Your upcoming movie Murder Eleven - in a few words, what is it
The film at it's core is a race against the clock for two detectives to try
and stop a serial killer before he gets victim number eleven, but
what they don't know is the killer already has her. It's a story that
takes place half in the world of the victim who has been taken and her
possible killer who is surprised by someone coming home who shouldn't have and
half in the world of two detectives trying to do everything in their power to
stop this killer who somehow always manages to stay multiple steps ahead.
What were your inspirations when writing Murder Eleven?
read about a case of unsolved murders of a few prostitutes in Atlantic
City, and with my law enforcement background I thought I could tell a
unique story into the dark world that these ladies live and work in.
also play a lead role in Murder Eleven - did you actually
write the character with yourself in mind, and what did you draw upon to
bring him to life?
I did write the character for me. I
first wrote the character and one scene of the film to work on in a acting
workshop. I used a lot of experience from my cop life with this
character, one particular group of experiences was drawing on people who
would really hurt the ones they loved because they "loved them so
much", it was always a disturbing sight to see someone violently
beaten by a loved one and then have the suspect say "I did it out of
Do talk about the rest of your cast
for a bit, and why exactly these people?
Julienne Irons was
in the acting workshop with me and the first scene we ever did was playing
these characters in a scene from the film. She was fearless and is a
fearless actor. She is so professional and a student of the
material, I knew she was perfect to play this complex and challenging role
and I was not surprised she won best lead actress at the Down Beach Film
Festival for her portrayal.
Autumn Federici [Autumn
Federici interview - click here] I had worked with twice
before and just adore her as an actor and person. She gives every
ounce of herself to a role and the production. For this role I knew
she had it in her eyes, I knew she could draw you in, make you feel for
her, scared for her, and pull for her.
Richard Reid, I had also
worked with before and I liked his vulnerability mixed with his natural
presence. Playing an undercover cop is hard, most actors play them
too tough, Richard was able to tap into the toughness being an act
covering up a part of who he really was and at the end of the day he
wanted to be a good cop and take down bad guys.
Michael Mack, Richard Reid
Michael Mack I had
also worked with before and known for many years. The role he played
of Detective Mayfield is based on several cops I worked with
over the years. I wanted the patience and calmness Mike brings with
his style of acting. I knew he could land those special qualities of
a veteran homicide detective that has seen so much but never gives up.
How would you
describe the look and feel of your movie?
I wanted the look
and feel to be claustrophobic and the look to be as close to the natural
eyes as possible, to feel real. My hope was for the audience to feel
like they were in the rooms with these people, living in their shoes for a
moment in time.
story suggests quite a bit of violence - so how do you go about that
aspect of your film, and was there a line you refused to cross?
you base a film in reality and write from my set of circumstances you
can't judge it, violence is real in this world and evil people do evil
innocent people. I didn't let the level of violence or language get
in my way, I just told the story in a truthful manner, from both the good
side and evil side.
talk about the actual shoot and the on-set atmosphere for a bit?
days during a hot June month in Atlantic City. All night shoots so
really only about 10 hours of actual work time to shoot the film. It
was roughly an 11 person crew for the most part and I loved them all and
was super blessed to have them. The atmosphere was twofold, a well-oiled machine on one hand, I have been in the blue collar microbudget
world for a while so I'm very comfortable in that type of environment.
As an example I also AD'd the film myself and kept to the
schedule I built. My producing partner Darrell Martinelli who
has been with me from day one is the back bone that gives me the
support to actually succeed in these movies. My DP Chris Hubbart is
not only one of the finest people you will ever meet but you cannot ask
for a more loyal and talented teammate and our associate
producer Emily Adam's who is kind of the "Mom" of our set's just
keeps it all together.
The other half was intense and no nonsense.
Playing this character on top of producing and directing added a new
element I had not encountered before. It created a tense atmosphere
at times for sure, this type of subject matter on top of the physical side
of making a movie did have it's challenges but the team held it together no matter what and we achieved what we set out to do so by the
end it felt like a knock out win for us all. I have to pinch myself
at times for how blessed I am to have these people who worked with me.
$64-question of course: When and where will the film be released onto the
October 22 it will be release on DVD
and certain on demand outlets.
Any future projects beyond Murder
I just directed a feature film River Guard
in Wilmington, NC over the summer starring Eric Ladin, Brett Cullen,
Jeff Kober, and Peter Jason. The next film I am set to direct
is called Do No Evil, another script I wrote. This is a
thriller in the cop genre.
As far as I know, you initially entered the
filmworld as an actor - so what got you into acting in the first place,
and did you receive any formal training on the subject?
started acting in high school and then in college. During my time at
the police department I studied film acting in D.C. as well as doing
theater. I fell in love with acting in high school but didn't have a
clear path of how to pursue it. After being a cop for a few years
when I went back to college I had a professor tell me I should pursue
acting professionally and that's when it began. I then started
making movies on the side as well to write parts I wanted to play.
made you pick up directing eventually?
several films I decided I wanted to take a stab behind the camera and work
with actors, it really was all about the actors and story telling. How
to create characters and help actors explore more than what is on the
page. It was something I didn't just wake up and say now I will
direct I really considered it for a while and started with an 11 minute
short in one location with a few actors just to test the waters. I
knew from the first prep work I did that I was going to love the journey
though. But I'm a super collaborative director, I'm not super
technical so I really rely on my team and DP. I want everyone to
have a voice on a film I'm directing.
What can you tell
us about your filmwork prior to Murder Eleven in whatever
I started producing in 2001 with my first feature
film I wrote called My Turn, I did this while working as a cop
full time. Then I did several shorts, a documentary, another feature
called Sway, then eventually moved to LA fulltime where I
started acting more and directing. That led to me producing Trials of Cate McCall with Kate Beckinsale. When I
first moved to LA I supplemented my income by providing high end security
services. I worked with Kate and we stayed friends, years later I was able to help put a movie together with her at the company I work with
as a development executive called Sunrise Pictures. My CEO
Peter Schafer is also a producer on Murder Eleven and big supporter
of me as a filmmaker.
How would you describe yourself as an actor
and as a director?
Blue collar and truthful. I
believe in respecting the process and every member of the crew and cast. I try to set a tone with work ethic and by being a gentlemen. I
feel you have to create an enviroment people want to show up for and
know you have their back but also know the film itself has to be respected
and more important than any one person. I compare film making to a
team sport. I don't understand ego at all in a business that is so
collaborative. As an actor I want to be the best I can be while I try to help the other actors be the best they can be and as a director
I try to do the same.
Actors, writers, filmmakers, whatever
else who inspire you?
Johnny Cash inspires me and is a huge
influence on me, his truthfulness and grit, "if at first you don't
succeed, try and try and try again."
Billy Bob Thornton - I watched a documentary on Billy Bob who inspired me
to just write and make movies.
Ed Burns - he has style he stays true to it, he said he wants to be the
Irish Woody Allen and he sure and hell keeps trying to be.
Hugh Jackman - I've worked with several people who worked with him
and he is always a gentlemen and treats people with respect.
Danny McBride - we are from the same small Virginia city and he
busted his butt for ten years couldn't book a co-star role but never gave
up and he is not letting up now, he is a working son of a gun.
Clint Eastwood - his talent and style as a filmmaker sets the bar in my
Your favourite movies?
Feeling lucky ?
any of my partnershops yourself
for more, better results ?
The links below
will take you
Seven, and Slingblade.
and of course, films you really deplore?
I try to take
something good from every film and because I know how hard it is to make a
film I tend not to really hate on many films.
movie's website, Facebook, whatever else?
you are dying to mention and I have merely forgotten to ask?
I think we covered it all.
for the interview!