Sunday Matinee: Lalo’s House [Short]

Lalo’s House, inspired by true events of child trafficking in Haiti (as well as its pervasive spread throughout the US and around the world), follows the relentless courage of Manouchka,’ a 14 year-old Haitian girl, and her little sister, Phara, who are abducted and thrown into an underground prostitution network posing as a Catholic orphanage. Forced to grow up prematurely, Manouchka must fight to save Phara and escape the villainous Sister Francine (portrayed by Garcelle Beauvais) who holds them captive.” – Integrated PR

Wow. Just. Wow. I have watched some pretty riveting and nerve-racking films in the past year alone, but I have to say that Kelley Kali’s brilliant short film Lalo’s House really reaches an emotional depth that conjures up feelings of pain, sympathy beyond expression, and mostly just some straight up disgust. With extremely powerful performances throughout the film and fact based story lined that is simply shocking to the core when you think about the fact that this sort of thing is happening on a daily basis.

Newcomer Jasmin Jean-Louis proves herself to be a natural talent in conveying pain through the art of performance. Her eyes alone carry the story line through such horrific events in a brilliant manner. And legendary actress Garcelle Beauvais gives a powerhouse performance in a way that I have never witnessed. To describe Sister Francine as simply “villainous” may be a bit of an understatement. This woman is evil in human form, and Beauvais plays it absolutely perfectly. And to be perfectly frank, I had the biggest crush on Garcelle in the 90’s, and now hear I am wishing the worst upon Fancy from The Jamie Foxx Show. Damn, she is so good!

Filmmaker Kelley Kali may be new to the world of filmmaking, having recently graduated from USC with a Student Academy Award and DGA Student Award in hand for this incredible film, but she obviously has pariah like level of talent that is on a whole different level than what we are used to seeing in storytelling on the screen. She has created magic with Lalo’s House, a film that is guaranteed to leave you wondering what the hell is wrong with the world. And hopefully inspire you to assist in combating such evil. Kali is “motivated to create content that addresses issues within often marginalized communities by using the art of filmmaking to create dialogue and action towards positive change”. And I have a great feeling that this is something is will absolutely be doing in the very near future. If Lalo’s House is just one example of the greatness she can accomplish, there is nothing this brilliant filmmaker can not accomplish.

Lalo’s House is currently dominating in the film festival circuit. Be on the lookout for an official release date that will be coming soon.

Chris Obi [Interview]

Hello Folks! We are wrapping up the week with another wonderful interview from a truly amazing actor who happens to be a star in one of the finest television programs available today known as the Starz Original Series American Gods. He is also a master of the world of film and stage and is just an overall delightful person who we are so happy to have grace our digital pages today. It’s Chris Obi, Everyone.

We were so fortunate to be able to steal some time away from the man who has brought characters like Anibus in American Gods and T’Kuvma from Star Trek: Discovery to the world, for him to tell us about these projects and more. Obi is one of the finest actors working today and has been astounding in everything he has done to date and is only moving up the proverbial ladder. And we are so excited to share some words from this acting mastermind with you all today.

So Folks please enjoy some wonderful words from the great Chris Obi!

What drew you into the world of acting? Was it a life long passion you have had, or did you just find yourself in this world one day?

Actors like Yul Brynner and Steve McQueen really excited me about acting and films like The Godfather and ‘Taps’ got me into the world of film making.

I never really considered being an actor as a kid. I always saw it as something ‘those types’ did. I did a play when I was 14 and that was the first time I got that rush as a performer.

I absolutely loved your performance in the first season of American Gods. What was it about the story of this film that drew you in? What compelled you to become involved in this project, and the character of Anubis specifically?

I loved the fact “Anubis’ is a historical deity, thus it made me connect to something that was real/tangible to play.

Bryan Fuller was my main inspiration whilst working on the 1st Season. He is a brilliant man and was so complimentary about my work that I was inspired to achieve levels that I may had not if I’d worked with someone else.

Actors often talk about a transformation when playing certain roles, I definitely felt a shift from my everyday person whilst portraying ‘Anubis’.

Chris Obi in “American Gods” as Anubis, available on Starz


We have spoken with a lot of folks from the different worlds of Star Trek over the years, and in 2017 you became a part of that world as well playing T’Kuvma on Discovery. What was it like to jump into this legendary world? And what was it like to be in the costume and make up? How long did it take you to get made up for this character?

It was Bryan Fuller who asked me to play ‘T’Kuvma’ and by this time I was enthralled by his genius, that I would of played any character, in any show he offered me. I was not a ‘Trekker’ so I was not totally aware of the enormity of the responsibility of playing such an iconic character. Once I stepped on set and first saw the Sarcophagus, I was truly overwhelmed and then the fans started getting in touch and they were so supportive and excited. You can’t helped but be blown away by the legend that is and that will be ‘Star Trek’.

I loved wearing ‘T’Kuvma’s’ costume designed by the incredible Gersha Philips. It immediately gave you the feeling of being Regal.

The incredible prosthetics led by Glenn Hetrick and Neville Page and their wonderful team of artists took two and a half hours daily! I loved it.

The Star Trek franchise has one of the most loyal fan bases in history. So, I am curious to know what your fan interaction with the Trekkies since you made your appearance on their beloved program?

I simply love the ‘Trekkers’ and I had empathy those who weren’t first blown away by the Klingon look because they were passionate and cared about ‘Star Trek’. I have not been to a ‘Star Trek’ convention yet but surely look forward to attending one in the future.

If your were handed the opportunity to portray any famous figure in world history, at any time period, who would it be? 

Hard to chose between Jesus Christ and Michael Jackson. Jesus, because he had this air of ‘knowing’ and ‘acceptance’ and Michael, because his whole frame was filled with incredible talent. I’d like to channel Jesus’ and Michael’s talents.

When you are not on set, where would a random encounter with Chris Obi likely occur? Basically, when you’re not working, what do you do for a bit of “me time”?

I was born and live in Notting Hill in London and I love my neighbourhood so I can be found on her streets.

Also, i just started a new yogi group linked to a practice called ‘Satori’ which is Japanese and translate as ‘an awakening’.

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

I have just shot two episodes of Strike Back for Cinemax/Sky and I have two animation projects coming out soon; 3 Below created by Guillermo Del Toro and his incredible TrollHunter team and a movie called Watch the Skies directed by the wonderful Mark Byers.

I am also writing a feature film called The Chaperone which I am so excited about.

What was the last thing that made you smile?

Looking at my girlfriend’s son’s pretty eight year old face!

Brenda Bakke [Interview]

Hello Folks! We have a very special interview for you fine folks today. We have some words with a truly inspiring actress and novelist that has done some amazing work, of which you are probably already familiar with. Actress Brenda Bakke is a 30 year veteran in the world of acting, and has been in some of the most notable work of the last 30 years. from the smash hit film L.A. Confidential, to the brilliant series American Gothic, her plethora of stage work, to other television series like Grey’s Anatomy, Criminal Minds, Supernatural, and beyond, Brenda has continued be a beacon of light in the world of acting that we all love and admire here at Trainwreck’d Society.

Now on a personal level, and still a huge project I may add, Brenda Bakke performed in two films that truly shaped my childhood as a kid growing up in the 90’s. The first would be Under Siege 2: Dark Territory, but we don’t really get into that one too much in the interview. I just really, really, loved this “intense” (for the 90’s) action flick so much, I just felt I had to mention it. But, the second, and which we do get into a bit, is the brilliant comedy Hot Shots! Part Deux. I promise that I am so far from lying when I say that I literally wore out the VHS tape that my father purchased from Hollywood video from watching this hilarious film. In the world of spoof movies, this one will always reign supreme to me. And Brenda is absolutely amazing in it. And I am so honored to have somebody here today that was involved with a daily reminder in my life of what it meant to laugh and enjoy life as I did watching this film. So so much thanks goes to Brenda for being with us here digitally today!

Brenda has a wonderful novel out now entitled Driving in LA, which is very autobiographical and also very dark. She tells us a bit about it in these wonderful words below, so let’s just jump right into it, shall we? Folks please enjoy some wonderful words from the brilliant Brenda Bakke!

When did you first decide that you wanted to join the world of acting? When did you decide that this what you wanted to do for a living?

I started imitating comediennes Lily Tomlin and Carol Burnett when I was really little…probably around 3 years old, and realized later in life that it was truly to distract my very unhappy family. I was always a very dramatic child.

I really decided to pursue it as a career in High School…had a great Drama teacher that helped me arrange to audition for The American Academy of Dramatic Arts, to which I was later accepted and attended.

My short novel, Driving in LA is truly written in a character’s voice, but covers my life from pretty much age 16-20 and explains a lot of the somewhat amusing but tragic details regarding this!

I have learned that you hail from my beloved homeland of the Pacific Northwest, a stone’s throw from the wonderful city of Portland, Oregon. When you began acting in the City of Roses as a youth, what was the acting/theatre company like then? Was it a community that you can remember fondly that led you to move on and work as a professional actress?

I wasn’t part of any theatre company other than doing shows in High School. Again Driving in L.A. pretty much makes fun of being an Oregonian…however I now realize how lucky I was to live there! But at that time: Fondness…no…getting the hell out of there, yes!

In 1993, you had a brilliant role in what is still my personal favorite parody comedy film of all time, the brilliant Hot Shots! Part Deux. I am so very curious to know what it was like to work on such a hilarious film? Was it as much fun to work on as it was to watch?

Oh yes, it was just fun to go to work every day! We would come up with silly things to throw in for fun, and most of them ended up in the final cut!

Like in the bedroom scene at the end where I’m firing the gun and swinging the cowboy hat, everyone on the crew was yelling “Throw the hat!” And it landed smack on top of the camera!

It’s also the only film I’ve done where I was truly spoiled! I’m a lucky girl to have experienced that!

I understand you can put novelist down as one of your many talents with the release of your book Driving In LA. that was released last year. Can you tell us a bit about the book and where people can find it? What inspired you to take on this project?

As I mentioned before, it is told in a character’s voice but covers my life up until I turned 20…it covers being raped twice, once by two young men, cocaine addiction, a short bout of prostitution and survival in L.A. I had to change names and a few circumstances for libel, but all the stories are true. I first started writing it to get it out of my system but later realized it could help other people NOT make the bad choices I did. It’s available on my website for autographed copies. Or Amazon, Kindle, etc.

Having had great success in just about every form of performance that you can do, from film to television and beyond, I am curious to know what is your favorite way to perform? If you were only able to work in one single field, what would it be? 

You are too kind!

I would say theatre is my favorite…love raw response and total control of oneself in a performance…also the growth that happens along the journey.

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

Well, Billy Boy was recently released and a film called Foster Boy should be released next year, I hope!

But I really hope that people will want to read my book! It does have some great reviews and will give you a little glimpse into my darkness ;).

What was the last thing that made you smile?

A bird on my fountain…

BJ McDonnell [Interview]

Photo by Dustin Pearlman

Hello Folks! We have an absolutely wonderful interview for you all today! And I have to say that I had completely different intentions as to why I wanted to get some words from the brilliant filmmaker and DP BJ McDonnell on the site in comparison to why I am even more excited to have him on now. BJ has worked as a cameraman on some of the finest projects you know and love in the last couple of decades. Whether it is Marvel blockbusters, Rob Zombie horror flicks, or just about any big budget comedy film…BJ has been there. He is a staple in the world of cinematography, and has done some damn amazing work.

But, what I was at first just mildly interested in was his work with the band Slayer. He wrote and directed a couple of very infatuating music videos for this iconic metal band that I was interested in knowing about simply to try and impress my dear friend and recent interviewee, Adam Mattson. But, what happened was that I became a huge fan of the band based almost solely around the amazing videos from Slayer that BJ happened to have directed. Holy Shit Folks, they are SO good. One of them is below, and I suggest you check out the rest. What a fucking ride he sends you on, and it’s just a brilliant example of the brilliance that lives inside such a wonderful artist.

So, please enjoy this amazing interview with the brilliant filmmaker and cinematographer, BJ McDonnell!

What inspired you to get into the world of filmmaking and cinematography? Was it something you felt destined to do from a young age? Or did you just find yourself in this line of work one day?

My Grandfather sparked my interest in filmmaking. He was an actor named, Leif Erickson. As a young child I was exposed to filmmaking as a career. My grandmother pushed me to pursue my dreams of films. I also would make short action films with my best friend Jesse with old VHS cameras. We loved doing that. Why not make a career out of what you love right? So I went for it.

What was your very first paid gig in the world of filmmaking? And is there anything from this project that you learned that you still use to this very day?

My first paid gig I worked as a grip. I can’t even remember the name of what the project was. I was overwhelmed and had to jump in head first. I guess what I took from that is always be confident and make decisions on your own.

I absolutely loved the music videos, which are more like extremely well down short films, with the legendary group Slayer. How did you come to work with this group so frequently? What drew you to the band and made you want to work with them so often?

I’ve always been a punk rock / metal head. Slayer just kinda fell into my lap honestly. I went for a interview at nuclear blast records. They were looking for a horror director to do the first video off their new album Repentless. My view on what should be done is make a video Slayer has never had before. We don’t have censorship like MTV anymore and most videos are seen on YouTube. I wanted to make a brutal story driven video like they use to make in the 80’s. I pitched my idea for a prison break for Repentless.  It was a simple story of a prisoner who would stop at nothing to get what he wanted. He wanted the head of another cell mate in a different section of the prison. So he created an all out prison riot to get to his destination. Basically do what you gotta do without any remorse , REPENTLESS. The video was a hit and that spawned two other videos as a prequel and a sequel. It was a fun project because I had to create a storyline off of a middle story.

BJ on the set of Jack Reacher


You have been heavily involved in the wonderful Victor Crowley franchise known as Hatchet. You even stepped into the director’s chair for duties on Hatchet III. How did you become involved with this franchise initially, and what inspired you to step in and direct the third installment?

My friend Sarah Donahue got me a interview to do Hatchet 1. The guys were looking for someone who loved horror films. When I was interviewed I totally threw out John Carpenter references as well as Wes Craven, etc. because of my knowledge of horror I was hired.

I stepped into the directing chair because Adam didn’t want to direct the third installment. He was busy writing a tv show about himself. When I directed the third one I wanted to open up the world and make it more action and cinematic. I wanted to blow up the Crowley house and have a SWAT team battle kill. I presented that to Adam and he wrote it into the script. It was blood sweat and tears making this film. I learned a lot of what to do, what not to do, etc…..

While the world of horror is far from being a mainstay as a genre for you, it is a genre that you have had so much great success with over the years. We absolutely love the world of horror here at TWS. So much so that we dedicate an entire month to you it even! So I feel compelled to ask what it is that you enjoy most about the world of horror? What sets this world apart from other genres you have worked on?

Horror filmmaking is more explorative. We don’t have to follow certain guidelines that regular films have to use. We can break the mold and get very creative with it. From storylines to camera angles you can be more free with your decisions. I also think it’s more a rollercoaster thrill ride that sets a tone for people to flock to see these films. I love doing horror. I would say action films are close to that too.

Of all the sets you have worked on, what projects do you remember having the best craft services, either for uniqueness or variety or whatever made it memorable to you?

Hahaha never had a craft service question before. Hmmmmm…let’s say craft service on commercials are usually the best.

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

I’m looking for the next directing project. I’m still shooting as a cameraman and I’m headed to do Annabelle 3. It’s important to find a project I believe in. I learned that if you direct something just because it is there it usually has no heart. You gotta want to do the project and put your heart and soul into it. So I’m looking for that next project that just jumps out at me.

What was the last thing that made you smile?

I’d say getting married to my best friend.