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Category Archives: Movies and TV

‘Mental’: Actress Julie Lake and Shirin Najafi Discuss New Web Series

Julie Lake & Shirin Najafi

There’s always been an infectious, creative chemistry between “Mental” co-creators Julie Lake and Shirin Najafi. Whether it’s their natural way of playing off each other in roles loosely based on their own lives or the fact that they’ve been best friends since high school.

Many already know Lake for her role as the unstable meth-head, Angie Rice on the Netflix hit-series; “Orange is the New Black”, while Najafi has found success as a standup comic and for writing and directing videos that have been featured on websites like Funny or Die.

Najafi and Lake are now releasing more of their “Mental” passion project. A web series of shorts that takes a funny look inside the lives of two friends and their struggles with anxiety and mental instability. The insatiable series; produced, written, directed and starring both of these amazingly talented ladies is a testament to their natural charm and creative prowess.

I recently spoke with Julie Lake and Shrin Najafi about “Mental” and more in this exclusive new interview.

How did the “Mental” web series originate?

Julie Lake: Shirin and I have been pretty much bouncing around this idea our whole lives. We both went to high school together and have been friends forever but have also struggled with anxiety and depression. It’s something we bonded over and laughed about. So we decided to make a series about two friends who struggle with mental illness and the funny interactions they have that’s kind-of loosely based on our own lives and relationship. But we wanted to show it in a comedic way. That’s how “Mental” was born.

Where do ideas for episodes come from? Where do you draw your inspiration?

Shirin Najafi: The writing process usually begins from a dramatic point of view. Like our first episode, “Palm Springs”.  Julie and I both went there for a weekend but had difficulties falling asleep in the same hotel room. It wasn’t anything too crazy; just a two-minute exchange, like “Can we turn on the AC?” and “Am I going to hear the rain machine through my ear plugs?” We were going on what was supposed to be a relaxing vacation but ended up having this neurotic conversation. The next day, we both laughed about it. The irony of that situation made for a clear episode idea. Then what we’ll do is write and start talking out the dialogue, reliving the experience from the perspective of our made-up characters.

What can you tell me about the most recent episode, “Dr. Bleiffer is on Maternity Leave”?

Lake: There was a time where I had been on Klonopin as needed for anxiety. Klonopin is a symptom reliever and doesn’t really treat anxiety. But when I went to the doctor he wouldn’t give it to me because he said I wasn’t on an anti-depressant. Then when I went to Shirin’s house, I discovered she had been prescribed all of these pills. She told me that once you’re on an SSRI they’ll prescribe you anything. That led into this fantasy of what it would be like if Shirin went to the doctor [laughs].

Najafi: From a legal perspective, a psychiatrist has to be careful about issuing drugs. So if you come in and just have occasional anxiety they have to get you on a daily anti-depressant. But once you’re on one it’s no questions asked and you can get something else. The whole dichotomy is just ridiculous.

How about the episode, “Zoloft Brain”?

Lake: That’s another one that’s kind-of true to life. Shirin was on Zoloft and it was making her tired and forgetful. She really wanted to go off it but I was very alarmed, because I didn’t want to go back to the “Shirin before Zoloft” [laughs].

Najafi: A few years before I went on it I had been having this extreme, building anxiety that was getting worse and worse (which you see in the flashback scenes). There was even a time when Julie had to play a part-time therapist / caretaker. In the episode, my character forgets the code to her own building and in real life, I had once actually forgotten the code to the garage for my job. I drew a complete blank for something I use every day [laughs].. That’s when I texted Julie and told her I needed to get off Zoloft.

You both juggle so many hats with this series (writing, producing, directing, acting). What’s been the most challenging part?

Lake: There are so many pieces to the puzzle. It took a long time to do the editing, and then as we watched later we realized that we had to go through another round of edits. We had a super low budget and also had to produce, write, act and direct. We also had to move quickly, so it was a little stressful at times.

Najafi: The producing aspect was especially tough because of all the logistics. Especially when you’re trying to be creative and also having deal with lugging equipment, keeping track of when the sun goes down and wondering if everyone will be able to make it to the location on time. We had never done anything like it before.

What’s next for “Mental”?

Lake: We have two more episodes coming out. One is more like a short film and stars Emily Althaus, who plays Kukudio in “Orange Is The New Black”. She plays a crazy friend who comes into town from Orlando and is now a dominatrix. We also have another episode where Shrin and Julie are trying to pick a movie. Shirin wants to watch “Flight” with Denzel Washington and that triggers all of Julie’s anxieties about flying.

Did you both know that a career in entertainment would be your calling. Was it something you always aspired to do?

Lake: I always wanted to be an actress from the age of five. I initially started writing and creating as a vehicle for acting. Now, I really enjoy that part of it as well as directing.

Najafi: For me, I was doing a lot of writing and creating but ended up pursuing a few other things out of college. But then I realized that writing, directing and performing was in my blood, and something I’ve always wanted to do.

From a creative standpoint, what satisfies you the most about this series?

Lake: Just the fact that we did it. It’s hard to do something like this. It takes so much money, time and effort. I see a lot of people talking about what they’re working on and doing but they never seem to get it done. But we accomplished this huge undertaking with almost no experience.

Najafi: We’ve been talking about and actively writing scripts for a show like this since 2010. To finally make it all these years later was definitely an accomplishment. For me as a writer, being able to act was also an accomplishment. Acting is something I don’t do a lot of outside of “Mental”, but it’s a lot more fun!

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Actor / Director David Rountree To Begin Work On 48-Hour Film Project

David Rountree

During the first week of August, actor/director/producer David Rountree and a team of other notable filmmakers will undertake the 48 Hour Film Project in Los Angeles, CA. Their mission? To write the script, cast the actors, shoot, edit, and hand in a completed film project in two days.

Rountree, along with his partner Jeremy Jordan have teamed up with James Blakeman, Ashley Ayre, Dustin Henderson and Shahriar Rahman (visual effects producer and supervisor, “Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows”, “Smurfs”, “Scandal)” to produce the top-quality short film in one weekend as part of The Los Angeles 48 Hour Film Project and premiere it at the festival the following week. The Best Film will receive a grand prize of $5000 and move on to screen at The Cannes Film Festival in France.

David Rountree is no stranger to this blog. His feature-length feature film, “CUT!” — which he co-wrote, produced and directed, was voted one of the top five horror films of 2015. The multi-talented filmmaker has also received praise for work in his baseball themed film, “108 Stitches” (which, along with “CUT!” received a national theatrical release) as well as acting in the new horror film, “The Dark Tapes”. Over the course of his career in TV and film, Rountree has worked alongside such iconic actors as Samuel L. Jackson, Ben Affleck, Josh Hartnett, Rob Lowe, Amy Adams, Kate Beckinsale, Jennifer Garner, Ice Cube, Willem Dafoe, Bruce Davison and Kate Vernon.

Although it’s been seven years since Rountree last did this film competition, his team has won Best Film all three times its entered. This time around the team has rented out Air Hollywood studio, which where almost any movie having an airplane, including the original “Airplane” movie, was shot. The cast and crew of the film are all volunteers, but in order to continue to get the best locations and equipment, they’ve begun a fund-raising campaign.

Watch below to see one of Rountree’s previous 48-Hour Film Project films, “Life For A Life”.

For those who donate, there are definite perks, including film credits that would be given including digital copies of the completed film, signed scripts, invitations to the set and the opportunity to be a “featured background” actor in the film.

Check out the campaign and film above and consider being part of the team for one of the most creative people I know.

Actress Fiona Dourif Talks ‘Cult of Chucky’, ‘Dirk Gently’ and Career Moments

Photo by: Ryan West

Whether she’s portraying the frail but formidable paraplegic, Nica Pierce in “Curse of Chucky”, the crazed assassin, Bart Curlish, in “Dirk Gently’s Holistic Detective Agency” or the young nurse, Diane Jones, in the ABC mini-series, “When We Rise”, Fiona Dourif has proven that her versatility and talent as an actress is as genuine as the person she is in real life.

The beautiful Dourif will soon reprise her role as Nica in the upcoming horror/slasher film, “Cult of Chucky”; the seventh entry in the “Child’s Play” franchise scheduled to be released in October. The film, written and directed by series creator, Don Mancini, also reunites Fiona with her real-life father, Brad Dourif (the voice of Chucky) and features Alex Vincent (from the original “Child’s Play”) and Jennifer Tilly (“Bride of Chucky”, “Seed of Chucky”).

I recently spoke with Dourif and got a sneak peek at “Cult of Chucky”, the second season of “Dirk Gently’s Holistic Detective Agency”, her career and more in this exclusive new interview. 

It’s been four years since we’re seen you as Nica Pierce in “Curse of Chucky”. Was this new film, “Cult of Chucky” something that had always been planned?

I think Don [Mancini] is always thinking about ways to re-invent the franchise, even though he may not have a set timeline for it. It’s his life’s work. So, there was definitely talk about it on the set of the last film. I even remember Don coming up with idea of the mental asylum while we were shooting the last movie. With this new movie, he combines the old with the new, but it’s not a reboot. It’s a reinvention. It’s seeing Chucky in a way we’ve never seen before. There are definitely some surprises and I’m excited to see what people think.

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

I feel very close to the franchise in a way that’s there no parallel. When I was initially given the script, I auditioned for the role of Nica’s sister, Barb. But after watching my tape, Don said there was a quality in my performance that was right for Nica. It wasn’t obvious to me at first but they had me come in to audition and through the process made me understand that my own instincts as a person were very similar to Nica’s. But everything about the project attracted me. The idea that I could lead a franchise I felt this close to and to do something with my dad was an utter dream come true. It was my first studio film and a coming of age for me.

What makes horror such a great genre?

I think it’s fun to feel afraid. It takes up all of your attention in a way that’s exhilarating. It’s a baseline human experience and when you dive into it, it’s like riding a roller coaster.

What are some of the biggest challenges of playing Nica?

 Horror itself is challenging because you have to bring a lot of energy to it. Nica goes through some very dark places, so there was a lot of trying to find freedom in the idea that everyone you love is dying in front of you. Working with the dolls can also get challenging because Chucky gets a lot of takes. You’re also working with a puppet that has six people in green suits around you. There’s someone controlling his eyebrows, someone controlling his lips, someone controlling the way his mouth moves, two people controlling his arm movement. You’re acting in this high intensity moment and in order to make the moment correct all six people have to be in sync together. So, if it’s a two-shot and Chucky’s getting twenty-six takes, you have to keep that energy and terror alive for all twenty-six. I remember getting home from those first days shooting with Chucky and just being a puddle on the floor [laughs]!

Without giving too much away, how would you describe “Cult of Chucky”?

“Cult of Chucky” is like a Chucky movie on drugs. I think that’s the way Don describes it. It’s a psychedelic, hospital movie with a lot of surprises. We’re going to see Chucky in a way we haven’t seen him before. It’s going to be fun. 

What’s it like working with Don Mancini?

Don is a really generous director. He’ll let me bring to it what I think is right and then he’ll come in with opinions and an intelligence that I find very rewarding. We became good friends on the last movie and this year there was a fun synergy between us. I feel very close to this franchise and where the story goes. It’s fun to be able to make something with Don that people really dig.

When did you realize that acting would be your calling?

I remember the exact moment. I had been working on documentaries for a production company for The History Channel when I got the opportunity to take an acting class. I was doing an improv of a pizza delivery scene and when I got up there and performance kicked in it was the most exhilarating thing in the world. That’s when I thought if I could do this with my life, what could possibly be better?

Are there any other projects you’re working on right now?

 I’m in Vancouver shooting “Dirk Gently’s Holistic Detective Agency”, which is in its second season with BBC America and Netflix with Elijah Wood and Max Landis at the helm. I play a “Beetlejuice-like” monster who is the assassin of the universe. I’m this dirty, creature and the least sexualized feminine character that has ever been written. It’s maybe my favorite character I’ve ever played.

What can fans expect from the new season?

Mayhem! Max is a very smart, emotional writer. Sometimes the show feels like a graphic novel in the best possible way.

What’s the best bit of advice your dad’s given you as an actor?

There are kernels of things he’s said to me over the years that have become clearer in my journey. I remember a piece of advice I think about now-a-days with “Dirk Gently”. He said this cryptic thing: “You just have to step over the line.” The more I think about what he meant by that is more crystalized for me now.

 Would you like to work with your father on another project at some point?

We talk about that all the time and would love to do something together. There hasn’t been a project yet that’s worked but I would really love that. It would be a gift.

What excites you the most about this next phase of your career?

I’m most excited about finding more freedom in the chances I get to perform. Like anything, the more you do something the better you are at it and the freer you become. It’s a fun ride and I’m so incredibly lucky.

‘Voyeur’: Writer/Director Delaney Bishop Discusses Coachella-Themed Thriller

Delaney Bishop

Terrorized at multiple stops on a road trip to Joshua Tree, three friends realize something unexpected is pulling the strings.

Voyeur” is the feature-length thriller written and directed by Delaney Bishop. The film includes a diverse cast that includes Riker Lynch (“Glee,” “Dancing with the Stars” and founding member of R5), Ayla Kell (“Make It or Break It”), Lisseth Chavez (Netflix’s “One Day at A Time”) and Robert Romanus (“Fast Times at Ridgemont High”). In addition to an inspired script and the unique use of cameras Bishop promises “Voyeur” will also have a cinematic twist that’s never been done before.

Bishop and his partner, Felix Brenner have begun a Kickstarter campaign for fans to help push “Voyeur” to completion. Perks for supporting the film include everything from social media shout outs, posters and screenings to an executive producer credit. Bishop and Brenner’s past collaborations include the award-winning films, “The Death of Salvador Dali” and “Metermaid”.

I recently spoke with Delaney Bishop about “Voyeur”, his career and more in this exclusive new interview.

Where did the idea for “Voyeur” begin? How did the project originate?

It was actually inspired by two trips I took to Joshua Tree. On the first trip, I noticed there were some kids up on the rocks that seemed to have less than benevolent intentions. They were terrorizing people, and the people really had no recourse because they were so far away from civilization and cell phone reception. It got me thinking, this terrain could be very dangerous if someone had bad intensions and was able to track someone down.

The second trip was more of a magical one where we went to the Integratron. It’s located on what’s supposed to be a cosmic gathering point in the desert and is said to have a lot of mystical properties. When I came out of there the idea really came into place and the story unfolded in my head. I was able to get home and write the entire outline in a few hours and wrote the first draft in about three weeks. I teamed up with my partner, Felix Brenner, who’s worked with me on a number of short films. We said let’s do it and that was it. We were up and running.

How would you describe the story of “Voyeur”?

It’s the story of three young friends who take a trip to Joshua Tree desert to hike, spend the night in Palm Springs and attend the festival. But something is following them in the shadows and their trip quickly turns to terror as they’re mysteriously harassed by the same people everywhere they go. The twist reveals that everything was happening for a reason and something very close to home is pulling the strings. 

What was the casting and filming process like?

We had a relationship with a manager who represented Riker Lynch and Ayla Kell. When they were cast that’s when the whole project became real and something I could visualize much more easily. They were absolutely perfect. We also have Lisseth Chavez, who I had auditioned before for another project and Jennifer Blanc, who’s done a lot of horror. We were looking for a father for the three brothers in the film and Robert Romanus was perfect. The whole cast and crew was incredible. It was a very positive set and a lot of fun.

Were there any challenges you experienced during filming?

Part of the twist in the film involves the cameras. There’s a secret that’s revealed at the end that had to consciously be avoided during every scene. There was a certain way we had to shoot in order to hide certain things. The framing was very crucial and quite challenging.

What made you decide to begin a Kickstarter campaign?

With some of the effects that we’re doing and the intricate sound design, we really wanted it to be a notch above what we had originally budgeted for. So we decided to reach out to friends and fans and bring it into the community. So far, it’s been going great.

Was having a career in entertainment something you always aspired to do?

My father was a director and by the time I was sixteen it was pretty much all that I knew how to do. I was taking a lot of pictures and writing quite a bit and went straight to film school while still in high school. It’s always been my passion and something I’ve always been working toward. There was never an alternative.

What excites you the most about “Voyeur”?

We worked so hard on this film and there are things that have never been done before as far as the reveal and the twist. It’s a bold turn that we take but I think people are ready for it. It’s like piecing together a puzzle and I can’t wait for people to see and appreciate how intricate the puzzle is and recognize how much planning went into the story and the way of shooting. Because the technology and the cameras in the film play such a big role this had to be a film and not a novel or an essay. The way of shooting goes hand in hand with the story and I can’t wait for people to have a conversation about it.

For more information on “Voyeur”, Click Here

PROClassicTV: Stephen Rodgers Discusses New Streaming Service

For more than forty years, the Peter Rodgers Organization has been a top name in film and TV distribution, and with the recent launch of PROClassicTV.com they’ve now given fans access to the classic television shows they love from the comfort of their own home.

Fans can now purchase individual episodes or get a monthly, unlimited membership that allows them to watch complete seasons of iconic series like “The Rifleman,” “I Spy,” “My Favorite Martian” and “The Saint” as well as the cartoon classic “Courageous Cat and Minute Mouse”, the truck driving drama “Movin’ On” and the campy “Celebrity Bowling.” Every episode is uncut, commercial free and ready to take a new generation of TV fanatics and those who remember these shows fondly well into the 21st century.

I recently spoke with Stephen Rodgers, Chief Executive Officer of The Peter Rodgers Organization (PRO) about PROClassicTV.com and more in this exclusive new interview.

Can you give me a little background on the Peter Rodgers Organization?

My father [Peter Rodgers] was vice president of a company called National Telefilm Associates (NTA). They were the syndication arm for Republic Pictures and NBC. This was back in the day when studios like Republic had NTA and Columbia had Screen Gems. It was also a time when studios were being pressured a lot by theatrical companies. They shunned on selling features to television because back then, movie theaters thought they’d go out of business if films were available on TV. My father was there from 1957 until 1976 and left to go out on his own to start his own company, The Peter Rodgers Organization. That’s how the company started.

How did you become involved in the business?

I was working as an engineer for a heating and air conditioning company when my father passed away in 1988. So I’d go to work at my construction job and afterwards would go into his office for the estate. My father knew a lot of influential people in the business who welcomed me and took me under their wing. They encouraged me to stay in it and that’s what I ended up doing. I didn’t envision going into the business, but keeping this company going was (in a way) my way of making sure my dad was still around.

Where did the idea for PROClassicTV.com originate?

It was something that was created out of necessity after watching the decline of physical DVD’s and startup cable networks. Seeing those areas go dormant really pushed us into the online medium and PROClassicTV.  Rather than chase existing models and suffer the consequences of their learning experience, we realized the strength was in keeping all the content together as a library. It gave us the ability to get more attention. ProclassicTV.com gives consumers a way to transactionally watch content without commercials. It was also an opportunity for us to digitize our content and present it directly to consumers. In the past, we had always dealt with network and traditional syndication platforms on a company by company level, so this is new for us. But it allows us to see what kind of climate is out there and what the next moves will be for the future.

My Favorite Martian

What would you say is the most challenging part of your job?

It’s always a learning experience. We’ve seen the evolution of a lot of things over the years: the VHS tape came in and went out, then we had the cable channel boom of the 1990’s. Now we’re in this online medium which is ever changing. As things evolve, you’re always second guessing yourself and making sure that you’re doing things that will be of mutual benefit. Representing producers is a challenge because many of them are no longer around. It’s typically the estates and families that have a video asset they don’t know what to do with. It’s my job to make sure that we maximize the benefits for them them but at the same time, making sure the broadcasters are happy with the deal that they have. Then we have to hope that there’s some happiness left over for us. Those are the challenges. Making sure the crystal ball is working the best that it can.

How do you acquire content?

We really don’t acquire things. It finds us. The content comes from families, estates and agencies and even some international companies that don’t have distribution domestically. We represent shows that are branded and sell themselves. Shows like “I-Spy,” “My Favorite Martian” and “The Rifleman” are brands that have been cultivated over decades and don’t require any promotion. People recognize them and tune just by virtue of them being on the schedule. Wherever these shows go a few million dedicated fans and followers who grew up or enjoyed watching them will gravitate towards that channel or network. That’s the criteria – looking for shows that already have an established brand and ones that have universal recognition.

I’ve already asked you what’s the most challenging part of your job. What’s the most satisfying?

The thing that satisfies me the most is making a deal that works. Whether it’s a deal with a TV station in Bangor, Maine or a deal like the one we have with AMC and “The Rifleman”. Being able to get all the parts together to make the broadcaster or exhibitor happy, makes the producer/owner happy and then any happiness left over for us. Those are three things that factor into every transaction we do.

For a taste of PRO Classic TV Click Here 

Follow PRO Classic TV on Twitter.

‘Cross Wars’: Patrick Durham Discusses Action-Packed Sequel Which Stars Brian Austin Green

Straight from the comics to the mean streets of Los Angeles comes veteran Hollywood producer Patrick Durhan’s action packed sequel to 2011’s “Cross”– “Cross Wars”.

Given incredible power by an ancient Celtic Cross, Callan [Brian Austin Green] and his team of weapons experts continue to wage war against the forces of evil in Los Angeles. But when a ruthless villain named Muerte (played by Danny Trejo) threatens to kill his crew, Callan and his team must join forces with an all-girl crime-fighting squad to help save the day.

What they don’t realize is that Muerte is not working alone. He’s resurrected the evil immortal Gunnar (Vinnie Jones) who has a plan more sinister than anyone can imagine. Can Callan and his team prevent the looming apocalypse and save humanity? The superhero adventure was released on February 7 from Sony Pictures Home Entertainment and also stars Tom Sizemore and Amy Jane.

Durham wrote, produced, directed and stars in the offbeat, action-packed sequel and is known for being one of Hollywood’s most in demand horror film producers. He’s also the genius behind such films as “Creepshow Raw,” “Tooth and Nail” and “Cabin Fever 2”.

I recently spoke with him about “Cross Wars” and more in this exclusive new interview.

Where did the idea for “Cross” begin?

I’ve always been a fan of superheroes and one day decided that I’d love to see a Celtic-themed one. I’ve always liked the idea of Green Lantern’s ring and Iron Man’s chest plate. Heroes that have things with power, but that power can eventually run out. It’s the reason why Callan’s cross also runs out of power. It makes him more human by proving that he’s not invincible.

How would you describe the story of “Cross Wars”?

Vinnie Jones is back as Gunnar. He’s a villain who’s cursed to live forever and as a result, he wants to kill everyone on Earth because it’s the only way he can die. Callan and his team are out to get him but they also understand that that they can’t kill him because he’ll only come back. So, they have to figure out a way to imprison him before he can destroy the world. Things get very crazy in end. In the first film, Michael Clarke Duncan’s character was running L.A. Michael who was a great guy who sadly passed away. Danny Trejo had a cameo in the first film and he came back for this one.

What was the writing process like?

The first film we wrote and developed and changed up a little bit along the way. It was a great success. The new film has so many interesting characters to it. We’ve got 6-7 lead females and 6-7 lead Cross guys. We’re going to do a part three which will be a very dark finish to the franchise.

What’s it like working with Brian Austin Green?

We actually wrote the series with him in mind. Brian’s such a nice guy and a great actor who does his own stunts. He’s a legend who’s so great with improve and timing.

You wore so many hats on this film: writer, director, producer and actor. What were some of the biggest challenges?

There are at least fifty things that you’re doing all at the same time. Everything from finding locations to dealing with talent agents. That’s when you suddenly find yourself on set directing and remember, “Wow! I forgot I’ve got lines in this scene!” [laughs].

What else can you tell me about the next film in the franchise?

In  “Cross Wars”,  Danny Trejo’s character reveals a new villain with a new amulet. He’s going to be downright, scary, dirty and awful and a lot more violent. If things fall into place, we’re likely to start filming in the next few months. 

 Was a career in entertainment something you always aspired to do?

Yes! From the first time I saw “Star Wars” and “Raiders of The Lost Ark”. That was when I said, “That’s it. Nothing else will do.” I grew up in the Carolinas and moved to California when I was 18. Forty-six movies later and I’m still doing it.

What’s your role as a producer?

I have a lot of celebrity friends. My job is usually to bring in the celebrities and the money, which are the hardest things to get. That’s my specialty.

Are there any other projects you’re working on right now?

I’m working on a few horror films right now. I’m also working with Victor Miller, who created the original “Friday the 13th”. He and I are going to start work on a film together in the next year. 

What do you enjoy most about the creative process?

When you see the finished film. That’s when you can look up and say, “Wow! We actually created that!” There are a lot of actors that have passed on, but when you see them on screen every day it’s like they’re still alive. Once you do a movie, it’s like you live forever.

Actress Sara Coates Discusses Her New Film, ‘Lane 1974’, Career

Sara Coates

Sara Coates is perhaps most widely recognized for her recurring role of Serena (Pie Girl) in Syfy’s post-apocalyptic series, “Z Nation”. But the beautiful actress is also versatile enough to have appeared in the Sundance hit, “Laggies” with Keira Knightley and more recently, as the voice of Margeurite Bake in the “Resident Evil 7: Biohazard” video game.

Sara will showcase even more of her dynamic prowess with her next film, “Lane 1974”. Written and directed by S. J. Chiro, “Lane 1974” follows the story of 13-year old Lane [Sophia Mitri Schloss] whose life is uprooted when her mother [Katherine Moennig] forces the family to leave the safe confines of the North Carolina commune where she grew up. After a series of dangerous and isolating events, Lane sets out on a 600-mile journey alone in search of the “normal” life she has always imagined.

Sara plays Clarise, one of the only people in the film that gives Lane’s mother, Hallelujah, a chance. Even though Clarise thinks the best of people and their intentions, she eventually becomes frustrated by Hallelujah’s attitude, especially when the children are put in danger because of it. The film will have its world premiere at SXSW on Saturday, March 11th.

I recently spoke with Sara about Lane 1974 and much more in this exclusive new interview.

Let’s talk about your new film, “Lane 1974”. How did it all come about?

I’m from Seattle originally and was really deep in the theater community. The director and screenwriter, S.J. was also from Seattle and we had known each other briefly. When she was going to do this movie she thought of me and the two of us sat down and had coffee and talked for hours about the movie and the time-period. It was the first time I got to sit down with the creator and ask questions and give my opinions. S. J. is so passionate about her characters and her work and eventually offered me the role.

What was it about the script that piqued your interest?

A period piece was unlike anything I had ever done before. That was a huge thing. The script is based on the book, “The Hypocrisy of Disco” and is so beautiful. It’s a coming of age story about a relationship between a mother and daughter and how that relationship can be confusing and not always perfect. I related to the main character, Lane, who wanted to have this incredible life but realizes she has to make it her own. That was really interesting to me.

What can you tell me about your character, Clarise?

Clarise is one of the only characters that gives Hallelujah [played by Katherine Moennig] a chance. Clarise lives on a bus and is this “Earth Mother” who believes that she can fix everyone. She goes through this journey of realizing that she may have to put up walls and not just let everyone in. What was interesting about playing her was that it went against everything I’m usually comfortable with as a girl. Stepping into this new experience of not brushing my hair for a while and wearing relatively no make up wasn’t something I was used to, but it was very exciting to transform into this character.

What was the filming process like? 

Because it was a lower budgeted film there was a lot of team work involved. Coming from community theater where everyone does everything, it was cool to get thrown into that kind of grassroots effort. We filmed at S.J.’s mom’s property in Northern California which was (and still is) a commune. It was very collaborative with lots of long days. This film is close to S.J.’s heart and she was integral in making it a creatively satisfying experience.

I have to ask about another project you were involved in – the video game, Resident Evil 7. What was that experience like?

It’s funny because even though we knew it was horror game, we worked on it for almost a year and a half before they actually told us what game it was [laughs]. I remember they really wanted to keep the character’s relationships strong. So we had vocal coaches and many, many rehearsals. They were adamant about having relationships that were almost palpable as well as terrifying. 

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

I have a new web series coming out called “Language Academy”. It’s a funny story about an English as a second language teacher where I got to work with a lot of really funny comedians. And who knows? I may also come back to “Z Nation“. My character has already died twice, but it’s a comedic, apocalyptic world where anything can happen. I love the fans and the ScyFy network and was so excited to be a part of the project. 

Was a career in acting something you always aspired to do?

It was always something that I wanted to do but growing up it seemed so out of reach. My mom and brother are both artists and my dad was an engineer and I always did programs in school that allowed me to do improv or plays. It wasn’t until I got to college that I decided I was going to do it. I realized then that this was what I was going to do because nothing else made me feel so alive. Sometimes people will ask me what my main goal is, and it’s hard to answer because I have so many. I just keep working, meeting people and making an impression. It’s about never stopping and being open to the experiences that come to you.

Interview: AXS TV’s Evan Haiman discusses New Season of ‘Rock & Roll Road Trip With Sammy Hagar Presented by Mercury Insurance’

sammyhagar

Now in its second season, AXS TV’s original series “Rock & Roll Road Trip with Sammy Hagar Presented by Mercury Insurance” features the Red Rocker traveling across the U.S. to interview and jam with some of the most recognizable and legendary artists in music.

The show’s one-hour season premiere [which airs Sunday, March 5 at 9 p.m. ET/6 p.m. PT] kicks off in Hagar and Metallica front man James Hetfield’s hometown where they turn on the camera to the star-studded 3rd annual Acoustic-4-A-Cure benefit they founded. The concert event held at the world-famous Fillmore includes Hagar interviewing Hetfield as well as musical jams with Hagar, Hetfield, John Mayer, Melissa Etheridge and many more.

Future episodes include Hagar visiting Norman, Oklahoma to interview and jam with the multi-talented and award-winning Toby Keith at his 160-acre ranch, and meeting up with rock legend John Mellencamp at his art studio in Bloomington, Indiana where Hagar delves into Mellencamp’s passion for painting and talks about the struggles he had staying true to himself while coming up in the music business.

AXS recently spoke to Evan Haiman – Vice President of Programming and Production for AXS TV about the new season of “Rock & Roll Road Trip with Sammy Hagar Presented by Mercury Insurance” and more in this exclusive new interview.

AXS: How did the series ‘Rock & Roll Road Trip With Sammy Hagar Presented by Mercury Insurance’ come about?

Evan Haiman: We’ve done a lot of projects with Sammy in the past, whether it was a concert or his birthday bash. So we already had a relationship with him. Sammy pitched the concept to Mark [Cuban] where the idea was going to be his life. He goes out on the road and meets with friends, who are obviously musicians, and they connect. Then we put it all together to make a show. Mark thought it was a great idea and it fits into our niche. Sammy’s a great personality and a good representation of what our programming model is.

You can read the rest of my
axsInterview with Evan Haiman by Clicking Here!

Actress Natalie Loren Kwatinetz Talks ‘The Tribes of Palos Verdes’, Career

Photo by John Hong

Photo by John Hong

Born in Liverpool, England, actress Natalie Loren Kwatinetz was captivated by American films from an early age.

Although her striking looks would eventually lead her to a successful modeling career –including working with famed British fashion photographer, Bob Carlos Clark, Natlalie eventually became an in-demand DJ before launching an acting carer with a resume that includes appearances in “Entourage”, “Violence” and 30 Seconds To Mars’ short film, “Up In The Air”.

Natalie’s next role will be in the upcoming Jennifer Garner film, “The Tribes of Palos Verdes”.

The film focuses on the lives of two teenagers who move to Palos Verdes, an affluent suburb of Los Angeles. Their mother (Garner) teeters on the brink of a nervous breakdown while one of her daughters turns to surfing to escape her troubled home life. Natalie plays Gina, a member of the local tennis club that their mother dislikes. The film, which also stars Alicia Silverstone and Elisabeth Rohm is expected to be released in late 2017.

I recently spoke with Natalie about “The Tribes of Palos Verdes”, her career and more in this exclusive new interview.

How did this project come about for you?

It was a typical audition process. Originally, I had auditioned for a different role but when I went in to meet with the director, Emmett Malloy, we decided to go with anther role for me. I was very excited to be a part of it.

What attracts you to a script?

Great writing and getting to work with different directors and talking to them. I love great characters and storytelling and being taken on an emotional journey.

How would you describe the story of “The Tribes of Palos Verdes” and your character, Gina?

It’s the story about Jennifer Garner’s character and the lives of her teenagers when the family moves to Palos Verdes. While there, she meets my character. Gina is someone who likes to play tennis and have a perfect life, which is something Jennifer’s character doesn’t find very attractive [laughs].

What was the chemistry like on set and getting to work with Jennifer Garner?

It was great working with Jennifer. Her character was so different from things she’s done in the past. The vibe on set was amazing; everyone was ready to work, and it’s great to be around that creatively. 

Did you always know you wanted a career in entertainment? Was it something you always aspired to do?

Absolutely. I started out as a model and had a huge passion for music as well. I was a DJ for a while, performing as Luxury Kills and performing at a lot of clubs in L.A. and fashion shows in New York. It was a fun time. I soon started to get more involved in acting because it was another passion of mine. Although I still love music I eventually decided to give up DJ’ing and concentrate more on film work.

What is it about the creative process that excites you the most?

I love it when you get a script and you know the director and character and can already get a feel for what kind of vibe it’s going to be.

Do you ever see yourself getting on the other side of the camera at some point?

I’d love to eventually get into directing and producing. It’s definitely something I’d like to do at some point.

What’s something people may not know about you?

I like to paint and draw and would actually like to go to art school — if I could find the time [laughs]. I really like drawing faces and trying to capture expressions.

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

I’ve been living between New York and L.A. Right now, it’s pilot season now and there are a few things happening that I can’t announce just yet — stay tuned!

What excites you the most about his next phase of your career?

I’m just looking forward to working on more great projects. There’s a lot of things happening in L.A. right now, so it’s very exciting.

Actress Sara Castro Discusses ‘Christmas Eve’, Upcoming Projects

Photo by: Gaylord Hill

Photo by: Gaylord Hill

“A botched robbery leads down a destructive path for a police officer, an amateur photographer and a strung-out mall Santa as they all converge in one explosive and deadly night.”

With a cast that also includes Eric Close (Nashville, Without A Trace), Adrian Paul (Highlander) and Mary-Margaret Humes (Criminal Minds, Dawson’s Creek), Sara Castro’s next project, “Christmas Eve” is sure to be one of the most talked about independent films of 2017. The film reunites the beautiful actress with director Richard Friedman, who worked with Castro on the critically acclaimed “Halfway To Hell”.

In “Christmas Eve”, Castro plays the role of Kasey Edwards, a mother trying to manage her husband’s alcohol recovery while caring for her sick daughter.

Castro has also earned praise herself for her powerful work in the film, “The Shift” aa well as the genre-defying, award-winning horror/sci-fi, “The Dark Tapes”.

Although “Christmas Eve” won’t be released until next year, I recently spoke with Castro about the film and more in this exclusive new interview.

How did “Christmas Eve” come about for you?

I had the pleasure of working with Richard Friedman again on this project. Richard has a lot of experience as a director and is always putting together interesting things. But it wasn’t a role that was just given to me. I liked the fact that I had to work for it and earn it. It makes you want to work even harder so you can show them they made the right decision.

What was it about the script that piqued your interest?

It was having the chance to work with Richard again, the story and the role. The fact that it had such good names attached to it was another factor because you learn so much from them. Eric Close (who plays my husband, Randall) has been in a lot of series and just finished Nashville. It’s always cool getting to work with great people. It validates why you do what you do.

How would you describe the story of “Christmas Eve”?

It’s a story about a robbery that leads down a destructive path for a police officer who’s reconnecting with his estranged mother. That leads to another story about an amateur photographer and his vindictive fiancé. From there, it connects to a strung-out, mall Santa. He’s my character’s husband and is a recovering alcoholic who’s having a hard time keeping a job. My daughter is very sick and needs assistance, so we really need the money. I’m a nervous wreck trying to make sure the stress isn’t getting to him but at the same time I have my own demons.

What else can you tell me about your character, Kasey?

Kasey is the strong one in the family and has been through a lot with her daughter being sick. She’s trying to keep everything together and under control.

Is there a certain way you like to prepare for a role or scene?

I always try to put together a backstory for my character: where she came from and what’s led her to this point in time.

What do you enjoy most about the creative process?

I love the process of discovery and surprising myself as well as giving the director different takes. That’s the most fun and beautiful part of the process. It can be a bit nerve wracking when you just throw yourself into a scene but you’ll always be pleasantly surprised and find things you never expected. The unpredictability makes it fun.

Are there any other projects you’re working on?

I recently attended another of “The Dark Tapes”. Michael McQuown (Director) has told me that he has plans to do a spin off of it. I believe we’ll be shooting that in February.

What are you most looking forward to about the 2017?

I’m really excited for 2017 and with the help of my team feel I’m getting closer and closer to my goals. The momentum is going so well and it’s only going to get better!

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