with life. To
be blunt, I’d call Doug’s issues with his own mere existence to be
“White Guy Problems” such as where to sit in a movie theater,
pontificating what to call ‘half-time’ in a three period hockey game,
and the easiest way to solve a Rubik’s Cube without
figuring out the puzzle. The funny thing about “White Guy
Problems” is that you don’t have to be white or a guy to have them
but it does
sets, camerawork and even performances, Dalmatian
feels intentionally stagey - so do talk about that aspect of your movie
for a bit, and your general directorial approach?
performed this piece as a stage play first, in the Wickford Museum of Art
and later at Article 24 in Boston, as part of Barstool Stories, before
live audiences. My general approach to this particular piece was to cast
two great actors who I knew could pull it off and just the right amount of
deep conversations about character development and rehearsals that we were
all comfortable with. Luckily, Jack Shea and Ashley Shea happen to be a
married couple, so they were able to run lines and get off book on their own time.
can you tell us about your cast, and why exactly these people?
and Ashley Shea have a rich history in theater, and Jack taught theater at
college level himself for many years. I first met Ashley in the Play in a
Day series, where she brought one of my other short pieces, The
to life. We have since also filmed The Impeccable.
when I wrote this piece, I gravitated to Jack and Ashley because I wanted
to work with people who understood the nuances of relationships and who,
quite frankly, would ‘get it’. A lot of people say they want to be
‘actors’ but what they really want is to just be on camera, just to be
famous. Jack and Ashley actually respect the craft and tradition of acting, much in the way my own
acting teachers like Barry Primus and Tim
Hillman did. So, that is why I wanted to work with them and I’m quite
happy with the results!
talk about the shoot as such, and the on-set atmosphere!
got so much done in such a short amount of time. In a nutshell, we shot a
thirty five minute movie in about four and ˝ hours, using a three camera,
studio set-up. As far as being expedient, this is about as good as it
gets. Much of the credit goes to the actors for being extremely well
rehearsed but also credit goes to the on-set crew of Henry P. Gravelle and
Dave Young for having a very well run studio.
I’d say the shoot day went very well and quickly. A lot of this comes
down to the actors having their lines properly memorized, and their
characters fully developed, which these actors did quite well. I only
mention this because I’ve seen other film sets where the actors show up
with seemingly no prior work put into their character, because, apparently
this did not occur to them, or more so, they were not even directed to do
so. These days, there are so many technical advancements, but the downside
is that the human aspects of filmmaking and acting seem lost on some
Mike with Jack and Ashley Shea
$64-question of course, where can Dalmatian
be determined. I’m currently assessing the best plan for Dalmatian.
Any suggestions are welcome.
Anything you can tell us about audience and
critical reception of your movie?
You are among the first
to see the finished piece! Other film critics and exhibitors are
welcome to contact me to see a screener.
Any future projects
you'd like to share?
have two full length stage plays that I am looking
to have produced; Margins,
a comedy in the spirit of The
and Distance from Avalon,
a vampire philosophy seduction piece. I have also written one act stage plays
such as Blood!
Sugar! Sid! Ace! and
are also available.
As far as films go, Disregard
the Vampire - A Mike Messier Documentary has
won eight awards and counting and can be found on my YouTube page. I also was the lead writer and an
actor in a horror film
titled The Manor,
which has been picked up by Lionsgate and is currently available on VOD in
also help produce Avalonia Festival, a film and film photography festival,
that is currently a FilmFreeway Top 100 Best Reviewed Festival.
Your/your movie's website,
Facebook, whatever else?
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any of my partnershops yourself
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Anything else you're dying to
mention and I have merely forgotten to ask?
lot of credit to the final look - and sound - of the piece goes to musical
composer Tony Caramadre of Phattones Studio and post editor Tim Labonte of
Stand Still Pictures. As usual, film is a collaborative medium, and this
one needed some extra attention, so Tim came through to help me finish the
I’m quite happy with Dalmatian; I
believe we’ve honored the characters of Doug and Carol and produced a
short film with a lot of emotional gravitas.
Thank you, Michael!