which was only a short at that point, and reached out to Kevin
to see what it was all about. It was then that he informed me that he
wanted to bring me on for the role of Detective Ryan for the full feature.
can you tell us about BEG's director Kevin MacDonald, and what was
your collaboration like?
Kevin is as true a fan and student of horror as you
will find anywhere. Kevin not
only is a strong writer, but is also an excellent director, and the
environment he and his wife, Shanna, create for the actors is nothing short
of a family atmosphere. The star power he attracts is a true testament to
his scripts, and every name that came to set was immediately impressed
with how Kevin worked. I
recall Michael Madsen calling him a *expletive* genius one time when we
were shooting The Witching Hour.
Kevin is extremely approachable, and I felt it very
easy to approach him with questions or concerns about my approach to the
character, and often ideas would be thrown around while watching dailies
that would manifest later in the film. Speaking of dailies, Kevin is the
only director I have worked with that actually sat down every night after
shooting and went over the dailies WITH whatever actors wanted to be there
to watch. I can’t tell you how much it helps to see playback of what you
do, and how much you can take from that into your next performance.
The entire filming experience was like a huge intensive workshop
with Tony Moran
In BEG, most of your
scenes are with genre veteran Tony Moran. What was it like working with
Like I mentioned before, Tony really took me under
his wing. He isn’t some diva who needs to have his pomegranate Rock Star
energy drink, or runs off to his trailer to go eat lunch in seclusion. He
is a regular guy who has done some extraordinary things, but remains true
to who he is and how he treats people. He is a father and a mentor, and is
someone I am very proud to know and have worked with several times now.
The first day we spent on set together, he complimented me on my work in Spilt
Milk, but noted I still had a ways to go. From there began my
training… stretching until the early hours of the morning, Tony drilled
me constantly about my character’s background, went over script and not
just ran lines with me, but asked me WHY I would make the decisions I
(Steve Ryan) made in the script, and more importantly, what in my past
would have led me to make those decisions. The sheer amount of time and
care Tony put into those first several hours with me, and subsequently
through the rest of the filming, gave me a huge tool that I now use in all
of my acting projects. Furthermore, he always gave me honest feedback, and
let me know honestly and openly how I was performing, and showed an honest
sense of pride when I shined on screen.
With Tony Todd, P.J. Soles, Tiffany Shepis, Debbie
Rochon and Michael Berryman, BEG features quite a stellar, almost
iconic horror cast. Was that at all intimidating, or what can you tell us
about the atmosphere on set?
puts it lightly. I honestly am
not one who gets starstruck, I am a military man, and I never got into
this business thinking that this is how I want to make my living, so my
stress level stays pretty level. The only time I get stressed acting is
when I get concerned that my performance will not be up to par with my
cast members, and when the cast features such big names… well, there you
go. I had one scene that was
just me, Tony Moran and Tony Todd. Now c’mon, I grew up with Candyman
Myers, so this was already surreal.
However, like Tony Moran, Tony Todd is an amazing person to work
with, easily approachable, and he had his own methods of bringing out my
Tony Todd, Brandon Stumpf, Tony Moran
I recall sitting in
the break room with the two Tonys, and Todd asks if I want to run lines
with him. Keep in mind that the two Tonys are good friends… so that can
never be good for a rookie like me. I
unknowingly agree, and we begin to run lines together. Aside from the
typical ad-lib here and there, things were smooth, until the end where
Todd continues to stay in character, drilling me for interrogating him and
so on. I had to constantly roll with him, and my occasional glance to
Moran was met with a sly look and “You’re on your own, kid.”
It was brutal, and Todd didn’t let up for what seemed like a good
five minutes. There are not many actors who can say that they have had
that experience around here, and I am eternally grateful for both of the
Tonys for giving me the challenge I needed to raise my game. Needless to
say, the scene went beautifully.
Any idea when and where BEG will be released, tentatively?
BEG saw it’s theatrical release recently at the Rhode Island International
Film Festival, pitted against 50-60 other horror films from across the
globe. We were voted best
feature, and Tony Moran won for best actor. Again, Tony congratulated me
on a job well done and how much I grew through the filming, and was proud
to inform me that the director of the festival had actually voted for me
for best actor. That alone is an honor in itself in my book, being put
right up there alongside some of my childhood icons.
At this point, Kevin
and Shanna are working on distribution for BEG. There is a lot of work
that goes into getting a film out in the market, and they are working hard
to get the distributors what they want.
Let's go all the way back
to the beginning of your career: What got you into acting in the first
place, and did you receive any formal training on the subject?
will credit my kid brother, Ben for giving me the acting bug. I never
really knew that this was even an interest for me until Ben went to NYC
for college. He is a voice actor and writer/comedian/musician, and I was
impressed with how much fun he was having and the types of projects he was
involved with. I personally
have had no prior experience at this point aside from a small part in my
senior class play in HS, and had never had the confidence or desire to
pursue anything in the acting or modeling professions. I had been told by
people before that I should look into modeling, but again, confidence was
always the issue.
am an Art teacher by profession, and am involved in my school’s drama
club, but for set design. I like my job, but there was something about
what Ben was doing that really sparked an interest, and I decided that
before it was too late, I needed to see “what if” rather than end up
saying it someday. I set up a
TFP shoot with a local photographer in MA, and submitted the shots to
every acting and modeling agency I could find in the area.
into the modeling agencies was a great experience, and for this area I
stay as active with that as I do acting around here. My first “acting”
experience was for an independent film called First
World by Mark Lund and Adam Starr. I was really just an extra, but it
confirmed that being involved with film was something I wanted to pursue.
From there the extra work came pretty regularly, with films like
The Game Plan, Dan in Real Life, 27 Dresses, etc. flooding the NE
market. It doesn’t take one
long, however, to realize that (as important as it is to film making)
extra work is NOT real acting, and inevitably one hungers for the lead
Publicity has been a
huge part of making this happen for me, and Fred Grandinetti has been
instrumental in getting me international exposure in various publications
and websites. I never knew what was really out there and who would be
interested in me until Fred started handling my PR, and submitting my name
and photos for publication. I did a skit for his cable access show
Drawing with Fred, and he really took me under his wing.
He is an amazing, selfless person who devotes more time than I can
imagine trying to help myself and another young actor, Cuyle Carvin [Cuyle
Carvin interview - click here], get a
foothold in this industry.
can you tell us about your first on-camera experiences, and how do you
think you have evolved as an actor since then?
first principal role in a feature was on Brandt McGuire’s film D.I.D.
- it stands for Dissociative Identity Disorder, and is a good indie
thriller. Brandt McGuire is another of those writers who favor the old school style of suspense
and forces the audience to use their imagination rather than fill the
screen with blood and guts.
Back at that point, I was more concerned with timing and
remembering my lines, but I had no experience adding anything personal to
the experience. For me, a lot of my delivery was me throwing lines back at
my counterparts, rather than developing a realistic conversation with them
on screen. It really wasn’t
until my experiences with the Tonys that I understood how to prepare and
develop a character. I feel
like I can take on a broader range of roles now, and actually long for
those characters who are outside my typical typecast of military-type
personalities. I want to be the bad guy, the geek, whatever, but something
I can’t just wake up, look in the mirror and say that it is so much a
part of who I already am. Part of the fun of acting is exploring the parts
of ourselves that are more repressed, or being allowed to act in ways that
either society or moral conscience prohibits us from giving in to.
just pick a couple of films from your filmography and ask you to say a few
words about them and your characters in them:
This is a fun sci-fi short that I worked on with the team at Baker Street
Productions for a 48hr Film Project. They have a very professional
team at Baker Street who knows how to get the job done, and do it well.
They were brought on with BEG as
Girls Must Die?
what an experience there. I auditioned for Troy Miller, who is largely
known for directing several
MTV Movie Awards skits, and his HBO series Flight
of the Conchords. Of course, I had no idea who he was when I
auditioned for him, but when I told my brother in NY who he was, he
flipped out! A lot of Conchords
was filmed right near his apartment in Brooklyn.
This film was an
interesting take on horror, and another experience that forced me to adapt
on the fly. At the audition we had a script, and were asked to improvise
where we could. I had a good experience, and Troy cast me for a Sherriff
role for the film. Little did I know the whole film was being shot as a
reality horror film, and that there WERE NO scripts to be had for the
actual film! The entire experience was improvised, and the entire time I
was there we had no interaction with the girls in the house, and were only
brought to set when events dictated we needed to be there. That was one of
the most nerve-racking things I have ever done; not knowing what I was
walking into day after day, what had happened already, and having to read
the girls and adjust to what was happening real-time. But again, I am
better for it today, and despite the project leaving Dakota Films’
hands, it was distributed. I picked up a copy at my local Best Buy, and
actually had a few colleagues say they saw me on Showtime. All in all it
was a worth-while experience.
There are not enough good things to say about John Hartman and Zee
Zarbock. John is an artist through and through, and has a sincere love for
classic storytelling and bringing artistry back to the digital age. He
works with little to no budget, equipment that is nothing short of
antique, and produces some of the most visually captivating stories I have
seen in a long time. His love for film infects everyone he works with, and
his kind and genuine persona puts everyone at ease and fills the air with
genuine enthusiasm. Zee is equally inspiring, and makes sure everyone is
well taken care of. It was an amazing experience working with not only
them, but with fight choreographer and filmmaker Leo Kei Angelos. Leo is a
young superstar, and I guarantee you will see many great things from him.
If you look up the book trailer for The
Black Prism you will see some
truly amazing work, and one of the best book trailers I have ever seen.
are also the cover model of the Lawson-vampire novels, which, if I
understand correctly, are currently also being turned into a TV-series, The
Fixer. What can you tell us about that project of yours?
Lawson series of books is a remarkably fun series about the adventures of
a vampire secret agent called a “Fixer”. The vampire world is a
carefully secretive one. Things are kept in what is known as “The
Balance”, and it is this delicate relationship between the vampire and
human societies that Lawson has been sworn to protect.
Any time that this balance is threatened by someone’s actions, be
it human or vampire, the local Fixer is dispatched to “correct” the
situation. Threatening the balance is a capital offence, punishable by
death, and the Fixer disposes of the problem and a cleanup team takes care
of the rest.
Working as both the
cover model and star of the series has been a great experience so far, and
is one that I see as a physical and mental challenge as well. I always
strive to keep myself in great shape, but I want people to look at me as
Lawson and say “Wow, this guy is serious!” I perform all of my own
stunts, and take part in the stunt coordination and fight choreography, so
I need to be able to perform convincingly.
As for the mental aspect, I feel the need to marry my military and
martial arts training with this new universe I have never worked in
before. Jon has created a whole new vampire universe, with the roots of
the society being intact, and re-vamping (pun intended) the mythology.
Jon’s vampire world is that of living vampires, with long, but mortal life spans and
susceptibilities like anyone else. It
is exactly the kind of challenge I am looking for, and having read all of
the novels I feel prepared for whatever the series throws at me.
Any other films of yours you'd like to talk about, any future
The big project right now is a web series I am starring in called Crossing
Denver. The project is the
brainchild of Brian Pickard, who is a VT native. Brian is an amazing
writer and visionary, and this project is a perfect example of what he can
do. We are taking the noir detective genre and marrying it with a
character the likes of Mel Gibson in Payback.
Denver is not the good guy, but he isn’t the bad guy either. He
is a man who does what he needs to do to survive, but retains at least
some of the morals of the man he once was.
Kind of where Jack Bauer was towards the end of 24.
Going through your filmography, one can't help
but notice that you tend to play more than a fair share of cops or similar
figures of authority in your movies. Any explanation for that?
Like I said, it is hard to escape what you are. I am a military man, and
it comes through in my personality. I have also always kept very clean cut
as well, so it didn’t help. Now that I can grow out my hair and scruff
it up I find that people can see me in different lights, and I can let my
appearance change without having to worry about reporting for a drill
with your choice of movies, you never seem to stray too far from the
horror genre. A genre at all dear to you, and why?
I do like horror, but I am not a fanatic. These days filmmakers are too
quick to rely on shock and awe to make their movies sell, and all too
often there is little to no plot or character development. It can be a
brainless genre at times, but the ones who do it well will always have my
respect and admiration. I am a sucker for zombie movies, and projects like
The Walking Dead really get me excited (and creep me out at the same
time). I like what Romero started back in the day…the films had a
message and he built a relentless sense of terror that you just couldn’t
escape. There is something about an enemy that doesn’t sleep, doesn’t
stop hunting you… but at the same time there is always a sense of hope
and perseverance that carries throughout the stories.
It is a genre that if done correctly has a lot to say about
humanity, both good and bad.
acting, you are also a middleschool art teacher, right? What can you tell
us about that aspect of your career and your love for art?
love art, and the joy you can get from creating and exploring with
different media and ideas. There
is something to be said for artists in all fields, the level of ingenuity
and problem solving it takes to be any sort of artist is something that
many people don’t fully appreciate, and I like trying to get my students
to see that even in seventh grade art is not simply paint by numbers and
craft making, but a process to explore one’s imagination and a way to
convey one’s ideas, emotions and experiences.
Middle school is tough, and the education system in the US needs an
overhaul, but other than being a full time actor/model I can’t think of
anything else I would rather do with my life.
I also am able to
coach quite a few of my students outside of school as well, and that is
really my favorite aspect of being a teacher. I see anywhere from 70-100
students every day after school (yes, we have VERY large teams) on my
Cross-country and Track teams, and the different kind of interaction I get
to have, the level of fitness I can inspire, and the success I can and
have repeatedly led them to experience has been nothing short of amazing
for me to be a part of.
who inspire you?
have seen quite a few on set, and different people impact me for different
reasons. I respect
everyone’s working style, but people’s impression on me has more to do
with what happens when the camera isn’t rolling. Kathy Bates is an
amazingly talented woman, and she is warm and smiling between takes. She
looks like someone who appreciates what she is able to do for a living,
and her energy is contagious. The same can be said for Keira
Sedgwick. On The Game Plan she would break into song between takes, and
the extras had a really fun time joining in and laughing with her.
Steve Carell was very approachable on set, and when the day wrapped
(and it was a LONG day) he didn’t run off to his trailer and ignore
everyone, he walked around, asked everyone’s name, and personally
thanked them for their time. That kind of caring goes a long way, in my
The usual names come
to mind otherwise; DiCaprio, Scorsese, Depp, DeNiro, Eastwood… and so
on. I love what they have in common, besides their respective abilities as
actors. What that is, is their approach to stardom, something I would like
to emulate in my own life and careers. These names are not ones you read
about in the tabloids, with all of the drama and controversy. For the most
part, these guys keep to themselves, and don’t have the lust for
attention so many young “stars” these days have. Today there are too
many people being made famous for nothing more than being complete losers,
and for some reason the American people eat it up. I want to have a
successful career, and keep my family off the radar and private.
Your favourite movies?
Tombstone, Alien, The Usual
Suspects, Taxi Driver,
Platoon, Halloween, The Fifth
The Exorcist, Dawn of the Dead (original), amongst others. I will even throw
Sucker Punch in there for multiple reasons. First off, it is really a fun,
female driven version of 300 at its core, and really I think Snyder wanted that
foremost. However, and this is what
I think most viewers (and reviewers) missed, there are the underlying stories
that course through the story, and the more one watches the film, the more you
start to question what is really happening during these fantastical fight scenes
or “dances” that Babydoll performs. There
is an undertone of abuse and corruption that permeates the world Snyder created,
and at first glance people don’t always get that. The pacing could have been
different, and there wasn’t a lot of room for character development, but at
the same time it creates a frantic vibe throughout the film, with the girls
constantly being focused on the escape, and my reaction was no less sad at the
conclusion because I couldn’t care about the characters….quite the opposite.
Many may choose to disagree with me, but this film holds a unique place in my
... and of course, films you really deplore?
Well, too many to list. Let me blanket most of my response to cover all
of the smut horror films out there that simply fill the screen with blood
and guts and leave nothing to the imagination… *cough cough… Hostel,
Saw*. I wish people were
forced to think more these days, and that filmmakers took more time to
develop their ideas with that in mind instead of dumbing it down for
audiences too lazy to appreciate subtlety and nuance.
Facebook, whatever else?
Feeling lucky ?
any of my partnershops yourself
for more, better results ?
The links below
will take you
just there !!!
I am currently in the process of developing an official website, but for
now I have an entertainment page that can be found on Facebook under
Brandon S Stumpf. I am also on Twitter, although I am not that avid of a
tweeter, and people can also check out the pages for my projects on FB as
well. BEG, Crossing Denver, and The Fixer all have pages, and people can
see any other projects I am involved with there as well, including some
stunt footage and pictures and links to my commercial and film work.
Anything else you are dying to
mention and I have merely forgotten to ask?
most important part… my family. None of this would be remotely possible
without the love and support of my wife, Jennifer, and the adoration of my
daughters, Madison and Avery. No matter how hard of frustrating it gets
working in this industry, I always know where my motivation lies.
Everything I do is for them, to try to make a better life for us all, and
that is what really drives me. I
can only hope to make them proud and be able to give them the lives they
deserve. Success is hollow if
you don’t have the right person or people to share it with.
Thank you, Michael. It was a pleasure to share
my experiences with everyone. Keep your ears open, there will be more in
the near future!