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An Interview with Kent Sutton, Writer, Director

by Mike Haberfelner

October 2023

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First of all, why don't you introduce yourself to those of us unfortunate enough to not already know you?

 

Sure, my name is Kent Sutton, I was born on the Caribbean island of Dominica. My family and I moved to several different islands, Trinidad, Bequia, Barbados and St. Croix, before moving to the United States at the age of ten. We moved first to Pensacola, Florida. This move was difficult for us all but seemed to affect me the most. I experienced culture shock and became a more reserved version of myself. I can remember the reaction to my accent from my classmates and some adults that made me uncomfortable whenever I spoke. It was around this time I began writing short stories, this was my escape. I stopped writing a few years later and did not write anything outside of school until I began studying acting. Years later I am now a screenwriter, director, and by default producer. My goal is to create work that can spark conversation that would lead to change in our society.

 

Do talk about some of your current and future projects?

 

Currently we are in development for a slate of four projects, they all vary in style. One episodic and three feature films.

 

We have HeadHunter: Neo noir, which is an adaptation to Pablo Khanís novel under the same name. The series follows Mael Carter, a disgraced ex-detective who is called in as a consultant to help solve a string of gruesome murders. He hopes to pull his career together, instead, he finds his life will soon meet an unexpected turn.

 

Shoreline Project: Drama/thriller about a young African American husband and father who struggles to survive prison. He plots revenge on his fellow Wall St. executives. While awaiting his release, he loses everything he holds dear.

 

Miranda: Drama - in search of peace and love within herself, a disheartened spoken word artist is faced with perilous choices that could rob her of more than her sanity. Miranda is reminiscent of Moí Better Blues and Love Jones. It follows Miranda, a spoken word artist as she attempts to piece her hectic life back together.

 

City Called Heaven: Historical drama/war. Three worlds collide after a young man is torn from all he knows and condemned to work under dire conditions. He'll stop at nothing to protect his true love from the cruel overseer, and soon becomes embroiled in a bloody war. 

 

I started my next line up of screenplays. The first of the three new concepts I am exploring is That Kid Jordan, which is a psychological thriller. It touches on some of the issues young people are going through in high school. Iíll be entering the screenplay into a few festivals soon.

 

As far as I know, you got into filmmaking via acting - so do talk about Kent Sutton the actor, and did you receive any formal education on the subject?

 

Yes, that is correct, I began as an actor. I studied at Weist-Barron for a few years then went over to the Living Theatre under the tutelage of David Triacca. Studying with David was a great experience. His approach to analyzing the characters, their needs, along with the different methods cemented our training, as we become these tragic roles. The experience was priceless. We studied great works such as Seven Guitars, Ma Raineyís Black Bottom, and Medal of Honor Rag, to name a few. This knowledge in acting and working with actors Iíll always take with me. I did a few plays in Brooklyn, NY, mostly both as an actor and director over the years. But my focus was creating a body of work for film which became my creative focus.

 

So what made you switch sides and go behind the camera eventually?

 

Studying all these great plays caused a shift in me. I started writing again, all of these ideas for screenplays started to flood my mind. I can remember saying Iím not a writer, I just need to get these stories out. I realized I needed a director for the projects and after much thought I took up the mantle.

 

What can you tell us about your approach to any given project, how does it grow from a first idea into a finished film?

 

Iíd say it simply begins with a thought. Something that catches my attention. Something I have not seen before or more importantly something that can benefit our society in some way. City Called Heaven was a story I became curious about and looked into the topic months before I started writing. Miranda is based on a true story; I thought it was a topic that needed to be talked about. We did it as a short film and because of its success and feedback from screenings, it was decided to be made into a feature film. Each film had its own unique origin.

 

Is there any one genre you particularly enjoy to work in, or one you would love to try your hands on but haven't had the chance to yet?

 

I am somewhat flexible in genres. I would say, so far they all have a more serious tone. Even when we examine the stories that are heavy in action, youíll find that they are more character driven. At this point in time the tendency has been navigating towards more dramatic work. But I may do something more light hearted at some point, perhaps a rom-com.

 

Do talk about your past filmwork, and your career highlights so far?

 

My highlights, my first film Miranda (short) won an Audience Choice at the Red Wasp Film Festival. That meant a lot as my first project. It is the standard Iíd like to hold myself to. I would always want to have an impact on an audience. A few months later it played at the New York Public Library. The feature length version received a nomination for best screenplay at the Art is Alive Film Festival this past January. City Called Heaven won Best Screenplay at the Utah Film Festival, for which I was especially pleased. A couple of years prior to this, it received a nomination at the Peachtree Village International Film Festival. I went back and reworked it a bit, adding to the opening sequence, adding a stronger promise of the premise and altered the ending, which has made a world of difference.

 

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

 

Iíve been told that my writing is visceral, Iíd like to add visual to that. My goal is to provide the actors texture and room to dig in and explore in order to find the layers and complexities in their roles.

 

As a director I build off of that, it is all about the needs and wants of the character. Creating a safe space for the actor to take risks and go deeper. Iíll give an example: There was a scene with a couple sitting in a car. The actor is a true gentleman. But he was playing an abusive boyfriend. He did a good job but it was safe. So, we took a moment, stepped out of the car leaving everyone else behind. I asked him (the character) a slew of questions back-to-back, not giving time to think or to process. It was as if I was attacking him, not only were the questions fast, but I had an aggressive tone. The moment became tense we returned to the car, as I felt his energy change. I called action and he was a different person, his eyes glossed over his mannerisms were altered to the point where I actually became afraid he would hit her. But it went well. I cut the scene a little short, we had everything we needed. He took some time by himself to decompress.

 

Writers, filmmakers, whoever else who inspire you?

 

For directors, I like Barry Jenkinsí work. I recently watched The Underground Railroad, beautiful cinematography. I also like writers who use plot twists like M. Knight Shyamalan. Iíd have my main source of inspiration however comes from life. Moments in history or contemporary issues that grab hold of my attention, that may linger in my mind becoming something I feel the need to share.

 

Your favourite movies?

 

Some of my favorite movies would include Moí Better Blues. I liked how they portrayed jazz in the film. Itís rare for jazz music to be covered in that way on film. Moí Better Blues came out around the time I first started to listen to that genre of music, so it kind of helped to seal my appreciation for the artform. Denzel Washington is definitely the greatest on-screen trumpet player. He nailed all the nuances trumpet players have. Great performance.

 

I am a fan of the period piece genre, some of the films I enjoyed would include Braveheart and Dances with Wolves. Oh, I should include Sixth Sense, these films all had some sort of impact on me. With Sixth Sense it was about the storytelling. It caught me. I had to go back to the beginning and watched it over. Dances with Wolves was about the magnitude of the film as they attempted to capture the culture of the Lakota.

 

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

 

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Films I deplore, I try to find the voice or the message in each film. To appreciate it for what it is. The films I deplore would be ones that are not honest, unclear message or the preparation was lacking.

 

Your website, social media, whatever else?

 

Our website is https://www.workingtheary.com (Working Theary Productions)

You can also find me on Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/kent.sutton.3

Instagram: @kentpsutton or https://www.instagram.com/kentpsutton/

 

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

 

Nothing at this time.

 

Thanks for the interview!

 

It was my pleasure.

 

© by Mike Haberfelner


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Thanks for watching !!!



 

 

In times of uncertainty of a possible zombie outbreak, a woman has to decide between two men - only one of them's one of the undead.

 

There's No Such Thing as Zombies
starring
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special appearances by
Debra Lamb and Lynn Lowry

 

directed by
Eddie Bammeke

written by
Michael Haberfelner

produced by
Michael Haberfelner, Luana Ribeira and Eddie Bammeke

 

now streaming at

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Robots and rats,
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love and death and everything in between,
Tales to Chill
Your Bones to

is all of that.

 

Tales to Chill
Your Bones to
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a collection of short stories and mini-plays
ranging from the horrific to the darkly humourous,
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screenwriter and film reviewer
Michael Haberfelner.

 

Tales to Chill
Your Bones to

the new anthology by
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Out now from
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