Your new movie Choke
- in a few words, what is it about?
death, sex, love, illness, disease, the human condition, the need for
connection no matter who you are or what youíve done.
What did you draw
upon to bring your character to life, and how much Shane Ryan can we find
hopefully not much of me can be found in Brandon, though I know a fair
amount can given where Brandon originated from - my Amateur
Porn Star Killer series. Amateur
Porn Star Killer was entirely improvised, so while Iíve never killed
anybody (obviously), a lot of things that I said in that film (i.e.
talking about Dolph Lundgren at one point) were things Iíd naturally
say/talk about, and a lot of my mannerisms surely were my own. When I made
that film (at age 24, which felt old to me at the time) I was doing so out
of desperation, thinking Iíd never get a feature film made, that my
dreams of being successful in the film business were all but dead (again I
felt old, as I've been doing this and struggling to make it ever since I
was about 5 years old), plus I was dealing with quite a bit in my personal
life. So this confusion, sadness, despair, all just made it easier to come
up with a character and story that was so, I guess, morbid.
I returned to this character at age 39, still havenít really
made a dime, though have surely had some success (mainly with this
repulsive character, as Brandon and Amateur
Porn Star Killer have been talked about if not
thoroughly broken down and analyzed in about two dozen books, including
academic text books and at major university lectures). I was once again in
a terrible spot personally (way worse than before), plus the film business
in general just seems pointless at this rate, mainly thanks to streaming
destroying independent cinema, or just cinema in general; censoring and
banning everything, paying us less than 0.01% of what video stores did (no
joke, no exaggeration in those numbers at all), plus robbing us of the
entire cinema-going experience and taking the whole culture and social
aspect out movie-watching. I just donít see the point in anything
anymore. I find it so hard to even get motivated these days. So, I took
that hopelessness, and again that confusion, plus the insane rage and hate
that I had boiling in me from my personal life and threw that all into
Brandon as my inspiration this time. Plus, how would Brandon survive
without video stores? That was his signature, his whole existence. That
was mine, too, ever since I can remember. I never loved anything more than
going to the video store and browsing the aisles for hours and talking to
people about films. And hoping one day my films would be up on the walls.
And then finally in late 2007 they were. And then it all died in 2010 when
streaming eradicated these incredible places. I feel totally lost without
them. And I fucking hate with a goddamn fury of passion all the assholes
who helped kill them off by turning to something as terrible and lame and
uneventful and antisocial as streaming. So, I guess my rage was just at
streaming really. Like Brandon, I let video stores define me, and now
Iím willing to kill anything in sight to get them back.
Now how did this project come into being in
the first place, and how did you end up being executive producer at the
worked with Gregory Hatanaka on Samurai Cop
2, and he also distributed all
Porn Star Killer films. After Samurai Cop
2 he talked about doing a Brandon film, though the
idea was to shoot it very quickly and cheaply, mainly just with me and a
couple other actors, very intimate like the originals. But with a
narrative style and on a good camera (unlike the DV mockumentary home
video style of the Amateur
Porn Star Killers). But Samurai Cop
2 was an overwhelming amount of work for
him and his main job is distributing films, so he focused on that for the
next 4 or so years instead. But then he felt ready to direct again around
this time last year, so we met up and talked about the Brandon
We both wanted to do it, so he banged out the script by the following
month, although it became a much, much bigger concept, with multiple
characters, tons of locations, etc. So, pre-production took a while
between location scouting, finding actors, producers, and Greg ended up
getting tons of camera gear for us to use. I helped on random things when
I wasnít acting, between casting, locations, finding additional
financing, etc., plus this film was inspired from my Amateur
Porn Star Killer films, so I
ended up with an EP credit.
Talking about Brandon
and the Amateur
Porn Star Killer movies - how does this Brandon
relate to the previous films, and how has he evolved?
just took the loose idea of Brandon being a serial killer, and a scene
where heís buying a camera and filming one of his victims, and then spun
it, throwing Brandon into an entirely different world. I believe Greg said
he decided that Choke
really takes place between Amateur
Porn Star Killer 2 and Amateur
Porn Star Killer 3.
Porn Star Killer films we used no script, and Iím only on camera for about a
minute of each film, so you mainly just hear me talking, and I talk quite
a bit in those films. In Choke
Iím on camera in every scene Iím in
since itís a narrative style with no mockumentary parts to it, plus
there was a script, but I hardly talk at all in this film. So, it was
very, very different from the Amateur
Porn Star Killers. I also show remorse, which I only
hint at during the end of Amateur
Porn Star Killer 2, which is after I choke a girl to death,
so maybe thatís where Greg figured was a good lead-in to Choke. Greg
really humanizes Brandon in Choke
as well, showing that Brandon is capable
of loving somebody, caring, crying, being hurt himself, and more just a
damaged person struggling with a sickness. In Amateur
Porn Star Killer heís mostly just
despicable as we only see his actions, his manipulation, his hate, his
murders. We never really saw him. And thatís explored in Choke
that nobody ever treated Brandon like he existed, until he meets Jeanie.
She's the first person who actually sees him.
As an executive
producer and also creator of your character, did you have or demand any
creative control over the movie?
remember Greg asking me about the script when I was done, if I thought
that we should make it, and I jumped on board and said yes. I also tried
very hard to cast the lead role before the script was ever written because
I thought that I had the perfect girl for the part but that went very
wrong very quickly with the person I proposed the idea to. I didnít yet
know what Greg was looking for exactly, and I donít think he exactly did
either (I believe Jeanie was originally two seperate characters), and I
asked the wrong person to do it too soon without enough info and had a
very bad falling out, which was pretty discouraging. So, I think after
that I said, ďfuck itĒ, and let Greg handle the casting, but I tried
to help cast minor roles. I know I spit out lots of ideas, but I was
mainly there for the ride, and just wanted to try and deliver the best
performance that I could as I rarely get the chance to act, especially in
such a big role, so I was nervous and worried about being able to do it
and wanted my attention mostly to be on the performance.
What can you tell us
about Choke's director
Gregory Hatanaka, and what was your collaboration like?
worked with Greg on enough stuff that I think by now I had known him long
enough to know where he was going with stuff, which in a big way is not
knowing at all! Haha. He likes to use a script more as a blueprint, I
feel, and discovers lots of stuff along the way. Especially working with
limited funds. When we were at the studios it was a lot more precise, but
when on location we winged a ton of stuff. Weíd be on the way somewhere
and then it was like, ďhey, get out of the car, letís go shoot here.
Hey, letís go wine-tasting and grab a shot at the winery, letís get
ice cream and film you guys eating outsideĒ, etc. One thing I did
request a lot of was fun things to do, stuff that we could shoot for
Brandon and Jeanie to be having fun doing, but really it was because I
wanted to go do them - i.e. ice skating, bowling, arcades, race car
driving, etc. We even found the last remaining video store in Santa
Clarita to film at, but sadly that was cut out.
loves putting people through the ringer though. I canít tell you how
many times he had me screaming, yelling, going totally apeshit, beating
myself up. You think you see it a lot in the film but it had to be 20x
that on the cutting room floor. Like a Terrence Malick picture, you
probably would have had a million feet of film if we had shot on film. At
the same time, thereís so many times I wish I had gotten another take,
more time, more preparation, etc., but a lot of thatís lost with
ultra-indie filmmaking, and I think more is lost with Greg as he likes to
interrupt rehearsals/line readings, etc., to just start shooting. I think
he just likes surprises, keeping people on their toes, or just messing
with people and capturing it. Heís a weird one, but thatís cool. It
keeps things new and interesting.
wasn't the first time you've worked with Gegory Hatanaka - so what can you
tell us about your other collaborations?
Until Choke I mostly knew Greg as a filmmaker, as him being the one who would
distribute my films. I acted one day on Violent Blue back around 2011, but
it wasnít until Samurai Cop
2 in 2014 that I spent months working with
him on the actual production of a film. That film was insanely hectic, a
lot more money involved, tons and tons of other personalities to deal
with, way more effects, fight scenes, etc. I was just supposed to act in
it, then ended up being a producer on it, plus ended up basically doing
the still photography, and a lot of casting. It was too much, it was
insane. All while trying to learn fight scenes in between, and also learn
Japanese, but that went sideways when lines would get changed and I'd get
my translations five minutes before shooting, so I ended up having to
speak gibberish Japanese instead.
On Choke it was much more intimate, but still big enough.
Choke was the best
experience. Though we shot another film at the same time as Choke, called Heartbeat. We wouldnít know when we got to set which film weíd be
working on, or if on both the same day. And while Choke
had a script, Heartbeat was being written like the night before, or morning of, scene by
scene. So, it was also pretty hectic, especially since my characters were
polar opposite (in Heartbeat
Iím a talky nerdy spaz who wears glasses,
so then Iíd take off my glasses for Choke, basically stop talking and
become a superhuman-like monster and strangle everyone to death Ė it
felt like playing Superman to Clark Kent in ways). I only clashed with
Greg once, while doing Heartbeat, during a night shoot at like 3am. He was
tired and I was bitching at him about making sure he got a good enough
shot of something we just did in a fight scene and he got pissed and fired
back. But other than that one moment of tension, it was a ton of fun. It
made my horrible personal life feel like a distant memory.
then we just shot another film, Quarantine Girl, last month. We shot it
super-fast (in like 4 days), and I only had a day and a half with the
script before arriving so I couldnít get any lines down as I had like 20
pages of dialogue, so I felt like a total fuck up, but it was the most
easy-going shoot otherwise. Unfortunately this stupid ass streaming
bullshit is requiring us to have to make 20x as many films to keep content
coming in and to make up for the fact that streaming pays literally over
1000x less than physical media. So, preparation, quality, all the good
shit basically, has to get thrown out the fuckiní window in order to
keep up with and adapt to streaming (talk about God-awful shitty times for
cinema). But at least we found a good filmmaking family in the process,
until streaming and the internet ruin things even further than they
A few words
about the shoot as such, and the on-set atmosphere?
Brine [Sarah Brine interview -
click here] was the actor I spent most of my time acting with, and she was super
great. It was her first film, I believe. She was still in acting/film
school, and she was so impressive. A great find for us. I think she felt
intimidated with it being her first movie, but once we started I felt super
intimidated by her being that she was so well prepared, knew her lines
forwards and backwards, and never complained for even a second during the
endless choking scenes (many which were on hard grounds and rocks and hurt
like a bitch). She was a total pro and incredibly sweet and so easy to
work with, talk to, hang with between scenes.
other person I spent the most time with was Chris Spinelli, the producer
(he also plays Scott Butler's partner [Scott
Butler interview - click here] but I didn't have any scenes with
either of them). Nobody smiles more than Chris and it always lifts your
spirits up. It didnít matter how exhausted he was, how much work heíd
been doing, how little sleep he got, he always was in great spirits. I
donít know how he did it. But it made things always feel better when
times got too intense, too tiring. The role was quite draining for me, so
having great people around was a life saver.
future projects you'd like to share?
just completed my 80s anthology, finally, after over a year. It's called
Awesomely Righteous & Radical!, a totally tubular 80s homage anthology.
I was inspired to make it after my 80s short film, Guerrilla, lost its
intended anthology home. I also just made a 2 minute short for the Roger
Corman-challenge called Autopilot (viewable here:
And now I'm back to editing my Ted Bundy Had a Son trilogy (also about
Brandon, a follow up to Amateur
Porn Star Killer, though it's not connected to Choke, trailer
The Owl In Echo Park (https://vimeo.com/93788625)
and a really old film, American Virgins (https://youtu.be/nFAlxQpeTsE).
Plus I'm still filming This Girl This Boy, God Got Ill
and Red Oedipal, though due to complications I might have to make due with
what I've shot on a couple of these (but I've shot quite a bit, so I might
be fine). I'm also working on getting more films going, plus I recently
came on board a as a producer on a whole catalogue of projects, including
the documentaries Heartprints in the Snow
and Cķcuta (https://youtu.be/MYNRsext8zo),
the drama Homeless Ashes (https://youtu.be/_T-MWcozoQw)
starring Lew Temple (of Tony Scott's Unstoppable) and Jason Flemyng (of
Guy Ritchie's Snatch), the action horror films Bridge of the Doomed
starring Robert LaSardo (Clint Eastwood's The Mule) and Michael Parť
(Sofia Coppola's The Virgin Suicides) [Michael
Parť interview - click here], Attack of the Unknown
starring Lasardo, Tara Reid (American Pie) and Richard Grieco (21 Jump
Street), and Bloodthirst, starring Reid, LaSardo and Costas Mandylor (the
Saw franchise), plus the horror film Tales from the Dead Zone
with Corey Feldman (The Goonies), and the LGBTQ drama Spring
There's also several more anthologies coming out that I've got segments
in, and Wild Eye should hopefully be releasing my film The Girl Who
Wasn't Missing (finally, a decade after completion) very soon (trailer
though likely with a different title, unfortunately. They will also be
giving the Amateur
Porn Star Killer trilogy it's 4th edition release, which I've loaded with
extras and commentary tracks from critics and film professors. Amateur
Porn Star Killer trailers: https://vimeo.com/9293553,
Feeling lucky ?
any of my partnershops yourself
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The links below
will take you
website, social media, whatever else?
My websites/social media
Anything else you're
dying to mention and I have merely forgotten to ask?
Make sure to get Choke
on Blu-ray! Out any day now. Remember,
streaming sites are little fucking panzie ass bitches who censor all
independet artists (or simply make you censor yourself), so the Choke
Blu-ray has scenes that punk ass, lame ass, atrocious Nazi streaming
sites won't let you include. Plus you can admire the cool artwork of the
Blu-ray, put it up on display in your collection, gift it to someone,
trade it, sell it, or give it away if you don't like it. If you do end
up loving it, well it will never be discontinued or suddenly vanish!
Plus maybe you can get it signed by the cast and crew one day. The
reasons to own physical over streaming are endless and beautiful.
Thanks for the