Category Archives: Film Reviews
Whether it is a box office smash or an independent film, you can find reviews and links to sites here.
Official Selection 2013 Charleston International Film Festival
April 24-28th 2013
Ticket to Ride explores what happens when a store clerk and his cat get in between two best friends and 70 million dollars. All they wanted was a ticket. What they got was a ride.
Ticket to Ride tells the story of Wendell and Phil, two long time best friends and roommates who are perpetually down on their luck. Wendell and Phil are avid lottery players who always play the same numbers and have been doing so for years. One fateful night they are rushing on their moped to get to the store to purchase their lotto ticket before the 10 o’clock cut off time, only to arrive 5 minutes til to find the door locked with a make shift sign that reads “Back in 5 minutes.”
Meanwhile, the store clerk, Steve, is in the backroom taking photos of his show cat Mittens. This causes Wendell and Phil to miss the cut off time and they are not able to play their lucky numbers. Later that night the duo discover that their numbers have hit the jackpot and if they would have played them they would have won 70 million dollars. Wendell and Phil hatch a plan to exact revenge upon the cat loving clerk, Steve, which leads to chaos and hilarity.
An official selection of the 2013 Charleston International Film Festival,
Premiering Saturday, April 27th at 7pm at:
3 College Way, College of Charleston.
Charleston, SC 29424
Twitter : @Ticket2RideFilm
Daniel Jones: Wendell imdb.me/danieljones
Bruce Williamson: Phil 800casting.com/Profile/26355
Directed by Matt Allen mattallenfilms.com/
Directed by Travis Hicks vimeo.com/user983608
Director of Photography Harry Lipnick vimeo.com/21055637
Colorist Mike Howell vimeo.com/37207253
Music by Dominic Vega dominic-vega.com/
Sound Design by Tyler N. Swafford cargocollective.com/swaffordsound
Written by Matt Allen & Travis Hicks
Trailer music by You Won’t “Dance Moves” album Skeptic Goodbye youwont.bandcamp.com/
You are failing my gender! Where are the women?
Growing up, I have always been a fan of your work. I love the idea of people out there trying to save the world, fighting against crime with super cool abilities and magnificently designed outfits! I love reading comics and I loved the recent Avengers movie, it was an incredibly awesome film!
So why are you putting great female characters in the shadows? There’s not only been a huge lack of emphasis on how strong and intelligent female superheroes can be, but the fact that even when you do create them, they are left in the shadows of the men. Avengers is a great example, five men and one woman, really? Maybe Hollywood did this, maybe it wasn’t your fault, but maybe you should speak up then?
Same thing with Fantastic Four, one woman. At least with XMen we were graced with the pleasure of seeing Storm, Jean Grey and Rogue. But even in the title itself, “XMEN” the emphasis is always more on the dominant alpha male, leaving the women in the shadows.
How come Captain America, Iron Man, The Hulk, and Thor get their own movies and none of your female superheroes do? Was Black Widow not worthy of her own story? You created these beautiful characters like Thundra, Ms Marvel, Tigra, Wasp and the Invisible Woman; just to brand them as hot-sexy sidekicks that couldn’t hold a box office down on their own?
I’m sorry sir, but I disagree. My gripe isn’t just with you though. I’m still pissed at DC Comics for the fact that I’ve had to watch endless remakes of Batman, and Superman but not one movie about Wonder Woman, really? Not one? And just how many versions of Spider-man can one girl take?
Well Stan, and all the others out there that think the female superhero is just a sexy sidekick, I have two words for you: Beyond Earth. My story has seven superheroes; four women, three men and all equally badass. So hold on to your privates, because there is a new sheriff in town and she’s all woman. See you in June.
Author, Beyond Earth Series
*picture courtesy of Northern Illinois Geek
(Black Widow didn’t even make the picture!)
If you witnessed it, like many others, you were surprised. You may have even laughed, but the truth is, it was horrible, tasteless and a perfect example of Gaslighting. I’m of course referring to host Seth MacFarlane’s inappropriate Oscar stint, “We saw your boobs”.
What many don’t realize is that anyone that did laugh did so uncomfortably; especially if they were a woman and even more so if they were any of the women mentioned.
Gaslighting is the practice of systematically convincing an individual that their understanding of reality is mistaken or false.
So when a few women stood up and started shouting that what Seth MacFarlane did at the Oscars was wrong, they were thrown back with the classic Gaslighting manipulation: “You’re overreacting, relax, don’t you have a sense of humor?”
When someone says these things to you, it’s intended to shut you down from addressing their bad behavior which is emotional manipulation, pure and simple.
This is exactly what happens in our country to women everyday in the workplace, in the home and even in the limelight. This emotional manipulation feeds an epidemic in our country, one that defines women as irrational or overly sensitive.
Those who engage in Gaslighting create a reaction — whether it’s anger, frustration, sadness — in the person they are dealing with. Then, when that person reacts, the Gaslighter makes them feel uncomfortable and insecure by behaving as if their feelings aren’t rational or normal.
Even powerful women in Hollywood, ones that bear the brunt of this type of manipulation remain silent. Why?
photo by Chris Pizzuti (AP)
One well known actress did not take it lightly. I applaud Jamie Lee Curtis’s recent slam of Seth MacFarlane and his misogynistic approach. But why haven’t more women spoken up about it?
Because we are conditioned not too. Sadly, it’s easier to emotionally manipulate women because people have been conditioned by our society to accept it. Men continue to burden women whether the Gaslighting is conscious or not, to produce the same result; to keep us silent.
Gas lighting is a game. One you might not see coming if you don’t know what to look for. If you already have self-esteem issues, it is easier for someone to gaslight you. The best thing to do is keep your self-esteem high and be more vocal when you feel like someone is trying to take away your power through verbal manipulation.
Gloria Steinem quotes, “The first problem for all of us, men and women, is not to learn, but to unlearn.”
Seth MacFarlane needs to unlearn his behavior towards women. Moreover, he needs to apologize. Really apologize, not just to the women he Gaslighted at the Oscars; but to women everywhere. I’ll be waiting for mine, Seth.
The term Gasslight comes from the 1940′s suspense thriller set in nineteenth-century London. In the movie, Paula (Ingrid Bergman) marries the villainous Gregory Anton (Charles Boyer), not realizing that he is the one who murdered her aunt and is now searching for her missing jewels.
To cover up his treachery, he tries to persuade Paula that she is going mad, so he can search the attic for the jewels without her interference. He plants missing objects on her person in order to make her believe that she has no recollection of reality. He tries to isolate her, not allowing her to have visitors or to leave the house. However, she uncovers the truth when she notices the dimming of the gaslight.
Links to other articles on Gaslighting that I used as a reference for this blog:
“I Approve This Message” is a documentary about third parties in America. It follows 2012 Libertarian Candidate Keith Blandford as he runs for Congress US District 1 in SC. The documentary is a look inside the two party system and the possible corruption that occurs behind closed doors. Does this system even work for the people anymore? If not, then why is it so hard for us to oppose it?
“I Approve This Message” explains how more people would rather vote for the lesser of two evils than “throw their vote away”. That is a self defeating philosophy.
“Blanford was fed up with all the politicians that were working for special interests and not for him. So he decided to take a stand. It is very hard to run for Congress if you are not a professional politician. They are paid to campaign, they do not have to work. Keith would sometimes log in over 60 hours a week and still have to campaign,” -Braxton Williams, Producer.
“I Approve This Message” interviews several people including members of the Green Party, campaign managers for Dr. Stein and George Wallace, Democrats, true Independents, as well as the Libertarian Presidential Candidate, Gary Johnson and his running mate Judge Gray. It gives a comprehensive look at the history of third parties leaving the viewer walking away with a better understanding of the dilemma our country faces.
The official trailer for the documentary will be available in February. In the meantime, check out the link to the teaser trailer:
For more information on the documentary, “I Approve This Message”
A clip of Gary Johnson’s interview is also on the webpage. Here is a direct link.
You recently made your debut as “Scarlett” on a recent episode of the four-time Emmy award-winning series MadMen on AMC. What was it like to be on set with veteran actors like Jon Hamm, Jared Harris, Christina Henricks and John Slattery?
They are all so seasoned and welcoming. In the moments when it was time to work they were really focused and professional. In between takes, they were very easy-going and there was lots of clowning around! They’re a funny bunch! It’s a pretty tight-knit crew and they’ve done some amazing things together; there is an air of pride and ease amongst them that I haven’t seen before. It was quite amazing. It really couldn’t have been a better experience for me.
Tell me about the auditions, how many rounds did you go through before you received the role?
In the morning I had my audition for casting, then they asked me to stick around the area to attend the call back to producers 2 hours later. I left the studio lot, drove back to my apartment and not 30 minutes after I entered my front door I got a call from my manager’s office telling me to go back down there for my hair and make-up test for my shoot the next day. It was a pretty crazy 24 hours!
Not only is Casper Van Dien a cool cat, but we discovered that we grew up in the same town in New Jersey so there was LOTS to talk about. He’s really funny and easy to work with. He’s got a humongous fan base but he’s super down-to-earth.
Did you always want to be an actress?
Yes, I have. I was a ballerina as a kid and I always wanted to shout out during recitals…I loved dance but I always felt that I wanted to be more vocal.
Have you done theatre as well?
Yes, quite a lot. I have a Bachelor of Fine Arts in Acting from Mason Gross School of the Arts at Rutgers University and I also studied at the London Academy of Theater. My background is ALL theater training. I worked every department of the theater, I re-upholstered couches for set pieces, ran a light board…I’ve done it all. The program teaches actors to be well-rounded in the theater. I love it. I just recently closed a long running production of an original play by the brilliant playwright Rob Mersola entitled “Love Sucks”.
I understand you’re also a huge supporter of independent film, is there anything coming up we can see you in?
I just Co-Produced and played a supporting role in an independent film called “Act Naturally.” We just won the audience choice award at the United Film Festival and it will be showing in that same festival in London on June 4th.
If you could work with any director, who would it be and why?
I am obsessed with the Coen Brothers. They are like the chameleons of the film industry; you never know what they are going to put out next! I love their writing, I love how character driven their stories are, I love how dark and funny and slice-of-life they are. I just love everything about them and I would be over the moon to work with them.
If you could act alongside any Actor/Actress who would it be and why?
There are so many. Mostly I want to work with actors I truly respect and feel would raise the bar for me; push me in directions I never thought possible…to name a few that come to mind: Phillip Seymour Hoffman, Don Cheadle, Catherine O’Hara, Laura Linney, Frances McDormand, Kate Winslet, Tom Hanks, Steve Buscemi, Forest Whittaker…oh the list goes on.
You originally hail from New Jersey, what brought you to Los Angeles?
I was working a lot commercially in New York but I was not working theatrically as much as I liked. I was on a vacation with my Dad and brother in Bucharest, Romania; I woke up one morning, came down to breakfast and told them that I felt I wasn’t doing everything I possibly could to make my dreams come true. I explained that the Film/Television Mecca of the US was in L.A. and if I didn’t give it a try, I’d be making a big mistake. Three months later I was in L.A.
Will we be seeing you in future episodes of MadMen?
Now, you know I can’t tell you that! Keep watching!
III is a 3D horror feature film being produced by TBA Productions, LLC; an independent 2D & 3D media production company based in Charleston, SC. The film is a hybrid of a slasher film with a creature feature twist in the vein of H.P. Lovecraft. TBA Productions is using practical effects to maximize the 3-D version of the movie and is filming a 2-D as well.
III’s story and visual aesthetic is drawn from the classic slasher and creature features from the late seventies and eighties. Rather than having female characters incarnated as bimbos running helplessly up the stairs, they have been scripted as strong female leads which fight back against their attackers; similar to films like The Descent and High Tension.
I interviewed Braxton Williams the writer/producer behind this 3D Horror Feature titled, “III” about his film:
1. What or who inspired you to become a filmmaker?
I never really set out to be a filmmaker. I originally set out to be a successful working actor. Being a producer is something I kind of fell into. In 2010 a friend of mine ran for US Congress. He recruited me to coach him on his speeches and produce commercials for him. I didn’t really want to, but I owed him one so…there you go. A great learning experience and the commercials turned out rather nicely. A year or so later I was talking to our executive producer Akim Anastapoulo. He told me he had a 3D camera and was looking for someone to direct a horror film. So I jumped at the opportunity. I partnered up with Trey Howell and Alissa Guterman to form TBA Productions LLC and here we are.
2. Have you always been a fan of horror and if so, why?
Yes, I love horror; films, novels, you name it. Halloween is my birthday so I have always loved the genre. As a kid I used to have horror movie marathons every year. Well actually I still dedicate the month of October to horror movies. The difference is, as a kid I would watch all these terrible horror movies all in one night. Now that I am married, my wife will not put up with crappy horror movies let alone crappy horror movie marathons. So we watch the classics and we spread them out over the month. I actually have seen some very good and creepy films with her that I might not have tracked down otherwise.
3. You are doing your horror film in 3-D. That must be intense to watch?
Ah 3D, that was a challenge in and of itself. None of us had ever worked on 3D before. Trey and Owen Hamilton, our DP, had to do a lot of research on the camera and on 3D filming itself. It was a constant learning experience and it definitely slowed down the filming process. But it was worth it. We have some very cool 3D shots throughout the movie. Cool perspective shots, and for a lack of a better term, “money” shots. But, the 3D is not just a gimmick. The movie holds up on its own, we even shot a 2D version at the same time. The two versions will be a little different from each other, but they are both an intense experience.
4. Where did you shoot the film and why?
Trey and I actually wrote the script based on the location. His aunt and uncle own a Victorian Style house in St. Mathews, South Carolina. A couple of years ago I went up there with him to do some test shots for a project of his. That project eventually morphed into something else, but we have wanted to do something there ever since. It is the perfect place for a horror movie. The house has this presence that should infuse the film. Can’t thank Drew and Linda Rowe enough for letting us use their house and stay there while we filmed.
5. What was the most surprising thing to come out of this project?
Two things surprised me the most. The first was how much I liked writing the script. I have written many short stories and one-act stage plays, but nothing of this magnitude. I didn’t realize I would enjoy it so much. Unfortunately for Trey, I was also extremely protective of the script. After my second draft, Trey came in and took a crack at it. I think I fought him for 99% of his changes, which in retrospect was ridiculous.
The second thing that surprised me the most was how well everyone got along. A lot of times on sets there are people who just don’t get along. But that was not the case here. As hard as we worked, we had a great time doing it. Some of the worst jokes ever were told around 3 am (a lot of them by me). And since it was 3 am, the jokes were much funnier than they had any right to be.
6. What was the most challenging about making this film?
Working with such a small budget was definitely the hardest thing. We stretched every single dollar as far as it could go, and then some. Fortunately we were blessed with a very dedicated cast and crew. To make it in this industry, you have to be very lucky and/or very persistent. But you can’t be lucky if you don’t take a chance. You have to seize every good opportunity that comes your way. We all worked for less money than we would normally because we believed in this movie.
7. Tell me about your cast and crew.
We were lucky to get such a great cast. The movie is anchored by the relationship of our two main characters, Adam and Emma. Robert Dough and Rachel Swindler both do an amazing job portraying two childhood friends attempting to reconnect after years apart. And although they are the main characters, the movie is truly an ensemble piece. Carri Schwab and I play Celia and Frank, Adam’s friends who are on vacation with him. Carri is brilliant as Celia. I think my performance is pretty good too, but I am biased…Blake Gardner and newcomer, Amy Elizabeth Chadwell, are hilarious as Emma’s stoner buddies, Dave and Jess. The cast is rounded out by Ty Trumbo who plays Tommy Banks, a self obsessed douche bag who happens to be Emma’s boyfriend. Ty does a great job showcasing Tommy’s vanity and anger at Adam’s attempt to win back Emma.
Our crew was wonderful. They really brought their A-game to the film. And not only were they great at their jobs, they filled out other positions quite well too. Being an indie, we had several people wearing several different hats. From Trey Howell, our director, on down, everyone helped out where they could.
Trey has a great eye for the genre, but also for building FX rigs as well. Alissa Guterman was a co-producer/production manager. Julie Wheat of Cavortress was our wardrobe/make up/producer. Trey worked with the people from Seamless Pictures to bring a strong sense of foreboding to the movie. From Seamless we got: Owen Hamilton, our DP; Corey Corbett one of our camera operators; and Charlotte Savage our 1st AD. Zachary Breitengross was our 1st AC/camera operator. Kyle Perrit was another AC. Christopher Orosco was our sound mixer. And last but not least our crew was anchored by several students from Trident Technical College, The Arts Institute of Charleston and Savannah College of Art and Design.
8. What project(s) are you currently working on?
Trey, Alissa and I have a few projects in the works. Nothing concrete yet, it all depends on how well III is received. But we do have a few ideas floating around. In the meantime, I have put together a short film with a good friend of mine, Steve Thomas. Steve is a preditor, which is a fancy term for producer/editor. And I am sure telling people you are a preditor is a great way to end conversations, but I digress. I co-wrote it with Steve. We are producing it. He is directing it and I am acting in it. We should begin filming sometime in June.
An excerpt from my upcoming novel
Release Date: September 2012
Fairytales always start with once upon a time and end with happily ever after. Somewhere in the middle there’s a prince, an evil queen and a distressed maiden, a victim of her own beauty. Gallantly, the prince rides in, saving his true love, proving his manhood and once again restoring balance to the universe. My fairytale, however, was not like that at all. Let’s take for example my ex-husband Ron. In our fairy tale, Ron was no prince. Don’t get me wrong; I truly believe he started off with good intentions. But, then he lost his job, started drinking and I became his personal punching bag. After the third miscarriage I was told I could never have children. At that point, I really didn’t care if I died.
But, on one particular evening back in 1977, something happened that would change my life forever. I had come home from the grocery store to find Ron sitting on the front steps of our house with his usual can of beer suctioned to his left hand as if it were an extension of his fingers. I could tell he had been drinking all day and was itching for a fight, so I didn’t even bother asking for help with the groceries. There was still the idea that I had to walk up the steps and past him to get to the front door. I prayed he didn’t attack me with the groceries still in my hand. I walked at a slow pace, avoiding eye contact and carefully slinked passed him hoping not to hit the back of him with the screen door as I squeezed through.
I made it into the kitchen and managed to at least put away the frozen food, eggs and milk before the first punch was thrown. I could feel him coming up behind me and so I instinctively blocked my body with the bag of groceries since he usually struck me in the stomach where nobody could see the bruising. But this time he caught me off guard with an elbow to my throat and as I fell to the floor he kicked me in the face sending me smashing into the corner of the table, which dislocated my jaw. Everything got distorted and I felt a piercing hum coming from my ears. I couldn’t hear what he was saying and I was pretty sure my right eye had swollen shut so I tried hard to move into the bathroom using the sight of my left eye that only had a little blood dripping in it. I was able to catch my breath for a minute before he began round two.
When it was finally over, I found myself lying on the front lawn covered in blood. I thought for sure I would be dead any minute judging from the amount of blood pouring out of my nose and the severity of the pain coursing through my body. But then something happened; I saw out of the corner of my left eye a little boy standing in the street staring at Ron as he sat on the front steps drinking his beer and watching me die.
The boy’s name was Patrick, he was around ten years old and he lived in our neighborhood. He stood there holding his baseball glove and ball and just stared at Ron for almost two whole minutes. I wanted to scream for him to run away but no sound would come out of my mouth. Then he turned and ran as fast as he could towards his house. I was happy he was safe, I didn’t want Ron to hurt him and I didn’t want that poor boy to have to witness anymore than he already had. I blacked out again for a while and waited for death to take me. But it never came.
Instead, two women from the neighborhood came running towards me and were picking me up off the front lawn. Their names were Priscilla and Sally. They lived a few houses down from us. I never got a chance to get to know them on account of the fact that we didn’t have many visitors and Ron would never in a million years let me have a life outside of him.
I was scared for them but I couldn’t say anything. I could barely even move. I don’t recall much about what transpired at the time but I do remember some words being exchanged between Priscilla and Ron. I didn’t know Priscilla that well, other than that she was a nurse at the local hospital and had a son named Patrick, the boy who saw me on the lawn. He must have run to her for help. Thank God for him. I feared Ron might hurt them too but they didn’t seem scared of him. They picked me up and carried me away. I was a rag doll, lifeless in their arms as they carried me back to Priscilla’s house. That was the last time I ever saw Ron again. I don’t know what happened and I didn’t ask questions. I was just grateful that they found me when they did because they not only saved my life, but they changed the course of it forever.
Butterflies Wake is an experiment that took to life in August of 2010 originally as a TV pilot. We shot a short 25 minute “pitch concept” but had little to no budget to make it how it needed to be made. Now I am turning it into a novel, letting it unravel the way it was intended too, without constraint of budget to interrupt the flow of idea. I look forward to sharing it with you soon. For more information on the short film made about it you can visit the website and catch the trailer while you are there. Stay tuned for more updates!
An interview with actress, Leslie Vicary
The film is the story of two kids who are orphaned, then sent to a foster home at which they experience potentially abusive circumstances, followed by their decision to become self-sufficient on the street, which leads to all sorts of dangerous scenarios. I play Sherry, the foster mom.
Was it a difficult role to play, why or why not?
As an actress, it was great fun. Who doesn’t love to get to be the bad guy? Only two things concerned me. I had to smoke and I am a reformed chain-smoker and I’m not going to give myself any chance to start smoking again. And the trashy short-shorts. Unfortunately, by the time I tried the costume on, it was too late to do the million walking lunges and squats that they really required.
Have you ever acted opposite children before?
I act opposite my own 5-year-old child on a daily basis with storytelling, impressions, etc. I’ve done theatre with kids and taught kid’s acting and art, so I was comfortable with the experience.
Tell me about Olivia and Sheldon, how were they on set?
Olivia and Sheldon were both great. I like to stay in the essence of the character while we’re shooting and, especially with unseasoned actors, your real-life relationship with other actors can bleed over into your character, so I wanted them both to be uncomfortable and a little suspicious of me, so I glared at them a lot. But I was impressed. They were both great listeners, took direction and could handle not being the center of attention when they weren’t supposed to be. That’s half the battle with kids. Sheldon is older, though. I haven’t seen the final cut yet, but from what I experienced, I expect their performances to be genuine and moving. Olivia-the-8-year-old gave me some line readings in the parking lot after our first table read. ”You might want to say it like…” ”Are you giving me a line reading?” She’ll probably be directing my next project.
Knowing R.W. Smith as well as I do, it’s hard for me to imagine him playing the evil foster dad. What was it like seeing him transform into a bad guy?
I just remember our first read together in the audition and feeling like he was going to do something so weird and crazy any minute, being totally game for it. Then they told us to read it again, but less creepy. Ha! It was really fun working with him. I can’t wait to see his other scenes. He’s not only an amazing actor, who cares about the craft and the quality, he’s also very giving and generous as a person, which is so much more important. He does transform completely into a creepy bad guy, but then he would pick up Olivia and give her a hug after the scene. He has young daughters, too, so that probably helps. I saw him on St. Pat’s Day with his girls and he was wearing a kilt and had a full head of grey hair and enormous muttonchops. I didn’t even recognize him.
What was it like working with Travis Hollifield, Barrett Burlage and Edward Tilden of Terrible Parrot Films?
Oh, they are part of that whole group of wonderful local people doing quality work and telling great stories. I’m so thrilled to get to work with them. Attention to detail and organization rate highly with me. They are highly organized, professional, safe, considerate, etc. AND they are creative, driven, artistically skilled, etc. You don’t always get organized and artistic in the same package. You do with Terrible Parrot and each of the guys, Travis, Ed, Barrett. And they seem to really work well together, each respecting the others talents and opinions and giving them space, while filling in for each other’s weaknesses. They should do marriage seminars or something. It has been great working with them.
How long have you been an actress?
Do you want me to tell you about the time I did a monologue from “Ice Castles” in a junior high beauty pageant now? No, no. Like a boyfriend you just can’t ditch, I’ve acted on and off since I was a kid, attended a high school of the arts in Atlanta, majored, then minored, in Theatre, performed in theatre, commercials, voiceovers, radio etc. etc. Then I quit the day-job after I had my child 5 years ago and it seemed like the perfect time to reinvent myself into what I had hoped to be all along. Many dollars, hours and mileage logs later, I have a number of independent films, commercials, industrials, training, etc. accomplished.
Prior to “My Sister Sam” you did a one-woman show on stage is that correct? Tell me about that.
Yes, I recently performed a one-woman-show at South of Broadway Theatre under Mark Gorman’s direction called, “The Last Flapper”, based on the life of Zelda Fitzgerald. I really hope to perform that again in a full run very soon. I am on fire for that show and sharing her story…she was such an extraordinary woman.
What ways are you trying to improve yourself as an artist?
I’ve discovered the agony/ecstasy of improv this year through the Theatre 99 classes. I took Brandy’s Level 1 and 2 and am currently in Greg’s 3. It started as just one of the many steps in the ongoing saga of destroying fear and cultivating focus in the face of audition anxiety. Improv is the theatrical equivalent to dodge ball and I come home with big ole raspberries all over me some nights and some nights I get to make people cry and other people laugh at them crying. Right on.
What other local independent filmmakers have you recently worked with?
I’m THRILLED to have had the opportunity to work on wonderful independent films by some of the best filmmakers in our region, Terrible Parrot, D.A.M.E. Media (watch for “Remembering” – also with R.W. Smith and Olivia Gainey), Seamless Pictures (happy to make a small appearance in “The Dust That Floats…”), etc. I just shot “Crossing the River” near Columbia for Emilie McDonald who is a filmmaker from New York, which I hope we’ll see at CIFF next year.
Tell me about the Charleston film scene, has it grown in recent years?
The film scene in the southeast and Charleston is growing and the talent base keeps getting better and bigger. It’s a fun time to be here! Now if we can just get a couple of great stories in which women in their 30s or 40s are the main characters, rather than the main character’s mother or wife, so I can really sink my chops into something! I’m ready when you are!
Check out the trailer for “My Sister Sam”
MY SISTER SAM
Saturday, April 14 Block 3 ~ 3:00pm
Drama (29 mins.)
SC, World Premiere Directors/Writers: Travis Hollifield and James Edward Tilden Producers: Barret B. Burlage, Travis Hollifield and James Edward Tilden
Cast: Sheldon Faure, Olivia Gainey, R.W. Smith, Natalie Sullivan, and Jeff Albertson
Synopsis: “My Sister Sam” is the story of eight-year-old Samantha and her teenage brother Brian. When the only world they have ever known is shattered by a horrible tragedy, they are placed into an abusive foster home, forcing Brian to fight to protect his sister. With nothing more than a backpack and a twenty dollar bill Brian and Sam choose a life on the street.
An Interview with Actor, Daniel Jones
You have a few short films premiering at the 2012 Charleston International Film Festival this year. Can you tell me about them?
Sure. This year I have THE SECRET NUMBER (starring role) by director Colin Levy, COCKPIT (supporting role) by directors Matt Allen & Jason Clairy, and DAWN (supporting role) by director Joshua David Matthews.
They are all very different, what made you decide to do these films?
The Director’s reel, the DP’s reel, the Editor’s reel, and the Sound team’s reel were all outstanding. Mostly, the scripts were very well written and interesting.
You get approached all the time to work on films with people, what makes you pick one role over another?
The first things I want to see are the director’s reel, the DP’s reel, the editor’s reel, and finally the sound teams reel. I want to know how their past projects look, what kind of camera they are shooting on, what was the final sound quality. If I like what the team has done before, I read the script. If the script is interesting and entertaining, I sign on.
How long have you been an actor and what drew you to do this kind of work? Did you go to school for it and if so, where?
Actually, I was never drawn to any kind of film work. I was about to retire from the military and knew I would need a job to supplement my retirement pay, so I started looking through the brochure of Trident Technical College’s offered programs. I decided that I would become a radiologic technologist, or a vet tech. When I told my wife my decision, she said, “I’ve never heard you talk about wanting to do either of those things. Why don’t you do something you ‘want’ to do?” It actually pissed me off a little bit, and I thought to myself, “I’ll show her. I’ll take filmmaking courses. I will NEVER be able to make a living doing that.”
Before I started the courses at Trident, I had never even thought about working in film or television. I’d never held a film or video camera. I had no passion for it whatsoever. Within eight months of starting classes, I was hired as a commercial producer at ABC News 4 in Charleston, South Carolina. Within a year and a half, I was senior commercial producer. Although I did go to school for film production, I’ve never taken any formal acting classes. I began acting out of necessity.
While I was still an intern at ABC News 4, my friend John Barnhardt (senior commercial producer) and I wrote a script together called, TO END ALL DAYS. We had the entire film cast, but our “Bar Owner” dropped out at the last minute. John said “Why don’t you just play the bar owner?” So I did. After the premiere, people kept telling me I should be an actor. So, I listened to the audience. If they thought this was my strength in filmmaking, then this would be the path I would follow. I immediately shifted my attention from production to performance. Acting was something that had never crossed my mind until that time. Although acting was never an interest or a passion of mine, I’ve grown to love it.
What do you hope to achieve in your career as an actor?
To amass a body of work I can be proud of, while keeping gas in the tank, lights on in the house, and food in the pantry.
I understand you also have worked behind the camera, which do you prefer and why?
I only worked behind the camera for the film program at school and as a commercial producer for a short period of time. Professionally, acting is all I do or have an interest in doing. However, if you’d like to see my DP stuff, here it is…Click Here
What other festivals have your films premiered in or will be premiering in?
I had a film called PATROL in 2010 that went to Los Angeles, Sundance, and Seattle; it even toured Italy, and was the opening night film at the Gen Art Film Festival in NYC. It was also in the running for a student Oscar. That was a pretty cool feeling. John Ford directed it and has moved on to do some impressive things since. I’m hoping to work with John again when I get out to L.A.
Currently, I have a starring role in THE SECRET NUMBER. I had the opportunity to work with a great friend of mine, Frank Ponce on this one. When Frank is attached to a film, it’s going to be a good one. It’s co-produced by Roque Nonini and Frank.
Colin Levy is a tremendous talent as not only Director, but in the VFX department too. It was an awesome opportunity for me to work with him. One of the greatest aspects of the film is its look, and DP Michael Lloyd was awarded the Panavision Cinematographers Award in the Savannah Film Festival this year. THE SECRET NUMBER won the award for best student film and the city of Savannah award too. It was also nominated for the Verna J. Fields award in sound design. It is just a really well put together movie. Also, it’s going to be playing in the Newport Beach Film Festival the day after I get to L.A.
Another film called, THE ROAD TO JACOB is also currently making rounds in the festivals. It just won best student film in the Beaufort International Film Festival. I’ve had the opportunity to work with Matt Allen several times on projects, but this was our first time together as writer/director and actor. I think it turned out really well. Pieter Ribbens was the DP and my buddy Mike Howell did a wonderful job on the edit. It’s playing out in the Hill Country Film Festival this month in Fredericksburg, TX.
There are also two supporting roles I have in the Charleston International Film Festival this year. One of the films is called DAWN, Joshua David Matthews was the writer/director. Not only did I get to work with Josh, who I worked with briefly on THE SECRET NUMBER, I got to work with Michael Lloyd again on this movie, as well as Kevin Ray, the editor of TSN. Visually one of the most beautiful shorts I’ve ever seen, and Boogie Dabney gives a solid performance in the lead.
The second is called COCKPIT, directors Matt Allen & Jason Clairy. It also stars Matt and Travis Hicks. This film is guaranteed to put a smile on your face. I’m actually working with Matt again on a film called TICKET TO RIDE just before I leave for L.A. Matt’s co- directing with Travis on this one, so it’s sure to be a fun set. And the DP’s reel looks very impressive.
So you are moving to Los Angeles, are you nervous?
Yeah, mostly I’m nervous about maintaining two households in two cities that are very expensive to live in, and I’m not looking forward to being away from my family, but I’m not nervous about working in L.A. A good performance reads the same no matter what coast you’re working on.
As an actor, do you have any advice you’d like to give to aspiring actors?
My first piece of advice? If you’re good at anything else, do that. Although I say it tongue in cheek, there’s a large amount of truth in it too.
First, know what you want to accomplish, exactly how far you want to take it, and what you are willing to do without to get it.
Second, be brutally honest with yourself about the roles you can actually do. If you’re 30-50, you’re not going to get the lead role of the young hot eighteen to twenty something. Instead of feeling down about it, be happy that there are more roles for someone that looks like you in just about every film.
Third, develop an enormously thick skin. You will not get 95% of the roles you audition for. If you can’t handle rejection, do something else. Seriously.
I follow three rules. Be on time, know your lines and don’t be a dick. Do these three things and it will open doors for you. Try to work with people that are above your skill level, and bust your ass to learn everything you can while you’re working with them. Be prepared to work long and sometimes stress-filled hours. Be prepared to sit around doing nothing for hours. Have a good book, put a game of solitary on your smart phone, and bring bug spray.