Your new movie Fame-ish
- in a few words, what is it about?
I play a fictional version of myself, as do many in the cast, like Larry
David does in Curb Your Enthusiasm. So the character Jeff Nimoy is
a washed-up voice director who goes to his first anime convention in 10
years, and he starts to succumb to the pitfalls of being a celebrity at
an anime convention, and he finds love in all the right and wrong
The film is quite obviously about you - but to what extent is it
actually based on your autobiography and own first hand experiences?
Haha! People keep asking me, “Did that REALLY happen??!!!” No. It
didn’t. Haha! I would say about 15% is actually true, and all the rest
is based on my experiences at conventions and in life that I heightened
by fictionalizing them.
sources of inspiration when writing Fame-ish?
My favorite movie is It’s A Wonderful Life, and you can see the
obvious influence towards the end of the film. I also wanted it to feel
in style and tone a lot like Jason Reitman films, specifically Up in
the Air and Juno. He’s one of my favorite directors!
for those uninitiated, do talk about anime convention circuit in general
for a bit, what are these conventions like, and do you attend many of
It is a romantic comedy that happens to take place at an anime
convention, but you don’t need to know a thing about anime or cons
to enjoy it. That being said, anime fans and people who attend cons
will connect with this on a much deeper level because they’re more
familiar with the setting. I don’t do a lot of explaining, I just
show the convention, and make explanations when I feel the general
audience might need this info to understand the plot. You don’t need
to have heard me as Nicholas D. Wolfwood in Trigun, I just show it,
and the audience understands this is a popular character I played in
the past. Pre-quarantine, I did several cons a year as a guest.
was actually shot during two conventions if I got that right - so what
were the challenges of shooting with a convention underway, and how
appreciative were the convention organizers of your efforts?
The conventions gave us unbelievable support to help make
Fame-ish. Our day 1 shoot was at
Anime Los Angeles, in Ontario,
CA. Some fans knew we would be there, and they joined in as extras
gladly! Then in Madison, WI we got the royal treatment from Geek.Kon!
The staff was incredible. I gave everyone a credit at the end of the
movie too, they deserved it! The Madison Marriott West even gave us free
rein to shoot, and also offered their hotel staff to assist us. The
access was incredible. And the Geek.Kon fans flocked to become extras in
the film, and they were incredible!!!! For them, it was a different
experience to be in an actual film as part of the con’s programming. I
think we were the highlight of the con for fans for sure.
can you tell us about your overall directorial approach to your story at
Directing and producing were sort of intertwined for me on this project.
I took a year off to make it, because the planning was extensive.
Because we were limited by time, money, and people everywhere, I had our
schedule timed out to the minute! It was run and gun the whole time we
were at the convention, because we had so many factors to consider to
get each shot. We had to improvise with our shot choices quite a bit,
but we expected that.
You also play the lead/yourself in the movie - and
this might sound stupid, but what did you draw upon to bring yourself to
life, and how much of the real you can we find in the film you? And while
we're at it, have you ever considered someone else playing you, or have
you written yourself with yourself in mind from the get-go?
So, I never felt like I was playing myself. I always considered him a
character that just happened to be named Jeff Nimoy. The character’s
personality was mostly based on rumors that have surrounded me
personally throughout the years. But as I said earlier, it’s only
about 15% true, and the rest I greatly exaggerated.
As far as having someone else play the lead, it’s a complicated
answer. You see, in 2017 I survived brain surgery. I don’t recommend
everyone getting a brain tumor, but I recommend everyone surviving one,
because it changes your whole perspective on life, and also moves your
bucket list up significantly! And number one on my bucket list was to
make a live-action movie (as opposed to animation, where I have spent
most of my career). So
Fame-ish wasn’t necessarily the movie I wanted to
make, but it was a movie I was able to
make! By tapping into my celebrity, I knew I could get an insane amount
of production value for free, like a hotel, a convention, and thousands
of cosplaying extras! So I wrote
Fame-ish to be filmed at that
specific location. If I cast someone else in the lead, then I would have
had to rely on another actor to get the crazy amounts of footage we
needed in just 6 days (we could’ve used 3 weeks!). No offense to other
actors, I just couldn’t take the risk that something would go wrong
(actor doesn’t know lines, or gets sick, or a million other things
that could come up). And I knew I wasn’t going to embarrass myself,
I’ve been acting for a long time, and I have a BFA degree in Acting
from NYU’s Tisch School of the Arts.
did it actually feel like playing yourself, and not the most flattering
version of yourself at that?
Ha! Again, I never felt it was me, just a character named Jeff Nimoy.
Yes, our backstories are eerily similar, but it wasn’t me, it was a
character I was playing. People kept saying to me, “This is so brave
of you, to show yourself in such a bad light,” but I never felt that
way. As a writer, I gave the character an arc, and if he’s gonna be
likable at the end when I want the audience to be rooting for him, then
he has to start off as a guy who needed to change. And boy, did the
fictional Jeff Nimoy need to change by the end of the movie! Haha!
Do talk about the rest of
your key cast, and why exactly these people?
Lex Lang was the first to sign on, and once he did, I knew the rest of
the cast would fill out nicely. Lex is not just a meditation teacher,
he’s been my buddy since 1996, and one of the most talented people
I’ve ever met in my life. His contributions were enormous, adding a
ton of suggestions to the script and the shoot! I needed someone
physically bigger than me because we confront each other in the film a
little, so Lex was on a short list of actors I considered. But his
positive and loving energy shined through, and the perfect cast
followed. Brian Donovan is the nicest guy in the world, but having
directed him many times, I knew as an actor he could play a bad guy
perfectly. And for a “bad guy”, the audience roots for him at one
point more than they root for me! Nikki Boyer, who is so sweet and
gorgeous (it was no problem falling in love with her on screen), was
also someone I directed before in the recording booth, and the only one
in the cast who has a thriving on-camera career. I was so lucky she
agreed to do this. Allison Powell, who plays my con handler, steals the
movie as Bobbi! She is an extremely talented
actor/writer/director/producer herself. I saw her in a staged reading
and she was wearing a Star Wars Nerd t-shirt, and I thought,
“That’s Bobbi!” Jonathan Fahn, who plays the con chair is a member
of the talented and famous Fahn family, and he’s like a brother to me.
He’s also an accomplished director, which helped me since I couldn’t
see myself while acting! And Margo Graff, who plays Lana, the cosplaying
fan obsessed with me, I met by accident in my neighborhood, and it
turned out to be one of the most fortunate accidental friendships in my
life. I hope this launches a huge on-camera career for her, she lights
up the screen!
A few words
about the shoot as such, and the on-set atmosphere?
It was the feel good shoot of the summer! Although not without its
issues, like any set. We were extremely pressurized to get all the
footage we needed in 6 days (no retakes because when the con ends, it
ends!). We were fighting time, money, programming, hotel check-out
times, fans everywhere, etc. So there were times I yelled like a tyrant
trying to herd cats, but I warned everyone before we started I would do
that and that it’s not personal, I’m just trying to get the shot. We
were like a family, and we were all in tears as we left the Madison crew
to head back to LA. We’ll all be forever linked through this movie and
the experience we shared making it.
you can tell us about audience and critical reception of Fame-ish?
I definitely wanted to put enough anime references in to entertain the
anime audience, but not too many that it gets in the way of an average
rom-com fan. And from your review and others, I think we pulled it off!
The reviews have been incredible so far, and we hope that it will drive
this little film to reach a much bigger audience!
future projects you'd like to share?
Well, I just voiced some of my old characters and adapted the script for
the new Digimon Adventure Last Evolution Kiruna, which I think
fans will love. Other than that, I’d love to direct another movie, but
maybe with a decent budget this time! Haha!
What got you into
acting in the first place, and voice acting at that, and did you receive
any formal training on the subject?
As I mentioned, I went to NYU to study acting. Voice acting happened by
accident. I was in an improv comedy show where I was doing a ton of
different voices, and in 1994 a producer saw it and hired me to join the
cast of The Mutant League, an animated series based on the video
game. I never looked back since!
also expanded into voice direction and scripting - so how did that come
I co-created a show for Fox Kids called Chimp Lips
there was no budget for a writer or director, so I did it myself. Haha!
But I always wanted to be a live-action film writer/director.
What can you tell us about your film, TV and
voice work prior to Fame-ish?
My career is no secret at this point. I voice-directed some of anime’s
biggest titles like Digimon, Naruto, and Bleach. I also voiced many
anime characters like Trigun’s Wolfwood. Anime is what I’ll always
be remembered for, unless Fame-ish
becomes popular. Please share
and make it popular!!! Haha.
does voice acting compare to acting in front of a camera, and which do you
Voice acting is a lot easier. No make-up, no costume, no props, and no
lines to memorize! On camera acting is HARD! VO acting can be done
in your pajamas (and often is). Any job that can be done in sleep wear
is my kind of job.
How would you describe yourself as an
actor, and some of your techniques to bring your characters to life?
On camera, be in the moment, listen, listen, listen, and then respond
truthfully. For animation, I rely on what the character looks like for
all my inspiration.
directors, whoever else who inspire you?
Woody, Tarantino, Mel Brooks, Sidney Lumet, Scorcese, Alexander Payne,
Jason Reitman, Capra, Kazan, the directors I admire is too long to list.
I put a lot of tributes to people and shows that inspired me in Fame-ish. I flat out stole lines from Woody Allen, Seinfeld,
Animal House, Mel Brooks, and Mad Men (just to name a few) in the
script. I figured, if this is my only film, I want to put as many
tribute to my influences in there as I can. I love easter eggs in
movies, and Fame-ish is chock-full of them.
It’s a Wonderful Life, Pulp Fiction, The Godfather,
Star Wars, just to
name a small few. I have seen almost everything!
... and of course, films you really deplore?
You actually learn a lot from bad movied as well as good movies! I’m
not a fan of big sweeping English epics. That’s all I’ll say. Haha.
movie's website, social media, whatever else?
where you can read more of the backstory of how the movie came about.
Twitter is @jeffnimoy
And you can buy or rent the movie on almost any platform:
DIGITAL - •iTunes •Amazon Prime Video •Google Play •Playstation •Xbox
•VUDU •FandangoNOW •Vimeo On Demand •YouTube
CABLE/SATELLITE - •iN Demand Movies EST •AT&T •Vubiquity •Dish
else you're dying to mention and I have merely forgotten to ask?
spoilers in the reviews from now on!! Lol! Thanks for your review, I
really appreciate you not only seeing it, but writing about it. Thanks! I
would also like to say that in a way, Fame-ish
is a love letter to anime fans, and I think we will move forward with a
lot of love for each other after they see this movie.
for the interview!