The webseries In
the Bedroom - what can you tell us about the main concept as such,
and your involvement in it?
The concept of In
is that behind closed doors, many nuances and ebbs and flows in
relationships can occur. The bedroom is often the most dynamic room in the
house (or hotel in some cases) for relationships, whether between spouses,
parents/children or even spies and strangers. My involvement is as the writer/director of the
is Bliss episode (click
and also the writer of the Pat
and Matrice episode (click
I also helped as a casting associate for the series. About a dozen of us
saw almost fifty actors in one day. That was quite an experience. So much
talent in New England, USA and, as such, there were many tough casting
How did you get involved
with the project in the first place?
The series creator is
Seth Chitwood of Angelwood Pictures
who is very experienced with webseries, having created other projects
such as Family Problems, Red Circles and Lungs. I
met Seth when Roland Khorshidianzadeh and I interviewed him on To
The Edge (click
here). A few months later in Summer 2013, Seth contacted me about his concept
for bringing a New England collaboration of filmmakers, actors and crew
together. I admired Seth for his idea and confidence in such an ambitious
project. So I got in on the mix.
Let's talk about
the episodes you were more deeply involved with for a bit: Pat
and Matrice - what is it about, and what were your inspirations
and Matrice is about two ladies who have been through a lot
in life. They have both suffered through failed relationships, both with
men, and perhaps with other women. Now they find themselves together in
this seedy hotel room, each trying to hold on to their humanity. They both
use a crutch - vodka for one, cigarettes for the other.
I wrote Pat
and Matrice one day a few hours before teaching
C.O.R.E. A.C.T.I.N.G. at the Brooklyn Coffee and Tea House in Providence,
(brooklyncoffeeteahouse.com) C.O.R.E. is my intense scene study
acting class. I knew that my students
always feed off challenges and I enjoy writing my own material for class.
and Matrice was born out of that desire. I wrote the piece
so both roles could be done by either gender. In C.O.R.E. A.C.T.I.N.G.
that night, my friends Creusa Michelazzo and Stephanie Castanos did
the piece justice, interestingly enough both in English and then
Spanish, as suggested by another top student David Graziano [David
Graziano interview - click here]. Creusa
and Stephanie do not consider themselves full time actresses, however
they both brought the sizzle and steak to the piece that night as a
class exercise. It was really terrific. So that was inspiring in submitting
and Matrice script to In
a two actress-piece.
Why did you choose not to direct Pat
and Matrice, and what can you tell us about the episode's director
Audrey Noone [Audrey Noone interview
- click here]?
It became clear that Pat
and Matrice were
developing, in fact, as both women. As the characters were forming their
own lives, it became clear, that "they" - Pat and Matrice -
wanted to be female. As such, I felt it would be best for them to have a
strong female director. Seth had an In
meeting at the
Providence IHOP - a popular USA restaurant (http://www.ihop.com/)
and I believe I actually mentioned Audrey's name as a possible candidate
to direct, although I did not know Audrey very well personally. Others at
the meeting knew Audrey better than I did and also thought she'd be a
great choice. My instinct was based on Audrey's intelligent and well
written Facebook comments. In these modern times, social media
presentations of personality do represent us in our dealings both
professionally and personally, so Audrey's voice as an artist
was coming through those channels. She certainly was the right choice to
Kathy LeShay Berenson
What can you tell us about your leading
ladies Kathy LeShay Berenson and Natasha Hatalsky, and why exactly them?
and I met, once again, on the To the Edge program
She's highly trained and very formidable as an actress. Her reel speaks
for itself (click
I had not met Kathy until the audition for In
the Bedroom. Kathy was dynamite in both auditioning for Pat
and Matrice and a few other characters for the series. Casting can depend on
many factors and actors should know that some of these factors, you can
influence and some you can't. You can control having done your work
in preparation for the audition. If you prepare, you give
yourself the best possible shot at getting the role. Both of these ladies
prepared and were on top of their game at the audition. There were some
twists and turns in casting, and in the end, it worked out tremendously. Together,
Kathy and Natasha have a palpable energy and chemistry, a really powerful
team as led by Audrey. I am very pleased and impressed with Pat
is Bliss - again, what's it about and what were your inspirations?
is Bliss is about an African-American politcal power couple in the mid
1980s dealing with the fact that they are Democrats in a Republican
dominated Beltway environment. Their relationship is feeling strained and
the wife proposes a short break to spice things up. I wrote Marriage
is Bliss on the same day I wrote Pat
and Matrice. For whatever
reason, I had a good writing day! The inspiration was that old chesnut of
the squabbling couple. Like most of us, I've seen that scenario develop
quite a few times with friends and family and it's always uncomfortable to
be a witness to that dynamic in person, yet somehow, it's intriguing as
fiction. I will cite the classic Bob & Carol & Ted & Alice
movie as another influence, especially as the wife character Janet Union
(LaNecia Edmonds) proposes a "coffee break" from fidelity.
can you tell us about the look and feel of the episode?
Seth asked for ideas about set design and this is not my specialty yet.For some reason, I had a vision of the 1980's Reagen era. The set designer
is Bliss episode is Mary Hronicek and she honored my
idea to a "T" plus some. I felt especially honored that she
packaged the Bruce Springsteen Born in the USA
framed album cover and ticket stub. She collaborated with her next
door neighbor on the elements of that piece and it actually moves
emotionally that Mary pulled that off. The Born in the USA album,
and the title song especially, is loaded with meaning and historical
significance. Ronald Reagen used the song as a theme song for re-election
for a while, not realizing the heavy, disenfranchised voice of the
American Veteran in the song. For me personally, many 1980s pro wrestlers
like Steve "Dr. Death" Williams
used the song to accompany their entrance to the ring as a rallying call,
again, perhaps not realizing what the song's lyrics actually meant. To me,
that duality adds a lot in the context of Marriage
The color hue of the yellow tint represents both the "candy
coated/feel good" yet somehow "washed out/washed over" feel
of both the times and their marriage. Credit Seth and DP/editor Alex
Watrous for those choices. I believe Seth and my assistant director Creusa
Michelazzo of Macremi Productions
helped organize the use of music by Sebastian Zapata and Jorge Tobon.
Certainly this was a team effort and everyone I mentioned along with
Curtis Reid, Chris Esper [Chris
Esper interview - click here], hair and makeup artist Stefani Plante, Carlyn Fournier and many
others lead to the success of both this episode and the series in general.
Jose Guns Alves with Mike
Creusa Michelazzo with Mike
leads Jose Guns Alves and LaNecia Edmonds - what made them perfect for
Guns and LaNecia have chemistry together
and are real gifted, solid and hard working actors. Their slight age
difference also reflects well on the characters of Benjamin and Janet
Union. Guns is a driven guy and he and I have had many conversations about
the challenges facing both of us as actors in New England and as creative
guys in these tumultuous times. People throw out the "bro" term
a lot these days, but me and Jose are real brothers, there's no doubt, as
we understand and respect each other. LaNecia has a special place in my
heart both as a friend and as an acting student. She is one of the best
kept acting secrets in New England, and my hope is that she gets more
quality work from her work in Marriage
Do talk about the shoot as such for a
bit, and the on-set atmosphere?
It was fun. The In
the Bedroom team set it all up for us and my
job was so easy that day, I really felt empowered as an artist. This is
how it should be all the time, I thought. Assistant director Creusa
Michelazzo ran a great ship and there were no major obstacles. Jose,
LaNecia, and I had rehearsed together the day before so their lines were
memorized and their performances were on point. Again, the set almost made
me cry, I was so happy. What a performance space! It was perfect.
I was fully confident in the small crew of DP Alex Watrous and audio
lead by Chris Esper, with support from Curtis Reid. These are solid,
quality film people. I felt great to work with this team and "not
have to worry about it".
Will you be writing
and/or directing any more episodes of In
the Bedroom, and in which direction will the series as a whole be
going to take?
Let's ask Seth to do another season! It's
his call of course, but I'm up for it as both a writer and director for
another season! In the meantime, I'll do what I can to bring attention to
the series that everybody worked so hard on. A tip of the hat to the whole
gang, especially theboard of directors
What a solid team that brought it all together!
(Other) future projects you'd like to
I'm happy to mention that my short film The
Nature of the Flame was accepted and world premiered at the Rhode Island International Film Festival
My thanks to George Marshall and Shawn Quirk for making that happen. DP/editor Chris Hunter and I feel great about that acceptance and I had an
awesome time and learned so much at the festival during the screenings and
workshops with industry professionals like Tommy DeNucci of Woodhaven
looking for distribution for Blood! Sugar! Sid! Ace!
- a completed
feature film [Mike's Blood! Sugar! Sid! Ace!-interview
- click here].
I'm also doing a blog on Facebook for The Industry
called The Messier Moment.
Movie Producer/Actor David Gere and I
are working together to promote his Pro Wrestling character DG Haven.
Feeling lucky ?
any of my partnershops yourself
for more, better results ?
The links below
will take you
these are the projects of the moment. I also started a new acting class
called Tao Zen Acting - The Art of Zen and Creating the Inner
Tao Zen Acting implements life skills and how they apply and integrate
with acting disciplines.
I'm also helping Tim Hillman with his acting
class Simply Acting which is a great learning experience for me.
Of course, my long term film projects all deserve attention and most are
in need of investors at this point. The current project is Disregard
the Vampire [Mike's Disregard
the Vampire interview - click here].
If anyone is interested in investing in or producing any of my projects...
please inquire at
Your/your series' website, Facebook, whatever
Anything else you are dying to mention and I have
merely forgotten to ask?
I'm learning to enjoy life a bit
more, yet I'm still driven to achieve my goals. "Goals are dreams
with deadlines" - Tony Robbins
To your readers, I say never quit and make the most of your time. When
we're all dead, we're gonna wish we made more art and did less social
Thanks for the interview!
Michael, thank you for your continued support of New England artists.