Your new movie Killer
Friends - what is it about, and what can you tell us about your
character in it?
Friends is a dark comedy about friendship and murder. It's about
that one person in your crew that you just can't stand. It's about taking
drastic measures to solve a problem. After dealing with Scott for far too
long, his three friends have decided to take him on a camping trip... a
trip Scott won't be coming back from alive.
I wrote myself into the script as Scott, the "villain" of Killer
Friends, because there's a part of me that secretly loves that
awful, loud-mouth friend in the group. Sure, they're annoying, but often
times they wind up saying exactly what everyone else is thinking. It only
ever sucks to have them around when their gaze of judgement falls on you.
What did you draw upon to bring your
character to life, and honestly, how much of Zach Noe Towers can we find
in Scott? And did you write him with yourself in mind from the get-go?
Yeah, to be completely transparent I wrote Killer
Friends and the part
of Scott with only myself in mind. I was so tired of hanging around LA,
waiting for a part to come along that not only suited me, but excited me.
For gay men a role like that is one in a million...and the chance of
booking that unicorn gig is even smaller.
I've always been a bit of a brat, so I'd be lying if I said there was
no overlap between Scott and ZNT. And though I'd never say the things
Scott says so casually, sitting down and writing insults into a screenplay
was kind of a dream. I got to really sink into the monster I already have
the potential to be.
were your sources of inspiration when writing Killer
Friends? And is any of it based on personal experience (except for
the attempts on your life I hope)?
Haha. No attempts on my life YET, but I'm sure a handful of people have
made detail outlines on how they might pursue it.
I've always loved comedy and horror, so naturally I've developed a dark
sense of humor over the years. Absurdly wonderful movies like Death
Becomes Her rank very high on my list. My two favorite movies of all
time are Scream and Clueless, so if something I
make is ever compared to either of those I will consider myself a bonafide
Do talk about your
movie's brand of humour for a bit!
Friends is a
fusion of a few brands I think! Obviously first and foremost it's
slap-stick, but the subject matter flirts with horror, which I think is
ultimately the best recipe for a dark comedy. It's very carefree about
death (which is maybe how I deal with the subject itself). There's also a
strong sense of "cartoon" in Killer
Friends. When I met with our
composer (the incredible Jasha Klebe) I told him to think of Tim Burton
and Looney Tunes (specifically Road Runner V Wile E.
Coyote). There's this
sense that none of these characters are actually susceptible to death, so
it's kinda fun to see them get banged up.
As far as I know, Killer
Friends is your directorial debut - so what made you choose
exactly this story?
That's such a great question, and I'm
honestly not sure how to answer. Part of me thinks that what came out in
this screenplay was a goodbye to self-loathing. As I get older I get
further and further away from the "Scott" part of me... I'm
kinder, less materialistic, and more selective about my choice of words.
Scott is anything but all of those things. So maybe Killer
just me trying to find the humor in how wretched and clueless the younger
versions of ourselves were.
What can you tell us about your
overall directorial approach to your story at hand?
locking down the script and feeling confident in the story I had written
it was all about putting together my core team. None of the parts were
auditioned for, but rather written with very specific actor friends in
mind. My co-director and super-human producer Tina Carbone was invaluable
in gathering the crew. She called in favors and almost everyone worked for
free/dirt cheap/deferred pay. As a director I focused on getting us actors
as comfortable as possible with lines and actions, so we often met for
rehearsals at my apartment. I stressed that everyone be off book as soon
as possible, and while I completely love and adore improv, I had a strong
vision for this story, so 99% of what you see on screen is verbatim to the
words on the page. The actors in Killer
Friends have all experienced me as
a person at my worst, so I think it was pretty easy for them to sink into
talk about your cast, and why exactly these people?
Oh man. I couldn't have asked for a better cast. Jenna-Lee Carreiro
(Jill) has been one of my closest friends since moving out to LA. We
started off doing silly YouTube videos, and now I'm just so overjoyed to
see where we've come. She's just a truly great human. Caring, hilarious
Dave Racki (Bryan) might actually be closer to Scott than I am. He's so
talented and handsome (just ask him), and I'm still really surprised he
said yes to being in the project. He's been on tons of TV and you can
catch him this summer in Independence Day 2.
Peggy Sinnott (Heather) is a really special one. We're both stand up
comedians here in LA and I truly believe she's destined for greatness.
She's one of the funniest people I know and her work ethic is
unparalleled. She was a recent select at Laughing Skull Comedy Festival
(one of the most prestigious comedy competitions in the world) and I'm
truly honored to call her one of my best friends.
of course also have to talk about your wonderful outdoors locations, and
what were the challenges filming there?
Oh man. Nobody told me the rules of production before I got started
Friends, two of which are: Avoid shooting at night, and avoid
shooting in the woods. We did both!! And boy did we struggle.
We shot on location in Romona, CA (near San Diego) on a plot of land
that hosted two AirBnB cabins, which we used to house the cast and crew
during the 3 day shoot. We lost the entire first day because of a mix up
with the rental company, and when we finally had everything set up to take
the first shot of the day (at 10pm!), we
turned on the last light and the generator blew. We all kinda just sat in
the dark in the woods and laughed. I had just put thousands of dollars on
my credit card so I didn't find it quite as funny, but eventually we got
back on track. I learned VERY quickly that with filmmaking lots of things
are constantly going wrong. It's how you deal with those setbacks that
makes you a good filmmaker.
What can you
tell us about the shoot as such, and the on-set atmosphere?
the obvious troubles we had, the on-and-off rain, and one of our cast
members health (Peggy was actually very sick during the shoot!) the
atmosphere was full of smiles. It was a crew of 15 that truly came
together to make something they believed in. And I think that positive
energy really shines through in what you see onscreen.
you can tell us about audience and critical reception of your movie yet?
audience and critical reception has been wonderfully high! The reviews
coming in are for the most part glowing, which really gives me that warm
feeling of validation most of us entertainers are constantly in search of.
For me the joy has been attending these festivals and listening to an
audience full of viewers laugh at my dumb little jokes. We just had our
west coast premiere at Dances with Films here in LA, and not only did we
win audience award for our category, but also audience award for the
entire festival of shorts!! I went to the closing night party in t-shirt
and jeans for the taco bar and networking, and wound up leaving with two
awards under my belt. I was truly in shock after the first award, and then
the second nearly gave me a stroke. I'm sure I came off like a blithering
idiot when I made my "speech". This all happened last night and
it really amped me up for my next project.
future projects you'd like to share?
I don't know if this is just part of being a first-time filmmaker, but
up until recently I've been somewhat paralyzed with fear of my second
project. Not only am I still very much involved with Killer
now I'm quickly finding out that my next film has big shoes to fill. The
script I'm most excited about is called Meat Market and it's
about a group of gay guys being hunted down by a serial killer on a
GPS-based dating app. It's a total slasher and I'm kind of excited to get
bloody with this one. There's also the subtle message that our technology
is killing us, so maybe there's points for social commentary??
And this isn't so much a "project", but as a comedian I'm
going to be opening for Bob the Drag Queen this summer. Bob just won
season 8 of RuPaul's Drag Race and is one of the best human beings on this
earth. I'm just really excited about it :)
As far as I know,
your initial claim to fame is as a stand-up comedian - so do talk about
that aspect of your career for a bit, and how would you describe your
on-stage comic style, also in comparison to the comedy in Killer
Friends of course?
Yeah I'm pretty much in love
with stand up. I was raised doing musical theatre and now stand up gives
me that fix for live performance. So much of what I'm addicted to in this
world is connected to making people laugh. There's truly no greater high
than bringing a smile to a stranger's face. So in that way Killer
Friends and my stand up are super related. I'm also somewhat offensive/crass on
stage, so maybe Scott is also just part of my comedic persona. There's
just something so horribly lovable about him!
What made you branch out into
film and TV eventually, and how does this compare to your stagework?
love performing live, but I'm obsessed with the permanence of film/TV.
There's something about being able to revisit your favorite movies
throughout your life that's so comforting. I love the idea that I might
create something that someone across the globe can put on when they're
feeling down and it might help them cope, even just the tiniest bit.
filmwork prior to Killer
Friends you want to talk about?
Aside from the
tiniest parts in the most independent of films, Killer
Friends is all I've
got thus far!! But you best believe the floodgates have been OPENED.
filmmakers, whoever else who inspire you?
Way too many to
list!!!!! Lena Dunham, Christopher Guest, Wes Craven, Kevin Williamson,
Amy Heckerling, Amy Schumer, Sarah Silverman, Ellen DeGeneres, Megan
Mullally, Beth Stelling, Brian Jordan Alvarez.
Feeling lucky ?
any of my partnershops yourself
for more, better results ?
The links below
will take you
You really need to put a cap on how many
of these things!! Scream, Clueless, Waiting for Guffman,
The Ring, Evil
Dead (2013), Death Becomes Her, Cabin in the Woods, Last House on the Left
... and of course, films you really
Hahaha nice try. These are my peers now!! And they
might be writing my next check ;)
Your/your movie's website, Facebook, whatever else?
- that's sadly it for social media... I had no idea it was such an
important part of the process!! You can bet we'll be all over Twitter and
IG for the next one ;)
Anything else you are dying
to mention and I have merely forgotten to ask?
actually relieved you didn't ask me to give new filmmakers advice... It's a
question I've been asked a ton, so now I just expect it. That said, I
always defer to what another filmmaker told me when I was on the fence
about making Killer
Friends, and that, in so many words, is JUST DO IT.
Write, film, create, REPEAT. Nothing will ever be perfect, so just do your
best (without obsessing) and keep working. It's the best advice I've ever
for the interview!