Your 3 movie-project Kill the PA - in a few words,
what is it all about?
I packed an RV with a group of my favorite filmmakers, traveled across
the USA filming 2 narrative feature films back to back and a documentary
around the process. The documentary is titled Kill The PA. PA stands for
Production Assistant, and on indie sets the PA is often over worked (to be
fair most people are on indie sets) hence the title :)
How did you come up with the idea for the project in the first
I came up with the concept for Mania, which is a film about a couple who
flees their home after an traumatic incident forces them to leave, they
travel across the USA as they figure out what to do. I knew that I wanted
to film the movie while ACTUALLY traveling across the USA, I hate it when
movies (often poorly) try and fake traveling while shooting in the same
area. But shooting a feature across the USA is very expensive. That said
when I was thinking about how to do it in a cost effective way I came up
with the idea of putting everyone in a single RV, having a skeleton crew
that traveled with the film. But then I realized we would travel far across
the country only to have to turn around and go back to LA with everyone,
so WHY NOT make a second feature film on the way back and utilize some of
the amazing locations and meet some fans. Everyone thought that concept
was a cool new way to make movies so I decided to document the process.
That's how it all came together.
What can you tell us about your fellow
travellers, and what was living together at a rather cramped space like?
the weeks passed it got harder and harder, as one would expect. The
logistical aspects wore on some more than others - the whole nature of
having to unload and reload often was quite tiring. Trying to find
consistent power sources while filming across the country was in itself a
great challenge. We were filming so much that we had to have the footage
downloading most of the time which meant we had to have multiple working
outlets. Aaron M Lane was handing the DIT work, and he would have to set
up his DIT station in rest rooms and such, basically wherever he could!
He was great though, never complained once!
one item you wish you had brought on the trip but hadn't?
winter coat! We filmed in November, and traveled from California to Ohio
and back. We actually hit a snow storm, which greatly impacted our
filming. We had to find new exterior locations in warmer climates that
matched the interiors of the locations we had confirmed. I did not bring a
winter coat, why I did not think of that I can't say. Which is why in some
of the photos from the shoot I am wearing blankets from the RV - you do
what you have to do!
I was also blessed to have brought on Jordan Pacheco [Jordan
Pacheco interview - click here], a great special FX
guy and filmmaker. He was such a gentleman and always insisted I wear his
coat when he was around. That man is such a beast - he would be outside in
the freezing cold in a t-shirt and he was always genuinely happy to be
there and was one of the easiest people I have had the pleasure to work
talk about the two features in a little more detail: Mania - in a
few words, what is it about?
Mania is my fucked up lesbian
love story. It's Thelma and Louise meets Henry Portrait of a Serial Killer
with some cool David Lynch-esque dream sequences thrown in!
Mania was written by
your long-time partner-in-crime (and fellow traveller) Jonathan Scott
Higgins [Jonathan Scott
Higgins interview - click here] - so what drew you to the story?
originally came up with the concept and Jon wrote this powerful script
that I just had to make. I wanted to do a love story - in a very horrific
way. Kinda a more fucked up, modern Romeo and
Juliet type thing. The
script was so good that I wanted to watch this film as soon as I read it,
so I knew I had to make it!
can you tell us about your directorial approach to your story at hand?
Mania I really tried to be as reactionary as possible, because it was a
super stressful shoot (the whole traveling across the USA thing) so I
tried to make things as simple as possible where possible. I encouraged
the actors to embrace the stress of the shoot and use it in their
characters, which as an actor I know can often help. As an actor you are
stressed and exhausted, and in this story so are the characters.
what I've heard, it wasn't quite easy to cast the lead characters of Mania
- care to elaborate?
It was very hard - partially because
of the way that we were filming, while traveling across the USA shooting
when and where we could. But also the characters - both leads are really
complex and extremely multi-dementional with strong character arcs. Add to
that the many nude scenes, and sex scenes and it made casting tricky. I
had talented actresses who wanted the role but would not do the nudity in
it, but since all the nudity is plot crucial we had to pass on those
actresses. We also had a few wonderful actresses who were fine with the
nudity but the sex scenes made them uncomfortable, and as an actress I
understand this as sex scenes are always to an extent uncomfortable,
however they can not come across that way on screen (unless the character
would in fact be uncomfortable in those moments).
I know you've ruled it out from
the beginning to serve double-duty as director and lead on Mania as
you did on Truth or Dare
... but will you appear at all in front of
I did not act in Mania at all. With Truth or Dare
I was in front of the camera and also behind the camera and it was
hard, trying to be in two places at once was very difficult for me.
However we struggled greatly on Mania with a particular actress (watch Kill The PA to find out more) and in the end I would have been
better to do the role myself since we had so many issues arise that did
not need to. But filmmaking is a learning process, so we do the best we
can and learn for next time!
Anything you can tell us about
your cast, and why exactly these people?
Well Ellie Church (who plays Mel) nailed the audition - she WAS Mel,
that's all there was to it. As soon as she did her first take I knew that she was the lead I had
been searching for.
Becca Moore I worked with years ago while I was working out of Ohio.
She is one of those incredibly talented actors who you just have to
cast every time you can because not only is she incredibly talented
but also she is wonderful to have on set.
Mickey Melillo has been a friend for a few years and I have been
wanting to put him in a horror film for a while now.
Zack Morse and Jonathan Hatley were both contributors to our crowd
funding campaign and worked really well in the roles that we had. I
also adore them both as people, I didn't want them to leave. We were
able to convince Zack to stay around for a few extra days.
We were looking for a young, beautiful perfect little girl for a very
important scene - and one of our crew members (Steve) happened to have
two perfect daughters - so we altered the scene to include them both
because they were so darling :) Bailey and Chloe Lochowitz really did
an exceptional job, and they are so young! We also gave their dad
Steve a role, he was perfect for it and turned out to be a really
talented natural actor (must run in his family).
Hignite and Brigid Macaulay I have known for a while and like Becca if I
have anything that they fit, the roles are theirs. I am forever
impressed with their work! They actually steal the scene that they are
in so much that we are writing them into the sequel in a much larger
You do however
star in the other feature shot on the road, Ryan M. Andrews' Desolation
[Ryan M. Andrews interview - click here]
- so what can you tell us about that one, and your character in it?
is a really fun, modern hitch hiker tale, which we have not seen in way
too long. My character Heidi seems to have it all, a perfect husband, job
that she loves but as the story carries on you realize that everything is
not as perfect as she would have you believe.
did you draw upon to bring your character to life, and how much of Jessica
Cameron can we find in Heidi?
The stress of filming 3
movies while traveling across the country!
I am only partially kidding - Heidi is definitely a women who is over
worked and very stressed out - which I can relate to, especially on this
shoot. She has family problems that I think many who watch this film will
understand to various levels, and she is honestly just trying to do the
best that she can. I really related to that aspect of the character - and
I am very much the same way. You can't help it if you are surrounded by
lemons so you might as well throw some tequila in and make a cocktail!
With Ryan M. Andrews, you recently
also shot Save Yourself
M. Andrews interview - click here] - so how did the two shoots, how will the
two movies compare?
They were drastically different - not
only in plot but execution. Save Yourself
was filmed the traditional way,
in and around Toronto with a full cast and crew. The sets were much
larger, we had lots of more people involved, lots more equipment and more
actors and extras. Desolation we had our traveling skeleton crew of filmmakers, with a minimal equipment and very small cast. So they are
basically polar opposites. The movies are themselves vastly different and
I love them each for different reasons. I love the ensemble cast on Save Yourself
and I got to work with many actors that I greatly admire
including Tianna Nori [Tianna Nori
interview - click here], Ry Barrett and Caleigh LeGrand. They are each
tremendously talented and it's a joy to share scenes with them. Desolation
had a much smaller cast, and we were around each other 24/7 as we traveled
across the USA. Although my co-star Carlo Mendez is phenomenally
talented and there is no one I would rather travel across the country with
while filming, and he even drove the RV!
Ryan M. Andrews with Jessica on the road
Shooting two feature films and a
documentary on the road ... what were the main challenges, but maybe also
Finding new and constant sources of electricity
was tricky. We had the generator on the RV but that made a lot of noise
and we could not use it when we were filming. We ran like 5 extension
cords from a rest stop on more then one occasion :)
There were a lot of great advantages - including finding perfect locations
like our small town, old fashioned church and not having to pay location
fees, or build it. It was just there and not in use and we were able to
get permission to film in it for free. It was perfect for the story.
Which stint did you enjoy more during your
roadtrip, being behind or in front of the camera?
front of the camera will always be my first love, career wise... and you
never forget your first love!
With every film that I work behind the camera on, I grow more
passionately attached to the filmmaking process, and the ability to
connect with the fans on what feels to me like a more intimate level. That
said the beginning of the shoot was much easier from a physical stand
point - we were rested and all eager to film. As the shoot continued on
everyone became more stressed and more restless. So the final week was
much harder then the first week.
can you tell us about the documentary Kill the PA, what
will it be like in tone and the like?
It's going to be an
honest, detailed accounting of true indie film making. The struggles, the
triumphs, the fight to make the films!
I am always honest, in my life, on my social media and in this
documentary. The fans will see it all!
Any anecdotes not
captured in the documentary you'd like to share?
of a good thing can be bad but too much of a bad thing is much worse!
idea when and where any of your three films might be released yet?
are all in various stages of post production - that said, Mania will start
the festival circuit this summer and hopefully the others will follow
light of your experience - will you ever shoot another movie on the road
(let alone more than one) ... and (other) future projects you'd like to
If you had asked me this right after we were done
filming I would have said no (and I think I did in a few interviews).
However upon looking at the gorgeous footage and some of the great sets we
were able to utilize, I have to say that I most certainly would. Both
Mania and Desolation are better quality films because we traveled across
the USA to make them. And at the end of the day, isn't that what really
Your/your project's website, Facebook, whatever else?
I LOVE social media and you can follow me and my films at the following
My FB page:
Mania FB page:
Kill the PA FB page:
Kill the PA Twitter: https://twitter.com/KillThePAdoc
Desolation FB page:
Truth or Dare
Truth or Dare
for the interview!