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Actress Alex Lynn Ward Discusses ‘It Happened Again Last Night’, Upcoming Projects

AlexLynnWardBorn and raised in New York City, Alex Lynn Ward grew up in a place that had plenty of resources to feed her acting bug.

She was accepted into the Drama Program at Frank Sinatra School of the Arts at the age of thirteen where she began honing her craft.

From there, her passionate work ethic led to conservatory and making her way to Los Angeles where she landed multiple film and television roles in addition to being part of national tour and hitting the stage in London.

Although well-versed in both drama and comedic genres (she’s also a stand-up comic), the beautiful Ward has recently taken on perhaps her most important role yet in Gabrielle Stone’s upcoming short-film, “It Happened Again Last Night” — a film that tells the story of Paige [Stone], a woman who must choose between love and fear before she has no choices left to make.

The producers have set up an Indiegogo campaign to help with the film’s completion and with fan support have already surpassed their goal. They’re now working towards a stretch goal, which includes some really amazing perks.

I recently spoke with Alex Lynn Ward about her role in “It Happened Again Last Night” and more in this new interview.

How did you become involved in “It Happened Again Last Night”?

I’ve been friends with Gabrielle for years. She’s actually one of the first people I met when I moved to L.A. from New York. She had been writing drafts of this script for a long time and had always asked me to read it. So when it came time to make the film she told me she’d love for me to play this role. I said, “Absolutely!”

What was it about the project that piqued your interest?

I loved the story and all of the things it stands for. On the creative side, I’ve wanted to work with Gabrielle for a long time. Opportunities like this don’t come around very often.

Photo by: Chris Heck

Photo by: Chris Heck

How would you describe the story of “It Happened Again Last Night”?

It’s the story of a girl named Paige who’s in an abusive relationship and is also involved in a relationship with my character, Kris. Paige doesn’t know what the right decision is but she has to choose between fear and love before she runs out of time, and she knows it’s getting to the end.

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

Kris is very in love with Paige. She’s also strong and very matter of fact with no BS. Although Kris and I are complete opposites I identified with her so much. It was cathartic to play this role.

What was the filming process like?

I can’t say enough good things about it. It was the smoothest, easiest and most stress free shoot. There was so much love in the room and everyone was on board from the very beginning. Gabrielle was so on and it was exciting to get to see her direct.

Photo by: Chris Heck

Photo by: Chris Heck

Did you always know that you want to have a career in entertainment?

I did. I grew up in New York City so the opportunity was always there. When I was 13, I got accepted into the Frank Sinatra School of The Arts where we had celebrity mentors and intense theater training. I knew then that this was what I wanted to do.

Are there any other projects you’re working on?

My Star Wars fan film recently won the JJ Abrams Audience Choice Award for our short, “The Sable Corsair”. That’s up now on Star Wars.com and is very exciting! I’m currently collaborating with WhoHaHa.com. It’s Elizabeth Banks’ new venture to spotlight funny women. They have a few of my YouTube videos and we’re working on some original content as well. I’m also going to start work on a new short that’s part of “Twilight Zone”-themed anthology called “Spades”.

What are you looking forward to about the release of “It Happened Again Last Night”?

I’m so excited about this film. Everything is so beautiful and so well done. It speaks to what I really stand for and I feel the end product is going to be reflection of just how awesome it was to make. This is really going to be something special. 

‘Malacostraca’: Filmmaker Charles Pieper Discusses Psychological Horror Film

MalacostracaFilmmaker Charles Pieper probably never would have dreamed that an idea he had for a college creative writing assignment would come to life.

But not only will Pieper’s psychological exploration of the fragility of the human mind become a short film, but the talented writer/director has enlisted the talents of actors Amber Bollinger and Charlie Pecoraro as well as practical creature puppetry and special effects by none other than legendary artist, Gabe Bartalos in making his vision a reality.

Pieper sees Malacostraca as a horrifically scary film that’s full of universally relatable feelings and fears. It will have a tone of trapped dread and nature-based horror. Think “Possession” meets “Picnic at Hanging Rock”. 

Horror fans can also help bring Malacostraca to life by contributing to the project’s Indigogo campaign, which has already garnered more than $10,000. Pieper and his team have several unique perks available as a thank you for helping to support independent films.

I recently spoke with Pieper about Malacostraca and more in this exclusive new interview.

When did the idea for Malacostraca originate?

This idea for the film actually goes all the way back to 2007. I was in college studying film and had been taking a lot of writing classes. For one of the classes, I wanted to try to come up with the most disturbing image that I could, and something that would even freak me out. I ruminated on that for a while and out came this initial image of a crawdad crawling across a sleeping woman in a bathing suit who had just been swimming. To make things even more uncomfortable, the woman’s husband was watching and almost yelled to wake her up, but then decided not to because he’s morbidly intrigued by what the crawdad is going to do. It was uncomfortable and unsettling. It was the start of this really creepy story and about pushing the boundaries of what I was comfortable writing about. Years went by and I eventually ended up working in L.A. doing stop-motion animation and music videos. I never thought I’d ever be able to do this kind of short film but spent the last two years meeting people and developing it out. Now we’re halfway into a two-month campaign and have already raised more than $10,000!

MAL1

You’ve got two amazing actors tied to this project in Charlie Pecoraro and Amber Bollinger. What can you tell me about them?

I’ve known Amber and Charlie for a long time. I first met them back in 2009 when I was working on a series that they were acting in and we really hit it off. Amber and Charlie have been friends for a long time and since they’re playing a married couple, they already bring chemistry to the project. In fact, when I revised the short story I wrote it with them in mind as the characters.

How would you describe the story of Malacostraca?

It’s a psychological, relationship horror film with monster elements. To me, the scariest thing in real life would be when your body or mind was working against you while you’re stuck with someone you shouldn’t be with.

Gabe Bartalos

Gabe Bartalos

How did legendary FX artist Gabe Bartalos become involved in the project?

I used to work for Gabe at his company (Atlantic West) for a few years. We both share similar interests, both in horror and in art. We became friendly and the two of us stayed in touch. Once I felt the script was ready to present I ran the idea past him. He loved it and jumped on board. Gabe almost never does short films like this so it’s very exciting!

Let’s discuss the project’s Indigogo campaign. What are some of the perks donators can receive for contributing?

The most exciting perk happened shortly after we became an Indiewire Project of the Day. Because of that, Creepy Co reached out to us and offered to make us an enamel pin of the baby monster as a perk. They’re a great company that’s made a limited edition run of 300. We brainstormed like crazy to create interesting perks that were different from most campaigns. So you can also get things like original art, prints and even a storyboard artist’s concept design. Every donation helps.

What’s next for the project?

The campaign ends in September and once that’s finished, the majority of the funds will go toward building out the rest of the puppets. We’re hoping to have everything ready to shoot by the end of the year. Once the film is complete, donors who backed it at the $25 and up level will be given early access through a website secret password. As a whole, the movie will be sent to all horror festivals sometime next year.

What the most looking part about Malacostraca? What are you most looking forward to about it?

The most exciting thing for me is the culmination of years of development leading up to this. To see something that I initially wrote as an idea in 2007 become a film and then to have a creature made by one my favorite special effects artists of all time will be the best. Everything else will be icing on top of this terrific cake!

‘It Happened Again Last Night’: Multi-talented Actress and Filmmaker Gabrielle Stone Talks New Project

GabrielleStoneSome know actress Gabrielle Stone for her inspiring performances in such horror films as “Speak No Evil,” “CUT!,” and “Zombie Killers”. But the beautiful daughter of legendary actors Dee Wallace and Christopher Stone has a creative side few have seen –that is until now.

This fall Stone, along with her project partner, Roze will unveil their new short-film, “It Happened Again Last Night”.

A passion project for Stone, the film not only features a group of seasoned actors –including Amanda Wyss, Randy Wayne, Chris Mulkey and Alex Lynn Ward, but was also written, directed and produced by the creative duo of Stone and Roze. Stone also takes on the emotional role of Paige in “It Happened Again Last Night”, showcasing her versatile acting prowess.

The producers have set up an Indigogo campaign (with some really amazing perks) where fans can contribute to help with the film’s completion.

 I recently spoke with Gabrielle Stone about “It Happened One Night” and more in this exclusive new interview.

When did the idea for “It Happened Again Last Night” begin?

 I initially wrote a script I wanted to do as an actress, but once I brought in Roze [co-writer/co-director] things quickly evolved. After we had settled on our final draft, it was clear what a powerful story we had. The subject matter of domestic violence is not often spoken about publicly and we wanted to depict it in a real and truthful way. The LGBTQ themes were also in the script from the very beginning. I have a lot of people in my life who are in same sex relationships and I really wanted to do a piece that shows the strength I witness in all of them.

How would you describe the story?

It’s the story about a woman [Paige] who’s struggling to own who she really is. Paige is stuck in an abusive relationship with Stephen (Randy Wayne) while her heart is with Kris (Alex Lynn Ward). In the end, she must choose between fear and love before she has no choices left to make.

 What can you tell me about your character, Paige?

Honestly, it was a very emotional experience playing Paige. There was a real sense of responsibility in bringing realness to this character. I remember after we had finished a highly emotional scene, Alex (Lynn Ward) came into the make-up room and looked like she was about to burst into tears. Alex and I have been friends for years and she’s always been the funny and lighthearted one in the room. She was so affected by watching me in the state I was in and feeling the reality that women actually go through this that it really hit her.

There are a lot of notable actors involved in this project. What can you tell me about them?

They’re all amazing. We were incredibly lucky to get such great talent on board and I think most of that has to do with them believing in the material. Every person brought everything they had to set and everyone gave incredible performances.

GabrielleStone2

Do you have a tentative release date for the film?

We’ve already got a picture lock and it’s currently with sound and color correction. We’re now in the process of raising the last bit of funds to cover post-production costs, marketing, and festival submission. Our goal is to be finished by mid-September to start submitting to festivals.

What are some of the perks fans can receive by supporting your Indigogo campaign?

We genuinely appreciate everyone who believes in this project and has been helping us by donating or sharing. I truly believe this film is going to affect people and hopefully will help heal some as well. We’ve got some great things to offer as a thank you. Everything from fully signed film posters, digital downloads, scripts signed by our entire cast and even dinner with Randy Wayne and I.

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

My film, “Ava’s Impossible Things” is currently available on Vimeo and I have “Death House” and “Dance Night Obsession” coming out later this year. I’ve also recently signed on to a horror film that hasn’t been publicly announced yet.

What’s the best bit of advice your mom has given you as an actress / artist?

Be authentic. Live in love. Don’t act.

What’s the biggest thing you’ve learned about the creative process while working on this project?

This entire process has taught me to trust my instincts and has reassured me that I know what I’m doing in the creative world. I also have a greater understanding and new appreciation for people on the other side of the business. This is a passion project I’ve held close from beginning to end and to finally be able to show it to the world and have people experience what we’ve been working on will be incredible. For me to say “I’ve made my first film” is a huge accomplishment for me and I couldn’t have picked better people to be involved with it. It’s something we’re all truly proud of.

‘Fight Valley’: Writer/Director Rob Hawk Discusses Action Packed Film

robredcamWriter and director Rob Hawk spent much of his early childhood as a skateboarder and break-dancer before transitioning his time into the studio creating and editing rap music videos. Eventually, his creativity got the best of him and he found himself having to write and create more. He quickly moved from doing three-minute music videos to the world of film and hasn’t looked back since.

Now Hawk has unveiled his first feature length release –the appropriately titled, “Fight Valley”. A film loosely based on his love of “The Outsiders” and growing up in a tough neighborhood, Hawk tells the story of one woman’s journey to find vengeance and closure in a dark, underground fighting ring.

The action-packed thrill ride also features three of the fiercest women in the hardcore UFC: Miesha Tate, Holly Holm and Cris Cyborg.

I recently spoke with Hawk about Fight Valley, working with Miesha Tate, Holly Holm and Cris Cyborg, his career and more in this exclusive interview.

Where did the idea for “Fight Valley” begin?

I grew up in a gang-populated neighborhood where I forced to run around with one of them, just to stay safe. I’ve always loved the movie, “The Outsiders” and wanted to mix my love for it with a little bit of my own personal life but wanted create it with females. The original idea was to involve real fighting sequences and get people who could really take a hit. But it was hard to find an actor and say to them, “Ok, this girl is going to punch you in the face!” [laughs]. So I decided to get some trained fighters who do it for a living. That’s how it came about.

Was the idea always to include UFC fighters like Miesha Tate, Holly Holm and Cris Cyborg?

It really just evolved into it. I hadn’t really followed the UFC much but started doing some research. I originally spoke with Ronda Rousey’s team about doing the film but she wasn’t going to be available. But while I was doing research on Ronda, these three other women’s names kept coming up. With more research, I found out that they all had some real friction against each other. It was perfect timing!

Jabs Gym 1.Still001

What was the writing process like?

Even before I sat down to write, I had been planning this film in my head for about eight months. I always try to play it over in my head and then visualize it on screen. When I finally sat down, it just came right out and took me about nine days to write.

How would describe the story of “Fight Valley”?

As I was writing, I tried putting myself in a real life situation by asking myself, what would you do if someone came to you and said that they found your brother dead in the woods? Naturally, the first thing you’d think about is who did this to my brother. You would want revenge.

 In Windsor’s case [Susie Celek], she hears her sister died in Fight Valley and she decides to go there. Then she discovers that Fight Valley isn’t really a place; it’s all of Camden, and there’s an underground scene where girls who have no jobs or money could fight and get paid for it. She eventually finds out her sister was killed in a street fight and decides to fight the girl who did it and make her pay. The problem is, Windsor is a rich girl who’s never broken anything other than a broken nail in her entire life. So Miesha takes her under her wing to train her. She already knows there’s no way Windsor’s going to win, but she decides to train her anyway because she wants her to have closure. 

What do you think makes the UFC style of fighting so popular with people?

The human race is very completive and one where everyone is so busy and on the edge trying to get ahead. So it’s cool to come home the end of a hard day and watch people beat the crap out of each other—and know that it’s not you! [laughs]. The other cool thing about it is that instead of rooting for a whole team, you get attached to and root for a single person.

What was the filming process like?

It was very challenging, especially with scheduling. It was nine days of crunch time in the heat and fighting. It was my first, full feature movie and I really learned a lot.

Did you always know that you wanted to have a career in entertainment?

I did. I had played instruments when I was younger and even entered talent shows in school. I remember being upset at the possibility of losing but once I got on stage and the spotlight came on and I saw my mom looking at me I said, “I want to do this forever!” I started doing rap music and it eventually evolved into making films.

What do you enjoy most about the filmmaking process?

I like the idea of how you can take something from your mind and put it on screen. It’s an awesome process being able to create characters and locations. Then there’s calling “action” and seeing it all come to life. It’s a feeling you can’t really describe.

As an artist and filmmaker, what lessons did you take away from working on “Fight Valley”?

There were a lot of lessons learned ,but I think the most important one is to take your time creating and getting what you want. Because you could work for years and not get distribution, but you never know when that one film will get away from you and go into the mainstream. I love this movie and it’s very dear to me. I’m also very excited about showing everyone what the next step will be.

Fight Valley is available now on multiple streaming services.

‘All I Ever Wanted’: Actress Ashley Watkins Discusses Emotional New Film

Ashley Watkins

Ashley Watkins

With a resume that encapsulates the realms of horror, drama, comedy and dance, actress Ashley Watkins has quickly become one of Hollywood’s most versatile artists. Her beauty equally matched by talent and an innate ability to draw emotion from the human connection.

Watkins will soon be seen in the Markiss McFadden and Mason Troy film, “All I Ever Wanted” – a gritty new drama about family, hope and forgiveness and how they all come together when we need them the most.

Inspired by real-life events, “All I Ever Wanted” represents Troy’s first foray into the writing world and promises to be a story that touches the heart and soul.

I had the chance to speak to this amazing actress about her new film and more in this exclusive interview.

What was it that attracted you to the project and story of “All I Ever Wanted”?

Markiss McFadden is one of the most focused and motivated entrepreneurs I know. He’s an actor, director and producer all in one and is super-talented. So I already knew going in that working with him would be amazing. Then after the first day of shooting, I got to meet Mason Troy. We went over a really deeply connected scene together and that’s when I realized just how important this story was to him. I’m not sure how true this story was to his past but he feels it. He’s lived it. The story, the emotion, the human connection. I instantly connected with that.

How would you describe the story of “All I Ever Wanted”?

It’s a story about Mason’s character, Ace, who grew up on the wrong side of the tracks and for years got stuck in this world of selling and dealing drugs. Ace wakes up one morning and realizes everything he has he doesn’t really own. It’s all drug money. He realizes that he has this inner talent and wants to do other things. He also wants to rekindle his relationship with his sister and stepfather. It’s the story of the coming together of all of those things.

Ashley Watkins & Mason Troy

Ashley Watkins & Mason Troy

What can you tell me about your character, Rose?

Rose is Ace’s sister and is a little more difficult. She grew up depressed and had a lot of social issues. She was also bullied in school and had anxiety attacks. She’s incredibly smart and someone who once had a great relationship with Ace but is struggling with her own demons. 

What was the filming process like?

Being on set with Markiss each day was just what I imagined. He was an absolute professional. And because he’s also an actor, he was so aware of what was needed. Working with Mason was also amazing. This was his first film where he wrote, produced and acted, which was huge. After we had finished filming I remember telling him not to worry if he heard any quirks about the film. I said, “You’ve just completed a film. Just the fact that you created and completed a film and that it’s right here, right now is bigger than anything.” We were all taken into a piece of Mason’s world and brought into it in such a beautiful and vulnerable way.

There’s an interesting musical scene in the film. What can you tell me about it?

Yes! There is a scene where I am singing. My character, Rose used to play the guitar so Ace buys her one and pushes her into going to sing at an open-mic night. She does and it actually becomes a window into Ace’s world and reflects what she’s trying to do for him. He’s trying to tell her that she’s got talent and needs to do what she needs to do — and she’s doing the same for him. It’s a beautiful moment.

Is there a message people can take away from watching “All I Ever Wanted”?

Follow your dreams. Don’t let anyone stop you, control you or tell you that you’re not capable of doing something. 

What other projects are you currently working on?

I recently finished filming “The Young Pope”, which is a HBO series that stars Jude Law and Diane Keaton. I can’t say what it’s about but it was a dream role that I’ve wanted to film ever since I was a kid.

Photo by: CA Photography

Photo by: C.A. Francis Photography

Have you ever given thought to getting on the other side of the camera at some point – writing or directing?

I’ve been asked about that a lot of times. Being on the other side is a craft of its own. After a few more years of experience I think I’d be able to transition over. Right now though, I like to become the characters and live through them. But when I do decide I want it to be a project that is dear to me. Much like the way Markiss and Mason have done in telling a story of their own. When an actor and director can get to the same level of connection, creative thinking and understanding, it’s a beautiful thing!

What’s in a name?

Wes Craven (1939-2015)

Wes Craven (1939-2015)

What’s in a name you say? Well, when I was growing up, there were certain words that – whenever spoken, always conjured up a feeling or an urge inside of you. Something that was more than just a rational, cognizant realization.

Let me give you a few examples from my own childhood to prove my point:

Barney

No, not Fred’s “Yabba Dabba Doo” buddy from The Flintstones. In my neck of the woods (on the south side of Easton, PA), Barney meant only one thing: The guy who made the  best cheesesteaks this side of Philly. Although Barney’s been dead for nearly two decades I can still recall the days of eating his wares in his Steak Shop while trying my luck on the latest video games like Vanguard and Defender and listening to the Foreigner “4” album on the jukebox.

Utopia

No, not the imaginary place or state of things in which everything is perfect (although some of the questionable paraphernalia they sold there may have you think otherwise). Utopia was/is a store in the downtown section of town where all of the teens would congregate in the 1980’s in order to purchase the latest AC/DC or Pretenders album and get concert tickets for Stabler Arena or the Allentown Fairgrounds.

Lucy

I’m not talking about the chick that swiped the football out from under Charlie Brown. Lucy’s was the neighborhood candy store that served up the finest in Swedish Fish, Tootsie Rolls and Hostess Twinkies.

See how one word can easily trigger something deep inside you? And while we’re on the subject, let me give you a pair of words that does the same thing for me:

Wes Craven

Whenever these two words are mentioned together it instantly reminds me of one of the scariest films I ever saw as pubescent teenager – “A Nightmare on Elm Street”.

Sure, by the time that movie came out in 1984, I had already been covering my ears to the creepy intro music of “Halloween” and hidden my eyes from the inevitable pop up scare scenes in the closing minutes of the first two “Friday The 13th” movies. But there was something far more diabolical with Elm Street. For unlike Michael Myers and Jason Voorhees – who at least early on were actual human beings,  Freddy Kreuger represented something that was far more sinister – an unknown, malevolent creature who came to us in our darkest dreams.

Watching the scene where poor Amanda Wyss’ character, Tina, is standing in the alley way while Freddy’s arms grow and he pounces on her still gives me an uneasy feeling some thirty years later.

Back then, I wasn’t even aware of some of Craven’s earlier films like “The Last House on The Left” or “The Hills Have Eyes”. All I knew was from that point forward, anytime I saw the words “Wes Craven” before a film’s title, I knew immediately it would be scary and I would have to see it. And although some of his work was questionable in the years following NOES -“The Hills Have Eyes Part II” and “Shocker” immediately come to mind, Craven was back in top form for “Scream” in 1996. Single-handedly creating a film that (at least to me) rivaled Elm Street in terms of its originality and scare.

So hearing the news late last night that Wes Craven had passed away at the age of 76 was somewhat shocking. Knowing that there will never be another film that will give me that same feeling when I see the title. But whenever I hear those two words together – “Wes Craven”, I’ll always remember a man whose vision and memorable characters will continue to live on, both on screen and in dreams.

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

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

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

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

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

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

How did this project come about for you?

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

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

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

How would you describe your character, Sebastian Donner?

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

What was the filming process like?

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

What was the chemistry like on set?

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

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

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

What do you love most about horror?

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

How did you become involved in the project?

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

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

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

What can you tell me about your character, Junie?

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

What was the chemistry like on set?

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

What was it like working with Kazeem?

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

What can you tell me about your background?

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

“Prom Ride” will be released on April 24th

Actress Sara Castro talks career, upcoming projects

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

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

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

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

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

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

What made you decide to make the move to California?

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

What was it like suddenly finding yourself alone in California?

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

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

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

What attracts you to a project or script?

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

What other projects are you working on right now?

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

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

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

Can you tell me a little about your philanthropy?

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

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

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

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

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

Visit Sara Castro’s Official Website By Clicking Here!

Filmmaker Anna Martemucci discusses ‘The Genderton Project’

Generton1

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

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

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

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

Genderton

How did this idea for The Genderton Project begin?

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

How would you describe the stories/episodes?

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

 

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