Your new movie The Assassin's Apprentice - in a few words,
what is it about?
The Assassin’s Apprentice is a short film concept
piece about an assassin in training named Kaylee (played by Tarah Paige)
who must undergo one final mission to become a full-fledged assassin.
However, she decides to do things her own way, much to the
annoyance of her mentor Pete (played by Robert Picardo) and the handler
Miranda (played by Marina Sirtis). Our
goal is to shop this concept piece around to get backing for a movie
trilogy and video game tie-in.
With The Assassin's Apprentice
being a science fiction yarn, is that a genre at all dear to you, and what
can you tell us about your approach to the genre?
fiction is a very fascinating genre, because it allows you to think
outside the box. This
film is set in the near present but involves technologies such as drones
which are not yet common-place.
That said, what really inspires me is exploring facets of a
character who is conflicted, who has a dichotomy.
In this case, Kaylee knows she should obey her mentor but decides
not to. Why
would she do this?
Is there a hidden motive?
did the project come into being in the first place?
our backers, Paul Hickman, for Occupants, the feature film I
directed before this film, was a big fan of action films and parkour
So he decided to come up with this concept piece in order to
facilitate the aforementioned movie trilogy and video game tie-in.
can you tell us about your writer Paul Hickman, and what was your
Paul Hickman is a lawyer by trade but
always wanted to get into filmmaking.
He had this idea for an action trilogy for quite a while and
decided to write the initial concept piece which is The Assassin’s Apprentice. I
worked closely with him over the last two years honing the idea for the
trilogy and figuring out which characters were the most important for this
current story and the future.
It was a very interesting and wonderful process, one that continues
to this very day.
A few words about your directorial
approach to your story at hand?
As I mentioned before, I
love dichotomy for my characters, so Kaylee was of that mold.
I also had directed a movie about a female assassin ten years
before called Girl With Gun and channeled the lead character in that
film Gwen Hunter into Kaylee.
I saw similarities between the two, but whereas Gwen acted alone,
Kaylee has a family, albeit one that doesn’t always see eye to eye.
I also watched quite a few action films such as Run, Lola,
Run and Assault on Precinct 13 to get a feel for the freestyle
running and parkour moves that were necessary in this film.
I think research is very important to coming up with the directing
Your film stars quite a
few Star Trek
veterans - so do talk about them, what was your collaboration like, and
how did you get them even?
I’ve worked with Robert Picardo six times now, so I pretty much know
what he wants and plan accordingly.
I know he likes to work with the other actors in the scene
beforehand and has ideas for his character which we incorporate into the
way we get the most natural performance possible for the character he
the other hand, this was my first time working with Marina Sirtis, but I
did what I would do for any actor I direct.
I created backstories for the character and we worked together to
figure out who Miranda is and how she came to be in the position she
inhabits in this film.
We got Robert Picardo because he is a friend of the producer Howard
Nash, whom I worked with both since we did P.J. ten years before.
As for Marina Sirtis, she worked with the other producer Ryan T.
Husk on a film called 5th
Passenger and she agreed to come onboard this film.
What can you tell us about
the rest of your cast, and why exactly these people?
Tarah Paige, she is a very good friend of Paul Hickman’s and someone who
has acted in major motion pictures doing stunts work, with credits
including Rise of the Planet of the Apes, Alice in Wonderland,
and Transformers: Age of Extinction. She
also recently acted in a Star Trek
fan film called Renegades.
As for our other cast members such as Rico E. Anderson, Katherine
Roberts, and Reka Rene, they were actors who worked for producer Ryan T.
Durst and Larry Butler were actors I worked with before, and Luis Carazo
was someone I knew.
However, all actors were sought because they fit the parts they
were portraying and we auditioned them beforehand.
talk about the shoot as such, and the on-set atmosphere?
shoot was a grueling three-days of principal photography.
On Day 1, we had around 50 people including 10 extras, as well as
stunts involving breakaway glass, and an original song written by composer
Vasilis Milesis with lyrics created by our lounge singer actress Sasha
Travis called “Lucky Boy”.
On Day 2 and 3, we used a filming drone operated by my good friend
Steve Overstreet and a prop drone seen in the film operated by Kevin
it to say, operating two drones at once is both exhilarating and scary!
Each day had its challenges, but what made it fun was that everyone
enjoyed themselves and I was really happy with our crew including our
director of photography Ray Karwel, key makeup artist Alisha Baijounas,
key costumer Nina Minnelli, production designer Lauren Ivy, and stunt
coordinator Steven Stone.
far as I know, you're currently raising funds for The Assassin's
Apprentice's visual effects - so do talk about your campaign for a
bit, and what is the audience to expect in terms of effects work?
Basically, we need
the extra funds to shoot a pickup day on February 24, 2017 as well as do
extensive visual effects, such as placing drones in shots where we
didn’t have them in, creating Miranda’s office background with
screens behind her showing interactive maps that Kaylee must follow
using the Google glasses she wears, and gun firing effects including
fired bullets. We’ve
already reached 75% with 16 days to go, so come join us for such perks
as an IMDb credit.
the budget's in place, what's the schedule, and any idea yet when and
where The Assassin's Apprentice might be released onto the general
Right now, Emile Haris, our editor is busy putting
together a rough cut.
We should be completed with the film by early summer 2017 for
release at that time at various film festivals.
Any future projects beyond The Assassin's
There are several projects I am working on.
One is Collar, another concept short which I just directed
under the tutelage of producer Troy Gabaldon, about a priest with
underlying intentions, with a potential series as a possibility.
Another is Occupants 2 currently being written by Occupants
writer Julia Camara, under producer Howard Nash.
Howard and I are also involved in a true story found footage film
called Wisper which is in the funding stage.
There is also a horror feature called The Dollhouse which is
being put together to be shot in Macedonia, Ohio under producer Julie
D’Aloiso. And Alien Cross, under producer Sean Kenney (of “Captain Pike” fame
from the original Star Trek episode
The Menagerie), and involving
Gary Lockwood (2001: A Space Odyssey), Hana Hatae (“Molly” from
Star Trek: Deep Space Nine), and Olive D’Abo (Wonder Years
and Law and Order: Criminal Intent).
Your/your movie's website, Facebook,
IndieGoGo, whatever else?
Here are the site links:
IndieGoGo post-production campaign:
My website: http://www.russem.com
Anything else you're dying to
mention and I have merely forgotten to ask?
Feeling lucky ?
any of my partnershops yourself
for more, better results ?
The links below
will take you
Come join us for our Occupants
screening at the
International Film Festival on Thursday, March 9 at 8:30pm where we will
further discuss The Assassin’s Apprentice including the upcoming
work-in-progress screening of the film at Ratha Con on Thursday May 11!
Thank you for interviewing me!