Your new series Tale
of Tails - in a few words, what is it about?
Steve Kopera wrote the short synopsis and I think itís pretty dead on: ďTails is not a white-collar gentlemen's club. It's a
borderline-legal bar with topless dancers and a back room where anything
goes for the right price. Nick, the owner, keeps Tails afloat by taking
advantage of the desperate women who dance for money and the desperate
men who pay for female attention. When a dead body shows up in the
bathroom, Nick's control begins to unravel. Hunted by an ambitious,
relentless cop, Nick's enemies begin to surround him. He must decide how
many friends to sacrifice in order to save himself.Ē
how did the project come into being in the first place, and what can you
tell us about Tale
of Tails' co-creators Tevis R. Marcum and Steve Kopera [Steve
Kopera interview - click here]?
is one of those projects thatís been passing through hands for a decade
or so. Tevis Marcum gathered a ton of stories many true and some cooked up
from real incidents and thought it would be an entertaining idea and
started writing a pilot and an outline. After some disappointments and
detours he got together with Steve Kopera who had just recently released Boyne Falls and was itching to make it work. Steve is an excellent
writer, so he started massaging the pilot and outline, and after that they
looked for an other partner to help get it off the ground. Tevis
came to me with the idea of having me play the main guy ďNickĒ, and
although I really liked it I felt it was a heavy load to carry as an indie
actor so I had some thoughts and suggestions that would balance the story
as well as cater to an audience that has seen shows like Sopranos,
Anarchy etc. disappear. I was stoked when they liked my ideas, and
soon after we started pre-production.
basic question, why a strip club?
Tevis, he has worked in them for some years and the stories are just
simply fantastic. There is something about the peephole to look
inside and to see many of the realities of some strip clubs. Just
like Breaking Bad or Ozark we get to sneak a peek into a world
many have a curiosity of.
(Other) sources of
inspiration when writing Tale
I loved co-writing Tale
of Tails, it was a lot of fun and we all bounced
ideas and story lines off each other, and I think it really pushed the
of Tails being a rather epic ensemble piece, how easy or hard is
it to not lose sight of the individual narrative threads and keep them
integrated into the whole?
can get tricky for sure, we tried to outline characters so weíd have
individual arches that worked in conjunction with the main plots. Now
that season 1 is virtually complete we are talking season 2 and where to
take the main story and characters next, and itís a ton of fun and we are
itching to do it again! I think like all series the first episodes
kind of set the table but after those two episodes it really picks up and
itís not letting go of you! Our test audiences all say the same
thing, it picks up steam and has you wanting more as it goes!
What can you tell us about
your directorial approach to your story at hand?
of the large cast this hasnít been quite as easy as the films, but we had
two solid table reads and that helped a lot. But ultimately
directing is having the capacity to convey story, feel and vision to your
cast and crew, so thatís what I do, development to post production.
to my information, Tale
of Tails is your first TV series - so how does shooting a
serialized show compare to shooting a feature film?
The simple answer is that the plate got a lot bigger with a lot more on
it. But I have to admit that I really enjoyed it, it was a blast
to make this. I could tell our cast and crew could feel we had
something special going and they really delivered. Also I have to
commend my team with my wife Kaiti Wallen who plays a lead character, she
was our nuts-and-bolt producer, and much of this was shot over the summer
with a pandemic that threw us a big curveball. Tevis Marcum, who
was always on hand filling in as and where needed while playing a lead
role, and Steve Kopera who has been editing and taking care of the
incredible amount of footage as well as pitching in all kinds of places
also play the lead in Tale
of Tails - so what can you tell us about your character,
what did you draw upon to bring him to life, and did you create him with
yourself in mind from the get-go?
Yes, I play Nick and heís not out there trying to be liked. Heís a
fun character to play though, definitely a very different character for
me. I think the closest thing Iíve played is Mikhail in Betrayed,
but itís different. I honestly donít see Nick as a villain. Itís like
Breaking Bad and Ozark, the circumstances kind of
him and yes, heís selfish to a high degree, thatís evident but mostly
heís making selfish reactive choices to get what he wants, that he feels
he deserves even.
Do talk about the rest
of your cast, and why exactly these people?
Kaitiís roles were written with her in mind, we wanted a strong
female lead but we wanted her vulnerable and we found the dilemma of
two sisters to a single mom where one became an officer and one a
stripper. It allows for incredible drama honestly. Much
the same with Tevis playing Roadie, heís Nicks right-hand man in a
way, but itís hard to tell where he really stands on things because
of his loyalty to Nick. Another character I really enjoy is
Fisk, our own slick and influential lawyer played by Jerry Hayes, one always feels heís got an ace up his sleeve and a step ahead of the
game. Grover McCants plays another main character that is hard
to pin down. He seems too close to be objective but still
willing to go uncomfortable places. Brett Stanfield is the
perfect yin to Alisonís yang, and them two work off each other really
well! Jovie Lyn plays Nick girlfriend Vikki, and thatís a tricky
relationship, Vikki starts sniffing out issues working as the bar
manager, and it causes a rift between her and Nick. There are a
ton more solid performances but I would love to touch on our guest
stars, first off Richard Tyson is just so awesome as Anthony, whoís
essentially the guy who raised Nick and his older brother. Richard is across from Michael Emery who plays Nick and Joeís real father,
and heís straight up fireworks as well as Jesi Jensen as the birth
mother. We werenít sure about doing more flashbacks to their
times, but after seeing them on screen there is no denying us needing
to revisit them. We also have Yan Birch as Fransisco, and heís
simply incredible in a role I doubt youíve seen him, and thatís
another character we want to expand on in season 2. UFC and
Rizin MMA pro fighter Daron Cruickshank has a cameo guest appearance
and heís just awesome and provides a nice action sequence of scenes!
I had the pleasure of working with Blanca Blanco on my
trafficking and dirty politics feature Betrayed, and sheís simply
stunning as Lola and her storyline makes for some stand-out scenes,
not to mention we get to see this goddess on the pole! Last but not
least we snagged the always kick ass Jimmie Chiappelli, who has finally
been able to let the cat out of the bag of his big role in the
upcoming Guardians of the Galaxy 3, and he really brings it as the
biker club leader Gemini. Phew yeah, youíre right we have a
huge cast and I could totally keep going as we have so many stand-out
A few words
about the shoot as such, and the on-set atmosphere?
Even with the
Corona virus around we took the steps we needed for safety
and the atmosphere was fun and light much of the time, even with all the
restrictions. Iím really happy how willing people were to deal
with all of that, Iím super proud of the decisions we made to keep
people safe. Obviously eight episodes ranging from 20 to 25
minutes makes for a lot of shooting days, it was hard wrapping season 1
because of how close we had become...
$64-question of course, when and where can Tale
of Tails be seen?
Yes thatís exactly it!! We are in the very early shopping stages
as we do not yet have all episodes finalized. But I think right
now we are eyeing several outlets and in early talks with a few. I
hope we can strike a deal that starts up season 2 quickly, but we are
prepared to go the Cobra Kai route and let out audience
Anything you can tell us about
audience and critical reception of Tale
of Tails yet?
Iím glad you asked, Iíve never seen anything like it. The
accolades have been incredible and so far weíve made 13 out of 16
festivals with an incredible amounts of wins in all kinds of different
categories from best TV show/pilot to acting, directing, editing and
more, and itís getting very common for us to get music and sound
awards. I want to give big thanks to Randy Lynch and Allen Lynch
for the score and the incredible amount of music, and hats off to Kaizad
Patel and Firoze Patel who have worked tirelessly in getting us great
sound design and mastering. I think the best I can tell you is
follow Tale of Tails on Facebook and weíll keep you clued in!
Feeling lucky ?
any of my partnershops yourself
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As far as I know, the first season
of Tale of
Tails is in the can as we speak - so will there ever be a second
season, and if so, what do you have in store for your characters the
second go round?
Iím sorry but with season 1 not yet complete and not out I canít
give that away since it would contain spoilers. But we have
outlined our main characters and the main plots... The audience will
ultimately decide about a season 2 but I feel good about our chances!
Any (other) future projects you'd like
We just recently released the trailer for Ash and Bone, and that was very
well received on horror sites around the world. That should be
complete by the end of February and the shopping will begin. I am
hoping for either a summer or October theatrical run. I would say
I dipped my toe when I made Abstruse and
Enigma (although they were
much more thrillers). Then I paid homage to the supernatural
horror genre with Agramonís Gate, and now here I am with a violent
dark horror story in Ash and Bone and I love it!
Your/your series' website, social media,
Iím Harley Wallen on Facebook, OfficialHarleyWallen on Instagram and
HarleyTheSwede on Twitter.
The TV series has its own Facebook, and so do most of my movies as well
as the production company myself and my wife Kaiti founded, Painted
Anything else you're dying to mention and
I have merely forgotten to ask?
I think we covered a lot and as always, my pleasure! Always such a
good interview! Thanks Michael!
Thanks for the