William Kaufman [Interview]

 

 

Happy Wednesday Folks! We have a wonderful and exciting interview to share with all today. We are fortunate enough to have another damn fine writer and director to feature on the site. In fact, his work speaks for itself, and has actually been featured here at Trainwreck’d Society in the past. It’s William Kaufman, Everyone! He is a brilliant mind in the world of action films, and happens to have a close partnership with our dear friend Chad Law! And best of all, William is one hell of a nice guy!

We discuss Mr. Kaufman’s start in the business, what he loves about action films in particular, our beloved city of Spokane (which we were once calling “The City of Lost Potential”, but may have to retract that statement soon!), and so much more. We are so excited that William was willing to grace our digital pages today and we know you are going to love what he has to say. So Folks, please enjoy some great words from the brilliant artist and person, Mr. William Kaufman!

 

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What was your first introduction into the world of cinema? And what made you decide that you wanted to join this world for a living?

I grew up in London and being the only “Yank” on campus I think I always felt like a bit of an outsider at my British prep school… I think going to the movies was sort of my “escape”… most of the movies I saw were American blockbusters, heroes saving the day and as “little boy” as that sounds, it was my connection to home…  I have insanely great memories of all those Saturdays I spent in my old local theater. 

I quickly became “that kid” in the neighborhood that was always running around with a camcorder making his little movies.  To be very straightforward it was all I ever wanted to do… When I was around 13 we moved to Texas for Junior High and then moved back overseas to Bangkok Thailand where I went to an international school. While I was there I got to work (PA/extra) on a couple big US movies that were shooting there and from that moment on I was hooked. After film school in Texas I got hired on by a SFX/Armorer coordinator and that definitely served me well when I got ready to do my first indie film The Prodigy.

The majority of your credits have been in the world of action/adventure. What is it that you love the most about this genre of film? What keeps you wanting to work in this world specifically?

I think it was just a natural direction to go in as that genre is what spawned my initial love of film. I love the action genre when it’s done well, and for me in particular, I am most connect when it’s grounded in great characters, compelling storylines and and a gritty reality I can recognize. 

I’m not saying that I don’t care for fantasy or sci-fi… on the contrary, I just prefer it when crazy outlandish ideas are are taken seriously.  I just want the stakes of the storyline to matter… And in the action genre specifically, I have to be completely invested in the characters for any of the action set pieces to have any impact.  Without that, it’s simply a series of stunt shows strung together for 90 minutes.

 

 

You filmed much of 2011’s The Hit List in the eastern Washington city of Spokane. I was living in the area at the time, and I remember strolling around Riverfront when you were shooting. The film was fantastic by the way, and I’m sure local Spokanites are always happy to see their city being used. So how was your experience in the city of Spokane? Did you get to enjoy your time in eastern Washington’s largest (and frankly, only) city?

Spokane and the surrounding areas are beautiful. I had an amazing time there. It was a huge growing experience for me because up till then I’d never done a studio picture… I never had anyone in charge of the production that superseded me creatively. That was a huge adjustment… I learned a ton… I definitely learned what to do and also what to absolutely NOT do when playing at that level :).

The next year you returned to work with Cuba Gooding Jr. with One in the Chamber. This time your location was a bit more enticing, as it was set in Romania. So you spent a lot of time with the Oscar winning actor of the course of these two films. So how has your experience been working with Cuba, and what do you believe is a main factor in your partnership that has helped in  putting out such great films?

As I said on The Hit List there was quite a bit of adjusting for me. Cuba of course was great but I still think he was trying to figure out what kind of a filmmaker I was if you know what I mean. That’s just natural… I was an absolute unknown indie film maker out of Texas with one tiny little, genre festival hit under his belt and another film nobody had seen yet called Sinners And Saints in post production.  On One In The Chamber, all that was behind us. Sinners And Saints had become a run-away cult hit and Cuba had gotten great reviews from The Hit List and so his level of confidence in me was completely unwavering.  I remember he would come to set and say “OK coach let’s get to work” He was awesome to work with… Great attitude, amazing work ethic… We had a blast!

While you are definitely known to write your own brilliant stories, such as Sinners and Saints, The Prodigy, & more, you have manage to direct the works of some very fine screenwriters like our old friends Alan McElroy and Chad Law. So when you are picking up a gig as a director on a project that you didn’t write, what are you looking for a script that a guys like Alan or Chad just seem to get? What makes a solid script in your opinion?

Alan’s resume speaks for itself.  We didn’t get to collaborate very much but he’s a great guy and responsible for a lot of very cool stuff. 

My relationship with Chad is a completely different animal. We’ve been friends and collaborators for over 10 years. Chad is a straight up monster of a writer.  You’d be hard-pressed to find someone more prolific as a screenwriter and lover of genre film than Chad. And that’s what I look for… Someone who REALLY has a love of the genre… Too many aspiring writers dabble in the genre thinking it will be easy path to get to do “real movies.” They quickly find out how misinformed they are.

Chad is someone who really “gets it”.  His scripts are also a blast to read… They actually read like a good fiction novel. They’re slick, funny and oozing with attitude. So speaking as someone who is inundated with scripts all the time, Chad’s work definitely stands out.  He also invests a huge amount towards attention to detail… Always double and triple checking that everything in the script tracks… That everything moves the story along and stays true to the characters he has created. Knowing your partnered with a writer who cares that much about doing great work is a powerful weapon to have in your arsenal.

What else does the future hold for you? Anything you can tell our readers about?

I did a very cool little action film in Albania and Bulgaria called The Brave that I’ve been told will be released later this year.  It was a really unique project because with the exception of Louis Mandaylor who played the protagonist and Armand Assante who played the antagonist the entire cast was either Russian, Albanian or Bulgarian.  The story is set in Albania and is about an elite Albanian strike team going after a powerful drug lord. If you’re a fan of old-school gritty action cop films I think you’ll really dig it… Louis and his costars killed it… Super proud of his performance in it.

As for upcoming work… There are lots of interesting things developing but it’s probably a bit early to share those. One project I am particularly excited about is Johnny Strong and I are shooting a follow up to Daylight’s End early this winter.  It’s a great script, again penned by Chad Law… A different kind of movie than the first one. It’s more of a survival/journey storyline than last stand action film… I promise to report back to you soon as I get the greenlight to share more. 

What was the last thing that made you smile?

Ha! Probably this question… Do you mean on production?  Well then that would be my experience with Louis on The Brave… after production ended in Albania we had an bit of an adventure trying to get out of the country… I’d share the details with you but then… then I’d have too… Well you know. 1f60e.png

 

Left to right
Bes Kallaku (famous Albanian actor), Kaufman, Louis, Chad Pittman (producer)

New Music Tuesday: Tremendous – Open For Closing [Single]

 

Oh do we have something absolutely wonderful to share with you all today. Let me start this out by stating that “Open For Closing” is a brilliant, and systematically engineered absolutely PERFECT song. Seriously Folks, this beautiful track has everything that, I personally feel, is required to be a perfect track. From the soft beginning that quickly ramps up into a hard as hell and also anthemic like vocal structure. With ironic and open for interpretation lyrics that breathe into your ear holes with a sound that is part glam rock, part 80’s hair metal, yet has a far greater and more modern collection of guitar work that is more reminiscent of the best of what we heard in the early 00’s, but without the cheese. This is truly an amazing 3 minute experience that you will quickly turn into a 6 minute experience. And then 9, 12, 27, 300, and so on. It’s an absolutely brilliant record, and I am so happy that it was brought to my attention, and you can rest assure that the name Tremendous will be appearing on these digital pages as the year 2019 progresses forward.

“Open For Closing” is the third single from Tremendous’s forthcoming debut full length album, Relentless, that will be coming to the world this coming September, and I am so damned excited to check out this album, and of course share it with you all when the time comes. Tremendous has that sort of sound that is obviously influenced from another era, yet is completely original in its own right. As I expressed before, there are recognizable elements that will be obvious, but there is something extremely modern and sort of cleaned up about the arrangement in which the track is presented. This could be partially due to the fact that they have acclaimed Kings of Leon and Robert Plant producer Gavin Monaghan piecing the whole thing together. But, I dare say that he was handed a proverbial chunk of gold, and was asked to add a few bits of platinum into it. Folks, it is a damn fine track, and it’s definitely going to leave you wanting more and more.

For our readers in the UK, check out Tremendous doing “Open For Closing” & more live for yourself as they will be performing at Dublin Castle in London on April 4th. Check out the event HERE.

 

“Open For Closing’ will be available for streaming and purchase wherever you do these things (iTunes, Spotify, etc.) on April 12th.

Until then, check out this wonderfully original video for the song, and bask in the glory that is “Open For Closing”:

 

<iframe width=”560″ height=”315″ src=”https://www.youtube.com/embed/GlautZGr6HE&#8221; frameborder=”0″ allow=”accelerometer; autoplay; encrypted-media; gyroscope; picture-in-picture” allowfullscreen>

Sunday Matinee: The Cannibal Club [Film]

 

“Otavio and Gilda are a very wealthy couple of the Brazilian elite who have the habit of eating their employees. Otavio owns a private security company and is a notable member of The Cannibal Club. When Gilda accidentally discovers a secret from Borges, a powerful congressman and the Club’s leader, her and her husband’s lives are in grave danger.  ” – October Coast PR

 

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I have to kick this thing off by stating that this film was much more amazing than it really needed to be. And I say this as a major compliment. The premise is one that is usually dealt with as something be treated as dark, yet silly. But, The Cannibal Club is a film the dives into the world of elitism and self-indicted superiority by using very graphic material to elicit the idea that the rich and powerful are seemingly only around to destroy the poor. And in this case, they plan to eat them as well. Make no mistake about it, everything from the setting of the film being in more prominent areas of Brazil that are intermingled with the poverty stricken areas, to the brilliant performances from the likes of Tavinho Teixeira and Ana Luis Rios, this is an absolutely brilliant demonstration of what it means to be just too damn powerful. This idea is extremely exaggerated in a brilliant bit of dialogue regarding first and third world countries, in which we are witness to the “better to reign in hell” mentality that these characters seemed to have.

 

 

What struck me the most about this very powerful and insane film, was the idea of the conflict of the film being so very mild on the surface, yet was still stoked a reasonable fire when you considered the characters at hand. I’m not going to spoil the big “secret” that Gilda discovers in the plot, but it is suffice to say that it really shouldn’t be that big of a deal when you consider that this man is LITERALLY EATING HUMAN GODDAMN BEINGS!!!! And this, I feel, is what truly adds to the beautiful conflict that this film presents. Satirical is an obvious way to describe the film, but please don’t lead to believe that there is really anything zany and ridiculous within this film. This is a very serious take that speaks gruesome volumes about the disparity of wealth in this world. Maybe I am projecting my own thoughts into he plot of the film, but isn’t that what I am supposed to be doing here?

Overall, The Cannibal Club is a brilliantly made film and is an absolutely must see for anyone who can handle a good measure of insanity whilst understanding that sometimes the true terrors of the world are all around us. It is wonderful that we have filmmakers like Guto Parente out there in this world to describe such terrors to us in a visual manner. Watch this movie, Everyone! It’s a an absolute treasure, and one of my favorite films of 2019. Enjoy!

 

The Cannibal Club is available in select theaters and on VOD right NOW!

 

Harry Werksman [Interview]

 

Hello Folks, and a happy Friday to you all! We have yet another exciting interview to share with you all today. We have ventured once again into the world of wordsmiths, and are so very excited to share some words with an absolute legend in the world of television. It’s Harry Werksman, Everyone! Harry is a man that has worked as a writer and/or producer within a plethora of genres, from modern whimsical comedies such as Ugly Betty, to the sci-fi classic Star Trek: Deep Space Nine, the incarnation of the wildly successful drama Grey’s Anatomy, and just so damn much more. He is an inspiring figure in the world of television and just damn good writing in general. And he also happens to give some of the best insight into some pretty common questions about the modern world of television that appear regularly here at Trainwreck’d Society, but also very often out in the real world, although I am sure many are afraid to actually admit they are asking. But, we don’t give a single solid fuck around here, and Harry Werksman doesn’t seem to as well, as he is brutally honest and, dare I say, exactly spot on with his answers (and far more rational, I might add).

So Folks, please enjoy some wonderful words from the brilliant mind of a legend in his field, the absolutely brilliant Harry Werksman!

 

When did you discover that you had a passion for the world of TV writing and producing? I understand you had a different career path before joining the world of entertainment? 

I have loved TV my entire life. For example, I would set my alarm clock as a boy (starting at age 10) to wake up at 11pm to secretly watch the original Star Trek, The Prisoner, and Night Gallery. Didn’t know back then that one day I would write and produce TV, in fact I didn’t even know those jobs existed, I thought I was really watching people doing these things. Well, except for Star Trek but I did want to tag along with Kirk and crew. 

And yes, I did have a slightly different career path. After I graduated from Northwestern, I went to Oxford to get a graduate degree in history (17th century English Ecclesiastical and Social History to be precise). The goal was a doctorate, become a Don at Oxford and teach. That changed, for a variety of reasons, I got an M.Lit. in history and moved to LA. Where, with my ever-useful degree, I got a job working for a crisis management consulting firm. After about 18 months in that job, I just couldn’t do it any more and quit. Given that unemployment wasn’t going to pay the bills and I knew that I wanted to write TV (I started taking extension writing classes at UCLA (having NEVER even seen a script before) to figure out how it all worked. While doing that, I worked as an art department PA on TV commercials. That production experience truly helped inform my writing. To be able to see what can and can’t be done and appreciate the incredible contribution everyone below the line can make. 

 

 

What was your very first paid gig in the world of entertainment? And was there anything from this experience that you learned and still sticks with you to this day in your work life? Any lessons learned, basically? 

After many fits and starts, my first pro sale was to Star Trek: DS9. At the time, the show was reading spec scripts (they had to be DS9 scripts) trolling for ideas and getting people on their pitch list. I had submitted a script, which they didn’t buy, but got me on the pitch list. After a few times going in to pitch, I had had no luck. Then on what must have been my third or fourth try, the producer I was pitching to said he “loved” the story but it was a “seventh (final) season idea. I left the meeting thinking “They’re going to steal the idea, God damn it”. About six months later, as I was now on a ticking clock to either break into TV or find something else to do with my life, I got a call from the DS9 offices saying they were buying my story and could I have a story document ready by Monday. When I picked myself up off the floor, I said “ABSOLUTELY!” It was Thursday late afternoon already. But I hunkered down, submitted it, got paid for the story and eventually saw it on the air!

The lesson for me was only do this writing thing if it’s truly what you want to do and you can think of absolutely nothing else you’d rather do and are prepared to hear “NO” 99.99% of the time. So, if you accept those two things (and dig deep for the answer) then NEVER GIVE UP. Write because you have something to say, not because you want to say something (thanks for that one FS Fitzgerald). It’s a marathon not a sprint.

The always reliable and knowledgeable website Wikipedia has informed me that you spent some time in the current “location” of the Trainwreck’d Society “headquarters”, here in the UK, including some time in Scotland as a youth, and even attending the prestigious Oxford University. With that, I am curious to know how you enjoyed living on this side of the pond? And were there any sort of British ways and means that still influence your work to this day?

My mum is Scottish. Growing up, before we moved my grandparents to California (Glasgow was no place for OAPs in the mid-1970s), I would often spend part of my summers in Scotland with my family visiting my grandparents. And yes, years later, I did attend Oxford for my M.Lit. in history, and some rowing and maybe a little bit of beer drinking.

I loved all the time I spent in the UK. Scotland was magical as a child. Oxford was an amazing experience — the friendships, the intellectual challenges, and just seeing the world from a different POV than through the colored prisim of America. The thing I think I carry with me the most is the ability to “take the piss” out of someone and have the same done to me. We’re just telling stories… getting paid to make up lies. I have a responsibility and a hope that what I write makes a wee bit of difference.

You were there in the beginning of the mega successful series that is Grey’s Anatomy. The popularity of this show was almost instant it seems like. Medical dramas have been around for a while, but GA will most likely go down as the greatest one of all time. With that, I am curious to know what initially drew you to this project? And were you able to foresee the success that it would become?

I had spent a year in Sydney, Australia working on Farscape and fell in love with the country. When I came back to the US, I wanted so desperately to go back  that I wrote a pilot set in Queensland. I eventually sold the pilot to ABC. It didn’t get made but it got me an interview with Shonda Rhimes.

When I was offered a job on the first season of GA, I took the gig but had NO CLUE it would become GREY’S ANATOMY! I don’t think any one did. Those first three seasons were a wild ride. The magic of that show was/is that it’s not really about the medicine. That’s just what the characters “do”. Medicine was a mirror that we held up to the characters that reflected what was going on with them and who they were and hoped they could become. 

 

You have worked several other damn fine projects over the years, such as Ugly Betty, Star Trek: DS9, and many more. And I would never ask you to choose your favorite project that you have contributed to in any capacity, but I am curious to know what you believe to be some highlights of your career thus far? When you look back on your career thus far as a whole, what are some things you find yourself having the most pride in?

I have been truly blessed with the career I’ve had so far. I’ve learned something new and experienced something different every step of the way. I’m proud of every show I’ve contributed to in one way or another, from Staff Writer on VIP to helping make Grey’s what it is to Show Running Moonlight (the little vampire show that could but was about a season too early).

But I’m most proud of every bad idea that I’ve had, on every show I’ve been part of, that started a conversation that resulted in a good idea being born, nourished or sometimes even brought back from the brink of death.

With a career that has spanned 25+ years, I am sure you have seen a lot of change in the ways in which television is made, not to mention the more recent resurgence of the television platform being where all the best stories are told. So, I am curious to know what your thoughts are on the current world of television? We have so many different ways to be entertained these days. Do you consider the abundance of shows available to be a good thing, or is the business simply becoming oversaturated?

Holy shit snacks! 25+ years! That’ll make you feel right sized if nothing else will. 

Yes, I’ve seen and experienced a lot of change in the TV world. The world is a very different place than it was 25 years ago. TV today is amazing. There are so many choices, so many voices, so many perspectives, and so many interesting stories being explored. Another Golden Age they say and I’d agree. The medium had to evolve the way it has to keep pace with radically changing technology and the way we consume our entertainment.

There will be over 500 scripted TV shows produced in 2019. Is that too many? Not enough? I’m not sure. Certainly there are more opportunities but that also means the opportunity for more crap (that being wholly subjective of course). As long as smart, funny, engaging, challenging and thought-provoking projects are having a chance to break through the clutter and noise then, while we may be reaching a saturation tipping point soon (I don’t really know, just my opinion), I say bring it on! Let’s take on any and all comers. Tell a good story that people care about, that makes them think and feel something, for better or for worse. At the end of the day, my job is to: Show up. Keep up. Shut up. That’s entertainment. 

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

I’m still just a working writer. I joke that I go to the “Word Factory” everyday. I’m continually coming up with new ideas, wherever and whenever they might come to me. I read a shit ton of books of every description and genre. I write pilots for stories with great characters, interesting stories, a specific POV and maybe something to say about something. I take pitch meetings, general meet and greet meetings, open writing assignment meetings, whatever comes my way. The one project I’m quite keen on at the moment (and has been an obsession of mine for years) is about the world of art crime. The Thomas Crown Affair meets Mission Impossible. It was recently optioned by a production company so my fingers are crossed. Stay tuned. 

What was the last thing that made you smile? 

That question and the fact that we should all smile more often. Though I just read that in primates smiling is a sign of fear. But maybe, just maybe we’re not just monkeys hitting a keyboard an infinite amount of times and producing Shakespeare. 

 

 

New Music Tuesday: Jason DeVore – Conviction Volume III: The Road To Clarity [Album]

 

You know when you are born? And you eyes are simply drowning from your mother’s inner fluids that you simply cannot see? Remember that? Well, whilst living the life of a lowly music blogger in the world of digital madness for the last couple of decades, this is a pretty normal feeling that manages to rear its sloppy head time and time again. Case in point: Jason DeVore. This is a cat that has been producing some very important and amazing music for well over 25 years, yet I have been blind to his brilliance. The bright side of it all though: eventually the fluids are wiped away, and the beauty can be identified. This could be a reason why I am so excited to talk about what is apparently (well, maybe literally, not apparently if we are to use proper terms) the third volume of a series of a punk rock legend who also likes to experiment in the world of acoustic and experimentalism from time to time. While I am admitting that Conviction Volume III: The Road To Clarity is my very first listening experience involving the world of Jason Devore, I will say that I am beyond intrigued by his brilliance and will obviously be looking into the previous two volumes, as well as his already well established and beloved punk band Authority Zero, who is probably already a staple in the lives of any new readers we have hear today. Because if anything that this man has done with on his previous solo work, as well as with Authority Zero is half as great as this album, I have a HUGE selection of greatness to get through.

 

 

Third volume of a solo project or not, Conviction Volume III: The Road to Clarity is an absolute gem of an album that stands entirely on its own as a beautifully written collection of songs that perfectly pander to audiences who enjoy high energy and amazing songwriting at the same time. And I’m not talking about the fans of the Church of Latter Green Day. No, this is just a wonderful collection of perfectly written songs that have a certain punk energy that is depicted in an acoustic pop format that is absolutely incredible. For regular readers of TWS, you are already going to know that “Whiskey And Roses” is the stand out track from this album. Fuck, I loved this track so damn much. It will definitely be a fan of this track. Yet, I couldn’t help but be compelled by the modern day spaghetti-western themed track that directly followed that is “Are We Too Loud”. In fact, I have to acknowledge that is is a truly fucking insane way to finish off an album, as these were the last two songs of the album. It’s almost as if Devore is planning to prepare us for a part IV that will be even more entertaining. And as somebody is is planning on devoting a great deal of time listening to the rest of the works from Jason DeVore, this may have been a well timed decision when it comes to track listing.

Essentially, I truly loved this album, and I am very excited to hear what Jason has to share in the future. The fluids of being a newborn have been cleared, and I am a Jason DeVore fan. I shall look to the past for entertainment, and to the future for the inspiration of a brighter day thanks to this amazing songwriter and debutant of a performer.

 

If you are reading this from Florida, Jason Devore is currently touring your truly bizarre state at these locations:

 

MAR 12 HIGH DIVE – Gainesville, FL

MAR 13 Mad Beach Dive Bar- Madeira Beach, FL

MAR 14 Iron Oak Post- Melbourne, FL

MAR 15 Banana Boat- Boynton Beach, FL

MAR 16 Martinis Bombay- Marco Island, FL

Also, check out the wonderful official video for the wonderful track from the previously mentioned album entitled “I Hate To Say I Told You So”:

Linden Ashby [Interview]

 

Hello Folks! Welcome back to another great week here at Trainwreck’d Society. We are kicking things off with a wonderful interview from a brilliant actor who has been gracing both TV and silver screens for quite a while in some pretty amazing roles. It’s Linden Ashby! Whether you know him from the more recent somewhat dramatic reincarnation of a classic film in series format known as MTV’s Teen Wolf, or you are a 90’s kid who thrives on acid washed nostalgia for one of the best video game turned films of all time, which is obviously Mortal Kombat, or you just simply watch quality film and television, you are probably already know and love Mr. Ashby for very obvious reasons. He’s a truly delightful performer, and as it turns out, a delightful person in the real world, at least through e-mail correspondence.

We are so excited to share this wonderful collection of answers from a truly magnificent performer who is brutally honest, and so damn down to earth that it is extremely compelling. We talk about the previously mentioned projects that he has worked on, and so much more. We are so happy that Linden was able to take a some time out of his busy schedule to talk to us about some of the old, and a lot of the new that he is offering to the world. So Folks, please enjoy some wonderful words from an absolutely incredible performer, the brilliant Linden Ashby!

 

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When did you first discover your passion for performance? Was it something you have always wanted to do since you were but a wee lad? Or did you sort of just find yourself in this world one day?

It was in my first year of college that that I realized how much I truly loved acting. From that point on it was all about doing plays and trying to figure out how to maybe/possibly/somehow …. make a life out of this???  So, after a few years of trying to figure it all out, (good luck) I did what all parents hope their children will do, and dropped out of college. I then moved to New York to study acting at the Neighborhood Playhouse. Aaand…. from that point on I was a goner. 

What was your first paid gig in the world of performance? And do you recall learning anything on this project that has stuck with you and continues to affect your work today?

It was a production of The Miracle Worker that was being done in a local theater in Jacksonville Florida. I think they paid me $40 a week. As to what I learned from it? I learned what a weird and insular world a production (film, TV, stage) becomes. And the positives, and negatives, of that insularity. I also learned that maybe, just maybe, I didn’t COMPLETELY suck as an actor. (Though in the ensuing years, I’ve certainly questioned that assessment.)

 

 

 

Looking back on six successful seasons on MTV’s Teen Wolf, what would you say you enjoyed most about working on this show? What do you miss about it, particularly in regards to set life whilst making the show?

What I enjoyed most about Teen Wolf was…. the people I worked with. I worked with people who have become some of my best friends. I worked with people who’ve become family.  I got to do this amazing show that I was SO proud of… A show that went out into the world and touched and affected people in ways that I couldn’t imagine…  (Including my own!) As to what I miss most about it? The people. Plain and simple.

In 1995 you portrayed one my favorite characters in a film that simply rocked my youth. I am talking of course about the film adaptation of the insanely popular video game, Mortal Kombat, in which you portrayed everyone’s favorite character, Johnny Cage. The name alone is so cool! So how was your experience working on this brilliant project?

Shooting Mortal Kombat was….  Siiiick!!!!!!! Haha

Ok, all kidding aside it was pretty sick. And if I’m being honest, it was also a movie that no one gave a snowball’s chance in hell of being successful. You have to remember, there had never been a successful video game adaptation before MK. Street Fighter had failed, Mario Brothers had failed, and Double Dragon had failed! So nobody thought Mortal Kombat was going to work at all! (Except for maybe w a core group of fans.) But we believed it could work! And it did. That movie went out into the world and just became this “thing”! To this day, there’s such a fondness for that film. People genuinely love it. And I love that!! I think it was this collection of people on that film who for a lot of different reasons all needed it to work. And we came together in this really collaborative way and somehow caught lightning in a bottle and made this film that…. I don’t know, I could spend a month telling you how it happened and why I think it happened but you’d get bored and I’d get bored… So, let’s just say it worked. And I’m REALLY happy and proud that it did! And yes, Johnny Cage is a GREAT name!!!!!!

I have to imagine that, even though the film is pushing a quarter century in age, there still are very die hard Mortal Kombat fans out there? Do you get a lot of 30 something year old guys and women accosting you about your role as Johnny Cage? Does being a big part of someone’s pop culture nostalgia still affect you to this day?

Haha, Daily! And I love it.

 

 

I have to be perfectly frank with you here Sir, and please don’t get offended right away….my dearly departed grandmother straight up HATED you. Well, obviously not you, but Cameron Kirsten, who you portrayed so devilishly on The Young & The Restless. You sure were a mean guy, and you did that so well. Beyond this role, you have had roles in other more “dark” projects like a few LFN gems and the 2008 remake of Prom Night. So I am curious to know what you enjoy about working in darker roles, whether you are the actually villain or not? What draws you to roles in projects like these?

I love a good role.  And I love food on the table, a roof over my family’s head, electricity in the light bulbs, and hot air coming out of the heater… So….  Sometimes you do the part because it’s great and sometimes you do it for other reasons.  But your grandmother was right, Cameron Kirsten was a pretty great bad guy. (Who I only played because Susan was on the show and I thought it would be fun.) (it was)

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

I’m in a new series coming out this spring/summer on Netflix called Trinkets. I’ve seen a bit of it, and I can tell you, it’s really good! Writing, acting, directing….  this is one that I’m actually really proud of and excited about. I also just finished directing my first feature length project for Lifetime called Homeless at 17 so…. I’m pretty excited about that one too!!

What was the last thing that made you smile?

My wife!

Sunday Matinee: At the End of the Day [Film]

 

“After losing his wife and counseling practice, the only thing 32 year-old Dave Hopper has going for himself is his part-time professorship at his alma mater, a growing Christian college. And the only reason he even got that job was because his previous professor, now ambitious dean, pulled a few strings.

The dean’s plans for growth hit a snag when the property he wants to develop has been promised to a gay support group – which has plans to open an LGBT homeless teen shelter if they can raise the money in time. The dean is forced to take drastic measures, offering Dave his dream job, but he only gets it if he goes undercover in the group and stops them from raising the funds needed to buy the property.

Dave reluctantly agrees, and for the first time, is met face-to-face with the community he has been counseling against his entire career. The awkward and emotional experiences that follow lead Dave on a journey of truth, revealing that life and love are not as black and white as he first thought.” – October Coast PR

Filmmaker’s Statement

I grew up in a conservative, evangelical Christian home. I was taught that we had exclusivity to the truth, and the best way to love the rest of the world was to tell them our “truth.” Specifically, we were taught that “love the sinner, hate the sin” was the loving approach to the LGBTQ community.

It wasn’t until I started experiencing life and people outside of that bubble that I realized how dangerous that worldview is, how much I didn’t know, and that the LGBTQ community is full of the most loving, compassionate, and giving people I’ve ever met.

As my faith and views changed, I was compelled to create my first film about the tensions between the church and the LGBTQ communities. I felt an obligation to call out the misinformation that is taught in many churches at the same time I offer a hug to the LGBTQ community, specifically to those youth who have faced religious rejection.

It is my hope that At the End of the Day can bring healing to many who have been harmed, encouragement to those who have been doing the hard work of equality, and an opportunity for others to question their black-and-white worldview.

– Writer/Director Kevin O’Brien

 

 

 

******

I have to start this thing off by saying a very bold statement that I am more than ready to to defend: This is a perfect film. I seriously mean that. Everything from the execution, the performances, to the character development and surprising revolutions, and right down to an ending that, even if you see it coming, is going to figuratively (and hopefully not literally) just plain rip your fucking heart out. It has those cringe-worthy moments that just make you feel sad and/or angry for the injustice in the world, yet has some very whimsical and hilarious comedic moments. Not the least of which are some very hilarious bits brought on by an elderly gentlemen, which I will never not enjoy.

I do have to say that the main thing that really struck a chord with me personally was just how perfectly blunt this film was from beginning to end in terms of the opinions that filmmaker and writer Kevin O’Brien was trying (and succeed) to make very clear. Many people may not actually realize how strictly the evangelical world will adhere to the very black and white way of thinking when it comes to having an opinion on nearly anything. This applies especially to their dealings with the LGBTQ community. Through there “love the sinner, not the sin” bullshit rhetoric, they have managed to face the idea of people not being exactly like them with what is basically a condescending and self-righteous statement. And O’Brien has absolutely no problem pointing this out very matter of factly in a wonderful cinematic way.

 

 

And as we tend to do, we have to talk about the cast! What a damn group of brilliant human beings. Stephen Shane Martin and Danielle Sagona are absolutely brilliant in running the show. Paul Saulo was charismatic as fuck, and just a delight in every second he was on screen. Tom Nowicki made me want to punch him in the mouth every time he spoke, which was right in line with the character he was portraying, so obviously he did amazing! I really could go on and on about the rest of the supporting cast, but I will keep it short and just talk about one more….Chris Cavalier. This fucking kid really blew my mind. I truly loved his performance as Nate, one of the most conflicted characters in the film, and thanks to his brilliant performance, one of the most interesting characters of the film. Cavalier has the type of acting chops that are so good that the probability that he will one day reach a level of success that he will one day abandon the world of indie cinema to pursue Marvel movies & unintelligible Sci-Fi movies like some have in the past (looking at you ScarJo), because he is so talented that he can do well in just about any medium…is very plausible. Let’s hope he keeps on taking on roles like this one, but I would honestly watch him do anything. He was just that damn good. He was a brilliant addition to the cast, and his interactions withe Stephen Shane Martin are absolutely brilliant. I’d say they paired better together than a grape soda and a box of Fruit Roll Ups right before midnight.

It was a truly gripping and compelling experience to watch this film, and I hope you all check it out, and let the ideas that the film presents to us all go directly into your hearts. This film has a beautiful message that needs to be spread. And that is a message of love, if I were to be presumptuous. I know that amongst the hate-filled speech that is spoken with this film, there was an overwhelming sense of love to be felt throughout it. And, at the end of the day (see what I did there?) this is simply a brilliantly made and touching film that is going to make you laugh and cry and hopefully understand a bit more about yourself and the world around you.

 

At the End of the Day is available on iTunes and VOD.