D.J. MacHale is a writer, director, executive producer and creator of several popular television series, including Nickelodeon’s “Are You Afraid of the Dark?”. As an author, his ten-volume book series: Pendragon: Journal of an Adventure Through Time and Space became a New York Times #1 bestseller.
Other notable television writing credits include the ABC Afterschool Specials, the pilot for the long-running PBS/CBS series Ghostwriter; and the HBO series Encyclopedia Brown, Boy Detective for which he received a CableAce nomination for writing.
Media Mikes had a chance to chat with D.J. about “Are You Afraid of the Dark?”, “Ghostwriter” and “Pendragon” via Zoom and the video is posted below! Please enjoy and leave comments below of your favorite episodes of “Are You Afraid of the Dark?”.
If you passed Robert Bronzi on the street you would definitely do a double take thinking that you have just passed the late actor Charles Bronson. Bronzi has taken Hollywood by storm recently and has starred in films like “Death Kiss”, Once Upon a Time in Deadwood” and most recently the horror film “Cry Havoc”. Media Mikes had a chance to chat with the Bronson doppelganger to discuss his films and likeness to Charles Bronson.
Mike Gencarelli: How does it feel to be called “The Hungarian Charles Bronson”?
Robert Bronzi: In my home town people know me as Robert or Bronzi because that is my stage name. Also, when I’m traveling in the country a lot of people want to take a photo with me, they congratulate me and wish me luck. I have to say it’s a very good feeling.
MG: When did you first get confronted about your likeness to Charles Bronson?
RB: As young man, pretty much my whole life. So I cut my hair and moustache like Bronson. Many years ago in Hungary I worked as a horse breeder and horse trainer. At the horse breeding center we had a lot of visitors every day, people told me “hey boy ! you know you look like Charles Bronson? ” I worked with my very good friend Peter, he would always say that I looked like him and he began to call me Bronzi. So he gave me my nick name . After that everyone called me Bronzi and it became my artist name.
MG: Give us some background on your life before you started making movies in Hollywood?
RB: I’m an actor, musician and stuntman. I have done a lot of different and interesting things in my life. I worked in Hungary as a horse breeder and horse trainer. I performed at western shows in Hungary and Spain in different pieces. I’m an accordionist, I played music in bars, at festivals, weddings and private parties.
MG: Tell us what was it like filming in Western Leone, near Almeria, Spain, which was the site of much of the filming of the famous Sergio Leone/Charles Bronson western ONCE UPON A TIME IN THE WEST?
RB: Well, I really enjoyed filming in Almeria as I worked there for quite a few years in the western village of TEXAS HOLLYWOOD TABERNAS as a stunt performer. There I met some of my acquaintances, my old colleagues, and a few of them are also featured in the film, and my acting partners are also wonderful and talented people. Every time I go to Almeria I feel like if I am going home. I really like that place and Spain too.
MG: How was it going from a revenge western to a horror movie like CRY HAVOC?
RB: My first western style movie was shot some years ago, also with Rene Perez . The name of the film was From Hell To The Wild West .This is a western movie with horror elements. CRY HAVOC is a horror and action movie without western elements. For me that was a new challenge, a new role what I tried to do with my best ability as an actor.
MG: You have worked with director Rene Perez on four films now; tell us about how this collaboration started?
RB: Rene Perez saw my photo on the Saloon wall in Spain in the western village where I worked as a stunt performer. He thought it was a photo of Charles Bronson years ago hand asked the owner about the photo. When Rene found out it wasn’t Bronson, it was me, he told the owner, “I want to meet this guy”.
MG: I read you train in judo and Muay Thai; tell us about how you keep in shape?
RB: I work hard to keep my body in shape. In Hungary I have some good friends that help me get ready for the movies. They teach me martial arts such as judo and Thai boxing, and three times a week I visit the gym.
MG: What do you do when you are not acting?
RB: I have got some preferred hobbies. For example: Riding, archery, fishing, playing on my accordion and walking in the forest. I would also like to mention that I ‘m a member of a traditional preservation team in Hungary. When I have time I go with them to attend the traditional festivals where I use my sword, my replica firearms and of course my bow in the live show. Also I have different costumes from the very old times.
MG: What films do you have planned upcoming after CRY HAVOC?
RB: Currently I’m working on a few new projects. I can’t say much but in the near future you will see a lot of Bronzi action films .
Today is Thursday and it is the start of our Throwback Thursday interview revisits. For our first Thursday, we are going back in time to July 2011, nearly 9 years ago, when we interview Colin Hanks, of course the son of well-known actor Tom Hanks. Colin was starring in the Gil Cates Jr. directed film “LUCKY” along with Ari Graynor, Ann-Margret and Jeffrey Tambor at the time and we were lucky (see what I did there LOL) enough to get an interview with him.
This interview was done back in 2011 when we were still named MovieMikes.com with our own Jon Donahue, who had a KILLER conversation with Colin Hanks to discuss “LUCKY”, his Tower Records documentary and his role on Showtime’s “DEXTER”! Please take the time to watch this whole interview its hysterical and deserves a view. And in case you wanna know…Yes they already knew each other prior to the interview. Enjoy and leave comments!!
Here is the premise for the film: After Ben (Hanks) wins $36 million in the lottery, Lucy (Graynor) marries him, strictly for the cash. Just as she’s beginning to have genuine feelings for him, however, Lucy discovers that he’s a serial killer whose victims all resemble her. Still, though, there’s no way she’s walking away from those lottery checks, even if it means losing her mind and re-burying all the bodies.
I first saw Michael Pare’ when he appeared on television’s “The Greatest American Hero,” but it was his performance as Eddie Wilson in the film “Eddie and the Cruisers” that cemented him in my mind as an actor to watch. While on his way to Nevada to shoot his latest project Mr. Pare’ took time out to talk to me about his latest film – “Once Upon a Time in Deadwood” – his aspirations to be a chef and how Rick Springfield almost ended up playing Eddie Wilson. (I should also note that this interview is posting on his birthday so, from all of us at Media Mikes, HAPPY BIRTHDAY MICHAEL!”
MIKE SMITH: You studied to be a chef. Was that your original career goal?
MICHAEL PARE’: Yes. When I was in high school, my first job where I had to pay taxes, social security and everything was in a fast food restaurant. Then I got on at a regular restaurant that served steaks and everything else. I was pretty good at it and I liked the life. So in my junior year I heard from a co-worker about the Culinary Institute of America. I got a recommendation from my boss and I applied and got in. At the time it was known as the best cooking school in the United States. I attended for a year and was given an internship at Tavern on the Green in New York. They eventually offered me a full-time, six days a week job. So I moved to Manhattan, which is where I was discovered.
MS: Do you ever give the Craft Services people on set any pointers?
MP: (laughs) No, but there are a few directors I’ve cooked with. Uwe Boll and I used to have a sauerbraten contest every time we worked. Cooking is something that a lot of people share. In all of the arts food becomes an important part of your life.
MS: How did you get into acting? What took you from the kitchen to the soundstage?
MP: I got discovered by an agent. There was a bar where my girlfriend waitressed at that was kind of a show business bar. It was right across from where they broadcast the news for ABC. A lot of people in the business hung out there. The agent noticed me and asked me if I was an actor or a dancer. I told her I was in the restaurant business. She kind of pursued it and talked me into taking a few classes. I did and I liked it a lot. My first classes were at Carnegie Hall. I’d go to class during the day and work the night shift at the restaurant. I studied for two years and then auditioned for ABC’s talent development program and I got it. They brought me out to Hollywood and put me on “The Greatest American Hero.”
MS: You made your feature film debut as Eddie Wilson in “Eddie and the Cruisers.” How did you get the role?
MP: Marty Davidson, the director, called my agent and asked me to come in and meet him. That was it. I met with him about four or five times. Marty was a very artistic guy. He put the cast together and we had two weeks of improve and then we shot it. I did it on hiatus from “The Greatest American Hero.”
MS: Is it true that Martin Davidson would threaten to replace you with Rick Springfield?
MP: (laughs) Yes, but he only had to do it once!
MS: I like Rick Springfield (Ok, I’ve seen him in concert a dozen times so I REALLY like Rick Springfield) but I don’t think he would have been a good Eddie.
MP: It would have been a different movie.
MS: Exactly. Did you know while you were making the film that it was going to be regarded the way it is now?
MP: No. At that time I was still a young actor and didn’t know the potential of things. I had only done two seasons of “The Greatest American Hero” and a movie of the week, so it was all like a dreamland. I didn’t even think about marketing. When I was back on “The Greatest American Hero” I was telling another actor about the film and he told me “you don’t have nothing without distribution.” I had no idea what that meant. I told him, “well, I shot it and they’re happy…that’s all I can say.”
MS: Anyone ever ask you to sing “On the Dark Side” at karaoke?
MP: (laughs) If I do karaoke it’s Johnny Cash.
MS: What drew you to your latest role in “Once Upon a Time in Deadwood?”
MP: I’ve done a few westerns so when Jeff Miller (the film’s co-producer/co-writer) called me up and said he had an interesting project with this guy named Robert Bronzi I called up Danny Baldwin. I knew he had worked with Robert and I asked him what he was like. He said that Jeff and his team were very creative… very open minded. So I said “ok.” And then when I met Rene’ (director Rene’ Perez) he was surprised as he expected to meet someone who was a little more “beat up.” I’m a pretty healthy guy. That was it. We shot in a little western town in central California up near the Sequoias. We used blanks and squibs as opposed to all of the CGI stuff that is so popular now on low budget movies. It was a great experience. Nice cast. Rene’ is very creative. He’s the DP and the director.
MS: Do you enjoy the genre’? Do you have a favorite role-type?
MP: I like all of them. If you do it so long you play everything. And you hope one of the roles will be successful, you know?
MS: What are you working on now?
MP: It’s called “Bridge of Doom” We’re shooting in Caliente’, Nevada. It’s the military reaction to the Zombie Apocalypse. When I heard that I was like, “great…we never hear about that part. It’s always about the civilians out in the middle of nowhere.
Oscar winning film editor Paul Hirsch has been fortunate in that he has worked numerous times with two of Hollywood’s best known filmmakers, Brian DePalma and John Hughes. He also won an Academy Award for his work (along with Marcia Lucas and Richard Chew) on one of the most popular films of all time, “Star Wars.” With a book highlighting his career about to be released, Mr. Hirsch took the time to answer some questions about his lengthy career.
MIKE SMITH: What drew you to become a film editor?
PAUL HIRSCH: A number of things. I was fascinated when I first saw a Moviola. I was blown away by a festival of Orson Welles films. I liked working with my hands, and was drawn to the tools. I loved movies.
MS: Other film editors I’ve interviewed had mentors they admired. I recently spoke with Arthur Schmidt and he told me that he learned under Dede Allen and Neil Travis. Did you have someone whose work you admired and/or who took you under their wing?
PH: Brian DePalma was my mentor. He encouraged me, empowered me, validated my work and deeply influenced me. I was cutting his films from the age of 23, and so never worked under a professional feature film editor. I learned by doing and studying how films I admired were cut. I was sort of like the art students you see in museums, copying the masters.
MS: How did you come to edit “Hi Mom” for Brian DePalma?
I had cut the trailer for “Greetings,” thanks to my brother. When they got the money to do a sequel, titled “Son of Greetings,” Brian hired me to cut it.
MS: Five or your first six films were with DePalma. He is well known – and often criticized – for his use of split-screen (the prom from “Carrie” being a great example). Was that something you discussed in the editing room or was that his original vision?
An example of the split screen process used in “Carrie”
PH: Split screen is Brian’s thing. I can’t take credit for it, but I do love and appreciate the tension that can result from juxtaposing images on the screen, even if, or rather, especially if, the screen isn’t actually split. I’m referring to deep focus shots, which have become a lost art, where you have a near object on one side, and a distant one on the other. Brian did that a lot, using split diopters, with tremendous success.
MS: A lot of the young filmmakers in the 70s (DePalma, Spielberg, Scorsese, Lucas) were very close with each other. Is that how you were hired for “Star Wars?”
PH: Yes. Brian screened the final cut of “Carrie” for George and Marcia Lucas on their return from principal photography on”Star Wars” in England. They needed help, and turned to me.
MS: How difficult was it editing a film where you sometimes had to wait months for a finished special effects shot?
PH: We had ways around that. We would cut in place-holders or a piece of leader that we estimated was the right length.
MS: You, along with Marcia Lucas and Richard Chew, received the Academy Award for your work on “Star Wars.” Where do you keep your Oscar?
Richard Chew, Marcia Lucas and Paul Hirsch hoist their Oscars with presenter Farrah Fawcett
PH: It’s on a bookshelf in my office.
MS: You’ve done eleven films with DePalma but, surprisingly, not ‘The Untouchables.” Was there a reason you didn’t cut that picture?
PH: I moved to the West Coast after “Blow Out.” I didn’t cut a picture for Brian in the ensuing ten years. We next worked together on “Raising Cain,” when he was living in California.
MS: You also worked a lot with John Hughes. How was he to work with and were there any major differences in the way he and DePalma approached a film?
PH: John was a lot of fun to work with until he wasn’t. He was a brilliant artist, but had mercurial moods. But I had a great time working with him. John was a writer, primarily, and his medium was words, by and large. Brian is a great visualist. His ideas are primarily graphic, both in terms of camera movement, which no one does better, and in terms of visual story-telling, that is to say, how scenes can be constructed in the editing room.
MS: Hal Ashby was a great film editor who went on to become a fine director. Have you ever wanted to direct?
PH: I did want to for a while, and then the fever broke. I like working all the time, and editing afforded me that. To me, directing was like perpetually running for office. I’m more of an introvert, and editing suits me just fine.
MS: Your most recent film was the Tom Cruise version of “The Mummy.” What is the biggest difference between cutting a film now and forty-plus years ago?
PH: There’s a lot more reliance on vfx now, which consumes a lot of time and energy. And when I started out, directors were given much more discretion. The director was the key creative figure in the package, often with final cut. That happens less these days. If a director had a hit back then, the studio would ask, “What do you want to do next?” Today, the projects are developed by the studio, and the director is “cast” the same way you would choose an actor for a role. Producers and studio executives are much more involved in the editing process these days.
MS: What can you tell us about your new book?
Mr. Hirsch’s book will be released on November 1st and is currently available to order now on Amazon.com and other sites.
PH: It’s an account of my adventures in Movie-land, my experiences of the last fifty years and what I learned during that time. I write about the various projects I worked on, and the fascinating people I encountered. I share some of the insights I picked up along the way as I made my way into the industry. It’s not a how-to book, which I consider boring. And it’s not a gossipy tell-all where I get revenge on the jerks I met along the way, which really weren’t that many when I think about it. The people I got along with are much more interesting. I meant it to be entertaining above all. I hope people will read it for pleasure. I’ve had a number of friends read it. Editors in particular seem to like it, but I think anyone who is curious about what goes on behind the scenes in our business will find it fun to read.
MS: Are you working on anything new?
PH: I’ve been working on the book for many years, first writing it, and then editing it. I only just recently finished going over the page proofs. I’m going to take my time now, reading scripts, and will see if anything pings my interest. I’m sure it’s only a matter of time.
Lin Shaye might be known best for her role of Elise Rainier in the “Insidious” franchise. Lin got started in horror back with “A Nightmare on Elm Street” through the recent “Ouija”, and its prequel “Ouija: Origin of Evil”. Shaye is also known for her comedic roles with the Farrelly brothers, including Dumb and Dumber, Kingpin, and There’s Something About Mary. Media Mikes had a chance to chat with Lin about her new film “Gothic Harvest”.
Mike Gencarelli: Tell us how you got involved with “Gothic Harvest”? Lin Shaye: I got involved with the film because of Chris Kobin, who is the writer and one of the producers. I have worked with Chris before, we did the “2001 Maniacs” movies together. Bill Moseley, my co-star for this film also starred in “2001 Maniacs: Field of Screams” taking over the lead from Robert Englund, so we have worked together before also. It was an interesting story for me. I have high regard for Chris. He is a smart guy and a very loyal person. He approached me and asked if I wanted to be apart of it, so that’s how I got involved.
MG: Speaking of being trapped, what was it like being restricted to a wheelchair in the movie? LS: It actually helps with the character in many regards. Being stuck anywhere, especially mobility, it takes a lot of muscle power to move you around. It takes a lot of real muscle to move. We had a really old wheelchair. Nowadays, wheelchairs are made with ball bearings and they spin and do wheelies and they maneuver amazingly. Not back then, you really needed to push to get them through doorways. You have to use your whole body to move them forward, not just your arms. It was a little bit jaunting and gave me totally new respect for disabled people that need to negotiate that in order to get anywhere. It was very difficult. To try and get somewhere it created emotionally a sense of frustration, which was perfect for the character.
MG: You’ve been in horror films from “A Nightmare on Elm Street” all the way through to the “Insidious” franchise; did you ever think you would have become such a horror icon? LS: NEVER [laughs]. I am just grateful that I am getting to continue to work on such exciting projects. All of the things I have done leading up to this, I don’t really think in terms of genre. I think in terms of storytelling and character. Those are the determining factors for me in order to do a film. I love comedy also. I don’t gravitate to one genre over another. With acting, you making a real impact on people and I feel a real responsibility to looking for material that is about something important. Not education, per se, but reminding people of what is important in life. I just feel very privileged. Especially Elise in “Insidious”, people have asked me why I think she is popular and that is because she is a giver not a taker. I honestly believe people feel safe with her and that is part of her popularity.
MG: Do you have a personal favorite horror film? LS: I thought “Hush” was great, out of the new horror films. I thought that was a really scary film with such a simple premise…but my favorite horror film is “The Shining”. I don’t think anyone has made a film that is quite as terrifying as that was and that still holds up today.
MG: Any more plans for the “Insidious” franchise? LS: There is a rumor but I haven’t seen anything specific. I kind of know what they are thinking and I know the line that they are looking into but I don’t know when it would be because Blumhouse has so much going on right now. The “Insidious” franchise really exploded for them as a company as well as the “Purge” films. I don’t know anything definite but there is a rumor that there will be more.
MG: You’ve also done comedy like “Dumb and Dumber”, “Kingpin”, and “There’s Something About Mary”; how’s it like switching between genres? LS: The lines all blur in terms of genre. It is really about what is the core of the character. What’s fun for me and even when I was a little kid, I remember loving the idea of being able to step into someone else’s life and disappearing. As an actor you have the luxury of being your buried feelings up in the forefront. It is a very exciting experience. I just feel lucky fortunate of not drawing lines in terms of genre but just finding the truth of the person I am playing.
MG: What do you have upcoming next? LS: There was a little film I did called “Room for Rent” that is one Amazon Prime. I want everyone to see it. It is some of the best work that I have ever done. It is not a horror film but more of a psychology thriller about a woman’s decline into insanity really. I am very proud of it. Also I am doing the new “Penny Dreadful” series called “City of Angels” for Showtime. I have never done a TV series and it is big machinery. It has a fantastic cast and fantastic scripts. There are ten episodes and I will be in six of them. I play a fabulous character. Nathan Lane and I sort of play sidekicks. John Logan is the creator and he is exceptional. I am very excited for this project and I just hope I do a good job at the end of the day.
With almost 150 film and television credits to his name, I’m pretty sure you’ve seen Jason Stuart on screen. From small screen appearances on shows like “The Drew Carey Show,” “My Wife and Kids” and “Will & Grace” to his acclaimed performance in – in this writer’s humble opinion – the Best Film of 2016, “The Birth of a Nation,” he continues to add to his ever growing resume’. He recently added a new chapter to his career story – author – with the release of his book “Shut Up, I’m Talking!” The book details his career as well as the challenges he faced
I recently spoke with Jason about his new book and about how coming out in 1993 effected both his life and his career.
Photo Credit: Kimo Lauder
MIKE SMITH: What prompted you to write the book?
JASON STUART: I had a very good friend who worked with me on a comedy radio show I did in the Midwest. His name was Dan Duffy and he had written a book called “The Half Book,” He called me and told me I needed to read his book. I bought the book and read it. It was about him getting cancer and how he recovered, how he survived with the love of his family. It was funny and it was touching and I was so moved by it that I told him “I need someone like you to help me write my book.” And he said he’d love to do it. So that was it. I always think when something is put in front of you it’s meant to be.
MS: Any reactions from your friends who may not have known you story?
JS: That’s a great question. Tons of people. When I decided to write it I thought about it as a way to get my story out, to let people see me in a different way…to help my career and to possibly get some publicity. Maybe I’ll make a little money. But then I realized, “OH! People are also going to be reading this book. They’re going to hear all of these things I said about my personal life. And they’re going to have opinions about it.” I totally forget about that part. People have been really candid. People have stopped me on the street or called me…it’s been a lot of really positive energy. Much more than I ever thought.
Photo credit: Sean Black
MS: Do you think there is still a stigma in Hollywood that prevents gay actors from getting certain roles?
JS: It’s certainly not what it was 26 years ago, but I still think that when somebody sees you a certain way it’s very hard for them to see that you would be right for certain roles. Hollywood doesn’t seem to want actors, they seem to want “be-ers.” My favorite actor growing up was Dustin Hoffman. He still is. He played Lenny Bruce. He played Benjamin in “The Graduate.” He played the father in “Kramer vs Kramer,” he was Captain Hook. He was Willy Loman. He did all sorts of roles. You don’t really get to do that as much, but I’ve been able to make a career out of doing that. When something comes along and they tell me I’m perfect for it, it’s not always clear to me. We don’t always see ourselves as others see us. Being a gay man over 50 – there are very few “gay men” parts over 50. They don’t write them. That role doesn’t exist very much. So I wind up playing villains…managers…all these kind of characters. What I want to do is play dads…because everybody has a dad.
MS: If I can ask my question more directly, do you ever think because they know that you’re gay that you’re easily dismissed for certain roles?
JS: I think so. People are like that somewhat. I’d have to say it’s natural. People have to “see it.” See you do the work. Which is why I’ve created several demo reels. They have to see that you can do it. You have to be able to prove it to them. You have to be able to get someone to represent you that is open enough to do that for you.
MS; You’ve done both television and film. Do you have a preference?
JS: Not any more. Today there is no difference. It’s about the quality of work. I ask you a question back: what is a television show and what is a film?
MS: I think, to me, the difference is that in television, or on stage in a successful show, you have the opportunity to keep developing the character as the series or show progresses. With a film, you’re only dealing with the role for a few months. Does that make sense?
JS; Yes it does.
MS: What are you working on now?
JS: I have a new film called “Hank” which is now out all over the country. It’s a short film about a guy in a relationship whose partner decides he wants an open relationship and I don’t. It’s gotten some of the best reviews I’ve received since “The Birth of a Nation.” And then I’m in a film called “Immortal” which is opening at the Scream Film Festival. It’s a thriller and it’s opening on the 16th of October. I’m also doing stand-up at the Icehouse Comedy Club in Pasadena. I also just completed a web-series I wrote, produced and appeared in called “Smothered” with Mitch Hara. I’m also being considered for a recurring role in a big series – I can’t say which one – as well as a national commercial.
MS: It’s good to be busy.
JS: It is. I feel very blessed.
IF YOU’RE INTERESTED IN ORDERING MR. STUART’S BOOK, YOU CAN FIND IT ON AMAZON.COM, BARNESandNOBLE.COM OR YOU CAN ORDER IT FROM THE PUBLISHER HERE.
Bill Moseley is a legend in the horror business. He is known best for playing Chop Top from “The Texas Chainsaw Massacre 2” and also Otis in “House of 1000 Corpses” and “The Devil Rejects”. He is reprising the role of Otis in Rob Zombie’s latest film “3 From Hell”. Media Mikes had a chance to chat with Bill to discuss his new film and stepping back into the character.
Mike Gencarelli: It’s been nearly 15 years since “The Devil’s Rejects”, what was it like picking up this character again after all these years? Bill Moseley: It seemed liked it was going to be a pretty daunting task to try that but once we got to the set and got costumes and makeup – and with that good script under our wings – everything worked out pretty smoothly.
MG: Gotta respect the beard man, how long that take to grow out? BM: That beard was at least 16 months. My wife was very excited when I finally got “beard release”. She followed me to the barbershop, here in Los Angeles, and they cut it all off and put it in a plastic bag.
MG: After working with Rob Zombie now on a few films; did you feel you had freedom with this character? BM: Most of it was in the script. Sometimes with creative freedom to come up with new lines and moves for the character is because the scripts need a little help. But with Rob’s scripts they are so good you really don’t need to do more than follow the printed page.
MG: After the ending of “The Devil’s Rejects”, some would have thought that was the end but, I like things turned out in “3 From Hell”… BM: With “3 From Hell”, I am glad the way Rob brought us back due to the poor shooting of the Rudgesville Sheriff Department. A lot of fans certainly wanted more after “The Devil’s Rejects”. I remember at different horror conventions fans coming up and giving scenarios. The worst was with someone waking up and saying “Wow, what a dream I had”, that is the lamest device in Hollywood. One that I thought was really cool is that we did actually die, went to hell and the devil rejected us making us truly the devil’s rejects…but of course then if you do that then we are supernatural and that’s a different universe. This way makes sense cause the sheriff’s department looked like a real motley crew even with us driving right at them.
MG: Where was the Mexico scenes shot? BM: Right outside LA. It was a cool movie ranch. I think it was in the same vicinity as the spawn ranch scenes from “Once Upon a Time…in Hollywood”. I don’t think it was exact location but there are still movie ranches dived around the hills in LA.
MG: What was your biggest challenge working on this film? BM: The biggest challenge was getting back into Otis’ skin after 14 years. Also to do Otis from “The Devil’s Rejects” justice and to take him to a new level and that is a big challenge. I was a little nervous at first, day 1/day 2 on the set, I had mini monologue to deliver and I remember flubbing the lines, so I took a time out after a couple of takes. I remember a voice in my head saying “Get out of the way Bill, I got this!” It was Otis and after that everything just went very smoothly.
MG: Would you consider this the end for Otis and the gang or could you see yourself stepping into this role again? BM: I don’t necessarily see an end. I still have a kid in college, so I hope there will be three or four more of them. And BTW they are really fun to do. It is hard work making movies, there are a lot of moving parts and pressure but working with these guys makes it worth it.
Yesterday…or rather just about a month ago Danny Boyle’s new romantic comedy called Yesterday hit the red carpet as the closing night film of the Tribeca Film Festival. Written by romcom guru Richard Curtis (Love Actually, Four Weddings and a Funeral), the film follows Jack Malik (Himesh Patel) a struggling musician who wakes up one day in a world where the Beatles never existed. In this situation, Jack takes the music world by storm reintroducing classics like “Yesterday”, “Let it Be” and “Hey Jude”.
I got to speak with the talented filmmakers at their premiere about the impact the Beatles had in their own lives and shooting some epic concert scenes.
Lauren Damon: Soundtracks are so integral to your movies, does it pain you to imagine the world without the Beatles?
Screenwriter Richard Curtis: I think it would be worse! I mean certainly my life would have been worse. You just think how often life has been sort of softened and sweetened by them. When I was living here in America, I was terribly aware of how often you heard Frank Sinatra and I was thinking, ‘God, wouldn’t all these shoe shops be worse without Frank Sinatra to make it less painful?
LD: For the concept of this film did you ever consider other bands being gone?
Curtis: No. No and it’s interesting, is there another band? And I don’t know that there is. A lot of this movie came about was because every time I would go to see my kids’ school plays they would always end with a Beatles song. You know, William the Conqueror would hold King Harold’s hand and they would both sing “We Can Work it Out.” Or you do something about the environment and they sing “Here Comes the Sun.” So I do think at the moment that the Beatles are the most comprehensive band of all.
LD: Did you get to speak to Paul or Ringo about this concept?
Curtis: Well they know about it now. I wrote to Paul asking him if it would be okay to call it “Yesterday” And he wrote back and suggested we call it “Scrambled Eggs” which was the original name of “Yesterday” And he said ‘I think that would be the better title, but if you haven’t got the courage to call it “Scrambled Eggs”, then I don’t mind you calling it “Yesterday”
Film Composer, Daniel Pemberton: Paul and Ringo were very aware of the film. But with this we took a step back because the thing is in this world the Beatles don’t exist…And we kept having to say ‘the Beatles do not exist in this film’ so you have to pretend Paul and Ringo don’t exist.
LD: When you’re starting with a film that’s based around The Beatles when you go in to compose for it, do you draw strains for them? Or is it from scratch?
Pemberton: Yeah, the score element of this film has been massively influenced by the Beatles. So that’s everything from–I tried to approach the score in a way where we would use the sort of sonic landscape the Beatles created. So that would be everything from the instruments, like the mellotron…We actually used some of the actual instruments that the Beatles recorded on. So we recorded at Abbey Road all the score. And so we used things like the Mrs. Mills piano–the piano from “Lady Madonna”. And those are the actual pianos they used on the recordings. We’d also use a similar kind of bass guitars that Paul McCartney plays. We used the same mixing desks and the same recording techniques. But then we tried to write a different score that wasn’t just a pastiche of the Beatles but just had the elements of their work. Almost as if the Beatles had scored this movie, what would it sound like?
Lauren Damon: What was your casting process like to go from tv into this big lead in front of thousands of extras?
Himesh Patel (“Jack”): I mean the casting was kind of just like anything else to be honest. I just got a breakdown and then I did the self-tape and then I met Danny [Boyle] and Richard. And then I met Danny again and then waited a long time and then I got a call.
LD: Do you have a singing background?
Patel: Not in any sort of professional way, no. I did a little bit on the stage in a play I did a couple of years ago. And I’d some, you know, for myself, youth theater and that kind of thing but nothing like this.
LD: What was it like recreating songs like this? Such important and monumental songs?
Patel: It was thrilling, you know but also a little bit nerve-wracking. The people I was working with, the people we got on board with were really great and so I never felt the pressure of what we were doing. And we had a little bit of leeway because narratively the songs don’t exist. So we could make them our own.
LD: Do you have a favorite?
Patel: A favorite…I mean, one of the ones I love singing was “Long and Winding Road.” I think it’s a really beautiful song…and where it sits in the movie is so beautiful too.
When he’s not busy doing his daytime job for the television program “Frontline,” filmmaker John Campopiano allows himself to indulge his love for horror films. In 2017, Campopiano co-wrote and co-directed the acclaimed documentary “Unearthed and Untold: The Path to Pet Sematary.” He just released the short film “Georgie,” which he produced and co-wrote with the film’s director, Ryan /Grulich. Next up is his next full length documentary, “Pennywise: The Story of ‘IT’” While gearing up for his next project, John found some spare time to talk with me about his work, past, present and future.
MIKE SMITH: Where did you come up with the idea for “Georgie?”
JOHN CAMPOPIANO: We were in post-production on a documentary about the mini-series “IT.” We interviewed the cast and crew and one of the cast members, Tony Dakota, who played Georgie Dembrough in the mini-series was one of the last actors to find for an interview. I found him in the Pacific Northwest. By this time our production budget was depleted so I was looking for a free-lancer to get this interview with Tony. I met Ryan Grulich, who is based in Seattle and he shot the interview for us. One of the questions we had asked Tony was if he would ever want to get back in show business. He had been a child actor in the late 1980s and early 1990s. Besides “IT” he had also been in “Who ‘s Harry Crumb?” with John Candy and had also done some episodes of “McGyver.” (NOTE: T.V. fans may also remember Dakota for his eight episode arc as Clavo on the very popular “21 Jump Street”), He had been out of the spotlight for some time and had stopped acting around 1993. So when he was asked if he wanted to get back into acting he said “yes” but wasn’t sure how to do it. He had had a rough upbringing and some personal problems which had kept him away from acting. But when he expressed an interest a light bulb went off. I said to Ryan, “what if we wrote a short film for Tony? It could be a win/win.” We would write a short film that would allow him to reprise his role as Georgie, which would put some money in his pocket. And we would give him a positive and creative outlet that could hopefully open some doors for him. And that’s how “Georgie” started.
MS: I know from doing the “Jaws 2” book that trying to find actors that haven’t acted in 30 years is not very easy. Did you have the same problems with some of the lesser known members of the cast?
JC: Oh yes. Even though Tony is billed a Tony Dakota, Dakota was not his birth name. Since he stopped acting he has been living his life under his real last name. He was almost like a ghost who had vanished from the public eye. Also, he hadn’t acted in almost a quarter of a century. It made it challenging for sure.
MS: Thank God for the internet!!
JC: (laughs): I know, right?
MS: Ironically, last week on our Podcast we kind of previewed “Georgie” and talked some about the “IT” documentary and my co-host informed me that Stephen King will allow student filmmakers to license any of his works that have not been sold to Hollywood for $1.00 for a student film. Did you contact him about “Georgie” and, if so, has he seen it?
JC: I think it’s cool that he does that, especially for somebody who has had his level of success. We did not approach him about “Georgie” ahead of time. Obviously we’re dealing with intellectual property that belongs to him and Warner Brothers. But on the same side of that, we are not monetizing this. It’s a short film, which really don’t have much of an afterlife in terms of monetization. We’re giving Georgie a fresh story and kind of a new spin on the character. We will definitely be sending it to him and hoping he watches it.
MS: Can you talk a little about the ‘IT” documentary?
JS: I had done a documentary with Justin White about the film “Pet Sematary” that took us about four and a half years to complete. That got us a little bit of attention from other filmmakers who were doing similar documentary films…retrospectives about other films. I’ve been a die-hard “IT” fan, both the book and the mini-series, forever. Justin was not interested in doing another documentary. Given the scope of the mini-series I knew it wasn’t something I could do alone. So I started writing articles as I was interviewing the cast and crew. A producer in the U.K. named Gary Smart, who runs Dead Mouse Productions, saw the articles and had the idea about doing the documentary about “IT.” He reached out to me and asked if I wanted to come on-board and co-write it or produce it with him. That was 2017. We launched a successful Indiegogo campaign, raised the money and spent three weeks in Los Angeles shooting cast and crew interviews. Now we’re in the final stages of post-production. We dropped an extended trailer back in February of this year and it’s done very well. It received almost 500,000 views on YouTube in the first week. It was also very serendipitous. We had announced a street date before the theatrical version of “IT” was released. People had been talking about remaking “Pet Sematary” and “IT” for years but it wasn’t until the past few years that those projects became reality. We got very lucky in terms of the timing. The mini-series was beloved by its fans but the new movie really introduced the story to new generations. It revitalized the franchise, which worked in our favor. I think in total we’ve interviewed about forty members of the cast and crew. It’s going to be a pretty robust documentary that I think people are going to be excited about. The plan is to release it before the end of 2019.
MS: Do you have any projects planned after the documentary is completed?
JC: I’m working with Gary Smart again on a bio-pic about Robert Englund. That was Gary’s idea. He approached me and said he wanted to do a film about Robert’s life and career. He’s such a legendary character actor. Not just for the “Nightmare on Elm Street” films but all of the other projects that he’s been a part of. Gary asked if I wanted to come on board as a producer and I said, “sure.” We launched an Indiegogo campaign last weekend to help raise funds to make it happen. The plan is to go out to L.A. later this summer to get the interviews and then get working on that one. I’m not writing that one, which is nice because it’s less work for me but I’ll be doing a lot of archive research for Gary and helping produce the interviews. I’m also working with “Georgie” director Ryan Grulich again. We wrote a new short film based on my story, dealing with something I went through as a kid. We have a finished script for that. It’s my attempt at an “Are You Afraid of the Dark” episode or something from “Goosebumps.” I’ve been interested for a long time in horror movies for kids. In my opinion I think it’s a sub-genre that we are seeing less and less of. I feel that the 80s and the 90s were a ripe period for content like that. I want to make a short film that is spooky and scary and has an original monster in it but one that is geared very much towards a teenage audience. We’re looking right now for talent to attach to the project and then we’ll raise some funds and hopefully start shooting it next year.
On a personal note, John and I both had an amazing friend named Lou Pisano. Lou co-wrote the “Jaws 2” book with me and was really looking forward to the release of “Georgie.” John told me, “It’s kind of bittersweet. Lou was so excited about this project. I think he would have loved it. The only disappointing thing is that he isn’t here with us to see it.”
To view the extended trailer for “Pennywise: The Story of ‘IT’” click HERE.
To contribute to the Indiegogo campaign for “ICON: The Robert Englund Story” click HERE.
In April 1986 the most catastrophic man-made incident the planet had ever seen occurred when reactor 4 of the Chernobyl nuclear plant exploded during what should have been a safety test. The effects of the accident still wreak havoc over the landscape and containing the fallout has become an industry unto itself. It’s a job which will require centuries of human support. Tonight on HBO, Craig Mazin’s five-part miniseries, CHERNOBYL, dives deep into the the accident as it happened and the human cost and bravery it required to ensure that this tragedy did not engulf still millions more.
This past week at the Tribeca Film Festival, Mazin and his talented cast debuted the first two episodes of the series on the accident’s 33rd anniversary. The premiere episode was nothing short of a nightmare as the series delves into, in brutal detail, the accident and the shocking mishandling of both the initial fire and the surrounding population in those crucial first hours and days of fallout. It was a tense first hour and a brilliant setup into the second which saw the introduction of the scientists and politicians who then had to set about handling what was to come. The second episode in particular sees a stellar performance from Stellan Skarsgard as he plays a man coming to grips with his own mortality and entreating fellow countrymen to show selflessness so that millions can be saved. I spoke with Skarsgard, who also offered brief comments on his upcoming work in DUNE, as well as co-star Emily Watson on the red carpet about their own knowledge of the accident as it happened and the timely message this series has to offer in regards to listening to scientists.
Emily Watson plays Ulana Khomyuk, a character created for the show as an entry-point into the role of a collection of European scientists in the fallout of Chernobyl.
Lauren Damon: Your character isn’t one specific person, but represents a collection of people involved with the accident, did you speak to people who experienced this?
Emily Watson: No. It’s sort of in tribute to many of the scientists who worked on the discovery of what happened. So I kind of had a bit of a blank sheet really to make up what I wanted to do. But Craig had written the character as coming from Belarus, which is a place that suffered terribly in the second world war. And she would have been a young child at that time, so that gave me a sense of just finding someone who was very very tough. It made her the perfect person really to go after the truth and find out what happened.
Do you remember when you were first aware of the Chernobyl accident in your life?
Watson: Yeah, I was a student at university and I remember there were students at my college who were on a year out, away in Kiev, and they all had to come home pretty quickly, it was very scary.
Did you have any misconceptions about the event going into this project that the script changed for you?
Watson: Oh my god, when I started reading the script, I had no idea that sort of within a few days–sort of 48 hours after the first explosion–there could have been one that was ten times worse. That would have taken out half of Europe.
In theory you could have been in range of those effects?
Watson: Definitely in range of radiation fallout…But yeah, it could have been much much worse. It was due to the heroism of the people on the ground who contained it and prevented it from being much worse.
What’s the biggest take away you’d like viewers to get from this series?
Watson: I think it’s a parable for our times. I think you ignore the truth and scientists at your peril.
Stellan Skarsgard plays Boris Shcherbina, the Deputy Head of the Soviet Government at the time.
What did you find surprising from hearing about Chernobyl originally in 1986 and then from working on this project?
Stellan Skarsgard: What I knew from ’86 was what you got from news media, which gave you a sort of superficial idea of what actually happened. What we learned through working with this material is I know now what technically went wrong, how the reactor works and what the mistakes they made were.
You also learn about it [was] more grave, the sort of the political system–the impact that had on the accident. When you have a system that is supposed to be perfect, you cannot allow any dissent in terms of somebody criticizing anything you do or any flaws cannot be accepted. And that then means that the truth was suppressed. It was all over the Soviet Union at the time. I mean truth is suppressed also for other reasons in the west now. I mean when you talk about Fukushima that was money that suppressed truth and created disaster there. In Boeing, you sent planes that are not fit for flying because you want to make money. So another way of suppressing truth and science. I think it’s important, an important film because it–not only because it talks about what we’re doing to this planet, the environment, which is really scary, but it also talks about how important it is that we listen to people who know what they’re talking about.
Facts are facts. They are not just individual ideas. Some facts you have to deal with and you have to accept and we have to listen to scientists. I mean 98% of the scientists in the world say that we are heading for a catastrophe in terms of global warming. We cannot ignore that. Do not ignore that.
Tell us about your character
Skarsgard: My character I’m playing Boris Shcherbina who was a minister in the government and who got the responsibility for cleaning up the mess. And he’s a man who spent his entire life working within the system and defending the system and he ends up realizing that this accident is a result of the system. And he has to question the system and he also has to decide whether he should keep on defending the system that is flawed. Or if he should start defending the truth.
Skarsgard’s next film role is in the highly anticipated adaptation of Frank Herbert’s sci-fi classic, DUNE, where he’ll play the villainous Baron Harkonnen
Lauren Damon: Have you begun work on DUNE as Baron Harkonnen?
Skarsgard:I haven’t started shooting yet, we’re still doing prosthetics work
That’s what I was wondering! Because the Baron is such a grotesque character but when you were cast I remember looking at a shot of you as Bootstrap Bill [Skarsgard’s heavily barnacled Pirates of the Caribbean role] and thinking ‘This man can handle anything they put on him!’
Skarsgard: [Laughs] That’s very nice of you! Thank you. I will probably spend probably six to eight hours a day in makeup and it will look fantastic.
What are you most excited about in doing that project?
Skarsgard: It’s a great story. It’s a fantastic world and Denis Villeneuve is a director that I’ve always wanted to work with. So I’m really happy, he’s a wonderful man and a great director. So I think–except for the eight hours in makeup–I think I’ll have a fun time.
With my 15th
birthday approaching, my father asked me what I wanted to do. Having been intrigued by the television
commercials for a new film, “Dog Day Afternoon,” I told him I wanted to see
that movie. On Sunday, September 21,
1975, my father dropped me off at the University Square Mall Cinema in Tampa to
see the movie. Sadly, I didn’t know it
was rated “R” and was told I couldn’t buy a ticket. As I began to dejectedly walk away, the girl
in the ticket booth called out to me “have you seen JAWS yet?” I hadn’t.
124 minutes later, my life was changed.
I include this because of what I did after the film. Like a normal kid, I wrote fan letters to the three stars. I soon received a letter from Richard Dreyfuss’ cousin, Arlene, who informed me that she ran Richard’s fan club. If I wanted to join, it would cost me $5.00 (a week’s allowance at that time). I immediately sent her the money, along with a note saying “if you ever need any help.” Within a few months, I was helping her with the club – basically I handled the fans east of the Mississippi river. It was a great time for a teenager. I’d scour the newspapers for articles about Richard and each month would send out a packet to the fans, which usually consisted of Xeroxed newspaper clippings and the occasional photograph. Not sure how many members were in the club, but when it disbanded in November 1978, shortly after the release of “The Big Fix,” I was dealing with almost 1,000 fans.
I’ve been very fortunate to
have met Mr. Dreyfuss twice in my life.
Once, in Baltimore, when he was on the set of the film “Tin Men,” and in
July 2017 when we were both guests at a Hollywood Celebrity Show. At that show I was able to stand near his
table and listen to him tell the most amazing stories. I mention this because Mr. Dreyfuss is
currently traveling around the country, offering fans the opportunity to take
in AN EVENING WITH RICHARD DREYFUSS. He
will be in Kansas City this week (April 4th) and I have been honored
to have been chosen the moderator of the event.
Call it practice, but I had the opportunity to speak with Mr. Dreyfuss
and ask him some questions, a few of which may be included when we’re together
Mike Smith: What led you to pursue a career in acting?
Richard Dreyfuss: Wow! I
don’t know….what leads someone to follow what they love? I don’t think I really had a choice.
MS: Was there a film or performer that inspired
you? I acted a lot through my 20s but
couldn’t make a living at it, but the inspiration came from wanting to do what
YOU did. I know you’re a fan of actors
like Charles Laughton, Irene Dunne and Spencer Tracy, among others. Were they the catalyst?
RD: They were, of course. I have no memory of NOT wanting to be an
actor. I think the first time I got on
record was when I was nine years old. We
had just moved to California from New York, and I said to my mother, “I want to
be an actor.” And she said, “Don’t just
talk about it.” So I went down to the
local Jewish Community Center and auditioned for a play. And I really never stopped. I realistically never had more than ten days
when I wasn’t acting in a play, or a scene or a class or a job until I was
MS: You made your film debut in two very
different films in 1967 – “The Graduate” and “The Valley of the Dolls.” What do you think is the biggest difference
between filmmaking then and today?
RD: There are so many. The general level of quality for an actor has plummeted. When I was younger I never hesitated telling young actors to “go for it”…to pursue it. And now I don’t say that, because the real rewards are so rare…so few and far between The quality of scrips, from an acting viewpoint, suck. The sequel syndrome that we’re in, which we can’t seem to get out of, has really lessoned the level of quality of writing. Of story. And it seems more arbitrarily decided upon as an element of chicanery and thievery, even for a business that’s famous for it, it goes on. Film acting is not something I really recommend. If you want to be an actor in America you can live a very great and satisfied life if you never think about being a star. You can have a great life in Kansas City. Or St. Louis. Or a million other places. But if you want to go for that kind of brass ring, which I would question – if you do want to go for it, go to therapy first – you’ve got to go to L.A. or New York. And those towns are pretty sick.
MS: You famously almost turned down your role in “Jaws.” Are there any roles you turned down and then
later regretted your decision?
RD: Oh yeah.
I was once watching a movie and I kept thinking, gosh, this seems so
familiar.” I thought “oh, shit,” and
then I remembered why. And I didn’t
ALMOST turn down “Jaws,” I did turn it down.
I turned it down twice. And then
I changed my mind and begged for the part.
(NOTE: The story goes like
this. After turning down “Jaws” – twice –
Mr. Dreyfuss saw his upcoming film “The Apprenticeship of Duddy Kravitz” and
thought his performance was so terrible that he’d never work again. He then called director Steven Spielberg and
accepted the role. Of course, when “The
Apprenticeship of Duddy Kravitz” was released, Mr. Dreyfuss received rave
reviews for his performance, even being named Runner Up as the Best Actor of
1974 (tied with Gene Hackman for “The Conversation”) by the New York Film
I will never tell you the ones I turned down that became hits. Thank God there aren’t that many of them!
MS: What fuels the passion for your work?
RD: If you asked me a question about my process –
how do you do this…what’s your method? – I would completely be unable to answer
that. And I’ve always known I’d never be
able to answer those kind of questions.
But I know that, in a business where if you’re a successful actor you
want to direct, I’ve never wanted to direct.
So I didn’t. I wanted to
act! I had made a decision when I was
very young, which probably wasn’t the most strategist thing to do in the world,
but it was the way I chose to live.
Which is to day, if I do a drama, then I’ll do a comedy. Then I’ll do a drama. Then I’ll do a comedy. That’s basically what I tried to do. And the mistake in that is that I don’t think
I ever did something enough times to establish a kind of signature recognition
of what I do. I did both. I did lots.
And I thought that was the best way for me to pursue my life. And that’s what I did for sixty years.
MS: Where do you keep your Oscar? (NOTE: Mr. Dreyfuss received the Academy Award for Best Actor for his role as Elliot Garfield in “The Goodbye Girl.” At age 30, he was, at the time, the youngest actor to win that award).
RD: For the most part, in the refrigerator. (laughs). I always want people to know about it, but I don’t want to brag. But I figure that sooner or later they’re going to open the refrigerator.
And I’m also very aware that
the list of actors who were ever nominated or won an Oscar is as great a list
as the ones who never were. It’s a
wonderful evening, but it’s rarely more than that. It’s a great evening. You’re aware of the film work because the
audience for film is in the millions. But
I make no distinction between film and theater.
And, of course, the audience for the theater work I’ve done will be
1/100th of that of the film audience. But to me, it was always – if not equal than
more important –so that is something that I travel with. I have a little bucket list of things that I
check off every once in a while. “OK,
you did a Broadway show…check.” From the
time I was nine, into my teenage years, I was always in acting classes. At acting schools. I was always with actors. And they would always talk about a “National”
theater. And I would say, “There’s never
going to be a National theater in this country.
However, there could be fifty “State” theaters. And, as someone who lives in Kansas City, I
would say to you that, something that people should not ignore, is the fact
that we are from so many different places…so many different cultures…that we
come together as Americans only when we’re HERE, and we learn to be Americans. And each of us, whether you live in Seattle
or Mississippi, you have different strains of a culture. And I have always wanted each state to have
its own theater. And, in a state like
California, which is huge, you could have two, anchored North and South. And, instead of trying to get everyone to
agree on A National Theater, we could have one in every state. It’s silly to think we can’t afford a State
theater, to be able to see how Missourians and Floridians and North Dakotans
approach theater. I think that would be
a great endeavor and a great thing to do.
Only because we teach so few things that we share. We’ve actually given
up on the notion of teaching things that are of shared values. And that’s causing this terrible breach in
the country. And we should try to find
things that we can share. And one of
them could just be the artistic endeavor of a State theater.
MS: That makes a lot of sense.
RD: And they’ll never do it (laughs).
MS: Quick follow-up to the Oscar question, one of
your fellow nominees that year was Richard Burton. When Sylvester Stallone read the name of the
winner, and you heard “Richard” did you think Burton had one?
RD: My competition was Burton, Marcello Mastroianni, John Travolta and Woody Allen. There was no easy answer. But I just knew I was going to win it. (laughs) That’s all I cared about.
MS: Me too, that night. I always wonder how people sometimes
vote. You were also nominated for “Mr.
Holland’s Opus,” but I thought you were most deserving four years earlier for “Once
RD: It’s probably the easiest vote to define. There are two ways people vote in the Academy. One is, you vote for your friend. Or, you vote for who you think is best. In that order. It’s simple. You may not be able to predict it, but that’s the way people vote. And it’s the reason why people do vote. It’s not a mystery. The only thing wrong with the Oscars now is that there are too many other awards, and it’s cheapened the whole thing.
For more information on attending AN EVENING WITH RICHARD DREYFUSS, either in Kansas City or at a later date, click HERE.
NOTE: Mr. Dreyfuss wanted me to stress that, even though his appearance will be followed by a screening of “Jaws,” he will be discussing his entire career. So whether you’re a fan of “American Graffiti,” “Close Encounters of the Third Kind,” “Down and Out in Beverly Hills” or want to know about his fantastic cameo in “Piranha,” come on out and listen to some amazing stories.
As many of you readers know, both myself and Mike Gencarelli (your favorite “Mikes”) appear in the brilliant “Jaws” documentary entitled “The Shark is Still Working.” The film tells the story of the making and the impact of the 1975 blockbuster. But there are stories still to be told. Ian Shaw, whose father Robert portrayed Quint in “Jaws,” has written a play, based on stories his father told him about the production, entitled “The Shark is Broken.”
Like his parents (his mother was the brilliant actress Mary Ure), Shaw is an accomplished actor with many film and television credits to his name. In what I call a stroke of irony, Ian portrayed Colonel Paul Tibbets, the pilot who dropped the Atomic Bomb on Hiroshima, Japan in the television film “Hiroshima.” “Jaws” fans will remember that Quint was a sailor on board the U.S.S. Indianapolis, the ship that carried the bomb to the island of Tinian, where Tibbets began his mission.
Mr. Shaw took some time out recently to speak with Media Mikes about his latest project.
Mike Smith: What can you tell us about “The Shark is Broken?”
Ian Shaw: It’s 1974. Martha’s Vineyard. Three iconic actors are confined together during the tortuous filming of what will one day be regarded as the greatest blockbuster movie of all time Forced into close proximity by studio politics, endless delays and foul weather, the three must deal with violent outbursts, squabbles, rampant egos, petty rivalries and the fact that the mechanical shark keeps breaking down. This causes their insecurities to run riot. Is this film going to ruin their careers? Who is going to want to see a film about sharks with hardly any shark in it? And who is the star of the movie anyway?
MS: What inspired you to take on this project?
IS: Like so many people, I’ve always loved the film, except of course I have the personal connection of being Robert Shaw’s son. The film is a rare combination of elements combining to maximum effect: the performances, the music, the design, the writing, the direction, the cinematography and editing all combine to create a fantastic amount of tension and emotional reaction from the audience. That’s really hard to do. When I was a little older, I read Carl Gottlieb’s spellbinding account of how they managed to achieve it, The Jaws Log. What particularly fascinated me were the problems they had with “Bruce”, the nickname for the shark, named after Steven Spielberg’s lawyer. Then there’s the sheer audaciousness of filming at sea, the relationships with the locals, and the tensions between my father and Richard Dreyfuss. Both of whom I admire hugely, I might add.
MS: You started your professional acting career in your mid-20s. Was there any reticence on your part to pursue the profession, being th son of two very distinguished actors?
IS: No. I had a wonderful drama teacher at my school, Michael Walsh. From the age of eight, I was performing in school plays, and I fell in love with the process. And I think if your parents are actors, you think it’s a perfectly normal thing to do. Later on I discovered how hard it was for other actors from different backgrounds to make the leap. I just made a promise to myself one day that I would pursue the path of an actor. I can remember the exact moment, as if it was yesterday. I was standing outside the school gym, where we used to put on plays. Even though I was very confident, probably with the arrogance of youth, I told myself it might take a long time to become successful! So there was never any question about what I would do. You can’t break a promise to an eight year old!
Your older brother, Colin, portrayed your father’s character as a young boy in “The Deep.” You bear a striking resemblance to your father. Would you consider portraying him in a project?
IS: Well, here we go – I’m playing him in The Shark Is Broken. Wish me luck…
MS: What else are you working on?
IS: I’m also performing with the actors Duncan Henderson and David Mounfield in our adaptation of three Damon Runyon stories – the show is called Broadway Stories, and it will alternate nightly with The Shark Is Broken at the 2019 Edinburgh Festival, Venue – Assembly Festival, George Square. Damon Runyon is best known for being the source material for the musical “Guys and Dolls.” His short stories, which centered around the world of New York’s Broadway, took in what might be seen as the seedier side of life; a place of gamblers, molls, hustlers, dames and gangsters. With an utterly distinctive vernacular he described this hard, and often illicit world, but without the usual judgement or dismissal. The first story is about a woman who murders her husbands for the life insurance. The second is a study of the relationship between a half blind cat and a mobster holed out in a derelict hideout. The last is a comedy about an eating contest.
NOTE: Readers interested in helping get THE SHARK IS BROKEN to the sage can click HERE
Information about the upcoming performances of THE SHARK IS BROKEN and BROADWAY STORIES will soon be available HEREh
I recently came across an article detailing a new way to present photographs in such a way that the still image came to life. As I read the piece I was intrigued by the name of one of the co-founders of Team Plotaverse, Sascha Scheider. Imagine my surprise, and genuine joy, to discover she is granddaughter of the late actor Roy Scheider. Impressed with what I read I contacted Ms. Scheider, who at age 26, was recently named to the 2019 Forbes magazine Consumer Technology 30 under 30 list.
I contacted Ms. Scheider and she graciously agreed to this interview. After a few minutes of both of us sharing stories about her grandfather, we got down to business.
Mike Smith: What exactly IS the Plotaverse?
Sascha Scheider: The Plotaverse is a digital sharing platform. I started it with my partner, Christopher Plota, who is a professional fashion, advertising and celebrity photographer. He’s been in the industry for 30 years and has always been on the cutting edge of technology. I have a background in painting, business and the arts. We got together and started talking about what we could do because in the industry a lot of photography is just going straight to video. And when you become a photographer and are passionate about that, you don’t want to just shoot video. You want to shoot photos. They are really two completely different things. So when we started talking I told him that I was seeing the same thing in the fine-art world. Artists are trying to stay relevant but aren’t sure how because everyone is moving towards moving images. How do we help them? He has been animating still images since the early 2000’s. He told me about his process and we started talking about it. When we met we became inseparable. He’s my partner, he’s my boyfriend. (laughs) We’re partners in every way. So we started developing and creating things. We started off with Plotagraph, which is our image animation technology. We started out on desktop and now it’s on mobile – featured in the app store, it’s number one in photo/video. We had no idea it was going to take off this big.
While we were creating Plotagraph we also discussed creating a community. At the time we were living in Florence, Italy, where I studied art for almost four years. I had an apartment there so we were in Florence taking about creating a community. So last year, on Valentine’s Day, we launched Plotaverse, which is our mutual sharing platform where you can post high quality digital art. Plotaverse is the whole community for the entire motion-art movement. It’s not just Plotagraph. It’s Cinemagraph, time-lapses, motion graphics…really anything you can think of. We’ve added Plotaeffects and Plotamorph. This is a hub which is one big creative tool.
MS: What has been the response from people that have used the site?
SS: It’s been amazing. They see what can be done with just one photo and they realize they can do the same thing with all of their photos. Historic photos. New photos. You have your photo and you can “move” any part of the image you want to. Say you had a photo from Jaws and you want the water to move while the shark stays still. You can do that! And it’s almost like being on a loop…it never ends. And it’s very easy today to take photos. Cameras are everywhere, even in phones. And the process is eye-catching. We are seeing that, when used on social media, topics are getting 10 times more engagement using an app from the Plotaverse. Paris Hilton started using it last July on Instagram and since then she’s gained 5.7 million followers. And we see it working well with advertising. They say a picture tells a thousand words. It already has a story. It has a dialogue. It’s just not moving. When you add some of our technology you’re still telling the same story but you’re getting your message across a lot easier.
People today have an attention span of about six seconds. The days of the 30-second spot are going away. But how can you make a whole video in six seconds? How are you going to get that message across? That’s were the Plotaverse really comes in and saves the day. You already have the story within the image but now it’s moving and looping those six seconds.
MS: Last year you held a very successful contest in conjunction with Nelson Mandela’s 100th birthday. Are you planning anything for this year?
SS: Right now we have nothing planned but I’ll definitely keep you posted.
MS: What’s next for the Plotaverse? Do you have more surprises in the works?
SS: Absolutely. We recently launched PlotaTV, which will be a series of interviews covering the world of motion arts. They will be educating and helping the community understand what motion art is and how they can use it to help monetize their work. The whole idea is giving these artist a way to bring their art to the next level. We also have plans for more apps down the line.
If you were walking down the street and passed by actor Robert Kovacs nobody would question if you did a double-take or two. Ruggedly handsome, the Hungarian-born actor and stuntman bears more than a strong resemblance to one of the greatest icons of action cinema, Charles Bronson.
Capitalizing on that resemblance, Mr. Kovacs is currently starring in the action-thriller DEATH KISS, currently available ON DEMAND from Uncork’d Entertainment.
Nicknamed “Bronzi” by his friends, Mr. Kovacs took time out from promoting his new film to chat with Media Mikes.
When did you come down with the acting bug, Robert?
I have always loved film. Since seeing the Westerns on the movie theatre screens as a boy. This caused me to work as a stunt man and live performer at Wild West shows all across Europe including Almeria, Spain where I was the Sheriff for many years. Performing in front of tourists at the same locations the epic films of Sergio Leone were filmed.
Did you go to acting school?
Yes, I attended acting school at the Maria Mezey Theatre School in Budapest.
What was your first project?
Aside from Live Performances I have also been featured in commercial print ads for many European Brands and featured in a series of commercials for one of Europe’s largest supermarket chains. They featured me as a Bronson-type character to promote sales in their Grilling Season promos. Much fun and very successful. But my first film was years ago, a Western called American Night.
Who was the first person to tell you looked like Charles Bronson?
My good friend Peter. We were very young men and worked together in horse breeding. He would always say “ You look like him.” “ You look like Bronson. “ So he begins calling me Bronzi. It kind of stuck.
And is this the first film where you’ve emulated him?
The first film where I portrayed a character similar to Bronson was From Hell To The Wild West also by Director Rene Perez. (NOTE: Mr. Perez is also the director of Death Kiss). The character was a stranger with no name hot on the trail of a serial killer. The stranger was a man of few words who let his pistols do the talking.
Is there anything you had to do to ‘perfect’ your look for the film?
I grew my hair in a more familiar style and trimmed my mustache just right. Rene had many suggestions and I listened closely and followed them. Much of what you see is naturally how I move but he greatly showed me how he perceived the character.
How different is Death Kiss to Death Wish?
I think they are very different films. Similar in tone with a tale of vengeance or retribution but a very different approach. The stranger is more mysterious in nature and less transparent. So his actions may be perceived as darker in intent. Also Death Kiss is a much smaller film so the emphasis on action and gun-play are more at the forefront.
Did you have to do any weapons training?
I train regularly with replica firearms. I do stunt work as well with most of it being firearms related stunts. I also perform often as a costumed reenactor of famous battles in Europe. This also requires the use of period replica powder firing rifles and cannons.
Do you do your own stunts?
I do. I work hard to keep my body in shape. I have been a stunt man in live shows. Everything from saloon brawls to falling off horses. Maybe even a building or two. I have trained as an acrobat and continue to lift weights daily as well as regular conditioning, Judo training and a few nights a week I do Thai Boxing.
How about a sequel?
If the fans would be so kind as wanting a sequel and Rene has something in mind I think the Stranger still has much work to do.