Your upcoming film The Other Side of the Door - in a few
words, what is it about?
Ira - Itís a film
about a woman coming to grips with the mess her life has become, how she got
there and how she tries to turn things around for herself and her daughter.
How did the project get off the ground? And considering this isn't
just your run-of-the-mill drama, how easy/difficult was it to get funding
and find the right cast and crew for the movie?
The film was not hard to get up and running. Ira and I had been talking
for years about getting a package of films together so we can find
distribution. The cast was not difficult at all. Jennifer Scott [Jennifer
Scott interview - click here] and I had talked when
we met at the screening of my first film The Mustard Stain. She liked it
so much we kept in contact all these years, so that if the opportunity
ever came up we can work in something together. When I read the script I
immediately thought of Jennifer for the role. She has that I can play many
characters-look. And this was one of them. Most of the crew has been with
colleagues that I have worked with in previous projects and a
collaboration of friends and family. We have all had a great time working
together. I don't see myself working with another crew. They can
understand our ideas and get the job done fast and professional. We're so
lucky to have a crew that is very enthusiastic about working on films.
were your inspirations when writing The Other Side of the Door, is
any of it based on personal experience, and how much research went into
Ira - I
worked as a mental health counselor for over twenty years and it is based
on client and case studies from that time.
Other Side of the Door
features a few quite uneasy, violent scenes. So how do you approach these
scenes, and is there a line for you refuse to cross?
Ira - I
treat them like any other action/stunt scene and choreograph every
movement, the line is the safety of my cast, I will never put my cast in a
can you tell us about your directorial approach, the look and feel of your
Ira - Collaborative - I let my actors play a scene the way it feels best to them as long as it
keeps the feel of the scene.
What was the collaboration between the two of you
like, actually, and how did
you two hook up in the first place? And what can you tell us about your
previous collaboration Awol?
Alex and I have worked together in postproduction for years, so the
collaboration is like a family thing, we trust each other and there are no
egos involved. There are three of us producing
The Other Side of the Door
and I donít want
Sam to be left out of all this and what really makes this teamwork is the
trust we have in each other. Awol was our first film project together as a
producing team and it went off without a hitch.
For story reasons,
most of The Other Side of the Door is restricted to one
single set. What are the challenges and advantages of this, also from a
producer's point of view?
Alex - From a producer's point of view it
actually makes my life a lot easier than if we were shooting multiple
locations. As an assistant director it makes my life hard. Playing with
one set can be challenging. The writing on this film gives us enough
material to change it up and keep the audience interested. Our cast and
crew is very talented and has been doing a great job so far keeping us
ahead of schedule. Once people see the film and witness these real life
issues it will suck them right in. Our actors have been on top of it
every time they set foot on set. They make our lives easier. Finding new
ways to shoot in the same location is a challenge though. We're
constantly changing scenes on set until we feel comfortable it will play
well on the big screen.
You just have to talk about
your leading lady Jennifer Scott for a bit, and why her and how did you
Alex - Jen
and I were at the same film festival about three years ago. My film The
Mustard Stain was on its 5th film festival and had had a great response so
far. Jennifer came up to my brother Sam Tello and myself and congratulated
us on the film. Sam was my co-director on The Mustard Stain. We exchanged
business cards and agreed to keep in contact in case a future project ever
came across where we can work together. A couple of years passed by and
Sam and I started to work on Furthest from the Wild, a documentary about
wildlife sanctuaries. Ira and I just wrapped Awol and we were talking
about shooting another film together. When Ira gave me the script to read
I immediately thought of Jen for the part. We set out a casting call for
3 of the roles including the lead role. Out of the 100 actresses we saw no
one seemed to fit the part. At this time I called Jen and asked her if she
was free and if she would be interested in the role for this character. As
soon as she walked in to audition we both looked at each other Ira and
myself and said you're hired. We didn't even get a chance to run through the
sides we had sent her the night before. We talked for a bit, she gave us
her background on the work she had done before, but most importantly she
talked about her past and how she would be able to do justice to our
leading lady. Once we cast her it was a relief to know we had someone
perfect for the role, and she is perfect for the role. She has been on top
of it every time we call action. We don't know what we would do without
A few words about the rest of your cast and
crew, and why these people?
Alex - Our
supporting actress Meredith Basinger was also an immediate decision.
After two weekends of auditions. No one seemed to have the part down.
Actress after actress it just didn't feel right. I worked with Meredith
on another project years back and she was great. When I called her in to
audition, the same thing happened. Both Ira and I looked at her and
immediately cast her. She has been playing an even better Cindy then
we ever thought.
Lizzie Leeds was also a tough find she plays Amy, daughter of our leading lady in the film. She was literally one of the last
few actresses we auditioned. After a few callbacks from other actresses
we still could not find our teenage girl. Lizzie walked in and BLEW our
minds away. She just fit the part. She came in once to read and the next
day she was cast.
Our crew consist of my brother Sam Tello 2nd Asst.
Director among other things. Our DP is a long friend of mine from High
School, Jonathan Cypress. He has been doing a great job in setting the
mood for our cast. His lighting is amazing.
might be way too early to ask, but any idea when your movie will be
released onto the general public?
want to release it in early 2014
Any future projects
beyond The Other Side of the Door you'd like to share?
Alex - We have a short film coming out soon
directed and produced by Alex Tello written by Sam and Alex Tello: What am I
Going to Tell Maggie - it's a 15min short dark
comedy that takes place in the snowy mountains. We shot this film in a
day and a half for under $500. This will be releasing in July.
Films also has another film that has been in the works for almost 3
years now. This film is called Furthest from the Wild -
This is a documentary about the people who have dedicated their lives to
rescuing domestic and exotic animals due to overpopulation and people
abandoning these poor creatures. This film has been a work in progress
for the last 2 and a half years. Our goal is to have this film ready by
September of this year. It has already been accepted to several film
festivals due to the trailer that was released back in October of 2012.
There have been articles written on the film and it has been getting a nice
buzz. Alex Tello directs the documentary and my brother Sam is writing
the film. Ira Farmer is an associate producer has been helping us edit
an episode to convert the film into an educational TV series.
since you have directed a few films yourself, how would you describe
yourself as a producer (as in hands-on vs hands-off, supportive vs
Alex - Producing is
always challenging. I find myself producing and directing almost any
project that I've worked on. With The Other Side of the Door, since I am
also an assistant director Ira and I collaborate on the shots that we
need and what we don't need. There's times where our director needs to
change hats and needs to be in front of the camera to play the role of
the parole officer. Here I step in and help him direct. We seem to
always be on the same page and agree on most things. That is very
helpful when working on a full feature film. So we're both pretty hands-on when it comes to this film. We're constantly changing roles from
directing to producing to acting and camera work. Definitely never a
Ira, how would you
describe yourself as a director?
Ira - I see myself as a part of a team, Iím the bus driver but I have to
always remember I have passengers taking the trip with me and I have to
respect their thought and feelings about the trip.
What can you tell us about your
filmwork prior to The Other Side of the Door?
Iíve been directing since the early 80ís, I did three short films that
ran on cable access, I also directed a number of cable access talk show, a
news program and a weekly series for about a year. I also directed waver
theater for about 4 years.
got you into filmmaking in the first place, and how did you learn your
Alex - Film has
always been a dream job for me. Since I could remember I always wanted
to act. Coming from theater there was always a thrill about being on
stage. Once I graduated from sound engineering school I started to work
in post production. This is where Ira and I met. I began to make
contacts at every company that I went to work for. Before I knew it I
knew enough people to get a crew together to shoot films. I never
attended film school, post production was my film school. Little by
little saving money, my brother Sam and I started to write films and
saved enough money to purchase cameras and to fund our own projects.
Both my brother Sam and I are self-taught when it comes to film work.
I believe this is what I did or do in
another life. It just feels natural.
Ira - Me, I always wanted to be a film
editor so I went to film school to learn how to edit and fell in love
with the whole process, truth be told life is dull until youíre on a
set and the lights come on.
Producers, filmmakers, whatever else who inspire
Alex - Great
films and bad films. The great ones for their knowledge and for giving
us the inspiration in the creation of our own films. The bad ones for
making me think that if that piece of crap made it on the big screen my
film is definitely gonna make it. Because it is a million times better
than that. Life in its own has always been an inspiration for me. My
friends and family. My wife Tanya continues to inspire me every moment.
Great music like Radiohead, Muse, The Doors and Jim Morrison in itself.
my favorite poets to ever live.
Ira - Life and the people I love.
Alex - Planet of the Apes
- the original -,
Romeo and Juliet
Peckinpah films etc....
can be here all day.
1 & 2,
The Wild Bunch,
Boulevard, Tie Me Up Tie Me Down,
Cat on a Hot
- just to
name a few of the movies I love!
... and of course, films you really
Alex - Remakes,
Reboots unless they are good but rarely thatís the case.
Ira - Remakes
Your/your movie's website, Facebook, whatever
Anything else you are dying to mention and I have
merely forgotten to ask?
Dont forget to check out
Thanks for the interview!