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An Interview with Jody Barton, Star of Hate Crime

by Mike Haberfelner

August 2012

Films starring Jody Barton on (re)Search my Trash


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Your new movie Hate Crime - in a few words, what is it about, and what can you tell us about your character in it?


Hate Crime is a story about one of the worst things we can imagine, being attacked in our home. The attackers come in with a ideology of racial/religious hate. I play the character One, who tries to drive the events of the attack based on this ideology, but soon finds it all crumble around him.


Hate Crime isn't exactly a film that depicts the most ordinary of events - so what did you base your performance on, what did you draw upon to bring your character to life?


I spent time researching and trying to get a better understanding of groups with this sort of hate ideology. There are many online communities that share in these ideas. And through that I tried to develop an understanding of my character.

I also worked closely with James Cullen Bressack [James Cullen Bressack interview - click here] and Jarret Cohen in developing One. Their vision made these characters something more than just vicious intruders. I think it makes an audience uncomfortable to see depth in characters so brutal. But itís truthful, and thatís most important. That depth and attention to the details of my character was developed through my work with them.

But my character was brought to life in the room with my other actors. The intensity you see on screen was very real on set during shooting. And feeding off my other actors made it easier to play in a scary place.


You spend the majority of Hate Crime hidden behind a mask - was that at all bothersome?


Itís funny, I initially started bugging James about not wanting to wear the mask. As an actor, you want your face and eyes shown clearly. Itís how you can best express your character. James was having none of it and he was right. My character needed the mask. And as an actor, it probably helped me bring out his cruelty.


What drew you to the project to begin with?


James Cullen Bressack. I worked with James on Unmimely Demise. I had not met him before Unmimely, but from the first day on set it was clear James had a specific vision and a confidence and ease in carrying it out. He talked with me about the Hate Crime-script for a few weeks before I could finally get him to send it to me. And I knew he had me in mind when developing the character of One. When you read a script with that kind of brutality, you know it can go in many directions, and most not good. But I had also seen My Pure Joy and knew it was more than a horror film, but also a character study and psychological thriller. And from that I knew Hate Crime would get the same attention to character development. All that gave me the confidence that this would be something different.


Hate Crime consists mainly of one long continuous single shot. What kind of a strain did that put on you as an actor - and how much rehearsing went into this, actually? And could you ever be tempted into doing another single shot movie?


The shoot was grueling. It was also lots of fun at times. Given the highly emotional scenes during shooting, the set was kept fun and light during off-times. Often displayed by the various ways James and Jarret would fuck with their cast, all coming from a place of love of course.

We spent 2 weeks in Big Bear, California. The cast and crew living together in the house where we shot. We spent the first week in rehearsal getting the blocking and camera work down while exploring our characters. The shoot was extremely challenging as an actor. But when you are around a group of people pouring their heart into something, you can think of nothing but doing the same.


A few words about your director James Cullen Bressack [James Cullen Bressack interview - click here], and what was your collaboration like?


Iím lucky to have found James at this point in his career. He is not yet fully aware of how fucking talented he is. So he still does crazy things like listen and collaborate with his actors. I often think directors underestimate how important it is for actors to trust them. Itís a privilege I had on the set of Hate Crime (b/c of working with James previously) other actors didnít. But through working on character development, setting up shots, and his overall detailed attention to making the best film possible, everyoneís trust was quickly gained.


What can you tell us about the on-set atmosphere as such?


Well there was when we were shooting and when we werenít. As the intruders, I think we wanted to keep some distance from the actors playing the family. But given the closeness of the surroundings that was difficult to do. I think the love and trust that developed between the actors living together allowed a more uninhibited performance when shooting. I donít think we could have made the movie we did had we not developed the closeness by sharing that space.


Hate Crime is an at times quite violent film - how could you relate to that aspect of the movie?


Itís not easy to relate to wanting to inflict violence on someone simply because of some arbitrary label. As an actor I had to find ways to relate to those feelings. This kind of violence is rarely depicted, particularly is such a realistic way. But this stuff exists. And we are no better off if we turn away from it.

The portrayal of violence in the film is also born out that trust and love developed on set. As an actor, as scary as it is, itís kind of a beautiful thing. The actors playing the family members had to put their trust in myself and Ian [Ian Roberts interview - click here] and Tim. And we had to give them all we had, feeding off each otherís performances.


Let's go back to the beginnings of your career: What got you into acting to begin with, and did you receive any formal training on the subject?


I came to acting later than most. I worked as a civil rights attorney in Austin, Texas, before packing up all my stuff and moving to LA. That was three years ago. Since I have played a variety of characters in over 20 short and independent films. I am currently studying at Chekhov Studios International and continue to work at developing characters.


Can you still remember your first time in front of a movie camera, and what was that experience like?


It was in Austin. A University of Texas student film. One of my first scenes playing a suicidal man playing out his death wish in a mirror. I got the part then thought ďHow the hell am I going to do this?Ē I realized later thatís a thought I would have almost every time I was cast.


What can you tell us about your filmwork prior to Hate Crime?


Much of my work has been with student films and independents. Mostly short films that have been shown at various film festivals throughout the country. I have been lucky enough to play a wide variety of characters and worked with some very talented people. You can find my demo reels and some films at my website and my IMDb page


Any future projects you'd like to share?


I just finished a theater run of a play called Missing Dick, written and directed by Emmy award winning writer Gordon Bressack. I also have a couple short films in the festival circuit. And I look forward to my next film project, whatever that may be.


How would you describe yourself as an actor?


Thatís a difficult question to answer. I want to be an actor who can play in a variety of genres with wide ranging characters. And most importantly bring truthfulness to the character. But in the end, I think itís up to others to decide what kind of actor I am.


Actors (or indeed actresses) who inspire you?


Feeling lucky ?
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Find Jody Barton
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Great Britain (a.k.a. the United Kingdom)

Germany (East AND West)

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x-rated  find Jody Barton at

Actors who are willing to take risks with their character choices. Sean Penn, Philip Hoffman, Kate Winslet, Meryl Streep, Joaquin Phoenix. Also my acting coach Marjo-Riikka Makela.


Your favourite movies?


Movies that make you think and feel. Requiem for a Dream, Reservoir Dogs, Oldboy, Shawshank, Jacobís Ladder, etc. And of course for comedy Blazing Saddles.


... and of course, films you really deplore?


Movies that make you neither think nor feel. Recycled bullshit. Give me an original idea and see it through. Iíll watch a poorly made and acted independent film with vision over a recycled Hollywood storyline anytime. I want passion in my art, doesnít everyone?


Your website, Facebook, whatever else?


Thanks for the interview!


© by Mike Haberfelner

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and shall not be held responsible for
content of sites from a third party.

Thanks for watching !!!



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On the same day
a Burglar wants to kill you
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A Killer Conversation

produced by and starring
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directed by
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written by
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Ryan Hunter and
Rudy Barrow

out now on DVD