Your new movie Breakdown
- in a few words, what is it about?
It is a slowburn virus movie that has been described as a cross between I
Am Legend and Contagion. A mysterious virus has wiped out
much of the worlds population, with the remaining sick being corralled in
quarantine zones, as one man, Tim Reynolds, fights to find a cure to save
humanity, and himself.
Probably the most
pressing question for many - with Breakdown
being about a deadly virus while we're in the midst of a worldwide
pandemic, was the film actually inspired by/made during the pandemic, or
was it filmed earlier and the choice of topic just a coincidence?
Professionally I have been an Environmental Health &
Safety consultant for 30 years. During the environmental journey I have
had numerous pandemic training courses for H1N1, Swine Flu, Bird Flu,
SARs, MRSA, and Anthrax. So when Dan and I were talking about this concept
in 2014, the course of events were based on the training and
hypotheticals… a sad parallel to today's new normal.
did the project come into being in the first place, and what drew you to
Dan Jagels and I had worked together on numerous short films,
and we felt it was time to work on a feature length project together. We
threw lots of ideas into the mix, and based on our fleshing out each idea
Breakdown was born.
What can you tell us about
writer Dan Jagels, and what was your collaboration like?
Dan is a dear friend,
since our horror short film Thirteen, we just clicked and have worked
together on several projects. We are both out for the same thing, a
visually pleasing project with all of the best choices we can make in each
situation, without compromising overall quality. His professionalism and
knowledge make him a fantastic partner in any project.
Breakdown being of
the anti-utopian science fiction variety, is that a genre at all dear to
you, and what can you tell us about your approach to the genre?
Yes I am a huge fan of the genre. Of course
hordes of wastelanders or
zombies would be a dream, but the “end of the world” theme is
definitely something that was where I wanted to keep this film for sure.
is limited to only a handful of sets - so what were your techniques for
keeping things visually interesting within these restrictions?
We tried to take our time in each scene in
and thoughts were how can we make this as interesting as possible. Camera
angles and movement were chosen to really engage the audience.
can you tell us about your overall directorial approach to your story at
For this project I really exhausted the pre-production period. The
location was ours way in advance of shooting so testing thoughts and ideas
in the field was a luxury we don’t get on many projects. I wanted a
claustrophobic feeling in some of the scenes so the audience would be
uncomfortable with our character as he struggled, but then offer moments
where the audience could take a breath in a wider more open atmosphere.
You also play the lead in Breakdown
- so what can you tell us about your character, and what did you draw upon
to bring him to life?
Tim is an
educated family man with some jack of all trades handyman attributes, much
like my own life. I have known loss, and the script really resonated with
me, so I spent time delving deeper into that world once I made specific
character choices. I do this excercise where I read a scene and I lay on
the floor with the lights off and watch the scene I just read play out on
the ceiling, which I thought was really important since I was acting
alone, or with a rat, or with a mannequin. I also would act in the mirror
(so at least I has a scene partner) but it does make you feel borderline
Do talk about the rest of your
cast, and why exactly these people?
The cast was AMAZING. Each one brought their “A” game to their
character. Corey Sorenson played Gabriel and really embodied the mannequin,
Brooklyn Haley as Kimberly was exactly what we needed her to be, sickly
and optimistic. John Marrott and Jerry Broome as Cutter and Otis had
wonderful chemistry and character development. The opening scene with scream
queen Jessica Cameron [Jessica
Cameron interview - click here] showed to be more horrific than when I first
came up with it based on today's reality.
A few words about
the shoot as such, and the on-set atmosphere?
The shoot was a fun one. We were
shooting at a pace that was not too overwhelming as I had to act and
direct. And our team was very supportive of the entire process.
you can tell us about audience and critical reception of Breakdown?
is a passion project and once it gets out there you always
wonder if the audience will agree with your choices to make a slowburn
style film and be entertained or not. So far audiences have been very
receptive to the hard work we put into the film, which is amazing.
future projects you'd like to share?
Oh yes there is amazing stuff
right around the corner. Bearry, a romcom/slasher film, I star
alongside Sarah French, Felissa Rose [Felissa
Rose interview - click here] and Vernon Wells [Vernon
Wells interview - click here], I produced this
with director/producer Alex T. Hwang, due to be released early 2021. I
star in Shelter an action/thriller that stars Jessica Cameron [Jessica
Cameron interview - click here],
Thomas Haley (me) and Michael Keeney. The film is written and directed by
Alex T. Hwang and is set for a 1st quarter 2021 release. I direct and produce a werewolf creature feature
Desert Moon that stars
Sarah French, Jennifer Nangle [Jennifer
Nangle interview - click here], Thomas Hakey (me) alongside Richard
Grieco. Desert Moon is in post production right now looking towards 2nd or
3rd quarter release.
What got you into
the filmworld in the first place, and did you recieve any formal training
on the subject?
I have always
loved film and stage productions. Back in grade school I had roles in a
few musicals as I was in choir, but really wanted to act and loved to
perform. I have been set safety for environmental for 25 years so in 2006
when I was asked to be on camera in a TLC project to play an
environmental expert, I jumped at the chance. That was all it took, of
course being on camera was harder than it looked, so after I was done
filming that television show I looked for and enrolled in several acting
classes. Once on some of my acting projects I discovered that I had
stories I wanted to tell, so I attended workshops and seminars and
started creating short films to learn the process. It has been a very
fulfilling process, not always easy but always worth the effort.
When it comes to filmmaking, you've worn
many hats on both sides of the camera - why is that, and what are some of
the jobs you enjoy the most, which could you do without?
passion is acting, I love it! But in the indie film
community you must wear a lot of hats on every project. Sometimes you are
hired to act as a character and in the rehearsal production says they are
short a position and you fill that position. Other times you get hired
just to work as a different position all together but because you like the
filmmaker you help out. Either way all of the positions you must do the
best you can for the benefit of the project. I enjoy directing and producing, the least…
editing only because it takes so much time.
can you tell us about your filmwork prior to Breakdown,
in whatever position?
My favorite actually is my film Thirteen, A horror
film based on a nightmare I had one night. The film was the first film
where me and Dan Jagels worked together and boy was it a thrill ride. I
learned so much on this project. We took a lot of time, worked many hours,
lots of notes on revisions and score and the whole process. We set out to
get this film screened at Screamfest and we succeeded. This film was also
selected by Wes Craven to compete with 5 films for the inaugural Craven Award in 2014. That’s was such an honor.
Filmmakers, actors, whoever else
who inspire you?
I love watching Leonardo
DiCaprio, Brad Pitt, Ryan Reynolds, Harrison Ford, Dwayne Johnson, Danny
Trejo, Dick Van Dyke, John Wayne [John
Wayne in the 1930s - click here], Sean Connery and Al Pacino. And
everything Robert Rodriguez and Steven C. Miller have directed are always
Your favourite movies?
That's always a tough one because
all kinds of films and narrowing it down to a few isn’t easy, the list
and of course, films you really deplore?
Feeling lucky ?
any of my partnershops yourself
for more, better results ?
The links below
will take you
I can see
something worth watching most films for. Once in a while it’s like
“What did I just watch” but it goes on my what never to do list in a
movie's website, social media, whatever else?
else you're dying to mention and I have merely forgotten to ask?
I love chocolate!
for the interview!