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An Interview with Tom Konkle, Director and Star of Trouble is My Business

by Mike Haberfelner

April 2019

Tom Konkle on (re)Search my Trash


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Your new movie Trouble is My Business - in a few words, what is it about?


Trouble is My Business is a thriller set in the 1940's about a private detective named Roland Drake who falls for two sisters, Katherine and Jennifer Montemar, while investigating a missing person and mysterious diamond.


I don't think it's a secret that Trouble is My Business is heavily influenced by film noirs from the 1940s - so what do you find so fascinating about them, and some of your genre favourites?


Definitely, the legacy of film noir movies and even the original pulp books were very much in the mix when the film was developed and written. I enjoyed showing Brittney Powell my co-writer some of my favorites like Out Of The Past, The Maltese Falcon, The Big Combo and so many others. She and I watched a lot together and talked about the genre. I think it's fascinating that film noir is about basic darkness in humans and human nature. Like comedy or science fiction, film noir uses a style and a look to tell the truth in a way that can be direct and truthful while entertaining and stylized.


Other sources of inspiration when writing Trouble is My Business?


Forensics in the 40's were the inspiration or should I say the lack of complex forensic science in the 40's were the inspiration for the basic plot. So many filmmakers influeced me, Jacques Tourneur, Billy Wilder, John Huston, Steven Spielberg, Orson Welles are a few.


You have co-written Trouble is My Business with your co-star Brittney Powell - so what was your collaboration like during the writing process?


She and I have always enjoyed a very close collaboration together for twelve years now. A new aspect of it became writing, and we developed a very complimentary system. Helping each other bouncing ideas off each other, cheer-leading for each other and criticizing the writing, as actors we could perform all the parts and visualize the film many times before I directed it. We had structure on note cards spread out on the floor and then we went through many drafts until the characters made us happy and the story held our interest.


With Trouble is My Business being set in the 1940s, what were the challenges of bringing the era across authentically?


As we get more distant from the 1940's of course getting the 40's basic places, props, clothing, the style of acting and talking becomes harder to achieve or rent or find. This created a situation where the original production consideration was "well in the 40's and 50's noir films were the low budget films the studios made, which allowed for stylized lighting to hide sets and lean shooting created the look and feel of the genre", so I thought if I am going to direct a ultra low budget feature now if the studios did it we could do it. It was a natural fit regarding scale to budget. However it did create a need to do visual effects and set extensions for places too expensive to get, and places or streets that no longer exist, period cars, and many considerations of the 40's, so with a lack of money it took time and talents, and we just had to figure out something good enough so it actually got made so we had a feature out warts and all rather than waiting for a perfect time or money that would never come. Better to have it out and learn and hopefully entertain and move on with the growth of doing it.


What can you tell us about your overall directorial approach to your story at hand?


My approach had several levels. First was performance. No amount of clever camera movement or placement or VFX or anything covers a performer that you don't have their back helping them get a great performance out. Casting is half the battle. Then I created the camera and lighting plots because I wanted an economy of shots but stylized ones and the lighting of course in noir is important. You sometimes need a lot of light to get that dark. Finally I approached it as storytelling with many years of experience editing always in the back of my mind thinking about how to just tell the story and how it would cut together.


You also play the lead in Trouble is My Business - so do talk about your character for a bit, and what did you draw upon to bring him to life? And did you write Roland Drake with yourself in mind from the get-go?


I did write Roland Drake for myself to play, yes. The whole movie was about giving myself permission to show the world what I wanted to play, to tell, to learn, to express. Drake was a surprisingly good fit once he had a voice and his personality melded with my own. He's an every-man who's ironic and sometimes sarcastically funny, which is what I've been cast as as an actor for 20 years, so I found a new place to synthesize these aspects of the character in Roland Drake. He is one of the favorite characters I have played in my career as an actor.


Do talk about the rest of your cast, and why exactly these people?


As I mentioned in my directorial approach, casting is a very large part of having a chance at a decent film. I was lucky to have so many talented actors as friends or to find additional actors for the film and see they were a great fit to the role executing and adding more to the delivery of the material. Sometime directing is creating an atmosphere where crew and actors feel excited to play, to add, to be creative, and know they have someone who is interested in their contribution and values them.


A few words about the shoot as such, and the on-set atmosphere?


It was rough time and physically, but the atmosphere was controlled we had no fights, no yelling or ridiculous behavior on set. Brittney and I felt like a mom and dad welcoming the cast and crew into our sandbox to play. I like it to have drama on camera and minimal drama off camera.


Anything you can tell us about audience and critical reception of Trouble is My Business?


When you put your film in front of an audience it takes on a life of its own. When they get it and pick up all the things you put in the story it's the biggest rush and the best feeling in the world. We ended up winning awards in most of the festivals we entered and the critical reception is exactly as I expected in that some loved it and got it, some hated it as with anything. Generally, the people like me that I made this for enjoy it I think.


Any future projects you'd like to share?


Several features are in development, one adventure/science fiction film, one straight up kinetic action film, one neo-noir science fiction mystery, and a retro space opera are all looking to get financed.


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


I was an only child so I spent a lot of time creating worlds and characters to entertain myself and then others. I have always been acting and I was lucky to start getting paid for it. I was trained in college and really learned stage craft doing live shows with literally hundreds of live shows under my belt.


In recent years, you've also branched out more and more into writing, directing and producing - so why is that?


I originally wrote and directed when I started acting but the acting started to pay the bills so it got more emphasis. I slowly realized though that owning the intellectual property by writing and directing it was an important business and creative step for control in a business where there is very little control. I enjoy writing scripts for other TV shows like Be Cool Scooby Doo or directing other productions as well.


What can you tell us about your filmwork prior to Trouble is My Business, in whatever position?


I started making short films as a teenager. I went to a college that had a filmmaking program and I made some ambitious films there. I made 70 maybe 75 shorts as a writer director. I also directed TV pilots, industrials, second unit, internet series and many stage productions.


How would you describe yourself as an actor, and how as a director?


As an actor I am trying to find a truth in the moments to serve the story. As an actor, I like to think loudly. As a director, I like to shape the films story and style and have the performers shine. Everything is serving a story and my jobs are to try to help serve that story as best I can.


Your favourite movies?


There are so many favorite movies it's impossible to list.


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


Oh there are a few lol.


Feeling lucky ?
Want to
any of my partnershops yourself
for more, better results ?

The links below
will take you
just there!!!

Find Tom Konkle
at the amazons ...


Great Britain (a.k.a. the United Kingdom)

Germany (East AND West)

Looking for imports ?
Find Tom Konkle here ...

Your shop for all things Thai

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


The film website is

There is a Facebook group for the film here

The Twitter is @newfilmnoir

If you have Amazon Prime you can watch it free in black and white as intended here:

#amazonprime #filmnoir #blackandwhitemovie


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


Thank you so much for the interview and for reviewing Trouble is My Business. Look for my next projects coming soon!


Thanks for the interview!


© by Mike Haberfelner

Legal note: (re)Search my Trash cannot
and shall not be held responsible for
content of sites from a third party.

Thanks for watching !!!



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Your Bones to

the new anthology by
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On the same day
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A Killer Conversation

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

out now on DVD