Mary Holland [Interview]

Today’s interviewee is one of those individuals who will simply make you smile just by existing. Mary Holland is an actress who seems to pop up on everything brilliant these days. She is a hilarious human being who also happens to consistently align herself with other hilarious people. Including our friend and past interviewee Stephanie Allynne! And while the Upright Citizen Brigade has always been a legendary force in the world of comedy, there certainly seems to be some sort of renaissance happening with the aid of people like Stephanie and Mary and several other brilliant folks coming out of these theatres. Comedic, whit, charm, and professional mannerisms are becoming aplenty thanks to people like Mary, and I could not be happier!

Editor’s Note: Within the interview, we discuss the SeeSo Original Series Shrink, which remains brilliant. Unfortunately, this interview was conducted months prior to the news that SeeSo was shutting down. Not to steal Mary’s shine, but we just wanted to say thank you to SeeSo for the wonderful run you had. You gave  the viewers a way to watch brilliant comedic minds like Mary Holland on an all new level. RIP SeeSo!

I have to admit, it is always hard to write these introductions for the brilliant comedians we have featured on this site. I am not a comedian, and I feel like that shows. I do not have the wit and comedic wisdom that these fine individuals have, so what am I supposed to do? Should I try and throw in some ridiculous adjectives and even more ridiculous puns? No, I would rather leave that to the brilliant minds we love to showcase. So with that, I am going to simply shut the hell up, and let you all enjoy some amazing words from the great Mary Holland!

 

What drove you into the world of comedic acting, be it improv, sketch, etc.? Basically, when did you first realize that you were a hilarious human being with a gift to share with the world?

I was a class clown when I was a kid. I loved the attention I got from making people laugh. It became a part of my identity and how I made friends. I also knew I wanted to be an actor, but I wasn’t thinking of exclusively doing comedy – I wanted to do everything. After I graduated from NIU with a BFA in Acting, I moved to Los Angeles and began taking classes at UCB. The friends I met there and the shows I saw really inspired me. It felt right, it felt like home to be there, so I jumped in and began doing improv full time. I can’t imagine my life without it!

Hey! That’s Mary with our new pal Stephanie Allynne w/ Wild Horses!


What made you decide to join the world of the acclaimed UCB, and how did it happen to work out for you? Was it always a goal of yours?

When I first moved to LA, I was pretty lost. I didn’t know many people, and the built in community that I was a part of when I was in school was no longer there. I needed to find or build my own community, and I had no idea how to do it. Creatively, the occasional acting class and audition was helpful, but I was feeling stuck and sad. I happened to live in a building very close to the UCB theatre on Franklin avenue in Hollywood. I saw shows and loved them, so I signed up for classes. I fell in love with improv and devoted most of my free time to practice groups, classes, and seeing shows. I came up with a great group of improvisers, so watching them and playing with them I think was a big part of how I started to improve as a player. I was around a lot, and got up to play whenever I could. Over time, I became a part of the community and started performing regularly at the theatre. It became a huge part of my life. I truly don’t know where I would be without improv or UCB. Being able to perform there was a goal when I saw my first show, but I never imagined it would happen. I’m so grateful it worked out the way it did.

Can you tell us a bit about your work on the SeeSo original series Shrink. I will admit, I am not to aware of much of SeeSo’s programming, and I am quite ashamed of it. It all seems so perfect and geared toward lovers of comedy. So can you tell us a bit about this show?

Shrink is the brainchild of Tim Baltz and Ted Tremper, both from the Chicago improv scene. Tim is a brilliant improviser, and Shrink really showcases that. It’s about a doctor who graduates from medical school, but doesn’t get in to any of the residencies he applies for. Severely in debt and at a loss for what to do with his degree, he decides to pursue becoming a therapist. He moves in with his parents and stepbrother to save money, and begins having therapy sessions in the garage with patients from Craigslist seeking free therapy. I play one of his patients. The cast is populated with fantastic improvisers from Chicago and Los Angeles, and each session is heavily improvised. Tim is incredible as Dr. David Tracey – the show has such heart and is so funny and real and dark at times. I’m very proud to be a part of it.


I am however very familiar with your work on the amazing series Blunt Talk, that is absolutely hilarious and impressive. How has your experience been on a show like this? On screen it appears as though Patrick Stewart has adapted quite well to the comedic word, does it feel like that off screen to you?

I’m so glad you liked the show! Patrick is one of the most delightful and generous actors I’ve ever met. He’s so charming and funny and understands comedy in such a unique way. I learned a lot from watching him work. Walter Blunt is a deeply flawed person, but he has such good intentions. Patrick brought a lovely vulnerability to the character that really made the comedy work. I think that is a key component in making something funny – bringing vulnerability to your performance will make your reactions come from a grounded and honest emotional place. Then the comedy works better because it feels earned and real. The cast and crew of Blunt Talk are so dear to me. We were very close during the making of the show (and afterwards as well). I absolutely loved my experience on set and off set. That show will always have a special place in my heart.

You have also recently joined the cast of the amazing and critically acclaimed to no end, Veep with an amazing set of appearances. What is this show like? Does it differ from any of the other shows you have worked on that had great writing and directing? What do you believe has sparked such acclaim since its inception?

Working on VEEP has been such a dream. The actors are incredible, and 6 seasons in, the whole operation is a well oiled machine. As an audience member, I was blown away by the caliber of writing and acting on the show. Getting to be in the room with those people was an education in comedy. The showrunner, David Mandel, the producers, the directors, Julia, the writers, and the whole cast worked tirelessly to make each moment and joke the funniest it could be. There was never a sense of “ok that joke’s not working but whatever, let’s move on”. They would figure it out, no matter how long it took, so that the scene worked and was the best and funniest it could be. It was so inspiring to watch and be a part of. I think that’s also why it’s garnered such critical acclaim – the entire group is so excited to be there, and they all support each other in making it the best and most hilarious show out there.


If you were given the chance to write the most hilarious script about a fictional serial killer, what would this story entail? And would you want to play the lead, or who else would you want to write it for?

Oh wow! It would be a challenge to make a comedy about a serial killer.. maybe a period piece about a woman in the French court who poisons people for fun? Then it turns out the poison is only temporary so everyone comes back to life and she’s constantly frustrated that her poisons aren’t working. I would insist on playing the lead.

What is next for you? What would you like to plug to our dear readers?

Keep tuning into VEEP! And check out Shrink on Seeso. I perform regularly at UCB in LA, so check out the calendar if you ever want to see a show.

What was the last thing that made you smile?

A picture of a friend that I took last night. I looked at it this morning and smiled.

Sunday Matinee: Heckler [Film]

 

***Please be advised, this “review” of a truly great film, will very quickly turn into the ramblings of a bitter old blogger, and turns into a very long rant. Heckler is in there quite a bit, but be sure that if you scroll past it all, get to the links at the bottom to be able to support Heckler!***

There are several reasons I chose to showcase this Jamie Kennedy-produced documentary for you fine readers on this lovely Sunday. First of all, it’s a damn fine and informative flick. Secondly, a key player in the making of the film may be making a reappearance later this week! And finally, while I hope most of our readers are not the heckling type, as I truly believe you are all just wonderful people, who know how to sit down and shut the fuck up at a comedy show. Except for the laughing. Definitely do the laughing. But, besides that, seriously…keep your damn mouth shut!

We have been showcasing a lot of folks from the world of stand-up comedy lately (ironically, NONE of them appeared in this film!) and have come to notice that the problem with hecklers and critics in this part of entertainment is a persistent problem that doesn’t seem likely to be stopping any time soon. Just further proof that the human race is filled with too many terrible mouth breathing shitheads. That’s right, I’m critiquing..but, not critiquing art. Critiquing a society that never seems to learn. And that is also what the 2007 Michael Addis directed documentary Heckler has managed to convey ever so brilliantly! But here’s the thing..this film was released 10 years ago! Does anyone else remember 2007? The era of Myspace, around the dawn of Facebook, and before we could have fathomed series news being given to us, by our nation’s Commander in Chief for that matter, in the form of something called a “tweet”. In 2007, if somebody told you that they just “tweeted”, you’d probably lead this to a sexual reference of some sort of bout with mental illness. But alas, it is a commonality of today we all practice. So what the hell does this have to do with Heckler? Well it should be obvious, that this is a brilliantly made documentary that discusses the ideas of heckling and biased critical analysis, but occurs in a Pre-Tweet Society.

And I’ll tell you folks, it really looked frustrating in 2007, I couldn’t imagine what a redux of a showcase of these ridiculous problems would look like if made today. Granted, the idea of some drunk asshole standing up at a comedy club and yelling nonsense is a trait as old as time, and will not be fading away any time soon. But, to see Heckler in a time when tweeting and blogging have become actual legitimate things somehow, I’d probably finish off the whole thing in tears. And I’m a blogger!

But despite the amount of change that has occurred in the last decade, Heckler is still a damn fine and relevant documentary that encompasses the spirit of what it is like to be involved in stand up comedy (and other professions), and have to deal with so much ignorance and downright stupidity from people whom which they simply want to entertain. In essence, the film really seems to want to find out what exactly it is that makes people feel compelled to act like such savage creatures either in the audience of a comedy show, or even behind the guise of a publication in which they are being paid real money to shit all over someone else’s art. And while I feel the film does some wonderful analysis to try and help explain what goes through a heckler’s mind, I feel like the film’s strongest point that it is able to convey is a simple one…people fucking suck. Some of them anyway. Most of them. Damn near all. But, I am rambling.

While I came into watching Heckler mainly to learn about the stand up comedy element of it all specifically, I actually found myself most intrigued by the discussion of asinine critics who make a living shitting on everything. I am most fascinated because by all technicalities, some might call these scum-sucking pieces of shit, my “peers”. And I will be god damned if I allow that to happen. I have been “reviewing” and “critiquing” music, film, art, etc. for the last 10 years.  And I am proud to say that I have not done one single negative review, or made discouraging comments about a single interview subject. Why? Are you asking me why? Well first of all, that is a stupid question. It should really be reversed! Why WOULD you want to be negative? Just as Arsenio Hall, Roseanne, and many others point out.just because you don’t enjoy something, doesn’t mean it is necessarily bad. It’s just not for you. “You’re not going to impress everyone”, said the often despised (for strange reasons, I never understood) Carrot Top. And they are all right!

And does the fact that I have never written a negative review mean that I have not received some great piles of digital shit through my inboxes? No. I have sat through hours of god awful Brooklynite EMD nonsense that someone wanted to call music. I’ve watched hours of just insanely bad acted, poorly written, and infuriating cinema..that somebody wanted me to talk about. I’ve been offered and refused interview opportunities, some with very “high profiles” that could probably help boost the site views a bit, because it was with people I am absolutely no interest in and/or couldn’t think of a single nice thing to say about them. So why have I never said a word about them in any sort of publication? Because it obviously just wasn’t meant for ME! I didn’t like, but again, that’s just me. Who the fuck am I to shit on someone else’s dream when they are simply attempting to create. If they are not presenting something entirely negative and obscenely racist, homophobic, sexists, etc. and the only they thing it is offended is my eyes and ears with its shitty taste..why the fuck should I even open my mouth to say anything about it at all.

Alright, that is going to end my rant on the subject matter. Seriously folks, the simple idea that a film can bring this sort of emotion out of me should act as a good sign that it has done its job. If you have the ability to watch this film, and still continue to be able to attend any sort of live event are not able to simply keep your god damn mouth shut, then you have something physically and mentally wrong with you, and just simply stay in your home and prevent the world from being infected by whatever is wrong with you.

That’s it folks! See Heckler! It’s phenomenal! Visit jamie kennedy.com to check it out!

Check out this trailer for Heckler courtesy of High Fliers Films:

Sean Bridgers [Interview]


We have an absolutely amazing interview for you fine folks today! A couple of years ago, there was an amazing movie that was released and rocked the world with some cringe-worthy material and magnificent performances that deserved some well deserved acclaim. That film was called Room. The wonderful Brie Larsen received a well deserved Oscar nomination, and the whole cast was lauded appropriately. I absolutely adored this film, and considered the best of the year. And what was a major contributing factor? Well, that would be the subject of today’s interview! The great Sean Bridgers, who portrayed Old Nick in the film, portrayed one of the most hated characters in a film since Nurse Ratchet. He was a different kind of evil, one that didn’t completely seem intentionally malefic, just not in the right state of mind for a decent world. You had to hate him, but you could attempt the empathize, usually with no avail though.

And the man who brought this character to screen happens to be one of the greatest character actors of our time. The great Sean Bridgers. So convincing was his Old Nick character, that I totally forgot in the viewing that he was a cast member of one of the greatest television shows in recent history, the illustrious Deadwood. Two very different characters, in two very different worlds. And Sean handled them both beautifully.

With that, we are so excited to have a few words with Sean Bridgers here today. He has a career that is constantly flourishing, including a role on the new Epix Series based on the classic Elmore Leonard novel and Danny Devito flick, Get Shorty! Check out this amazing interview with a damn fine actor, and then go check him out on Get Shorty! So ladies and gentlemen, Mr. Sean Bridgers!

How early in your life did you realize you wanted to join the world of film and television? Was it an early ambition, or did it just pop up as an option?

I didn’t realize that I could be in a film until I was actually in one. I grew up in a small town in the Smoky Mountains of North Carolina and when I was young, I did not know nor did I know anyone who knew, a professional actor. I wanted to play quarterback for the Chicago Bears or pitch for the Atlanta Braves or both. I read a great deal and I loved movies and TV but I wanted to be Archie Manning not Harrison Ford … know what I mean? Joining the world of film and TV was not on my radar when I was a kid. Although … I wrote, produced, directed and starred in a couple of plays when I was in Elementary school. I got a few friends together and we got the props, costumes, etc. My 3rd grade teacher, Mrs. Williams, allowed us to perform our “little show” on a Friday, during the period between last class and waiting for the buses. We just huddled up and I told them their characters and to simply do what I told them to do as I narrated. I had written the “script” on cue cards. We never rehearsed. We just went for it. It was titled “The Assassination of Abraham Lincoln”. I was to play Lincoln and narrate. I had the fake beard and everything. My friends who were Cub Scouts wore their uniforms and brought toy rifles and were Union Soldiers. My John Wilkes Boothe got stage fright and unlike the real JWB, he chickened out. So he played Lincoln, which was stupid because he was very short, and I had to play Boothe. So I shot him in the head, jumped off a table, broke my ankle (not really I was acting) stopped and narrated about Boothe fleeing into Maryland and then I ran to the corner of the room, where I had assembled chairs to make a “barn” which the Cub Scouts set on fire (not really) and I made a run for the classroom door as they shot me down with cap guns. It was a big hit. My next show was “Washington Crosses the Delaware” (I liked history) and I played Washington and we had a big cast because everyone wanted to be in it because “Lincoln” had been so well received. The story was that we would cross the Delaware in an imaginary boat and when we reached the shore we were gonna kill a bunch of drunk Hessians. That was pretty much it. It was going to be a bloodbath. We had sword fights planned. But just before we started, my teacher said that we couldn’t have any cap guns and she didn’t want us “running wild”. Which was the point. So I pulled the plug and I quit doing my own shows until I got to 6th grade when I created a redneck Sheriff character. I did a few skits about him. I’d chew on black licorice and spit it in a cup. It was stuff like … he arrests Santa Claus … because he thinks he’s a burglar because Santa is not real, because the Sheriff never got great gifts as a child, so even if Santa was real he must be a dick (didn’t use that word) and then Santa explained the spirit of Christmas or something. It was kind of a Kapra thing with a Jackie Gleason twist. So as a young kid, I never thought about being an actor but I seemed to be acting nonetheless.

When I was in 10th grade I went to a private school in Tennessee (St Andrews – Sewanee) and there were some older kids there, the kings and queens of the drama department, who were going off to college and were going to be actors. They actually said out loud, “I’m going to study acting and become an actor” and no one laughed at them. Around that time I saw the film Tender Mercies. My friends said there was a Burt Reynolds Western showing that weekend because they’d glanced at the poster as they walked past the movie theater on their way to school, and on the poster was a guy in a cowboy hat with a mustache. In 1983 Tennessee, cowboy hat + mustache = Burt Reynolds. So we went to see it and soon realized it wasn’t a Western, there was no Burt and my friends lasted 10 minutes but I stayed and watched the entire film and was just totally taken in by it. I didn’t know who Robert Duvall was but the story and the performances were so real it reminded me of people I actually knew in my own little hillbilly life. It was close to home and it was the first film that ever felt that way to me. If what Robert Duvall was doing was “acting” then I thought maybe I could do it. I kept that dream to myself but ended up playing Poseidon in the Trojan Women in 11th grade because my girlfriend asked me to and went from rehearsal (play practice, I called it) to baseball practice. My Senior year I was not allowed to play baseball and do the Spring play. So I chose to play the lead in Blythe Spirit and gave up my dream of pitching for the Braves. Even then I was a better actor than ball player. My coach was pissed off and thought there must be a little sugar in my tank … know what I mean? I’d rather act in a play than play baseball? What he didn’t consider is that a lot of girls do plays.

Meeting girls was what led me to do plays in college at Western Carolina University and I started getting great reviews from a critic in Asheville NC, named Tony Kiss. A friend suggested I take those reviews and headshot/resume and meet her agent. And I did. The agent was really a secretary and our “meeting” was when she got away from her desk and met me in the lobby for her smoke break. I didn’t hear from her until months later when she called for an audition for a movie in Charlotte NC. I showed up three hours early because I’d never been to Charlotte and expected to get lost (1991 – pre GPS). I found my way to the audition and got my sides (scenes from the script) and sat down and memorized 10 pages (which is a lot but I didn’t know that at the time). The casting director was Mark Finncannon and he could not have been more kind and encouraging. The audition went well and the Finncannons brought me back for other projects that were coming to the Carolinas and I did three movies that summer and realized at that point that not only could I be an actor but I already was one. Maybe not a very good actor yet but I knew I had talent and I wasn’t afraid to work to get better. I was “all in” at that point and my focus became getting better through experience. That led me to study for an MFA in acting at LSU and I grew as an actor while in Baton Rouge but left a semester shy of graduating because I got a role in a movie.

That was a meandering answer to a simple question.

When was the first time you can remember seeing your name appear on screen? Do you remember what the project was? And how did it feel to see it for the first time?

The first movie I did was a CBS movie of the Week, starring Helen Hunt, called Murder In New Hampshire. They misspelt my last name – left out the R in BridgeRs. It made me feel slightly pissed off. I got over it.

Time has proven that Deadwood will go down as one of the finest television programs that came out in the beginning of this Golden Age of Television. So, what was your experience working on this show? When you look back on your experience on the show, what do you remember fondly? And what impact do you believe the show has left in history?

I’m not able to communicate the experience of working on Deadwood yet. I’m still processing it. What I remember most fondly about the show are the people I had the good fortune to work with. There were some brilliant performers and artists on Deadwood starting at the top with the show creator David Milch. He was fully committed to getting the truth of every character and every scene and as a result everyone brought all they had to offer everyday. Assholes were not allowed. Not for long anyway. What we were doing was too important for us to put up with any bullshit. It was a wonderful place to go to work and I miss those people. It’s impossible to say what the impact Deadwood will leave on television history but I do believe that my great grandkids will get as much out of our 36 episodes as audiences do today. It’s a timeless piece of storytelling. Deadwood will withstand the trends of cultural change. If all three seasons of Deadwood were transcribed into a novel it would be an American Literary classic.

Your role as Old Nick in Room is probably one of the most gruesomely dark roles I have ever seen put to screen. What drew you to this insane role? And how do you prepare for such a dark performance?

What drew me to role of Old Nick was that they gave me the job. Even after 26 years of working as an actor, every job seems like a little miracle. Fortunately for me, Room was a wonderful script, filled with great performers, brilliantly directed and got the attention it deserved.

I have my own process that gets me where I need to be to play a guy like Old Nick. My job was to make him a real human being with hopes and fears, love and hate. So it’s important that I not judge any character I inhabit. The story determines what the character does or does not do … the why of it is for the performer … and is best kept a secret. I will say that I had a wonderful time working with Director Lenny Abrahamson and Brie and Jacob … but I was happy to wrap that movie and shed myself of Old Nick.

photo by George Krachyk courtesy of the Everett Collection.

But, Room was definitely not the first dark performance I enjoyed you in. Jugface was an insanely well done horror film, and I loved your work as Dawai. When working on a project like this, what do you find to be the most important thing an actor can do to bring about just the right amount of crazy in a role?

First of all —  thank you for the compliment. I’m very proud of that movie. It’s a very strange and haunting tale. As far as bringing the “right amount of crazy” to the role of Dawai well … the whole story was kinda crazy, so I had some latitude there. Again it’s a matter of trying to create a character who feels like a real human being. Most of us are motivated by love or an attempt to avoid pain. In the case of Dawai, it was love. He loved a girl who would never feel the way about him that he felt for her. But it didn’t matter to him. His love trumped his need to avoid pain and as a result he almost seems noble at the end. He’s also the fool in Jugface and playing the fool is one of my favorite things to do, on screen and off.

If you were given the chance to portray any American president (on screen, out of an elementary school classroom that is) in history, which one would you like to bring to life?

Well … since my early attempts to play Lincoln and Washington were thwarted …

I would love to play Jimmy Carter. It would be nice to inhabit the spirit of Carter for a few months – that would do anyone good.
After playing someone like Old Nick I think I deserve to play someone like Jimmy Carter. Don’t you agree? Let’s make that happen.

After all of your years in the world of film and television, in front of and behind the screen, what would you say you are most proud of?

I’m proud of the projects you’ve mentioned … but also proud of Rectify and The Woman. I was in Free State of Jones and that’s a story worth telling. I have a film coming out called Carolina Low, which I wrote, produced and star in. We made it in 1997 under the title Paradise Falls, won many awards at film festivals but could never sell it. We’ve done a fresh edit and mix and it will be available soon. I’m very proud of Carolina Low.

What does the future hold for you? Anything you would like to plug to our readers?

I am starring in Get Shorty which premiers August 13th on EPIX. It stars Chris O’Dowd and Ray Romano and was created by Davey Holmes who wrote for Shameless among others. The folks at MGM who produce Fargo are at the helm of Get Shorty and both shows share tone and quality. You never know what is going to happen next in Get Shorty. Definitely binge worthy television. It was a blast to work on.

Also, my producing partner, Michael “Ffish” Hemschoot and I have released a 6 part web series called Arkansas Traveler. Go to Travelinproductions.com and all 6 webisodes are available. We’re working toward making Arkansas Traveler into a feature or perhaps keep it going as a web series. So please go to the site and check out Arkansas Traveler and if enough people clamor for more we’re hoping someone will give us a little $ to finish the story.

What was the last thing that made you smile?

Seeing my youngest wake up around noon, all sleepy faced and happy because it is still summer break.

Hey Folks! Remember, if you download Epix for a free trial you can watch the first 3 episodes of Get Shorty featuring our new friend Sean Bridgers!  You Don’t want to miss this year’s hottest new series!

Check out this trailer for the EPIX Original series Get Shorty, courtesy of Jo Blo TV Show Trailers:

Bianca VanDamme [Interview]

 

Today’s amazing interviewee is a woman who was no doubt destined for stardom, and was born with all the right genes to be a star. Of course, destiny and genes will get you know where if you part of those genes don’t include a stamina and willpower to succeed. A willingness to succeed is by far more important than appropriate placement. And we dare say that the great Bianca VanDamme has definitely proven that she has what it takes to be a major player in the world of film, and has frankly already proven it time and time again.

Bianca has had some brilliant performances in the film penned by our old friend Sean Stone that we all know and love entitled Enter The Fist and the Golden Fleece. And bringing it all back around to the event we have been talking about all weekend, She appeared as the lead in Dominic Burn’s Alien Uprising. The event in question, again, would be the premiere of Shooting Clerks. As if everything weren’t already connected so closely in our world, Mr. Burns is one of the geniuses behind the live action directorial debut of the great Jason Mewe’s Madness in the Method coming soon. See how so many great minds can be interconnected?

Anyway, today is all about the brilliant actress and martial arts expert Bianca VanDamme. She can be also be found in the amazing horror flick known as Paranormal Activity Security Squard (coincidentally again features her previous co-worker, the great Sean Stone), that is absolute must see for all horror & action fans. And Bianca’s career is only destined to flourish in the coming years. She has taken on the role of producer on several feature films and documentaries. And of course you will be able to catch Bianca in the big screen in some very exciting projects in the near future.

So how about I stop rambling, and let you all check out some amazing words from one of today’s finest young talents, the great Bianca VanDamme!

We know that you obviously had some major influences in your life, but I’d like to know what made you personally want to join the world of acting? What did you find most attractive about the field?

Personally acting has never been something I wanted to achieve in my life but growing up in the industry, obviously mindsets change. My main goal is to direct and before stepping into that I was always told it’s smart to know what it’s like in front of the camera before stepping behind it. I’ll tell you something funny, I’ve always wanted to achieve so much in one life time and realized you could only really have one “career” choice, wether it’s a doctor or a mechanic, etc. That always freaked me out and made me realize with acting I could be anything I want so that’s what really made think, “Hey, this isn’t that bad”. I mean what’s better than a grown up playing pretend? I love watching the classics from cary grant and Audrey Hepburn etc. I really get lost and I want people to get lost while watching my films wether its what I’m in or directing.


You had quite the breakout role in Dominic Burn’s film Alien Uprising. How was your experience on this film? Was it a daunting task to take on a role like that?

It was a great experience, my first leading role. I was terribly frightened but at the same time ground breaking for my confidence. Personally, I look back at my performance and know I could’ve done way better but it was a baby step and I learned a lot from it. Because of Alien Uprising, I have more confidence. I know to take my projects more seriously, study harder and focus on my character rather than just spitting out lines. The cast and crew were absolutely amazing to me and are very genuine people, taking that back home with me was what I cherish most.


You also had a pivotal role in another film written by and featuring our old friend Sean Stone, entitled Enter the Fist and the Golden Fleece, that seems very intriguing. How did you become drawn to this film? And how was your experience working on a film like this?

When I first met Sean he had asked me to read it, being open to collaboration and building a new friendship I did. Before shooting ETF we shot another film together called P.A.S.S. which we were both in as well. After shooting that we loved working together so we decided to do ETF. It’s been a pet project of his for some time so I jumped in and said what the heck, let’s have fun and just shoot.

It was an interesting experience, obviously a lot of laughs and great cast and crew. It was a lot of fun to shoot, I just remember laughing…I think that’s why I have slight abs right now!


I’ve noticed that you have begun moving behind the camera as well, working as a producer on a few projects. What made you want to make this transition? And is there a chance we may find you in a director’s chair someday? If so, what type of projects would you like to work on?

You will definitely see me in the directors chair more often! I’ve always loved creating and story telling.

I’ve been told I’m really good with people and making them feel comfortable. I didn’t know what that meant until I helped my friend shoot an audition, we worked on it for hours because I wanted him to have the best performance and he booked it.So directing is definitly in my line of vision, right now I’m writing a few shorts. It’s scary but nothing happens unless you dive in.

I have heard that you are also a fan of poetry, which is always great to here. What sort of poetry to you enjoy writing/reading? Who are some of your favorite poets?

I LOVE poetry, I’ve been writing since I was about 13 years old. Not many people get to read my work, it’s extremely dark and romantic. The few people I did show loved it but also asked if I was ok! I found that funny because for me poetry is therapeutic and helps me escape but sometimes I find it hard to come back to blue skies and sunshine. I love Edgar Allen Poe, Walt Whitman, William Shakespeare, E.. Cummings…as a kid I was obsessed with Shel Silverstein…Oscar Wilde, Charles Bukowski, the list goes on and on and on.

What does the future hold for you? Anything coming in the near future that you would like to tell our readers about?

I’m working on a lot of new and exciting projects that I can’t wait to share with everyone. They’ll just have to keep an eye out!


What was the last thing that made you smile?

Driving on Mount Olympus, listening to Stevie Nicks with my ride or die (Nikita, my pup) by my side.
That dog makes me laugh so much, without her I would not be here.

Check out this awesome video Bianca made to show that she is taking what her father gave to the world, and perfecting it:

J.D. Shapiro [Interview]

In 1993, a brilliant film was brought to the world. It was called Robin Hood: Men In Tights, and it remains as my all time favorite Mel Brooks film. Easily. And then in 2000, another movie was released. It was called Battlefield Earth. And it was, well, it was a movie. It may have actually received an award for Worst Film of the Decade at the Razzie Awards. It’s a pretty memorable film to say the least. Maybe not in a good way. But, what is the connection between them? Well, I recently discovered that one man was involved in BOTH of these projects. And it made me wonder…how the fuck could this be? So, I did what I normally do….I hunt them down! And hunt them down I did!

J.D. Shapiro is an accomplished writer, director, actor, stand up comedian, and quite the fine dresser too if I might add. He has accomplished so damn much in his career that is on-going and fascinating. Although if you only rely on the first page of Google to check him out, you’re likely going to land on several articles about how he bravely accepted (twice!) the Razzie awards for Battlefield Earth that he “wrote”. But, with an accomplished career as it is, there is obviously a bit more to the story that what we initially see. We recently spoke with the film’s director, but he declined to talk about it. I wasn’t sure if J.D. would be willing to do so. But, oh was I fucking WRONG! Talk about it he did, and I am very excited to share his words with you! Of course, I want to make it clear, J.D.’s career has been vast and important and deserves a great deal of respect. But, he is also a guy who has great sense of humor. Which I believe you will find both to be true in the words below.

So, I will bow out now and stop babbling to introduce our new friend J.D. Shapiro!

You are an acclaimed writer of film, television, even books, on top of a great career as a stand up comedian. if you were forced to do so, what would you consider yourself as first, a writer or a stand up?

Well, acclaimed is in the eyes of the beholder. According to my sisters i’m the same idiot i’ve been since i was a kid.

A writer. Over anything. Directing. Acting. Anything.

This is because you start with nothing. to be cliche, it’s a blank canvis. Actually there isn’t even a canvis. If you want a canvis you have to write: “This is a canvis”.  You start with nothing. So, it’s the hardest of all to do. Oddly, it’s not the most rewarding. People giving you a stand O is incredibly rewarding. you don’t get that by writing a script. Sure, you do once it’s made. But then it’s not just your own. Nothing wrong with that, but when you’re writing it’s 100% yours. Brilliant or crap, you have to own it.


In 2000 you added director and actor to your credits with We Married Margo, which had an excellent showing at Slamdance. What made you decide you wanted to get behind the camera as a director? Acting seems logical as a professional stand up, but what made you want to get into that comfy chair and tell others how to portray your words?

I’m dyslexic. not just with letters and numbers, but in life. I actually was a succesful writer before I started doing standup. And I did We Married Margo before I did standup.  Years before. I started out as an actor, studied at one of the best places on earth: HB studios in NYC. with one of the best teachers on earth: Uta Hagen. and I was good. she yelled at me a lot so I knew I had something.

But the more I acted the more I was interested in what was going on behind the camera. I liked that creative process better. It hit on all pistons, I loved the pressure of directing, I love dealing with so many different kinds of people and situation. Like war without any bullets. So it’s nothing like war. But in your head and heart you feel the exciting and the pressure. Which I love. i’ve always worked better under pressure.  It was also way, way more proactive than acting. I’m not good at sitting around and waiting. And I liked being God. To me, the director was God (at the time I didn’t give enough credit to the writer. But once it’s in the director’s hands — he’s God.  Yes, studios have a say, money has a say, actors, etc… but let’s just say it’s as God like as one can be after the writer. So I always wanted to direct. I actually started to write to a means to an end, which was directing.

I did some theatre, some commercials and music vidoes to start. Got offers to do features but I couldn’t find a script I liked. So I decided to write my own.


So, Robin Hood: Men In Tights. what a god damned classic, to say the least. In your obviously professional opinion, how great do you believe it was for Mel Brooks to get to work with you? And vice versa, maybe?

I think Mel was incredibly lucky to work with me. The highlight of his life and career!  (Funny thing is I’m doing projects with Stan Lee now. And he jokes “Jakey, I think you’re the one that is finally going to make me famous!)

With Mel it’s a bit mixed. Best of times, worst of times thing. But overall I was very happy that he liked my script and wanted to make it. It was because of Mel that I eventually started doing standup. He was always performing. Whenever he met anyone or in most situations. so i started to do that when i met people. and i realized i could do this on stage.

I found this quote from you about Battlefield Earth: “no one sets out to make a train wreck. actually, comparing it to a train wreck isn’t really fair to train wrecks, because people actually want to watch those.” Obviously, we greatly appreciate this one.

Hahaha! I can not take full credit for that quote. I was dating a woman, Meredith Karasch, an attorney in L.A., who after I said “It’s like a train wreck” said something like “people want to watch train wrecks.” I burst out laughing, asked if I could use that and give her credit. she said yes but she didn’t want the credit.  Finally, I can give her the credit she deserves.


We actually just did an interview with Roger Christian, and he just really didn’t want to talk about Battlefield Earth, so we won’t try to make you either. But, I really do want to ask, what was it like to actually pick up your Razzie award in person? Was it a lighthearted jab or did it actually feel mean as hell?

Corey Mandell, the other writer on the film, is a fucking tool. A “pencil” is what real writers call someone like him in the business. Someone who takes the job for the money; not the project, not the passion— nothing. He doesn’t want to talk about it because he fucked up a potentially good movie. Anyone who wants to read my draft can. It still needed work because I was fired after I didn’t agree with the studo on the direction they suddenly wanted to go, so I never fully finsihed what I started. But it is like a billion times better then the shit Corey wrote. I heard him trying to put me down in an interview once by saying a couple of things, mainly that “How does J.D. know i wasn’t given the same notes he was?” of course I know you were given them, you asshole. But I had the integrity to say “No.” You were a pencil who said “Yes.”  Then he said I spend my life talking about BE. From what I know, and IMDb doesn’t get it all down because like 60% of the stuff I’ve done isn’t on it, Corey is a teacher— of screenwriting (those poor fucking students)… How the fuck is that possible? it’s like the guy who crashes the planes gets hired to teach people to be a pilot! Or the guy who builds a house that falls apart within an hour of the people moving in and he or her teaching a course in “How to build a house!”

Oh, I got off track.  Anyway, he’s doing nothing and I’ve sold several specs since BE and have been hired for many projects, including, as I mentioned, working with Stan Lee.

Anyway, to see how I feel about BE, people can Google my name and NY post.  my name and accepting razzie award.

I accepted it twice. When it won originally, and then when it won ‘Worst Movie of the Decade.” First time was on a radio show and I don’t remember much, other than I had fun. for the “Worst Movie of the Decade”, it was a blast. I wasn’t sure how the audience would react to me or my speech and it went great. If you listen to the speech you see I’m blaming Corey for the movie. Now— I took blame in the Post article I wrote because I did start the processes so I have to take blame even though I was gone and he finished it. But I loved the Razzies, it was a lot of fun.

That being said, I’d be very happy if I never win another Razzie again.

Also, we always tend to ask our statue holding friends this question, usually in reference to an Emmy, Oscar, etc., but in this case: where do you keep your Razzie Award? And does its physical location have any significance to you?

Most of the awards I have I’ve given to my mom and dad. I’ve actually won some good ones. but I don’t want to hold onto them because that’s the past. Life to me is about the moment and the future. Mainly the moment (which is what I love when I’m writing, directing or doing standup. No time to think when it’s going great. Have to be in the moment.  And sex.  Same thing. You must be in that moment for those two and a half minutes. Maybe three). The Razzie is somewhere in storage only because I got the original one that was first ever used. They asked me to call to switch it out, which I did. Several times. But never heard back.  So that’s somewhere in storage.

 

I understand you have a book coming out this year that we should all be very excited for. Can you tell us a bit about it? When can we check it out?

Thank you for allowing me to give a  not so obvious plug 🙂

It’s called Think Like a Man: The Only Guide You’ll Ever Need.

As I say in the book, I was writing stuff in my journal and realised this would make a great book. In a very humorous way I tell women what men really want. No bullshit, no political correctness, I tell them the truth and sometimes, the truth hurts. Me – because a few women wanted to throw the book at my head!  I tested it with around 300 women to see what they thought and actually like 95% loved it. They called it empowering. That makes me feel good. I gave it to about 20 men and they said I gave away good secrets. The idea being it’s a manual. If a woman understood a man, how amd what we thought—really thought, they’d be able to “use” us to get what they want— in the same time giving a man what he wants.

Win/win!

Unlike most of these books that are written by men who have never truly been in the field and just talk theories, or men who write books about what women want, or women who write books about what a man wants (both being rediculous because I’d never presume to write a book what a woman wants). Yes, I grew up with three sisters and know more than most men. But I’m not a women. So WTF do I really know.  As far as men go— I am a man, I’ve been in the field (so to speak) and I know what men want. Sure, we are all different, but there are basics that have to do with 300,000 years of biology and existence (or 6,500 years if you believe in fairytale books).


What else does the future hold for you? Anything you would like to plug to our readers?

Thank you again for giving me a chance to make a shameless plug.

The movies I have won’t be out until next year at the soonest.  But I did just complete a short that might get turned into a feature. It’s called Hard Day’s Nights. a drama/comedy about two women who have nothing in common but are stuck together. Not literaly. Through each other they help each other heal. If Woody Allen and Terrance Malik had a child— that’s the tone of the movie.  (How’s that for a mind fuck!). That should be done with post by september.

Presently I’m looking for financing for two scripts. So if you have money get out your check books.  One is going back to my Robin Hood: Men In Tights days. It’s called Knights of the Not So Round Table. It’s a lost footage movie. Dan Myrick is interested in eping it and I already have Stan Lee in it playing — Stan Lee. Not expensive because I want it to look and feel like a found footage movie (yes, it turns out that Camelot was recored by— I won’t say who yet— and that recording was in Area 54 and it got stolen and released). anyway the movie is around 1.6 million dollars.

The other is a rock/pop/rap/jazz/classical/country coming of age musical comedy. It’s if you took Grease and Moulin Rouge and thrust it together with Risky Business and American Pie… on acid.  I love this project, and have gotten close to getting it going but not yet. One studio said yes if I walked away as director. I said no. Budget isn’t even that big. 8.5 million dollars.

Whenever I decide what movie I’m writing, whether it be on spec, for me to direct or I’ve been hired to do, I decide “Do I want to see this movie?” and most importantly; would I watch it again and again. if I’m skimming channels at night, would I stop in the middle or the end of this movie to watch even though I’ve seen it 8 times already.  If the anwer is yes, then I write it. If no, I either toss that idea or tell my agents to say no.

What was the last thing that made you smile?

A dog video I watched prior to addressing this email. The dog sounds like he’s talking as a guy tells him he ate a sandwhich, made one for the cat, etc.  It’s very well done and very funny.  Google it.

Sunday Matinee: Turn It Around: The Story of East Bay Punk [Film]

 

“Turn It Around: The Story of East Bay Punk explores Northern California’s pivotal role in evolution of punk rock – the loud, intense and anti-authoritarian philosophy of music and politics that arose in the late 1970s. Early San Francisco Bay Area punk pioneers like Dead Kennedys, Avengers and Flipper as well as the Maximum Rocknroll fanzine helped take the punk underground global.

As the once-vibrant local scene became wrought with violence, corruption and racism, punks over the bridge in the East Bay responded by creating a fun and inclusive style of punk that also carried on the region’s tradition of radical thought. Banding together around Berkeley’s all- volunteer 924 Gilman Club, this diverse collective of misfits created a do-it-yourself, no-spectators’ petri dish for art & music that changed the Bay Area punk scene… and the world at large.

Today, we know about some of the bands who emerged from this scene, like Green Day and Rancid, but their success is just the tip of the iceberg; the roots of this inspiring story go deep into the underground. Directed and produced by Corbett Redford, narrated by Iggy Pop and executive produced by Green Day, Turn It Around: The Story Of East Bay Punk is told by the people who were there.  The story of East Bay punk rock unfolds from its unlikely beginnings, continues through its struggles, and triumphs with its raucous power continuing to be influential today.” – Official Website, eastbaypunk.com.

Operation Ivy at 924 Gilman, 1988, photo by Murray Bowles

I have to kick off this showcase by delving into some emotional aspects of my experience watching this tremendous film. Do you know that feeling directly after accomplishing something that you have been waiting to do for quite a long damn time? Years even? Well, that is exactly how I felt after the credits rolled on Turn It Around. After years of watching this project develop, I was finally  able to witness the massive amount of work that our old friend Corbett Redford and his crew were able to pull off and put to screen. And when that project turns out to be even more majestic than you had ever expected, it makes it all that much sweeter.

Turn It Around: The Story of East Bay Punk is brilliant documentary that EVERYONE can enjoy. I will be the first to admit, I am not a very “punk” person. I appreciated the punk world and its impact on society prior to watching this film, but I truly had no idea about just how much was going on in this world, specifically in the East Bay area. I had heard of some of the more obvious bands that mentioned in the film like Operation Ivy, Rancid, Green Day (even knew the Sweet Children references!), and Flipper. And it was amazing to hear about them! But halfway through the film, I found myself jotting down dozens of other bands who I had not realized were around at the time and having such a huge impact on the scene. I even created my own “poser” drinking game where I would take a drink every time a cool new band was mentioned, but had to quickly stop because the film runs delightfully long, and I was determined to get through they whole beautiful event!

Green Day at 924 Gilman, 1992, photo by Murray Bowles

As I mentioned, you do not have to be a true “punk” fan to enjoy this wonderful documentary. The emotional release and visual stimulation is so readily available that it will earnestly throw you into the world that is the subject at hand. This film is so masterfully made, that even the most noice punk fan is sure to enjoy it. The imagery becomes so delightfully real that you can almost smell the room temperature PBR and sweat moving through the proverbial and actual mosh pit that was the East Bay punk scene. Never before have I been able to watch a film and quickly realize just how much hard work has gone into telling a truly fascinating tale. The story of what was happening in the East Bay during this time period is not only a fascinating story for the music world, it is a genuinely important era of American history. And it needs to be appreciated! I feel as though Turn It Around truly does appreciate what was happening at places like 924 Gilman, and in the vast and different regions across the East Bay.

We spoke with the film’s director and co-writer, our old pal Corbett Redford last October, and I feel as though he was spot on with one of the statements he made in that interview:

“Our film’s ultimate focus is about the human need we all have to find a place to belong. A place we feel safe to be ourselves. With the recent rash of fear and sickness I have had since the US election results, suddenly I felt a new urgency for people to see what we have created in this documentary – which is really a story about the road to the emergence of the non-profit music collective, 924 Gilman in Berkeley, California.” (See full interview HERE)

Isocracy at 924 Gilman, 1987, photo by Murray Bowles

And honestly, as proven in my rambling before hand, I certainly couldn’t have said it better myself. Redford is an enigma in this world, and we are all so lucky that he decided to take on Turn It Around: The Story of East Bay Punk. The man has not only created a lovely 2 1/2 hours of entertainment, he has documented an extremely important era in American history, and he did it amazingly!

I implore everyone to check out this film as soon as possible! It is an experience you will not soon forget.

Screenings this week at Berkeley’s Elmwood Cinema. Find more info HERE.

And check out the trailer for Turn It Around: The Story of East Bay Punk right here courtesy of Abramorama Inc:


Joseph Cassese [Interview]


As you may well remember, last Sunday we showcased a wonderful film for our Sunday Matinee showcase, Vincent Periera’s indie classic A Better Place, in celebration of the premiere of Shooting Clerks in New Jersey this weekend. Basically the View Askew nerds like me are running wild at what is happening! And in said Sunday Matinee I may have mentioned that we would soon be having an interview with a cast member of the film go live “soon”.  Well, apparently by soon, I meant a few days later. Because here we are!

Jospeh Cassese has had a wonderful career in the world of stage and film for over 20 years, appearing in dozens of film projects and on stages across the land. And as promised, he is the actor behind Todd in A Better Place. He was brilliant in this film, as he generally is with everything that he does. And we are so happy that he has been willing to give us a few great words here today! Joseph gave us some brilliant insight into the making of A Better Place, as well some fun stories about the making of the film. And of course we delve into the rest of his brilliant career.

So without further rambling, It is my pleasure to introduce to you all, the brilliant actor Joseph Cassese!

Reading through your bio, I learned that you were originally planning on studying law, but switched gears into acting shortly thereafter. What prompted such a dramatic swing?

At the time, I was an undergrad student studying in college towards pursuing a career in law because I was inspired by an uncle of mine who was a very successful NY attorney and politician. Seeing the life that he was living was something that I was attracted to and once I learned what he did for a living, I believed that was what I wanted for myself. As I got older and learned more about how the world worked, I realized that although I have traits and talents that would have likely benefitted me in a career as a litigator, there was something about the boundaries of that profession that started to appear to me as confining. At the same time, I was experiencing some challenges in school as well as with several other circumstances in my life that probably had more to do with my evolving philosophies about “what it all meant”. My thoughts about  what I wanted to do for a living began to shift. I remember that things and circumstances around me began to stand out to me more significantly, what a person may have said, or how I observed someone’s behavior, or the dynamics at work in my immediate surroundings as well as those of the world in general. I was seeing and looking for deeper meaning and interpretations of all of those things that were showing up in my life. There was a moment, where I realized that no matter where you go or what you are doing in life, somewhere, somehow, a form of politics will be at work. There is just as much politics happening within a group of custodians responsible for cleaning a school as there is amongst a group of corporate bureaucrats jockeying for position to be recognized and promoted. With that, I figured if I am going to be involved in a situation, a career, a pursuit, and the politics of that pursuit is inevitable, that pursuit may as well be in the service of something that I enjoy doing, and I realized that my creativity is something that I cannot escape. My imagination and desire to be creative seemed to be best suited to acting and telling stories. So off to New York I went to take my first acting class.

And what keeps you going in the business? What makes you want to continue working in this world?

To be surrounded by other creative people, working towards a common goal is something that doesn’t get old for me. When I am exchanging ideas and creative energy, and conversations, and dialogue, I feel ignited. Storytelling, cinema, stage, the concept of creating something for the people who are watching to feel or think about something that they may not have felt or thought before watching, there is something about that idea that keeps me in it.

It has been 20 years since the release of one of my favorite films of all time, Vincent Pereria’s A Better Place. I’d love it if you would tell us a bit about your experience working on this legendary cult film? What drew you to the role of Todd?

Truthfully I was initially drawn to the project before I knew anything about it because of the production’s affiliation with Kevin Smith’s View Askew production. The era of independent film being considered as a viable part of the entertainment business and how it was being taken more seriously was gaining notoriety. I had quickly become a student of how rapidly that element of the business was launching careers and making some incredible films. Being a kid from Jersey who was trying to find my way in the NYC arm of entertainment industry, seeing a notice for an open casting call in Red Bank, NJ from an affiliate of View Askew, I wasn’t going to miss the opportunity to go out for it. When I arrived, not having a fully developed understanding of preparation as it related to the auditioning process, I hadn’t realized that I was supposed to have had a monologue prepared and didn’t. So I just went right up to one of the people running the casting, whom I’d later learn was the Producer, Paul Finn, and explained my dilemma and asked if I could cold read from some sides from the script. After looking at me like I had two heads, he told me to wait a minute. A few minutes later he returned with some pages from the script, one scene was a Todd scene. I think I did pretty well considering they offered me the part. As for the Todd character itself, I was never really the Alpha Ego type in high school but knew enough of them to understand what my version should sound like, look like, and how he should carry himself. With that, I began to develop who I thought he was.

A fun story about the making of A Better Place……

It was the middle of the summer in 1995 and we were rehearsing and the project was in preproduction. There was a critical moment where Vincent received a call from the Executive Producer, Scott Mosier, wherein he confirmed that if we didn’t designate a confirmed location list, the project accountant wasn’t going to release the check to the insurance company. Without the production insurance, we couldn’t rent the camera and lighting equipment and we would have been effectively dead in the water. For the most part, Vincent and Paul had established most of the locations, many of which would be shot guerrilla run and gun style. But the biggest, and one of the most important, was the school location where many key scenes would need to be shot. Without the school location locked, we had nothing. We were in the backyard of Vincent’s parents’ house and his bedroom was in a rear structure which was detached from the main house like a bungalow. Very cool. It had his bed, TV and it’s walls were decorated with film posters, with his Laserdisc collection on prominent display. As we were all discussing the severity of the moment, I went into Vincent’s room and began dialing 411 and getting the phone numbers of all of the Board Of Education departments in schools districts that I could think of. With each new number and subsequent call, my introduction and pitch as a “Location Scout” working for View Askew got better and better. I recalled that Kearney High School had allowed filming of a series that briefly ran starring Montell Williams. When I called them, being that they had experience in that area, they immediately knew who to transfer me to. Once I spoke with the right person, we had preliminary approval pending a script review. We were set, and I’m still waiting for the additional credit from Vincent as associate producer or at least location scout. 😄


20 years later
, and I feel the film still holds up, and is even more appropriate in the post 9/11 world. What are your thoughts on the film, and is there anything you wish you could have added to the film in hindsight?

If there is one word I think best describes Vincent’s concept for A Better Place, it would be prescient. I remember him telling me about his own perspective on the world and his views about how pervasive nihilism was becoming amongst the youth in our country and around the world. He cited an event where a couple of kids in England had stoned another kid to death and he was inspired leading him to drawing a parallel of how Ryan was so consumed by his anger which fueled his indifference. Remember, this was five years before Columbine and Vincent was giving a voice to a soul who had been disenfranchised, felt as nothing was worth it, with the exception of looking for an opportunity to reverse an injustice, and in doing so, found something and someone to attach himself to. I thought it was unique in that he was telling the story of how and why a kid can get to that kind of place. It wasn’t a simple coming of age story that ends in tragedy, it was much more than that, I thought. As far as me adding to it in hindsight, the only thing that comes to mind is a more layered character development for Todd. At the time, I had studied acting and taken some classes but still had a lot more to learn in terms of craft and technique, so what you’re seeing is a performance based upon not a lot of experience and a lot more to learn.

In more recent years, you have done a lot of work with the brilliant  filmmaker Anthony Marinelli, creating some wonderful pieces of film. How did this working relationship begin, and what is it about your relationship that works so well?

The friendship I have with Anthony and the collaborative creative work we’ve done together began at a casting session he called me into, to read for his first short film, Joey’s Gonna Kill Me. At the time, Anthony was working as a professional editor with A Cool Dry Place, an in-house production company under the umbrella of DDB-Needham, a very large ad agency. The casting was on a weekend, in the agency’s main headquarters office in a big brown skyscraper in midtown. I will never forget how Anthony commandeered one of the supply closets and turned it into a casting room, shelves of paper towels and copy paper notwithstanding. About 85% of the script was me on the phone talking to different people with the other side of the conversation being completely imagined. So I had to create that other dialogue to work with for my written dialogue and respective reactions. I loved the challenge and how it forced me to work on my toes and create a significant part of the story even thought the audience would never hear it. From that point on, I have been fortunate to have been asked to work with him again and again, with very rewarding results. To date, we have collaborated in several award-winning films and stage productions, most notably the Cannes film festival, twice. I think what works so well about our relationship is that we both bring zero ego to the table. There is definitely a shorthand that has evolved over the last twenty years where he knows what I can do in a character and when I read what he’s written, I immediately understand his intentions as for how he wants the character to be seen and portrayed. Also, I think because we both love storytelling so much, we both understand the different elements that enhances not just a moment but the overall arc. One of the things I enjoy most about being a creative artist is the chance to dissect a script, character, a shot set up, a moment, and doing that with Anthony is always a pleasure. His approach is typically all-inclusive and open to see what the spontaneity of the situation may bring or how it may inform the goals of the story. Those discussions and conversations are like mini explorations and we have done that so many times, it’s become something to look forward to each time we work together.

If you were given the chance to portray any legendary figure in American history, who would it be?

If the phrase American History were to be considered all-inclusive and wide-ranging, I’d say the history and evolution of American Cinema has a rightful place at the table. With that, the era that has always fascinated me was Hollywood from the mid to late 1960’s through the 1970’s. There is a great book titled Easy Riders, Raging Bulls by Peter Biskind. It’s the story of how some of the greatest filmmakers in the history of cinema, against all odds, against all forces of convention, bucked the system, and reinvented filmmaking, wresting control away from the big studio heads and putting the control into the hands of the artists. Coppola, Spielberg, Lucas, Scorsese, DePalma, Altman, Bogdanovich, Robert Evans, and the list goes on. It is because of this collection of visionaries and their creative resistance against the old guard and the old ways, that gave rise to the most memorable films ever made, and more so, inspired the next generation of filmmakers to continue on that path. (See Rebels On The Backlot)

I think it would be exhilarating to play anyone of those aforementioned people because each has such a rich history and interesting trajectory that put them into their respective places of influence. If I had to choose one though, it would have to be Robert Evans. His life story, The Kid Stays In The Picture, is one that truly represents the idea that, with relentless perseverance, anything is possible when you set your mind to it, all while operating where the word ‘no’ doesn’t even register. His vision, as well as his versatility in and understanding of the intersection between business and art has yielded some of the most memorable and important pieces of cinematic art and subsequently the acting careers born from them, in the history of the entertainment business.

What does the future hold for you? Anything you would like to tell our readers about?

The future is bright. I am continuing to audition for new roles both in front of the camera and well as on the stage. I am working on developing a new play by an established Playwright with whom I’ve had the honor of forming a friendship with. With my production company, Luloco Productions, I am also working on getting some film projects made by some friends of mine in front of distributors because I believe each of the projects (two documentaries and two features) have unique stories to tell, and because of their relevance, I think they will appeal to the public. Also, my latest short film, Marital Arts, written and directed by Anthony Marinelli, which just screened in Cannes this past May, will continue to circulate through the film festival circuit.

What was the last thing that made you smile?

Thinking that I have three beautiful children and a great girl to go home to later today, that made me smile.

Dominic Bogart [Interview]


It has turned out to be a HUGE summer for all sorts of things that we love and enjoy hear at Trainwreck’d Society. Two beautiful albums are out or coming soon, a huge premiere is happening in New Jersey that I would personally give my first born to be able to attend, an intense Kickstarter campaign has rolled out and started to form some new interesting kinships….and now there is a summer movie coming that we are damned excited about! It almost feels like too much, but we are so happy to attempt to handle it!

Today’s interviewee is a brilliant actor and musician who will be appearing in what we are hoping will be the hit film of the summer, The Glass Castle. His name is Dominic Bogart, and while he is already a star in our mind, his performance in this film is sure to kick his career into a whole new gear. The film also features the always perfect Woody Harrelson and Oscar winning actress Brie Larson, our modern day Grace Kelly. It looks to be one of the finest films of 2017. Note: After you have read through Dominic’s amazing responses, check out the trailer for The Glass Castle below!

And Dominic Bogart also brings us back a bit to our music roots as he is the brilliant frontman for the band Canines, that most of you will recognize as the cats who brought you the wonderful sound and story behind the cult classic film I Am Not A Hipster. Mr. Bogart is a multi-faceted human being who we are so honored to have join us during this surreal time at Trainwreck’d Society. We are honored that he has agreed to join the TWS family and share a few words with us today.

So ladies and gentlemen, the great Dominic Bogart!


I always love to hear stories about Middle American kids falling in love with acting for one reason or another. So, as a young man growing up in Dayton, Ohio, how did you first come to realize that you wanted to play pretend for a living?
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I grew up 40 miles north of Dayton on a 90 acre thoroughbred horse farm ten minutes down the road in every direction from lots of small towns and I had a highschool teacher that fostered the interest in music and theatre performance in myself and my three brothers. Two older brothers ventured into theatre and I followed them. I saw them excel at it and I thought it looked fun. They had something to wrap their hearts and minds around that pushed them hard and I watched as them grow as people in the make-believe world that engaged them as much or more so than sports had done. Acting was a way out of the academic world (which for me was insufferable), the manual labor force (which I knew well from an early age and feared as a trap), and performing offered me a replacement for what football had been. I saw my older brothers move audiences in collegiate and professional theatres and I thought I could be for me too.

And when did the music come in? Has acting and music always been sort of synonymous to your livelihood, or are they entirely different ventures in your mind?

I started playing guitar and singing at an early age. I learned to sing by listening to and emulating Axl Rose, Frankie Valle, Lane Staley, Chris Cornell, Smokey Robinson, Keith Sweat, and my brothers. My first professional ventures were in musical theatre and I worked on shows like Rent and Jersey Boys. When working in musicals you tend to try to fit the bill, and I attempted to give the powers that be what had come before. But that approach can often lead to disappointment. As a musician I’ve always toiled because I thought that I had to say something unique. I’ve the same instincts as an actor, and it’s difficult to figure and cultivate your narrative or niche. Though I work as a singer and songwriter, I’ve had challenges doing both. I have my limitations, and I’ve tried, failed and succeeded as a musician. I don’t know why, but Dominic the Actor seems to win out in the fight. There’s always been more infrastructure established, but I’d be equally fulfilled if I could touch people via music.

You have had a wonderful career as both an actor and musician, with your group Canines, being the musical centerpiece of the film I Am Not A Hipster. While I assume both creative processes have their benefits, I am curious to know which one would you consider yourself to be as a focus? Between music and film work, which one brings you the most joy, and would overpower the other if given a choice to do only one?

I think I covered this. I don’t ever want to stop singing and making music. I want to get out of my own way and get better at it. Creating the band Canines and the original music for Hipster was a dream come true. I was flanked by greatness: Joel P. West and The Tree Ring musicians Darla Hawn, Kelly Bennet, and Douglas Welcome. We recorded a full album of original songs, performed live in the film, at ASCAP at Sundance, and nationally throughout the festival circuit and release of the film. We continued to release music online. http://songs.caninesmusic.com/album/canines I hope we get to do more Canines in the future.

I’ve learned that you have some appearances coming up on the hit series Fear the Walking Dead, alongside our old friend Colman Domingo. So what lead you to want to join the world of zombies? Have you always been a fan of this genre?

I had the pleasure of working with Colman Domingo on The Birth of A Nation. He is vulnerable and fierce in the film and I had a great time with him as we shared the Sundance experience and was impressed by him as a representative of the film and it’s message throughout its release. I didn’t have any scenes with him on Fear The Walking Dead, but I’m a fan of his work on the show. I am thrilled to have taken part in something that so many people have connected to on such varied levels. People are equally wild about its violence and its humanity. I think that if you’re able to tap into the affairs of the human heart in the world of zombies you’ll have a hit. If it was just hokey characters, walkers limping, bleeding and eating flesh all the time, viewers would not engage. As an actor, when you get a high stakes situation that’s life and death and family, you’ve got an ideal unpredictable and compelling situation in which to play.

I understand you joined an extremely talent-loaded cast in the upcoming drama The Glass Castle that looks to be absolutely fascinating, and one of the most anticipated summer releases this year. So how was your experience on this project? There were some heavy hitters to contend with, was it an overall pleasant experience? Any fun anecdotes you can share with us?

I was thrilled to share the screen with Woody Harrelson and Brie Larson on this film. I can’t thank my friend, Destin Daniel Cretton, enough for the opportunity. Having grown up in the same area in Ohio as Woody had in his teens, I always felt a kinship to his nature. But that’s the strength of his magnetism-don’t we all feel that coziness toward him? It’s a reason among many why he’s wonderful as this colossal character, Rex Walls.

Arriving to set overly prepared and anxious, my first scene with Brie was a nightmare for me. Brie played the scene a different way than I had anticipated, and I had to call lots of audibles on the spot. It was a great learning experience (You were right Willem Dafoe: “You don’t plan it. You experience it”). It’s supposed to be uncomfortable. That’s compelling to watch. But I went back to my hotel that night considering retirement and words I’d write in apologetic emails to the director and producer. But the Montreal sun rose again and I went back for more. Brie, director Destin Daniel Cetton, director of photography Bret Pawlak, and I got rolling nicely with a vernacular that we’d all developed from years of working together on films like Short Term 12, I Am Not A Hipster, Deacon’s Mondays, and numerous other shorts. We had improvisation, we played loosely with the lines, and staging, and the light and heavy elements/dynamics of the scenes and characters’ relationship I think came together nicely. I started to feel better and haven’t retired yet.

What else does the future hold for you? Where can our readers plan to see you next?

The Glass Castle releases August 11th. In October I’ll be on Season 6 of the CW’s DC Comics superhero tv series, Arrow. I’ve auditioned for the show a few times. Apparently the 9th time is the charm.

What was the last thing that made you smile?

Last week I was home spending time with family and friends, singing at a wedding, seeing my childhood friends married with children, riding horses, the farm, nature.

Check out this trailer for The Glass Castle featuring Dominic Bogart, Woody Harrelson, Brie Larson, Max Greenfield, and Naomi Watts in theaters today!

Kevin Eastman’s Drawing Blood Kickstarter Launch [Exclusive]

Today is one of those days that makes me so happy to have become involved in this world of independent blogging and started Trainwreck’d Society in that hotel in Biloxi a half a dozen years ago. It is essentially the reason I do any of this. I love to showcase amazing works that posses a perfect amount of independent spirit and breaks away from the standard mold that has plagued the entertainment world for far too long. And starting today, we have just the perfect embodiment of such spirit to share with you all.

The legendary comic book creator Kevin Eastman has hitting the digital airwaves to to tell us all about his new Kickstarter campaign for his amazing project entitled Drawing Blood. The campaign starts today, and I honestly can not recommend a project to support more than this one. I have consistently loved the idea behind Kickstarter, going all the way back to late 2010 when the pre-curser to TWS, Children of Mercy, was successfully backed financially, long before crowd-funding projects became a social norm. At it’s most core, this is a brilliant and organic process to reach out directly to the people who love your work, and make them feel like they are a part of the process.

While on his most recent media crusade, Kevin was kind enough to sit down for a few words with the program we adore and sponsor entitled Super Geeky Play Date. Kevin gave some beautiful insight into the Drawing Blood, calling it a story of “creativity lost, and creativity found” and a bit like “Breaking Bad meets Spinal Tap, Amadeus, & Comic Book Confidential”. Or even simply just “Breaking Bad meets comic books”. Which absolutely has been sold to say the least! Drawing Blood is obviously a project that avid Eastman and comic book fans in general are bound to enjoy. But, I will say that I am certain it is for everyone! How do I know this? Well, I love the hell out of this idea, and I haven’t read a comic book in over 20 years! I respect and admire the art form all to hell, but it’s just not entirely my bag. But Drawing Blood’s fictional but based around real events about early success in the world of comic books is a fascinating story line that I will definitely be wanting to follow!

Check out the full interview with Kevin Eastman on Super Geeky Play Date at the link above, and visit the Eastman Studios website for links and details on some of the exciting offerings happening with the Drawing Blood Kickstarter. Get in on the ground floor folks! The odds of success for this campaign and extremely high, and may as well consider every pledge a purchase into something fantastic that you will be sure to enjoy for a life time!

You can download “Mini Episode #4: Kevin Eastman” from Super Geeky Play Date via the Gonna Geek Network, or on all streaming services like iTunes or Podcast Garden.