Your new movie The Hunted
- in a few words, what is it about?
Vampires, swords, silliness. That about sums it up. To go
into a bit more detail, I play a struggling actor who is mistaken for the
"chosen one" - destined to lead a group of ragtag slayers
against an army of vampires.
You have recently
also made a webseries named The Hunted in which you also play a
character named Bob - so how closely are the two related, actually?
feature is the origin story for the series which has been around for about
15 years. It was one of the first web shows online (way before YouTube) and is still one of the only shows based on user content, meaning
virtually anyone anywhere can shoot their own episode. To date, we
have over 100 episodes online from all over the world.
I had always intended to shoot a pilot episode for the series, but we
decided to shoot a few episodes first just to get our feet wet and we
didn't know when to stop. So yeah, it's a bit strange that the film
is supposed to pre-date all these episodes.
sources of inspiration when dreaming up The
Hunted - and what can you tell us about your co-writers Tex Wall
and Andrew Helm, and what was your collaboration with them like?
up with an idea for the series, I knew that we didn't want to try to do
too much, which is the problem with most web shows. Folks get all
ambitious and by the third episode they've either run out of time, money
or energy. When I came up with the concept, reality TV was big. And that gave
us some leeway in terms of production value - cameras, sound and lighting
didn't have to be perfect. We also tried not to take ourselves too
seriously, since folks tend to forgive the budget limitations if you can
make 'em laugh.
One of the main assets we had was action. I was teaching a stage
combat class and I came up with the idea to give the students a project
they could work on. Vampires were also big at the time (Buffy
the Vampire Slayer) and I
decided to tweak the lore so the only way vampires could be killed is with
10 years later, we were still shooting episodes and still hadn't gotten
around to shooting the pilot that I had written. By that time,
unfortunately, the show had changed so much that the pilot needed to be
re-written. And unfortunately, I was too close to it and had no time
for a complete rewrite. I needed someone with time on their hands
who could think outside the box. Fortunately, Tex lives outside the box on a daily basis. I've known
Tex ever since I came to LA and he's an absolute nut, but a brilliant
writer. And fast! And available! I also brought on
Andrew Helm, a talented writer who I had met in the early days of shooting
the series. We took almost a year to rewrite the script, and during
that time I came to the realization that the two had to be in the show.
And I was right, they were absolutely perfect!
talk about The Hunted
specific brand of comedy for a bit!
about social commentary than it is about vampires. It's the sort of
the Vampire Slayer did so well. How do you have a relationship with a
vampire? Do they need to exercise? Do they make good actors
and/or stuntmen? Do they like comic books?
You of course also
have to talk about The
Hunted's many action scenes, and how were they achieved?
Something not many big movies think about anymore. Rehearsal and
training equals free production value. I've trained in swordplay and
stage combat for over 30 years and many of the folks on the show are
professional stuntmen and women.
just have to talk about the Vampslayer-bit in your movie for a
bit, which I believe is based one of your earliest movies as an actor! And
how much fun was it to film that?
was our movie within a movie and it parodied a film I did in the mid 90s
called Dragon Fury. In it, an actress gives me the
classic line which I lifted directly for the film, "I will answer all
your questions after we rest and have sex."
Dragon Fury was produced by Silverlake Entertainment but
somehow fell into the hands of Troma. I originally wanted to use
Dragon Fury in our film so I actually called up Lloyd Kaufman.
I figured they'd be happy for someone to actually use the film, but Lloyd
wanted to charge me a crazy price so I just resigned myself to shooting Vampslayer, which was a lot of fun!
What can you tell us
about your overall directorial approach to your story at hand?
Hunted episodes have traditionally been shot in "reality
TV" style. This means wide master shots and very little
cutting. Unfortunately, this is a pain in the ass to shoot since it
means long takes, and the shots aren't always very interesting. At
some point during filming the feature, I realized I had to make the
transition to a more theatrical style. I also had to cut out a lot
of talking to the camera (our cameraman is a kid named Mikey), which took
folks out of the story.
Fortunately, I had shot a lot of the film with a 5K Redcam, which allowed
me to push into shots during editing which gave the illusion of coverage.
Beyond that, like most films, it was all I could do to keep that whole
train wreck on the tracks. We were working on virtually zero budget
with no sleep for about 3 weeks straight. And the obstacles we faced
were huge! I have a blog which goes into all sorts of gory detail
which you can find here -
also play the lead in The
Hunted - so what did you draw upon to bring him to life, and have
you written him with yourself in mind from the get-go?
I found it made things easier from the start of the series to play
ourselves. That was one of the original concepts from the beginning
- to blur the lines of reality a bit to keep folks guessing if this was an
actual group of slayers or what. At some point, I decided to make it
clear that this was a show. Primarily because we started attracting
the attention of some truly crazy people online who believed they were
real vampires or slayers, and a few were mad we were making fun of them.
talk about the rest of The
Hunted's key cast, and why exactly these people?
were willing to work for free! Seriously though, everyone who signed
on to this film are friends of mine who stepped up big time and I owe them
all - at least a really good all-you-can-eat buffet at Denny's (which is
all I can afford). We do this stuff for the fun of it sometimes and
we help each other out. In the end, it's not always about a
paycheck. I was just fortunate that my friends also happen to be
badass actors and stunt people.
The only person I hadn't really worked with before was Monique
Ganderton and she was
amazing. Somehow she's been pidgeonholed into being a stunt person,
but she's also an amazing actress and brilliantly funny. The other
big surprise was Dave Baker, who I've known for years, but I had no idea
he had been a professional actor. He stepped in at the last second
when we lost one of our leads and he was fantastic. Both Anthony
DeLongis and Gary Kasper are also great friends that I've worked with many
times before. They really brought the entire project to the next
can you tell us about the shoot as such and the on-set atmosphere?
like any shoot, is was complete chaos, although with less people since we
had virtually no crew. Jessica Cail was our producer but also
handled everything from craft services to costuming. Our DPs, AJ
Raitano and Josh Gill also worked as grips, lighting, production design,
whatever needed to be done. I wore so many hats I lost count -
director, actor, props, transpo, VFX, second unit, stunts.
And there was definitely a curse on the production. It seemed that
every day the universe was conspiring against us. Crazy stuff
happened. And I mean crazy stuff. On one of our first days of filming, the online hacktivist
"Anonymous" decided to hack Godaddy, which hosted all my email
accounts. Suddenly, I was unable to get call sheets to anyone so I
had to call everyone personally. During the shoot we also had an RV
blow up, SAG threatened to shut us down, a fire on the 405 shut down the
freeway, we lost a few of our locations days before shooting, etc.
Once again, this is all in our online blog. But everyone knew this was a labor of love and they stepped up.
Sleep deprived and stressed out beyond reason, we still had a blast.
$64-question of course, when and where will The
Hunted be released onto the general public?
we're talking about the series, the show has been out there since 2001 on
it's just never been advertised. As for the film, it was just
released on Vimeo VOD which you can find here -
In a few months, you should also be seeing it at various film festivals,
film reviews, as well as various online streaming services - Hulu, iTunes,
Amazon and Netflix.
you can tell us about audience and critical reception of The
The response has been awesome so far,
although some folks who don't know the difference between an non-existent
indie film budget and a multi-million Dollar blockbuster have been a bit
more critical. To them I say alcohol. And lots of it.
We've even come up with a drinking game. Every time someone says
"chosen one", you take a drink.
Any future projects you'd like to
I'm hoping the feature will help to finally kick off
the webseries in a big way, which is designed to sustain itself based on
user content. No one has really done this before - figured out how
to leverage user content as part of an ongoing series. If you think
of it, the only reason YouTube became the most-watched channel in the
world overnight is because of user content.
But yes, I've got a stack of projects other than The Hunted I'd like to
tackle next. Next up is a sci-fi love story called
Soul, but who knows what direction I'll get pulled into next.
From what I know, you first got into the
filmworld in a rather roundabout way - care to elaborate?
think most folks get involved in film in a roundabout way. Unless
you happen to be born into it. My folks were puppeteers, but I have
no idea how much of an influence that had. My brother and I loved to
make short films when we were kids, and it seems like that stuff hasn't
I made my way from Miami to LA in 1989 completely unsure of what I wanted
to do. I had trained as a swordsman at renaissance fairs and I
quickly found work on a few big films, Hook and Army of
Darkness. Still, I was little more than an extra and decided
to write myself a screenplay called Ring of Steel.
Within a couple years I starred in that film which was distributed by
Since then I've continued to develop my own projects while keeping active
in everything from stunts to visual effects.
it comes to making movies, you've done it all, not only acting, writing
and directing, but also stunting, handling special effects and whatnot -
so do talk about your different positions for a bit, and what do you enjoy
the most, what could you do without?
I dig it all, which is
why I started the webseries and decided to direct the feature. The
best directors know about every step of the process and this was my chance
to use every random talent I've acquired over the years. Everything
from editing to music - which was one of my majors in college.
What I could do without? I could probably do without trying to do
all those jobs at the same time. By the end of the film, I was
certain that I had PTSD. I'd wake up in the middle of the night with
a panic attack, certain that we had to shoot something.
I'm also not fond of skulking around doing guerilla film making. I
don't like conflict and I don't like breaking the law, and shooting
without a permit (which we've had to do more than a few times) makes me
feel like I'm a criminal. No wonder there's so much runaway
production in Hollywood. I can't even shoot in my own apartment
building without getting busted by a security guard.
What can you tell
us about your filmwork prior to The
Hunted (in whatever position)?
Prior to the webseries and film, I had mostly bounced back and forth from acting and
stunts to visual effects. It gave me a wonderful opportunity to work
both in front of and behind the camera. I had also worked on various
budget films - from multi-million dollar blockbusters to no-budget indies.
And I realized they typically suffer from the same problems.
actors, writers, whoever else who inspire you?
film, my inspiration was Ed Burns, who also wears a lot of hats, has a
strong foothold in indie films, and believes in creating his own work.
I also took up a mantra from James Cameron while filming, "Curiosity
is the most powerful thing you own, imagination is a force that can
I tend to embrace a lot of mantras when working on a seemingly
insurmountable project. Whatever helps to get me through the day.
Another popular one was "stop worrying about what could go wrong and
start thinking about what can go right." But the best quote was from a producer at
biggest problem going into this show was asking people to work for free.
He simply said "Ask them, they will do it or not."
I dig sci-fi. I'm a huge geek and I
was the perfect age when Star Wars came out. I was one of those kids
who saw it in the theater at least 20 times. Second after that was Raiders
of the Lost Ark. Classic sci-fi, Close Encounters of the Third
Kind, Terminator, Logan's Run, Alien. And the modern classics like
Avatar and Galaxy Quest. I
got to work VFX on the new Star Wars film and I found myself grinning like
an idiot through the first half of the film. And then there's the sword fighting classics -
Three Musketeers with
Michael York, Duellists, Princess Bride, and a childhood fave,
The Court Jester.
... and of course, films you really deplore?
I'm a traditionalist. I think films should have a beginning,
middle and end. Unfortunately, "slice of life" art films
don't always fit that mold, so I find it impossible to sit through some
Woody Allen films. And then there's the modern day big budget action/VFX films that don't
bother to have a solid script before going into production. These
are more than just annoying, they make my blood boil. Because there
are folks working crazy long hours in post production VFX - sacrificing
nights, weekends, time with families, holidays, looking at literally every
pixel to make things perfect. But when you see the film, it's a
complete mess. Not because of the CG, but because of the writing.
If only the writers had spent a fraction of the time on the script than we
did perfecting every frame of CG. And then there's stunt people who are literally risking their lives for
these films. Sure, they're making a paycheck, but you can make money
doing anything. You're just hoping that there's something to show
for it at the end of the day. And when the movie sucks, you wonder
why you risked your life for this piece of crap.
Your/your movie's website, Facebook, whatever else?
I think I mentioned it a couple times already, but why not? We're at
You can find links there to the rest of The Hunted multiverse. I was bummed that
was taken when I started the show, but we were one of the first with the
.tv extension (thanks Tuvalu!).
Anything else you're dying to mention and I have merely forgotten to
For the filmmakers out there, join us! grab a camera and shoot an
episode. To make things more interesting we have an annual contest
with cash prizes and industry judges. You can get all the details on
our website at
Thanks for the interview!
My pleasure Michael! Thanks for the interview and helping to get
the show out there!