Little Steven and the Disciples of Soul Announce “Soulfire Teacher Solidarity Tour”





Little Steven and the Disciples of Soul will show solidarity with and say thank you to hard-working teachers across North America with a landmark headline tour introducing TeachRock, the Rock and Roll Forever Foundation’s free, multimedia, K-12 interdisciplinary curriculum which meets prevailing standards in English Language Arts, Social Studies/History, the Fine and Performing Arts, and also includes STEAM and advisory material. The “Soulfire Teacher Appreciation Tour 2018” begins October 18th at The Kirby Center in Wilkes Barre, PA and then continues into December. All shows on sale now. For complete details and tickets, please visit

The “Soulfire Teacher Solidarity Tour 2018” concerts are free for educators of all types (and a guest) – teachers are invited to sign up at Each show on the tour will also see Little Steven and his TeachRock staff hosting free professional development workshops designed to engage educators with techniques and content through which they can comfortably use music to inspire students, even if they’ve never touched an instrument. In many locations, the workshop will also count towards continuing education hours and license renewal.

The Little Steven and the Disciples of Soul Teacher Solidarity Tour Professional Development Experience will offer an introduction to the curriculum, and include material suitable for K-12 teachers of all disciplines, interdisciplinary best practices, and group activities. In addition, the one-hour workshops will see a personal visit from Little Steven, with attendees also receiving a teacher-only edition “Teacher Appreciation Tour” t-shirt, a certificate of attendance, and tickets for the educator and a guest to that evening’s Little Steven and the Disciples of Soul concert.

“This is a little different than the professional development experience you may be used to,” says Little Steven. “This is a rock ‘n’ roll experience.”

Little Steven unveiled the “Soulfire Teacher Solidarity Tour” with a personal video announcement, streaming now at the official TeachRock YouTube channel HERE.


18 – Wilkes Barre, PA – Kirby Center
20 – Rochester, NY – Kodak Center
23 – Atlantic City, NJ – Hard Rock Hotel & Casino
24 – Pittsburgh, PA – Homestead Music Hall
29 – Wabash, IN – Honeywell Center
31 – Milwaukee, WI – Pabst Theater

2 – Burnsville, MN – Ames Center
3 – Green Bay, WI – Meyer Theatre
5 – Chicago, IL – Center
7 – Tulsa, OK – Brady Theater
9 – Detroit, MI – Detroit Music Hall
10 – Peoria, IL – Monarch Theater
12 – Louisville, KY – Mercury Ballroom
14 – Columbus, OH – Newport Music Hall
16 – Northfield, OH – Hard Rock Rocksino
17 – Morgantown, WV – Metropolitan Theatre
26 – Oklahoma City, OK – Tower Theatre
28 – Omaha, NE – Holland Performing Arts Center
30 – Denver, CO – Gothic Theatre

1 – Salt Lake City, UT – The Depot
3 – Vancouver, BC – Vogue Theatre
5 – Snoqualmie, WA – Snoqualmie Casino
7 – San Francisco, CA – The Fillmore
8 – Stateline, NV – Harrah’s Lake Tahoe
11 – San Diego, CA – House of Blues
12 – Anaheim, CA – House of Blues
14 – Las Vegas, NV – House of Blues
16 – Phoenix, AZ – Van Buren

Steven Van Zandt’s Rock and Roll Forever Foundation is a 501(c)(3) organization that integrates arts throughout K-12 classrooms via rich, standard-aligned lesson plans and hands-on teacher workshops, all delivered to educators and districts at no cost. TeachRock is a standards-aligned arts integration curriculum that uses the history and culture of popular music to engage students in all disciplines. From social studies and language arts to geography, STEAM, general music, and more: TeachRock has engaging and meaningful material for every K-12 classroom, and it’s all shared with teachers and students at no cost. TeachRock is endorsed by the National Council for the Social Studies, the National Association for Music Education, and the National Council for Geographic Education, with partners including Scholastic Inc., PBS, Reelin’ in the Years, ABC News, Rock’s Backpages, New York University’s Steinhardt School, and the Grammy Museum. For lesson plans and additional information, please visit

“Music will forever be humanity’s most effective and consistent source of inspiration and motivation,” says Little Steven, “and, we have learned, music turns out to be our most solid common ground for establishing communication between teachers and students which is where education begins.”

The “Soulfire Teacher Solidarity Tour” follows the recent release of SOULFIRE LIVE!, a spectacular new live collection recorded last year in North America and Europe during Little Steven’s first world tour in nearly two decades. The 3CD and LP editions feature an exclusive third disc highlighted by superstar guest performances recorded throughout the trek, including Bruce Springsteen, Richie Sambora, Peter Wolf, and Jerry Miller (of Moby Grape). SOULFIRE LIVE! is available now via Wicked Cool/Big Machine/UMe. A unique 7LP vinyl box set and Blu-ray edition of SOULFIRE LIVE! is also on the way and is available to pre-order now.


An epic and electrifying journey through rock ‘n’ roll history led by one of its most passionate practitioners, SOULFIRE LIVE! showcases Stevie Van Zandt’s limitless knowledge, talent, and sheer love for the genre in all its many shapes and guises. Among the album’s many highlights are original songs from throughout Little Steven’s illustrious career – including classics like “Standing In The Line Of Fire” and “I Don’t Want To Go Home” – alongside a number of favorite cover versions like The Electric Flag’s “Groovin’ Is Easy,” Etta James’ “Blues Is My Business,” and James Brown’s “Down And Out In New York City,” the latter two songs also featured on last year’s critically acclaimed SOULFIRE. In addition, SOULFIRE LIVE! includes Van Zandt’s inimitable introductions, detailing each song’s unique history and singular spot in his life and illustrious career.

Little Steven Van Zandt is of course known around the world for his utterly personal songwriting and an ambitious adventurousness that has fueled much of his creative output these past two decades. In addition to his ongoing role as a touring and recording member of The E Street Band, he has also expanded his artistic parameters to include landmark work as an actor on The Sopranos and Lilyhammer as well as host, historian, and rock ‘n’ roll advocate on Sirius XM’s one-and-only “Little Steven’s Underground Garage” (not to mention creator of Sirius XM’s long-running “Outlaw Country” format). Van Zandt has also expanding his musical boundaries to include composing the score for all three seasons of Lilyhammer and additional work as producer and songwriter, lending his distinctive craft to records from an array of international garage rockers.


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Steven Quale talks about directing tornado action film “Into the Storm”

Steven Quale is best known for directing “Final Destination 5”. He was also second unit director with James Cameron on “Avatar” and “Titanic”. His latest film is the tornado action film “Into the Storm”. Steven Quale took out some time to chat about the film and the challenges he faced.

What interested you in this story and joining as Director?
Steven Quale: What attracted me to “Into the Storm” is being able to take the audience right into the center of a tornado. To experience what it is like to see and hear the unimaginable power that a tornado can unleash. I also wanted to explore how different people react to such an extreme event.

What is it like directing actors with the added distraction of extreme weather elements?
SQ: It was a real challenge to get a performance with all the distracting noises of the wind machines and rain towers. The loud noise of the equipment made communication very difficult and I had to rely on hand signals. One advantage to all the wind and rain is that it gave the actors something real to play against when shooting with green screens.

How is “Into the Storm” different from previous tornado movies?
SQ: “Into the Storm” benefits from the advances in visual effects over the years so the tornados look much more realistic. It also differs from other tornado movies in that we are not just following storm-chasers – we have a diverse group of unrelated people who are thrust together during the adversity of the storm and we get to experience how each of the different people react under the pressure of the storm.

You have an extensive background in visual effects. Tell us about what went into making this film look and feel real.
SQ: The most important thing to make this film look real was weeks and weeks of extensive research. I studied every single video of any severe weather and tornado footage I could find. Every major type of tornado was based on actual footage of real tornados. In addition to the visuals I insisted on having the sound feel as real as possible and that is where academy award winning sound supervisor Par Hallberg shined with his amazing soundscape. You really feel like you are in a tornado with the rumbling sound.

Did the film require practical effects in addition to visual effects?
SQ: The films visual effects work so effective because they are a mix of practical physical effects such as wind machines and rain towers combined with the digital tornados and debris. For the last half of the film, almost every shot required rain and wind machines. We dropped a real truck in close proximity with Richard Armitage.

What special features can we expect to see on the Blu-ray / DVD?
SQ: The Blu-ray/DVD for “Into the Storm” will have several behind the scenes features showing how we were able to realistically recreate the weather conditions of a tornado. It also has a segment where world famous storm chaser Reed Timmer explains all of the types of tornados in or film and how they compare to the real ones that he has chased.


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Oscar Winning Composer, Steven Price talks about his new score for “Fury”

Steven Price is the very talented composer behind the film “Gravity”, which ended up winning him last year’s Oscar for Best Score (along with numerous other awards). Steven has also worked on film like “The World’s End” with Edgar Wright and TV series like “Believe” with “Gravity” director Alfonso Cuarón. Media Mikes had a chance to follow-up with Steven to discuss his new score for “Fury” and what we can expect.

Mike Gencarelli: You worked on the score for “Gravity” for about two years; at what point in the production did you come on board “Fury”?
Steven Price: I started on “Fury” about a year ago. I got the scripts and read through them. Usually, I am pretty useless at judging scripts. I tend to do better off waiting until I can see a little bit of what they have shot. But with this film, the script was really gripping. (Director) David Ayer has this ridiculous ability when writing characters that you feel like you totally know them in only a couple of pages, you care about them and you want to know what is going to happen to them. I loved the script. So I made a couple of calls and it turns out they were shooting it about 40 minutes from where I live. So I asked if I could visit and I actually ended up going a couple of times while they were shooting. I got to watch it being shot but also I got to spend a bit of time talking with David discussing what he was doing and what he hoped the music would be. It was an amazing opportunity to get to work with another director that really values what music can do for a film. It was important for him to have the music to carry emotion and be a part of the experience. So I was very keen to be involved.

MG: “Gravity” was set in the vast unknowns of space; tell us about how you approached “Fury”, which is set in the hell of World War II?
SP: I think “hell” was the key to it actually. We talked about what the characters had already been through by the time that we meet up with them in the first reel of the film. They have been in the war for 3-4 years by that point and have seen and done unimaginable things. They are exhausted and terrified but they have to keep going forward. So it was a matter of capturing that sense of exhaustion and of being in hell with this constant motion and this grinding forward. I wanted to capture that quality in the music whilst putting you there with the men and their emotions throughout the film. So that’s the conversation we had at the start and then had to work out how that would actually sound.

MG: I was going to ask if you looked for influence from other World War II films but this has such a unique sound for the genre and even sort of crosses over the line of horror with the use of the overlying chanting throughout.
SP: With where they are within the timeline of WW2, the film being set just 3 weeks before the Nazi surrender, I think it is easy to imagine that things were less intense at that point, but in actual fact the crews were in the middle of Nazi Germany… they were surrounded, and things were unimaginably bleak and threatening. I did a lot of work with a choir that is constantly chanting and whispering around you. It is an eerie sound in lots of ways. You never feel, like they never felt, safe for a moment. There is something that could happen that would be life ending, you never know. It was a real turning point for me, while writing, when I got the idea to use the choir in that way. I recorded them in all sorts of different ways. Sometimes it was as a choir but often times I would give them all their own individual microphones and get them saying different things. We could make it sound like individuals at times or make them sound like this group marching forward. They are only really used as a traditional choir in terms of singing at the very end of the film. So until then, they are this voice of constant persistent danger.

MG: Were you able to able anything you learned from “Gravity” on this project?
SP: I think the great thing I learned from “Gravity” experience was to just keep trying and keep experimenting with new things. That was a process for me that was really useful on this. The film was evolving as I was working on it and there was always a chance to look at something from a different angle.

MG: What were some of your biggest challenges that you faced here?
SP: The biggest challenge on this film was just getting the journeys right. Take the character, Norman (played by Logan Lerman), when we first meet him in the film and he goes from being terrified to suddenly plunged into a tank battle. So trying to figure out musically, how was his journey through the film and his growing and understanding of what it means to be in this was a challenge. Also Brad Pitt’s character, Wardaddy, was challenging since his enigma itself almost could be played musically and how much we should learn about him and his team through the music. So a lot of it were character challenges and trying to support them and their stories. That was the stuff that got me scratching my head at night and trying different things.

MG: I love that the score is so epic and yet you still have some beautiful piano work in tracks like “I’m Scared Too”.
SP: I did an early demo with piano and David sort of immediately attached to it. It is very simple piano work and all quite blunt actually in terms of the musical construction of it. They characters aren’t verbose sort of characters. They speak clearly and what they say is clear. Musically, I wanted it to be like that too. I wanted it to be very concise. The piano writing was very simple and also it needed to be played with great emotion. One of my oldest friends, who is not a full time professional musician but is a great player, ended up playing it for me. He came in and just completely understood what I wanted to do with it. His touch on the piano really made the whole thing work. We spend a long time getting the right sound for it as well. We ended up going about it in a peculiar way using two very old 1940’s microphones underneath the piano. It is not the sound that you would ordinarily do for a big posh film piano sound but it just felt right. You hear the mechanics of the piano, the pedal sounds, the contacts between the hammers and the strings and that seemed like it was suitable for this film.

MG: Since you are no longer working on “Ant-Man”; what is your next project?
SP: There is stuff knocking around a bit but not allowed to say much about anything at the moment though. But at the moment, I am in the bit where I should have been doing “Ant-Man”. Having spent a lot of time with Edgar Wright and considering him a good friend, it was never going to be an option for me to do that film. We spent so long talking about musical ideas for the film and it would have been so wrong taking it with someone else’s vision really. Hopefully I will have the opportunity to work with him again soon. But we will see what is around the corner next, yeah!

Steven Blum talks about voice work and his role of Zeb in “Star Wars Rebels”

Steven Blum is one of the best in the voice acting business. He has such amazing range working on shows such as “Cowboy Bebop” voicing Spike Spiegel to “Doc McStuffins” voicing Commander Crush to “Avengers: Earth’s Mightiest Heroes” voicing both Red Skull and Wolverine. Recently he is taking on the role of Zeb in “Star Wars Rebels”. Media Mikes had a chance to chat about “Star Wars Rebels” with Steven and his a few of his other voice roles.

Mike Gencarelli: Tell us about how you got the role of Zeb in “Star Wars Rebels”?
Steven Blum: Well, I auditioned for it like everyone else in town. I didn’t even know what it was for when I showed up. They called it a completely different name and edited out any of the information that would have made us know it was “Star Wars”. I didn’t actually know it was what it was until I booked the role. I was in England at the time at a “Transformers” convention when I got the email that I landed the job and I needed to record it there. So I had to find a studio in the middle of the countryside at this guy’s house and started recorded. About 10 minutes into the session, I am looking at the script and I see Stormtroopers in the copy and I said “What a second…this is Star Wars…THIS IS STAR WARS!!” It was a huge surprise. I just didn’t know the scope of this show. I have done “Star Wars” projects before but it was only in the video game context, so to get to work on the franchise on something this big is just an incredible thing. I got to introduce not only a new character but also a new species into the “Star Wars” universe. It was incredible.

MG: Where did the find the voice for him?
SB: We played with it a little bit. (Speaking in character) “It started out in the lower range” and we ended up tried a bunch of different accents. We did Eastern European, Australian and all sorts of different things. We landed on something that is sort of English with other ascents peppered in. It is sort of like a bad English accent [laughs]. I am apologizing to the entire UK for my bad accent [laughs].

MG: You also voice Shoe and Sparky in “The Boxtrolls”, out now.
SB: I am very excited about “The Boxtrolls”. It is an amazing piece and I have been a fan of LAIKA’s work for a long time. I even got to go to the studio and play with the puppets and see how these amazing people have put this film together. Every single bit of this film is hand made. It is phenomenal. They made like 3,000 different faces for this film with magnets on the back so that they can swap them out for each shot. It is uncanny.

MG: Since you have voices hundreds of characters like Spike Spiegel in “Cowboy Bebop” and Wolverine in various projects; if someone asked you to do a voice what is one of the first that comes to your mind?
SB: It depends on what I am working on that day. I always have a million voices going on it my head [laughs]. I need to do this job so I can let them out and not explode. So, it depends on the day. People can usually just point at a character and I can remember their voice and speak it.

MG: You have done a wide mix of villains and heroes; do you have a favorite type of character to voice?
SB: [laughs] It also depends on the day. If I am really pissed off and sitting in traffic, I will let a lot of that energy out. I do love playing the heroes too though. I love working on kid’s shows also now like Disney Junior’s “Doc McStuffins voicing Commander Crush and the two Karate Kangaroos. It has been really fun to work on something that is so child friendly.


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Enter to Win a DVD of Steven Seagal’s “A Good Man” [ENDED]

To celebrate the release of “Steven Seagal’s “A Good Man”, Media Mikes is excited to giveaway one (1) copy of the film on DVD to our readers. If you would like to enter for your chance to win one of this prize, please leave us a comment below or send us an email with your favorite Steven Seagal film. This giveaway will remain open until August 29th at Noon, Eastern Time. This is open to all of our Media Mikes readers worldwide. One entry per person, per household. All other entries will be considered invalid. Media Mikes will randomly select winners. Winners will be alerted via email.

After an illustrious special ops career ends in disaster, Alexander (Steven Seagal) goes off the grid and attempts to lead a quiet life as a handyman at an apartment complex. But when one of his tenants and her family fall under the thumb of a Russian gangster, Alexander is dragged into an all-out war between rival Chinese and Russian gangs; forcing him to not only defend the family, but bringing him face to face with an old foe, and giving him one more chance to reconcile his past.


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Win a Blu-ray of Steven Soderbergh Presents “Visitors” [ENDED]

If you are a fan of the Qatsi Trilogy (Koyaanisqatsi, Powaqqatsi, and Naqoyqatsi), then you are going to want to check out “Visitors”. To celebrate the release on Blu-ray, Media Mikes is excited to giveaway one (1) Blu-ray of the film to our readers. If you would like to enter for your chance to win one of this prize, please leave us a comment below or send us an email with your favorite film in the trilogy. This giveaway will remain open until June 6th at Noon, Eastern Time. This is open to our readers in US and Canada only. One entry per person, per household. All other entries will be considered invalid. Media Mikes will randomly select winners. Winners will be alerted via email.

VISITORS is the fourth collaboration of director Godfrey Reggio and composer Philip Glass together with filmmaker Jon Kane, advancing the film form pioneered by The Qatsi Trilogy (Koyaanisqatsi, Powaqqatsi, and Naqoyqatsi): the non-spoken narrative experience where each viewer s response is radically different yet undeniably visceral. As Reggio explains, VISITORS is aimed at the solar plexus, at the appetite within us all, the atmosphere of our soul. I see the film as a meditation, as a transcendental event. Comprised of only seventy-four shots, a series of human, animal and landscape portraits, VISITORS takes movie watchers on an emotional journey to the moon and back. As a wondrous work of artistic achievement…art with a capital A (Austin Chronicle), VISITORS produces massive effects and moves into a class of film all its own.

Special Features: Interviews with Godfrey Reggio, Jon Kane, Philip Glass, Steven Soderbergh; Trailers; The Making of VISITORS (VICE/The Creators Project)

Steven Awalt talks about his book “Steven Spielberg and Duel: The Making of a Film Career”

Here’s a trick question for you? Where did film director Steven Spielberg go when he wanted some information about…Steven Spielberg? The answer was an amazing web site known to fans all over the word as Created and maintained by Steven Awalt, the site lasted for seven years, only closing down because of Awalt’s various projects. One of those projects, the well reviewed book “Steven Spielberg and DUEL: The Making of a Film Career,” will be released on March 26.

With a Master’s degree in Cinema Studies from DePaul University, Awalt is more than qualified to discuss the most successful filmmaker of his generation. While awaiting the release of his book, Awalt took the time to speak with me about everything Spielberg.

Mike Smith: What is it about Steven Spielberg that made you follow his career so carefully that you created a web site dedicated to his work?
Steven Awalt: He and George Lucas were really the first two “filmmakers” I knew when I was growing up. Of course, when I was younger I was a big fan of the Disney films but when “Close Encounters of the Third Kind” came out it really knocked me on my young butt. The scope of it was just amazing for a little boy. And then as I got older and looked at his films, I think it was his sense of humanity that really appealed to me. I don’t think he gets enough credit for his work with characters. Going back to “Close Encounters,” people focus on the spaceships and the aliens but, at the center of that film, you have a very emotional story about a family falling apart. Even in “Jaws,” you had the Brody family and, of course, the dynamic between the three men. “Duel” is really a great portrait of a man losing his mind. It’s all about paranoia.

MS: Do you remember the first Spielberg film you ever saw in a theatre?
SA: It was “Close Encounters.” I had just turned five, so he caught me at a very young age. Between that and “Star Wars” from earlier in the summer, it was the perfect age to be.

MS: I was sixteen. Trust me, it was a great summer to be sixteen as well!
SA: (laughs) I wish to God I had been older. You got to experience “Jaws.” I first saw it when it aired on television (November 1979). The funny thing was that it didn’t at first stick with me…not like “Close Encounters” or “Raiders of the Lost Ark” because it scared the hell out of me! Now it’s one of my favorite films but back when I was younger…I wish I had born in the same generation as yours because it must have been really great to be there.

MS: Of all the films that Steven Spielberg is known for, why did you choose to highlight “Duel?”
SA: Originally I had wanted to write about “Close Encounters” because it’s such an important film to me. I had been deeply researching it for years while I ran the old SpielbergFilms web site. At the time someone else had just come out with a very strong book about the film, independently written, and I was so upset because someone else had gone after it. I still plan to get to that “Close Encounters” book but when I thought about it, I realized that Steven’s work before “Jaws,” namely “Duel” and “Sugarland Express,” hadn’t really gotten their due. I thought it was fertile ground and I hope I’ve been able to start what I hope will be a series of books about his work. “Duel” and “Sugarland” are great films but they really kind of got buried by the success of “Jaws,” “Raiders,” E.T.” ….everything.

MS: Do you have a favorite Spielberg film?
SA: I definitely have a favorite. And, like most people, my favorite film is different then what I consider his best film. His best film is actually too hard a question, but my favorite film of his, from a personal perspective, is “E.T.” That film came along in my life…when I needed it most. It probably sounds funny to say that about a movie but I’m sure, at the same time, many fans can relate to that. I had a pretty rough childhood. My father was an alcoholic…he just wasn’t there for me. He died when I was a kid. So the film really spoke to me. A lonely young boy who misses his father…again, it’s the heart of the film that makes it so beautiful. Even to this day it’s a very important film in my life. And it comes from a very personal space in Steven because of the divorce of his parents. The scene in the garage where Elliot and Michael are looking for things for E.T. to build his communicator with…finding their dad’s old shirt and smelling the cologne on it…that’s the one thing I love about his work so much, that it’s so relatable.

MS: I’m paraphrasing this comment from the late director Sydney Pollack, who in 1984 told TIME magazine that he felt Spielberg would never win an Oscar until his films “grow up.” I actually met Pollack at a retro screening of “They Shoot Horses, Don’t They?” and asked him about his comments. He maintained to me that Spielberg needed to focus more on adult material. Do you think that he intentionally changed the kind of films he was doing because of that thinking? (NOTE: Spielberg’s next film after “E.T.” was the critically acclaimed, very grown up “The Color Purple.” The film received a total of eleven Academy Award nominations though, surprisingly, not one for Spielberg’s direction. This film, and 1977’s “The Turning Point,” share the record for most Academy Award nominations without a single win. Ironically, the winner of the Best Director Oscar that year was Sydney Pollack).
SA: Only Steven himself could answer that question accurately. But I think that, having started out making films in his early 20’s, Steven grew up with his films. I would imagine he was looking for different kinds of entertainment…not entertainment, per se’, but different kinds of stories about human beings. “The Color Purple” is an interesting film. I’m not a huge fan of it, but it’s definitely a turning point. To me the film that signals a new Spielberg on the screen isn’t “The Color Purple,” it’s “Empire of the Sun.” A certain weight comes with the film that I don’t think “The Color Purple” has. To me “Empire of the Sun” is a signpost for people who were so surprised by “Schindler’s List” and the films that followed. I really think you can start to see that in “Empire of the Sun,” which he made when he was in his late 30’s. So I imagine it was just a normal maturing. I guess the only person who can really answer that question is Steven.

MS: You’ve hinted that you’re working on a book going behind the scenes of “Sugarland Express.” Is it going to be in the same vein as this one?
SA: Absolutely. I like to think of it as a continuation of the “Duel” book. To me I’m writing one big book, but this one will have a different approach. It’s obviously a different story but it will show the expansion of Steven’s talent and his growth as a filmmaker.

MS: Are you hoping to maybe one day be able to document all of his films?
SA: I’m hoping to at least get through Steven’s films from the 1970s at least, because that’s my favorite period. I’d like to write about a lot of filmmakers from that era. I’m a big fan of George Romero. I’d love to write about Martin Scorsese. Brian DePalma would be fun to write on as well. But yes, I hope to at least cover the 1970s and his four masterpieces from that era.


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Book Review “Steven Spielberg and Duel: The Making of a Career” by Steven Awalt

Author: Steven Awalt
Hardcover/354 Pages
Publisher: Rowman and Littlefield Publishers
Publishing date: March 26, 2014

Our Score: 5 out of 5 stars

On November 22, 1963, while playing golf with a friend, author Richard Matheson learned of the assassination of President John F. Kennedy. Upset by the news, the duo quit playing and headed home. As they began driving through a narrow pass they heard the sound of a large truck coming up behind them at great speed. The truck continued to bear down on them as they accelerated. No matter how fast they went, the truck seemed to be coming faster. After several terrifying minutes the road finally widened and they pulled over as the truck hurtled down the road past them. Sounds like the makings of a great story, doesn’t it?

“Steven Spielberg and ‘Duel’: The Making of a Career” IS that great story. It’s an in-depth look into the workings of a young 24 year old director who went on to become, arguably, the most successful filmmaker of all time. The book details Spielberg’s early days, from his Super 8 home movies (at age 17 he created a two hour and twenty minute science fiction film entitled “Firelight” that he “premiered” at a local theatre) through his college days at CSU Long Beach and his initial work as a contract director for Universal, where he began hi s professional career directing such television programs as “Night Gallery” and “Columbo.” Impressed with his work the studio gives Spielberg a chance to direct a film to be featured as a “Movie of the Weekend,” based on a short story by Richard Matheson that recently appeared in “Playboy” magazine. The name of the story: “Duel.”

Author Steven Awalt is no stranger to the career of Steven Spielberg, having created and run the extremely popular web site . It is through this web site that Awalt shared his admiration for all things Spielberg. Here he takes that admiration and shares it with the reader. In an incredibly precise step by step process he guides the reader through the process of making a major motion picture (buoyed by its success and critical acclaim, Universal later released “Duel” in theatres both in the states and internationally). Thanks to recent, in depth interviews with many people involved in the production, including Matheson, Universal executive Sid Sheinberg, composer Billy Goldenberg and, most importantly, Spielberg himself, the book puts you on the set and involves you in almost every aspect of the production. It is because of this attention to detail that Awalt has created one of the best “making of” books in recent years.

Oscar Nominated, Composer of “Gravity”, Steven Price Thanks Media Mikes Readers for Honoring Him

Steven Price, whose original score for the film “Gravity” was voted the Best of 2013 by the staff and readers of Media wanted to share these comments with his fans:

“Thank you so much for this honour! I’m thrilled, especially as it comes from this site. I had such fun talking to your colleague earlier in the year, and am an avid reader of the site. Thank you so much for supporting the film, and my score. It’s truly appreciated.”

Next stop for Steven Price…the Oscars on March 2nd!

Steven Price talks about composing the score for “Gravity”

I am a huge fan of film scores, always have been. I am always keeping my eyes open for a new favorite. Well, I have found him…enter Steven Price. Steven has three film scores currently under his belt including “Attack of the Block” and “The World’s End”. His latest score for the hugely successful film “Gravity” is no question the best score of the year! I have a feeling it is going to be winning many awards in the coming months. Media Mikes had a chance to chat about developing the score for this film and his involvement with the film.

Mike Gencarelli: Where you ever concerned about delivering the sound to the soundlessness of space with your score for “Gravity”?
Steven Price: It was one of those things that looking back on it I should have been absolutely terrified. At the time we were so into trying things and experimenting that I didn’t realize what a ridiculous thing that I had attempted to do until I finished it really. This was actually lucky cause otherwise I would have sat frozen to my chair and never written a note. At the time it felt like it was a great opportunity to take on this daunting task but I can see now that it was perhaps now quite an ambitious task to undertake.

MG: I felt like the score was the third member of the cast in the film; was that a goal of yours?
SP: The hope for the music was that it was going to add to this idea of immersion. The camera was floating up in space, weightless like the characters and the music was there to follow through with that. You were up in space with them and you felt like you were immersed in that. For me it is the third character in some ways but I was always closely tied to the character of Ryan. A lot of what the music was trying to do was express her emotions and feelings. The hope was certainly that it would have this immersive feel and the sense that it would really all come together as a whole experience.

MG: What did you use for inspiration to come up with this amazing score?
SP: From the word “Go”, Alfonso (Cuarón) was really clear that he didn’t want this to be a traditional film score. I didn’t go and listen to other film scores about space. I avoided things like that actually. We would listen to all types of different music and draw specific aspects from each. You might be listening to rock music one week and then the next some really extreme electronica. All of these things would trigger off little experiments that I would use to apply during the writing process. Everything was really open and we had a lot of freedom. There was no one telling us how we had to create the sound. We got to make something that really fitted this film well and that was also very distinctive.

MG: I read that the score was mixed to be enhanced with the Dolby Atmos technology; tell us about that process?
SP: Yeah! That was the last thing that we did. We came back this past summer and did a new mix for that. This film really suits with Dolby Atmos and the whole thing about it is that you are completely surrounded by speakers. They are all around you. I based a lot around the knowledge that we were doing that when I wrote it as well. You can take it to another level. So if the camera enters the helmet of Sandra Bullock, then all of the sudden the score can feel like it compressed around your head. We had a lot of fun doing that and it is easily my favorite mix. There are so few Dolby Atmos screens in the UK but it is the one that I recommend to my friends for sure in America!

MG: “Don’t Let Go” is one hell of an emotional 11+ minute track; give us some background on its development?
SP: When I wrote it originally it started as 4 or 5 cues. They all did separate things but were designed to flow together. It became the bit that I was most proud of, so that is why I put it on the album as one continuous track. It just felt like it worked so well. It starts off with the introduction of the most dramatic stuff. You’ve had all this chaos and disorientation in the film for the first 20 minutes and this was the first time when you can take a breath. So it let me do a little bit of that kind of writing style which then went into a really choreographed action section. This idea came along early in the writing process that as the actors move around that I can reflect their movement within the music. I thought that that aspect was sort of a breakthrough and I was very excited during mixing that one. I was just so happy with how it all came together and how the emotions carried through it.

MG: What was your timeline on this film?
SP: I started back in December 2011 and we finished the main film mix November/December of last year but then came back like I said this year and did a little more. So I have been involved for the better part of two years now, which in the great scheme of this project is nothing. There are people that have spent around four or five years working on it. But it was great that since it was in fact so much longer than the typical composing project on a film where you are always in a race against time that with this film you got a chance to go back and try different things. I was also involved with temp mixes with the sound crew, so we all sort of evolved the sound together. It was pretty rare and really great to see the whole project develop over the years.

MG: It’s been a busy year for you with “Gravity” and “The World’s End”, tell us about how ?
SP: I had done a film called “Attack of the Block”, in which Edgar Wright produced a few years ago. So “The World’s End” came from that basically. It was just great to work with Edgar on that film. He is so interested in his music. The whole film is so cleverly structured and the music is a part of that. You get really involved really early. Again, I got a script way before they even shot that one and got to discuss how they were going to do things and how we could adapt the sound. That was great fun and a lot of my role in that was around the energy of how everything happened in one night in the film. We got to play into a bunch of different styles since there were comedy bits, action bits and even romantic bits as well. It was just good fun to be able to press different buttons. From being in this very immersive “Gravity” world, it was great to break out and do something different.

MG: What do you have planned after this film?
SP: There are a few things that I have knocking about. Since I am relatively new to this whole composing thing and I am not one of these people that have done like 50 films, I still feel incredibly lucky to be doing it. But also I feel paranoid that it will stop all of the sudden [laughs]. So there are a few things in the works but I don’t want to curse them by talking about them just yet. But there is definitely some exciting stuff coming up!

Steven Bauer talks about “Scarface” and new show “Ray Donovan”

Long before Steven Bauer was a star I was a fan. I caught him on an early 80s HBO program profiling young actors and something about him just stood out. Then and there I made a conscious effort to follow any career he might have. It turns out he’s had a great one.
Born in Cuba, Bauer and his family fled the island in 1960 as Fidel Castro was coming into power. His father was a pilot and later flew missions for the C.I.A., including during the Bay of Pigs crisis. A talented musician, Bauer hoped to pursue a career as a singer. However, he discovered acting in junior college and hasn’t looked back. Best known for his star-making turn in “Scarface,” he has appeared in such films as “Running Scared,” “Primal Fear” and the Oscar-winning “Traffic.” On television he’s had roles in popular shows like “The Rockford Files,” “NYPD Blue,” “Burn Notice” and starred in the fourth season of “Wiseguy.” This coming Sunday you can catch Mr. Bauer in his new project, co-starring alongside Live Schreiber in the new Showtime presentation “Ray Donovan.”

While promoting his new show Mr. Bauer took the time to sit down with Media Mikes to talk about working with his idol, network television and why, three decades later, “Scarface” is still going strong!

Mike Smith: I have to tell you that I was a fan of yours before you even made it big. I caught you on an HBO special that was profiling up and coming actors in the early 80s when you were going by the name Rocky Bauer. It was all about you trying to make it as an actor. I remember going to see “Scarface” and when you first came on screen I leaned over to my wife and said, “Look, it’s Rocky Bauer!”
Steven Bauer: Oh my God, I’d forgotten about that show. It was called “So You Want to Be a Star.” (NOTE: I’m so glad Mr. Bauer remembered this show. I can find no mention of it ANYWHERE on the Internet. The show followed Mr. Bauer, Melanie Griffith and a third person – – I’m assuming they didn’t make it or I’d have remembered them – if I’m wrong and it was someone like Bruce Willis my apologies- – as they went through the rounds of auditions while trying to make a living as an actor. As someone that had those same dreams 30 years ago the show really resonated with me) That’s so funny. I remember the producers approached me…I don’t even know why they approached ME…I had already done a TV movie (“She’s In the Army Now” – a film from 1981 that starred up and coming stars Melanie Griffith, Jamie Lee Curtis and Kathleen Quinlan). That’s where I met Melanie (NOTE: Mr. Bauer and Melanie Griffith were married in 1982 and divorced in 1987 – they have a son, Alexander). I had also done the television series “From Here to Eternity” with William Devane (NOTE: the 1980 series, based on the Oscar-winning film, also gave early roles to such future stars as Kim Basinger, Michael Jeter and Don Johnson). Anyway they asked me if I wanted to be one of the people that they profiled. I said, “sure…I guess.” And I remember…it’s probably hoaky now…that I thought it was kind of cool then. They’d take shots of me studying a script. Doing my lines out loud. Which was weird because I never did stuff like that. Especially in profile. They’d say, “we need you to pose while you’re reading.” Melanie used to get a kick out of it. She’s in it too.

MS: I know. I can’t remember who the third person was but you and Melanie sure fit the bill.
SB: (laughs quite heartily) Wow. That’s funny.

MS: Give us a little info on your new show, “Ray Donovan.”
SB: I think it’s a great show. And I think it’s going to be one of the big ones…I have a pretty good eye for this stuff (laughs). Ray Donovan is a tough guy from Boston – Irish-Catholic – who moves his family to L.A. and goes to work for an agency that “fixes” the problems of celebrities and powerful people. His job is to take care of the situation before something like TMZ can expose it. His method is simple – whatever it takes. He can be brutal and very “take charge” but he can also be very compassionate. And that’s the interesting thing about the character that I think will distinguish him. He’s really complex. To his family he’s also an enigma because he’s not home a lot. His wife wants more out of life. They live in the suburbs and she wants to move to where the action is. So Ray Donovan is a guy with a lot of pressures. But he handles them well. I play Avi, one of his assistants. Avi is the action guy, especially when a situation requires a little “force.” It’s a very complex show…it’s about family and lifestyles…greed and corruption…weakness…betrayal…it’s really interesting. It’s very realistic. Very hard hitting. The writing is brilliant. And we don’t have to hold back because we’re on Showtime. The other actors and I have shared with the writers that we’re in a very fortunate situation to be part of the Showtime family. There isn’t any pressure to be politically correct. We don’t have to stay away from certain themes…we don’t have the restrictions of network television. We also don’t have the pressure of having to shoot for ratings. We don’t have to alter the content in order to garnish ratings. The show is going on the air and it’s going to play. And I know the audience will find it.

MS: Were those reasons part of what attracted you to the project?
SB: Yes! First of all, the writer, Ann Biderman, is an old friend. I was very fortunate to appear in one of her early films…one that was truly one of her shining moments…”Primal Fear” (NOTE: Ms. Biderman has also penned the screenplays for films like “Copycat” and “Public Enemies.” She also won an Emmy for writing an episode of “NYPD Blue”). I was fortunate to be in the film and I got to meet Ann. It turns out she’s also from Miami, as I am. She remembered me and asked me to audition for Avi. He’s not Hispanic, he’s Israeli. I’ve done three films in Israel so she knew I could do the accent. All of that appealed to me. I’ve had opportunities in the past to be on network television and they’ve been very frustrating and very, very sad. I told myself I’d never do that to myself again…take a job that had “conditions.” You put all of your heart and soul into something and then it just ends. It’s a horrible feeling. That happened to me on “Wiseguy.” I did nine shows but after they aired two the boss of the network decided the show wasn’t going to find an audience. HE decided. (NOTE: After three seasons as Vinnie Terranova, an undercover agent infiltrating organized crime, actor Ken Wahl opted to quit “Wiseguy.” When season four started Mr. Bauer starred as a former US Attorney who had been in contact with Terranova). There was no changing his mind. One day they just told us to stop working and go home. That’s just the worse thing in the world to hear. Showtime has some great people.

MS: You made your feature film debut as Manny Riberra in “Scarface.” So for your first movie your being directed by one of the best directors around (Brian De Palma) and acting with, arguably, one of the greatest actors EVER (Al Pacino). What was your first day on the set like?
SB: (laughs) It was an very auspicious debut! On the first day I remember being very, very focused. My training was solid and I was prepared, mentally. I had been in Hollywood…had gone back to New York. I was working for a living. I was three or four years into my acting career and I had no delusions of stardom. But I knew I had to get into a really good, creative situation. I wanted to make my film debut in something really strong…creatively strong. And I was fortunate because I was in the right place at the right time. They were looking for me. They were looking for ME. And I was ready to deliver. And the concept…to be put next to one of my idols…Pacino and Robert DeNiro were my idols…I’d say to myself, “Jesus, I want to be THEM. That’s who I want to be…that’s how good I want to be.” Now all of a sudden I’m working with Al Pacino. He was my partner. And he used me. As I was learning from him he was learning from me. I was able to offer him an insight into that culture. The Cuban culture. And so we would bounce off of each other perfectly. I didn’t have time…I couldn’t afford to be nervous.

MS: “Scarface” will celebrate its 30th Anniversary in December. Why do you think the film is still an important part of popular culture today?
SB: I think it’s because it’s very consistent in its tone. It has a very specific tone that’s humorous as well as heavy. It’s brutal but there is a weird sense of humor that we were able to find that has appealed to each generation. The only people it didn’t appeal to were the critics at the time it came out. But their thoughts were influenced by political correctness. At the time it was released there was a backlash against violence in films. So when “Scarface” was released there was a tremendous backlash from the journalistic corps. The people who saw the movie…the PEOPLE who saw the movie, even our peers…had a tremendously positive response. Put that up against the almost 90% negative response from the film critics. And those reviews killed us. It was such a blow. There was no Internet then. You couldn’t have that instant response from the audience…people blogging that this was an amazing movie. What we had were the newspapers saying “this is a piece of ****! These people should go back to film school and acting school.” It was terrible. It was so vicious and so personal. It’s amazing that it survived those years and now has basically been re-claimed by the Hip-Hop generation. It was brought back to the forefront of pop culture and then people started seeing it without the trappings and limitations…by the thought of the day. They saw that what it was was a really good movie and a really great depiction of the rise and fall of a very bad man. It’s really a very moral picture.

MS: You’ve done a lot of voice work for video games (“Scarface: The World is Yours,” “Behind Enemy Lines: Columbia”). Does that require a different “kind” of acting then film or television?
SB: Video games require a lot of energy and a lot of concentration. It’s not normal acting at all. Plus some of them are motion capture. You have to wear a suit of lights. It’s like nothing else. It’s more like pantomime. Plus it’s a big demand on your voice. I did one where I just worked for 20 minutes. But in those 20 minutes I had to do so much…calling out, shouting…it was redundant. “Get over here! Get over here now!” Having to scream it over and over. And nobody knows it’s me! What’s ironic is that I don’t play video games. But I’ll be out somewhere and someone will recognize my voice and say, “Hey man, you’re in that game!” Yep, that’s me.

MS: Besides “Ray Donovan,” what else do you have coming up?
SB: Well a couple of films that I’ve done recently are beginning to see the light of day. I had a film play at Cannes (“Five Thirteen”) that stars me, Tom Sizemore and Danny Trejo. It’s a great heist movie and I have a cool role in that. I’m also in a film that should get some attention at the Toronto Film Festival called “The Lookalike,” made by an Australian director named Richard Gray. It’s got a great cast – Gina Gershon, John Corbett, Justin Long – it’s really a dark, dark movie. I’ve also got a film coming out August 23rd which deals with MMA fighting called “Chavez Cage of Glory.” And Danny Trejo’s in that one too.

Blu-ray Review “Steven Seagal Double Feature: Attack Force / Into the Sun”

Actors: Steven Seagal, Lisa Lovbrand, David Kennedy, Danny Webb, Matthew Davis
Directors: Michael Keusch, mink
Rated: R (Restricted)
Studio: Mill Creek Entertainment
Release Date: March 26, 2013
Run Time: 192 minutes

Our Score: 1 out of 5 stars

When it comes to Steve Seagal, I am always first in line. His films in the last 10 years haven’t been groundbreaking but I still dig them.  These films included in this double feature, “Attack Force” and “Into the Sun”, are nothing unique and far from his best films to date but I still have enjoyed them when they were released. After Seagal had a brief comeback with “Exit Wounds” and “Half Past Dead“, aka his “rapper phase”, his films have since been solely heading right to DVD. These films are no different and if you are a fan of Seagal you know that they fun and entertaining….if they were presented well.  This release has way too many issues and I wouldn’t recommend it at.  Even if you are an insane hardcore Seagal fan, be prepared to be letdown.

“Attack the Sun” Official Premise: Steven Seagal is back in this high-octane, action thriller! When Marshall Lawson (Seagal) loses his striketeam in a cold-blooded and seemingly random attack, he takes it upon himself to investigate the suspicious circumstances of the brutal killings. Soon he uncovers CTX Majestic, a covert military operation so secret, that now the military wants Marshall eliminated. Resolute in his pursuit, Marshall engages in a merciless battle with a drug dealer operation that appears to be secretly funded by a rogue arm of the military.

“Into The Sun” Official Premise: Action superstar Steven Seagal is back in this nonstop thrill ride! When the governor of Tokyo is murdered, it falls on ex-CIA agent Travis Hunter (Seagal) to track down the responsible terrorists. However, the plot to kill the Governor is only the beginning of a web of corruption and violence. Hunter discovers a plan by a rising Yakuza leader to build an enormous drug-dealing network with the Chinese Mafia. With time running out and the Yakuza determined to see their plan through, Hunter must thwart the operation and get out alive.

The 1080p transfers on both “Attack Force” and “Into the Sun” looks good and both films have a decent DTS-HD Master Audio 5.1 track, but that is not where the problem lies. “Attack of the Sun” has issues with dialogue syncing and looks like a bad “Godzilla” movie. I am not sure why this wasn’t addressed before distributing.  It makes the film very hard to watch unless it is just background noise.  But that isn’t even the worst of it, most of “Into the Sun” is in various different languages, mostly Japanese I believe, and get this…there are no regular subtitles for the non-English languages.  So you miss most of what is being said.  Now given there is an English SDH track but then you have to even watch the English dialogue subs…and badly subbed to boot. There are no special features included either for this release. Although it is available at less than $10 bucks, this is a solid pass!

Guns N’ Roses drummer Steven Adler talks about new solo album “Back from the Dead”

Steven Adler is probably best known for his work as the original drummer for the multi-platinum selling band Guns N’ Roses. After being fired from the group in 1990 Steven went on to work with a number of other acts and also appeared on the VH1 reality show “Celebrity Rehab with Dr. Drew”. More recently Steven and his new band simply titled Adler released their debut album “Back From the Dead” and Media Mikes had a chance to ask Steven a few brief questions about the album and the bands touring plans.

Adam Lawton: What type of writing process did the band take when putting songs together for the new album?
Steven Adler: Jacob Bunton and Lonny Paul would bring me songs and then Jeff Pilson and I would add our thing to them. Jeff also produced the record as well as played bass. Everyone in the group was real open to changes and ideas. That made the whole writing/recording process very fun and creative.

AL: How was it like working with Slash again?
SA: Slash and I have been friends since we were kids. I have always loved the way he plays and was honored that he took the time to play on our record.  Back in the GNR days, we took each other’s talents for granted.  At this stage in my life, I’ve learned to appreciate these moments.

AL: Are there plans to shoot any more videos for songs off the album?
SA: In a perfect world we would shoot a video for every song on the record.  But I can tell you from firsthand experience, we don’t live in a “perfect world”, so we’ll have to wait and see what happens.

AL: How did the band get involved with playing on this year’s Kiss Kruise?
SA: Our singer Jacob told us about it and passed the information onto our managers. From there they called Doc McGhee who is KISS’s manager and they made everything happen.

AL: Does the band have any tour plans in the works you can tell us about?
SA: Yes! We are playing some shows with Duff McKagan’s band “Loaded” in Japan starting in early March. Our manager and agents are working on some other things as well but for right now it’s nothing we can officially say. The band does plan on touring everywhere.

Steven Seagal chats about his new film “Maximum Conviction” and rumors of “The Expendables 3”

Steven Seagal is an action movie superstar, martial artist, musician and even deputy police officer. He is teaming with with Steven Austin in his new film “Maximum Conviction”.   Media Mikes had a chance to ask Steven a few quick questions about the new film, as well as law enforcement, his music and the rumors of “The Expendables 3”.

Mike Gencarelli: How did you end up teaming with Steve Austin for “Maximum Conviction”?
Steven Seagal: My team offered it to me and I liked the story. So I decided to try it. I loved working with Steve and it would be my pleasure to do it again if the opportunity arose. He is a gentleman and a great guy.

MG: What do you think it takes to make an effective action film today and how it has changed since films like “Above the Law”?
SS: Nowadays they have millions of dollars, special effects and wires. The old style you don’t see very much anymore. It is all special photography, special effects and stuff like that.

MG: You’ve taken on the role of producer and writing on most of your projects, tell about how you ended up producing this film?
SS: I produce almost everything that I do. On this project, Steve got in on it with executive producing and that was cool with me.

MG: Loved your role in “Machete”;  tell us about your reuniting with Danny Trejo in “Forces of Execution”?
SS: Danny has been a friend of mine for 25 years. I love the guy. He is my brother and I love to work with him on whatever we can.

MG: Now that season two has completed for Reelz Channel’s “True Justice”, is there a third planned?
SS: There is no word yet but we are just waiting to see what is going to happen. So, I am waiting just like you.

MG: What ever happened to season three of “Steven Seagal: Lawman”?
SS: Well what happened is that A&E got paranoid since the Obama administration was suing a party close to the show. So in their great courage, they put everything on hold.

MG: What is the most important skill do you think that all law enforcement officers need?
SS: That is like asking what is the best gun for all purposes. You need a different gun for different situations. In terms of a police officer in general, one of the most important things is to have great people skills and understand who you are talking to. Trying to make the community understand that we are their brothers and we are there to protect them. Conversely  there are other elements for super consciousness when it comes to going into any situation that can be potentially dangerous. Also how you can have a panoramic awareness that is also extremely important.

MG: Been listening to your CD “Mojo Priest” since 2007, can we expect a new album soon?
SS: It is half finished right now. I am embarrassed to say it is not done yet. But I am hoping to get to it soon. I am just crazy right now trying to get out there and start swinging. The economy is crazy right now and everything is crazy right now. So it has taken the back burner unfortunately.

MG: Can you address any rumors of you joining the planned “The Expendables 3”?
SS: I will not be involved with that project.


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Oliver Robins talks “Poltergeist” and working with Steven Spielberg

Oliver Robins is known best for his work in the classic horror film “Poltergeist”.  He has also worked on films like “Airplane II: The Sequel”. Currently Oliver is focusing on writing and directing with his latest film, “29,000 Wishes, 1 Regret”.  Oliver took out some time to chat about his experience on “Poltergeist” and working with Steven Spielberg.

Mike Gencarelli: Were you aware of how physical the role in “Poltergeist” was going to be?
Oliver Robins: For the most part I did because in the script it really explained what was going to happen. In terms of how they were going to execute those scenes I had no idea. It was presented to me like I was going to camp. And that’s exactly how it was. I had a great time. Every time I went to the set I had a new adventure. Because when you’re a kid you pretty much accept everything. They’d say, “OK, Oliver, today you’re going to be bolted to this wall and hung up by wires. We’re going to turn the room around and you’re going to scream into the camera because at the angle you’re hanging at it’s going to look like you’re flying.” And as a kid you’re thinking, “OK, that sounds fun.” Then the next day they tell you you’re going to be back in the room and giant tree arms are going to come at you. They want you to jump on the tree arms while screaming at it. Then they throw sugar glass at your face but they do remind you to cover your face when they’re doing it. And as a kid you’re having a great time. It’s like “what’s next?” As an adult you might step back and think it’s kind of crazy. But I used to love climbing trees so it was a blast to me.

MG: So it was really more like fun then work?
OR: Oh yeah, I had a great time. And it was a great bunch of people. Steven Spielberg. Kathleen Kennedy. Frank Marshall…they were a great group of people to work with. I didn’t want to leave the set when we were done every day. I had to because of the labor laws. “Sorry Oliver, you have to go home.”

MG: There has always been a lot of speculation as to whether Spielberg or Tobe Hooper was the director in charge. Can you lend any insight into this?
OR: I’ve learned that people seem to like controversy in pretty much everything in life. And this is one that will never go away no matter what people say. You can say that Steven Spielberg did NOT direct the film, bottom line, but people don’t want to believe it. They want to be conspiracy theorists because the falsehood is more exciting in many ways then the truth. As for Spielberg, he wrote the script (NOTE: the Original story for “Poltergeist” came from Steven Spielberg, who shared screenplay credit with Michael Grais and Mark Victor)…he was the producer. And he had a vision that he shared with Tobe. But Tobe directed me. I mean, it was investigated by the DGA (Director’s Guild of America) at the time. But when it comes to the nitty gritty, Tobe told me where to stand. He told the camera operator where to put the camera. All of the rules that I learned in film school about what a director does Tobe did. As far as what happened behind the scenes, I’m sure Steven explained what he was going for. I mean, when you’re the writer and the producer, you do what any writer would want to do. Explain your vision and your intent. Hope that they are executed as a team. And I think they worked as a great team. So in terms of what I saw on set, Tobe was the director. At least that’s my perspective on it. (NOTE: When “Poltergeist” opened in June 1982 these rumors were already circulating. Tobe Hooper has maintained that these rumors cost him an Oscar nomination for Best Director. Ironically, a week later “E.T.” opened. That film earned Spielberg a Best Director nod).

MG: How was the change going from scary “Poltergiest” to the zany “Airplane 2?”
OR: I had seen the original “Airplane,” so I knew the tone of the piece. I loved “Airplane” so I knew what kind of performance they were going for. It was a dream job for me when they gave it to me. Ken Finkleman, the director, was very patient. He told me what he wanted…the very broad and over the top reactions. I had a lot of fun doing it. And the adult actors were basically doing the exact same thing so I just followed their lead.

MG: What is it like for you now to watch films you made back when you were a kid?
OR: I just recently looked at “Poltergeist” again. Obviously I’m a bit prejudiced but I think it’s a fantastic movie. As good as the films being made today without any of the great technology that exists now. I think that with the advent of all of the new CGI technology we’re almost losing some of our filmmaking capabilities and techniques. It’s as if CGI is now almost a crutch. I mean in “Alien” you hardly see the “Alien” whereas now they show everything when maybe you don’t need to show everything. Not to mention that with a lot of CGI effects today it’s almost hard to suspend disbelief. Getting back to “Poltergeist,” that film is so scary because of the stuff you never even saw. It’s in your head because you really don’t know what you’re looking at. It’s all in your mind. And I think that’s brilliant filmmaking. And it’s not just a horror film. A professor told me that compassion will always win over camera. Which means you make a film with story and character and relationships and the special effects are secondary. And that’s true about “Poltergeist.” Sure it’s scary but it’s the family and their relationships that you care about during the movie.

MG: Now you’re focusing on writing and directing. Talk about taking that path in your career.
OR: It was on “Poltergeist” that I decided I wanted to be a filmmaker. Steven Spielberg loaned me a Super 8 camera and at 10 years old I started making films. And it became a passion that I fell in love with. I fell in love with telling stories. I made a 15 minute film called “The Crystal” that won first prize at a French Film Festival. I realized I wanted to do this as a career. So on the advice of Mr. Spielberg I went to the USC Film School (NOTE: Besides Steven Spielberg, note USC Film School Alumni include George Lucas, Robert Zemeckis and Ron Howard), graduated and I’ve been pursuing filmmaking pretty much ever since. I love all genre’s of film. From comedies to romantic comedies to dramas and family dramas. Hopefully I’ll be able to tell many stories.

MG: You wear pretty much every hat possible on your new film “29,000 Wishes, 1 Regret.” What was the inspiration behind the film?
OR: My inspiration was that I wanted to do a film about our times right now. And I learned it was going to be difficult to raise funding for a film about a young couple who loses everything because of the recession and realize they’re never going to live the life they hoped for. So they decide to charge what’s left on their credit cards and then kill themselves. That story line proved next to impossible to raise money through the traditional means. And I didn’t want to wait ten years to make this movie. I thought it was timely and that it had to be done right now. We had the technology to do it. We had the cameras. So we went out and did it. I’ve been to film school and I said to myself, “Let’s go out and let me see if I can fill every behind the scene role on the movie.” I brought in a couple of friends to assist, one to be DP and one to run sound. But sometimes they weren’t available so I’d have to do everything myself. But what I loved about it is that it allowed me to work very close with the actors and allowed me to really just focus on their performances. I didn’t have to worry about funding or paying back money. It was really just our time that we were spending. And we could really just tell the story that we wanted to tell. Of course the downside is that we didn’t have an infrastructure. We were kind of scattered trying to assemble everything while shooting this film basically by the seat of our pants. So there was an upside and also a darker side to this level of filmmaking. But I think it really tested my ability. To be able to make a film with pretty much nothing…just me and my camera. For all intensive purposes the only thing I really had going was my knowledge of cinema from film school. It’s the same equipment. Now a high school kid can get the equipment as a holiday gift and go out and do the same thing without a lot of money.

MG: Where can people see the film?
OR: They can buy it right now on Amazon, ( or they can download it as well on Amazon. Just type “29000 Wishes, 1 Regret” on Amazon and they can watch it at a moment’s notice. The film has a distributor and it should be available on network television later this year.

MG: Tell us why you started your own clothing line, Cursed Clothes?
OR: I had been going to different horror conventions and thought that it would be great to give fans a little bit more of the movie I was in. So I got with a designer to create “Poltergeist” – inspired T-shirts to hand out. And we had so much fun creating these T-shirts that I thought it would be fantastic to do with other films…all of my favorite films from the 70s, 80s and 90s. Even movies from now. So we created an entire line of horror inspired clothing. And that’s how we came up with Cursed Clothes, ( We’re creating designs for all of the films that I love. “