Your new movie Trouble
is My Business - in a few words, what is it about?
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.
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
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
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
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.
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.
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.
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
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.
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
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
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
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
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.
There are so many favorite movies it's
impossible to list.
... and of course, films you really deplore?
Oh there are a few
Feeling lucky ?
any of my partnershops yourself
for more, better results ?
The links below
will take you
movie's website, Facebook, whatever else?
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: https://www.amazon.com/exec/obidos/ASIN/B07PLLM97V
you're dying to mention and I have merely forgotten to ask?
Thank you so much for the interview and for reviewing
is My Business. Look for my next projects coming soon!
for the interview!