Your new movie The Fare -
in a few words, what is it about?
is basically about what happens when you find love in The Twilight
Zone. Weíre not actually associated, of course, but that
sense of mystery and suspense is very central to our story.
How did the project come about in the first place?
article in the Mirror or the Telegraph or something about Japanese taxi
cabs picking up phantom fares near the Fukushima nuclear disaster. I read
the article and sent it to Brinna Kelly [Brinna
Kelly interview - click here], thinking that it could make a
really creepy horror film. She took the idea and did something completely
different, but a million times better, with the same basic concept.
What can you tell us about The Fare's
writer/producer/star Brinna Kelly [Brinna
Kelly interview - click here], and what was your collaboration like, in
pre- and post-production as well as on set? And since this is not the first
time you're working together, what can you tell us about your previous
collaborations, and how did you two first meet even?
question. I can tell you that Brinna Kelly is one of the most innately
talented filmmakers Iíve ever met. Her sense of story genuinely amazes
me. She always puts the audience first and she knows exactly the kind of
movie she has in mind when sheís writing. She
is one of my closest professional collaborators and I think we work
together well because we respect each otherís work, but we trust each
other creatively, so we are free to engage in honest (and sometimes
spirited) debate with one another.
previous feature collaboration with her was 2016ís The Midnight
Man, which came from our mutual love of the action-comedy-thrillers of
Shane Black. I think we both learned a lot from that experience and that
every step of the way. We met a few
years prior to Midnight Man through mutual friends, and I had been
previously familiar with some of her workÖ an animated YouTube series
she wrote and produced called Iím a Marvel, Iím a DC, and we just
got talking about our mutual love of some of the same things. Fast
friends, I guess you could say, and we quickly decided we wanted to work
The Fare takes
place mostly in a very confined place, inside a taxi cab - so how limiting
but maybe also liberating was this for you as a director, and what were
some of your techniques to keep things interesting?
people donít know that we also shot the film in six days. Filming inside
the cab and keeping it visually interesting was critical, but I also feel
strongly as a director that Iím not interested in just planting cameras
and covering the scene to give myself choices in the edit. To me, itís
much more important to use the camera and lens to forward the story or the
characters, and to use the frame to tell the audience something. So,
finding ways to do that within the six days of shooting was very
challenging indeed. We had to shoot fast and we had to
be specific. Iím a crazy storyboarder, I hand draw boards for weeks,
every frame. So that helps me keep the shot-list focused.
I have an incredible cinematographer in Joshua Harrison, and he brought in
an absolutely fantastic camera, grip, and electric crew. Josh devised a
plan to lay a horseshoe-shaped dolly track around the front of the cab and
shoot on two Arri Alexaís with zoom lenses, so that we could quickly
modify and get the camera anywhere around the car with very little down
between Joshís time-saver dolly approach, and going in with a very
specific idea of what shots to focus on, plus the fact that it has a time
loop element, which makes the repetition of certain shots important, we
were able to be clever and make our days.
terms keeping the visuals interesting, it goes back to putting story and
character first, and using the camera to focus on that. I had two
incredible actors to photograph and a great cinematographer shooting them,
so keeping things visually came organically.
talk about your overall directorial approach to your story at hand!
the screenplay, Brinna Kelly had drawn from some of the best sci-fi
television in historyÖ there was influence from The Twilight
the original Star Trek, and
The X-Files. For me personally,
Iíve always loved Alfred Hitchcock and am fascinated by his use of
staging, framing, and cutting. The one thing Hitchcock had in common with
all those amazing TV shows was economy in storytelling. Owing
to budget and utilizing deeply clever writing, those shows, like many of
Hitchcockís films, had to create a lot using very little and really fire
up the audienceís imaginations.
now are so used to seeing everythingÖ thereís literally nothing we
canít create on screen anymore, so the challenge becomes, instead of
trying to be something that weíre not, letís lean into those old
techniques. It was important to sort of re-train the audience to feel that
thereís a larger mystery out there, even when we canít show much of
using sound, using light from unseen sources, using negative space or just
framing something a certain wayÖ engaging the audienceís imagination
to do some of the heavy lifting, that was my main focus.
can you tell us about your key cast, and why exactly these people?
much I can say about the key cast other than theyíre amazing. Brinna
Kelly [Brinna Kelly interview
- click here] has been an actor since she was a child. Sheís tremendously gifted
and has amazing technical prowess. As I mentioned earlier, I think sheís
a triple-treat, a multi-talented filmmaker in all respects. Gino
Anthony Pesi came to the project like a bolt of lightning and he lit up
the skies for us in the process. He is a very thoughtful actor, with so
much heart and soul. But heís also handsome and has this masculine
presence that fits the character of Harris incredibly well, and also makes
him so interesting to watch. Heís sort of a dude, but also kind of an
old soul. Of
course, all of that would fall flat if the two of them didnít have
amazing chemistry with each other, but as soon as the two of them were in
that car and riffing with one another, you could see it in the air and it
makes the movie work beyond what I could have hoped for.
few words about the shoot as such, and the on-set atmosphere?
shoot went incredibly smoothly, to the point that Iím still scratching
my head in disbelief. We filmed the movie in six days, made all of our
days, never went over 12 hours. The atmosphere was very giving. In fact,
in our last day in the studio, we wrapped early enough that we were able
to re-shoot a few scenes that we felt we could make even better. There
was tragically little drama behind the scenes. It was a warm, creative,
and nurturing set. I wish Iíd been able to spend more time on it.
you can tell us about audience and critical reception of The
audiences and critical reception to the film have been amazing, people
have been so supportive. I wonít spoil anything about the direction the
story takes, but some people have approached us at film festivals or at
Q&As to gush about how excited they were by the finale. Itís
been absolutely wonderful and Iím just so incredibly happy that
audiences seem to be so moved by Harris and Penny, and drawn in by their
Any future projects you'd like to share?
aim to further my filmmaking collaboration with Brinna Kelly [Brinna
Kelly interview - click here] on another
script sheís written Ė a fantastic domestic thriller/horror film with
elements of fantasy in it. Itís a brilliant screenplay and if The Fare
can reach the right people and start the right kinds of
conversations for us, hopefully we can get it financed. We have a great
actor interested in the lead role, heís never played a role like this
and people would eat it up. But The Fare
needs to get people interested in talking to us first!
got you into filmmaking in the first place, and did you receive any formal
training on the subject?
My dad took me to see RoboCop when I was five years old, not realizing
that it wasÖ you knowÖ freakiní Robocop. Iím pretty sure somewhere
in my little developing brain, something broke and it was in that theater
I became obsessed with the idea of making movies. My
parents didnít have a video cameraÖ it was the 80s when they were
pretty rare and expensiveÖ so every time I was near one, I picked it up
and started trying to tell a story about whatever was in front of me. I
went to school for it and have been very fortunate to have learned from
some absolutely brilliant people along the way.
What can you tell us about your
filmwork prior to The Fare?
2009, I wrote and co-produced an indie called My Name is Jerry which
starred Doug Jones, Don Stark, Catherine Hicks, and at the timeÖ this
was pre-Walking DeadÖ an unknown Steven Yeun. It became a minor festival
darling and Doug gave a very sweet performance that was extra wonderful to
behold, if youíve only ever known him as monsters or aliens. Then
in 2016, Cinedigm released The Midnight Man. Between those, I
directed a lot of shorts, and worked in different capacities across a
bunch of TV shows like ER, The West Wing, Friday Night
Lights, and Itís Always Sunny in Philadelphia.
would you describe yourself as a director?
question. If Iím being honest, I suppose I would say I come in
overly-prepared, carrying binders with storyboards and script-notes
bursting at the seams, and then I throw all of it out and try to be
present in the moment with my cast, with the camera, and with the sets. I
become like a kid in a toy store and I just want to watch great or fun or
unique things happen.
who inspire you?
Feeling lucky ?
any of my partnershops yourself
for more, better results ?
The links below
will take you
was a Spielberg and Cameron kid. I was a Shyamalan teen-ager. Unbreakable changed my mind about what movies could look and sound
like. Please donít mention Glass. In
college, Hitchcock became an obsession. I canít start going too far down
this list, Iíll end up leaving off names that inspire me and Iíll beat
myself up later. Sam Mendes, Rian Johnson, Justin Lin, Edgar Wright. It
goes on and on and on.
Your favourite movies?
need to be clear that I acknowledge a difference between the greatest
movie and my favorite, but Jaws is my favorite movie hands down.
Since I was 17 and saw it, nothing has knocked it off the podium. Beyond
that, I have a massive list all tied for second. I donít think I have
that kind of time.
and of course, films you really deplore?
donít like to call people out, because I feel like something can be said
for most films. No one sets out to make a bad film. But since I already
brought it up earlierÖ Glass - seriously, donít get me started.
movie's website, Facebook, whatever else?
you're dying to mention and I have merely forgotten to ask?
thanks for having me!
for the interview!