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An Interview with Rib Hillis, Star of Haunting of the Innocent

by Mike Haberfelner

January 2014

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Your upcoming film Haunting of the Innocent - in a few words, what is it about? And what did you draw upon to bring your character to life, how much of Rib Hillis can we find in Tom?

 

Haunting Of The Innocent is about man trying to avoid his fate, trying to become a force in his own destiny and not just a pawn in some larger game played by forces beyond his control. It's a story we all can relate to. It's a psychological thriller, in the vein of Wicker Man and Let the Right One In

There is a lot of me in my character Tom. My own son, Dane, played my on-camera son in the film. That alone grounded my character in the reality of being a father trying to protect his family.

 

How did you get involved with the project in the first place, and what led to you actually co-producing Haunting of the Innocent?

 

The idea of Haunting Of The Innocent started over drinks at our local bar one night. One of our producing partners, Justin Jones and I, were at our local bar, STK and we got into a conversation about my parents old New England farm house and how creepy/haunted it is. We came up with the basic outline of the film that night over cocktails: Los Angeles based family goes home to a small town, to find that things aren't exactly how they appear. The idea grew and we got teamed up with the incredible Autumn Federici [Autumn Federici interview - click here] and Raging Bull Entertainment. We moved the production from New England to NorCal, finding a perfect location in the town of Paso Robles. It was truly one of those passion projects in that was born out of some wild ideas one night over fireball shots... haha.

 

What can you tell us about your director Matt Hish [Matt Hish interview - click here], and your collaboration with him?

 

I can honestly say that this film wouldn't be what it is if not for the incredible vision, passion and commitment of Matt Hish. He knew exactly how this film would look from the moment he was brought on board. It made my job and the jobs of everyone involved so much easier to have such a focused and singular creative force at the helm. He took the time to rehearse with all of us before shooting, so that our characters and their experience in the story made sense for each of us and more importantly for the film as a whole. I loved working with Matt and his passion for filmmaking was inspirational and refreshing. He is someone to watch for in this industry.

 

with Neil Dickson

Do talk about the actual shoot for a bit, and the on-set atmosphere?

 

It was a small crew, who mostly already knew each other (at least on the production side), which made our ambitious shooting schedule (16 days) possible. We had an amazing DP in Miko Dannels, he and his team made Matt's vision come to life. We were all committed to making the absolutely best film possible, regardless of hours worked and effort. I couldn't have asked for a better crew for this film, much of what is on the screeen is a testament to them and their hard work.

 

Any future projects beyond Haunting of the Innocent you'd like to talk about?

 

I have three other films due to be released in the coming months. First off, Cowboys vs. Dinosaurs, which I shot immediately after Haunting Of The Innocent. Eric Roberts plays my father in this disaster/monster mashup, slated to air on SyFy Channel this spring. 

I also did my third film for the legendary producer, Roger Corman [Roger Corman bio - click here], Sharktopus vs Pteracoda. This is the follow up to Sharktopus, starring Eric Roberts and is due out in the spring. 

Stepping away from the sci-fi/horror genre, I produced and starred in the multi-award winning film Birthday Cake, about a gay couple celebrating the birthday of their adoptive child. This one was especially rewarding to me because of the political importance of the message and the timeliness of it. Birthday Cake is a film for everyone to see interested in the idea of acceptance and family.

 

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

 

Acting is someting I found later in life, I wanted to be a professional football player in my youth. I moved to Hollywood in my late twenties after living in Paris modeling. I wanted something more rewarding, more fulfilling than the ready-for-camera life of a model... and I found it in acting. Acting gives us the chance to become anyone, to do anything, to feel and live lives that we could never or would never try in real life. Being an actor gives a person the chance to 'live' the life of anyone, from hero to villian, sinner to saint. I love being able to 'be' someone else, feel and live another life. In all my life, there has yet to be a thrill like that of bringing a character to life. It is hard to walk away from such a high.

 

Over the years, you have also worked on quite a few daily soaps as well as reality shows. So how does working on those compare to working on an actual movie?

 

Nothing can compare to the thrill and satisfaction of shooting a film. The commitment to artistry and quality of work is unequal. The daytime and reality genre are great sources of entertainment and enjoyment, but if you are interested in artistry and creativity, nothing compares to film.

 

Especially of late, quite a few of your movies (Haunting of the Innocent included) are of the horror variety - coincidence, or a genre at all dear to you?

 

I love working in the horror genre. It is one of the most cutting edge genres in film, always pushing the limits of what's acceptable and possible, while also being the MOST entertaining genre. Ask any actor what set they had the most fun on: a gut-wrenching drama or a horror film, and I'll bet it's unanimous. Horror = FUN.

 

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

 

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The only way I know how to do it is to believe it. Some part of me has to believe in what is happening to my character, to bring that character to life, let them live and breath. These people we portray exist on paper in black and white until some actor breathes life to them. It may be the writer's baby, but it is the actor who actually brings life to the character, embodying them with whit, pain, love, humor... all the things that make us human. I don't know how to do this other than believing that this character and his life is real, buying into the idea that they exist and live, feel and experience. That's what's fun about being an actor, being someone else, living another life. When they say cut for the last time and it's a picture wrap, we must go home to our normal lives. But for that brief time, we get to be somebody else, live and die with them.

 

Actors (and indeed actresses) who inspire you?

 

Gary Oldman - I believe he is the best we have seen. He can breath live into any characer and make us believe that it is exactly how they must be. 

Christian Bale - I am inspired by his abiltiy to let go of his vanity and ego, and truly let the character come to life thru him. 

Matthew McConaughey - he has taken the road less traveled and made a name for himself as an actor and not an movie star. That is inspiring in today's day and age. I am inspired by artists who take chances, risk it all, and yet at the same time maintain the humility that we are after all, just actors.

 

Your favourite movies?

 

Deer Hunter.

 

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

 

Anything that has no soul.

 

Your website, Facebook, whatever else?

 

Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/RibHillis

Twitter: https://twitter.com

Instagram: http://instagram.com/ribhillis

 

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

 

I have recently added another job description to my life/career path, that of Dance Studio Owner. My wife, Elena Grinenko from Dancing With The Stars and two time World Champion, opened a dance studio in Sherman Oaks, CA. www.LaBallroomStudio.com. It is the immediate focus of my days right now, along with raising our 4 month old baby boy, Magnus Zander Hillis. I am excited about the future and all it has to offer for myself and my family. Thanks for the time.

 

Thanks for the interview!

 

It has been my pleasure,

Thank you.

 

© by Mike Haberfelner


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Thanks for watching !!!



 

 

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
WHICH IS WORSE!!!

 

A Killer Conversation

produced by and starring
Melanie Denholme
directed by
David V.G. Davies
written by
Michael Haberfelner
starring
Ryan Hunter and
Rudy Barrow

out now on DVD

 

 

Stell Dir vor, Deine Lieblingsseifenoper birgt eine tiefere Wahrheit ...
... und stell Dir vor, der Penner von der U-Bahnstation hat doch recht ...
... und dann triffst Du auch noch die Frau Deiner (feuchten) Träume ...

 

Und an diesem Tag geht natürlich wieder einmal die Welt unter!!!

 

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