Your new movie Heartbeat
- in a few words, what is it about, and what can you tell us about your
character in it?
What is this film about? You know, I'm not sure, haha. I haven't seen it
yet (waiting on a physical media release, you know me). And while we
were shooting, I still don't know if I ever got what exactly it was
about! I just knew it was giallo-inspired, but that's about it. I mean,
we made this film up as we went, so pretty hard to say. But Gregory
director) somehow managed to figure it out, whilst shooting our other
which did have a script.
My character is nutty, I can say that. A conspiracy theorist, or a
killer? A pervert? Maybe a mix? Hard to say without giving it away, I
did you draw upon to bring your character to life, and how much of Shane
Ryan can we find in Rick?
hope not much of me is in this character, but I guess a lot actually is.
As far as, he "lives his life through a camera", which I
believe I even say at one point. Though he's a still photographer not a
filmmaker, but similar enough. Those are my real glasses, I just don't
usually wear them since I have contacts. I've been told I'm socially
awkward, like him. But I've also been told I'm easy-going and easy to
talk to, charismatic, the polar opposite in many ways. I guess I go with
the flow; if I feel awkward then I am, if I feel talkative and
comfortable, then I'm that. But Rick is a nutcase, and a total spaz.
We didn't have time to really come up with characters for this. We were
getting ready to shoot Choke,
which I had spent a couple months trying to get in character for. I
didn't really know how to get in character since I don't act much (and I
was playing Brandon for like a 5th time, who normally I improvise
with versus in Choke I
had barely any dialogue), but I watched endless crime documentaries, the
entire Dexter series,
Ted Bundy stuff, worked out vigorously, read up on killers' mindsets,
etc. So, when Greg told us, "hey, let's shoot two movies at
once" (I admit, I think that was in huge part my idea), I didn't
have time to come up with anything or any idea for Rick. So, all I
remember doing was picturing Gene Hackman in The
Conversation (one of my all time top 20
favorite films). It was like 90-100 degrees or something when we shot
this, and it tops out at like 72 degrees where I live so I was boiling
hot. But I thought, "what if I always wear this silly jacket even
though it's way too hot for one." Like how Hackman's Harry Caul
always wore his raincoat when it wasn't raining. And then my
glasses (since we'd jump back and forth between shooting Choke
didn't want to take my contacts in and out, so I couldn't see at all
with the glasses on). Plus Harry is also a surveillance guy (with sound,
not a camera), and thinks he's uncovered this murder plot and it drives
him totally nuts. So, I relied a lot on that, since I knew that
character so well, it's all I had time to really think of to draw
anything from. And then I had forgotten, but Chris reminded me that I
would spin in circles before each take. That helped me get the feeling
of being out of breath, and panting and stuttering going on.
in Heartbeat is a bit
of a conspiracy theorist - is that something you can at all relate to?
Unfortunately yes in many ways. I can get very caught up in unsolved
cases, or even in solved cases (i.e. Alyssa Bustamante) and start
investigating all these ideas of cover-ups. But I'm more psychologically
based, which is how my obsession with Alyssa's case started, wanting to
understand why people do such evil things, and/or how they can go
through with doing them, and then it leads to me thinking, "maybe
they didn't do them." And like in Alyssa's case, I become obsessed
with finding out what really happened, and believing it was a cover up
or a coerced confession, etc.
Ted Bundy is what started my fascination.
I always heard such horrible stories about him growing up. I remember
when he was executed (I was maybe 8 years old), so I don't know who or
what I pictured him to be. But then it wasn't until 1998 or 99 when I
finally saw an interview with him, and I was just floored by how normal
and nice and charming and friendly he seemed. And I kind of became
obsessed with crime stories and criminals after that. Trying to
understand how people become these kinds of people. But Rick is more
about cover-ups, not the psychology. Probably because he's a bit fucked
did you get involved with the project in the first place - and how did you
end up co-executive producing it?
That came from Choke.
In pre-production of Choke things
started looking bad as we were about to begin. I can't remember what
exactly, stuff like locations charging way more than we originally were
told, a lead actor maybe not being available due to family emergency,
not finding enough actors overall (I think was an issue - we were always
scrambling trying to get actors to commit and show for these smaller
roles), etc. I remember having a meeting with Gregory Hatanaka, Chris
Spinelli [Chris Spinelli
interview - click here] and Nicole D'Angelo,
and we were trying to figure out what to do. It was very stressful, so I
can't remember all that occured. But I think it went from not knowing if
we'd be able to shoot anything, or deciding if we should wait to begin
filming, and eventually we just decided on making two films. I remember
pushing that idea (so, my fault), because I said, well, even if we only
end up getting enough footage for one, at least we still got one film in
the can like originally planned. The problem was, we really didn't know
if we started shooting Choke
we'd be able to finish. So then came along Heartbeat.
And between the two, we'd get enough for one film. But if we lucked out,
then two films. I didn't realize I was getting a co-executive producer
credit, so I guess that came from being involved from the start, plus I
technically did Heartbeat
free since I was getting paid just for Choke.
And I did quite a bit of crew work (as well as created the character) on
contstantly looking to fill in these bit parts which was the absolute
worst and most difficult thing to do on the film - I keep saying this,
but I'm done scheduling/trying to find committed actors, never a-fucking-gain! - what a nightmare).
Lunch break with director Gregory
and co-stars Nicole D'Angelo and Lisa London
can you tell us about Heartbeat's
director Gregory Hatanaka, and what was your collaboration like?
Greg began distributing my Amateur
Porn Star Killer films way back in 2007. But I
started working with him as an actor (and sorta producer, though I hate
producing) in 2014 with Samurai
Cop 2 (I only began producing because I ended
up with that title, basically, but I just wanted to be an actor in it).
Cop 2 was
a huge headache for Greg, so he didn't direct again for several years
until this past year with Choke,
and then it just had this great domino effect of being followed with Heartbeat
those two together), Body
of Night, Acrylic (though
I didn't end up working on that), Sinful and
next up Quarantine
Girl. All shot since last September. I think it's gone pretty
smoothly, though it started off rough with the Choke
and that maybe not happening due to all the problems. I've only had one
clash with Greg on these films, which was the climax in Heartbeat
I get punched. I wanted to make sure it looked good on camera since we
were improvising this fight, and I got pushy about it and Greg got
pissed. It was like 4am or something by that point. But that was the
only dispute, aside from that it's been super fun. Granted sometimes I'd
get only one take, or I'd get a script for a film the day before (Quarantine
Girl) and not have a chance to memorize the whole thing, or have
to switch characters that were polar opposites (Choke
from one scene to the next, so I never really felt like I got to give it
my all as an actor. But when you're making films like this, this
quickly, this cheaply, does anybody ever get close to accomplishing or
having the opportunity to achieve what they really want to? I heard that
Denzel Washington got like 8 days to shoot one fight scene in The
Equalizer (resulting in millions of Dollars
being spent), until the studio finally said "enough." We don't
get that luxury, unfortunately. We get maybe 8 minutes and a few bucks
to shoot our fight scenes, so. Let's see Denzel look good doing that! (Note: I love Denzel, not a knock at him, he's incredible. But I still
challenge him to that.)
talk about the shoot as such, and the on-set atmosphere?
the star (co-writer), is insanely chill. Super easy and fun to work
with. And funny enough, she came (from out of state) to shoot Choke,
thinking she'd just be doing like, make-up or something. Then suddenly,
she's starring in Heartbeat
co-writing it!). Chris, who stars and produces (and also ended up
co-writing), is the friendliest person ever. He makes everything
stressful seem easy. I think he also was just looking to act (and/or had
no producing experience), and has ended up producing all these, and is
great at it. I couldn't handle that shit! I seriously just want to act
(or just be behind the camera). I spent enough years doing both at the
think our hardcore crew team has mainly been Chris, Nicole and Greg.
Other actors came for Heartbeat
(like Lisa London [Lisa
London interview - click here], who I worked on a few scenes with in Choke,
and she had major roles in Body
of Night and Acrylic),
but I didn't see her much on this. Although (spoiler alert) I believe
lots of us took turns being the "strangler hands". So I was
the hands on Lisa. Sarah Brine [Sarah
Brine interview - click here] also is in Heartbeat
main scene partner in Choke)
but I wasn't there during any of her Heartbeat
I think that's when I had days off (although I usually spent my days off
trying to cast those bit parts in Choke).
to explain these shoots; Chaotic, yet easy... in a way. Stressful, but
relaxed and fun.
future projects you'd like to share?
Girl should be out in a couple weeks or so. I
play the lead male character in that, though Nicole is the lead, it's
mostly about her. Sinful just
came out, which also stars Nicole, Greg produced and shot, with Rich
Mallery directing. I also recently completed my 80s anthology, Awesomely
Righteous & Radical. I'm working on finishing the first two Ted
Bundy Had a Son films. And early next year we
finally get The
Girl Who Wasn't Missing, and the 4th edition release of Amateur
Porn Star Killer (both hitting DVD from Wild
Eye Releasing). I'm also a producer on a ton of other recent films,
of the Unknown (hitting theatres Aug 28, if
they're open), Bridge
of the Doomed, Bloodthirst, Jaws
of Los Angeles, Takes
from the Dead Zone. And on a couple of documentaries currently
filming, Cúcuta and Heartprints
in the Snow. And on a couple of dramas; the LGBT film Spring,
and the recently released Homeless
Ashes. Plus a bunch of anthologies coming up, including Philia,
being released in 2021. I'm also still filming Red
Got Ill, and This
Girl, This Boy.
website, social media, whatever else?
You can find Heartbeat
Feeling lucky ?
any of my partnershops yourself
for more, better results ?
The links below
will take you
My websites/social media
you're dying to mention and I have merely forgotten to ask?
Buy DVD, Blu-ray! Keep cinema alive. Go to theatres when they re-open,
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for the interview!