Lowell Dean [Interview]


Today’s interview subject is a guy who I was very excited to learn more about. Lowell Dean wasn’t exactly a name I had in my mental rolodex, and I will be the first to admit that it was shameful to not know of his work beforehand. But hey, we all learn and correct ourselves at our own pace, right?

I found out about Lowell whilst randomly coming across a couple of projects he has given the world known as Wolfcop, and that film’s follow up Another Wolfcop. And I am here to tell you folks, they are AMAZING! Dean is a man with an brilliant knack for truly unique storytelling, which is something that is very admirable and sadly a bit too rare this day and age. It was quite a shock to me when I attempted to simply get some words from somebody who was on the set of Chained, and to find myself becoming a HUGE fan of that random person’s work, and feeling like a damned fool for not knowing sooner.

So Ladies and Gentlemen, let us not be fools, let us be knowledgable and all-knowing of a man with a brilliant mind, who managed to take a seemingly campy idea and spin that shit into pure gold. Please enjoy some amazing words from the brilliant Lowell Dean!

What inspired you to get into the world of filmmaking? Was it a passion you can always remember having?

On a basic level, I’ve been interested in filmmaking since I was 7 years old. That’s when my best friend and I started making movies with his parent’s home video camera. Before I even knew what filmmaking was, we were shooting hours and hours of ridiculous VHS skits and fight scenes. Some days on set, in the best possible way, I feel like not much has changed.

How did you get your start in the film business? What was the first gig you can remember being a part of? And has that experienced helped shape who you are as an artist?

When I decided I was serious about pursuing film as a career, I took a film studies degree in university and then took any job I could in the industry. I spent a decade working my way “up the ladder” as a production assistant, assistant director and editor until I finally started writing and directing my own features. Every job along the way was a big learning experience, but to be honest I learned the most making my own short films on the side, which I would do once a year. You learn so much making a short film – and the stakes are lower – so you can find your voice and make mistakes without tons of money on the line.

Where did you come up with the idea for your incredible character we all know and love known as WolfCop? What made you decide you wanted to tell this tale?

I had just finished my first feature film as a director, 13 Eerie, on which I learned a lot. I realized that whatever I was going to do next I wanted to write myself, so that it would be closer to my sensibilities and my voice. I narrowed down all my ideas to a cop film and a werewolf film. I couldn’t decide which to choose and pour my time into, so I jokingly smashed them together. WolfCop was born. That idea excited me and felt familiar… but also weirdly fresh. So I dove in with both feet! 

And running through the credits of Another WolfCop, I noticed the appearance of one of our most beloved heroes has a cameo in the film, the legendary Kevin Smith! How did this come to be? How did you get ole Silent Bob himself involved with the project?

It was a case of good timing and good fortune. Kevin Smith was scouting his film Moose Jaws, and since the actual city of Moose Jaw is in Saskatchewan he was up in Canada at the time we were shooting Another WolfCop. Our executive producer J. Joly reached out to him, and the rest is history! It was kind of surreal, to be honest. A really fun day.

In 2012, a film was released that has truly haunted me since I first laid eyes upon it. That film was entitled Chained. And I understand you worked on this absolutely insane project. I am always curious what it would be like to be on a set like that? Was it all somber and awkwardness? Or did you all find a way to keep a light heart around such dark content?

Funny you should mention Chained! I was a third assistant director on that film. It was an intense shoot. I had no experience as an assistant director – or any desire to be one – but when I heard Jennifer Lynch was directing I was determined to be on that set, just to watch her work. In the process of that film,  I learned a lot about the role of being an AD, and Jennifer was wonderful and shared little tidbits of directing wisdom along the way. Even though the content was dark, the key creatives behind it were playfully twisted so the mood wasn’t overly glum! But yes, it was intense. 

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

I just directed SuperGrid for producer Hugh Patterson (one of the producers behind the WolfCop films). The film is a sci-fi “future western” and should be out later this year.  Other than that, I’m currently developing other film and TV projects. Hopefully I can share more details about them soon! 

What was the last thing that made you smile?

Good question. I smile all the time, so who can keep track! In terms of entertainment, The Last Man on Earth is the last TV 

show that made me really happy. But sadly…  it dead.

Check out this trailer for the brilliant Wolfcop:

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Rotimi Paul [Interview]


Today we are honored to feature one of the hottest young talents in the modern world of film and television. He is the multi-talented and multi-faceted actor and filmmaker Rotimi Paul. Having already appeared in many your favorite television series thus far, from project like Bull and Blue Bloods, to a few great appearances on Late Night with Jimmy Fallon (which we will discuss below), audiences are going to be amazed by this amazing talent when he will appear in the highly anticipated addition to the Purge franchise on July 4th, in The First Purge.

We were excited to learn more about this amazing young man, and were definitely not let down. Rotimi tells us his thoughts on the Purge franchise, his experience around the infamous Jonestown massacre that he will be showing the world about through film, being Chewbacca, and so much more! We are honored to have this man with us here today to showcase for you fine readers!

So Ladies and Gentlemen, please enjoy some amazing words from the brilliant Rotimi Paul!

When did you first discover that you had a passion for the world of performance and other aspects of the world of film and theatre? Have you always had the proverbial itch to work within the arts?

I was never really much of a ham as a child. I grew up in the Caribbean before moving to New York, so I mostly spent my time playing sports when I was a kid. I knew that I wanted to be an actor in about sophomore year of college at Syracuse University.  I started to really get into the theater at that point in my life, and I couldn’t shake the itch after that. I ended up getting a theater minor and heading to NYC after graduation to go to an acting conservatory called William Esper Studio for 2 years.

Scrolling through your IMDb page, I notice one interesting credit that has me very intrigued and would love to hear about. Among a few appearances on Late Night with Jimmy Fallon…you once portrayed Chewbacca? What exactly were you doing as Chewy? How was that experience for you overall?

Hahahaha (laughing fondly). That was one of the first acting opportunities I got after completing my conservatory training. I sent my headshot and resume into SNL actually, and they forwarded it onto Late Night with Jimmy Fallon which had just started, and they called me up. It was such a cool experience to be there and see Jimmy do his work in that setting. The sketch was titled “Highly Illogical” and it was a music video for his Tu-Spock character. Black Thought of The Roots was also in it, so it was really just a lot of fun.

Audiences will be fortunate enough to see you on the big screen in the latest installment of one of the most original film franchises out there right now, The First Purge. What should fans of the Purge franchise thus far be excited to see? What will we be seeing you personally bringing to the story?

Fans can definitely get excited about seeing how The Purge started. It’s such a cool concept and I think this film makes it even cooler by pealing back a bit of what the audience has come to expect as the norm and instead show what it took to get there. I think my character personally brings to the story a sense of danger that can be present when people don’t have any opportunity around them. In our dramatized and fictionalized world, I think that I represent a person who sees the first Purge night as an opportunity to do better for myself.

I understand that you are also working on a documentary that is intriguing by subject matter alone, entitled Surviving Jonestown. Can you tell us a bit about this project? What inspired you to make this film?

Definitely. Surviving Jonestown is a documentary that I’m working on that tells a bit of the story of what happened in Guyana, South America on November 18, 1978. My family is Guyanese, and I was inspired to tell this story because it is my Dad’s story. It is literally his story of survival as he was one of the pilots on the ground that day that was slated to fly out some of the members when the shooting started. Through being intrigued by his story, I began researching and hearing from other people involved and went from there.

If you were handed the opportunity to portray any legendary figure (for good or for bad) in world history, who would it be?

Sidney Poitier. Seeing him in A Raisin In The Sun had such a profound impact on my desire to act. I have never seen a portrayal of him. What he meant for the perception of black men at a time when film wasn’t doing its best to show us in a multifaceted light is extraordinary. He had an incredible involvement in providing positive counterbalance to the limiting imagery of his era. I always want to  leave things better than how I found them. By use of his talents, intellect, convictions and appeal, he did just that.

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

Hopefully more interesting characters in film and TV. Don’t tell anyone, but I have no idea how the story ends; I’m winging it, literally just trying to enjoy the ride. Anyone who wants to follow my journey can do so at @rotimipaul on Instagram and @RotimiAPaul on Twitter. I always appreciate when people who are supporters of my work reach out.

What was the last thing that made you smile?

An online video. I’m easily amused.

Catch Rotimi in The First Purge, in theaters on July 4th. Check out the official trailer for the film right here:

Sunday Matinee: Troll Inc. [Film]

“From innocent meme culture to malicious propaganda, the avant-garde has moved online and they have an agenda. Emerging from deep within underground computer programming culture, internet trolls are disenfranchised and using the click-bait obsessed mass media to propel their performance art into the mainstream. Whether mischievously entertaining the masses, influencing presidential elections, or manipulating journalists and corporations, trolls are either saving us or driving our culture off of a cliff. Prosecuted as a whistleblower by the Federal Government, Troll Inc. follows the world’s most famous Internet troll, Andrew Auernheimer, and his merry band of provocateurs as they take on corporate America, the media, and political-correctness.” – October Coast PR

Wow. Fucking WOW! What a god damned story this was! I am almost ashamed to admit that I was completely and utterly unaware of the events depicted in Trolls Inc., and had absolutely no idea who the illustrious “weev” was. I’m not certain that I really do now, or if anyone really understands this man. I do know that this is an absolutely brilliant documentary that attempts to bring light onto a dark situation, that should have been light all along. Although I am sure that it can be debated otherwise, I have found this story to be one of a man who was simply trying to do the right thing, was rejected horribly, and decided to have some God damned fun with it all, and ended up losing far too many months of his life to the bullshit pennial system that is plagued with corruption and absolute nonsense. This film is an amazing depiction of an entire culture of people who are just, well, way smarter than you, and are indeed the modern day avant garden artists of this modern tech-reliable world.

 

 

Troll Inc. is available on VOD now. 

 

Check out the trailer to Troll Inc. right here:

 

Ami Sheth [Interview]

Photo by Vick Krishna

 

Today we have an exciting interview for you fine folks with a full fledged star on the rise! Ami Sheth is a brilliant actress who you can currently see as a star on the new hit AMC show Dietland that appears to have the internet and the world captivated. Based on the novel by Sarai Walker that explores the beauty industry and society’s obsession with weight loss, it is shaping up to be one of the finest programs on television right now. And so much of the show’s success is owed to the brilliant Sheth for her dynamite performance as a burn survivor and bad ass feminist to gives power to her character with her brilliant set of acting chops.

While Dietland may be putting Sheth in front of a whole new level of viewers, please don’t get it twisted about this woman’s talent! Ami has made memorable appearances on such fine programs as The Blacklist, Blue Bloods, Elementary, and Blindspot. As well as a brilliant supporting role in Jorge Valdes-Iga’s 2009 art house thriller Hotel Chelsea. She is an extremely talented performer who is destined to be a household name. She has put in the work, and the payoff seems inevitable.

And we are so excited that she was willing to be featured here today! So Ladies and Gentlemen, please enjoy some amazing words from the brilliant Ami Sheth!

When did you first realize that you wanted to join the world of acting? Has it always been your ambition to perform?

Acting started out as a creative release and a passion for me. It has always brought me so much joy! I didn’t ever think I could make a living at it.

Growing up I never saw anyone who looked like me on TV or in movies. It has changed so much and it’s amazing to see the progress diversity has made on screen. Being able to do what you love is the greatest gift.

What was your very first gig in the world of acting that you can remember working on? And did that experience happen to help shape the way you work today?

My first real acting gig was a TV pilot I did for Animal Planet. I am a licensed Veterinarian and played a Vet on the show. It was the first time I thought that I could actually get acting work and shortly after signed with my agency Innovative Artists .

If you were given the chance to perform any notable figure in world history, alive or dead, who would it be? 

I don’t have a specific role in mind but I am always drawn to roles that are unlike myself or that I haven’t played before. I want to be challenged and pushed with each character I take on. Maybe an international spy or a queen .

I understand that you will be appearing in the latest drama on AMC known as Dietland. What can you tell us about it? What will we be seeing you doing on the program?

I play the role of Sana, a burn survivor, artist and member of the feminist collective called Calliope House. The house serves as a place for women to explore who they are and learn how they can make the world a better place for others. Throughout the season Sana uses her art as her outlet to deal with her facial scars and helps Plum (Joy Nash) through her journey of self acceptance.

Ami Sheth as Sana – Dietland _ Season 1, Episode 2 – Photo Credit: Patrick Harbron/AMC

What was it that initially drew you to a project like Dietland? What did you find most intriguing about the show?

Dietland is based on the modern feminist novel by Sarai Walker of the same name. It’s all about woman power! All our directors have been female and our leads are female (Julianna Margulies and Joy Nash. ) The show is groundbreaking in so many ways and I am honored to be a part of it.

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

Nothing I can share! But stay tuned to Dietland because the show takes some crazy twists and turns that will leave you speechless

What was the last thing that made you smile?

My 2 year old daughter , Lilah. I can’t help but smile every time I look at her.

Oley Sassone [Interview]


I first came to learn about filmmaker Oley Sassone from a very informative documentary that was somewhat about a guy who has been the creative force behind some pretty amazing work….but apparently did something extremely shady, and pretty upsetting. That man was the great Roger Corman. And while I cannot say that I condone his actions showcased in Doomed: The Untold Story of Roger Corman’s The Fantastic Four, I’d be lying if I said I wasn’t going to continue to watch Corman classics on the regular. And as a matter of fact, it was because of him that I learned about the genius that is Oley Sassone!

Oley is another prime example of a man who has created some amazing art in his career, and also happened to turn out to be an incredibly nice person, who gave us some wonderful and lengthy answers to a few of our questions. This is a guy who has brought us some pretty amazing work in a career that is as expansive as it is impressive. When I learned that he directed the amazing video for Mr. Mister’s “Broken Wings”. Hailing from the finest city that America has to offer, New Orleans of course, he is also a legend in the NOLA film community that we have managed to cover quite extensively over the years. Mostly because they are some of the nicest people working in film today!

So, Ladies and Gentlemen, please enjoy some amazing words from the brilliant Oley Sassone!

When did you decide you wanted to join the world of filmmaking? Was it an early passion, or did you just find yourself in this world?

It was shortly after I saw the Beatles movie, A Hard Day’s Night. I was already playing guitar and of course, I wanted to be a rock star, but the movie itself was something I couldn’t stop thinking about. So I went to see it a second time and I was hooked. There was something about the quality of the film in the way it captured not only what the Beatles were all about, their characters, mannerisms, personalties and their music, but it transported me to London and the atmosphere of it all and captured the style and time of what was happening in 1960’s English pop culture. And of course, I was influenced by the girls hysterically screaming at a movie screen! I started talking with a bloody English accent at 12 years old! I was then eager to watch every English black & white film I could find. At that time there was no VHS, DVD or YOU TUBE. There was however a really cool art house theater, The Prytania Theater that is still here in New Orleans that showed a lot of those films, including French and Italian New Wave. And the Public Broadcasting Station started showing the British “Kitchen Sink” dramas, a different one every Saturday morning.Look Back In Anger was the first that is credited for starting this genre, but it was, Saturday Night and Sunday Morning, Billy Liar, and The Leather Boys  that I loved.

I would sit in front of the TV and transport myself into those worlds hanging on every line of dialogue, street scene, bar scene, the grubby apartments. These films dominated the way I started thinking and I started imagining, what it would it be like to do this… make movies like these. My parents didn’t hesitate when I asked them to buy me a Super 8 movie camera and projector. Of course the films that I shot certainly don’t compare, but I did shoot some black and white Super 8 film, which was not easy to find or get processed. That’s how it started. 

What as the very first gig you can remember getting in this business? And did that experience help shape you into the filmmaker you would eventually become? 

My first gig in the film business was working as a Production Assistant on a Sergio Leone spaghetti western, My Name is Nobody, that was partially filmed in New Orleans. I walked onto a set on a street in the French Quarter and asked some guy for a job and he handed me a shovel and told me to start spreading dirt in the street! I nearly turned and walked until I discovered it was for a gunfight scene with Henry Fonda. So I proudly spread dirt. Good thing I hung around. I was asked to come back the next day and they assigned me to be Fonda’s assistant. That was cool. I brought Henry Fonda water and tea, carried his saddle for resetting a shot, carried his chair… and I loved it! I was always right on the edge of the set when they were shooting scenes with him, including the gun fight on Royal Street. The whole experience of watching a film being made on this level definitely shaped who I was to become as a filmmaker. Another thing that happened that was important to figuring out how to shoot film. I was sent to get something (I can’t remember what) out of Sergio Leone’s trailer for him and when I went in, there were comic books tossed all over the place, opened to certain pages, marked and scribbled on. After watching Leone films, I realized that he was inspired by the dramatic comic book images within those frames, extreme angles and such. That was a real revelation for me. I thought, this doesn’t have to be a difficult process. It tore away the unknown for me. I realized how to approach filmmaking — create interesting images within that frame! I had a 35MM Pentax, a good compliment of lenses and some old fresnel studio lights and I started lighting people, my girlfriend at the time, and I got into George Hurrell – the master of Hollywood glamour photos – different angles, extreme contrast lighting, black and white, color slides, creating little scenes with set dressing. I created a rear screen projection with this roll of opaque material hanging off a c-stand in my dining room, with the slide projector set up in the kitchen to get the depth, with scenes of the interiors of European churches and putting my girl friend in front it and matching the lighting and manipulating the exposure so the rear screen image would really “pop”. It was a great time, a great learning experience. 

You have worn several different proverbial hats in the film business. From writing and directing, to producing and cinematography and beyond. With that being said, what would you say is the gig that you enjoy doing the most? 

The question is not “Why?”, but — Why not!? It really comes down to making a living. Staying in the business I love until I’m ready to quit. I took the jobs as they came, however, I always wanted to write and direct my own films. And I did a couple, but they were never to the level of what I had hoped for. They were good films, good entertainment, but not groundbreaking. I always liked cinematography and shot and directed at least 50 of the 100 music videos I did, along with a lot of commercials, but when it came to film, I was hired as a director and that was that. And I was happy to do it. Figuring out how to make a movie and then see it actually take shape in an editing room was and still is a thrill. Then came the opportunity to write and direct. To labor through the writing process, sell the script and then get to direct it…nothing better. But the extra pressure is on too, it’s all on you! Producing now gives me an opportunity to work with other talented filmmakers and get involved with projects that would not come my way as a director. I enjoy the process of producing, not raising money although absolutely necessary, but getting a film into production, sold and distributed. Producing has been an eye-opener and has really made me appreciate the fact that we are in the FILM BUSINESS.

You kicked off your career working in the world of music video direction, showcasing artists like Styx and Eric Clapton (as well as a personal favorite, Mr. Mister). The music video was a relatively new concept back then, so what was it like jumping into this new scene? It seems like it would be quite the wild ride. Is this the case? 

Freedom to create! That was the best thing about doing music videos. When I started, I think MTV was on the air for only a year and its popularity shot off like a rocket. There were no music video execs at the record companies yet. In fact, I remember a guy who came to set who was doing album cover art. It was a wild ride. I started in New Orleans where I produced, directed and shot a video for friends of mine that were signed to CBS Records — The Red Rockers. I knew them from my days of playing in a punk/rock band. CBS refused to give me any money and the band was going up to NY to shoot. I convinced CBS that I could deliver a video within the month. They said go ahead, but still no money. I thought, “Oh shit.” So I pulled it together with a credit card and a loan from a guy who owned a record store and we shot it. The song is called, “China” and the exec jumped on a plane to see a cut of it, mind you this is 16mm film, she saw it, loved it, bought it. CBS started sending me all over the country to shoot videos for their artists and I ended up in L.A. doing a video for The Romantics. A good friend of mine who was an advertising copywriter and who gave me my first commercial, had connections at a production company in L.A. who sent a rep to the set.

The rep sat quietly and watched, handed me his card and asked me to meet with them before I left town. They offered me a job, paid my moving expenses and put me on a retainer. Being in L.A. in the mid 80’s in the midst of this exploding art form of music and film was really exciting and energizing. It created a shift in attitudes at the studios in what eventually became a stepping stone for a new generation of filmmakers such as David Fincher and Michael Bay, both of whom launched their film careers from music videos.

At the height of my career as video director, I was doing about four videos a month and in various cities around the world. Eric Clapton in London, Bruce Hornsby in Austin, Gloria Estefan in Chicago; we would go wherever the artists had their longest break on their tour. I would have to say Mr. Mister’s “Broken Wings” was one of my best, but the thing about doing videos is, you need great songs to make a good video and that was an exceptionally good song. And the trip continues thanks to YOUTUBE. I can watch nearly every video I directed, including my very first one, “China” by The Red Rockers. What a trip.

For those who may be out of the loop on the scandal of your 1994 film adaptation of The Fantastic Four, would you care to give a brief synopsis of what exactly went down. And with that, how accurate was Marty Langford’s Doomed: The Untold Story of Roger Corman’s The Fantastic Four? 

A “scandal”, I like that, but how about scandalous and a huge deception pulled on me, the cast and crew. I was hired by Roger Corman to direct the movie after I had directed two good movies for him. I knew there was no money, but it was The Fantastic Four and I was a Marvel comic fan as a kid, so I jumped in. We all thought as we busted our asses, that we were making a film to be released and hopefully make enough money to convince the powers that be to hire us to do bigger and better films. That’s how it’s supposed to work! But that wasn’t their plan. It was all a ruse for Constantin Film to keep the film rights to the F4 franchise. It was strictly a contractual obligation for a film to be made before the end of that year or Constantin would relinquish the rights. So we finished the film in spite of the fact that no one seemed to be in any hurry to complete it. But once the film was finished, Roger thought it was good enough to release, so he decided to do just that. Marvel had a fit and apparently it was not in any contract that barred Roger from releasing it. So they paid him again, NOT to release the film. They confiscated the negative and the one print of the film and rumor has it that it was burned! Thankfully some guy at a dubbing house in L.A. bootlegged it and the entire film can be seen on You Tube. The only regret about that is, it’s a copy of VHS, to VHS, to VHS. We never got the opportunity of giving the film a good telecine — where the negative is transferred to video. All the gruesome details can be seen in the exceptional documentary which is a very accurate account of the ugly side of Hollywood.

We have managed to go pretty in depth with several folks involved in the NOLA film scene. I understand that you have origins in the area, and have worked extensively in the film community. So with that, in your own personal opinion, what do you believe it is about this film scene that sets it apart from other largely known markets? 

As you have gathered, I’m from New Orleans. As much as I love the city and its people, it’s the Louisiana State Tax Credits that has brought the industry here. However, the local film community has exploded, resulting in a great infrastructure of sound stages, equipment companies and damn good film crews. The one thing I believe that sets the film scene here apart from other markets is the city itself. Who doesn’t want to come to New Orleans? As I have mentioned, I have worked in wonderful cities around the world and have had great experiences, but New Orleans is truly a unique place to visit and to work. And the place looks great on film! Look at Elia Kazan’s Panic in the Street, shot entirely on location in New Orleans in 1950 or Alan Parker’s Angel Heart. These locations, the streets, the buildings are all still here.

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

As I mentioned, being a producer has opened a lot of doors. I’m working with a number of other producers and filmmakers on multiple projects. One to be shot in Scotland and the U.S., another in London and Paris and of course a couple to be shot in New Orleans. One is called, Butterfly in the Typewriter, a biopic about the author John Kennedy Toole, who wrote the iconic book, A Confederacy of Dunces and a limited series on the young life of Louis Armstrong. 

What was the last thing that made you smile? 

I have to say unabashedly, every morning when I wake up and kiss my wife. Second to that, is hitting a great chord or a guitar lick on stage with the punk/rock band, Sexdog, that regrouped in the last few years and has been playing gigs here in New Orleans.

And because we love it so much, check out this amazing video for Mr. Mister’s “Broken Wings” directed by Oley Sassone:

New Music Tuesday: Ezra Bell – Ezra Bell [Album]

 

Regular readers of Trainwreck’d Society may notice that we have been a bit too far out of the music coverage game, but lately we have been trying to work our way back into the scene. Maybe stop ignoring the plethora of press releases that pass through the old inbox. Maybe wise up and listen. Maybe get that old feeling of joy that music used to give yours truly? But the chaos of the world has somewhat diminished this possibility and my ability to focus on just about anything has weakened.

But, sometimes, just sometimes….I hear something. Something special. Something that brings me back. And that something this go around is the amazingly original and extremely entertaining group I have recently learned is named Ezra Bell. And god dammit, if Ezra Bell isn’t throwing me back to the days when I would watch my favorite indie folk acts perform share a cramped stage with a pinball machine at a vegan burrito joint in the Northwest. While I would never wish to be 25 again, I am so happy to feel even a small bit of that ecstasy that music once made me feel, as I am now old and bitter and alone in an empty room in Nowhere, Poland.

Yes, Ezra Bell is everything I used to love to listen to when I cared. And hearing the sweet and sort of funky jams that these delightful hipsters are giving me has made me wonder why I ever stopped caring. The elements are varied, the swagger is evident, and the storytelling is as strong as you could ever imagine. And some if it has to be pretty damn catchy, as I just caught myself tapping on “Tourists” on this press page for what may be my 7th listen in a row. Much ike certain citizens of Utah we all know and love, I would never outright say that “Tourists” is my favorite wife on this album, but deep down I know it to be true. But dammit, then I move on down the track list and the cycle just continues. It is as though I can smell the PBR induced sweat that I can only imagine would be very evident at an Ezra Bell show, and it really does bring me back home.

While I may have confessed my love for one singular track thus far, it behooves me to let you fine readers know that “Go with God” is slowly creeping up into my psyche and trying to steal my love away. And I can think of no better way to describe Ezra Bell themselves actually. They are out to steal your love, with their incredible talents, perfect musicianship, and a staggering ability to make you forget about the chaos of the world, and remember a time when we weren’t afraid to die. Yeah, I think that will do it.

 

Ezra Bell’s self titled debut full-length album is available now on Spotify, Apple Music, all of those places you go to get music. So go get it.

 

Check out this recorded performance of “Tourists” courtesy of Killingsworth House:

Ford Austin [Interview]



Ford Austin is a man that I have been becoming more and more familiar with over the last few years. His name just always seem to show during long nights of research and traveling down that the worm hole that IMDb can sometimes be. And over some time, I have realized that I have actually been enjoying his work for quite some time. Scrolling through everything he has done in his career, it is absolutely mind-blowing to say the least. He is without a doubt one of the hardest working folks in the film world today.

Whether he is acting, producing, writing, directing….or all of the above, For Austin is a guy who has an extremely impressive versatility and work ethic that goes unrivaled. And as we will learn in the interview below, he is also a very kind person who is willing to step in and help a friend when in need, as he did for a dear old friend of ours here at Trainwreck’d Society!

And even beyond just some amazing words, he has shared some amazing photographs and stills, some of which you can check out beyond the text. So without further rambling, please enjoy some amazing words from the brilliant artist, Ford Austin!

What inspired you to get into the worlds of performance and filmmaking? Was it a passion you developed at an early age?

As for acting, my parents put me in a movie they produced when I was 1 or 2 years old. I stole the entire movie as you can imagine.

After that, they put me in a talent service for child actors that got us involved in supporting roles in shows and commercials.  Later on, I decided to make it my career and went to college and grad school for theatre film, tv production and acting.  That got me heavily involved in New York theatre.  About that time I got the idea I could write and direct movies. So, I relocated to Hollywood and taught myself filmmaking.  I arrived just in time to start shootings the last of the movies made on actual film.  My friends and I saw the writing in the wall and bought digital film cameras.  In 1999 I became one of the first digital filmmakers in the business while all the big players bragged about how they would never shoot on video and that you weren’t a real filmmaker if you didn’t shoot in film.  Boy, we’re they wrong. Lightning struck and my friends and I became the lightning rods for the biggest Hollywood revolution since sound.  I got my movies made faster and was able to shoot 10 features a year from 2001 till today. After making over 100 features and more shorts than I can count, film Is dead and I still make movies. Ha!

In 2011, you starred and produced with our dear friend Rena Riffel the hit sequel Showgirls 2: Penny’s From Heaven. How did you manage to become involved with this project? And what drew you to working on the film?

Ah, Rena!  I think it was 2009. I got a call from my friend Rena Riffell telling me she needed help getting her movie done. I told her, “Sure.  Where are you?” She told me she was in a park in the Hollywood hills.  As I was driving over Laurel Canyon in West Hollywood and looked out to the park on Mulholland drive, I saw Rena sweating heavily and exasperated as hell in a parking lot with a single person camera crew at her side. I knew right then and there she couldn’t get the sequel done without my help and probably about 10 or 12 other people too. She asked me to play one of her lead characters in the movie while I produce.  How could I turn down such a gorgeous Hollywood starlet?  Showgirls 2 took us about three months to shoot and we also had a great producing partner Josh Eisenstadt join us.  Together, the three of us turned the potential disaster into s beautifully odd feature film which caught the adoration of Mr. David Lynch himself.  To this day, I will always love Rena Riffell for getting me involved in her project.

You’ve worn a whole lot of metaphorical hats in the world of film. From writing, directing, producing, acting, and beyond….you’ve done it all! So in your obvious expert opinion, what would you say is your favorite profession in this business?

Out of everything I do in the business, I would say the easiest is producing. All it takes is an iPhone.  For my soul, I love acting the best.  It’s where it all began for me. Everything else was born out of my desire to act in movies.  I taught myself to do all the jobs so I could set the stage for myself and my friends.

The ego in me loves directing most of all. When I direct, I have the final say on everything. Who gets which credit, whose lines stay in the movie, what the tone of the film is or even what time of day we have to start work.

Ford Austin & Francis Ford Coppola

 

You’ve been in the game for quite some time, and have put out some legendary work. With all of the technological advances and changes in the way the common person takes in media, I am curious to know your opinion on whether or not we are more fortunate to receive more content? Or has everything become so oversaturated that quality has become lost?

Gaining more content options is always a good thing.  When I started making movies, it was VHS & DVDs at Blockbuster and Best Buy.  The internet wasn’t streaming yet.  Even from pm festivals hadn’t grown up to what they are today until just 10 years ago.

I had one of the first movies on Netflix in 2005. My horror feature The Curse of Lizzie Borden.  Loved it!  While I was directing on set one day, I turned to my producer who was a real veteran in Hollywood and said, “Le s district hire this on Netflix.”  “What’s Netflix?” He scoffed.   We soon learned that Netflix would not be a great return for indie films since you basically get $.05 per view.  Ridiculous.  But your ego says “Hey!  I’m on Netflix bitch!”

I mean, when I started, iPhones didn’t exist:  now I’m watching feature films on my iPhone X.  It’s freaking perfect!

Ford Austin & his friend and mentor, Martin Landau

 

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

I have three new feature films coming out this year: Heels, Inhumanity, and What’s Buried in the Backyard?  I star as an actor in each one of them. And these are my first movies I have made since being mentored by the legendary actor Martin Landau at The Actors Studio.  I am very excited to see how fans and audiences alike take to my new acting skills.

Also, I  planning my return to directing soon.  I haven’t directed a feature since Dahmer Vs Gacy in 2010 which came out in 2012.  I have three great projects I’m planning in the Midwest where I think I will focus my stories and production for the next ten years.  Yeehaw!

What was the last thing that made you smile?

The new digital series Cobra Kai.  I’m episode 3 or 4, Johnny paints a dick on Daniel Larusso’s face on his billboard.  While Daniel is bitching about it to his wife, he says, “now what’ll I do?” She replies, “you’ll blow the competition away!”

That’s funny.

Check out this wonderful gallery of stills of performances that Ford Austin has been so kind to share with you all:

Ford Austin in the Netflix pilot “Scorpion Girl”

 

Ford Austin in “Inhumanity”

 

Ford Austin in “Dahmer vs. Gacy”

 

Ford Austin in “Pastis”