Category Archives: Movies and TV

‘The Drownsman’: Actor Ry Barrett Discusses Aquatic, Supernatural Thriller

TheDrownsmanAfter nearly drowning in a tragic lake accident, a young Madison (Michelle Mylett) finds herself bound to an uncontrollable fear of water. Unable to rid herself of her hydrophobia, four of Madison’s friends stage a desperate intervention. But in doing so, they unknowingly release a supernatural serial killer that’s determined to drag them one by one into a dark, horrifying place from which they may never return.

The premise for “The Drownsman” contains all of the goodness from many of the classic horror films of the 80’s but with its own unique twist. That being, an all female lead cast. Something that even by today’s standards is unheard of for films of the horror genre.

Directed by Chad Archibald, The Drownsman also stars Caroline Palmer, Gemma Bird Matheson, Sydney Kondruss and Clare Bastable.

Actor Ry Barrett has a history of playing nefarious villains in horror but his role of Sebastian Donner (aka The Drownsman) may be his best yet! Barrett gives life to a monster that has every evil intention of Freddy Kreuger or Pinhead, yet possesses his own twisted, demonic purpose.

I recently spoke with Barrett about his work on The Drownsman and more in this exclusive interview!

How did this project come about for you?

Chad Archibald and I go back a long way as friends and he was telling me about the idea. He asked me if I would read the script just to give him some feedback. I really liked the character so I asked if I could read for it. Originally, they were looking for an older man who was a bit more lanky and skinny. But I went in and read for the character and even wrote a separate monologue, just to see if I could creep them out. They liked what I did and changed their minds about what the character was going to be.

What was it about the script that attracted you to the role?

It all goes back to my love for these kind of characters. I loved the Hellraiser and Nightmare On Elm Street franchises. The whole idea of these tortured individuals who come back for revenge though some sort of supernatural outlet really appealed to me. I already knew it was a movie I’d love to see, so I definitely wanted to play a role in it.

How would you describe your character, Sebastian Donner?

He’s a tortured, mysterious individual who has this shoddy past. Early on, you see that he’s a serial killer who drowns women in various ways in order to receive comfort. The reason he does it is touched upon in the film but something happens through one of his victims that turns him into this supernatural entity that’s stronger, more powerful and evil.

What was the filming process like?

It was a lot of fun. There was intense make-up work and the aspect of water and shooting in winter in northern Canada posed some challenges, but it was very rewarding and great experience.

What was the chemistry like on set?

It was great. I had worked with Michelle on a film called “Antisocial” that had some pretty intense scenes. So we had already built up a level of comfort and rapport together. The girls had a great chemistry even before I stepped foot on set. It was cool to jump into this family where everyone was pulling for each other. We all worked well together. 

You mentioned your relationship with Chad. Can you speak a little about how that worked in “The Drownsman”?

Chad and I go way back and have done many projects together. We know each other so well that we’ve developed this form of short hand communication. He’s able to get exactly what he wants with very few words because he knows me so well. It’s nice to work with someone who knows you in that way.

What do you love most about horror?

I love all the different things about the genre. It draws on the fears that we don’t really understand and is something everyone can relate to. There are fun horror films and ones that just want to shake you. Then there are others that just want to talk you on a ride. “The Drownsman” is one of those movies that entertains you in a scary, fun way and also takes you on that ride.

Ryan Barrett HS2Did you always know that you wanted a career in acting?

I was more focused on playing in rock bands when I was younger but have always been a movie lover.

Shortly after a few of my friends had come out of film school, they asked me to be a part of one of their projects because they knew I had also taken drama in school. That experience changed my whole outlook. From then on, I was hooked!

Are there any other projects you’re currently working on?

The Demolisher; which is a film I produced and acted in will be premiering at FanTasia this year. It’s directed by Gabriel Carrer. I also have another film called “Save Yourself” that will also be hitting festivals soon. 

What excites you the most about the release of “The Drownsman”?

I’m hoping that people really enjoy it. It’s a fun, throwback horror film that takes you back to the films of the 80’s. A time when a lot of people grew up and fell in love with the genre. This is a love letter to those kinds of films.

The Drownsman is now available on Blu-Ray and DVD from Anchor Bay Entertainment

‘Prom Ride’: Actress Deanna Pak talks new horror-based thrill ride

DeannaPakEveryone knows that senior prom is supposed to be a night of elegance, rejoicing and celebrating with good friends. But when a psychotic killer hijacks a group of teens’ stretch limousine on their way to the event, the group’s night of celebration unexpectedly turns into one of desperation and despair.

Directed by Kazeem Molake, “Prom Ride” is a new horror/thriller that will be released just in time for this year’s prom season. With a talented cast of actors combined with shooting a majority of the film within the confines of a limo, it offers a unique take on the horror genre.

For multi-talented actress Deanna Pak, “Prom Ride” is another opportunity to flex her creative muscle. Pak plays the role of Junie, one of the “less experienced” members of the entourage who still wants to be cool with all of the popular girls.

I recently spoke with Pak about her role in “Prom Ride”, her career and more in this exclusive interview!

What attracted you to the story of “Prom Ride”?

For me, it was a story that was entertaining and scary at the same time. It was also unique in the sense that some parts use iPhone footage while others use the master shot. So it tells the story but also tells our version of it as well. It has a glimpse of found footage in addition to the horror and I thought that was really cool.

How did you become involved in the project?

It was through a typical audition process. I remember we started shooting up towards the end of 2013. The original goal was to release it last prom season but special effects weren’t quite complete. So they decided to wait until now!

How would you describe the story of “Prom Ride”?

It’s the story about a group of teens who are all best friends going to prom. One of the friends gets the group a huge, amazing stretch limousine to take them all there. On the way, someone hijacks the limo and we all become trapped inside trying to survive. Whoever is behind it then pits us against each other and threatens to kill us if we don’t comply. So needless to say, things get pretty crazy inside of the limo! [laughs].

What can you tell me about your character, Junie?

Junie is more of the innocent girl of the bunch. She and her date both had a crush on each other for the longest time and finally get together to go to the prom together. But she also has a few secrets she keeps to herself.

What was the chemistry like on set?

It was amazing. We spent so much time together rehearsing and then it was somewhere around ten straight days filming in the limo, so it became like family. We were all friends and that made it so much fun. 

What was it like working with Kazeem?

Working with Kazeem was a great experience. The thing I love about him is that he knew exactly what he wanted and was able to get it across in a very constructive way so that we would all look as good as possible.

What can you tell me about your background?

I started dancing when I was twelve and it became my main focus. Then in high school, I decided to try acting in school plays and Community Theater in addition to dance production. The part I love the most about dancing and acting is being able to tell a story. By the time I was in my second year of college I realized that acting was something I seriously wanted to pursue and I’ve been doing it ever since.

Are there any other projects you’re currently working on?

Right now I’m currently involved in a martial arts/horror film. The director is a good friend of mine and it’s going to be a lot more action than I’ve ever done before. They have a strong cast and I’m very excited about it.

Is there a bit of advice you can share with aspiring actors? Something you’ve learned along the way?

Be yourself and be happy with who you are. That energy alone will take you a long way. Of course, your craft is very important and you should continue to master it but learn and study as much as you can about the business. Focus on the things you want to do and then work from there. Being a student forever is my best advice. Never stop learning.

What excites you the most about the release of “Prom Ride”?

I expect people will love this film. It’s a really fun movie to watch. For me to be able to be a part of this project was great. I loved the creative they way they shot most of the film from inside of the limo. The whole thing was a great experience!

“Prom Ride” will be released on April 24th

Actress Sara Castro talks career, upcoming projects

SaraCastroSara Castro is making a difference, both in life and in the entertainment world. Since her arrival to the LA scene, the beautiful actress has sought to become a beacon of hope and positivity in the roles that she plays and in the life that she leads.

Whether it’s portraying a young mother with a belief in miracles in the film, “The Shift” or donating her personal time and energy to various charitable causes, Castro’s mission is to become an inspiration to others as well as lending a hand to those that are less fortunate.

Born and raised in Chicago to Colombian parents, Castro has been performing ever since she was a little girl. And with no less than two new film projects already in the works this year, Castro’s star will only continue to rise.

I recently had the chance to speak with this amazingly talented woman about her life, career and passion as well as her upcoming projects!

Did you always know that you wanted to be an actress?

I’ve always been involved in the arts in some way when I was growing up. Whether it was singing, acting or dancing. I even remember going to the movies a lot when I was growing up and always walking out feeling like I was one of the characters. I’d also make it a point to look around during the movie and see how people were paying attention to the film and how it had moved them. That’s what made me think it would be something cool to do.

What made you decide to make the move to California?

I did plays while I was in school and took some acting classes in college but eventually got a degree in liberal arts and journalism. I did a lot of short and independent films back home as well as anything that involved singing and dancing. But the thing that actually brought me to California was journalism. One day, I decided to make the move by myself.

What was it like suddenly finding yourself alone in California?

It was scary because I had come from a very big family and had always been protected by them. But I knew that I had to take that leap of faith and journalism was a way to get me out of my comfort zone, which was being at home. I’m so happy about that because I don’t know any other way I could have done it. But once I got here, I realized that journalism wasn’t for me and what I needed to do was move to LA in order to do what was next. I’ve been here ever since.

I’d like to ask you about one of your recent projects, “The Shift”. What can you tell me about the film and your role?

It was a wonderful experience. It’s a real heart wrenching movie and a wake-up call. You walk out of it wondering what you would do if you were in that same situation. It’s a story about dying with dignity. A topic that’s been in the news a lot lately and this movie really makes you think about it. I play the role of Carmen, the mother of an eight-year-old girl who’s dying of cancer. Carmen is very religious and believes in miracles, but that presents a struggle with a certain nurse who believes that a patient shouldn’t have to go through pain.

What attracts you to a project or script?

It’s the message and how authentic and real it is. I look for roles that have lots of substance and can challenge me. I love it when people can see me in a character and empathize with it. I want to send out good messages that make people reflect in good ways. Roles like that are very empowering.

What other projects are you working on right now?

I have two films that I’ll be shooting this year. The first is called “Outcall” where I play Francesca. She’s a girl putting herself through law school but at the same time is working as a call girl for the most powerful Madame in LA. One day, the cops go up to her and tell her to cooperate with them to help bring down the Madam or else. It’s a really cool, intense and action oriented plot.

The other film is “The Long Way” which is the story about a guy who drives from a small town in Oregon to LA to pursue his dream of becoming a writer. Along the way, he happens to run into my character, Angie; a real wild child who teaches him a thing or two about life.

Both films are going to be directed by Richard Friedman, who’s a veteran TV and film director. I’ve worked with him a few times in the past and he’s so amazingly talented.

Can you tell me a little about your philanthropy?

Paying it forward is so important to me. I come from a third world country (Columbia) and whenever I go visit, I see how there are less fortunate people there and it really hits home. I love helping kids and other people who need assistance. Autism is another big deal for me as well as helping the homeless.

What excites you the most about the year ahead? What are you most looking forward to?

I look forward to the opportunity of inspiring other women. I come from a single parent home where my mom has always been a pillar for me. She really motivated me throughout my life to work hard and smart and I want to be able to do the same for other women.

Is there a bit of advice you can give to someone who has dreams similar to yours?

Believe in something bigger than yourself and know that there is a powerful force somewhere in the universe that’s guiding you. It will humble and ground you and help guide you. Be persistent, always put in 120% and never let anyone say that you can’t fulfill your dream. For me, what drives me the most me is how wonderful I feel on set and being part of a project that grows into something beautiful.

Visit Sara Castro’s Official Website By Clicking Here!

Filmmaker Anna Martemucci discusses ‘The Genderton Project’

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Desperately wanting to act from the time she was very young, filmmaker Anna Martemucci has been quietly making a name for herself in the entertainment world by doing things her own way. Whether it’s through her fictional writing, acting in short videos or producing and directing feature length films like “Breakup At A Wedding” and “Hollidaysburg”, Martemucci’s drive to succeed and ability to express herself creatively has paid dividends.

Martemucci’s new vision, “The Genderton Project” is a cross-dressing comedy series that explores gender roles, sexuality, and sexual politics through a kaleidoscope of three intertwining story lines and eras. Uniquely interesting is the fact that in “The Genderton Project”, men’s roles will be played by women and the women’s roles will be played by men. To that end, Martemucci and her partners at Periods. Films have launched an Indigogo campaign where fans and film lovers can go to help fund the project and choose from a multitude of “gifts” as a thank-you for supporting the cause.

In addition to using the money raised for production costs, Martemucci plans to donate 2% of the total funds to the Human Rights Campaign.

I recently caught up with Martemucci to find out more about “The Genderton Project” and how film fans can support this creative, new endeavor!

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How did this idea for The Genderton Project begin?

The whole thing started because my partners, Philip and Victor Quinaz and I (Periods. Films) fell in love with Drew Droege after watching his Chloe Sevigny videos. We were obsessively quoting his videos for a year or so and then once we moved to LA, Victor decided to email him. We met, fell in love and figured we should make something together. Rather than making a baby, “The Genderton Project” was born!

How would you describe the stories/episodes?

We like to say that it’s a little like Portlandia meets The Hours. It’s ridiculous comedy plus extremely curated cinematic images. The thing that always pops into my head is the idea of “what if we made a ridiculous comedy that looks like Todd Haynes’s Mildred Pierce on HBO?” That might be kind of an obscure reference but that’s what I envision for one of the vignettes. Where Drew Droege plays an devoted 1960’s housewife dying from loneliness.

What can you tell me about the cast and your characters?

I can tell you that we are using some of our most favorite performers from the NY and LA comedy scenes. We’ve amassed quite a pool of talent over the years. In addition to our star Drew, we’ve brought on John Milhiser (SNL), Mary Grill (Breakup at a Wedding, Veep, The Mindy Project), Jonny Lisecki (Gayby), Cass Bugge (Key & Peele, The Brink), Jenn Schatz (30 Rock), Matt Hobby (Hart of Dixie, Mom), Beth Crosby (Jessica & Hunter), Philip Quinaz (Breakup at a Wedding, Hollidaysburg, The Chair), Shira Weitz (Brunch on Sundays) and Mel Shimkovitz (Transparent).

You’ve had quite a bit of success with your films “Hollidaysburg”, “Breakup At A Wedding” and “Periods”. What made you decide to go the Indigogo route for “The Genderton Project”?

It might be hard to believe but there is a huge gulf between artistic and financial success. So we don’t have an income to show for the artistic success we’ve been lucky enough to forge!  I have a day job and am hoping to make rent this month. And though this is a project we’ve believed in from the beginning; artistically, we’ve shopped it around with tons of enthusiasm and Hollywood was well, interested, but we most definitely heard the words “too gay” come out of more than one person’s mouth. Rather than that unfortunate statement, we like to think of the project as something that’s just a little too groundbreaking for what Hollywood is currently churning out.  The executives and producers who dole out money for projects are very single-minded about making their money back. That’s why we decided to take it to the Internet and to the PEOPLE!  We felt this was the kind of project that should exist, NOW and not whether or not executives at film and TV companies were ready to put money behind it. The people doling out Hollywood dollars, (God love ’em) have been very wrong before.

How can people help with funding and what are some of the perks supporters can receive?

You can help by contributing to the project and becoming a backer! Join us! Just visit here.

We have a lot of tantalizing perks, like a naked picture of Drew Droege (where we’ll mail you a beautiful female nude with Drew’s head superimposed on her neck). And on the more expensive side are workshops with our filmmaking gang, a custom oil painting by me and even a walk-on role on “The Genderton Project”!

Genderton2What are you plans for “The Genderton Project” once it’s successfully funded? Do you see it as a more long ranged project?

Our plan is to start production very soon after we’re funded and plan to debut the finished project this summer. The project might go to film festivals, it might act as a TV pilot/ proof of concept for a series or it could end up as a stand-alone piece. We’ve designed it and wrote it with all of those possibilities in mind.

Why do you think people should support “The Genderton Project” in this campaign?

Gender roles and how they define how we live our lives and interact with one another is a hot-button issue right now, and one that’s consumed me for a long time. I’ve been fascinated with the way that being female has defined my life choices and the way that I’m perceived. I’m also obsessed by the idea of maleness and how different or the same my life would be if I was born a male.

I’ve also been frustrated with the portrayal of both women and men in mainstream Hollywood storytelling, and the clichés that tend to dominate many of the narratives we consume on a mass level. Gender roles are strange little boxes that society puts us in. With this project, we’re seeking to upend the way we’ve always seen gender portrayed in cinematic works by creating a cinematic world in which gender means something else entirely, or rather, a world where it ceases to have any meaning. By swapping every character’s gender with that of the actor cast to portray them ,we are calling attention to the rigidity of gender roles in our mainstream stories, and how ridiculous gender stereotyping can be.  

We hope this technique will call attention to the sheer humanity of the characters within each storyline. After all, we’re all human and we all bleed red. Shouldn’t our stories at least attempt to reflect the complexity of the human spirit in the same way that life does? 

It’s going to be a worthwhile, wacky journey and hope people come with us for this wild ride! It won’t be boring, we can promise you that!

 

‘Muck': Writer/Director Steve Wolsh talks new horror film

MuckAfter narrowly escaping from an ancient burial ground buried under the marshes of Cape Cod, a group of friends emerge from the thick darkness, tattered and bloody. They soon stumble upon an empty Cape Cod vacation house and break in to take shelter. But whatever was in the marsh is still after them and the group soon learns that the evil that’s hunting them isn’t the only thing that wants them dead.

Shot in state-of-the-art 4K Ultra HD resolution, “Muck” is the debut film by writer/director Steve Wolsh. The film stars horror icon, Kane Hodder [“Friday The 13th series], as well as 2012 Playboy Playmate of the Year, Jaclyn Swedberg.

What makes “Muck” so interesting is the fact that it’s actually the second film in a horror-fueled trilogy. Although releasing the second film of a three-part series first may cause some confusion, there is more than enough suspense, gore and beautiful women in this first “chapter” to lay a foundation for what will surely become one of horror’s most engaging film trilogies.

I recently spoke with writer/director Steve Wolsh about his vision for “Muck” in this exclusive interview.

What made you decide to take on the role of filmmaker for this project?

I’ve always wanted to make films but always held a real job as well as having other responsibilities. I was about to turn thirty and finally realized that this was the time. So I quit my job, sold everything and made a movie. Even though I had a limited budget I really wanted to do something that was different and unique. It’s three stories and 347 pages of script with “Muck” being the middle 86 pages. It was the part of the story I wanted to tell first. Then we’ll do the prequel and then the sequel.

What inspired the story?

I wanted to tell a story in Cape Cod because that’s where the house I own is (which is also the one used in the film). I wanted a certain look and feel and that was motivated by the idea of telling a story in an unnatural way. I just started writing and at some point had all the ingredients for a trilogy. Even though this film is the middle part, everything will eventually make sense. There are so many options for characters and things we can do. It’s more than you get from your typical horror film, and all of that flowed into “Muck”.

How would describe this story of “Muck”?

It’s almost like a bad dream, because there’s no beginning and no end. And even though you may not understand it at first, you’ll want to watch it again. It pays homage to old school horror by taking some of the things that you’ve seen before but exaggerating them. For example: in some typical horror films there always seems to be a hot girl walking around in her underwear. That’s when I thought, “Ok. What if we had a chick walking in her underwear from the opening scene?” [laughs]. Those are some of the things that we did.

How did Kane Hodder get involved in the project?

He was the very first person I wanted. I really wanted to start a franchise and there was no better way to do that than by getting Kane Hodder. What makes “Muck” work was not only the vision of the movie, but also the continuity. Kane read the script, loved it and wanted to be a part of it. He came out for three days, filmed for one and went through six hours of makeup. He was a blast to work it.

You wore so many hats on this project [writer, director, producer]. Did you encounter many challenges during the filming process?

There were many, but this was something that I’ve always wanted to do. Some days you get kicked in and some days everything goes right. You take the good with the bad and learn how to navigate. There was no rulebook. You just have to do it.

One of the things that makes “Muck” so interesting is your desire to not to use any CGI for effects. Why did you decide to go that route?

As a horror fan, I think people enjoy it more without CGI. It reminds them more of the old school horror. The idea of having fake blood come up through a pitchfork and then spraying out looks much better than filming a scene and then adding imaginary blood afterwards. The challenge of figuring out how to do it also makes it more fun. Like, how do we drag someone off the balcony by a rope and then fall 35 feet? Or how to we drag a naked girl up the stairs with a real axe? [laughs].

What can you tell me about the prequel, “Muck: Feast of Saint Patrick”?

In a lot of ways, it’s nothing like “Muck” because there are certainly other things to be worried about in the marsh. In “Muck”, you also don’t see the characters of Desiree, Noah, Billy and Kylee as normal. You only see them as freaked out and hurt. In the next film, you’ll get to meet them and know them better. What’s interesting is that you’ve never seen a horror movie where you see people die, but know that they’re still “safe”. Some people may love it or hate it because they might not understand it, but I’m slow plating you. There are things best left to the imagination. You’ll appreciate it more when you find out the answers. It’s three films worth of movie but I’m not giving it to you all at once. When you watch the prequel and then watch “Muck” again, you’ll have a better understanding of what’s going on. And when it’s all over, it’s going to be something bigger than you get with typical horror.

Now that “Muck” is completed, what are you most looking forward to?

I’m looking forward to getting to work on the next movie. I’m ready to get back at it and take all of the things I’ve learned from this one into the next. That’s going to be exciting. I’m really proud of the fact that this movie exists. It feels really gratifying to know that my movie is in stores in places I’ve never been to. The fact that “Muck” exists and is part of the universe forever is the thing I’m most proud of.

“Muck” is now available on DVD and Blu-Ray from Anchor Bay Entertainment.

Actor Terry Dale Parks talks upcoming blockbuster projects, career

TerryDaleParkFans of science fiction blockbusters will certainly be seeing see a lot of Terry Dale Parks this year. The Oklahoma born actor will be seen in no two of the most highly anticipated films of 2015.

First up is Terminator: Genisys, a film that returns Arnold Schwarzenegger to the series he made famous that opens July 1.

Next up is “Maze Runner: The Scorch Trials”, the sequel to last summer’s blockbuster and the second part of the young-adult dystopian science fiction trilogy written by James Dashner. The film opens in theaters on September 18.

And if all that weren’t enough, Parks also has a recurring role on the upcoming ten-episode ABC drama, “Astronaut Wives Club” alongside actors Yvonne Strahovski and Desmond Harrington.

I recently spoke with Parks about these blockbuster projects and how he got started in acting.

Without giving too much away, what can you tell me about Terminator: Genisys?

For purists of the original Terminator films, this one is completely dedicated to taking it back to the original feel of the first films, particularly with the whole Sarah and John Connor relationship. Plus, there’s some great twists and turns that no one will see coming. Even the way they’re able to have Arnold return is so creative. The storyline is definitely for the Terminator purists.

What was it like working with Arnold?

It was amazing. I remember when we first got to New Orleans for a table read. Arnold was there and there was such energy in the room that everyone was excited. The interesting thing about Arnold is that he has gone through a character arc in his own life – especially with his political career. He has such a kind, almost fatherly essence and charm to him that was just fascinating to watch.

Another film you’re involved in this year is “Maze Runner: The Scorch Trials” . How did that project come about?

I’ve always been a big Sci-Fi fan and one night on a whim, I decided to go the movies to see the original “Maze Runner” film. It just blew me away. It was such an entertaining ride and the chemistry with the kids was amazing. The next day, I happened to get a call from my agent who told me that I had a reading scheduled for Maze Runner 2. The turnaround was so quick that within a week, I found myself standing outside of Albuquerque, New Mexico with the same kids I had just seen in a movie only a week ago! [laughs].

We’ll also be seeing you in a recurring role in “Astronaut’s Wives Club”. What can you tell me about that?

It’s based on a series of books that follows the mission of astronauts from the 1960’s. It was during a time when all of these big things were going on: the civil rights movement, rioting and war. The astronauts back in those days were like superheroes. They did things that were not humanly possible – like going to the moon. I think the great thing about the story is that we’re able to see that these people are human beings and put their pants on one leg at time just like everyone else. I play the role of Jim Webb, who was the government official in charge of overseeing NASA. He wasn’t necessarily a well liked person from the astronauts’ perspective, but he’s a very interesting character.

Can you tell me a little about how you got started in acting?

I grew up on a cattle ranch in Oklahoma with an older brother who was very artistic. The two of us would always watch sketch comedies together like The Carol Burnett Show and Saturday Night Live. He’s one of the best storytellers I’ve ever met and we would often put together our own sketches for the neighborhood kids to watch. Then when I was in junior high school my brother started getting involved with competitive drama. I remember following him around to his tournaments and was just fascinated by it. It made me realize there was something else to do in high school other than play football. That’s when I started to get involved.

What happened next?

After college, I moved to LA and spun my wheels there for a long time. It eventually got to the point to where I was either going to be homeless or I could go home to the ranch I had recently inherited. It was a no brainer. I decided to move back to Oklahoma and started working a day job. Then one day, a friend of mine wanted to take me to a casting director workshop. I was hesitant at first but had such a great time and a few weeks later the director cast me in a film with Thomas Haden Church and Joshua Jackson called “Lone Star State of Mind”. That led to more films and the next thing you know, I was back in Los Angeles! It’s funny how things come together.

What excites you the most about the future?

I feel like I’m at a point in my career where I’m in the right place at the right time. I just finished another great role on “NCIS New Orleans” with Scott Bakula, who is another fantastic guy. It’s really rewarding for me to be involved in projects where I can pick up a lot and be around people who are so good at what that they do. It’s been a really rewarding career.

Photo by: Peter Konerko

‘Turn’: Actor Samuel Roukin Discusses Revolutionary War Spy Drama

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What do you get when you combine phenomenal writing and acting with a historical based spy thriller? You get, “Turn: Washington’s Spies”, the new AMC drama series that tells the true story of spies during the American Revolution who helped give rise to modern espionage tactics and gave freedom to our country.

“Turn: Washington’s Spies: The Complete First Season” is a new 3-disc set that’s available now on Blu-ray, Digital HD and DVD. The package contains all ten episodes from the show’s first season as well as a plethora of bonus features, including a history of the show, deleted scenes and interviews with the cast and crew.

English actor Samuel Roukin plays the role of John Graves Simcoe on “Turn: Washington’s Spies”. A ruthless lieutenant whose high stakes, emotional affections for the beautiful Anna Strong (Heather Lind) is matched only by the viciousness he holds for the rebel alliance.

I recently spoke with Roukin about the release of the first season of “Turn: Washington’s Spies”. He also gives me a sneak peek at the brand new season of the series, which airs April 13 on AMC.

How did the role of John Graves Simcoe come about for you?

I had originally read for a bunch of roles for the show when they offered me the role of Simcoe. In the original pilot, Simcoe is killed. So we filmed the scene where Simcoe was shot and I thought that was all there would be. Then after the show was picked up, I remember getting a call from producers telling me that the show just wasn’t the same without Simcoe and that they were going to rewrite the pilot and keep the character on the show. That’s really how it all began.

What was it about the show that attracted you?

One thing you must know is that in England, we get taught absolutely nothing about the American Revolution…. and we all know why! [laughs]. But when pilot season comes around each year, the really good scripts just pop out. Apart from that, the writing on this pilot was just phenomenal. You could see the world and the characters and the relationships were very clear. I immediately connected with the material and wanted to be involved. I wasn’t thinking about Simcoe initially, but when the time came my whole creative outlook just opened up. I saw so many options with this guy and had a very specific idea of what I wanted to do with him. He’s a character of such depth and complexity with so many different layers and extremes. He’s someone who’s completely viscous and unpredictable and it’s been great fun developing him.

In season one we see quite a bit of Simcoe’s affections for Anna. Will we be seeing more of this dynamic unfold in season two?

Absolutely. Simcoe really believes that there’s something there with Anna, and it’s interesting that he’s not just trying to intimidate her. In his mind, he really believes he has a chance with her and that there’s some sort of connection. That’s what keeps him coming back. I think he’s genuinely in love with her.

In the season one finale we see a brutal execution scene. Do you feel at that moment we’ve started to see the real face of John Simcoe?

What’s great about the development of the story is that by the end of season one every character has been changed significantly. For Simcoe, he’s always been expected to toe the line under an authority in which he believes to be indecisive and lacking in real military might. So when the crisis moment happens and the town they’ve been sent to defend is under attack, in his mind it’s very clear what needs to happen. I think one of the most dangerous things about Simcoe is that he knows exactly what the solution to the problem should be — even though it doesn’t chime with most human beings [laughs]. In his mind, Major Hewlett [Burn Gorman] wasn’t doing his job and the rebels needed to be sent a message. So in that regard he’s really acting on military instinct. He’s also hell bent on revenge for what’s happened to him and it was the perfect opportunity for payback.

What can fans expect from season two of “Turn: Washington’s Spies”?

From Simcoe, you’ll see what happens to him after his arrest. We know through history that he eventually takes over the Queen’s Rangers and we’re heading towards that. The Queens Rangers are a group of Special Forces sent in to do specific jobs and are a lethal force. Generally speaking, the tempo and velocity of the show goes off the charts in season two and it becomes a more intense, high stakes spy show with some really brutal events that take place. It’s all very exciting.

Did you always know that you wanted to be an actor when you were growing up?

Yes. From a young age I was drawn to it. My parents would always take me to the theater when I was growing up and I grew up in a family where there was a lot of storytelling and it fascinated me. I got involved in theater early on but didn’t know that it could be a job until late into my childhood. For me, it was always just one big, fun thing to do. But once I found out that you could do it for a living, that was it! Everything I did from that point on was driven on making it happen!

If you had to describe season two of “Turn: Washington’s Spies” in just two words, what would they be?

That’s easy. “High intensity”.

Turn: Washington’s Spies: The Complete First Season
Is available now on Blu-ray, Digital HD and DVD
Season Two premieres Monday, April 13 on AMC

Actress/Producer Brooke Lewis talks new films, career and life coaching

LewisWhen it comes to Hollywood actresses, you’d be hard pressed to find one who is as confident, inspiring or more hardworking than Brooke Lewis. Because whether she’s acting or producing, this beautiful Philadelphia, PA native has made a name for herself in the film and television world.

As an actress, Brooke has appeared in many different genres of film but is perhaps best known for her work in thrillers and mob themed stories like “iMurders” and “Sinatra Club” as well as for the comedic portrayal of her vampire “alter-ego”, Ms. Vampy.

If all that weren’t enough, Brooke is also a board certified life coach; using her talent and experience to encourage her clients to become more courageously confident and to discover their own inner voice.

Brooke has another busy year ahead of her with passion projects like “The Mourning” as well as the sequel to the hugely successful film, “Starship: Rising”. I had the pleasure of speaking with her about her upcoming roles as well as her work as an actress and life coach!

Tell me a little about your background.

I’m one of those people who knew what they wanted to do in life early on. As a child, I was very sensitive and a bit insecure. It wasn’t until I started taking drama classes that I discovered that acting was a great outlet for me to express myself and feel emotion. I started my career back East in Philadelphia where I did a lot of theater work. Then I went to New York where I did a few off Broadway shows like Tony n’ Tina’s Wedding before finally making the move to LA.

What can you tell me about your new film, “The Mourning”?

It’s a labor of love project. I first met Marc Clebanoff [writer/director] a few years ago when we did an action film called “Break” with Michael Madsen and David Carradine. I did a supporting role in the film and had a lot of fun. The two of us went on to do a few other films together and we eventually became good friends. In 2011, Mark and Michael Walton came to me and said that they wrote a great supporting role for me in a new film they were working on. It’s a drama with a sci-fi twist where I got to play a tremendous supporting role along with Louis Mandylor, who’s a tremendous actor. It has everything that makes for a great gritty indie film and it was a blast working with true artists who were really committed to the project!

What attracted you to the script?

By nature, I’ve always been a big fan of thrillers, but the thing I loved the most about it is that it’s a love story. Every good film starts with a good script and this is one of the most beautiful stories about love, life and how things change.

How would you describe the story of “The Mourning”?

It’s the story about a young guy who lives in a small town. He and his best friend go off to the Gulf War and without giving too much away, one of them comes back and the other one doesn’t. Now it’s twenty years later (present day) and this person who’s been missing suddenly reappears.

You have another film that’s about to be released, “Starship: Apocalypse”. What can you tell me about that?

Neil Johnson is another director who has been a blessing to work with. The first film, “Starship: Rising” came out last year and was a huge hit overseas. The sequel is a fun, spaceship driven, full blown sci-fi piece that I had the best time working on. I play Staris, who is a bad-ass fighter pilot. She’s strong and sassy and fights for what she believes in. She has integrity and will keep to her beliefs in order to protect her federation. She is one of my favorite roles.

How did you become involved in life coaching?

I’ve always been the kind of person my friends and associates would come to looking for advice and shortly after the economy crashed a few years ago I decided to explore that different side of me. I was so inspired by helping teens and young actresses that I took a year and a half off, went back to school, took the boards and became a certified life coach. I’ve since launched my business, Be You Be Fearless Life Coach. I really love what I do!

BrookeLewis

What other projects are you working on right now?

Director Greg Lamberson came to me about a new film he was working on called “Killer Rack” and told me that he needed me for a specific role. I was a bit skeptical at first but after reading the script was just blown away! It’s comedy at its best with a twinge of horror. Yes, it is literally about a killer rack of boobs, but here’s the catch. I’m all about coaching female empowerment and body image and this film has a great subtext and message to it. It’s a supernatural comedy about what happens when you get plastic surgery because you think it’s going to make you happy but then things go terribly wrong!

What’s the best advice you can give to young actors and actresses who may want to follow in your footsteps?

I tell young actors every day that if there’s anything in this world that fulfills them other than acting then they should go do it, because acting is such a challenging process. But if you’re like me and it’s the only thing you’re passionate about and the only thing that fills that place in your soul, then you definitely have to do it!

Photos by: Roger A. Scheck

‘Fear Clinic’: Actress Fiona Dourif talks new horror film, career

Fiona Dourif (Photo by: bluestella photography)

Fiona Dourif (Photo by: bluestella photography)

When five survivors of a horrifying tragedy experience trauma-induced phobias a year after the event, they seek treatment from Dr. Andover (Robert Englund) in hopes of finding the answers they need to get cured.

Fear Clinic” is a new horror/thriller based on the hugely popular  FEARnet web series which also stars Fiona Dourif (“Curse of Chucky”), Thomas Dekker (“Backstrom”, “Terminator: The Sara Connor Chronicles”) and Cory Taylor of Slipknot and Stone Sour.

Dourif plays the role of Sara; one of the five survivors of the tragedy whose own worsening symptoms have led her to seek refuge in Andover’s hyperbaric Fear Clinic chamber.

Dourif is no stranger to the horror world, having already appeared in such films as 2013’s “Curse of Chucky”. Horror enthusiasts also know that Dourif’s father, Brad Dourif, is a legend in the genre for his portrayal as the voice of Chucky in the original “Child’s Play” film and it’s subsequent sequels.

By putting a face to an emotion, “Fear Clinic” has a plot that is surprisingly dark and equally as visceral. It’s a film that also lends itself well to becoming a franchise, as there are many more avenues of phobia that can be explored.

I recently spoke to Fiona Dourif about “Fear Clinic”, her career and what she thinks makes horror such a great genre.

How did you become involved in “Fear Clinic”?

I originally got a call from my manager and was given a skeleton of the script of the story. I immediately thought the concept was really cool. Two weeks later, I was on a plane to Ohio!

What was it about it that attracted you to the story?

I liked the whole concept of cerebrally confronting your fears by acting them out. The whole idea that there’s nothing to fear but fear itself. I thought that was really cool and it comes across well in the finished film.

How would you describe the story of “Fear Clinic”?

A shortened version might be this – a doctor has come up with an instrument where you can confront your fears and be free of them. But then…. there are some problems! [laughs].

What was it like working with Robert England?

Robert is one of the most pleasant people to work with. He’s personable and cool and elevated everyone’s spirit a lot. He really held the ship together.

What was the filming process like?

It was mostly shot in one location. There were long days where we all hunkered down in what used to be an old folks home in a small town in Ohio. It was also used as a church that had services on Sunday mornings.

Fear Clinic

Fear Clinic

What makes horror so great?

There’s something tingly and exciting about fear. In some weird way, it’s also kind of sexy. It’s simple and extreme and makes you feel present. Horror also has an awesome fan base. They’re so loyal and are always excited.

What was it like growing up for you with your dad being the voice of Chucky?

Nothing but cool! Even though I wasn’t really into school as a teenager one of the coolest things about me in high school was being able to tell everyone that I was the ‘Seed of Chucky’! [laughs]. Then when I got the chance to be a part of it as an adult it was mind-blowing. I feel so lucky to be a part of that legacy.

Was acting something that you always wanted to pursue?

My dad put a moratorium on it as a kid, which looking back now was probably a good idea. Although I did produce a few History Channel documentaries in my twenties, it wasn’t until I realized the only reason I wasn’t acting was because I was afraid was when I made the switch. That’s when I said, “Ok. Let’s give this a try!” 

Are there any other projects you’re currently working on?

It’s what we call pilot season right now and shows are getting cast so I’ve been very busy. There are a few films in the air right now, but nothing is set in stone just yet. Although it does look like “Chucky 7” is going to happen. I love Don Mancini [creator of Child’s Play franchise] and would do that series for the rest of my life if they’ll have me. Right now, I’m just putting one foot in front of the other. We’ll see what happens!

Last question: Does Fiona Dourif have any fear or phobias?

You know, I’m really scared of aliens! [laughs]. Growing up, my mom made her living as a psychic and she really believed in them. She would often say that aliens are here, they’re all over the place and they’re going to get me! To this day it still freaks me out! [laughs].

Fear Clinic is available now on DVD/Blu-Raya

Filmmaker Anna Martemucci Talks ‘Hollidaysburg’, New Projects

photo 1In the Starz original docu-series, “The Chair”, executive producer Chris Moore (“Project Greenlight” “Good Will Hunting”) gives two first-time filmmakers the opportunity to create their own feature-length film.

Both “rookie” directors are given the exact same script and budget as well as having the final say on all aspects of the film. It was a challenge that filmmaker Anna Martemucci was more than up for, and her finished film is an out of the park home run.

Told from a balanced perspective, “Hollidaysburg” is a beautifully shot, funny, coming of age story about a group of friends who come home for Thanksgiving break after their first semester at college.

In addition to “Hollidaysburg” Martemucci (along with husband Victor Quinaz), have already completed two other films: 2013’s “Breakup At A Wedding” and “Periods”, a collection of twelve short films put together in a Monty Python-esque fashion that was released last December.

I recently spoke with Martemucci about “Hollidaysburg”, her time on “The Chair” as well as some of her current and upcoming projects.

How did you become involved in “The Chair” docu-series?

Chris Moore had seen our first movie, “Breakup At a Wedding”. It was a film my husband, Victor directed and one that I co-wrote, produced and also acted in. I got to work with Victor side by side on the project, so it’s a movie that really means a lot to me. Chris hired us to do some work for him as writers on a web series that he was producing and it was on the set of the series that the idea of me doing “The Chair” began. 

What attracted you to the project and influenced the direction you wanted to go?

The thing that really attracted me to the project was the idea that I would be able to make a teen movie that was set in Pennsylvania. Those two elements sold me right away. It was then just a matter of me knowing what I could to bring to the project as a director. I tend to write from an autobiographical place so I really wanted to make it personal and specific. I knew that I would have to do a major overhaul on the script in order to make it my own, so that’s what I did!

How would you describe “Hollidaysburg”?

It’s a coming of age comedy that deals with sex from a feminine point of view. Even though our main character is a dude, I really wanted to offer something that I haven’t seen before in the genre and something that was a more balanced gender look at sexual coming of age. 

Did you look at your role on “The Chair” as a competition or was the plan always about creating a work of art?

From the beginning I looked at it as an opportunity to make a film. It’s very rare that someone will come to you and say, “I have the budget for you to do a film. Go do it!” There was so much to think about and I was given all of the control. I was completely focused on making the best movie possible within the crazy constraints of budget and time. I kept pushing the envelope to make sure that the movie I was making was something I believed in.

What were some of the challenges you faced making “Hollidaysburg”?

One of the biggest challenges was finding the right actors and getting Carnegie Mellon University to release our two female leads. They were two active students at the time of our shooting. Aside from those things, it was brutally cold and there were always periods where there was a lot of snow, and then times when there wasn’t any snow. We worried about continuity a lot. Keeping everyone warm was also a struggle, for sure! [laughs].

photo 5

Is “Hollidaysburg” reflective of the type of films you’d like to make?

One of the most beautiful things about the whole experience was coming into a directorial voice that I had been honing for a long time and then getting the chance to speak in that voice cinematically. Seeing the final product and getting to share it with people was huge for me. It was a major transformation for me as a writer who did a lot of things with her husband into becoming a director. Although I love to do comedy and drama and films that are somewhere in between, the voice of “Hollidaysburg” is very much consistent with my voice as a filmmaker.

What other projects are you currently working on?

It’s great to have partners who keep things moving. Victor, Phil Quinaz and I just finished another movie a few weeks ago that’s very exciting. We’ve also completed a film called “Periods”, which is the feature film version of our short film series. It’s a journey through time that God himself takes you on. Kind of in the vein of Monty Python’s “Meaning of Life” or “Mel Brooks’ History of The World Part 1”. It’s got a lot of “Hollidaysburg” actors in it plus great cameos from such recognizable guys as Zachary Quinto, Penn Badgley, and Willy Garson.

What excites you the most about the future?

I’m looking forward to making more movies and would also love to see “Hollidaysburg” reach a larger audience, which is something that we’re working on. I’m so proud of this film. I know that more opportunities will come my way. This was a huge experience for me and I’m just excited to keep making films with this voice of mine.

Hollidaysburg, Periods and Breakup At A Wedding
are all available on iTunes or at Amazon.com

The Chair is available now on DVD

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