Your movie the Depths
- in a few words, what is it about?
Desperate for a measure of success, wannabe screenwriters Mickey Hansen
and Ray Ferguson decide to fully explore the depths of murder and crime
within their story only to discover their obsession with their work has
made it all too real.
From what I know, the
Depths was your first feature film after quite a number of shorts
- so what made you choose exactly that story for your debut feature?
It felt like the right story. This one felt different, it was
special to me and I could tell the difference between the concepts I was
developing and this was enormous before writing even began. I had
this idea for about a year before I brought it to my co-writer Robert Spat
and it became the
Depths as we know it, and Robert was huge in making
the story what it is! No doubt!
Louis J Ambrosio is another great person and collaborator. He was my
producer on every one of those short films. He was pushing for us to
do a feature and was really a major driving force behind the
Depths would not exist without his guidance, support, passion
and skill. He is the best of the best.
Besides the initial spark of a concept, the rest of the concept
basically came together when I was watching a lot of film noir at the time
and was really enjoying studying the genre (for fun), so suddenly a rough
concept I had from a year prior solidified into the core of the
Depths when I started digesting the themes, styles and stories of that
genre. Some of those films are some of the coolest and most well
made movies I had ever seen, no exaggeration. I felt if I was going to head down a road for several years, this was
the right place to start and a great genre to be in. I had so much
material to look at, I was fascinated by it and I could easily communicate
it to every single person who became part of the team, I could just say
“go and watch Double
Falcon, and In a
Lonely Place and we will immediately be on the same page.” It
unified all of the creative elements from writing to sound design.
How does making a feature compare to doing shorts?
are moments in time that are easier to hone. Features are long
flowing experiences and you have to make the audience ride the waves in an
interesting and entertaining way. They have to want to keep riding
the waves. A lot more challenging.
the lead characters of the
Depths trying to break into the film industry - is any of the
movie based on personal experiences and the like, and to what extent could
you identify with either Mickey or Ray?
I think a lot of people in the industry can relate to what Mickey and
Ray are going through, especially if they have ever written a script with
someone. I am way more of a Ray to be honest (I mean as a writer, not his
personal choices). I can relate to Mickey in small ways, I
understand who he is and I have met so many people like him before.
Other sources of
inspiration when writing the
I watched the first feature films of a lot
of filmmakers. Christopher Nolan, Darren Aronofsky, Martin McDonagh,
Shane Carruth. I really studied them and I was amazed by some
answers I found in them.
What can you tell us about your
co-writer Robert Spat for a bit, and what was your collaboration like?
It was a great collaboration on this project! We were both
giving everything we had to this and we loved it and had fun writing it!
Robert had written more serious feature film scripts and pilots and others
and was much more put together on doing this type of long form format and
showed me a lot things that helped me transition from short films right
into feature film writing. When I brought him the core he totally
knew how to plot it and unpack it and showed me through practice this
great process and how to fight through it. Sometimes, scenes were less
together, and if we were ever paused, we would simply have conversations
as the characters. For example I would say “Okay you be Ray,
I’ll be Mickey and lets just talk about this idea or this objective and
see what we say.” Sometimes it was so interesting that we would
just type every word we just said down and keep it exactly as is. I
think this is how that scene where Mickey describes how “murder is
purification” really developed, as one of these conversations between
myself and Robert.
talk about your directorial approach to your story at hand!
I can talk about this for hours, I just feel like I worked as hard as I
could on building every moment, so much of that power comes from trusting
Mickey, even liking Mickey, then being afraid of Mickey. I’ll go
to some simple answers. My objective was to establish genre as early
as possible because a lot of Mickey and Ray’s interactions are funny
before the film tonally shifts towards the middle to be a much darker
experience. I really sat and studied the tension attempting to build it and
heighten it, even lengthen it. I also paid close attention to the different levels of Mickey’s
character. I wanted to decide as an audience member myself, when I
felt I would want to create distance from him with the camera.
Sometimes I just wanted to sit and watch him and see where he would go, he
was becoming unpredictable and losing it and there was… a shocking
element to just letting him play things out onscreen while keeping some
distance. His obsession with films, the noir film he watches over
and over, starts to become part of the design of the film and is most
prominently played on in the alleyway chase sequence where he has nearly
at his breaking point. Shadows, tension, energy, and relationships
(characters to each other and characters to the audience) were some of the
most critical things to get right, I knew I had to work on those as much
as possible. Adam Ambrosio is an incredible composer and I think brought
half of the tension in the score alone. His process is amazing and he
brought “the vibe” to the film that I think ultimately stays with the
can you tell us about your key cast, and why exactly these people?
Michael Rispoli… we were lucky to get Michael, he really responded to
the script. What an amazing actor and collaborator!
Michael is such a respected name in the industry that I was pretty stunned
when he wanted a meeting. I met with him and I think he was shocked
that I had the entire film storyboarded (by hand myself) months ahead of
shooting. Every single frame, even standard coverage, I have always
done that. He wanted in and just said “let's do it.” It was
great, it was an honor.
Our casting director Judy Henderson is an Emmy award winning casting
director. We cast everyone in New York. She pushed for a lot
of these great actors, and Patch Darragh is a wonder. As soon as I
met Patch I thought he would be perfect for Mickey. Mickey is an
extremely complex role and it needed an actor with incredible range.
Patch was Mickey in the beginning and he had the tools and training, the
talent really, to build Mickey to the climax of the film. That was
really an incredible challenge for a performer, believe me. I really
respect Patch for taking that risk. People were afraid to be
Mickey, Patch took it and on and won!
Charlotte Kirk was our Chloe and we felt strongly about that. She
had more to offer than the elements of the character on the page
(admittedly). I always felt we needed a strong actress to really
bring Chloe to life because she was complicated and did not discuss
a lot of these layers. Lucas Salvagno, Michelle
Veintimilla, Hampton Fluker, Suzette Gunn, Liam Mitchell, Jennifer
Bassey were all absolutely committed to their roles and brought their A
game. I was amazed because every single one of these people have
established themselves in the industry, had some great roles behind them
and we’re great performers. Gia Crovatin, Chuk Obasi, Alex Mulzac,
everyone that I am not naming because I am just thinking about every
single person in the film now.
few words about the shoot as such, and the on-set atmosphere?
hot. 80-90 degree weather in 45 locations on an 18 day shoot is
hard, trust me. I had to throw a lot out the window and just hone in
on my objectives as a filmmaker.
$64-question of course, where can the
Depths be seen?
We are really proud to be working
with our distribution team at Random Media led by Eric Doctorrow
and thanks to Don Rosenberg, Rick Rhoades and Jessica Goldman and all the
rest at Random Media for all they have done to push the
Depths and to help filmmakers find audiences! the
Depths will be available
on April 24th, 2018 on Amazon, I-tunes, DVD, Google Play, XBOX, and more!
Anything you can tell us about
audience and critical reception of the
It has been fantastic, we were sold
out and had a standing ovation at our premiere. We won the Best
Feature Film at the Manhattan Film Festival and Best Feature Film at the
Los Angeles Film Awards. Michael Rispoli won Best Actor at the
International Independent Film Awards and Patch Darragh won Best
Supporting Actor at the Los Angeles Film Awards.
Any future projects you'd like to
Feeling lucky ?
any of my partnershops yourself
for more, better results ?
The links below
will take you
We have a new thriller in development right now that
we are extremely excited about!
Your/your movie's website, Facebook,
Anything else you're dying to mention and
I have merely forgotten to ask?
Check out our behind-the-scenes
channel Film Valor on YouTube: www.youtube.com/channel/UCYMpC0IdUggTr1xMMEqsCPw/
Thanks for the
Thank you for your time!