Your new movie Dessert
- in a few words, what is it about?
its heart, Dessert is about longing for love, and loneliness. Although the
film is set in glamorous 1930s Hollywood, it also takes place during the
Great Depression. Therefore, our main characters only seem to have
everything; in reality, theyíre missing all the things money canít
buy. Your main character, Faith, must learn how to say yes to her own
What were your
sources of inspiration when writing Dessert?
And is any of it based on personal experience?
Always. I may not be
influential or live among the upper crust, but I know a thing or two about
love and longing, and so I definitely poured all of my own issues, for
lack of a better word, into the script. But the big secret is, that this
story is really an analogy for filmmaking. For me, saying yes to my own
happiness meant writing and making this film. I wrote it in the middle of
the night while my partner was out making a movie. And I thought: Iím a
writer, too. I donít need anyoneís permission to make movies and tell
stories I love. So I did.
you set Dessert in the
1930s, and do you have any special predilection for the period and its
block off Hollywood Boulevard as a kid had a big influence on me growing
up. My best friend at the time was older than me, and obsessed with
Marilyn Monroe and classic movies. We would watch old films, run up and
down the boulevard studying sidewalk stars, and buy black and white movie
stills for a quarter. There is no way to live in Hollywood and not become
low-key obsessed with vintage cinema and all its glamour. I still dream of
one day creating something truly reminiscent of the periodóhuge sets,
dancing girls, fantastic costumes, and all. Someday.
On the flipside of the last question, what were
the challenges of setting Dessert
in the 1930s, and how did you overcome them? And based on your experience
with the movie, could you ever be persuaded to make another period
could definitely be persuaded but cost is the issue. There was talk of
turning Dessert into a series, but I could never film it the way I want to
on an indie budget. This film cost roughly a thousand dollars a minute to
make. And we still have costs pending for music licensing. So, money is
the biggest challenge. But raising money doesnít necessarily scare me,
so if the right story comes along, who knows.
What can you tell us about your overall
directorial approach to your story at hand?
I let the music
guide me with this one. Iím a huge Billie Holliday fan, and I see shots
as I write. So, I spent a lot of time playing the songs, visualizing the
action, and syncing the dialogue. I felt this was a story that didnít
need a lot of fast and fancy camera moves. Those would have pulled us out
of the moment. Instead, I wanted people to immerse themselves and get lost
in the story, so, I kept it simple. In terms of shooting, we were up
against some unique challenges because our main set was 360 degrees and
had a limited backdrop that we had to move around for each shot. This
meant planning shots for four different room setups and filming everything
out of order. It was hard, but my director of photography Geoffrey C.
Bassett and I got it done thanks to an awesome crew and our set designer
Darby Lyons jr. Likewise, our exterior shots had challenges. For
example, I needed a location on Cape Cod that looked like Hollywood, but
that didnít show too much of its surroundings. I basically needed a
location so amazing that all eyes would be on it, and not on the lack of
palm trees. So, shooting on the grand staircase of the historic Chatham
Bars Inn made that possible.
about Dessert's key
cast, and why exactly these people?
Paul Kandarian and Samantha McMahon both had
supporting roles in my first film Get Up
Eight. I remember thinking when
we filmed that movie, that if I ever had a chance to showcase their
talents again, I would. And Dessert
was such a story. I actually
visualized Samantha as Faith when I wrote it. But Paul wasnít as simple
for John. Although he read for the part perfectly, I had originally
envisioned our male lead with a full head of hair, which Paul is the first
to say heís missing. So, we invested in a quality toupee and the rest is
history. Problem solved. Also featured in Dessert
are Kris Salvi [Kris Salvi
interview - click here], Michael
Leporē, Seamus Sartin, Emily Entwisle, and real-life Boston Burlesque
star Elsa Riot, each of whom were cast for their amazing look and talent.
A few words about
the shoot as such, and the on-set atmosphere?
Iíd like to say it was all fun and no work, but thatís not the case
with Dessert. These were long days in extreme conditions. Covid-19 being a
main contributor to our stress. Had we shot this any another time, there
would have been three times as many actors in the speakeasy scene and more
crew, but we had to work overtime to keep people spaced out, masked, and
safe. The thing about making movies though, for those of us who really
love it, is we forget how hard it all is the minute we wrap. Itís like
childbirth. You hate it while youíre doing it, but then say you want
another one the minute that sweet bundle of joy hits your chest. Itís
$64-question of course, where can Dessert
Dessert is screening one last
time Saturday, 10/9 at the Elm Draught
House Cinema in Millbury, MA. as part of Rob Levinsonís Indescribable
Film Fest, and then itís off to festivals. Iím hoping it gets a lot of
play there. Follow GR Films on Facebook, YouTube, and Instagram to learn
more about that moving forward.
future projects you'd like to share?
have two projects Iím really excited about right now: Night Owls, which
I wrote and directed, and A New York Minute, which I co-wrote with Kris
Salvi [Kris Salvi interview -
click here], and starred in. Both of these films were shot by the mega talented
Chris Esper [Chris Esper
interview - click here] and will premiere next spring. Thereís so much to love about
these films. And I think itís some of our best work, if Iím being
honest. We canít wait to share them with you. Stay tunedÖ
website, social media, whatever else?
Facebook, @grfilm YouTube & Instagram.
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you're dying to mention and I have merely forgotten to ask?
I would be remiss, nay, doomed to
hell, if I did not take this moment to shout out Geoffrey C. Bassett for
his work on Dessert. Not only did he shoot it, he edited and colored it,
too! And he did a beautiful job. Dessert
will live in its own time and
space foreveróa testament of our shared determination to make something
great. I owe him my life. The same could be said if I left out our sound
recordist, sound editor & sound designer Jay Sheehan, who
single-handedly brought our world to life through sound. Jay is incredibly
talented and I will never not try to work with him. Even if we really
canít stand each other. Also, please let me thank the cast, crew,
producers, executive producers, locations, and supporters of this work.
They are the real MVPs. I love you guys to bits. And finally, thank you
for interviewing me, Michael. I truly appreciate you and your amazing
platform. Letís do it again, soon, hopefully!
for the interview!