Your new movie Exit 0
- in a few words, what is it about?
psychological journey seen through the eyes of the lead
character Billy Curtis (played by Gabe Fazio).
What were your
sources of inspiration when writing Exit
literally had no films I used as inspiration.
I viewed the films like The Changeling with George C.
Scott, or Burnt Offerings, or The
Tenant by Polanski
come to mind, but only because they took place in
large haunted homes.
I set out to do is tell a story that takes place mainly
in one location, and has a feeling of claustrophobia, so
the audience can feel it, almost like they (the
audience) are the main character.
You wrote the story for Exit
0 together with Gregory Voigt, who also produced - so what can you
tell us about him, and what was your collaboration like?
and I met through social media. Greg
had produced and directed several short films.
and his family saw my last film Turnabout, and we struck
up a conversation about collaborating.
Greg wanted to move on to do a feature film. I had sent
him roughly 50 pages of a script I was working on called
"Exit 0", and Greg and I would bounce around ideas,
especially when it came to the ending, his input was
0 is pretty much told from the movie's protagonist Billy's point
of view, frequently favours his perception of what might really be going
on - so how hard is it to not just lose the plot telling a story that way?
It is extremely difficult. This is why it's important to
keep the story moving along with several subplots
and clues, including perhaps the house being haunted,
and also the writer character (played by Peter Greene), which
has a lot to do with Billy's past. There's a mystery in
there as well regarding the ending, so trying to tie
all that together was vitally important. This is
why the character of the detective comes in handy,
because he is the outsider who kind of wraps up all the
loose ends, through solving an age-old crime.
can you tell us about Exit 0's
approach to horror?
I wanted to stray from the whole gore factor. So it was
important to show some things, then pull away just a bit
at the last minute. This goes back to seeing the
story through the POV of Billy's character. I wanted to
keep it as real as possible, and also have it be more of
trip. I think a lot of times, the usage of blood
and guts in films is too played out, and it is basically
lazy storytelling. I really wanted to tell a story, to
have the audience feel like they were a fly on the
wall, and like they were in on it with Billy & Lisa.
I think location plays a big role in
Exit 0 - so where was it
actually filmed, why there, and what was it like shooting there?
was shot on location at a very old Victorian inn/bed
and breakfast, not far from Cape May, New Jersey. The
name is the Dr's Inn. The home was built in the 1850's.
I was searching for a location for the inn, and
literally stumbled across it one day when I was driving,
and stopped at a traffic light. The beautiful Victorian
home is owned by Lorraine Nicholas. She was incredibly
kind in not only allowing us to shoot there, but most of
the cast and crew stayed there as well. Beside that, it
was almost like another character in the movie. I love
that place, I have very fond memories of shooting there.
We did very little in terms of decorating it, or using
props. What you see and how the place really is.
few words about your overall directorial approach to your story at hand?
guess the term that comes to mind is "an actor's
director", and that may be partly true. I try and
stay out of the way of what the actors are doing. I
like them to figure it out, and obviously if they
are going off course, I come in with suggestions, or
tweaks here and there. I was quite lucky on this film. I
felt like everybody came with their A-game.
talk about Exit 0's cast,
and why exactly these people?
I had never worked with Gabe Fazio or Augie Duke before.
I believe myself and Mary (executive producer) and Greg
Voigt were considering many people, and literally
going through lists of people. We had approached some,
and a few really good actors considered the part of
Billy. But I had remembered the name of Gabe Fazio
through several contacts in New York, and he is part of
the Actors Studio. So I basically contacted him, sent
him the script, next thing I know he calls up and tells
me "I'm in." When considering the role of
Lisa, it too was going through several names, then at
the suggestion of Gabe we contacted Augie, who had
worked with Gabe on another film. She loved the script
as well, they have great chemistry, and I think it
shows. I had known Federico Castelluccio, who is
probably best know from The Sopranos, and we are
friends and have worked together in the past, so I just
approached him for Detective Mueller, and I just think
he is wonderful, as is Kenneth McGregor as Frederick,
the innkeeper. I've known Ken for years, a very well-polished actor, and casting him was another move that
paid off. Peter Greene is a dear friend, he was in my
last film Turnabout, so I asked him to come in for
a day to play this eccentric writer character.
He played it very creepy, and I think again another good
choice. I really lucked out, all the smaller roles, they
are also important roles. Danny O'Shea as Charles, the
guide at the lighthouse is fantastic, and I had known
about his work for years. Mostly New York-based actors,
except for Augie Duke who lives in Los Angeles. The
bottom line is, if we didn't buy into Augie & Gabe
as Billy and Lisa, this film would fail. So their incredible
performances is why the film works so well.
What can you tell us about
the shoot as such, and the on-set atmosphere?
film was shot in 12 days, and like I said, most of us
stayed in the Dr's Inn. The shoot was relaxed, like a big family.
Everybody worked extremely hard. The cinematographer
William Murray is a close friend, we have shot several
projects together, so I knew I could rely on him
and his eye for detail. The crew was small, maybe 10-12
people total - which really for a film like this is
plenty. But it was literally like a big family, and
all working together for one common goal, to accomplish
shooting a film in 12 days. Some of the days were very
long, but no-one ever complained.
you can tell us about audience and critical reception of Exit
reception has been very positive. It has won over twenty
awards at film festivals. It has screened at over thirty
film festivals, and really everything has been positive.
I do enjoy the Q&A sessions, because everyone
seems to have a different take on what the film was
about, or their experience when watching it, so I just
like to sit back and listen to what others have to say
Any future projects you'd like to share?
have several. I'm working on a project called Blood
Draw written by Garry Michael White, who wrote the incredible
film Scarecrow from 1973 starring Al Pacino
and Gene Hackman.
So we are in the midst of trying to get investors on
board for that. I also have a pet project of mine
called The Art of Dying; the Act of
Living, which would reunite me with Peter Greene
again. Peter is most known for Pulp Fiction, The Usual
Suspects, Mask. He literally told me it's the best
script he has read since
Clean, Shaven (1993). Aiming to shoot that
later this year in Atlantic City, NJ.
got you into filmmaking in the first place, and did you receive any formal
training on the subject?
what you would call a film school dropout. I started
out as a professional sports photographer working
for Ring Magazine when I was 17 years old. I covered boxing
matches in New York, Atlantic City, Las Vegas. I did
this for ten years. But when I was 20 years old, I
wrote my first screenplay. So, I tried the film school
route, but it just wasn't
for me. I ended up dropping out, and I wrote, produced
and directed my first short film A Distant
Chord in 1993. I shot it on 16mm, black and white. I then followed that up with a short film
called Harsh Light (1997) starring New
York actors, and my mentor, the late great Nathan
George (One Flew Over the Cuckoos Nest, Klute,
Serpico). It was his last performance in a film. I
learned more about filmmaking doing those two
short films, than I would've learned in four
years of film school.
What can you tell us about your
filmwork prior to Exit 0?
have written about 35 screenplays. I was a finalist
in the Academy Nicholl Fellowships in
when I was 23. I sold my first screenplay to director
Joe Brewster (The Keeper, The Killing Zone,
Slaying Goliath) in 2003. I sold my second screenplay The
Messenger (which they changed to The Fallen Faithful) in 2008, and they shot that in 2010. I won
Best Screenplay at the Beverly Hills Film Festival
2011 for that film. After that experience, I
self-financed my first feature film called Pacing
the Cage, which I have done extensive edits on, and
am re-releasing it under a different title this
year. In 2016 my second feature film Turnabout,
which I wrote, produced and directed, received a
lot of acclaim at various film festivals, and is being
re-released this year by a company called BayView
Entertainment, so keep your eye out for that as
would you describe yourself as a director?
Detail-oriented, vision-oriented. I let actors do their
thing - within reason. As long as they tell the
story, that's all that counts. I also despise when
films are very poorly acted, or seem like people are
reciting the script. You won't see that in my movies.
I try and make it as real as possible.
who inspire you?
Cassavetes, Hal Ashby, Robert Altman, Roman Polanski,
Bob Rafelson, Jerry Schatzberg, Arthur Penn.
Your favourite movies?
Easy Pieces, The King of Marvin Gardens, Scarecrow,
Cinderella Liberty, Midnight Cowboy, Fat
City, Fingers, The Last Detail, Day of the Locust,
and of course, films you really deplore?
Anything big and usually mainstream. I don't like blockbuster
films. I usually avoid anything that is really popular at
the moment. So my list could be endless. I'm not a
film snob, I'm just set in my ways.
Feeling lucky ?
any of my partnershops yourself
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The links below
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movie's website, Facebook, whatever else?
you're dying to mention and I have merely forgotten to ask?
pretty much covered it. Thank you for
for the interview!