Your new movie Rumble
Strip - in a few words, what is it about?
about an ex-mercenary in post-apocalyptic Los Angeles, who must
rescue his girlfriend from the last dictator on planet earth.
Strip being a post doomsday movie - is that a genre at all dear to
you, and some of your genre favourites?
actually not my favorite genre. It was an avenue to write something
without all the hustle and bustle of modern day Los Angeles. I like sparse
films with fewer cast members. My favorite genres are noir, western,
thrillers and heist picture.
Other sources of
inspiration when writing Rumble
was on tour back in 2012 traveling with a group of musicians playing shows
across the country. Late one night, a friend of mine was driving and fell
asleep at the wheel. I was in the passenger seat and woke up to the
horrific sound of the car running over the rumble strip. That sound
sparked a feeling in me that has never left. It was the basis of the film.
A feeling like I was always on the verge of running off the road.
Post doomsday movies need of course
special and/or especially dressed locations - so what can you tell us
about yours, how did you find them, and what was it like filming there?
best friend got his Bachelor's Degree in Los Angeles History. He knew all
these locations that were abandoned. We spent almost a year scouting
locations and creating a list of ideal spots. Since there was essentially
no budget, we hoped the locations would give authenticity to the feel of
can you tell us about your overall directorial approach to your story at
was mostly flying by the seat of my pants. I also play a role in the film
so it was a lot of trial and error. I had never undertaken a job so
demanding as directing and also acting at the same time. I had help from
the other actors and my father, who is the producer of the film. I did
however grow up acting in theater and watched many great directors work
with actors. This shaped my ability to direct in ways I probably can't
You also play the lead in Rumble
Strip - so what can you tell us about your character, what did you
draw upon to bring him to life, and have you written him with yourself in
wrote the character with myself in mind. I was trying to create an
archetypical antihero that was reminiscent of some of the western films I
had long admired (Bad Day at Black Rock, The Searchers, Man of the
Winchester 73, etc). I used my own feelings about my life at the time as
inspiration for the character. I was 24 when we started filming and felt
frustrated about where the world was heading. I imagine the character I
play feels largely the same way about his world.
Do talk about the rest of your cast, and why
exactly these people?
have been blessed to grow up around a vibrant community of actors and
artists all my life. Every role in Rumble
Strip is played by someone that
I have either been in plays with, or short films, music videos etc. It was
truly a family affair.
A few words about the shoot as
such, and the on-set atmosphere?
filmed on weekends for nearly 4 years. It was gruelling. Lugging camera
equipment into remote areas of Los Angeles and Victorville, having very
little amenities for the cast, using locations without permits etc. The
stress of filming this was something I'm still trying to understand. It
was a hard shoot and everyone involved gave %110.
As you've also done the
score for Rumble Strip,
what can you tell us about the music in your movie, and your musical
never imagined I would do the music. It came down to a meeting I had with
a potential candidate to do the score and he told me just to do it myself.
Create sounds that interact with the actors' voices in dynamic ways. I
figured it would be cheaper if I did it alone. I had no idea how much fun
and how gratifying it would be to create soundscapes for the film. Perhaps
it was the easiest part of the moviemaking process. My influences for the
score were Ennio Morricone, Bernard Herman and Trent Reznor's work with
Anything you can tell us about audience and
critical reception of Rumble
mother actually took charge of the film festival circuit, where we got
accepted into five festivals (Golden State Film Fest, Hollywood Dreams
Intl, Action on Film Megafest, Hollywood Reel Intl Film Fest and Los
Angeles Underground Film Forum) and won the award for Best Science Fiction
Film at the Action on Film Megafest. In addition we were able to sell the
film to High Octane Pictures, who took charge of distribution and really
believed in our project. The audience reaction has been truly fantastic
and very gratifying.
Any future projects you'd like to share?
finishing up an album of music and another film is in the works to be
filmed in 2021.
made you become an actor in the first place, and did you recieve any
formal training on the subject?
parents are extremely talented and passionate actors. It's all I've
ever known. As much as I try to stay away from that world, it's something
that will always be a part of me. I'm always wanting to crack the code of
performance and go deeper into my own self as an artist. Any good actor
should want to unlock themselves in their work. I trained with a wonderful
teacher, John Kirby who was a great mentor to me for film work. In theater
I studied with John Steppling who was an unsung angel during my writing of
How would you describe
yourself as an actor, and some of your techniques to bring your characters
very intuitive. I studied Stella Adler, Meisner, Stanislavsky and also
just studied actors that I admired such as Marlon Brando, Montgomery
Clift, Robert Mitchum etc. The best film acting in my opinion is a kind of
"withholding" from the camera. It's a very subtle artform
that I am still learning about every day.
According to my information, Rumble
Strip is your first turn as a writer/director - so what prompted
the move behind the camera, and how well did you feel prepared for this by
your work as an actor?
was always making short films as a kid. I bought Robert Rodriguez's book
on his process of making El Mariachi which I have read maybe 5
times cover to cover. I was always obsessed with filmmaking but never
thought I would be "ready" to do it unless someone gave me
money. Finally I realized I would never be "ready" and I just
had to jump in head first and try.
What can you tell us about your
filmwork prior to Rumble
acted opposite Danny Trejo in a western when I was 16. I had no idea what
it was like to be on a real film set and it was a big learning experience
for me. I made many music videos in my early 20s when I was a singer/songwriter full time but never got to do other filmwork until making
Strip. That was part of the reason I wanted to make it in the first
place. I didn't like auditioning for roles in other movies. I realized I
wanted to have more control creatively. An actor can sometimes realize
that he's treated as just a puppet.
Actors, filmmakers, whoever else who
recently discovered Jean-Pierre Melville and watched all his films. He's a
God of cinema. I love the films of Taylor Sheridan, Debra Granik, and
Lynne Ramsay. Some actors I love are James Caan, Robert Duvall, Billy Bob
Thornton, Djimon Hounsou, Denzel Washington, Ben Foster, Albert Finney,
Javier Bardem, Shia LaBeouf, Michelle Williams and so many more.
Your favourite movies?
changes every week, but I'll list a few that I am currently obsessed with:
Army of Shadows, Wind River, Le Doulos, Laura and
and of course, films you really deplore?
am really against films that glamourize militarism. The slew of Marvel
films are very pretty to look at and they employ some great actors, but
the actual content of these stories represent a really regressive form of
cinema. In a recent interview Alan Moore lays out the sinister turn superhero
movies have taken. And just as an aside, I love older superhero films like
Meteor Man (one of the greatest IMHO) and even the Christopher Reeve
Superman movies are fun as hell.
Feeling lucky ?
any of my partnershops yourself
for more, better results ?
The links below
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movie's website, social media, whatever else?
on Instagram and Twitter.
Strip has a Facebook page as well.
for the interview!
you so much for the interview Mike!