Chester Rushing [Interview]

Today I feel very confident in saying that we are interviewing the future of television and film. Inevitably, a new class of actors are going to have to take over young Hollywood, and Chester Rushing is definitely going to be one of the highlights of them all. He has already had some pretty amazing performances in his career, especially on the beloved Netflix Original Series, Stranger Things.

On Stranger Things, Chester is known to be the main bully of the program’s main characters, but my experience with him and the words he shared below, it couldn’t be further from his actual personality. Which is simply further proof that this cat has some pretty amazing acting chops, and is destined to be the next big star, burning even brighter than he already is. He is a multi-faceted human being on top of that! He is an accomplished musician, philanthropist, and so much more!

So with that, I am going to shut up and leave you all with some amazing words from the brilliant Chester Rushing! Enjoy!

 

When did you first realize that you wanted to play pretend for a living Was it always a passion you had or did you just sort of land in the world of acting?

Honestly, I have always been performing for as long as I can remember. To be able to tap into your imagination and creativity is something powerful that is inside of all of us. I am very fortunate to have grown up in an incredible family that has encouraged me to entertain the world around me and follow my dreams.

I understand you are also an accomplished musician in your own right. Including reaching #2 on the Italian EDM charts! For our readers who are unbeknownst, can you tell us about your life in music?

I remember the exact moment I wanted to take music seriously. YouTube had just launched and I was checking out some videos and clicked on Coldplay’s, “Swallowed in the Sea”. The emotional connection I experienced while watching that video was so intense that it became a turning point in my life. I knew at that moment I wanted to try to recreate that experience for others in my own way so I signed up for my high school Jazz band. Instantly they realized I had absolutely no idea how to read music so they put me in theater class the next day. Music is my great escape and I will always love creating and sharing my music with anyone who wants to listen.

You appeared in several episodes of the runaway success of a show that is Stranger Things, playing Tommy H. How has this experience been for you? What is it like to be a part of one of the biggest television series of our time? What is set life like on a project that fuses so many different genres together?

“Life changing” might be an understatement but seriously, all I can say is life changing. During the first table read the room was full of electricity and everyone fell in love with the story and characters. Being on set was like jumping into a DeLorean and going back in time to some of the classic 80’s movies and shows I grew up watching. We
just wanted people to like the show and honestly no one had any idea that it would become part of pop culture and a global phenomenon. The show has given me the opportunity to connect with so many awesome people of all ages from around the planet and share their passion for the world we created.

It has been well documented that personality wise, you couldn’t be further from the likes of Tommy H, as nobody really should be, haha. It always fascinates me how such nice people can play such mean characters. So what is your process? How to create the mindset of a person like Tommy H.?

GREAT WRITING! I love playing the antagonist and getting the various reactions that come with it. Life gives you plenty of personalities and situations that you encounter everyday to help build a character. It’s always fun and interesting to explore and develop the layers that make a character into a person. You might see a character as mean but, you also need to see the world from their eyes. Tommy
was in a committed relationship, loyal to his friends, and just liked having a good time. The funny thing about playing Tommy is seeing people when I am out and to see them go though the process of elimination in their own heads like, “Who is that guy and where do I know him from?” Then you see it in their eyes and that look when it clicks, the “OHHHH I HATE YOU IN STRANGER THINGS!” look. I always go back to this quote by Gnihsur Retsehc to put it in perspective, “Actors allow themselves to become monsters, so it may inspire others to rise up against them”.

In 2016 you appeared in a brilliantly bizarre film that we have covered here at TWS entitled Cold Moon. I really, really dug this film and it featured two other past guests of the site, Joe Chrest and Laura Cayouette! So how was it making this film? Your character was based around some very dark stuff. How did you enjoy working on a project like this?

Cold Moon will always have a special place in my heart since it was my first real break as a lead in a feature film. A big thank you goes to Brent Caballero for casting me and taking a chance on a kid from a small town. Reading for this movie which was based on the novel Cold Moon Over Babylon by Michael McDowell who created Beetlejuice and The Nightmare Before Christmas was literally a dream come true. Then when I was on set I stopped dead in my tracks because I heard the iconic voice of Christoper Lloyd, “like REALLY?” Needless to say it was incredible to be around this talented and experienced cast for my first lead role.

Beyond Stranger Things and Cold Moon you have worked quite a bit in the thriller/horror world, to include Don’t Look in the Basement 2 and Jeepers Creepers III. And we love the world of horror around here, so I have to ask…What do you enjoy about working within this genre/ What sets it apart from the other work you have done?

I remember being a kid sitting in my living room with my friends and family watching Steven King’s IT on VHS. I also remember being the only one in the room that was not completely grossed out or frightened. I loved the stories and the costumes as well as all the blood and the overall excitement I got from watching these types of movies. There is nothing like a horror film to elicit a vast range of emotions from an audience around you and I became addicted to the reactions I saw in from the people around me. I knew I wanted to be a part of something that took people on a rollercoaster of emotions. What I love the most is that there is something eerily different about horror and what it creates: that feeling that drives you from the pit of your stomach and the human curiosity that tells us to forever venture into the unknown.

If you were given the opportunity to portray any figure, living or dead, that had a profound impact on American history, who would it be and why?

The Legend Stan Lee… imagine a world without Stan Lee’s imagination. His work gives everyone an escape from reality but also shows us that there is always good in the world and average humans can become superheroes. I was lucky enough to meet Stan on a few occasions while appearing at comic cons and got to sit down and talk with him. He is a very smart guy and a great inspiration to millions of
people. He made Superheroes! What more is there to say?

I read your interview with the Dallas Observer from a couple of years ago, and was very intrigued with your involvement with Brilliant Futures and your work with those on the spectrum. I was wondering if you would care to elaborate on Brilliant Futures specifically? And how can outsiders lend a hand on the organizations efforts?

I started getting involved with the Special Needs program at my high school by playing guitar and making fun videos with them. They will always have a place in my heart and were one of my first musical audiences. I think one of the best things to remember is that the Special Needs community is a strong one that is of full of beautiful, smart, and compassionate people. Spreading awareness and getting involved in your community, at your school, and online is a bigger help than you can imagine.

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

I have some very exciting stuff coming out this year including an original comedy series on Hulu called All Night but since we are on the subject of horror let’s talk about some movies. Party Crasher is from the producers of A Nightmare on Elm Street and was directed by Brant Sersen. Simply put, it’s the best version of a fraternity party that you could ask for in a horror film. I will also be in Monster Party which was written and directed by Chris Con Hoffmann about a secret dinner party hosted by a serial killer cult for the social elite. What could go wrong? There are a few more things that I am sworn to secrecy about right now but follow me on Instagram @chesterrushing and you will be the first to know.

What was the last thing that made you smile?

The thought of food and honestly I wasn’t hungry before you asked me this… why did you do this to me? I guess I have no choice but to end this interview.

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2018 Oscar Preview with Chris & Ron [Exclusive]

On March 4th the 90th Academy Awards Ceremony, presented by the Academy of Motion Pictures Arts and Sciences (AMPAS), will broadcast out from the Dolby Theater in Hollywood to an estimated 35 million viewers in the United States. The first Academy Awards were a private event hosted by Douglas Fairbanks and William C. deMille on May 16th, 1929 which lasted fifteen-minute to an audience of around 270 guests. William A. Wellman’s film “Wings” (1928) won the Academy’s first Best Picture award. By 1929, filmmaking had become an established industry and a profitable artform. Although, this was not the case initially. Film has existed for 122 years so far and will still exist for years beyond. Nearly every aspect of the film business has changed over those 122 years apart from one entrenched traditional element – the voting members of the industry’s most “prestigious” award ceremonies.

The brothers Auguste and Louis Lumiere held the world’s first screening of projected motion on December 28th, 1895 in Paris, France. This event included the brother’s first film “Workers Leaving the Lumiere Factory” (1895), a 50 second micro documentary of, workers leaving the Lumiere Factory. Fascinating, I know, but revolutionary for its time. While this video would be lucky to receive 100 views on YouTube today, that screening represents a paradigm shift in art for the 20th century. Early on film was considered radical by established artists. It would take many years for film to be recognized, let alone legitimized by a critical body. The Academy Awards remain the oldest film award ceremony beginning 34 years after the brothers Lumiere’s first screening.

The Lumiere Brothers

The technology used by 1895 filmmakers would not be recognizable by modern creators. The use of sound, the standardization of film rate, the use of widescreen in amazing Cinemascope, the addition of Technicolor, 3D, intercutting, the 180-degree rule, etcetera. All these advancements in technology pushed the boundaries of what film could be, a limitless possibility of imaginative storytelling.

The Academy of Motion Pictures Arts and Sciences has just over 6,000 voting members. Twenty-two percent of those voters are held by actors. Additionally, 91 percent of the members are white and 76 percent male. The average age of a voting member is 63 years of age. To simplify, the Academy voters who decided the “best” in a year’s film releases are old white guys. This is the problem of the Oscars.
Art is a living entity and reflection of the current generation. Art should push boundaries and brake established models. Artists should be recognized for experimentation and advancements in their craft.

The Academy is not designed to give this by its own limiting demographics. Superhero films get no love. Comedic actors are never recognized. Best Picture cannot be an animated film. Sean Bakers “The Florida Project” (2017) gets little recognition for its unique composition. I imagine Steven Soderbergh’s 2018 film “Unsane”, shot completely on an iPhone, will receive little acknowledgment from the Academy in 2019.The 90th Academy Awards represents great films. But they don’t represent everything cinematic for the year. The Oscars are very narrow and minuet in their reach. Many of our modern works are left behind. New approaches to film creation and narrative structure take a generation to be recognized. The best of year does not have to be a gritty drama. While I enjoy the Oscars, I understand that these few selected films are the cumulative “Best” of what film has to offer an audience.

*****

 

So here is what you do folks: Head on over to our FACEBOOK EVENT PAGE from the Trainwreck’d Society Facebook page, and leave a simple reply anywhere stating that you are on “Team Chris” or “Team Ron” when you have decided who you believe made the best choice. The pointing system works as follows:

Correct “Want to Win” = 0.5 points

Correct “Going to Win” = 1.0 points

So tell us what you think, and if you choose the winner, you are entered into a pool to win an exceptionally mediocre prize of the finest Korean bootlegs from 2012-2013 (and before), a copy of Children of Mercy: Tales and Teachings From the World of Independent Music, and more!

So let’s have some fun!

*****

BEST PICTURE

CALL ME BY YOUR NAME
DARKEST HOUR
DUNKIRK
GET OUT
LADY BIRD
PHANTOM THREAD
THE POST
THE SHAPE OF WATER

WHO CHRIS WANTS TO WIN: The Shape of Water. Guillermo Del Toro’s “The Shape of Water” is an experience in all the elements of filmmaking: story, character, cinematography, technical achievements, etcetera.  This is a theatrical film to be experienced using old Hollywood B Film tropes mixed with a modern context. There is a fascinating juxtaposition to the “classic” monster archetype and who the world’s monster are lurking in suits. “The Shape of Water” is a beautiful work of art. And fun. Fun is important too.

WHO RON WANTS TO WIN: Get Out. Honestly, I’m certain that it will not win in this category, but in my heart of hearts, I truly loved this very original film.

WHO CHRIS THINKS WILL ACTUALLY WIN: SAME.
Guillermo Del Toro’s The Shape of Water.

WHO RON THINKS WILL ACTUALLY WIN: The Shape of Water. I believe there may be some history made in this year’s Oscars, but not so much so that it will deviate from the long standing coalition with the DGA that has determined the winner 95% of all years since 1948. So, yeah, good job del Toro, I guess, with your fish fucking film.


BEST ACTOR IN A LEADING ROLE

Timothee Chalamet for CALL ME BY YOUR NAME
Daniel Day-Lewis for PHANTOM THREAD
Daniel Kaluuya for GET OUT
Gary Oldman for DARKEST HOUR
Denzel Washington for ROMAN J. ISRAEL, ESQ.

WHO CHRIS WANTS TO WIN: Daniel Day Lewis for Phantom Thread. Daniel Day-Lewis is the greatest actor who has ever lived. My concrete answer. This is his final role before retirement. Daniel Day-Lewis has already won an Oscar before his “Phantom Thread” nomination. Like all his prior works, this is an amazing character analysis beautifully constructed. His characters are always complicated real people. There is little chance of this award going to Daniel Day-Lewis, but a nomination is a nice thank you for a body of work.

WHO RON WANTS TO WIN: Daniel Kaluuya for Get Out. Again, not very confident that Daniel will win, or that he even deserves it more than the others. But, dammit, this was a great film.

WHO CHRIS THINKS WILL ACTUALLY WIN: Gary Oldman for The Darkest Hour (imaging me yelling his name like a Gary Oldman character would do). Oldman has been making films since 1986 with his portrayal of Sid Vicious in “Sid and Nancy” (1986). Oldman has been nominated only once before in “Tinker, Tailor, Soldier, Spy” (2012). This win will be for his body of work. A lifetime achievement award but for Best Actor. Deserving for so many great characters. But Daniel Day-Lewis had already won one.

WHO RON THINKS WILL ACTUALLY WIN: Gary Oldman for Darkest Hour. I believe that Oldman is probably rightfully poised to sweep the acting category this year, if not only for his contributions over the last 30 years or so. He may be the 2nd best character actor we have, but I don’t think he is going to the 1st this time around, in the hopes of ruining DDL’s plans of becoming a cobbler or some shit.


BEST ACTOR IN A SUPPORTING ROLE

Willem Dafoe for THE FLORIDA PROJECT
Woody Harrelson for THREE BILLBOARDS OUTSIDE EBBING, MISSOURI
Richard Jenkins for THE SHAPE OF WATER
Christopher Plummer for ALL THE MONEY IN THE WORLD
Sam Rockwell for THREE BILLBOARDS OUTSIDE EBBING, MISSOURI

WHO CHRIS WANTS TO WINSam Rockwell for Three Billboards Outside Ebbing, Missouri. This category is a very tight affair. Although Christopher Plummer was added as a fuck you to Kevin Spacey which is a fine reason in my book. While tough to decide, I must go with Sam Rockwell. Another actor who has never won an Oscar but has already won all the other awards for this category this year. Rockwell is great actor and deserving of the award even though this is not his best performance in long great career
Sam Rockwell for Three Billboards Outside Ebbing, Missouri

WHO RON WANTS TO WIN: Sam Rockwell for Three Billboards Outside Ebbing Missouri. Rockwell may be one of the greatest supporting actors we’ve had since Robert Duvall in his prime. Also I always think he is Giovanni Ribisi, so I feel kind of bad about that.

WHO CHRIS THINKS WILL ACTUALLY WIN: SAME.
Sam Rockwell for Three Billboards Outside Ebbing, Missouri.

WHO RON THINKS WILL ACTUALLY WIN: Sam Rockwell for Three Billboards Outside Ebbing Mossouri. Three Billboards has received a lot of flack for being somewhat overrated, but the acting is always praised heavily. Sam and Francis are going to be the only winners for the film.


BEST ACTRESS IN A LEADING ROLE

Sally Hawkins for THE SHAPE OF WATER
Frances McDormand for THREE BILLBOARDS OUTSIDE EBBING, MISSOURI
Margot Robbie for I, TONYA
Saoirse Ronan for LADY BIRD
Meryl Streep for THE POST

WHO CHRIS WANTS TO WINSally Hawkins for The Shape of Water. Sally Hawkins deserves the win for her perfect performance. She speaks only seven words in the entire film due to her character being mute. Everything she does is through body expression and her eyes. I need to give Margot Robbie credit though. I saw “I, Tonya” very recently and her abilities to take on a role is also incredible. I forgot Margot Robbie was an actor portraying Tonya Harding.

WHO RON WANTS TO WIN: Margot Robbie for I, Tonya. Being a Northwest kid, I feel obligated to support anything about the bad girl of competitive ice-skating, the great Tonya Harding.

WHO CHRIS THINKS WILL ACTUALLY WIN: SAME.
Sally Hawkins for The Shape of Water

WHO RON THINKS WILL ACTUALLY WIN: Frances McDormand for Three Billboards Outside Ebbing, Missouri. McDormand has been poised to win for quite a while, and I really don’t believe that the Academy will deviate from the plan.

BEST ACTRESS IN A SUPPORTING ROLE

Mary J. Blige for MUDBOUND
Allison Janney for I, TONYA
Lesley Manville for PHANTOM THREAD
Laurie Metcalf for LADY BIRD
Octavia Spencer for THE SHAPE OF WATER

WHO CHRIS WANTS TO WINLaure Metcalf for Lady Bird. I grew up watching Jackie on the show “Roseanne”. She played a mom then too. In “Lady Bird”, taking place in 2002 with her 17-year-old daughter Lady Bird, Lesley’s portrayal of a struggling lower middle-class family is so subtle and true and real and most importantly authentic. I don’t know of another actress who could have performed this character with so much care and understanding.

WHO RON WANTS TO WIN: Laure Metcalf for Lady Bird. I know I literally just said I was obliged to choose all things Tonya Harding, but I really just meant Margot’s portrayal specifically. Metcalf is one of the most underrated actress of our time. She’s celebrated on the stage and on television, it’s time to round it all off!

WHO CHRIS THINKS WILL ACTUALLY WIN: Allison Janney for I, Tonya. Allison Janney is a nasty villain. A nomination for best villain monologue “You think Sonja Henie’s mother loved her? Poor fuckin’ you. I didn’t stay home making apple brown bettys. No, I made you a champion knowing you’d hate me for it. That’s the sacrifice a mother makes. I wish I had a mother like me instead of nice. Nice gets you shit. I didn’t like my mother either, so what? I fucking gave you a gift”. Allison portrayal of this nasty woman makes you, as an audience member, chest tighten. A villain who believes she is right in her actions. A Villain of epic performance. Also comedic in a dark comedy kind of way. Weird contradiction feeling from Janney’s acting.

WHO RON THINKS WILL ACTUALLY WIN: Laurie Metcalf for Lady Bird. I really need to see Lady Bird, but I’m sure she was great. This will essentially be a lifetime achievement award for an actress who will probably never receive an actual lifetime achievement award for film work


.

BEST ANIMATED FEATURE FILM

The BOSS BABY
THE BREADWINNER
COCO
FERDINAND
LOVING VINCENT

WHO CHRIS WANTS TO WIN: Coco from Pixar. This was one of their lowest performing films at the box-office. But the competition is not very good this year. Fuck you Boss Baby.

WHO RON WANTS TO WIN: Coco. I really don’t have a dog in the race, but I’m certain it doesn’t matter. I’d like to be cool and say that Van Gogh thing, but I’d honestly never watch that. And with Trump in office, I’d say a win for our friends to the south is in order. So, “Coco”.

WHO CHRIS THINKS WILL ACTUALLY WIN: SAME.
Coco

WHO RON THINKS WILL ACTUALLY WIN: Coco.


BEST CINEMATOGRAPHY

Roger A. Deakins for BLADE RUNNER 2049
Bruno Delbonnel for DARKEST HOUR
Hoyte van Hoytema for DUNKIRK
Rachel Morrison for MUDBOUND
Dan Laustsen for THE SHAPE OF WATER

WHO CHRIS WANTS TO WINRoger A. Deakins for Blade Runner 2049. If Roger Deakins does not win, this year, yet again, this will be a tragedy. This is Deakin’s 14th nomination for Best Cinematography going all the way back to 1994 with “The Shawshank Redemption”. Deakin’s body of work is a top contender for best DPs who have ever worked. Every shot composition is unique and gorgeous. “Blade Runner 2049” is a gorgeous film like all Deakins prior work. Deakins should win for his body of work and for this film. Deakins should have won 7 of these awards already.

WHO RON WANTS TO WIN: Roger A. Deakins for Blade Runner 2049. Even though Deakins is on his 14th nomination, I feel like I would be pleasantly surprised if he won this one. But, I believe he is the most deserving of the bunch.

WHO CHRIS THINKS WILL ACTUALLY WIN: SAME.
Roger A. Deakins for Blade Runner 2049.

WHO RON THINKS WILL ACTUALLY WIN: Hoyte van Hoytema for Dunkirk. A big ass war movie that was meant to be side on a super wide screen, in theatres that is also nominated for best picture? Seems obvious! Or not.


BEST COSTUME DESIGN

Jacqueline Durran for BEAUTY AND THE BEAST
Jacqueline Durran for DARKEST HOUR
Mark Bridges for PHANTOM THREAD
Luis Sequeira for THE SHAPE OF WATER
Consolata Boyle for VICTORIA & ABDUL

WHO CHRIS WANTS TO WINMark Bridges for Phantom Thread. “Phantom Thread” is about fashion and creating clothes. Yes, an extremely simple read of the film and a satirical comment, but come on now, the movie is about clothing and fashion and control, but not really. Please check out Paul Thomas Anderson’s work. This filmmaker is amazing. Just not “Inherent Vice” (2014).

WHO RON WANTS TO WIN: Jacqueline Durran for Beauty And The Beast. As a general rule, I like to choose a film I have seen. And I thought everyone looked pretty cool.

WHO CHRIS THINKS WILL ACTUALLY WINLuis Sequeira for The Shape of Water. “The Shape of Water” is going to clean up at the Oscars. No more live action Disney remakes. Stop it. “Beauty and the Beast” better not win!

WHO RON THINKS WILL ACTUALLY WIN: Luis Sequeira for The Shape Of Water. It’s the Oscar way: nominate a female twice, and still pick a male. It’s basically a throw away award to them. I can’t wait for the internet controversy about a film about making clothes not winning the clothing category. Or I will just be extremely wrong on all counts.

BEST DIRECTING

Christopher Nolan for DUNKIRK
Jordan Peel for GET OUT
Greta Gerwig for LADY BIRD
Paul Thomas Anderson for PHANTOM THREAD
Guillermo del Toro for THE SHAPE OF WATER

WHO CHRIS WANTS TO WINGuillermo del Toro for The Shape of Water. Guillermo Del Toro should win for reason I spoke of for Best Picture. I believe these top awards are all going to be split up in a very rare action. “The Shape of Water” is not the same movie without del Toro’s direction.

WHO RON WANTS TO WIN: Jordan Peele for Get Out. Same sentiment as before. Not even sure if you really deserves it more than the others, I just thought it was such an original and creative idea for a film, and hit all the right notes for me.

WHO CHRIS THINKS WILL ACTUALLY WINChristopher Nolan for Dunkirk. Christopher Nolan will finally get an Oscar. “Dunkirk” in my opinion is phenomenal movie breaking some of the traditional approaches to film making like not having characters. Which I appreciated. Finally, “The Dark Knight” will get its best direct award. Superhero movies don’t get love.

WHO RON THINKS WILL ACTUALLY WIN: Guillermo del Toro for The Shape Of Water. Because apparently people like fish fucking films.

BEST DOCUMENTARY FEATURE

ABACUS: SMALL ENOUGH TO JAIL
FACES PLACES
ICARUS
LAST MEN IN ALEPPO
STRONG ISLAND

WHO CHRIS WANTS TO WINFaces Places. French..? French Countryside? French New Wave. Ninety-five percent of people have not seen any of these films.

WHO RON WANTS TO WIN: Faces Places. No dog in the race, really. I just like rural France. It’s pretty.

WHO CHRIS THINKS WILL ACTUALLY WIN: SAME.
Faces Places

WHO RON THINKS WILL ACTUALLY WIN: Faces Places. The praise has been tremendous (by the 6 people who have seen it).


BEST DOCUMENTARY (SHORT SUBJECT)

EDITH+EDITH
HEAVEN IS A TRAFFIC JAM ON THE 405
HEROIN(E)
KNIFE SKILLS
TRAFFIC STOP

WHO CHRIS WANTS TO WINHeroin(e). Did not get a chance to see any of these films. Guess Time. Just like a lot of the Academy 6,000 members!

WHO RON WANTS TO WIN: Heroin(e). No reason really, I just like stuff about heroin. Is that weird?

WHO CHRIS THINKS WILL ACTUALLY WINKnife Skills. Did not get a chance to see any of these films. Guess Time. Just like a lot of the Academy 6,000 members!

WHO RON THINKS WILL ACTUALLY WIN: Heroin(e). Same.


BEST FILM EDITING

Paul Machliss and Jonathan Amos for BABY DRIVER
Lee Smith for DUNKIRK
Tatiana S. Riegel for I, TONYA
Sidney Wolinsky for THE SHAPE OF WATER
Jon Gregory for THREE BILLBOARDS OUTSIDE EBBING, MISSOURI

WHO CHRIS WANTS TO WINLee Smith for Dunkirk. “Dunkirk” is not an ordinary film. It does not rely on characters and narrative to tell its story. “Dunkirk” is more a kick to the stomach of raw feeling. This is accomplished through Hans Zimmer’s relentless score and the incredible editing of the film. The Film must balance three storylines taking place at three different times building towards a cumulative moment. “Baby Driver” would be a good win here for the same reasons. “Baby Driver” just had better use of characters and pop, and honestly, is a much more fun time at the theaters. “Dunkirk” makes you want to sit in dark room for an hour while “Baby Driver” makes you want to high five.

WHO RON WANTS TO WIN: Paul Machliss and Jonathan Amos for Baby Driver. This film was just so damn COOL! I would give every award for sound and editing to them, hands down. It wasn’t a better film than others, but it was extremely cool to watch. And that takes some damn fine editing.

WHO CHRIS THINKS WILL ACTUALLY WINPaul Machliss and Jonathan Amos for Baby Driver. “Baby Driver’s” editing is very tight but still naturally fluid. The way the editing plays into the music, or the music plays into the editing. I don’t know. It is just a magical fun movie.

WHO RON THINKS WILL ACTUALLY WIN: Sidney Wolinsky for The Shape Of Water. Old school mentality that film editing coincides with the Best Picture win.

BEST FOREIGN LANGUAGE FILM

A FANTASTIC WOMAN (Chile)
THE INSULT (Lebanon)
LOVELESS (Russia)
ON BODY AND SOUL (Hungary)
THE SQUARE (Sweden)

WHO CHRIS WANTS TO WINThe Square. The Swedes have come to town in this satirical comedy “The Square”. If you want to watch something with subtitles, make it this film. Although, I didn’t see any of the other films here.

WHO RON WANTS TO WIN: The Square. I watched a shit ton of great films from all over the world (as reflected in our Top 20 Films of 2017 feature) but sadly, it was absolutely none of these. So, I like Sweden.

WHO CHRIS THINKS WILL ACTUALLY WIN: SAME. The Square.

WHO RON THINKS WILL ACTUALLY WIN: SAME. The Square.

BEST MAKEUP AND HAIRSTYLING

Kazuhiro Tsuji, David Malinowski, and Lucy Sibbick for DARKEST HOUR
Daniel Phillips and Lou Sheppard for VICTORIA & ABDUL
Arjen Tuiten for WONDER

WHO CHRIS WANTS TO WINKazuhiro Tsuji, David Malinowski, and Lucy Sibbick for Darkest Hour. Gary Oldman’s transformation into Winston Churchill was twofold. One, Oldman’s amazing acting ability and two, his prosthetic makeup is amazing! When dealing with celebrity, it is hard to forget about the actor playing the role. Oldman has made over 30 films and stands out as Oldman playing _______. In this case, thanks to amazing makeup, Gary Oldman gets lost and Winston Churchill comes to life. Amazing.

WHO RON WANTS TO WIN: Kazuhiro Tsuji, David Malinowski, & Lucy Sibbick for Darkest Hour. They recreated Winston Churchill to be even more frightening. Enough said.

WHO CHRIS THINKS WILL ACTUALLY WIN: SAME.
Kazuhiro Tsuji, David Malinowski, and Lucy Sibbick for Darkest Hour.

WHO RON THINKS WILL ACTUALLY WIN: Kazuhiro Tsuji, David Malinowski, & Lucy Sibbick for Darkest Hour. Hint: It’s in the Best Picture category.

BEST MUSIC (ORIGINAL SCORE)

Hans Zimmer for DUNKIRK
Jonny Greenwood for PHANTOM THREAD
John Williams for STAR WARS: THE LAST JEDI
Carter Burwell for THREE BILLBOARDS OUTSIDE EBBING, MISSOURI

WHO CHRIS WANTS TO WINJonny Greenwood for Phantom Thread. Hans Zimmer and John Williams have been nominated a lot. This is John Williams 51st nomination. His music defines multiple generations. Who I would like to see win this category is Jonny Greenwood from Radiohead. His music compositions intrigue me. I can listen to his scores continuous without getting bored. Greenwood’s themes for the characters of “Phantom Thread” elevate the emotional element of the film.

WHO RON WANTS TO WIN: Jonny Greenwood for Phantom Thread. I want something FRESH! I’m an established “Radiohead is overrated” kind of guy, but I’d still like to see Jonny get the W. I think we are done with John Williams, right? And Zimmer?

WHO CHRIS THINKS WILL ACTUALLY WINHans Zimmer for Dunkirk. Hans Zimmer will win this year for “Dunkirk”. The score is what drives that film and makes it work. Zimmer’s work builds through the entire film continually adding dread being felt by the audience. That is the singular goal of this film, to make the audience’s’ heart tighten. This movie had to have been seen in theaters to understand that build up. Home Theater does not work for this movie.

WHO RON THINKS WILL ACTUALLY WIN: Jonny Greenwood for Phantom Thread. I really think this is going to happen. I think the Academy is a group of old rich white dudes who probably think that voting for Radiohead will make them seem pretty darned cool, as they would probably say.


BEST MUSIC (ORIGINAL SONG)

Mary J. Blige, Raphael Saadiq, and Taura Stinson for “Mighty River” from MUDBOUND
Sufjan Stevens for “Mystery of Love” from CALL ME BY YOUR NAME
Kristen-Anderson-Lopez and Robert Lopez for “Remember Me” from COCO
Diane Warren and Lonnie R. Lynn for “Stand Up for Something” from MARSHALL
Benj Pasek and Justin Paul for “This Is Me” from THE GREATEST SHOWMAN

WHO CHRIS WANTS TO WINSufjan Stevens for “Mystery of Love” from Call Me by Your Name. Give Sufjan Stevens love!

WHO RON WANTS TO WIN: Mary J. Blige, Raphael Saadiq, and Taura Stinson for “Mighty River” from Mudbound. M.J. and the dude from Tony, Toni, Tone!? Oh hell yeah, give me that!

WHO CHRIS THINKS WILL ACTUALLY WIN: SAME.
Sufjan Stevens for “Mystery of Love” from Call Me by Your Name.

WHO RON THINKS WILL ACTUALLY WIN: Sufjan Stevens for “Mystery of Love” from Call Me by Your Name. #OscarSoWhite


BEST PRODUCTION DESIGN

Sarah Greenwood & Katie Spencer for BEAUTY AND THE BEAST
Dennis Gassner & Alessandra Querzola for BLADE RUNNER 2049
Sarah Greenwood & Katie Spencer for DARKEST HOUR
Nathan Crowley & Gary Fettis for DUNKIRK
Paul Denham Austerber & Shane Vieau & Jeff Melvin for THE SHAPE OF WATER

WHO CHRIS WANTS TO WIN:Dennis Gassner & Alessandra Querzola for Blade Runner 2049. “Blade Runner 2049” was world building at its finest. An incredible achievement, but “The Shape of Water” is going to clean up this year.  The finest and most minute details in “Blade Runner 2049” were never overlooked.

WHO RON WANTS TO WIN: Dennis Gassner & Alessandra Querzola for Blade Runner 2049. From what I have seen, this whole damn film was JUST a huge production design. And for a 13 hour long movie, that takes some serious work!

WHO CHRIS THINKS WILL ACTUALLY WINPaul Denham Austerber & Shane Vieau & Jeff Melvin for The Shape of Water. “The Shape of Water” will dominate this year. 1950s Americana Cold War B movie monster film is modernized. It’s also a fairytale. The movie just works damn it.

WHO RON THINKS WILL ACTUALLY WIN: Paul Denham Austerber & Shane Vieau & Jeff Melvin for The Shape Of Water. I’d like to say that the production design category is separating itself from other throwaway awards, but Wes Anderson didn’t have a film this year, so back to fish fucking.


BEST SHORT FILM (ANIMATED)

DEAR BASKETBALL
GARDEN PARTY
LOU
NEGATIVE SPACE
REVOLTING RHYMES

WHO CHRIS WANTS TO WINGarden Party. Did not see any of these films, but voting nonetheless, just like the Academy 6,000 members.

WHO RON WANTS TO WIN: Dear Basketball. I honestly don’t even care what the other nominees are. I’m sure they are great, but…. ACADEMY AWARD WINNER KOBE BRYANT???

WHO CHRIS THINKS WILL ACTUALLY WINNegative Space. Did not see any of these films, but voting nonetheless, just like the Academy 6,000 members.

WHO RON THINKS WILL ACTUALLY WIN: Dear Basketball. ACADEMY AWARD WINNER KOBE BRYANT!!!!


BEST SHORT FILM (LIVE ACTION)

DEKALB ELEMENTARY
THE ELEVEN O’CLOCK
MY NEPHEW EMMETT
THE SILENT CHILD
WATU WOTE/ALL OF US

WHO CHRIS WANTS TO WINThe Eleven O’ Clock. Did not see any of these films, but voting nonetheless, just like the Academy 6,000 members.

WHO RON WANTS TO WIN: DeKalb Elementary. Sure.

WHO CHRIS THINKS WILL ACTUALLY WINThe Silent Child. Did not see any of these films, but voting nonetheless, just like the Academy 6,000 members.

WHO RON THINKS WILL ACTUALLY WIN: DeKalb Elementary. Go big or go home on a guess, I guess.


BEST SOUND EDITING

Julian Slater for BABY DRIVER
Mark Mangini and Theo Green for BLADE RUNNER 2049
Richard King and Alex Gibson for DUNKIRK
Nathan Robitaille and Nelson Ferreira for THE SHAPE OF WATER
Matthew Wood and Ren Klyce for STAR WARS: THE LAST JEDI

WHO CHRIS WANTS TO WINNathan Robitaille and Nelson Ferreira for The Shape of Water. Sound editing is the creation of sound effects. The award is usually received by the Supervising Sound Editors of the film, sometimes accompanied by the Sound Designers. I am torn between “Blade Runner 2049” and “The Shape of Water”. Both films approach to sound editing help to build their interesting worlds. I want to see “Blade Runner 2049” win some awards, but I still feel “The Shape of Water” did it better with more nuance. The creature sounds and use of water as both a pool and rain were just amazing to experience in a theater.

WHO RON WANTS TO WIN: Julian Slater for Baby Driver. They synchronicity was absolutely brilliant!

WHO CHRIS THINKS WILL ACTUALLY WIN: SAME.
Nathan Robitaille and Nelson Ferreira for The Shape of Water.

WHO RON THINKS WILL ACTUALLY WIN: Nathan Robiataille and Nelson Ferreira for The Shape Of Water. I have a feeling that Dunkirk probably deserves the technical awards more, but may be largely ignored. Or I could be wrong.


BEST SOUND MIXING

Mary H. Ellis, Julian Slater, & Tim Cavagin for BABY DRIVER
Mac Ruth, Ron Bartlett, & Doug Hephill for BLADE RUNNER 2049
Mark Weingarten, Gregg Landaker, & Gary A. Rizzo for DUNKIRK
Glen Gauthier, Christian Cooke, & Brad Zoem for THE SHAPE OF WATER
Stuart Wilson, Ron Klyce, David Parker, & Michael Semanick for STAR WARS: THE LAST JEDI

WHO CHRIS WANTS TO WINMark Weingarten, Gregg Landaker, & Gary A. Rizzo for Dunkirk. Sound Mixing is the best overall mixing or recording of a film and is generally awarded to the production sound mixers and re-recording mixers. I love the sound design on both “Blade Runner 2049” and “Dunkirk”. Both films were scored by Hans Zimmer. Both films are very loud with the use of their score. In the case of “Dunkirk”, Zimmer’s score builds so much tension through the film you think you will explode while Zimmer’s score in “Blade Runner 2049” helps build a dystopian future of long shots. I appreciated both approaches, but “Baby Driver” will come up on top. All the sound elements are mixed in such a fluid way that adds to the storytelling as if it was a character on set in its own terms.

WHO RON WANTS TO WIN: Mary H. Ellis, Julian Slater, & Tim Cavagin for Baby Driver. Same sentiment as the Sound Editing category because I’m not really smart enough on the technicalities to really know what the difference is, but I am willing to admit that openly so it’s cool, right?

WHO CHRIS THINKS WILL ACTUALLY WINMary H. Ellis, Julian Slater, & Tim Cavagin for Baby Driver. The “Baby Driver” mix is just so perfect and balanced blending so many elements tighter to which all those pieces inform the story.

WHO RON THINKS WILL ACTUALLY WIN: Glen Gauthier, Christian Cooke, & Brad Zoem for The Shape Of Water. Same sentiment as the Sound Editing category.


BEST VISUAL EFFECTS

John Nelson, Paul Lambert, Richard R. Hoover, & Gerd Nefzer for BLADE RUNNER 2049
Christopher Townsend, Guy Williams, Jonathan Fawkner, & Dan Suddick GUARDIANS OF THE GALAXY VOL. 2
Stephen Rosenbaum, Jeff White, Scott Benza, & Mike Meinardus for KONG: SKULL ISLAND
Ben Morris, Mike Mulholland, Chris Corbould, & Neal Scanlan for STAR WARS: THE LAST JEDI
Joe Letteri, Dan Lemmon, Daniel Barrett, & Joel Whist for WAR FOR THE PLANET OF THE APES

WHO CHRIS WANTS TO WINJohn Nelson, Paul Lambert, Richard R. Hoover, & Gerd Nefzer for Blade Runner 2049. I want “Blade Runner 2049” to win a few awards. That film should have done better than it did. The visuals are gorgeous and photo real. There are several story elements which require the use of composition for other actors in interesting ways that expand the story. This is a bias choice.

WHO RON WANTS TO WIN: John Nelson, Paul Lambert, Richard R. Hoover, & Gerd Nefzer for BLADE RUNNER 2049. Less CGI, the better in my opinion.

WHO CHRIS THINKS WILL ACTUALLY WINJoe Letteri, Dan Lemmon, Daniel Barrett, & Joel Whist for War for the Planet of the Apes. There is no competition for this motion capture work. This team created photo real animals. It is incredible work. The eyes are what sell these creatures. It is a shame Andy Serkis was never nominated for any of his motion capture work. It is both his performance and this team which combined in such a way it is impossible to see where one part starts and the other ends. This is the same for costume and makeup people, here they are just working digital rather than practical.

WHO RON THINKS WILL ACTUALLY WIN: John Nelson, Paul Lambert, Richard R. Hoover, & Gerd Nefzer for Blade Runner 2049. It’s the only “film” on this list of “movies”.

BEST ADAPTED SCREENPLAY

James Ivory for CALL ME BY YOUR NAME
Scott Neustadter & Michael H. Weber for THE DISASTER ARTIST
Scott Frank, James Mangold, & Michael Green for LOGAN
Aaron Sorkin for MOLLY’S GAME
Virgil Williams & Dee Rees for MUDBOUND

WHO CHRIS WANTS TO WINScott Frank, James Mangold, & Michael Green for Logan. “Black Panther” released on February 16th, 2018 and is the MCU’s 18th film. That number does not reflect any Fox Marvel films, Sony Marvel Films, DC films and etcetera. Superhero movies represent an absorbent amount of the yearly box-office but receive little recognition for what they accomplish in narrative storytelling. They are tentpole films of the modern age. “Logan” takes this modern genre and throws it back to the classic American Western. It is time for Superhero films to receive some credit for their accomplishments. Yeah, I cried at the end of this film. Because it’s good!

WHO RON WANTS TO WIN: Scott Neustadter & Michael H. Weber for The Disaster Artist. The hype sort of came and went for this one, but I am genuinely intrigued by the events that took place in making the well deservingly titled “worst film of all time”, The Room.

WHO CHRIS THINKS WILL ACTUALLY WIN: SAME.
Scott Frank, James Mangold, & Michael Green for Logan

WHO RON THINKS WILL ACTUALLY WIN: James Ivory for Call Me By Your Name. It was an insanely weak year for the adapted screenplay world. So, I truly believe that Ivory will sneak his way in through the back door on this one.

BEST ORIGINAL SCREENPLAY

Emily V. Gordon & Kumail Nanjiani for THE BIG SICK
Jordan Peele for GET OUT
Greta Gerwig for LADY BIRD
Guillermo del Toro & Vanessa Taylor for THE SHAPE OF WATER
Martin McDonagh for THREE BILLBOARDS OUTSIDE EBBING, MISSOURI

WHO CHRIS WANTS TO WINGreta Gerwig for Lady Bird. To be honest, I have had a celebrity crush on Greta Gerwig for a long time. Both her and Jordan Peele are first time directors and filmmakers this year, although Greta has collaborated in the writing process for a few films now. Jordan Peel also has a long history of writing. Guillermo del Toro is going to clean up in most other categories but for this case Greta is my writer!

WHO RON WANTS TO WIN: Jordan Peele for Get Out. I am honestly saddened by the fact that The Big Sick and Get Out were released in the same year, and both nominated. It was like choosing my favorite kid, you know? Except choosing a kid would be easier. These two film s were wildly different, but both oh so original, and I loved them so much. But in the end, Get Out Just stuck with me a bit more. Either way, I’m just happy to see that comedy people are raking in some serious dough/awards.

WHO CHRIS THINKS WILL ACTUALLY WINJordan Peele for Get Out. “Get Out” found its way into the zeitgeist and stayed there. Most films which come out in the first half of the year are forgotten about when award seasons begins. “Get Out” has stayed relevant for a long time. Jordan Peele must win for something. Why not an amazing narrative which takes genre and has fun with it. Also, social commentary is a thing for the Academy.

WHO RON THINKS WILL ACTUALLY WIN: Jordan Peele for Get Out. Jordan Peele has done something no one has managed to do with a film. He told a brilliant story that mixed social commentary with just the right amount of suspense & comedy to tap into every human emotion possible to bring a very serious bit of subject matter out into the world. He deserves this so damn much.

Scotty Wright [Interview]

Today we have a pretty unique interview that I am excited to share with you fine folks. Scotty Wright is a brilliant mind, who is working his way into the world of film and television starting from the ground up. And he is doing it in a place that is rapidly becoming known for its plethora of great talent that may be a reason as to why so much great talent and art is (slowly) beginning to be brought to the world. The city is Nashville. While it has always been a staple in the world of music, we are beginning to see even more of the city in the world of film and television. Granted, country music is still a major player in the Nashville scene, as it will always be, and has definitely interwoven itself into the film and television community. But, thanks to folks like Scotty and others in the Nashville film community, it is sure to rise above its neighbors, and have a thriving out pour of amazing works of art to share with the world.

And on a side/different note, Scotty is also my….cousin(?). My father married into his family almost 20 years ago, and they have been a delightful bunch to get to know. I have only met Scotty once in my life, which was at my dad’s wedding just outside of Nashville, when I was 14, circa 1999. Scotty is a few years younger than me, and being an angst riddled 14 year old who recently discovered Eminem back then, I’m sure we didn’t communicate much. But, now we are all grown up and leading our own leaves across the globe. And while I haven’t seen Scotty in almost 20 years, I did manage to have a helluva good time with his old man & mine at a Scorpions show at the Grand Ole Opry in 2016, featuring some amazing hot chicken as well. While this has absolutely nothing to do with what I wanted to talk about with Scotty, I thought it was a fun little antidote some of you may give a shit about. Also, both of these occasions are the only time I have stepped foot in the city of Nashville, and I have to say they were both incredible, and I have a fondness for the city that I don’t truly understand. I just know that I am always rooting for them to succeed.

So Ladies and Gentlemen, I shall stop the rambling, and share some great words with a man who will surely be the future of the world of Nashville cinema, and the world of film altogether. Please enjoy some amazing words from the brilliant Scotty Wright!

When did you first develop your love for the world of filmmaking? Where did the passion stem from?

I very clearly remember seeing 2 movies in theaters growing up. The first was Mr. Holland’s Opus. My parents took me with my grandfather to the theater and I was just mesmerized despite being about 4. The second was Muppet Treasure Island. My parents got me a cassette of the soundtrack and I must have run that tape on repeat for at least a year. Both my parents really encouraged me to read growing up. If I was bored, it was “go read a book,” so I tended to spend a lot of time in stories. It really wasn’t until Chris Nolan’s The Dark Knight was in production that I took notice of filmmaking as an art and a profession. From the day they announced Heath Ledger to play The Joker, to me sitting in the Opry Mills 70mm IMAX theater in Nashville, I would check all the movie blogs and websites I could find to figure out how they were doing it. With a lot of encouragement from some incredible teachers in high school, I decided to pivot from a musical direction in college to an entirely film production course. This took a lot of people by surprise, my parents, scoutmasters, friends. But it ended being the best decision I could have ever made. In May it will have been 3 years since I graduated with a Bachelor’s Degree from Middle Tennessee State University, my mother Kathy’s alma mater. Since then I have worked on multiple feature films, worked on countless Reality and Scripted television shows for major Network and Cable outlets, and travelled the world doing what I love.

I have been hearing through the proverbial grape vine that things are really heating up in the Nashville film scene. Historically it has been a music town, but what is happening in the world of film? Is there a community of talented folks such as yourself that we should all be watching out for?

I would hesitantly agree that prospects for Film production are heating up in Nashville. I say hesitant because while there is a solid community of talented filmmakers here, we as a city are lacking some vital ingredients that would really put is in an even better position. Being a music town, there’s a constant need for video content in the form of music videos, tour content, or live event recording, but film is a whole other beast. It has been exciting to see feature films like Novitiate and Lovesong and so many others, but I would love to see more. The hard part is that Atlanta is so close and they have a much better infrastructure in place for consistent feature production. There is more money incentivized by the State to film there, there are more rental houses, there are more specialized shops; in general, it’s a bigger city with all the benefits (and negatives) of that. What Nashville has going for it are its people, who I have been lucky enough to work with for 5 years now, and they are incredibly talented and ready to break though on bigger projects, but unfortunately the jobs don’t always come to town. I like to say that Nashville has the talent and Nashville has the crew, but we don’t quite have the cash or the space or all the resources that go into Major feature films with multi-million dollar budgets. Those things take time and lobbying to our local representatives, which many colleagues have been working towards for years with only recent support.

Recently you worked on two comedy specials filmed in Nashville. One was Brad Paisley’s Comedy Rodeo, and the other was one of my favorite specials of 2017, Bill Burr: Walk Your Way Out. If you are able, can you give us an insider’s look into working on projects like these? What was it like behind the scenes of events like these?

First of all, thanks for watching! It never gets old hearing that someone has seen a project that you worked on because the process takes so long, and depending on what it is, I might be pretty far removed from the project by the time it is released. On Bill Burr’s show, I was contacted by a production company that got my info from a crew that I had worked with previously on a Jim Jeffries taping in Nashville. They called most of us back to work on Cedric the Entertainer Show as well, and these types of shows like calling the same people because they understand the format and how the day is gonna go generally. On Bill Burr, I was a Production Assistant assigning walkie talkies to various members of the crew and assisting with general requirements like Craft Service, Lunches for Crew. Its pretty cool to see a high level creative person in the midst of their process and this certainly was one of those occasions. Mr. Burr came in and was very focused the whole day on his performance and talking through the different angles with our Director and Director of Photography. I remember specifically him spending a lot of time on the opening shot of that special because its a Steadicam move. A friend of mine, Tony Reyes, is a brilliant Steadicam operator and he was rehearsing that scene with Mr. Burr for awhile until they were both certain it was going to work smoothly.

On the Brad Paisley special, it was a lot of the same crew again, however this time, I had started working in the camera department. Unfortunately, we were a little understaffed that day, so with that  I was lucky enough to get bumped up from Production Assistant to 2nd Assistant Camera, which means instead of grabbing lunches, I was assisting the 1st AC with building the camera rigs and helping the Camera Operators test their shots. I knew the 1st AC, Marsha, from several jobs before and recognized that I was capable and pulled me into her department as quick as she could and knowing her, I did exactly what she told me to! For these types of live standup shows, we run about 6 cameras on various setups: tripods, dollies or sliders, handheld, and Jib. The shows being about an hour and a half, we have to stay pretty on it to make sure that before the show starts, before rehearsal starts, that our cameras won’t run out of power or memory (for the recording), so it involves a lot of planning and heavy work on the front end. During the show, we try to be as aware as possible to the needs of our Camera Operators, but you can keep eye and ear out while you watch some of the show.

In your heart of hearts, what would you consider to be your dream project to work on, in any capacity? What would you consider to be your masterpiece should you manage to get your hands on it?

Oh man. Super easy. If I ever get the chance to work on a James Bond movie, a Spider-Man film, or a Batman picture, I could die happily the next day. I have loved those characters since I was a kid. Part of what’s made them so fascinating is how well they have been reinvented time and time again and how each incarnation finds it own place in audience’s minds and hearts. An opportunity to put my spin on one of those characters or be involved with it would be a dream-come-true.

That being said, I have a real soft spot for documentaries, having made a couple shorts in college. I also love the art of interviewing; people like Dick Cavett, David Letterman, Stephen Colbert, James Lipton, and many others make simple conversation so compelling that you forget how difficult it can be to open up to another person let alone on TV or film. Some sort of documentary into the subject and art of interview and interviewers would be really compelling to me.

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

Well hopefully quite a bit! In the Summer of 2017, I accepted a postion as a writer for 615 Film. We write film criticism and reactions to recent news. I have been an irregular contributor to the podcast Poor Man’s Movie Reviews (available on iTunes) for about 9 months. At the begining of January, I finished work on a new show for CMT, called Music City, that will begin airing in March. I worked as a staff Digital Imaging Technician on that show which was an incredible learning experience to be the middleman between the Production team and the Post Production Team in Los Angeles. I can’t wait for people to start seeing that. I am currently working on a new show for E! that unfortunately I can’t say too much about thanks to legally binding paperwork. In terms of film, my friend Tiffany Murray, an excellent 1st Assistant Camera, wrote and directed her third short film that we filmed in Nashville at the end of January, and hope to have finished around Summer-time to hit the film festival circuit. I, myself, have a film in the late stages of composing and mixing that will be testing those waters soon as well.

What was the last thing that made you smile?

I was scrubbing through footage on a show one night to make my regular Media logs, whenI got an email from the Director of Photography asking me to double check something for him. He jokingly signed the email “miss you,” because my hours are so different from everyone else’s and i’m always in my windowless room at the Production Office that he only sees me maybe for half an hour every day. Its really nice when working with out of town crews and new people to mesh well and have a solid friendly professional relationship. The hours are pretty intense. We work 12 hour days sometimes 5-7 days in a row, so getting along with your crew is massively important, so little things like that where my boss is joking with me are a really nice sign that the job is going alright.

Check out this first look of Music City that premieres on CMT, March 1st:

Danny Shorago [Interview]

Photo by Erin Stone

Strap on your strap on folks, we have an amazing thrill ride of an interview for you all! Today we are talking with the wildly eccentric and creative individual known by his birth (configured?) name, Danny Shorago. He is an amazingly talented actor, voice over artist, and musician who has worked on some amazing projects in his career, including being the frontman for the incredibly original band, The Fuxedos.

But, I have a feeling that I know why most of you are here. Danny is the man who provided the voice of the infamous Hancock from the wildly popular, and biggest reason of time consumption in my personal life, Fallout 4. He is the chew-loving ghoul who rules Goodneighbor with sharp dagger and a heart of gold. He’s one of the most creative character that the Fallout world has ever produced, and the good folks at Bethesda made the amazing decision to cast a hilarious and brilliant artist who was not only a brilliant fit in the voice over department, but has a personality that is as original and forthright as the character he was born to speak for.

And it would be behoove me to give a shout out to all of the Fallout Wastelanders (what up Junior Alvarez and fam!) out there who are tuning in right about now. We started showcasing the Fallout world about a year ago, and have continued to receive some lovely praise for all of the fine fans of the series that has affected (infected?) our lives so very much. Danny, please know that this is an interview that are YOUR people. I am a huge fan of your work in the Fallout universe, and have in turn become a huge fan of your entire catalog. Thank you to the Wastelanders and Danny for being so wonderful. And for the rest of you….hey. How you doing’?

So Ladies and Gentlemen, please enjoy one of the most fun and brilliantly answered interviews we have had on TWS we have ever had. For long time readers, gear yourself up for a J.D. Shapiro (the Battlefield Earth/Robin Hood: Men In Tights guy, remember him?) like collection of answers. He is a fine individual, and I am certain we will be showcasing his work in the future, if he would do us the honor. Enjoy!

When did you know that you wanted to be in the world of entertainment as a musician? Was it always a passion for you from a young age?

I remember watching squirrels mate outside my treehouse one sunny summer day, long ago. The rhythm of the male squirrel thrusting into his mate was relentless but unconventional. Instead of the usual 4/4 pumping (4 beats per measure, quarter note gets one count), his procreative pounding shifted frequently between such challenging, asymmetrical musical meters as 13/8, 17/16, and 43/32 (43 beats per measure, 32nd note gets one count). And his mate, meanwhile, screeched along polyrhythmically in a series of modal scales clearly influenced by both Ottoman and Byzantine musical history. It turns out they had both traveled to the US as stowaways on a commercial barge from Bulgaria, where they had clearly absorbed the local folk music on an impressively cellular level. Listening to them rut away like that changed the way I perceive rhythm and harmony — and set me on the singular musical course I travel to this day.

But, golly — that “E” word gives me hives. “Entertainment” always compels me to think of game show hosts and surreality TV and sitcoms and the treacly, formulaic shit oozing out of commercial radio stations: disposable, shiny, focus-grouped corporate product designed to be consumed, digested, and excreted instantly, and to distract people from more pressing things. Call me a fancy lad, but I prefer the “A” word. No, not “asshole” — “artist.”


When did you realize you could have so much success in the world of voice over work? Was it something you have always done?

Indeed — VO is something I’ve always done. Wanting nothing but the best for me, my parents provided me with a rigorous schedule of enrichment activities from the moment of my conception. Immediately post-fertilization, a tiny microphone, mic stand, and popper stopper were surgically implanted in my mother’s womb — along with tiny audio recordings of commercial, narration, animation, video game, and promo voiceovers for reference.

I first knew I could attain so much success in the field after my debut audition. I walked out of the studio booth with a massive grin on my face and an effervescent bounce in my step, confident that I had absolutely nailed the panoply of characters I had potently hurled into that mic. Of course, I subsequently heard absolutely nothing back about that one. Aw, showbiz: it’s a cruel, random, absurdly vicious game that ain’t for the faint of heart, the weak of liver, or the feeble of kidney. Stay in school, kids.

How do you enjoy the work itself? Is it cool to go to work in just whatever clothing you would like?

I enjoy the work as much as a puma enjoys sinking its frothing fangs into the juicy flank of a desperately sprinting mule deer. I primarily audition from home, a strictly “clothing optional” environment. But although I prefer to audition in my natural, edenic, unclothed state, I rarely record actual sessions in the nude. Instead, when I head to the studio, I ritualistically don a star-spangled, red-white-and-blue jumpsuit that was personally donated to me by legendary stuntman/maverick/American hero Evel Knievel. It’s heavily padded in case of unexpected bouts of studio violence, and includes a diaper compartment for those long sessions where you just don’t want to break your creative flow or I’m gunning furiously for a deadline. It also includes a fetching, sparkly, visored motorcycle helmet equipped inside with its own proprietary, highly advanced, five-point-one surround sound contact microphone technology — which enables me to capture a vocal timbre unlike anyone else’s in the business, motherfuckers.

What has the fan reaction been like since you worked on Fallout 4 as the wonderful companion Hancock? Do you find Fallout fans to be different from other groups of fans?

Except for that pack of women perpetually camped out in the hills above my home, my fans have been zealous — but not overly so. Like a fine scotch, my fans reveal subtle hints of caramel, leather, dried fruit, cedar wood, and smoky peat. Like an exquisite symphony, they provide a richly dynamic, nuanced, immaculately orchestrated, and profoundly enriching emotional experience. Like a monster truck show, they provide terrifying heart-racing thrills, the furious spectacle of brutally violent collisions, and deliciously sumptuous corn dogs for purchase at the concession stand outside the main arena. Unlike many other groups of fans, they clearly value panache and dashing charisma over conventional good looks. No, we’re not talking about my face, you jerks! We’re talking about Hancock’s. You know, the guy with a complexion like venison jerky but a heart o’ solid goddamn gold. Clearly, their priorities are in the right place.

I am very intrigued by something called The Fuxedos. Can you tell us a bit about what it is? How did this come about?

Oh, wonderful — thanks for asking. Unsurprisingly, the offspring of the aforementioned Bulgarian immigrant squirrels all turned out to be musical prodigies. I attempted to form an ensemble with the seven of them. But although they possessed tremendous talent, they suffered from both a severe lack of discipline, and from serious substance abuse problems. They’d routinely show up drunk or stoned to our rehearsals and gigs, with only a superficial knowledge of the material. Their intoxication and idleness were rivaled only by their belligerence, which they’d unpredictably unleash on club owners, patrons, and each other. It was a bad scene, man! Ultimately, I was forced to fire each and every one of the furry little bastards. When they attempted to ambush me in a dark alley outside of the club after our final, disastrous gig together, I had no choice but to mercilessly slaughter them all — and then, after removing the blood stains, make a coat from their silky, sleek fur.

I still have that coat. When I’m feeling dejected about the sorry state of live music in today’s virtual reality-obsessed world, I put on a Frank Zappa record and that coat…caress it nostalgically…pour out a 40 for my slain former collaborators…and flash a knowing, world-weary smile. Sometimes a man just has to slaughter squirrels, you know.

Since then, I’ve strictly employed humanoids in the band — and have found the results to be far more gratifying:

http://www.fuxedos.com/
https://thefuxedos.bandcamp.com/

 

The Fuxedos – pic: Mike Dunkley/Paul Zollo with Myles Boisen, Kenny Leath
Poodle Point/IMG_2853/IMG_2656: Ale Robles


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

Ah, but the future is unwritten, my friend — a tabula rasa upon which nothing is yet engraved. And the way things are regressing out there, there’s no guarantee we’ll make it to Thursday. However, assuming life on earth still exists in some sort of semi-civilized form, I’ll be returning as a guest of Magic City Con in Birmingham, Alabama from June 8 to 10 of this year. On June 9, I’ll be dressin’ up as my favorite ghoul mayor — in a new ‘n improved Hancock mask courtesy of the lovely ‘n talented Emma Campbell of Pink Mist FX  — for my debut VIP event: the only event I’ll be performing at and cosplaying for all weekend (and quite possibly, all year). C’mon out and join me, Ghoulettes and Fancox!

https://www.magiccitycon.com/tickets/

What was the last thing that made you smile?

When I last recalled that, in five billion years, our sun will swell into a massive red giant and then expire. Th-th-th-that’s all, folks!

For all of you die-hard Hancock/Fallout 4 fans out there, check out this incredible video of Danny performing “The Wanderer” as Hancock at Magic City Comic Con in 2017 via his YouTube page:

Graeme Thomas King [Interview]

We have a great interview for you all today folks. Today’s interview subject is a young artist who is ready to shock the world. His name is Graeme Thomas King, and is sure to be our next big star in Young Hollywood. With dashing good looks, and obvious talent, King is definitely what we have all been looking for in the world of show business.

Graeme can be seen in the latest project from legendary filmmaker Neil Jordan entitled The Widow. Graeme works alongside such talents as Chloe Grace Moretz and a regular in the Neil Jordan, the great Stephen Rea. And I dare say that this is very fitting company for this wonderful young man, who we will all soon discover is destined to be one of the greats. And we are so very happy to have him join the TWS family here today.

So please enjoy some amazing words from the brilliant Graeme Thomas King right now!

When did you discover that you had a passion for acting? What drove you to this world?

I would be lying if I said I knew my entire life I wanted to be an actor. Growing up I was ridiculously shy, so doing what I do now still comes as a shock to me. My 10 year old self would be petrified. I suppose it was always a subconscious yearning inside me that drove me to where I am today. My hero’s growing up were always comedians actually, Billy Connolly for example had a huge impact on me and still does. Robin Williams was another. Their storytelling and ultimately ability to make people laugh always inspired me, I thought it such a noble skill and it has stuck with me forever. We need more laughter in the world.

What got me to consider acting seriously was a chance encounter on a bus in London (the number 11 to Liverpool Street, if you were wondering), when I was asked by a young filmmaker and actress if I would consider being in a short film she was making? What possessed me to say yes I would audition I cannot say. It was a transitional point in my life and I like a chance encounter better than anyone so I agreed and we set a date for the audition. I think I fell in love with the process then and there. It really was everything I’ve always wanted in life from working with fascinating pieces of literature (I auditioned with an Ibsen monologue) to collaborating with diverse groups of people and working together to meet a common goal, and ultimately having a lot of fun along the way. Bearing in mind this was only a few years ago now it’s been a bit of a whirlwind to say the least. On the back of this I applied for acting school in New York, found myself there for just over two years, headed back to London for a spell and now I’m in LA. As I said earlier my 10 year old self is screaming at me inside. But that’s ok, I know this is what he wanted all along. Im making up for lost time I suppose.

I am intrigued by the premise of the OJ Reyes film No More Lonely People that you will be appearing in. Can you tell us a bit about this project? What sort of character will you be portraying?

Of course. Working with OJ was a real pleasure. A terrific guy and just wonderful, passionate filmmaker. I’ve never come across a guy with so many ideas in his head at once. His creativity astounds me. Interesting I initially auditioned for the lead role, OJ told me it had gone to another actor but convinced me there was another role that I would be perfect for, Clark Bruce, who I ended up playing in the film. If I was perfect for it only time will tell! No More Lonely People (NMLP) is a story that takes place in a world where the government decides your soulmate upon your 23rd birthday. My character Clark is a self made millionaire from then UK who gets matched with Diana, played by Simone Policano, a wonderful actress and dear friend who everyone must go and check out, she does wonderful work. My character has to prove to Dianna that he is everything she’s looking for despite the fact that she is in love with someone else.

 

Another project you have worked on was The Widow, directed by legendary filmmaker Neil Jordan, and features an incredible cast as well. How was your experience working on this project?

This was a dream to say the least. I cannot express my gratitude to Neil and his team enough for allowing me on his set and just giving me the honour to work creatively with him and everyone else. It was a joy from beginning to end and I’m excited for the film to come out. I was nervous to say the least but Neil created such a collaborative and friendly environment that I felt at home immediately. You really get into acting to work in such environments, because that’s what it’s all about, the work. There shouldn’t be any ego’s because we are all in it together and we are creating something that is bigger than ourselves, a story that is hopefully going to have a positive impact on people and make them experience and feel things that they might not necessarily be able to feel in everyday life. It’s exactly the type of environment I want to work in for the rest of my career and I thank Neil for that.

Working under the guise of a legendary filmmaker like Neil Jordan seems like it would be an eye-opening experience of sorts, for someone on the outside looking in. So, how was it for you? Did you take anything away from the legend himself?

Eye opening is an understatement to say the least. I think the big thing I took away from this experience is never be afraid to ask questions. Being a young actor in such a high profile setting I think the danger is to become a bit of a yes man. You have to trust your instincts and if something doesn’t feel right then you need to bring that up, and I think Neil appreciated that. We are all in it together and it’s art at the end of the day, there are no correct answers. That was another big thing I learnt. We were making something and there is literally no blueprint for this sort of stuff. As an actor you learn from your mistakes and you have to be prepared for them, they are inevitable. Neil was just fantastic in that there was such open dialogue between himself and I and I really appreciated that seeing as I was new on set. It’s something I’ll always take away with me and try and recreate in future projects.

You have had experience working in film and the stage. In your professional opinion, what is your preferred style of acting? Which setting do you find the most rewarding to work in?

That’s a tough question because they are both so different. My training comes from the theatre so I’ll always have a deep reverence and respect for it. I think theatre will always be the ultimate challenge for the actor. There’s no hiding on stage. The camera never lies and so much of a film is made or broken in the editing room, which is something I’m becoming more and more aware of. On stage, you’re really putting yourself out there, it’s live and it’s different every night and I suppose so much can go wrong! Theatre will always be very special to me because of that live factor. You’re inviting an audience to participate and engage directly in what you are doing. Watching a film or TV you can easily switch off as an audience member. But in theatre, the audience is such a huge part of it and it requires their direct participation and involvement which is very special. I do worry about the accessibility of theatre these days. Ticket prices seem to be getting more and more expensive and it simply isn’t conducive to getting the message the story is trying to tell across to as a wide demographic of society as possible, which should be the goal. Theatre should be for the many not the select few who can afford it. I suppose this is where TV and film comes in, its far more wider reaching and accessible and this can only be a good thing. I’ve spoken about theatre so much but I like many people are inspired by film every day. We all have our favourites and isn’t it a frequent question when we meet someone for the first time; what’s your favourite film? There’s a reason for this and I suppose it’s why I love film. It has the power to move and inspire like all great pieces of art do. I’ll keep saying it but for me it’s got to be all about the audience, these stories are for them. I, as an actor, get so much joy out of the process and that’s my reward, but the alchemy of it is for an audience, who will hopefully be inspired like I have been by so many great films over the years. Just don’t ask me which is my favourite that’s such a tough question!

If you were given the opportunity to portray any figure in the history of popular culture, who would it be? 

James Dean. For those who know me they will attest he’s a big influence on me. I know he has been portrayed before, and very successfully I might add, but I think there’s so much more to tell. I’ve read a lot about him and garnered any information I could and the thing that always struck me was the wide variety of opinions on the guy, and I’m not sure if anyone truly knew him for who he was. I’m not saying I would be able to encapsulate that I’m just saying there would be so much scope to explore areas of his life that haven’t necessarily been explored before. Obviously he’s had such an impact on popular culture for so many years now and the images of him are iconic. For me what’s really interesting is this clearly misunderstood guy. He had so much success in such a short space of time but was he actually happy? My instinct says no and there is something tragic about that. What could be interesting would be a fictional tale of what James Dean would have done with the rest of his life had it not been so tragically cut short. Starring me of course!

From your training, and experience in the world of acting, what would you consider to be the most important aspect of the job? What should every actor be striving to achieve when they take on a new project?

As I said before it’s about the audience and this for me is paramount. It’s not about you as the actor and I’ve learnt this very quickly. Especially on film sets because you are such a tiny cog in this great machine, it’s always been very humbling for me which I love. It’s just not about you as the individual. It can’t be and if you think it is then there’s an issue. The goal for me should be great storytelling and doing great work. Everything else is secondary. As a former teacher of mine said to me, your job is to be there for the audience. That always stuck with me. Anything that gets in the way of that must be stripped away.

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

The future is very exciting and I wish I could go into more detail but I can’t! Such is the nature of the business. My present situation puts me in the U.S. which has always been a special place for me. I’m surrounded by incredibly creative, lovely and generous people and that’s always a recipe for success so watch this space!

What was the last thing that made you smile?

I watched Drake’s “God’s Plan” music video yesterday and that made me both smile and cry simultaneously. Another example of the power of art.

Hanala Sagal [Interview]



Today we are talking with a truly inspiring figure in the world of art and entertainment. And I am deeply ashamed to admit that I am only now beginning to learn just how amazing she truly is and has always been. Hanala Sagal has been a Hollywood staple for a very long time, and has done some incredible work in her wonderful career. One thing would be her involvement in the film Elvis & Nixon, which was the reason I initially reached out to her. But, what I would learn about Hanala would be even more fascinating.

Hanala is truly a breath of fresh air in a world that seems absolutely polluted with proverbial ignorance and hatred. She has truly lived a life, with enough ups and downs to be a ride at Magic Mountain. But, in the end she has come out clean and thriving on the other side. She was a YouTube sensation before we even knew what that was going to be, and she has spent the majority of her life being an inspiration to millions, which is just about as admirable as it gets.

But, how about we let Hanala speak for herself? She was so kind to take some time out of her busy schedule to answer a few questions and tell us some stories. So please enjoy some great words from Hanala Sagal!

When did you first realize you wanted to join the world of show business? Was it something you had always gravitated towards, or did you just sort of fall into it?

​I was on stage in Montreal, playing the role of a little girl separated from her mother in the Holocaust. The audience laughed and cried and I was hooked. I liked playing this daughter of survivors much more than the one I play at home! One day while watching The Beverly Hillbillies, I asked my mother “How much do you have to pay to be on TV?” She said “They pay you!” I decided to grow up and move to where I could be on TV and out of the snow. Plus, my mother paid attention to and believed what she saw on TV so I had to get on TV. 

Hitler spoiled my parents for regular suffering. I’d say, “Ma the girls in school don’t like me” she’d say “You think they liked me in Poland?” If I couldn’t be Opie of Mayberry I would play him. I wanted to be Ritchie on The Dick van Dyke Show. I also wanted to be Laura Petrie. I like to sing and dance for people. My parents bought me a car when I was 21, I said thanks, drove south, made a right at Ohio and came to L.A. to get into TV. I got into drugs, limos with strangers and eventually I got sober, became an aerobics instructor a motivational speaker and created my Comedy Wellness brand. Shape Up, L.A. began as a 1980’s Public Access show and cost about sixty bucks to produce — which proved my mother wrong. I was paying to be on TV. 

What can you tell us about the origin of the brilliant 2016 film Elvis & Nixon that you co-wrote and also starred in? Where did the idea for this project come about, and what are your thoughts on the final product that was given to the world?

Elvis & Nixon began as a micro-budget vehicle for my ex, also an actor, and me to star in. I’d just finished writing a bromance screenplay (I love writing about men working together) so when I learned Elvis took his buddy, Jerry, to see Nixon, I had my angle. I wrote a funny part for myself and was thrilled to finally achieve commercial success. I was so buzzed, I filmed a segment for my YouTube channel on how I was a 30-year overnight success. Hashtag whoohoo. At first, I was treated well by the producer. Then I brought in a lawyer who’d worked with the producer. He looked at the deal I’d been offered, was empathetically offended and agreed to work on the contract for a percentage. I went from being the darling to being the bitch. I was yelled at, criticized and eventually ghosted. Lately, I’ve been asked about Kevin Spacey, but it was the big-deal producer running the show who really creeped me out. He’d produced Oscar winning movies and I was stunned to be bullied by someone at that level. He gave the role I’d written for myself to another actress, cut me out of the production and gave writing credit to his brother on Twitter. I went to bed for a year. It was the best I could do. Then I got out of bed and wrote a new screenplay and  TV show and started a new book. And that’s why I’m the Bounce Back Kid.

Scrolling through your IMDb credits, I can’t help but be intrigued by the fact that you were a dancer in the most iconic music video of all time, Michael Jackson’s “Thriller”. Watching that video seems like it could have been a pretty grueling month, she​ of fun to work on. So how was your experience on this set? Did it surprise you at all how infamous it would become?

​My agent sent me to dance on something called a Music Video starring Michael Jackson. I said “You mean from The Jackson 5?” ​I didn’t recognize him but was amazed to discover at the end of the day the lovely, talented woman in flowy robes who led us in choreography was Michael Jackson. It was hard work for little pay and I didn’t think it was going anywhere so I only showed up for two days. I think I went home and worked on my tan which has faded, unlike Thriller which never will.

You became a YouTube sensation before we even knew that was going to be a thing!  So, what made you decide to get into this world? Also what do you enjoy about the format, and what keeps you continuing to put out hilarious content?

​YouTube was just Public Access TV on steroids. I knew how to talk to a camera. I liked the camera and it liked me back. I’d become petty famous in L.A. (with fans like Eddie Van Halen and Marlon Brando) because I said funny, inspiring, profound things — and I did it in tights. I was like clean porn for self-esteem. 

​In 2008 I got a phone call from YouTube. I was, “Wow, you’re a place?” They said, “You have a million views on one of your videos, you should monetize it.” I said, “You have the wrong number.” I checked, YouTube was right. The channel is now at 300M views and 300K subscribers! They didn’t call, but they did send a trophy.

It’s an opportunity to reach and inspire millions of humans each week with my Comedy Wellness brand, to perform regularly and to try out new material.

Check out Hanala’s work on

When you look back on your brilliant career in the world of show business, what would you say you are most proud of? Why?

It was cool that Elvis & Nixon won Centerpiece at the Tribeca Film Festival in 2016, but what I’m proudest about is the 15 years I was on Public Access TV. The show had a dream-come-true social impact. ​A father told me that until he saw my show where I dressed as a little girl, he had no idea how screaming at his kids impacted ​them. A woman say she’d watch my show (on crack, which is the only way she could watch it) and ended up with me in her head so much that she started going to AA and is still sober. I created the show because I wanted to work regularly but was audition-impaired so I hired myself.

I adapted my TV scripts into a book published in 2006. In those dark moments, when I feel like a commercial failure, I read the Amazon comments from readers who describe how My Parents Went through the Holocaust and All I Got was This Lousy T-shirt inspired them to understand their experiences, to heal, and to laugh! Anthony Hopkins and Kirk Douglas know me and my family because they read my memoir. I remember making Barack Obama laugh at Oprah’s house in 2008 and how that moment would have impressed my parents.  

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

It took 12 years, but I finally finished the screenplay adaptation of ​my memoir (My Parents Went through the Holocaust and All I Got was This Lousy T-shirt.) ​​I cried for the ​​first 10 years​​ so I could spend the next two making it funny.​ ​​​Traumaland is a #metoo story of epic dysfunction and spectacular recovery​ for today’s audiences. We’re also developing a new TV series called Boat Karaoke. It’s like Carpool Karaoke but prettier. Music and comedy on yachts cruising Marina del Rey harbor… Singers share secrets by the seashore. Micro budget and huge worldwide potential for distribution. Get onboard at boatkaraoke.com!

What was the last thing that made you smile?

Smiling is powerful stuff​,​ ​mood altering, that’s what ​the ​poodle is for. My little reminder to cheer the f*ck up.​ I realized, after 35 years of therapy and 12-Step meetings, that I’m just a clump of habits, so I created ones that make me happy. I enjoy doing what I’m good at and I get good by practicing. The way people practice complaining (mostly to the wrong people) you’d think cranky were a desirable state. I practice gratitude which leads to smiling. This can also cause pissiness in others who have not been able to tap into their joy. Joy dies from lack of use. Another thing that makes me smile — being effective! Life is messy and when I get two things done out of the seventy things I wanted to do, I smile. ​

Learn more from Hanala at hanala.com, and check out some of Hanala’s wonderful work on YouTube, right here:

 

Traumaland:

Boat Karaoke:

 

Elena Beuca [Interview]


Avid readers of Trainwreck’d Society (as I’m sure you all are!) will remember a brilliant indie film entitled D-Love that we covered back in December. The film would then go on to be our favorite film of the year. I simply can not say enough great things about this incredible powerful film. I was beyond impressed with everything about it. Especially the film’s director and lead actor, you guessed it, the wonderful Elena Beuca!

In what has become a routine in my personal life as well as on this site, I tell EVERYONE about how great this film, so that is what I wanted to do again today with Elena! She was so kind to share a few words with us here today. And now I am not only a huge fan of her directorial debut of a film, but I will be following her career as it continues to flourish, which I am absolutely certain it will. The sky is the limit with this amazing artist, as she has already proven time and again the past. I am so excited to watch her grow right in front of us all!

So ladies and gentlemen, please enjoy some amazing words from the brilliant and one of my favorite guests we have ever had the fortune to showcase here at TWS, Elena Beuca!

I read in a previous interview that you didn’t actually begin acting until you were in your late 20’s, and that you were in real estate prior? So when did acting and filmmaking become your full time passion? And what led you into this world?

The desire to start acting started really late in life when I was 26 years old. I had my own real estate company in Bucharest, Romania and I just got my law degree and out of a sudden something new awoke in me – a passion about acting. It was bizarre cause although I dreamed of being an actress, but it always seemed like a far away dream, unrealistic, and I never actually thought to give it a try- always finding different excuses- nobody in my family has ever done acting, and it just seemed so far out of reach for a country girl who at the most needed a real job not a dreamy one… But that thought and feeling that I should follow it this time, didn’t leave me so I finally had to listen to it and started doing research and looked into best acting schools in the world and I came across the American Academy of dramatic Arts in Los Angeles. 

I submitted the application and very soon they invited me to come and audition to Los Angeles… I had a real short time to prepare the two monologues that they required and flew to Hollywood, filled with nerves, passion and hope for new future. Thank God I was excepted right away – the director of admission said that I have a natural talent and a passion that few of her students have and was one of the few students who got excepted immediately. And that’s how I was to embark on a new journey in a different country where I didn’t know one single soul before moving to Los Angels . I was so passionate and fascinated with my new world of acting and I excited about learning everything about it. I started taking classes as much as I could outside of the American Academy and I started taking classes with Ivanna Chubuck who is an excellent acting coach who coached Charlize Theron, Brad Pitt, Halle Berry just to name a few.

Your directorial debut D-Love is not only the best film we saw in 2017, it is also surely to go down as one of my personal favorite films of the last decade at least. I understand it was a very personal journey based on a true story. With that, I am always curious to know what sort of emotional ride it must have been to recreate an obviously very vivid memory. What was it like? Was there a struggle to meld accuracy with a visual medium?

I met Ditlev in 2012 at the airport when he asked me for a ride to the freeway – We took him home with us and he stayed at our house for 5 days and he made a huge impact on me and my husband – It was as if our souls were already connected long before – we establish a immediate friendship as if we’ve always known each other. We knew that we are connected by a invisible thread and he will always be a part of each others life- in one way of another . When he left I just wrote a short script that I had no intention to make into a film at that time- I just wrote about 20 pages or so because I just wanted to remember the feelings that we had when we met him and the friendship that came to life because of it.

So in in real life Ditlev myself and my husband- I think we were connected by an invisible thread that brought us together and that made us trust and develop a friendship right away. When later on, a couple of years later, I decided to make my first feature. I chose the D-love script and I knew I had to take the ral event and make it into something that people could relate to… We knew that if we were to tell the story the way it happened – that we instantly liked the kid and we recognized his soul- it would be hard for the audience to believe it and plus there wouln’t be any conflict for the film and who wants to watch a film where nothing happens and its all good and dandy ☺ ? So we decided to shape a different kind of story and to show a different perspective from the woman’s point of view and to show her growth and change. The biggest struggle that I had with playing the Stefania character was actually before we start shooting because initially didn’t intend to act in the film, we always thought we going to have a name actor playing myself and Dave’s character. When that didn’t happen and we chose for Ditlev to play himself as D-love- That’s when Dave and I knew we had to act in the film to make it easier for Ditlev who has never acted before. But he knows us and he can trust us to just play and be himself.

My character Stefania is so different than I am- and I was so afraid that I would not give it justice- I was terrified that I would come across as a unlikable character- that people will not relate to her- because on the paper she comes across as a bitch at times and would be very hard to understand where she’s coming from -unless you are able to bring different layers to the character to understand that she’s not a bad person, she’s just been scarred and guarded and that’s her way of dealing with it. So for a few nights before we started shooting I think I was crying every night and I was so terrified of playing her, terrified of failing, not knowing if I’m the best choice for it or not but unfortunately it was too late in the process because we didn’t have the finances to hire some well known actress. And I’d gotten so far that it was too late to back up because now I had a whole team relying on me and there was no way I can turn around – that was not a option! But it wasn’t easy and as I said throughout the pre-production, during the production even the postproduction sometimes I had my own doubt whether I am good at it, whether people will feel something or not .

Once I committed to playing her- I treated it as if this was a regular script because the reality and the truth is all though I was playing a fictionalized version of myself acting in a imaginary circumstances – and did my homework to understand where with this woman come from, to understand her hurt, her struggle, her frustration, her loss and once I was able to identify it was much easier to bring truthful elements of my life and substitution and slowly Stefania the character started taking over. And throughout the course of our filming I had moments when I felt our characters so alive in the way we talked, acted that it was almost like an out of body experience and that helped me give a more truthful performance , that hopefully people can identify with.

On an acting level, how does one truly portray themselves? Is it pretty easy, or extremely difficult?

I think to really show yourself and to be as natural as possible as an actor is pretty hard – it requires a certain kind of vulnerability, you have to be very open to allow yourself to just Be. In my case I had to allow certain parts of me to be exposed and that’s a very vulnerable thing to do, and it makes you feel like you’re naked in front of people so they can judge you or criticize or hopefully relate to you .

What has your experience been like with the fans who shown their support for the film in theatres and festivals? Have audiences been pretty excited about the film once they have seen it?

Our experience with the fans around the country has been incredible. When we first open the film n in Los Angeles -most of the people who came to to see it at the opening night were our friends or acquaintances or people that we love and love us and they were very excited and showed us a lot of love but a part of us didn’t know whether the film it’s really good because we thought these are our friends and they will support us no matter what. Until we actually started going to festivals around the country and showed it to people who I’ve never seen before who don’t know me or us and to see their excitement and their enthusiasm about the film and to see how effected they were by the film, the way they told us that it touched their hearts- that has been incredible and very humbling and very rewarding because it made me realize I guess in the end I did my job as an actor and as a director: to make a film that is relatable to people, that feels authentic, raw and real where they can find themselves in each of the main character’s struggles, desires or insecurities or in who they are as people. We are beyond grateful for all the love that people have shown us – we have won 10 best feature film awards either by the audience or Jury vote out of the 12 festivals that we have been a part of.




If you were given the chance to give a performance of any historical figure in world history, who would it be?

If I were to play one character in the history I would choose Aimee Semple McPherson for her courage for her God-given abilities and for being such a pioneer ….I am fascinated with women or people in general who overcome their obstacles and their challenges but instead they rise up to become something that they never even dreamed of because there is a power that is being activated when you are pursuing your purpose- and Aimee is one of them .

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

I have a couple of projects in mind that I would like to work on and they were very different from romantic comedy to a drama TV series about orphanages in Romania during the communism or another dark comedy that my husband is wring at the moment….. I am very much into telling stories about real people who overcome their challenges and they rise up above their situations or above their obstacles and they are able to be a solution instead of a problem – that’s what I am fascinated with.

What was the last thing that made you smile?

I was on FaceTime with my sister Lidia who lives in Romania who just had a baby who is 10 months old- her name is Miriam. My sister was telling me a story while holding Miriam in her arms – who was smiling and talking in her own language that we don’t understand yet. Miriam was trying to get my sisters attention and then out of a sudden she just wraps her arms around my sisters neck and kiss her on the cheek and than she smiles with such love that it just warmed my heart…….That gesture put a humongous smile on my face because I could could watch them and I could see that there was so much adoration in their eyes for each other- the way she was looking at my sister with such love – and the way my sister was looking at her- Their love was tangible and that made me realize what a beautiful gift Love is.

Check out this trailer for D-Love, and learn more at dlovethemovie.com