Category Archives: Movies and TV

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

‘Video Games: The Movie’ an entertaining look into the history of game industry

VideoNerds. Geeks. Game enthusiasts. Whatever it is you want to call them, there can be no denying the fact that today’s generation of high tech PC and console video game players are part of a multi-billion dollar industry that continues to grow by leaps and bounds every year.

Gone are the days of those annoying, little white blips and sounds on a PONG screen. Today’s video games are more like an alternate universe. A door into a world where larger than life characters take on near impossible challenges. Ones where the risk is often greater than the reward and a world where we (for the most part) are in complete control.

In celebration of this amazing entertainment medium that’s kept gamers aged six to sixty glued to their couch, Anchor Bay Entertainment and Amplify have just released the new feature length documentary, “Video Games: The Movie”.

Produced by Zach Braff (“Scrubs”) and narrated by Sean Astin (“The Lord Of The Rings” Trilogy), “Video Games: The Movie” takes a look back at the history of gaming culture through the use of in depth interviews with some of the industry’s most renowned enthusiasts – including Nolan Bushnell (founder of Atari), Warren Davis (Q*Bert), Doug Tennapel (“Earthworm Jim”) and Cliff Bleszinski (“Gears of War”) to name but a few.

In addition to conversation, the documentary also features a look into the history of the games and consoles. From the early days of PONG and the arcade dominance of the 1980’s to today’s state of the art virtual environments. There’s also a cool section on the future of the gaming industry as well as a look at the infamous “E.T.” debacle that nearly destroyed it.

“Video Games: The Movie” will certainly entertain those of us who’ve lost countless amounts of quarters at the local mall as well as those who’ve grown up with Nintendo, PlayStation and Xbox consoles. But the real magic with this documentary is its ability to educate audiences on the history, development and dreams of those early pioneers. The ones who saw a future beyond a blip on the screen, and were brave enough to pursue it.

Video Games : The Movie is available now on DVD

Interview: Producers Christa Campbell & Lati Grobman discuss ‘Experimenter’

Lati Grobman & Christa Campbell

Lati Grobman & Christa Campbell

Producers Christa Campbell and Lati Grobman are making a name for themselves in Hollywood and people are starting to take notice.

Want proof? Since combining years of individual acting and behind the scenes experience to form their own company; Campbell-Grobman Films, the duo has achieved success in a variety of film genres and documentaries as well as being named one of 10 Producers To Watch by Variety. What’s even more special is the fact that Campbell and Grobman are involved in a new film project, “Experimenter”, that will be screened at this year’s Sundance Film Festival!

Directed by Michal Almereyda, “Experimenter” tells the story of famed social psychologist Stanley Milgram who, in 1961 conducted a series of radical behavior experiments that tested ordinary humans willingness to obey authority and the shocking results. The film stars Peter Scarsgaard, Winona Ryder, John Leguizamo, Kellan Lutz, Jim Gaffigan, and Taryn Manning.

In addition to the screening at Sundance, Campbell and Grobman have many other projects in various stages of development, including “Leatherface” – a prequel to “The Texas Chainsaw Massacre” as well as the Jennifer Aniston/Owen Wilson comedy, “She’s Funny That Way”.

I recently spoke with Christa Campbell and Lati Grobman and asked them about “Experimenter” and some of their other upcoming projects!

What does having one of your films screened at The Sundance Film Festival mean to you?

Christa: It’s been a dream of ours for quite a while. Sundance is one of the best festivals ever and for us to have one of our films there this year is just amazing!

Lati: I remember when I was a young filmmaker (or even as just a film fan), I would often go to Sundance but never thought it would happen for me in my lifetime. It really is a dream come true!

What can you tell me about your film, “Experimenter”?

Grobman: It’s a story of an evidence of the human kind that asks the question: “To what extent will we go to listen to authority?” It’s really scary. Here you have someone who is a very nice and decent person but is also doing these horrific things. You start thinking to yourself, how could these things happen?

It would be like asking the question, “How did some of the things in World War II happen?” On the outside, it was obvious that the SS Officers were terrible. But some of the most horrific things about World War II were the people who were living there at the time. The ones who knew that their neighbors were disappearing and being killed but did nothing about it. Those are the kind of people who are the scariest. The ones who don’t take action. This movie is a little piece of life showing what we’re capable of.

Experimenter

What was the casting process like for “Experimenter”?

Campbell – Peter Scarsgaard is a friend of Mike Almereyda (director) and the two of them had been attached to the film for a few years. They had passion for getting the film made and about getting Winona Ryder involved. Lati and I then called up Kellan Lutz and asked him if he’d be interested in doing the movie. Kellan read the script and within an hour called us said, “Absolutely! I’m in!” You always hope that you get the people you want and hope that they will have the same passion as you and in this case, we got both!

You’ve both done a lot of work separately in front of the camera as well as behind the scenes. When did you decide to team up and work together?

Campbell: Lati and I have been friends for a long time. She had been producing movies for many years and I was an actress at the time we became friends. Eventually, there came a point where I started producing without actually realizing it.

Grobman: Christa was actually producing movies but not taking any credit for her work. I remember there was this one movie where she had put the cast together, got the financing and even some of the product placement. Basically, she had pretty much done everything. I said, “Christa, you realize that you made this movie happen and deserve producer credit, right?” That’s when she said, “Oh, no! I just want to act. That’s all I care about.” I remember telling her that whether she knew it or not, she was the producer of the movie.” She wound up not taking credit for that film but then she started to get the “bug”. Christa is one of those people who once they get a passion for something; they go all the way with it! That’s how it all started.

As producers, what do you look for in a project?

Grobman: We both have our personal preferences. Christa is a big fan of horror and I’m more into documentaries. Both of us love good action movies and thrillers. But it’s not necessarily about what genre we love. Sometimes, it’s about the deal.

Campbell: The cool thing about the two of us working together is that we can split our time. Lati is currently closing two of our documentary deals and I’m focusing more on “Texas Chainsaw Massacre”.

What other projects are you working on?

Campbell: Right now, we’re doing “Texas Chainsaw Massacre (Leatherface)”. We’re prepping to shoot with directors Alexandre Bustillo and Julien Maury; who worked on the film, “Inside”. We’ll be shooting that in Bulgaria. We also have a Jennifer Aniston and Owen Wilson movie (“She’s Funny That Way”) that will be coming out. “Shut In” was a little horror movie we did with Steven Schneider from Paranormal Activity. We’re in post-production with that and will be hitting the festival scene very soon. All of our movies are in different stages. Then of course, we have “Experimenter” at Sundance!

What excites you the most about the year ahead and the next phase of your careers?

Campbell: Just having the opportunity to make the films that we love and travel the world is what excites us. It can be challenging at times but we both have the kind of personality that wants to take it on. Some of the deals we’ve made have been amazing.

Grobman:  Every day and every deal is a challenge and you definitely have to earn it with a lot of sweat and tears. But even though it may not be as glamorous behind the scenes, whenever you get the chance to walk the carpet it’s just wonderful!

‘Atlas Shrugged’: Actress Laura Regan discusses new film, “Who Is John Galt?”

Laura Regan (Photo: Russell Baer)

Laura Regan (Photo: Russell Baer)

It’s been a busy year for Laura Regan. The amazingly talented actress, whose previous roles included a recurring part on the award-winning series “Mad Men” as well as guest appearances on the shows “NCIS: Los Angeles” and “Bones”, is now taking on an even greater challenge in “Atlas Shrugged III: Who Is John Galt?”.

The film, the final installment of the epic Atlas Shrugged trilogy, is based on Ayn Rand’s 1957 novel about a dystopian society in the not so distant future.

With a nation’s economy approaching collapse, crime and fear begin to take over. An overreaching government strangles the country’s few remaining business leaders and amidst the chaos, society’s most productive members begin to mysteriously disappear.

Laura plays Dagny Taggart, an intellectual heroine who fights an increasingly authoritarian government. “Atlas Shrugged III: Who Is John Galt?” also stars Kristoffer Polaha and Peter Mackenzie and is set for theatrical release on September 12th.

I had the pleasure of speaking with Laura about the third installment of Atlas Shrugged, her career and more!

What were your first impressions of the Atlas Shrugged project?

I remember when it first came up, bells went off in my head. I knew that it was a big, iconic book and I was immediately intrigued and attracted to the character of Dagny. Not only is she a great literary heroine, but she’s also a strong woman with a strong inner compass. She’s secure in what she wants and what she believe is right. I found that very attractive to play. It was a role I could really sink my teeth into.

Did you have to do a lot of research to prepare for the role of Dagny?

Reading an almost 1200 page book is a lot of research on its own [laughs]. But I also talked to a lot of people who had experience with the book and how Ayn Rand’s philosophy might fit into it. From there, I set off on my own path and started thinking about who Dagny was to me — and then I gave her life.

How would you describe the story of “Who Is John Galt”?

I would describe it as a love story. The third part of the book is about the meeting of John and Dagny. They’re two very principled people who both have different ways of approaching the same problem. John’s approach is to withdrawal and to create his own type of community, whereas Dagny’s is not the same. She can’t step away from all of the work she’s put into her company and watch things crumble. It’s a meeting of how these two minds fall in love but won’t do anything about it until they’re both on the same page of this big moral issue.

How real-to-life are some of the events in this film?

What’s going on in today’s world is very frightening and I think that explains the attraction and lasting power of the book and why it’s so relevant today. There’s definitely some “science fiction” elements, but the impulse is there for people who want more control over their own lives and more power to decide on its direction.

Is there a message viewers can take away from the movie?

I can’t speak for the creators but for me, I would want people to know that they should never give up their opinion on something just because of the status quo. Don’t go with what the masses say just because you might be afraid to buck the trend. If it’s something that you really believe in, then go with it!

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

It took me a while to realize that. My first love was actually ballet. I had an injury in my program that eventually led to my exit, but it wasn’t until my second year in University that I started getting more and more into drama.

Was there something in particular that gave you the acting ‘bug’?

I would say it came from taking an English Literature class and getting a chance to read all of the great classics, like Shakespeare. I remember just falling in love with it and thinking “Ok, reading this is great – but let’s do more!” It just took off from there. Each experience I had became more thrilling and before long, I was completely hooked.

What are some of the differences between doing a feature film as opposed to a guest appearance on television?

Feature films present a different kind of challenge, because you really get to see your character’s journey all the way through. With television you still have to be just as prepared, but your character’s journey may not be the journey of the show. TV is more of a narrow approach, whereas a film has a wide ranging draw.

Is there a bit of advice you can offer aspiring actors and actresses?

Never think that you know everything about your craft, because there’s always something more you can learn to enrich yourself. Maybe you’ll go to a workshop or maybe you’ll get together with other actors for a play. Whatever it is, you’ll always get something out of the experience that will enhance your next audition or role. Never stop learning.

Follow Laura Regan on Twitter @TheLauraRegan

Actress Tonya Cornelisse Talks Upcoming Film Projects, Theater Performance

TonyaCActress Tonya Cornelisse is on the verge of a breakout year! With a series of film roles and other projects being releasing within the next five months, her star power will only continue to rise!

First up is the film “Yellow” – a dramedy centered around a young woman with a drug habit along with a myriad of other problems. Cornelisse plays the role of Starla; a sassy, foul-mouthed, single-mother and survivor. “Yellow” stars Melanie Griffith, Ray Liotta, Sienna Miller and Gena Rowlands and premieres Aug 29th in major markets with a more wider release to follow.

Cornelisse also appears in the upcoming sci-fi/horror film, Lost Time [set for VOD release on Sept 19]. The film is based on the post-traumatic, psychological effects of close encounters. Cornelisse plays Gillian, a clairvoyant who is placed in a psychiatric ward with other “lost timers”.

In addition to her exciting film career, Cornelisse is the voice of Lexus commercials and will soon appear in a revival of Sam Shepard’s Pulitzer Prize winning play, Buried Child. I had the pleasure of speaking with her about “Yellow” and a few of her other upcoming projects.

How did your role in “Yellow” come about?

It was such a gratifying experience that came about the old-fashioned way. Matt Berry is a casting director who’s good friends with Nick Cassavetes [director]. Matt casts all of Nick’s projects and knew me from a show that did in New York. Matt was the one who suggested that Nick and I should meet me, so I went in and had a meeting with Nick. It was one of those projects where I read the script and instantly fell in love with it. It was everything I love about independent filmmaking: a strong, interesting role and a really dark, raw original film.

How would you describe the story of “Yellow”?

It’s a dark, messed-up family drama that crosses all genres. It’s one of those films that will take on an instant cult status. There’s musical numbers in it as well as an interesting dinner scene I’m in with Melanie Griffith and Gena Rowlands.

What can you tell me about your character?

Starla is a really strong, foul-mouthed, hard living single mom who’s pretty fearless and scrappy. She’s a survivor.

Let’s discuss another one of your upcoming films, ‘Lost Time’.

I love the way it was shot. We filmed in this old, shutdown mental institution in downtown LA. They do a lot of filming there for creepy things [laughs]. It’s the story about a group of “lost timers” who have been taken away and have no concept of where they went or how long they’ve been gone. There was a huge blackout and they were physically taken to a different reality. They’ve since reemerged but are now really messed up and aren’t able to function in normal society. Each of them have ailments that they suffer from. My character, Gillian hears voices in her head and is convinced that she has little creatures living inside of her. The leader of the group is a doctor played by Robert Davi (The Goonies). We’re all staying at his facility/institution where everything is monitored. It’s about the search to find answers to what’s happened to us.

What attracts you to a role or gets you excited about a script?

The ones that I love to jump into are the ones that are deep and take me out of my realm. I love roles that are challenging and off beat. Ones that I can really dive in and sink my teeth into. I love the kind of roles that make you feel uncomfortable or make you itch!

Growing up, did you always know you wanted to become an actress?

The story-telling aspect was something that was always huge for me. I’ve always liked being able to tell stories. When I was a little, I would make up my own stories and put on puppet shows. I always had a captive audience of adults around who would watch my shows. I danced ballet as a child but once I turned eleven, I started getting more into acting.

What other projects are you currently working on?

I’m doing the 35th anniversary of Sam Shepard’s Pulitzer Prize winning play, Buried Child at the Whitefire Theater here in LA. He’s one of the great American playwrights and writes really strong female characters. It’s a three-act, epic American play. It’s super challenging and opens Sept 5. I also have a new screen play that we’re hoping to start filming around Christmas time.

Do you have a piece of advice you can offer to up and coming actors?

Always remember why you’re doing this and keep that inner child close to the surface and in your pocket. If you go back to the guts of why you got into creating this expression of art, you really can’t go wrong. Stay true to what’s inside and then, do your thing.

For more on Tonya Cornelisse Click here!
Follow Tonya on Twitter @TonyaCornelisse

‘Agency Of Vengeance': Actress Brigitte Kingsley Discusses Dark Rising Series

AOVActress/producer Brigitte Kingsley and writer/director Andrew Cymek’s original intention was to create a horror film. Instead, the creative team came up with a Sci-Fi comedy that’s taken on a life of its own.

Since its original Canadian release in 2007, Summer Vale and the Dark Rising series has developed a cult following that’s continued to grow – as evidenced by the latest U.S release of the Dark Rising series, “Agency of Vengeance”, which is now available on DVD and all On Demand platforms, including iTunes and Amazon Instant.

“When the “Rising Dark Agency,” a black ops division of the Government headed by Colonel Haggerd (Michael Ironside), suspects that a sudden surge of supernatural activity and violent attacks on Earth are the work of an evil Demon-God, it must call upon the services of super soldier Summer Vale (Brigitte Kingsley) to solve the mystery and prevent the coming apocalypse.”

“Agency of Vengeance” stars Brigitte Kingsley, Landy Cannon (American Psycho, Catwoman) Michael Ironside (X-Men: First Class, Total Recall, Top Gun), Julia Schneider (American Pie Presents Delta House) and Angel Williams (aka Angelina Love) of TNA Wrestling fame.

Written and directed by Cymek and produced by Kingsley, the film (with the Canadian title “Dark Rising 2: Summer Strikes Back!”) was nominated for two Canadian Comedy Awards: Best Film and Best Female Performance (Kingsley).

With exquisite cinematography and special effects, “Agency of Vengeance” is one in a series of Sci-Fi comedies created by Kingsley and Cymek that also includes “Bring Your Battle Axe”, “The Savage Tales of Summer Vale” and “Warrior of Worlds”.

I had the pleasure of speaking with Brigitte about “Agency of Vengeance: Dark Rising”, her career and a few of the new projects she’s currently involved with.

What can you tell me about your character, Summer Vale?

Summer is a Warrior Princess who has a good heart, but grew up in a demon dimension. She doesn’t always understand how the world works and tends to punch first and reason later [laughs]. She’s a killing machine but in the world of love and life, she still has a lot to learn.

Brigitte Kingsley (Summer Vale) & Landy Cannon (Jason Parks)

Brigitte Kingsley (Summer Vale) & Landy Cannon (Jason Parks)

How would you describe the story of “Agency of Vengeance”?

I like to describe it as the story of Summer Vale and a group of misfits who bind together to try and save the world from imminent doom.

What was the filming process like?

We shot up in a small town in northern Ontario with a group of people who really enjoyed working together. Our team has worked together quite a bit, so there’s a lot of good chemistry. Everyone does a little bit of everything on set and we all trust each other. Andrew [Cymek] did an amazing job. In addition to writing and directing, he was also the cinematographer and was involved in the editing, color timing and special effects (along with Doug Lentz). He spent a year and a half making this film look pretty in post-production.

You wear a lot of hats on your projects (actress, producer, crew member). What are some of the challenges you encounter?

One of the real challenges about wearing multiple hats is that you don’t get to sleep all that much [laughs]. You’re always running around doing everything. So when something like a piece of wardrobe is missing, you’re the one driving to the mall in full make-up and costume during your lunch break to pick things up. You’re always solving problems as you shoot but because our team is so collaborative, everyone wears multiple hats. It’s one of those sets where it really was a family. It’s challenging and very difficult at times, but also a lot of fun.

Brigitte Kingsley (Summer Vale)

Brigitte Kingsley (Summer Vale)

What other projects are you currently working on?

We’ve just finished work on an original psychological thriller called “Night Cries” that’s now in post-production. It has a lot of the same creative behind the scenes people in it and also has Colin Mochrie, Mishael Morgan and Angelina Love involved in it as well. It’s an interesting and beautifully shot film that tells the story of a man’s journey to find his wife in a post-apocalyptic world.

This fall, we’ll start work on a country musical called “Country Crush” starring Jana Kramer. Then in the New Year, we’ll be launching a completely new franchise called “Rayven Rose”. It’s in a genre that’s very similar to Dark Rising.

Did you always know that you wanted to be an involved in entertainment?

I think so. Even as a kid, I remember begging my parents to let me go out and do it. They were always extremely supportive of me and would drive me around to auditions when I was in high school.

I went to University for theater and once I graduated I quickly realized that I wasn’t going to just be handed my dream job or a lead role in a TV show. I knew that if I really wanted to do these cool projects I was going to have to work hard and produce them myself. So that’s what I did. I spent the next several years figuring out how the business worked by hopping on a lot of planes and knocking on a lot of doors. I got a lot of rejections during that time but if you wake up every morning and keep knocking on doors, eventually you’re going to get your movie made. That’s how it all came into play. It was a passion for acting that eventually got me into producing.

Be sure to follow Brigitte Kingsley on Twitter @beekingsley

Agency of Vengeance: Dark Rising

Genre: Sci-Fi / Comedy
Writer / Director / Cinematographer: Andrew Cymek
Producer: Brigitte Kingsley
Exec. Producer: Mihkel Harilaid
Produced by: Defiant Empire Corp. and Black Walk

‘Begin Again’: Actress Shannon Maree Walsh Discusses New Film, Music

Shannon Maree Walsh

Shannon Maree Walsh

Shannon Maree Walsh’s introduction into the world of entertainment may not have been by conventional methods, but the champion gymnast turned actress is certainly making a name for herself in the new film, “Begin Again”.

Directed by John Carney (“Once”), “Begin Again” tells the story Dan Mulligan (Mark Ruffalo), a struggling record label exec living in New York City. One night, while drinking at a bar in the East Village, he encounters Gretta (Keira Knightley), a fiercely independent young songwriter whose music captivates him. Walsh plays nerdy musician Rachel, a cellist in Gretta’s band.

Following its World Premiere at the Toronto International Film Festival in 2013 and closing this year’s Tribeca Film Festival, the film was released theatrically on July 2nd.

Walsh has been a national gymnastics champion four times, but recently shifted her passion to acting with great success. Her first role was in Wes Craven’s “My Soul to Take” and other credits include Law & Order: SVU and The Michael J Fox Show.

In addition to finishing up her degree at Georgetown, Walsh also currently finds time to play in Suite 27, a musical group featuring members of the band from “Begin Again”. The band recently performed at the film’s premiere and have future plans to gig in and around New York City.

I recently spoke to Walsh about her role on “Begin Again”, her music and what’s next for the aspiring young actress.

What attracted you to this project?

At the time of my audition I found out that Keira and Mark were already cast. I love period films and am a huge fan of both of them. I also happened to watch “Once” (John’s first movie) and it was insanely good. With that in mind, I knew immediately it was a project I wanted to be a part of.

How would you describe the story of “Begin Again”?

I think some people might go into it thinking that they’re going to get a rom-com [romantic comedy], but that’s really not was this is. It’s a story about how music develops relationships between people. The foundation of the relationships and romances between the best friends is music. The best part of this movie is that the comedy doesn’t just come from humorous lines that are written. It’s the situational things in life that make it spontaneously funny.

What can you tell me about your character, Rachel?

Rachel is the top of her class. A very nerdy cello player who is sick and tired of playing only classical music. She’s a bit skeptical about joining the band in the beginning, only because she has no idea who these people are or why they even chose her. Then she discovers that she really loves playing this music. It’s all original and nothing that she’s ever played before. It helps her come out of her shell, get loose and go somewhere that she’s never gone before.

What was the filming process like?

I have to say that this was the coolest set experience I’ve ever had. John [Carney] is hysterical and creates such a trendy and relaxed environment. From the first day, the atmosphere was like “Let’s just go with it and see what happens!” It was amazing and our band really bonded a lot. By the end of it, we had forgotten that the camera was rolling and it was just like hanging out with friends. The chemistry you see is very real.

You actually had to learn how to play cello for this film. What was that like?

I already had experience playing the violin, but I remember going in John asking me if I could learn the cello. So for the next four weeks, my journey of three-hour a day, private cello lessons began. It was challenging, but very rewarding!

Your band “experience” actually continued after filming was complete.

Yes, that was one of the coolest parts of the whole experience. None of us in the band had ever known each other before. We’re all people from different backgrounds and places who immediately connected. It’s the most hodgepodge mix of people with a huge age range.

After filming was complete, we all kept in touch and then this past spring one of the band members said, “Let’s make this a ‘thing’ and do some gigs together” – and everyone was immediately on board. So we all got together and just started playing. It was so much fun that we ended up playing at the premiere after-party. We’ve even launched a KickStarter campaign trying to get the band to play around the city and actually do what we did in the movie. We’re called “Suite 27”.

Can you tell me a little about your transition from gymnast to actress?

I was a gymnast from the ages of 3 to 17. I was always very competitive but once the time came to start applying to colleges I realized that my heart was just not into it anymore. I had run my course with the sport. I decided that I wanted to do something that at the time seemed like the opposite of gymnastics and for some reason, that thing was acting. I was a senior in high school when I started acting.

What other projects are you working on?

Right now, my focus is on getting my University degree. I have six more classes before I graduate. The plan is to get the degree and then settle in New York to concentrate on acting. That’s my number one priority!

Follow Shannon on Twitter : @shannonmaree22

Halloween: The Complete Collection Box Sets Coming to Blu-Ray!

Halloween Box SetBefore there was Jason, Freddy and Jigsaw there was…Michael Myers.

Last year, the horror film classic “Halloween” celebrated its 35th anniversary. Who could have ever had imagined that what writer/director John Carpenter had envisioned and what Jamie Lee Curtis and Donald Pleasence helped bring to life in 1978 would go on to become one of the most iconic horror film franchises of all time.

Over the years, audiences have relived the terror of Michael Myers through ten feature films (including various re-edits and alternate versions). Until now, the complete saga of Michael Myers could only be told in pieces — on individual DVD and Blu-ray releases. Through an unprecedented collaboration of rival home entertainment companies, Anchor Bay Entertainment and Scream Factory have announced that “Halloween The Complete Collection” Blu-ray box sets will arrive September 23rd.

For the legions of die-hard Halloween fans, the Deluxe Edition boasts 15 discs containing ALL of the Halloween feature films – Halloween, Halloween II, Halloween III: Season of the Witch, Halloween 4: The Return of Michael Myers, Halloween 5: The Revenge of Michael Myers, Halloween: The Curse of Michael Myers, Halloween H20, Halloween: Resurrection, Rob Zombie’s Halloween and Halloween II.

The set also contains hours of new bonus features, including interviews with cast and crew from the entire franchise! The collectible packaging will include a newly commissioned illustration on the outer case and each film will be in its own black Blu-ray™ case with the original theatrical one sheet as the key art.

There is also a separate 10-disc Edition which includes the original theatrical versions of the Halloween films as well as select bonus features.

For fans of the franchise, these packages are the ultimate must haves for your horror collection.

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