Interview with Scott Rosenbaum

Scott Rosenbaum is the writing and director of the new film “The Perfect Age of Rock ‘n’ Roll”. The music road trip film and stars Kevin Zegers, Jason Ritter and legend Peter Fonda.  Media Mikes had a chance to chat with Scott about working on his first film and also what he has planned next.

Mike Gencarelli: Tell us about when was “The Perfect Age of Rock ‘n’ Roll” was shot and about its road to release?
Scott Rosenbaum: We shot in the summer in 2008 and finished post production in spring of 2009. So it has been a little over two years ago that we finished. It is interesting because people see that and it is not necessarily count as a strike against the film but they become suspect. I find that strange. It is my first feature film and independent film work is so challenging right now because everything has dried up. It was challenging in the first place to get the film made but then once we finished it, it was right around the beginning of the economic crisis and it made everything more difficult to get it released, especially for a first time filmmaker. We persevered and did what we had to do to finally get it out.

MG: What did you like most about working on “The Perfect Age of Rock ‘n’ Roll”?
SR: It was really a labor of love for me. I grew up in Long Island and playing in bands since I was 12 years old. So I have a love of music and the history of music. I have always been involved and around filmmaking but I didn’t go to school for that. I went to school for journalism. I finally committed to complete a screenplay and to just go for it. The whole process is gratifying just being able to shoot the film and get that kind of a cast to come out and work with me on my first feature. Also to be able to put all that music in the film that I grew up loving and wanted to be apart of this film to tell the story. The whole process was really fantastic for me.

MG: Tell us about the working with Kevin Zegers and Jason Ritter and legend Peter Fonda?
SR: Each of them brought some much to their character and to the creative process. The directing background that I have is from New York based theater. One of the consistent themes that I focused on was experimentation. All of these actors were so giving and into their roles. They each elevated the writing to a better place. Fonda, of course, is a Hollywood legend and it is clear that “Easy Rider” is a big influence on the film and probably every road trip film. He was very generous with the “Easy Rider” legacy” and letting us toy with it and utilize it within our film. As far as Kevin and Jason, I cannot say enough about those guys. It is hard enough to act as a musician, that was definitely a challenge from casting. They pulled it off beautifully. Kevin sang all of his own vocals and Jason was a musician already. Most of the songs were done by Steve Conte who is the lead guitarist for the New York Dolls. Jason was able to follow the notes, strumming patterns and makes it look great. Those guys definitely nailed it.

MG: How do you feel that this film relates or differs from other music films?
SR: There has been a lot of criticism and it is a little frustrating for me. Some critics are saying it is a knock off of “Almost Famous” and it is like they didn’t even watch the film. I do not think that is the case at all. Anytime you make a rock and roll film, there is a set path you need to walk. What I think is different about this film is that it is focused on the evolution of them music and the relationships within the music business. I think we struck out on our own and laid some new trials that I do not think have ever been touched on. I wanted to make a really gritty real feeling film for what it feels like to be on the road and in a band. I hope that comes through.

MG: Who are some of your favorite artists and where they influential in the movie?
SR: That is another one of the things I wanted to portray in this film that I do not feel is touched on at all in a narrative feature is the evolution of rock and roll from the blues. There has always been talk about how the rockers stole the blues from the blues men. It is interesting but no one has really picked up on it yet but I tried to make this film very layered with a deep story. Things like putting the blues music behind the flashback Spyder scenes.  All of those blues songs were chosen because they were either done by bands like Led Zepplin, The Allman Brothers and Eric Clapton. All songs that were made famous by rock band that are household names but were from blues artists, who were more or less obscure. I tried to layer the narrative between Eric and Spyder in that way by portraying all the great blues music I grew up loving thinking it was initially The Rolling Stones or Led Zepplin or The Doors when it was actually Muddy Waters or Willie Nixon and other great blues artists. That is definitely one way that this film sets itself apart. I came to the blues the way that many from the white audience came and that is through rock and roll. Blues are really one of the great art forms given to us along with rock and jazz.

MG: Was the concert footage more difficult for you to shoot then the rest of the film?
SR: Yes for sure, it was something I was very conscious of. There was some definite reference that I wanted to go over with my cinematographer before we shot. One thing to note, I was very fortunate to work with Tom Richmond and I believe it was his 40th feature film. He also did everything from Pearl Jam’s “Jeremy” video to many of the 90’s Foo Fighters videos. We went through a lot things I wanted to evoke in those music scenes. The small roadhouse bar has one particular feel to it. The big concert scene was very much influenced from 90’s rock band like Guns ‘n Roses, Nine Inch Nails and Marilyn Manson. I think we did a very good job capturing the essence of what those moments would have looked and felt like.

MG: What do you have planned next?
SR: Good question, well in that blues bar scene, all of those musicians are veteran blues men from Delta and Chicago. They are a dying breed and I look at them as a natural treasure. They are just the most beautiful guys you will ever meet. We set out while we were in post to make a documentary about these blues men and the rock stars I just mentioned. We had a concert in LA and had band members from Jefferson Starship, The Doors and Dave Matthews Band. Our plan is once we get the balance of the financing is to put on another concert and bring out the real heavy hitters of blues rock to highlight the fact that they blues-men represent the legacy of American root music which in turn become rock and roll. My goal is to make a modern day version of “The Last Waltz”. Then I am also writing my follow up script which will be my second feature film as well.


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Interview with Scott Glosserman

Scott Glosserman is the man who created the horror film “Behind the Mask: The Rise of Leslie Vernon” and its iconic character Leslie Vernon. Scott is taking a unique approach in order to get “Before the Mask: The Return of Leslie Vernon” made, which is being a sequel, prequel and remake all rolled up in one or a “Spree-make” as he calls it. Instead of going through the studio, he is reaching out to the fans via Facebook to help raise money. Media Mikes had a chance to chat with Scott about this process and his plans for the new film.

Mike Gencarelli:  Tell us about your plans for “Before the Mask: The Return of Leslie Vernon?”
Scott Glosserman:  We’re calling it a “Spree-make” because it’s basically a sequel, prequel and remake all rolled up in one.  That’s why the title is “Before the Mask: The Return of Leslie Vernon.”  It’s trying to deconstruct the architecture of the horror prequels, sequels and remakes.  We’ve seen so much derivative horror come out in the past ten, twenty years and now we’re seeing almost a renaissance of remakes…whether we’re re-visioning “Halloween” or “Friday the 13th.”  “Texas Chainsaw”…”Nightmare on Elm Street.”  All of these guys are coming back.  And one of the jokes in the movie is that Leslie Vernon came along and did something so avant-garde…so interesting…that he really became kind of a muse for all of these guys that were just phoning it in.  He really reenergized a lot of these guys.  Since “Behind the Mask”  and what he had done in Glen Echo, a lot of these guys…Mike, Freddy, J…they’ve all said, “wow…I’m not done.  I’m going to go reapply myself.”  And they went out and re-imagined themselves.  And you see these franchises get a rebirth.  There’s a bit of a story line in the movie that talks about that.

MG:  Have you ever considered using sites like Kickstarter to help fund the film?
SG:  We haven’t used it for a couple of reasons.  First, Kickstarter takes 8%.  We’re not trying to raise thirteen thousand dollars we’re trying to raise a million dollars.  We’re doing different investment partners.  We’re doing domestic television and video on demand pre-sales.  But we want to raise a significant portion through Craft Funding, whether it’s a quarter million dollars up to half a million.  And again, the “Shocker” documentary that just raised a quarter million tells me that niche genre audiences can harness and create a groundswell and get up to the six figure numbers.  But, the eight percent that Kickstarter takes when you get up that high becomes a significant amount of money.  So we wanted to cut down on the commission.  Even at 4%, that’s $20,000.00 on a half million dollar movie.  That’s the difference between a Bruce Campbell cameo (though he’s probably much more expensive) and somebody else.  The point is, if we can do it all ourselves we can keep 100% of the proceeds and put them towards making the movie instead of paying a broker to do what we basically can do ourselves.  Yes, Kickstarter and similar places are doing a great job of creating a community of people who are interested in micro-financing.  But not all of those people might be film fans.  And if they’re film fans, they might especially not be horror fans.  We thought we had a better shot by going directly to our audience through Facebook because of the key words and because of the social networking aspect.  They’re all on Facebook and if somehow we could aggregate them we’d get to them quicker.  That may or may not be, in retrospect, correct.  It seems like Kickstarter does very, very well very, very quickly for people.  Right now we’ve only found three thousand people who like “Behind  the Mask” in three weeks.  Who knows how long it’s going to take to build to twenty or twenty-five thousand people.  Or if we ever will.  So this is all speculative.  And lastly, I think what we’re doing on Facebook, as opposed to Kickstarter, is press worthy.  So when we do come out with a press release about what we’re doing we’ll try to hit the Wall Street Journal or The New York Times or The Hollywood Reporter and try to do this in a slightly bigger way.  I think if we had done it on Kickstarter it wouldn’t have been as newsworthy while the fact that we are the first to do it on Facebook will really help us.

MG:  How did you create the character Leslie Vernon?  And did you think the character would be so popular?
SG:   There are two different answers.  First of all, the original script was written by David Stieve, a kind of “down on his luck” writer who is really, really talented but had never gotten his break.  He was watching a bunch of horror movies and he thought, “what if there was a slasher out there who hadn’t yet gotten his break?”  He’s just like everyone else.  He’s trying to go about his business just like I’m trying to go about mine and write a screenplay.  Dave thought he was just a normal guy, one he could be hanging out and playing poker with.  So the whole seed of the project came from…I wouldn’t say desperation but earnestness.  And that came out in the character.  By the time I got a hang of the script and started working with Dave, we really went from something that was a clever…something that was more of a lark…stream of consciousness idea to WOW!  There’s really something here.  You really have a framework and you can put a voice to the character.  I can bring in all of the true academic deconstruction architects of the horror genre.  And if we really layer in the true architections and conventions of horror on to what you’ve got here, not only can we create this really cute, clever type of way in to a horror film, we can also do it in a very sophisticated way.  We can say something about the horror genre.  And then to answer your second question, did we think it was going to be a hit…frankly it wasn’t a hit! (laughs)

MG:  I guess what I’m referring to is the popularity of the character today in the horror genre.
SG:  Duly noted.  I was pretty confident in my knowledge and understanding and passion for the horror genre, having written my thesis in a Conventions of Horror Architecture class on “The Shining.”  I studied Kubrick and studied the social and political commentary that informed horror films.  I knew that if I was able to accurately infuse that horror academia into what David had written,  into the voice of a character that David had created, that we would, at a minimum, be respected in the horror community because we were celebrating the horror genre.  We were sort of laughing with the horror genre, not laughing at it.  And I thought that at a minimum people who were as knowledgeable about the horror genre as I was wouldn’t have anything bad to say.  They would understand where we were coming from and be excited about the idea that we were really trying to demonstrate to the public at large how elevated horror, in fact, could be.  Among the tiny, but ardent, sub-genre horror community that is aware of this film…I think they’ve responded mostly positively to it.

MG:  Do you have a complete script for “Before the Mask: The Return of Leslie Vernon?”
SG:  Oh yeah!  We’ve got a great script.  We’re really, really excited about the script.  In fact, we released three pages of the script on Facebook.  We may do that again with other pages.  It’s hard to find pages that don’t give away a lot of what we’re doing in the movie.

MG:  You co-wrote, produced and directed the first film, and will be producing and directing the next one.   Out of all of your responsibilities which do you find most difficult?
SG:  The toughest thing is probably…when you’re producing you have to really break the film down into development, pre-production and financing phase.  One you’re producing on set, and you are both the producer and director, when the head make up guy begins bitching about the water filter not working or the generator getting turned off he’s usually bitching to the producer.  But when the producer is also the director he generally takes those gripes to someone else like the line producer.  Producing during the production was not that difficult even though I had to wear two hats.  I would say producing before the movie begins…what we’re doing right now…is the most difficult.  Once you get to set, once you’re on location, it’s like summer camp.  You’re with a great bunch of people and everyone is doing what they’ve really always wanted to do, which is make a movie.  It’s hard but it’s also creative and collaborative and it’s great.  Same thing with post-production.  You’re beginning to edit and you’re doing the special effects and sound mix and working with the composer.  You’re planning the festival run and you’re doing interviews.  But getting the movie financed is so hard.  Trying to trump up interest.  It’s gratifying to get so many nice comments on Facebook.  People seem to be really supportive.  But it’s also…I wouldn’t say disheartening…tough.  You’re getting three or four people committing to purchase a DVD per day.  At that rate it’s going to be a long time before we can get this thing going.  Or we might get someone to buy the domestic television rights but it’s not what we hope for.  So you keep trying to finance the movie.  Financing is the hardest thing.

MG:  What can fans do to help get this film made?
SG:  In this new century we’re living in, with social networking and crowd sourcing, I think corporations are beginning to say they’re not going to push content on people anymore.  When you go to HBO on line or HULU, you rely on people to curate content and display it for you and say “we suggest this.”  And you only watch what you’re given.  I think what’s going to happen is that the audience is going to be able to aggregate themselves and demand what they want.  And corporations are going to have to listen and provide that.  There’s going to be a paradigm shift as to who is deciding the content.  Maybe Anchor Bay is right…they’re not going to finance this one…not going to just give you a couple million dollars to make a movie.  I need to find out, by speaking to the horror community directly.  I now have the ability, through social networking, to appeal to the horror community directly.  I can ask if there are enough people in the horror community to merit my making another installment of the Leslie Vernon story?   If there are, the trick is how do I get to them and find out if they are even aware?  But if there are hopefully they will say so.  And they’ll say I’ll show you by committing to pre-order merchandise.  And if I can take that information and show it to studios and distributors then it’s as plain as day.  There are no more “gut feelings.”  It’s now “here’s the audience that says they want to see it.”  The horror community can reach out to their friends on Facebook and ask them to visit our page and commit to help me.  That will build a bigger community so we can get a groundswell of support.

Interview with Christopher Laudando & Scott Meaney

Christopher Laudando & Scott Meaney are the creators of the science fiction graphic novel “Constellation Park”.  “Constellation Park” is sci-fi-fantasy-superhero adventure that will forever change the way you look at the stars! Media Mikes had a chance to chat with these guys about their graphic novel and find out what inspires them.

Mike Gencarelli: Tell us how you come up with the idea for “Constellation Park”?
Christopher Laudando: The idea was inspired by anxiety disorders. We wanted to center a story on a character that thought he was suffering from hallucinations but was actually seeing flashbacks of events that happened to him in the past. However, (spoiler alert!) our main character quickly learns that he is from another dimension.
Scott Meaney: That is the hardest question to answer with this Graphic Novel, the book felt like it actually wrote itself. I think it is just our collective love of the way the 1980’s idealized fantasy movies and how they almost weren’t made for kids.

MG: The book was independently produced, what was your biggest challenge?
CL: The biggest challenge was preventing Scott from going completely insane. He co-wrote this story as well as illustrating the entire book. Madness.
SM: For me, it was drawing 84 pages. It is an endurance test. The writing is fun for me. The drawing is all consuming focus. I get grumpy.

MG: Where did you get the inspiration for the characters?
CL: Like most people my age, I was raised on Spielberg and Lucas films. Characters from their movies completely molded my way of thinking. I would be lying if I said there isn’t any Star Wars sprinkled into the characters of Constellation Park. I also wanted to incorporate my take on the importance of having true friendship. Our story really is about three lonely strangers that ultimately save each other by simply coming into one another’s lives.
SM: Harold Mephisto Jr. is based loosely of Gene Wilder in a few of his roles. Film and literature is a big inspiration for me. “Delorean Grey” is a nod to “Back to the Future” and “Oscar Wilde” at the same time. A strange mash up, I guess.

MG: Why should people pick up a copy of this?
CL: So I can plan my retirement! {Comedic Pause…} But really folks… The story is a lot of fun. I think no matter what type of genre you are a fan of there is something that you can connect with in this book.
SM: It’s unlike anything you have ever experienced…and I need to eat.

MG: When can we expect a follow-up to “Constellation Park”?
CL: We are currently in the process of writing the second installment. It should be out sometime in 2012. “Constellation Park” is going to be a three-book saga. Sound familiar??
SM: I am actually drawing it now as Chris and I write it. A few pages exist in pencil form.

MG: When is the movie adaption coming out?
CL: As soon as a higher power lifts the ban on miracles for Staten Island residents.
SM: Hopefully very very soon. The comic was meant to be very cinematic.

MG: Besides writing, what else do you enjoy doing?
CL: Listening to 90s rock music and watching movies from that era. It was a great time in pop culture. I plan on brainwashing my daughter into believing the same.
SM: Art, music, and conversation. I dunno friend me on facebook and you can read my bio [laughs].

Interview with Scott Schiaffo

Scott Schiaffo is known best for his role as the The Chewlies Gum Guy in Kevin Smith’s first film “Clerks”.  Since then Scott has worked on various films including “Vulgar” and also besides acting also works as a composer and editor.  Scott can be seen upcoming the following projects “Shoe String Serenade”, Tom Zanca’s “Echoes & Voices” and Michael P. Russin’s new short, “Don’t Shoot”.  Media Mikes had a chance to chat with Scott about his career to date and also what he currently has in the works.

Mike Gencarelli: How did you originally get involved with working on “Clerks”?
Scott Schiaffo: I auditioned after seeing a casting call in a New Jersey newspaper. Usually I’d get audition notices in papers like Backstage but this was in with the classifieds and it struck me. The wording was something like, “View Askew projects a new cinema topic “Clerks” etc…I am paraphrasing, of course, but it was a very interesting ad. I had saved the original audition notice clipping. I scanned it recently and posted it up on my Facebook.

MG: Tell us about the shoot for your scene?
SS: The Chewlies Gum Guy stuff was shot all in one day from what I remember. The second half of the Gum Guy’s diatribe was shot in one long shot from start to finish. No edits. I believe we had at least three full takes of that second rant. It was great filming that scene in that way because it’s like a little piece of theater. We’d film straight through that entire second rant and really get the momentum going. We did that at least three times and by the end of it I was really drained from all the yelling and histrionics! In the original Miramax theatrical release, a good chunk of the Gum Guy’s rant was edited down, but in the director’s cut and the uncut original the scene is intact in its entirety. I remember getting light-headed after the last take because of the way the scene was written and executed you had to get it up to a fever pitch.

MG: Did/Do you smoke cigarettes after watching that movie [laughs]?
SS: That’s funny I’ve been asked this a lot and the truth is I really do loathe cigarettes. I’ve been addicted to anything and everything out there in my lifetime but I never smoked cigarettes and have always hated them. So it really wasn’t a big stretch for me to rant about the evils of smoking! I think Kevin himself wasn’t a smoker before he played Silent Bob. He started to smoke to give that character more on screen “business” to do. It was basically like a prop for him, but he actually became a cigarette smoker for years after that. He may no longer smoke cigarettes for all I know; I hope for his sake he has quit. It is a nasty, expensive and deadly habit.

MG: How can you reflect on how the film and your character are still popular and highly quoted over 15 years later?
SS: That speaks volumes for the power of film. Clerks has gone from a cult status thing to an iconic film for a generation. I have always been a fan of indie and cult films and, as an actor, it was a dream of mine to appear in the cast of a film that would have that kind of cult-like following. So when I say being cast in Clerks was a dream come true scenario for me I’m not just being “dramatic”. And that’s the thing, too, you can never know when a film is going to generate that kind of success and following. It’s all a crazy twist of fate I believe. It never ceases to amaze me how deep and vast the Clerks fan base has become over the years. And what really blows my mind is how memorable the Chewlies Gum Guy is as a character. I always say that an actor would have had to have been in a coma not to shine and stand out in that role. It was written as a show piece and a bombastic scene. That scene sets the tone for the whole movie. Kevin and I had talked about this back when we were filming. He knew he had to have something big and a little over the top in the first five minutes of the film to set the audience up for the type of ride that they are going to be taking. As a character actor you cut your teeth on these types of roles. You may not be in the entire story, but your scenes are designed to be pivotal and memorable.

MG: You worked with the “Clerks” group again in “Vulgar”, tell us about working on that disturbing little film?
SS: I really love that film; it’s a personal fave of mine. I had been sent the script pretty early on. Bryan Johnson said we’re thinking of you for the Travis Lee role, check it out and see what you think. I knew I didn’t have to read it to say “Hell yeah, I’m in” because it was coming from the View Askew camp. For me it was a familial thing; of course I am down! When I read it I saw some parallels to the Gum Guy character. Two high-energy scenes and both opposite Brian O’Halloran to boot! Again I get to break Brian’s balls on film! Yeah a “man on man” clown rape movie is pretty twisted, but I felt if anyone could pull off a clown rape film it was Kevin and the View Askew clan! LOL. I say this all the time but that film has much more merit than it ever received. It has a wonderfully edgy and bold performance by Brian O’Halloran as Flappy the Clown/Will Carlson. And Kevin’s first post-Silent Bob role, I believe anyway, is flat out awesome. I remember thinking that he’s going to have a career as a character actor if he chose to entertain that route, and sure enough eventually he’d blow us all away with his performance in “Catch & Release” and then later in the last “Die Hard” sequel.

MG: Tell us about your work not only acting in films but also as Composer and Editor?
SS: Yes, music has been in my life from the time I was four or five years old. Music is everything to me, honestly. I have been playing guitar and keyboards since I was a child. I have had a recording studio for the last 15 to 20 years.
I have been very fortunate to have been hired to score and edit many of the films I’ve appeared in over the years! I can do this all in my digital project studio. I am actually working on putting a CD out on Amazon. It’s a collection of music from the past 10 years of film scores and music I’ve done. And I am trying something new with this release. It’s going to be a collection of music that is royalty free. So if another artist, film or TV director, film or TV producer wants to use a piece of this music in their production, they can and are free to do so. All I ask for is credit and the knowledge of what their project is and which track is to be used. So it’s a little different spin on releasing music. The CD is called “Shoe String Serenade.” Being in the cast in many of the films that I have also edited was very challenging. Sometimes it can be just brutal to watch yourself up there, but to hash through all of the takes and edit it all together, that’s really insane when you’re in the cast. I was able to be very objective about the process and I did eventually get used to it. I have a tendency to cut away from myself to give the other actors more face time.

MG: You recently worked on a few indie films recently, tell us about those and where/when can we find them?
SS: Yes, along with “Shoe String Serenade” — which should be up on Amazon by the fall — I have two new DVDs just released through Amazon. Tom Zanca’s “Echoes & Voices” and Michael P. Russin’s new short, “Don’t Shoot”. Both projects are very different in style and nature and I am very fortunate to have been involved in these productions.