Your new movie Betrayed
- in a few words, what is it about?
In very few words itís about trafficking, the dirty dark underbelly of
organized crime and corruption, and the effects of making ďthe lesser
of two evilsĒ choices.
Just curious, since Betrayed
has quite a few central characters, and not all of them nice ones, who did
you identify with the most, and why?
I am always a fan of
the crossovers, the ones that sit on the fence to see them wrestling with
choices and justify why they do what they do, and on occasion we get to see
them wake up and change the course of things. In Betrayed
I really liked
Darryl (Sean Rey) and Mike Wolf (Billy Wirth).
exploring the blurred line between politics and crime - what are your
personal thoughts on the subject, and are there any books and/or movies or
whatever that have influenced you on that aspect of your movie?
grew up reading Stephen King and Dean Koontz actually (hopefully youíll
see that in Agramonís Gate early next year), but my mom read Agatha
Christie, and crime drama has always intrigued me. Some of my
favorite movies include The Usual Suspects,
Se7en, Goodfellas. The inspiration for Betrayed
though came from some church services at my church where I
learned how much human trafficking is going on right here under our noses.
Iím not a documentary filmmaker so I decided Iíd make a film that put
these things in our backyards and gave the victims a voice and a face.
sources of inspiration when writing Betrayed?
I must admit interviewing some victims of human trafficking in order to
get as much right as I could. It was really dark, painful to hear
some of their stories.
tends to get a little violent every now and again - so do talk about the
bloody parts in your movie, how were they achieved, and where (if at all)
did you draw the line regarding violence in your movie as such?
I wanted a bit of ďshock and aweĒ - I believe itís that kind of movie.
My production partner Nancy Oeswein is also a terrific FX make up artist,
and with the very talented Nicole Diehl we were able to tackle some of the
effects I saw some people turn their heads away and I heard some
ďeeewwwísĒ. Each film will scream at a director what it needs
and this one felt it needed that edge. Iím usually not much for
being overly graphic with sex and violence, but I felt the edge of some
was a good choice.
can you tell us about your directorial approach to your story at hand?
It all starts with casting, right fit, and truth on screen, and
especially for main characters you want someone with screen presence.
I like a few table reads, and for the talent that flies in I like to meet
with them the day before they start filming to go over their characters'
details in choices, why do they do what they do etc, and after that there
is usually just little tweaks here and there reminding them where they
came from and where theyíre going in order to keep that red herring
throughout and then just focus on capturing it best we can.
talk about your key cast, and why exactly these people?
so spoiled with these amazing iconic actors in all honesty, and the
performances they gave!! John Savage was immediately my choice for
the Mayor and I felt he truly owned that, and by the awards Iíd say they
agree! Richard Tyson is such a great villain I was super excited he
was in especially after covering with him how demanding his role was going
to be, but it really needed his touch on Mr Stone. Another
performance I felt deserved some notice was Billy Wirth as Mike Wolf, it
was a really different approach especially with Billy who can play pretty
big at times to bring it, in and Iíve heard people likening his
performance to Clint Eastwood and Charles Bronson and thatís really what
I wanted! I had worked with TJ Storm on two other films before so I
knew right away I wanted him as Alpha, I never saw anyone else as an
option for that character, and I was really stoked when my fellow Swede Yan
Birch (The Stairmaster himself) said yes to play Coroner Bjork,
that quirky character needed his feel and came to life. Another
exciting part was giving Blanca Blanco, her first villain role and I think
she really pulled it off and even more exciting she won her first Best
Supporting actress and sheís so good person and so talented Iím happy
for her. Not to be outdone, my beautiful and talented wife Kaiti
Wallen won an award for Best Lead Actress in Betrayed, her most demanding
role to date. Aphrodite Nikolovski was nominated for Best Lead
Actress, but two missed performances came from Sean Rey as Darryl and
Damien Chinappi as Karpov, I truly felt they were amazing!
few words about the shoot as such, and the on-set atmosphere?
It was a rollercoaster honestly, the strong emotional scenes we had
tears and hugs, and then weíd have action scenes with high fives and
smiles all around. Itís a really heavy subject so at times that
charged the air, but in some of the other scenes we got a break and had a
blast. I always try to keep the set productive and creative. As an
actor first, I know thatís where you usually get the best
performances. Iím not going to lie though, seeing my wife Kaiti
and Calhoun Koenig and Angelina Danielle Cama, who played human
trafficking victims and are all very close to me, was rough.
you can tell us about audience and critical reception of Betrayed
So far most of what I hear has been very positive and
reviews are good, sales are great! But youíre always going to have
the ďhatersĒ who miss the forest for the trees I guess. But
incredible compliments at the premiere and now a some really good reviews,
and obviously the fact itís practically flying off the shelves in stores
is a very good sign!
Any future projects you'd like to share?
next year will be a very busy year as two films I made before are coming
out Abstruse starring Tom Sizemore and Dennis Haskins in a very
edgy psychological thriller. As well as Enigma a supernatural thriller
starring Dennis Haskins and TJ Storm. Also almost complete is my first
stab at a horror film with Agramonís Gate and I have a feeling
itíll make some noise! But the BIG one is Abeyance starring Scout
Taylor Compton, Billy Wirth, Richard Tyson, Mel Novak,Vida Ghaffari [Vida
Ghaffari interview - click here] and Yan Birch and the topic
at hand is about as current as it gets with scientists playing god and
testing boundaries that maybe we shouldnít cross, and I could see this
one go very far.
got you into making movies in the first place, and did you receive any
formal training on the subject?
I actually started after
the film incentives in Michigan got cancelled. I didnít think
there was a very strong indie community and I felt it would kill our film
industry, so we made the decision to go after it and start making movies.
It took two short films and then an attempt at a feature film to make me
realize I simply didnít know enough and needed to learn more and I
needed to learn fast. I then brought in a mentor in Jerry Hayes to co-direct
Moving Parts with me, and during that pre-production up until the
beginning of shooting Abstruse I had taken two online classes for filmmaking - I really enjoyed
RocketJump! And Iím still always searching
for information, always trying to take it to a new level.
What can you tell us
about your filmwork prior to Betrayed?
am proud of each step and each film Iíve made and each has its own
independent and unique voice. But the two that are already out,
Moving Parts on Vudu and Amazon is a cat-and-mouse game crime thriller
with a complex story line that will take you for a great ride, and Iím
super proud of Bennettís Song that we just released in August, my
partner Nancy Oeswein wrote a beautiful script and we made a film
theyíve had a hard time defining as it has won awards in multiple genres.
Itís a really beautiful story and itís doing well enough we are just
about to start shooting the sequel!
would you describe yourself as a director?
an actor's director, but Iíve learned enough on the cinematography side
to capture it right, and enough on the editing side to know how to assemble
it in post and what it needs from each scene.
who inspire you?
Quentin Tarantino, Christopher Nolan, David Fincher, Francis Ford
Coppola, Martin Scorsese are up there.
Your favourite movies?
The Usual Suspects, Se7en, Fight Club, Goodfellas,
Godfather, Deer Hunter... I could keep going.
and of course, films you really deplore?
Nothing I really deplore but I have a hard time with enhanced reality or
B-movies. I'm not a fan of fake wrestling either haha, no but really
exaggerated acting that feels fake it tough to watch because I canít
lose myself in the story or relate to characters.
movie's website, Facebook, whatever else?
Feeling lucky ?
any of my partnershops yourself
for more, better results ?
The links below
will take you
Iím all over
the place haha, my Twitter and Snapchat was made in my MMA fighting days, so
itís @HarleyTheSwede as that was my fighting name. My Instagram is
OfficialHarleyWallen and Facebook is just my name Harley Wallen or Painted
Creek Productions on Facebook - will have most of the film stuff and news.
you're dying to mention and I have merely forgotten to ask?
just want to say a huge thank you to my manager and publicist Joe
Williamson for all he does! And a huge thank you to the very warm
reception of Betrayed at our very first Hollywood
appreciate you taking the time to find out more about me and what me and
my team are working on!
for the interview!