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An Interview with Russ Welsh, Writer and Director of What Goes Around

by Mike Haberfelner

December 2013

Russ Welsh on (re)Search my Trash

 

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Your upcoming movie What Goes Around - in a few words, what's it going to be about?

 

It's an independently produced low-budget crime thriller that hinges primarily on characters as individuals and as a collective. Given the genre and my wanton disrespect toward censorship, What Goes Around will be quite violent. It contains bashings, a rape, castration, etc. Very disturbing. But it also has a sense of macabre humour, refusing to take everything seriously. Essentially there are three story arcs within a meta-story. That makes it sound like Sin City or Pulp Fiction or something. My film is NOT like that. If you could compare it to any film, it'd have to be Babel or Syriana. Everything affects everything else. One thing leads to another leads to another. It's like real life.

 

What were your inspirations when writing What Goes Around?

 

I've been trying to make an action movie for ages. Since I first started making movies, in fact. I had various ideas over the years, mainly about plots. But I'm not a particularly plot-driven writer or director. I don't want to be. I like writing about characters and their journeys from one type of person to another. I'm not saying you don't need a plot or that character pieces are devoid of one. There's always at least a thin thread of where they're going. A beginning, middle, and end (so to say). But depth draws me in both as an artist and an audience member. Katelyn Lewis inspired the character of Clue and everything kind of evolved from there. The seed grew into a tree with all these interesting branches leading to some very cool concepts. Once the family tree was established between protagonist, love interest and their kid, it became easier and more enjoyable to write. Of course, I have my own blend of pop culture references hidden in there somewhere. It's hard for any artist not to include their influences in their work. Joel and Ethan Coen's films, especially the earlier ones like Blood Simple and Miller's Crossing were a huge influence. As were Scorsese's movies Mean Streets, Goodfellas and The Departed. But all of those movies are set over relatively long periods of time. I wanted to create an epic crime saga in a very limited timeframe within minimal space. So I set What Goes Around in a single 24-hour period and mostly within the houses of one street. I used to joke that it's like Training Day and Wayne Kramer's grossly under-appreciated Running Scared. And, in a lot of ways, my film is like both. One could even say they're a trilogy of unrelated stories. They're linked, not thematically but emotionally.

 

What can you tell us about the intended look and feel of your movie?

 

Like everything these days, What Goes Around is a collage of visual ideas stolen from directors of a younger generation. I'm rather partial to Oliver Stone's approach, the way he plays with the appearance of footage. JFK, in particular. It's intense because, even though Stone took liberties with reality, the film still felt genuine. And that's very much something I want to dabble in with What Goes Around. But it's not just going to be that fictional documentary style. I'm also playing with emotions and interactions. I'm going to great lengths to insert homoerotic undertones. Neil Jordan's adaptation of Interview with the Vampire is one of my favourite movies and it is writhe with bisexuality before it became popular. The relationship between Lestat (Tom Cruise) and Louis (Brad Pitt) in that movie mirrors the interaction between two characters in my film. Although, in What Goes Around, these characters are not vampires but vapid college kids who experiment with drugs. Very Bret Easton Ellis. The number 3 appears frequently in my film as well. Which brings me to yet another prominent idea for the overall approach to What Goes Around. I'm heightening everyday life into a kind of hyper-reality. It's surreal and gritty. The violence and the sex is dramatically down-played and/or exaggerated according to the individual character's emotions. In one scene, Vincent (played by Jayden Caulfield) is running through a city... chased by something. Everything will be shot from a shoulder mount so it looks like the background is passing behind him. His exhaustion and fear will be expressed through the interaction between claustrophobic camerawork and drowned out colouring that will look almost sepia. In another scene, a character is knocked unconscious so the camera will drop onto the floor and everything will blur and fade to black. When that character wakes up, everything will be in black and white. There is no colour until focus shifts to another character. Again, this is something Oliver Stone uses to great effect. However, I did not choose to make the film that way because of Stone. I experimented on one of my own previous short films, Pale Horse, and this style worked very well for how I wanted to tell a story. It was highly impactful, and Pale Horse was met with almost unanimous praise so I decided to try it again. The fourth and final piece of the puzzle is hauntingly long takes. Shot/reverse shot is rarely used until the end. I want What Goes Around shot in a manner comparable, at least in some scenes, to Terrence Malick's Badlands. The beauty of an environment inhabited by people with ugly thoughts and questionable motives.

 

Do talk about your projected cast for a bit, and why exactly these people?

 

I normally seek out unconventionally attractive guys and girls of various ages to play my characters. But, this time, I decided to hire a "beautiful" cast. This feels more like I'm hosting a pageant than making a film. But everyone I've hired is extremely talented. Plus they've all done well for themselves working on internationally syndicated television shows and/or independent films. Beau Yotty, who will play the film's protagonist, was a featured extra in Burn Notice and a few other shows alone. His agent contacted me, so I sent him the fully copyrighted third draft of the script. It was as simple as that. Like that whispering voice in Field of Dreams says: 'Build it and they will come!' I just "built" an excellent story that drew a lot of heat. I don't know if I was lucky or just good at what I do. I've since signed Rosie Keogh (Rise), Andrew Nicholson (Ravenscrag-fantasy series), Nicholas Neild (The Chronicles of Narnia: The Dawn Treader), and Jayden Caulfield (The Ghost of Victoria Park). Among others. And I'm waiting on Rachel Forsyth (Daddy's Little Girl) to sign.

 

As far as I know, the film is still in pre-production - so what's the tentative schedule, and any idea when and where the film might be released onto the general public (and I do know it's probably way too early to ask)?

 

We've decided on a 2-month shooting schedule, which will begin in May and end late July 2014. The editing will begin almost as soon as the shooting does so that a rough cut can be viewed and analysed by my producers and I no later than September. We want What Goes Around ready to be entered into Cannes Film Festival in 2015. Hopefully festival viewing will lead to theatrical exhibition. But, at this stage, we really just want to make a damn good movie.

 

Any future projects beyond What Goes Around?

 

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I have several projects in various levels of development. I won't be directing anything straight away but I am producing a few films under the ImageScape Films banner. Best Seller is a thriller about a serial killer who uses a novelist to get his macabre stories out to the public as wildly popular fiction. Then there's At the Messine Gate, a haunting World War I drama. Both pictures will be directed by my friend, cinematographer, and co-founder of ImageScape Films, Michael Freudenberg. That's as much as I'm able and willing to reveal at this time.

 

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

 

My producers and I are working on creating an entire campaign that will help promote the film. A lot of things are in the middle of construction at ImageScape Films (our production company) at the moment because we want to make our first feature film a memorable one.

 

Thanks for the interview!

 

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

 

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