John Garvin Interview: Days Gone

John Garvin, the writer and creative director behind Days Gone on PlayStation 4 tells us all about the games he’s worked on, from Syphon Filter to Uncharted: Golden Abyss. The studio which would eventually be known as SIE Bend Studio first made waves with the Syphon Filter trilogy back in the days of the original PlayStation. Back then, they were known as Eidetic, though they became known as Bend in time for the 2001 release of Syphon Filter 3.

As a first-party studio owned by Sony, Bend went on to develop more Syphon Filter titles for PSP, a Resistance spin-off for PSP, and Uncharted: Golden Abyss for the PlayStation Vita. Now, Bend Studio is gearing up for the launch of Days Gone, their first original IP since Syphon Filter all the way back in 1998. Through it all, writer John Garvin has been the lead writer behind all of Bend’s titles, which has lent the studio a unique identity which has persisted throughout their varied titles.

Related: Days Gone’s Freakers Are Not Zombies

With Days Gone just days away, we spoke with Garvin about the ambitious title, and applying Bend’s momentum-driven narrative approach to the open world genre. He also dishes on the numerous changes that have been made to the game since its 2016 E3 debut, and reminisces on Bend’s older titles even offering a slight, tantalizing tease that more Syphon Filter could be on the way, eventually.

Something that’s surprised me in the launch cycle for Days Gone, in interviews that I’ve read and just general internet hype, is how many people still fondly remember Syphon Filter, and I certainly count myself in that crowd. The ending of Logan’s Shadow is still seared into my brain, more than ten years later…

John Garvin: You know what’s weird? We have a lot of Syphon Filter fans in Europe. I just finished a press tour that went all across Europe, and got so many Syphon Filter questions, it’s not even funny!

A lot of studios are famous, or infamous, for having so much employee turnover, to the point where an immediate sequel can be made by practically a entirely different team. I don’t know if that’s the case with Sony Bend, but you have been there since the beginning. Since before the beginning, when the studio was known as Eidetic.

John Garvin: Yeah. You’re right about turnover, in general. But for us… The people who created Syphon Filter 1, we still have Chris Reese, who’s the studio director. He was the lead engineer on Syphon back in the Eidetic days. I’ve always been there. And Jeff Ross, who’s the Game Director on Days Gone, he was a level designer on Syphon 1. And a lot of our producing staff, like Connie Booth (currently Vice President of Product Development), she was our producer way back then. There’s not a lot of turnover at Bend Studio. We’re growing, but a lot of us have been working together for over twenty years.

Do you remember how many people were at Eidetic back when you were doing the first Syphon Filter?

John Garvin: I don’t know the exact number, but I remember looking at a photo not too long ago, and I think it was twelve or thirteen guys, and one gal. Susan, our office manager, was also there. She’s been with the studio longer than me. She was there when I started, and she’s still there.

So maybe a dozen or so people. And how many people at Sony Bend are working on Days Gone?

John Garvin: I think the last number I heard was we were pushing, counting some QA folks we hired internally, I think we’re at about 145 now.

That’s so many, but it’s also kinda mid-size, compared to some. Bend has always struck me as such a hard-working studio that surprises with these impressively big games, usually made for handheld systems. Your Resistance and Uncharted games stand toe-to-toe with the best of their console siblings.

John Garvin: It’s funny, the studio stayed small for a really long time. By the time we finished Syphon Filter 3, we were maybe 30 people. Maybe less than that. I don’t think we really started ramping up until we started Golden Abyss (the handheld Uncharted title). That’s when we went to about 50 people, when we started working on that launch title for the PlayStation Vita. We’ve basically only done games that fit the scale of our studio. We were doing handhelds for quite a while; even though they were state-of-the-art handhelds with high production values, the scope of them was small enough for our pretty small team. The point of your question, I absolutely agree with. We’ve always felt we are a scrappy studio, just trying to hit above our weight class. That’s kind of the way we’ve always felt. For a game like Days Gone, 140 people is pretty small. It’s such a big game.

There must have been a lot of pressure, tackling a big budget console title after being away for 15 years (not including the PS2 ports of the PSP Syphon Filter titles)

John Garvin: But you have to keep in mind that we’re Sony “first party.” We have a lot of support groups. All of our music and audio, all of our cinematics, we went down to L.A. and got to shoot them all on Sony stages with Sony support crews, and Sony Visual Arts and Services really helped out. Probably another 50 people, all told. And that’s not counting PR and marketing.

How has the pressure changed since the days of Syphon Filter and even as recently as Uncharted? There’s an idea floating around that there was a lot more creative freedom in the pre-HD era, since budgets were lower and teams were smaller, so you could do what you wanted as long as you hit your deadlines. Was that really the case, or is development actually not that different now?

John Garvin: You know, this is just my opinion, because I don’t know about other studios, but in terms of Bend studios, we’ve always done it the same way. Sony is our publisher, and our goal is to support the platform. Since Sony purchased us, after, I think, Syphon Filter 2, our goal has always been to create games that sell hardware, whether it’s been the PS1, PS2, PSP, or Vita. And now, obviously, the PS4. We really want to create games that, I think, need to have a certain kind of appeal, and they have to be commercial. We need to appeal to enough gamers who say, “I want to buy this platform because I want to play that game.” I think that’s always the goal, whether we were doing something for the Vita or the PS4. I don’t think that’s ever changed. We could never do “whatever we wanted.” It always had to go through the green-light process and checks and balances with marketing and execs to make sure it’s a viable product.

This might seem like a silly question, and I think a lot of people want to ask it, but only I am humble enough to do so. There’s this ubiquity of visionary creators: you’ve got your Miyamotos, your Kojimas, etc. You’re credited as Writer and Creative Director on Days Gone, while Jeff Ross is credited as Game Director. Could you elaborate on the interplay between your roles? What are your responsibilities and what are his? I imagine it’s different from movies, where you write a script, you turn it in, and then you leave.

John Garvin: I would call it a very, very, very close collaboration, and not just with Jeff, our Game Director. Also with our Art Director, and our Technical Director. And I’m forgetting so many. Our Animation Director… All those key-holders and vision-keepers have to collaborate closely. About your earlier question, we were given carte blanche, at first. Golden Abyss did really well for Sony. It was a great launch title. We proved ourselves, that we could take on an ambitious project. So they said, “what do you want to do?” We were in a brainstorming phase, and I think I’m the one who came up with the idea of, “I want to do something set in the high desert or the pacific northwest.” I hadn’t seen a game set here before. We’re huge fans of Sons of Anarchy, and I really liked the idea of exploring characters in this culture, not because of the violence and criminality, but because of the relationship between Jax and his close friends, like Opie. Kurt Sutter, the writer, I think, did some really amazing things.

Great show!

John Garvin: I was interested in that, and Jeff Ross was the one who said, “I have always been a huge fan of open world games. We should do this as an open world. That would be amazing.” At the same time, we were both thinking of gameplay hooks. The power of the PS4, the ability to do something like a horde which was 400 or 500 enemies all at the same time. I think that came from both of us just spitballing. And that gets Don Yatomi involved, and his team created one of our very first pieces of key art that helped sell this game. It was this guy standing on top of a rooftop of an old saw mill, and hundreds and hundreds of freakers are swarming towards him in an orderly, hive-mind kind of way. A lot of ideas came from me, I suppose… Certainly all the characters and so on. But the game doesn’t exist without the game, and that all came from Jeff. In terms of clear demarcations, anything that has to do with playing the game, holding the controller from second to second, that’s all Jeff Ross. The mechanics and the skill tree and the way the weapon wheel works, the survival vision, that all came from Jeff. The final implementation of the radar, all that stuff.

I see.

John Garvin: He’s got a huge team of designers who all work on these things individually. They all have leads who direct every part of the game. That part is hugely collaborative. But the script, that all came from me, and all the characters and locations and a lot of the missions, honestly, and I think that’s one of the reasons you’ll find, when you play Days Gone, and if you play any of Sony Bend’s games… I’m a huge gamer, but I also have a Master’s Degree in English. My background is in Shakespeare! I was really able to, early on, bring this sensibility to the creation process. Like, why don’t we bring our inspiration from this? Instead of from a game, we’ll take inspiration from a book or a TV show, and combine things I haven’t seen done in games before. I think that’s my part of it. Jeff does the playability part of it. Anytime you’re having fun in the game, it’s because Jeff and his guys did a really good job making the game fun to play.

It’s so funny you mentioned Shakespeare, since Jason Dante from Uncharted: Golden Abyss is one of my favorite chracters in all of gaming, and I always thought of him as being so Shakespearean.

John Garvin: It’s funny, in writing Golden Abyss, I always thought of General Oro as being more Shakespearean, since I gave him some more flowery lines, just because he considers himself an orator, so he could get flamboyant in ways I don’t think Dante would. But it’s funny, I’ve never really thought about it that way!

Anyway, let’s talk about Sam Witwer! He is really dreamy. I mean, he’s talented, but also super dreamy, and we really get to see him in Days Gone! So, you wrote Deacon St. John. You created him. Were you hands-on in casting? How did Sam get pulled in?

John Garvin: I was totally hands-on. I was the guy. All casting decisions came from me. Early on, we were trying out a few different guys to play the lead. Early, we had gone with someone quite a bit older, but it was a very different-feeling game, early on. It was a little more tongue-in-cheek, and not quite so serious. Technology-wise, we were still working our character pipeline for PS4. We made a decision, maybe a year into development, that we were going to go with digital doubles, meaning we were going to cast someone who not only had a great voice, but needed to have the look we were searching for. Sam has that real combination of the right look and the voice. And he can act!

Did your work on Uncharted influence this casting process?

John Garvin: We knew we wanted screen actors. It’s one of the things I learned from Amy Hennig working on Uncharted. That whole process is literally about performance capture, which we had never done before. It’s about getting actors on the stage together, interacting with each other. You had to have experience doing that in order to get hired. We really needed our actors to have the chemistry with other actors, to collaborate and build the dramatic tension. Back to Sam, he has this great look, but if you know his work, he’s a passionate gamer, and he’s passionate about a lot of things, about genre-related things. He’s gung-ho. From the first time we got him on stage for a live audition, we knew he was going to be the guy. Once we had him cast, we used him to cast the other leads, because all of our auditions were him working face-to-face with them. They rehearsed together on the stage just to make sure the chemistry was there. Sam was the one who chose Courtnee Draper for Sarah. We had three actors vying for the part, and he was adamant about Courtnee because she was the only one who could really keep up with him. He believed her that she could keep up with an outlaw biker gang and hold her own. He was pretty important to the process, right from the start.

I really love, especially in games, these motion-captured performances. You can really see the actor in the character. When I first saw the game, I recognized Sam Witwer before he even spoke, from Star Wars: The Force Unleashed. Was that ever a discussion? Did you ever consider changing his likeness so audiences wouldn’t recognize the actor?

John Garvin: It’s funny because that never came up. Obviously, we got a lot of comments, like, “Hey, it’s Starkiller!” But for us, I think it’s an interesting question because it’s a question. In Hollywood, it’s never a question. Nobody goes, “Oh, you got Jack Nicholson; are you concerned because it’s the same guy from The Shining?” (laughs) The actor is the actor. But in games, it’s still kind of a new thing. My prediction is, ten years from now, you’re going to see a lot more digital doubles, and it’s going to become kind of the norm. It’s becoming more and more common that you’re hiring an actor, not only for their voice, but for the way they look. I think we’re gonna get to the point where it’s not even going to be a question. It was never a factor. I never said, “Maybe we shouldn’t do it,” or “Maybe we shouldn’t hire someone who has been digitally doubled before.”

We’ve also come such a long way since Syphon Filter, where you’d write the script and someone would come in and say the lines. Nowadays, they’re acting the whole performance on a stage. What opportunities do actors have to help shape their characters while they’re acting? Can they say, “Can I change this line?” or “What if I do this instead?” I imagine it’s much more collaborative than it was back in the quote-unquote “old days.”

John Garvin: Up until Golden Abyss, we always did the actors separately in the VO booth, working from a pretty tight script. Then, in San Diego, the stunt actors would be recording the scene separately, on a mo-cap stage. Then, we would combine them together later on in animation. We would hire animators to do all the lip sync and facial expressions. We did that, even for Resistance Retribution for PSP. We got some good work out of it, but you’re never gonna get Naughty Dog-level work using that process, which is why, when we started working on Golden Abyss, we spent weeks down in L.A., learning how they do it. And it’s night and day. And, to answer your question, of can they collaborate, yes, absolutely, that’s the whole point!

Could you give me an example of how things were changed based on an actor’s input?

John Garvin: There’s a scene where Deacon gets caught stealing drugs from one of the emcampment’s infirmaries, and meets these two characters, Rikki and Addie. Nishi Munshi plays Rikki. She and Deacon had to have this moment, and they’re two super important characters. The way I had written it was pretty serious. Over the course of six takes, we do all these shots. The first take is always going to be rough. By the time you get to the sixth take, you get to what the real story is about. It’s always a combination of what’s on the page and what the actor’s bring to it. Sam went, let’s have Deacon be a little more rogue-ish here, a lot more jokey and just have him trying to laugh it off and get past them, rather than pointing guns and being all serious. So the final take is way better than the first one, and it’s because the story, the character, it improves with the actors’ input. Nishi added a beat, as well.

What was that?

John Garvin: When Addie comes up to her and says, “he’s not stealing narcotics, he’s stealing antibiotics!” That’s a big surprising moment and I hadn’t written a reaction for Rikki, and Nishi said, “She’s gotta react there, right?” And I’m like, yeah, absolutely, so she added “Wait, what?” Actors are very important to the process. They help create the characters. They help improve the script, certainly, but just by being alive on the set, in the moment, trying to make everything feel real.

I think we really are at the point where there’s no line between crafting a non-interactive scene, whether it’s for a game or a movie.

John Garvin: One of the key things we’re trying to achieve here is naturalism and realism. We didn’t want anything to feel staged, or feel fake, or feel… “gamey.” We wanted it to feel as real as we could possibly make it, so it feels like you’re playing a movie, which is kind of what our goal was.

I feel like Days Gone is the culmination of so many different generations of technological advancements, in storytelling, acting, motion-capture, etc. And to put that in an open world game, this is a whole new beast for your team.

John Garvin: That was our biggest goal going into this. Bend has always done these third-person, narrative-driven games. Linear games. We really wanted to see if it was possible to do our style of game in an open world. Typically, the open-world genre is very distracting. You can go in any direction. It’s very hard to build tension or drama because you’ve got other things you can do! You can do some stuff in any order you want. The challenge for us was, how do we tell our cinematic style of game in an open world? That’s kind of how we ended up with six hours of cinematics in a 30-hour main story playthrough. We really wanted to make sure we had enough continuity in the character development and story development while you’re playing the game, to always keep things interesting.

And what did you do, writing-wise, to keep things interesting?

John Garvin: Going back to Shakespeare, probably the biggest thing I learned from Shakespeare, which has been carried over into sitcoms more than films, is just the sort of A plot, B plot, C plot structure. You have this main story, maybe it’s Deacon trying to keep his best friend, Boozer, alive. Then you have a side story, or B plot, I don’t even call it a side story. In a lot of open world games, side stories literally have nothing to do with the main story. In our game, everything has something to do with the main story, either thematically or in terms of direct through lines or character development. These different plotlines all feed on each other or build on each other in, hopefully, interesting or surprising ways. I learned from Shakespeare that it’s okay to mix it up; don’t keep the same two actors on the stage all the time! Make sure there’s something else going on. Let some of your characters be more humorous than the more super serious ones, or whatever. I think that’s something games could do more.

Does player choice have any impact on the way the characters and storyline develop?

John Garvin: The tone and the style of the writing doesn’t change. We’re not doing a Telltale-style game that has branching storylines or anything like that. The changes that occur in the characters, obviously, occur because of the story. So, not necessarily because of things the player is doing. The exception to that is the dialogue at the merchants and in the survivor encampments. It changes depending on your trust level with those camps. The player has agency in how much work they want to do with these encampments. The more Deacon does for them, the healthier the citizens become, and they become less grumpy and more friendly when they open the gates to let you in. They start calling you by your first name, for example.

Days Gone is a game we’ve been able to see develop over a longer period of time than is normal, but not because the game was terribly delayed, but because you were willing to show it that early. The E3 2016 demo was very impressive, but what’s come out in the last few months is completely overhauled. Bend has been so transparent on the changes, like the removal of binary choices made during cutscenes. I’m thinking about the relationship between the character, the player, and the writer, you know?

John Garvin: Thank you, number one, because we have completely… We’re always continuing to work on the game, but what’s interesting about that 2016 demo is that it’s an actual mission in the game. The gameplay there hasn’t changed. It’s part of the game, it’s one of the required hordes you have to fight over the course of the game. It’s at the saw mill, it’s one of the major gameplay beats of Days Gone. It’s still there, though it does look a lot better now.

That’s really cool, I love when stuff from previews appears in the final game and you can really compare and contrast the differences.

John Garvin: That was still alpha. The thing about the binary choices is, we released some of that footage when it was still alpha. We were working on the game up until even now. We’re always making it better. The thing about player choices is, players didn’t get it! (laughs) We have ongoing focus tests where we bring in twenty players at a time and have them play the game from start to finish over a week. We’ve done that dozens of times over the past two years. The data just kept coming back, you know? We thought it was going to be this awesome thing where Boozer’s morale was going to be this awesome thing players would have to watch, but players just didn’t understand it. For the amount of work we were putting into it, there was no payoff. It was hurting the player experience. When we got rid of it, it made a huge difference in a number of ways.

That’s so interesting.

John Garvin: As a writer, one of the lessons I had to learn that was really hard early on, was this: on a motion picture script, you’ve 90 to 120 pages, give or take. You want your character to start out flawed and broken, and you want them to be in a place where they have a lot of room to change and grow. For Deacon, he starts out as this nihilistic, broken guy. Honestly, he isn’t very likable at first. The thing is, in a movie, you’re doing that for ten or fifteen minutes before you have a catalyst that makes him begin to change. That turned out to be eight hours in Days Gone, and I didn’t realize that until I played the game for the first time, in December of 2017.

Oh my gosh, that’s hilarious, but it must have been so uncomfortable for you!

John Garvin: It was just like, “okay, so all these binary choices are also hurting that.” If Deacon has the ability to leave this guy to be eaten alive or to put him out of his misery, the player, at that moment, doesn’t really know what the right thing to do is. In either case, it makes Deacon out to be… If he leaves him to be eaten alive, it turns him into a real a**hole! The same with taking Boozer’s shotgun. Kind of going along with that, if you have an obvious choice to make, players will always choose the good thing. It’s something that we learned from looking at something like Infamous. The number of players who choose dark over light is actually very small, believe it or not. We want to be “good” in video games. We want to play the good guy. But the biggest thing was, it made Deacon’s character stronger. It made players less confused about what was going on, and it saved us production time because we didn’t have to polish all the cinematics that were resulting from all these binary choices.

When you changed the choices, did you rewrite how it played out, or did you make the choice for the player?

John Garvin: We just made the choice for the player. So Deacon will always shoot Leon in the first twenty minutes, and Deacon will always leave Boozer’s shotgun. We just basically made the choices in every case where we had them, and it was always making the character stronger.

Okay, now I have to ask you, and this is tremendously important: can you turn Deacon’s backwards cap around so it’s facing forward?

John Garvin: (laughs) Can the player choose to do that? Hmm… Here’s the thing. This is a bigger question, honestly. One of the things a lot of open world games have in common is that there’s a lot of player choice in the way the main character looks. We decided, very early on, that we weren’t going to do that. The reason is, the way Deacon looks has huge story implications. This is something the player may or may not notice, but in flashbacks, Deacon is pretty clean shaven. He doesn’t have his scruffy beard. I wanted there to be this really stark contrast between these periods in Deacon’s life. From flashbacks with Sarah to the prologue where you see him having to make this horrible choice between saving his wife and saving his best friend, and then the game itself, where you see things happening two years later. These different time periods all have a different version of this man. Going back to biker culture, it’s completely reflected in the way he dresses, including his hat and his hair and his facial hair. We had to make sure that the player couldn’t mess that up. We don’t want the player to say, “I want Deacon, in this flashback, to have a big scruffy beard.” Well, no! That’s not who he was then. During the course of the game, for story reasons, perhaps the hat’s not there at all…

Ooh, intriguing!

John Garvin: Let me tell you, I took a lot of s*** for that in the wedding trailer; a lot of comments were, “hey, why is he wearing a hat at his wedding?” And he’s wearing it the same way, backwards. But I can tell you, and I know from the research I had done, bikers do that! I got a lot of support from people who are actually in biker culture. They said, “yeah, we don’t dress differently just because of a special occasion; we are who we are.”

That’s really cool. I really like that answer. It’s the same as the binary choices. Sometimes, the players can have that intimate control over the character’s story, but sometimes, it has to be the way it’s written, the way you wrote it and the way the actor did it.

John Garvin: One thing, though, you can change how the bike looks. So, that was the compromise we made. There’s literally millions of combinations of colors and trim and all that, and it’s entirely possible to create a bike that looks like one Deacon St. John would never sit on. You can have a pink gas tank and green chrome and it can be garish and ugly. But if the player wants to do that, they are empowered to do whatever they want with the bike.

I’ve got time for one last question. Syphon Filter: Logan’s Shadow. Did Teresa and Gabe survive that ending?

John Garvin: (Laughs) …Maybe, hopefully, we’ll find out someday.

More: Stop Comparing Sony’s Days Gone to The Last of Us

2019-04-25 08:04:47

Zak Wojnar

Dennis Haysbert & Mike Colter Interview: Breakthrough

Dennis Haysbert is an American actor. He portrayed baseball player Pedro Cerrano in the Major League films, Secret Service Agent Tim Collin in the 1997 political thriller film Absolute Power, and Sergeant Major Jonas Blane on the drama series The Unit. He is also known for playing U.S. Senator (later President) David Palmer on the first 5 seasons of 24.  Mike Colter is best known for his role as Luke Cage in Marvel’s Luke Cage, The Defenders, and Jessica Jones. He has also appeared as Lemond Bishop in the television series The Good Wife.

In an interview for their new film Breakthrough, they discuss faith and science and how both and mix with the other to have a mutual understanding of how the world works.

Congratulations on the film, guys. It’s a heart wrenching and heart warming as well. And I don’t think I felt like crying so much throughout a whole movie.

Dennis Haysbert: Oh, let it go, man.

But first of all, did you guys hear about this story before taking the project?

Dennis Haybert: And on that note, I mean, I think that there has to be a record of a movie being made from a book, of an incident that happened, to two years from the incident to the book. To the movie. I don’t think, I don’t think anything has moved that fast.

Yeah. It’s 2015 was where everything. Mike, you play the first responder, that’s an atheist. Can you talk to me about Tommy’s journey?

Mike Colter:Tommy, you know, I think a lot of times, people talk about faith and people will tell you God works through people sometimes. You know that sometimes you yourself become a conduit or a messenger. I think Tommy, his job is to save lives. You know, he’s the first responding comes out, he did everything he can do to resuscitate, to get the person to the hospital, to just, you know, stabilize him. And he’s done it so many times. I think it becomes common, but at the same time, this is a special incident because this kid doesn’t give up. You know, his mom doesn’t give up. Tommy did it. Okay, it’s done. And then he looks around, he looks on TV, this kid is still alive? Wait a minute. Also he’s pulled in. He’s pulled in on the journey that the mother is taking them on. Everybody’s taken on his journey. The town, the school, the pastor, his character, the doctor, you name it, the father, even the father at some point, I think it gets it. Okay enough, I can’t, you know, this is not going to work. And I think that’s what Tommy taught me. He’s that guy that starts out from zero and now by the time the movie, I think he’s a little closer to believe, you know.

And with your character, he’s the doctor that is the best at what he does. But there’s an inherent debate about faith and science. Can you talk to me about how that kind of plays well into this film as well?

Dennis Haysbert: Well as a doctor, this character in particular, you can’t afford to let faith enter into it. You have to look at your work. You’ve got to look at all the tests and you’d have to see what’s going on factually. Basically, you don’t have time to sit there and say “Well, I really wish, I really hope this happens,” but when it does happen, you have to take it back a second and say, look, all these things I am, this is not the way I was trained. You know, I’m not supposed to feel this, but I can’t help but say that this is a miracle. You know, and it’s hard for a scientist to say what’s a miracle? Because you make the miracles. You know, by science, I mean, and you can, and you’re limited to what you’re able to do with medicines and whatever. And when you have that one intangible come through and it says, no, we’re going to take it over here. And not, it just blows his whole, preparation out of the water

Cinematically we live in a world of superheroes. You’re familiar with playing one. What can people take away from real life heroes that are depicted in this film?

Mike Colter: Anyone can be one. You don’t have to have a super special ability to be a hero. Sometimes you just have to be the right place at the right time, and you have to have the will. And that’s all it takes.

Dennis Haysbert: Inspiration to do it.

More: John Smith & Marcel Ruiz Breakthrough Interview

2019-04-19 07:04:05

Joe Deckelmeier

Dennis Haysbert & Mike Colter Interview: Breakthrough

Dennis Haysbert is an American actor. He portrayed baseball player Pedro Cerrano in the Major League films, Secret Service Agent Tim Collin in the 1997 political thriller film Absolute Power, and Sergeant Major Jonas Blane on the drama series The Unit. He is also known for playing U.S. Senator (later President) David Palmer on the first 5 seasons of 24.  Mike Colter is best known for his role as Luke Cage in Marvel’s Luke Cage, The Defenders, and Jessica Jones. He has also appeared as Lemond Bishop in the television series The Good Wife.

In an interview for their new film Breakthrough, they discuss faith and science and how both and mix with the other to have a mutual understanding of how the world works.

Congratulations on the film, guys. It’s a heart wrenching and heart warming as well. And I don’t think I felt like crying so much throughout a whole movie.

Dennis Haysbert: Oh, let it go, man.

But first of all, did you guys hear about this story before taking the project?

Dennis Haybert: And on that note, I mean, I think that there has to be a record of a movie being made from a book, of an incident that happened, to two years from the incident to the book. To the movie. I don’t think, I don’t think anything has moved that fast.

Yeah. It’s 2015 was where everything. Mike, you play the first responder, that’s an atheist. Can you talk to me about Tommy’s journey?

Mike Colter:Tommy, you know, I think a lot of times, people talk about faith and people will tell you God works through people sometimes. You know that sometimes you yourself become a conduit or a messenger. I think Tommy, his job is to save lives. You know, he’s the first responding comes out, he did everything he can do to resuscitate, to get the person to the hospital, to just, you know, stabilize him. And he’s done it so many times. I think it becomes common, but at the same time, this is a special incident because this kid doesn’t give up. You know, his mom doesn’t give up. Tommy did it. Okay, it’s done. And then he looks around, he looks on TV, this kid is still alive? Wait a minute. Also he’s pulled in. He’s pulled in on the journey that the mother is taking them on. Everybody’s taken on his journey. The town, the school, the pastor, his character, the doctor, you name it, the father, even the father at some point, I think it gets it. Okay enough, I can’t, you know, this is not going to work. And I think that’s what Tommy taught me. He’s that guy that starts out from zero and now by the time the movie, I think he’s a little closer to believe, you know.

And with your character, he’s the doctor that is the best at what he does. But there’s an inherent debate about faith and science. Can you talk to me about how that kind of plays well into this film as well?

Dennis Haysbert: Well as a doctor, this character in particular, you can’t afford to let faith enter into it. You have to look at your work. You’ve got to look at all the tests and you’d have to see what’s going on factually. Basically, you don’t have time to sit there and say “Well, I really wish, I really hope this happens,” but when it does happen, you have to take it back a second and say, look, all these things I am, this is not the way I was trained. You know, I’m not supposed to feel this, but I can’t help but say that this is a miracle. You know, and it’s hard for a scientist to say what’s a miracle? Because you make the miracles. You know, by science, I mean, and you can, and you’re limited to what you’re able to do with medicines and whatever. And when you have that one intangible come through and it says, no, we’re going to take it over here. And not, it just blows his whole, preparation out of the water

Cinematically we live in a world of superheroes. You’re familiar with playing one. What can people take away from real life heroes that are depicted in this film?

Mike Colter: Anyone can be one. You don’t have to have a super special ability to be a hero. Sometimes you just have to be the right place at the right time, and you have to have the will. And that’s all it takes.

Dennis Haysbert: Inspiration to do it.

More: John Smith & Marcel Ruiz Breakthrough Interview

2019-04-19 07:04:05

Joe Deckelmeier

DeVon Franklin & Roxann Dawson Interview: Breakthrough

DeVon Franklin is an American Hollywood producer, best-selling author, renowned preacher and motivational speaker. He is best known for the films Miracles from Heaven and Heaven Is for Real. Variety named him one of the “Top 10 Producers to Watch” Roxann Dawson is an American actress, producer, director, and writer best known as B’Elanna Torres on the television series Star Trek: Voyager.

In an interview for their new movie Breakthrough, they discuss the difficulties of working in extremely cold weather and the relevance of faith based stories today.

Congratulations on the film. It’s an emotional rollercoaster. And I think it has such a positive message behind it, but we live in a surreal time where our science and even faith is questioned by even our leaders. So what does this film bring to the table and telling a bigger story?

DeVon Franklin: Yeah. I mean, you know listen, in the medical record relative to this story. It says, “Patient Dead, Mother Prayed. Patient Came Back to Life.” That’s in the record. That’s not our interpretation of facts. That’s not the family’s interpretation of facts. That is literally what the doctors themselves say happened. So the beauty of this film is that it speaks for itself. And even for the skeptic, the skeptic is still going to have to wrestle with the facts of what happened to John and Joyce. And that’s why we wanted to portray it pretty much exactly how it happened.

That’s incredible. And the thing is, it’s crazy. It only happened a few years ago. Yeah. So  from the actual incident happening to the book, to the film, that has to be one of the quickest, kind of like turnarounds.

Roxann Dawson: A miracle.

Yeah, a miracle. This movie’s not only a breakthrough for the story, but it’s also a breakthrough because this is the first Fox film distributed by Disney. Did that have anything or did that help with production at all? Did it hold anything up or anything?

DeVon Franklin: No, because the Disney/Fox deal just closed literally just a few weeks ago. So up until a few weeks ago, it was distributed by 20th century Fox and when the deal closed, now Disney is distributing it. But Fox still has, you know, Searchlight still going to be on it and the Movie logo and whatnot. So we actually haven’t really felt the impact of Disney on the film and you know, our team at Fox has really been amazing and giving us the opportunity to make the movie. Still overseeing the distribution of it.

The lake scene was intense, visceral and just crazy to watch. Can you talk to me about the direction of that scene because it seems like such a crazy like setup, it just looks so real. Everything’s was so real.

Roxann Dawson: Well, I’m so glad you said that it wasn’t real. No. It involved actually shooting two days out on a real lake, on a wheel frozen lake in Canada, in Winnipeg where we were in  majorly subzero temperatures, like way below. It was very cold. And then we have three days of shooting in tanks. Very deep tanks, for the underwater stuff and then a more shallow tank for the water level stuff for the rescuers. And when the kids were half immersed and all of that had to be put together with all of our different departments knowing, you know, where each shot was gonna come from. It was carefully storyboarded and stitched together and with some wonderful visual effects we were able to achieve it. But it was really thought through. And I think every second of it had been thought through.

Steph Curry is a producer on this. How did he get involved in the project?

DeVon Franklin: I’ve been making films for a long time. I’ve been in Hollywood for over 20 years and you know, he and I met and he really wanted to get into Hollywood. He wanted to do films that could do faith, family and sports. And so I was like, “Man, look, read Breakthrough. John’s Smith’s is a basketball player. It deals with family and it deals with faith and if you’re interested, I’ll make you an executive producer.” And so he read the script in a day and reached back out and said, “I’m in.” And so I brought him on board and the same way that he leads an all star team with the Warriors, you know, I really wanted to lead an all star team of Breakthrough and having Roxanne on board and Chrissy and the cast and now, you know, bringing Stephen Curry on board. It just helps amplify this message and really positions us to win when the movie comes out at Easter time.

We see in cinematically nowadays that there’s a lot of movies that have superheroes in them, but this has a lot of real life heroes in them. What can people take away for that? Because I love the kind of supporting characters. Some of the doctor, I like Tommy, you know, Pastor Jason, I think is great. But what can people take away from these real life heroes?

DeVon Franklin: They can take away that they can do it too. Listen, I don’t mean to burst anybody’s bubble, but you can’t put on a suit and fly around the city of New York and blast. You can’t do it, man. But you know, you can’t just put your fist out and things just fly out of them. But you can prey. You can love, these are real superpowers. Joyce Smith is a real life superhero. So the thing about Breakthrough is that what you see on screen, real life people can do. And I think that’s why the movie takes on another level. And another meaning, especially in a time where people are looking for heroics. Breakthrough puts that on his plate.

More: Mike Colter & Dennis Haysbert Interview for Breakthrough

2019-04-19 01:04:45

Joe Deckelmeier

Jonathan Bennett Interview: The Haunting of Sharon Tate

For all the attention foisted on Charles Manson, his numerous victims are underrepresented in pop culture. Most people know little about Sharon Tate, Jay Sebring, Abigail Folger, and numerous others beyond their status as young people who were murdered before their time by a manipulative madman who started a cult around himself.

The Haunting of Sharon Tate is a dramatized retelling of Sharon Tate’s final days, as well as those of her close friends who were ultimately killed at 10050 Cielo Drive. Jonathan Bennett (Mean Girls, Submerged) plays Jay Sebring, one of the victims and a close personal friend to Sharon Tate. While Tate’s celebrity remains well-known to this day, Sebring was also a famous celebrity stylist, and even possessed enough fame to play a fictionalized version of himself on an episode of Batman.

While promoting The Haunting of Sharon Tate, Jonathan Bennett spoke to Screen Rant about the tremendous responsibility of playing a real-life murder victim and paying respect to the dead while still taking part in a scary and provocative horror film. He talks about sharing the screen with Hilary Duff (with whom he previously acted in Cheaper By the Dozen 2), and the undeniable fun of getting to star in a film set in the hip and chic era of 1969.

Related: The Haunting of Sharon Tate Trailer

This movie, The Haunting of Sharon Tate, is releasing during something of a perfect storm. It’s the 50th anniversary of the Manson Family Murders of 1969, which remains such a defining moment in American culture. But we’re also currently obsessed with True Crime podcasts and TV shows. Are you a big fan of that genre?

Oh my God, you have no idea. I’m watching The Disappearance of Madeleine McCann right now. The Staircase is one of my favorites. I’ve watched all of those.

What about podcasts, are you listening to any of those?

Up and Vanished and To Live and Die in L.A. are what I’m listening to right now.

In this movie, The Haunting of Sharon Tate, you play Jay Sebring. Can you talk a little bit about the research you did to learn about him? Were you able to meet with anyone who knew him or anything like that?

No, we weren’t able to do that, but I researched a lot about him. There are lot of articles about him online, and I was able to dig through… When you’re doing something like this, where you’re portraying someone who is a real person, I never want to say, “I’m being exactly Jay Sebring.” Nobody could ever be that, but I give my interpretation of what I think Jay Sebring could have been. You want to respect that.

Relating to that, Jay was definitely a celebrity. Sharon Tate’s star definitely overshadowed everyone else’s, but he was…

Absolutely! He was a hairstylist to the stars, you know? He cut every famous male actor’s hair in the 60s. Frank Sinatra, Sammy Davis Jr,. Henry Fonda, he cut everyone’s hair. And he’s famous for bringing that layered look, in the 60s, to famous celebrity men! He was the guy. You try to figure out what his life would have been like on a daily basis. When you’re showing up to sets to cut Frank Sinatra’s hair… He had such an interesting life. He’s also credited for bringing hair dryers to America. The only hair dryers they had were in England, was where they used actual, hand-held dryers, but he brought them here, to the United States.

One of my favorite things about these kinds of movies are how they do show off the other people aren’t necessarily dominating all the headlines, especially fifty years later.

Yes, exactly.

That being said, I have to ask you about Sharon Tate herself, Hilary Duff. She looks amazing. At some points in the trailer, she’s the spitting image of Sharon Tate.

She’s absolutely fantastic! Hilary and I have worked together, on Cheaper by the Dozen 2, so we have been friends for a long time. It was really fun because we have such a history together, so when working together, like, it was comfortable to be on set together. I think that shows in our relationship with each other on screen. We’re comfortable together. We look like old friends, because we are! That helped. Then, when we’re doing scenes that are more violent and gruesome, having someone that you care about, that you know, and have a history with, who you trust, it makes it a lot easier.

Speaking of gruesome violence, you know I have to ask: this movie is not without controversy. It’s a horror movie with vaguely supernatural elements, let’s just say, based on a real-life event. What steps did the movie take, or what steps did you take, to make sure you paid respect to the history and the victims?

I read a lot of articles about them and I watched any video and documentary I could about Jay Sebring. I think Daniel, our director, did a great job in his research. I’m an actor, so I can only do so much. My job is to go and portray the character to the best of my ability, and my interpretation of him. And I feel confident that I respected him in every aspect. But really, the credit goes to our director, Daniel Farrands. He definitely really knows this world and knows what happened more than anyone does, I think. I think he nailed it. I think it’s very respectful. It glorifies the victims and it doesn’t glorify the villains or the murders. It has hope and a sense of catharsis when you watch it. It’s a little cathartic.

The movie is set in 1969. How was it to immerse yourself in the period?

What a fun time to be alive, huh?

I can only imagine, but I certainly can imagine!

It was such a cool time period. To get to put on those costumes and play in that world was just really fun. I mean, it was such a good… When Hollywood was just completely different. It was a golden age in Hollywood. We shot at Randal Kleiser’s house, who directed Grease. We shot at his house, at the top of Runyon Canyon. And Randal Kleiser actually knew Sharon Tate. You have this amazing old-school director, Randal Kleiser, who is so famous for his work, who actually knew Sharon Tate, and we’re at his home… Everything just came together to make this movie special.

What are some of your favorite horror movies?

I love Insidious. I absolutely love it. Those movies. Also, the Amityville movies. The Amityville Horror is one of my favorites. I love the movies that are based on true stories.

More: Lydia Hearst Interview – The Haunting of Sharon Tate

The Haunting of Sharon Tate is out now in theaters and On Demand.

2019-04-07 02:04:51

Zak Wojnar

Cloak & Dagger Season 2 Interview: Olivia Holt & Aubrey Joseph

Ahead of this week’s Cloak and Dagger season 2 premiere on Freeform, Marvel TV brought the young adult comic book series to WonderCon 2019, along with some members of the cast and crew, such as Olivia Holt (who plays Tandy Bowen, aka Dagger) and Aubrey Joseph (who plays Tyrone Johnson, aka Cloak). Speaking with Screen Rant and a handful of other entertainment news outlets in a roundtable interview, Holt and Joseph briefly discussed Cloak and Dagger season 2 as well as the evolution of their characters on-screen.

So is it easy jumping back into the roles?

Aubrey: I feel like I have this relationship with Ty, at this point, that it wasn’t easy, but it was definitely… damn, it’s hard not to use the word easy.

Olivia: It was like sophomore year, I think. You know, it was freshman year when you’re, like, fresh meat, trying to figure out where we belong, what we do, why we do what we do. Now it’s, like, okay, now we have decisions to make. We need to buckle down, we need to get to business. I think it feels like sophomore year. I think it was maybe a little challenging at first to sort of step back into the waters of Tandy and Tyrone, but they’re still, you know, they’re the same people that they were before. Just a little more flavor to them.

Last season, Olivia, you were on the soundtrack. So, Aubrey, will we be hearing from you this season.

Aubrey: Yes.

Can you say anything more about that?

Aubrey No [laughs].

Will we be getting any covers out of you?

Olivia: We’ll see.

Any duets?

Olivia: Well, I hope so. We talk about it all the time. And there are so many opportunities for us to do that, but it’s got to feel right. We don’t want to force it. We want it to feel very authentic and organic. So whatever the scene is of the episode. Maybe one day. We’ll see.

Aubrey: Maybe we’ll do a whole musical episode. We’ll see.

Where do you guys feel like your characters can grow in the second season?

Olivia: I think both Tandy and Tyrone have a lot of big lessons to learn this season. Obviously, we touch on some pretty heavy topic for a season with focused on police brutality, suicide, drug addiction, sexual assault – lot of heavy stuff. Season 2, we dive into the realm of human trafficking, and it’s very real, very alive, not just in the US but in the whole world. And Tandy and Tyrone can sit there and they can talk about it. But the great news is they’re not just talking about it. They’re doing something about it. And so, they definitely involved in that way. They don’t stop at no, which is one of the things that I admire most about both of them is they can challenge each other. When one person says no and the other person can be, like, “Well, yes, and here’s why.” Or vice versa, and I think both of them sort of evolve in that way. Their powers have evolved so much more. We’re not just teleporting or manifesting light daggers anymore. I mean, he’s popping around so fast, you can’t even keep up with them and Tandy has a lot if new tricks up her sleeve, and I think everyone’s going to be really excited to see how they grow, not just physically but also emotionally and mentally

Are you asking people around the world who love your show, is there a thing they love most?

Aubrey: I definitely think it’s Tandy and Tyrone’s relationship. I would think so. A lot of people want them to be, you know, more intimate, but I think the beauty of season 1 was just the fact that they were dedicated to being there for one another moreso than being, you know, a boyfriend or a girlfriend knows. It was more about being that one person that cares enough to check on you and then cares enough to help you in whatever way you need, and that companionship is something that we obviously see in a lot of film and television, but not so much with a young black male and a young white female. So I think it was an interesting twist to have on television, and I think that’s the one thing that a lot of people fell in love with. Just seeing these unperfect teenagers and seeing themselves and the things we go through.

And with the introduction of her Mayhem this season, how’s it going to affect both of your characters?

Olivia: I think a lot of questions are going to be answered, but first there’s going to be even more questions. Definitely, Mayhem has been introduced and they are trying to grasp and cope with the idea of this thing that they were not expecting… they had it under control, and now things are getting a little rocky and a little tricky. And so I think there’s a lot of confusion and a lot of questions that need to be answered, but, again, Tandy and Tyrone, they’ll figure it out.

Well, the fact that Mayhem is Brigid, this person that was trying to help them. How does that interact with their relationship in the end?

Aubrey: I don’t want to give away anything, obviously, but Brigid, respectively, comes back this season with a little less pep in her step. She’s kind of developed a little bit of PTSD from everything that happens. So what kind of see Ty and Tandy become these protectors for her and kind of like reassuring her that, you know, everything is okay, that we have a job to do. You can’t sit around and kind of wondering what’s happening. We kind of just have to tackle it head-on, so that’s another aspect that you’ll see this season in the world

Since a lot of your powers are in added in post-production, have you gotten used to acting… does it feel awkward at all?

Olivia: I mean, yes and no. It’s kind of ridiculous, the stuff we have to do. Because, obviously, a lot of the things go in after we’re done shooting it. So sometimes you feel really dumb in front of a hundred crew members when you’re, like, throwing daggers – you’re not really throwing daggers – and it’s definitely weird, but I think we’ve gotten used to it. I think especially because we’re so comfortable with our characters now, and we have such a crass of who they are and what they’re going to do in certain moments. It definitely is, like, it’s fine. It’s fine. It’s weird, but it’s fine.

Next: Cloak & Dagger Recap: 6 Biggest Questions Going Into Season 2

2019-04-05 02:04:42

Mansoor Mithaiwala

Cloak & Dagger Season 2 Interview: Producer Jeph Loeb

Marvel Television head Jeph Loeb brought Cloak and Dagger season 2 to WonderCon 2019, just a few days ahead of the new season’s premiere on Freeform. Kicking things off with a two-hour season premiere, Cloak and Dagger season 2 starts out eight months after the season 1 finale and sees Tandy and Tyrone take on a set of entirely new challenges. Loeb teased some of those challenges as well as what else fans should expect in season 2.

What can you tell us about season 2, because some people are still cagey about it?

The way I look at it is that… First of all, we’re on April 4th on Freeform. That’s a special 2-hour premiere. And just so everyone’s clear, that’s two episodes that are back-to-back as opposed to the show didn’t suddenly become two hours, as much as I would love that. But it really is… if the first season was about these two people meeting learning about who they are with each other and discovering their abilities, and then ending on that question, which is, okay… Now we are who we are, can we do the job? Can we be heroes in the Marvel Universe? And when you start season 2 the answer is, unequivocally, yes. We’re going to do this. We’re going to take this on. We recognize that that may wreak havoc on our personal lives, but Cloak and Dagger have always been, when you go back to even the earliest of comics… they’re not really characters that were created to stop bank robbers or 50 ft monsters that are going to cross the city or aliens that are coming through a hole in outer space. They really were there to help people who couldn’t help themselves.

And, in many ways, they were there to help each other, and that’s what makes the show feel very true and feel authentic. And I think that’s why our fan base is as passionate as it is because they legitimately care about Ty and Tandy and what they’re going to do this season, and the excitement in the adventure and the danger that they’re going to follow. You know, you would hope that they would have… I think maybe mentor’s too strong a word, but at least an advisor, someone who understands how the system works. And, in many ways, that’s what they had in Bridget O’Reilly, and then someone threw her in the swamp. So, this season their lives are going to be complicated by something that we might as well just start a referred to as Mayhemic. And so, they may be setting out to do something that is really good and really smart and solve a problem, and then get hit sideways by the most unexpected person in their lives. I think that’s just a taste of what’s to come. Also, if there were any outstanding questions from season 1 there’ll be answered. I’m not saying that new questions aren’t then going to that arise from it. That’s what makes Marvel Marvel, you know. I don’t believe in ending the story with the end. I believe in ending the story to be continued.

You’re overseeing all the different shows. Like how often do you actually go on set?

As often as I can. This is what makes Marvel Television different from other television studios. Every show has more than an executive producer who is partnered with the showrunner. And so, we’re in casting, we’re in editing. We go in the writers room and hear the stories. We go to set, someone is always on set all the time. And that person’s role is to make sure that the show stays the course, and that’s always not easy. New Orleans is an amazing city. It also has some of the most unpredictable weather that you could possibly imagine, and if you’ve ever made any kind of television series and had planned on a beautiful, bright, sunny day, not a hurricane, it makes your life different. And that’s just one of the many, many, many challenges that the show has conquered really well. You don’t see it because the show just looks and feels as it is, but you know when you’re behind the camera you go, “Oh that was that night. That’s when that happened.”

You have so many Marvel Television shows on different networks. Are there some challenges with keeping the continuity of the universe together while allowing each of those shows and tell their own story in their own way?

Continuity that’s important to us is that the heroes always feel authentic, the world feels real, and that in some way they’re inspirational. This is a hard time for a lot of people, and whether it’s socially or economically or racially or any of those issues that are touching our lives and that we’re being assaulted by, you know, a 24/7 news cycle all the time. And so, to be able to sit and watch something that gives you a sense of hope is really our end goal, and not hope in the sense that we hope that you know this outside person is going to come and save us, but much more so that teenagers who decided they’re going to make the personal sacrifice of their own lives in order to make other people’s lives better, so that the end result of which is in the message is we are not so suddenly giving you is that anyone can be a hero. And that they are around us all the time, whether it is just nurses or doctors or teachers or parents or yourself, it is as long as you stand up when everyone else is told to sit down, then you’re the hero in the story. And if that’s what watching a Marvel Television show brings to you, that’s the feeling that you get out of all of it, then good on us. But, more importantly, good on you for watching us and watching us across those different platforms so that you get that same kind of Marvel feeling. It’s not bad thing; it’s why we’re all kind of here.

So last season we got some mystical elements of possibly like destinies unfolding, was about to bring in more magical characters like Brother Voodoo…

I think they’ll be some surprises. There won’t be Brother Voodoo, let’s just establish that, but there are certainly some as, Joe likes to say, there’s some Easter eggs along the way that it even I don’t know about. (He’s wrong.) But it’s okay, I like to let him say things like that. But, you know, look we’ve never been a place that’s an Easter egg farm. We don’t ever want to feel like when you’re watching the show that you should have left something there. But, by the same token, we all come from the comics, we all come from the same source. So if there’s a way that we can bring that in there, so that our geek fans can geek out, awesome. But we also never want the show to feel like I’m so inside I can’t even feel like I can go outside. We want this to be a show where… just care about Ty and Tandy and their adventures. And the good news is that Olivia and Aubrey make that really inviting. And so, I don’t know what else you’re doing on April 4th other than watching Marvel’s Cloak and Dagger. 2-hour Premiere. It’s not actually 2 hours.

Next: Cloak & Dagger Recap: 6 Biggest Questions Going Into Season 2

2019-04-04 03:04:40

Mansoor Mithaiwala

William Zabka Interview: The Karate Kid 35th Anniversary

William Zabka is an actor, screenwriter, producer and director. Most known for his role as Johnny in the Karate Kid franchise. He also had an Academy Award nominated short he worked on. He is now the lead role on YouTube Red’s super successful series Cobra Kai where he reprises his role as Johnny 30 years later.

Thank you for speaking with me, I appreciate your time. First off, congratulations on the 35th anniversary. It’s a must be amazing to be a part of something so iconic. Did you ever think you would be part of something so huge and so that people hold so dear to them, you know, after all these years?

William Zabka: You can never imagine it. I mean, you know, did it surprise to me to see how it’s grown and stuck with culture? You know every year as the years have gone by it just stayed with us, so you can never predict it. You can never anticipate it. it was just a, it’s one of those amazing things that happen in life sometimes. Yeah.

That’s awesome. so when you first got the role were you given a lot of freedom as far as like, things you could do, you could do to create what you imagine Johnny to be?

William Zabka: You know, that there’s the script was really locked down by Robert Canaan wrote incredible airtight screenplay. and then you know with the director like John Alex in knows, directed rocky and knows what he wants. And so I had some very strong guidelines in the script and I had a director who really had a vision. I think he coached everybody including me,  to personify these roles. And so kind of. But I’m sure that I would have some there’ll be some moments where I’d have an idea, John only open to hearing it and I usually rehearsals cause rehearsed this thing for a month before we ever shot it. You know you could try that. Yeah I always felt a, your first movie.

I think the thing that a lot of fans is that there is a character for each of them, like someone that they could relate to was there a character other than Johnny that you really related to or were you a lot like Johnny’s character growing up?

William Zabka: It’s a great question. when you’re, when you’re given a script and told to focus on your , you jumped into that skin. So I didn’t really read it. Objectives I connected with and in many ways I could connect with Daniel because I was in implant from a New York myself when I was 10 years old to La and I was the new kid in town. And I had some run ins with the local kids at the very beginning. I did not to learn karate, defend myself.  you know, I knew what it felt like to come from east coast to California and how about, so you know, but, it really, I mean as far as they get assigned with the role, like, you know, none of this character yeah. Of Jerry and Lauren that I was told to look at and I had to find the pieces getting that strip that connected to me and that I could see myself in.

And there was two parts of that in the first one was the opening scene of the movie where you can look on the motorcycles on the top of the hill and he says, I have one year to make it work. So, you know, he was the guy trying  to make his way there and then it’s him the trophy and says, you’re all right. Yeah there was a kind of like true nature. And so, uh, that’s how I saw myself in the character. My life parallel to Larusso was as an intern in some funny ways, as you imagined.

That’s interesting we got to see you a little bit in part two at the very beginning. And then I was speaking with Martin Kove said that that was originally supposed to be part of the ending for the first film. What do you believe, what do you, in your opinion, what do you believe transpired with Johnny’s character? in between, like when part two and part three, we’re actually going on because we didn’t actually get to see, oh, what’s that?

William Zabka:  No, no, no. I’m sorry. You thought you were talking about the film, Karate Kid Part 2.

I was talking about and learning what you, what you and your opinion believed happened to Johnny during part two and three, you know, since you weren’t really seen in those films.

William Zabka: Yeah. So where did he go? Yeah, the writer’s fault. They locked him up in a cage and they brought him out 35 years later. I never really, I never really thought about where he went from there. I know he didn’t go to Okinawa. Yeah  I would have loved to gone to Hawaii and did a car, the credit get you in a more, in a bigger way.

We were talking about where Johnny was in part two and three.

William Zabka: You know when they were, when they were writing part three. And I know that Dave wrote that sort of, that they weren’t almost but I keep scheduling it. Other reasons didn’t work out. So they created a Mike Barnes and when I called it a direction, which was fine with me, you know, I’ve got to be part of the original one. And it was always for me hard to watch. The other one didn’t quite copy originality.

Johnny was definitely a misunderstood kid I think for you know, for me as a kid when I first watched it, I obviously just saw Daniel’s point of view. But looking back at it now, especially there is this youtube video that I watch where it kind of explained ways, the ways that Johnny just was misunderstood. And also that How i Met Your Mother episode, it really kind of opened my eyes to like a different perspective.  When was the first one you realize this and was it, was it interesting for you to see that, that point of view?

William Zabka: I realized what the, what the narrative is of these videos that were put out?

Yeah. The narrative, different perspective and from Johnny’s point of view.

William Zabka: Yeah!. You know, I got a kick out of it. I mean, I always in order to play it wrote, as I said, you bring yourself to it so that I’m not Johnny Lawrence. It was hard to give Johnny is a bad guy. So I tried to find the redeeming quality to them and it builds his back story. So a lot of what came out you know kind of a characterization but the truth, but you know the truth then I held onto was that email. I was misled by a set date clearly again  his are nowhere in this, in the movie. So I imagined that he didn’t have a good relationship with the folks are, they weren’t present too much in his life. you know, and he lost his girl you loved and what’s back here comes a new kid in town who then kind of sticks his nose and his business, you know, the credit kicked gave a lot of levers for its triggers for Johnny to react.

You know, he didn’t come on the beach and see Daniel  with Alli and then unleash a barrage of feet on him. You know, Daniel kind of butted in and, and do his world. Right. And then the next time he really, he takes him to visit the, at the Halloween dance. And Johnny’s really writing zone. Did this, yeah. So it was, it was kind of, you know, somewhat easy to play those, those parts of being aggressive because I felt justified at the character felt justified in it by reacting to something you provoked by him. No. When, uh, you know, when, years later, decades later when, you know, that kind of pop culture narrative of this kind of swung Johnny’s direction, you know, it was kind of eerie, kind of charming the way, you know, with no shoes. I don’t buy into it all, but it was nice.

You know, it’s almost like, so many years later you could, you know, the emotion of that, that movie is so powerful. The first watch it in the kick and you know, and you’re still on the side of defeating the enemy. that emotion and that adrenaline rush, you know, is, is big. And only in hindsight, I think after watching the movie, you know, a dozen times or so, or a hundred times or whatever, many times you’ve seen it over the years, you know, you can look back and start analyzing it a little bit. And uncover some of that you know, some of the other perspectives, including Johnny and that’s been kind of thrilling. Well, really that’s what’s been kind of the origin of our show Cobra Kai. Yeah. How they’ve kind of come into Johnny’s point of view and painting and that back story. So, yes.

How old are you when you were first filming the first movie?

William Zabka: I just turned 18. I turned 18 that day. We filmed that batch. I graduated high school early thankfully.  I’d had been in high school itself, but I was in college and I turned 18, 10 days before we started filming the show.

It must’ve been like amazing for you being at such a young age to be part of something like this. Is there any interesting stories or interactions that you had, with fans that you always remember it till today?

William Zabka: So many You know  back in the day it was almost surreal to have people, they see me as this guy because all  time I’m known as billy, as an actor in drama school and they’re wrestling to move. And I was pretty much a character actor too in high school. Drama I did a lot of comedy. I kinda saw myself more as a comedic actor, to be recognized as this kind of tough guy in this martial art guy. You know, it took a minute to kind of absorb that.  So the early days when that first happened, it was a it was a life altering experience. But I think, you know, later in years is as time’s gone by and you know, when we go out and do a show or I meet, I meet families somewhere to a restaurant or whatever.

Like you see these kids that are six, seven, 10 and their grandparents all sharing, you know, a love for the film. It’s, that’s the stuff that’s just amazing. It’s mind blowing to see that the cell was transcended so many generations and touched so many people. And you know, some people that have been bullied that um, you know, i met a girl was 14 and her mom told me she was very bullied growing up. And yeah, she got into martial arts and know how you doing now. She goes, Oh, if I’m not just throw an elbow. And she said you, it was Bob girls and martial arts. Really, Kevin, still some good confidence in people. And so to see how that film did that and it also, it, it helped kind of generate the martial arts schools in America. And then looking back I was like, you know, it was really the kind of a window.

And the door to a whole new type of martial arts, kind of booming in our country. And now schools that went up and he keeps getting enrolled in that coming from wherever they came from. So to be a part of that, that I was the first one to be on the receiving end of that because I was a white belt. I was not a karate guy when I stepped into the cell. Now he’s trained by you know, a legend Pat Johnson who was in the a grandmaster martial artists to trade me from the ground up and he trained ralph from the ground up. And you know, we’ve got trained at the actors and then we put on this play and it’s, you know, that training and those ideas that came through the writing and the martial arts has impacted culture there. I just, I just find it all fascinating, you know? Yeah. So that’s a long winded answer, but it’s just, you know, there’s many, many things along the way, but the ones that get me the most are when they were going to get the tapes today. Yeah. Um, who are just discovering it for the first time and it’s still playing. They could get for you guys.

Yeah. Also describe your dynamic with you and Ralph on set. Did you guys get to hang out a lot on set or did they kind of separate, you just do kind of build like the little animosities so it translated on screen?

William Zabka: Well we had to work really close together, obviously choreographing the final fight. Yeah. Yeah. And we had to work together, you know, five days a week, hours a day at that from the time we started for three months. So we were, we were together all the time. We were encouraged by John Appleton to not pretty much socialized offset too much John, you know, encouraged me to get in, hang out with my, uh, my Cobra Kais and a, yeah, Daniel Ralph had his hands full with all the, all the meat, you know, with all this stuff. You have a cat, Rita, who’s really the soul of this film, you know, no miyagi there’s no Yoda. He’s that. He’s the magic that’s, and their relationship is not the heartbeat of the film. So Ralph had his, his work cut out for him to stay in that pocket.

So yeah, we were, we were separated, you know, it, you’re brought together to do the technical stuff and then we would  in rehearsals and then we went and shot it through, brought up set together. But we were, you know, pretty much a team because we throwing feet elbows at each other for the whole movie. And uh, you know, there’s a lot of respect and trust that comes in that so we were definitely friendly and you know you know, as time’s gone on we’ve become friends and you know, may have been better friends back then. Um, having not been separated.

Being part of a film like this and being on camera did that kind of inspire you to do more work behind the cameras and getting into production or directing. Did that influence a lot of your career now?

William Zabka: Yeah. Great question.  I was in film school when this happened, so I would, my dream was to be a filmmaker. I didn’t go to acting school. I went to the filmmaking school. Okay. And, I loved acting and I had this since I was 10 years old. I wanted to do film and television,  my first passion and I’ve been making eight millimeter films, I started making filter. I of 10 years old at tech. I might post some of those online because I have a digitized now and I’m 10 years old and I’m directing these films and editing it was very you video came around and I got way into that. then, you know, but then my acting career took off and I just went on that ride.

And you’re like my training for all this is onset and I’m learning way more by being on set that I could ever learn in school. So I did finish my school. I went back into classes here and there and cameras and scripts and things like that But I didn’t finish a course in it cause I life was a course in it, you know, and that, um, then later in my career I took the big break from acting really dove headfirst into the, my first passion, which was being behind the camera and made a short film. I was nominated for an academy award director or some big bands and a couple of documentaries and he’s got into the edit room and behind the camera, which I absolutely love equally to acting.

Yeah. Now, one of the most amazing things are in one of the things that I feel as, as, as a star of a movie would like know that they are, they’re immortalizes you have your own action figure. When they came out did you go immediately out to stores and just like, I want to buy these action figures that I’m met. I’m this actual toy. Was that, was that amazing for you?

William Zabka: You know, there were a couple that came out. Karate chop and karate kick thing so I have a balance and my kids get to play with them sometimes when we don’t get to really play with me. I said here, play with Daddy.

Did your kids like the film when they first watched the original film? Were they kind of surprised?

William Zabka: Well, I have a nine year old and a five year old and believe it or not they haven’t seen it. Not that big here and they want to see it. Um, it’s just comes through that, you know, as a dad, I, you know, your impression on your kid is regardless of anything, it’s like it’s just to be a father and yes. You know, it’s more about, you know, partly because Johnny was kind of scary character probably for them a little bit, but more that um, you know, your dad on television is a strange thing where I played an animated dog dog and then a little bit of how i met your mother where I played a clown I was hurting production. We know all about it. Neat. Eric, all about he knows about us and all the guys become instead of cobra kai both of the paths. Yeah. And, uh, actually the talk around the houses you guide when we get to watch the film and tell you one that’s coming up, like, you know what I mean? Time. Uh, yeah, it would have present them as uh, you know, your, your dad know people that you know that. Yeah. God I him a ride their bike and hang out and listen to me.

That’s awesome. That’s awesome. Now a little off subject. Uh, originally the, The Karate Kid title was, couldn’t be used because it was an actual was a DC property like speaking about DC properties, what would you ever consider maybe a joining any of the superhero universes?

William Zabka: Absolutely outrageous and fun. I Dunno. I Dunno who’s left out there, you know, with what spirit wasn’t dust it off, but yeah, sure. There’s the broke and old superhero. I’d love to jump in there just for fun. Yeah.

More: Martin Kove Interview for The Karate Kid

The Karate Kid Fathom Event is taking place at more than 600 nationwide theaters this Sunday, March 31, and next Tuesday, April 2.

2019-03-29 01:03:42

Jezzer Reyes

Laure de Clermont-Tonnerre & Matthias Schoenaerts Interview: Mustang

Laure de Clermont-Tonnerre is an actress and director, known for Rabbit, Atlantic Avenue, and The Mustang. Matthias Schoenaerts is a Belgian actor, film producer, and graffiti artist. He is best known for his roles as Filip in Loft, Rust and Bone, and Red Sparrow. Schoenaerts received critical acclaim for his portrayal of an ex-soldier suffering from PTSD in Disorder.

In this interview, they talk about what the how programs like the one in The Mustang can help animals and former inmates recover mentally and what it was like to work on set with these animals.

Guys, congratulations on the film. It’s amazing. I had no idea that programs like this existed, so that’s all new to me. But criminal justice reform has been in the forefront of the news lately. How does The Mustang add to that?

Laure de Clermont-Tonnerre: I mean, if, if this film can raise awareness about those programs and expand them that would be my biggest wish. There’s a lot of wild horses in holding facilities waiting for adoption. Sometimes they would spend years and years and years without, I mean, just sometimes dying there and there’s a lot of inmates upon their release who actually relapse and is there, are there, do most of them die. And I feel that those programs inside the prison, they’re wonderful and they should also be outside of the prison. I think it’s such a natural and visceral response of repair, a man’s soul, immense sadness and pain. That, I wish that was on the justice level is maybe a way to push it more, to explore it more and to expend it.

Your character, almost his journey. Roman’s journey almost mirrors that of taming a wild horse that’s captured as well. Can you talk to me about that experience and what you tapped into that character so much of Roman?

Matthias Schoenaerts: Cool. For me it’s about, uh, the movie tells a story about the possibility of change and the possibility of transformation. That’s why I also think it’s so urgent and so actual to talk about it because it goes against, you know, a certain cynical tendency that we might run into a where people say, yeah, but some people are lost, some people cannot change. And this film tries to tell the opposite. And if this movie can contribute and if the journey of this character can contribute to that notion then I think we’re doing a good thing. And then the change is being instigated by this horse, the contact with the horse, which is a very intuitive process, a very emotional process. It’s not an intellectual process. It’s really two hearts beating and affecting each other in a very pure and straight forward way. And that has an enormous political quality to it. And I think that is also, to me, I think the strength of the movie it’s the sincerity of the exchange between these two individuals, so to speak.

It’s really beautiful actually the relationship that Roman has with Marcus’s horse. I just recently found out that Jason was actually afraid of horses.

Matthias Schoenaerts: And not only Jason also Bruce. Bruce was petrified. I was scared as an understatement. He was petrified. Like “You’re gonna get that horse away form me.”

Well I was going to ask cause they say that in Hollywood don’t make two types of films, one with kids and one with animals. And I just wanted to know some of your experiences that you guys had with a lot of these horses. Training them, scoring them.

Laure de Clermont-Tonnerre: It was definitely a challenge, but they were very disciplined, those horses in the end.

Matthias Schoenaerts: We were very lucky to have an amazing horse trainer who’s like a true master. And without him we would have been in trouble. Cause we only have five weeks to shoot the film. So that’s a limited amount of time that we had some complex sequences and thanks to him, he was just, I mean he was like a conductor. He could just like, he could have horses jump around and do parallelism and whatnot. I mean that guy had the real magic. And he helped us a lot.

Laure de Clermont-Tonnerre: He helped us a lot.

You guys, this movie is amazing. I hope everybody sees it. Amazing job. Thank you so much for your time.

More: Jason Mitchell Interview for The Mustang

2019-03-28 06:03:22

Joe Deckelmeier

Theo Love Interview: The Legend of Cocaine Island

The term “Florida Man” has become ubiquitous with wild, ridiculous, and incredulous stories of inept criminals who straddle the line between obscene and absurd. One such story is the focus of the new Netflix documentary, The Legend of Cocaine Island, true crime doc which offers a light and jolly touch to a genre which is frequently criticized for being overly morbid and violent.

In the aftermath of the economic recession brought about by the 2008 housing market crash, Rodney Hyden did what anyone whose livelihood was compromised by the financial circumstances would; he took a local storyteller at his word and embarked on a quest to dig up a buried treasure, millions of dollars in contraband. The Legend of Cocaine Island tells the true story of a Florida everyman who went outside the realm of law, order, and common sense in an effort to provide for his family. In the wake of a spate of grisly true crime documentaries, it’s refreshing to see a story like this: as hilarious and unbelievable as it is sincere and empathetic, The Legend of Cocaine Island is an atypical documentary, to say the least.

Related: 10 Best True Crime Shows On Netflix

While promoting the film’s debut on Netflix, director Theo Love (Little Hope Was Arson) spoke to Screen Rant about The Legend of Cocaine Island. He speaks about how refreshing it is to make a different kind of True Crime Doc, casting Rodney Hyden himself in the movie’s extensive reenactment sequences, and shares some insight into the extensive process of creating a documentary from scratch.

The hot meme right now is typing the words “Florida Man” followed by your birthday into a search engine and post the first story that comes up.

Theo Love: I haven’t seen that one. That’s hilarious!

How did this “Florida Man” story catch your attention?

Theo Love: A couple of years ago, I was looking for a documentary idea. I made a crime documentary before, and I liked that, but I wanted lighter material, maybe a crime where there wasn’t much of a victim. Florida, as you know, is home to ridiculous criminal stories. I went down the rabbit hole of “Florida Man” research, and came up with all those unbelievable stories, but when I came across Rodney’s, it was almost as if it was structured as a movie already. It felt like the story was just a screenplay ready to be filmed.

Another thing I like about this is how there’s very little violence in the story. Sometimes, I get kind of icked out by True Crime Docs. They can be a little morbid and I’m getting entertainment of true stories of people getting murdered horribly. The Legend of Cocaine Island is refreshingly non-violent, and I like that!

Theo Love: I like that, too. When I was making this, I was in kind of a dark period of my life, and I think that a lot of people around the country shared that sentiment, and I wanted to make a story that wasn’t going into those darker, depressing areas. There are other films and filmmakers who do a wonderful job with those, but I wanted to find a story that was true, but was ridiculously entertaining, and that’s what I got with Rodney’s story. We didn’t have to go to any of the dark territory for it to feel like a movie.

It really does feel like a movie in so many ways. Was there ever the thought to make a straight feature with this story, rather than the documentary format that you’re already familiar with?

Theo Love: Yeah, there’s always that thought. I’ve always wanted to be a narrative filmmaker, but documentaries, there’s something so exceptional about them that I love. You can just pick up a camera and start filming something or someone, and you’re making a documentary already. When we started this, it was just a really small indie project. But that’s the great thing about Netflix; they’ve been changing the whole documentary landscape because they’ve come along and supported indie docs and are giving them a huge spotlight. That’s what we’re really excited about.

So there’s a lot of reenactment in the film, and Rodney plays himself. Can you talk about directing him in those reenactments? Did he ever tell you, “no, this is the way it happened,” leading you to shooting a scene differently, or stuff like that?

Theo Love: He wanted to be in the film to make sure it was authentic and real. I, of course, wanted that as well. I couldn’t have asked for a better actor. There was something about Rodney, from the day I met him, that I was like, this is the kind of person you hope to find in a casting call. He didn’t have that movie star quality to him. (laughs) It was kind of an obvious source from the get-go, and really fun. We had a blast making this film. We went to Puerto Rico. We all crammed in a tiny little plane, and all of us were terrified, Rodney was in there. Hopefully, that energy comes across and people have a blast watching it!

Did you shoot the reenactments in all of the real locations that they happened in real life?

Theo Love: We did our very best. There were a couple of situations where we were denied access to film. Particularly, a spot where a treasure might be buried. That request was denied, so we had to find a different spot, but it is on the island that Rodney went to to find the treasure.

One of the characters in the film, someone I found really intriguing was Dee, AKA The Cuban. His face is covered throughout all his interviews, but he’s such an integral part of the story. I read that he approached you to be in the film. But was there ever a concern that he might not be game to play, so to speak?

Theo Love: Yeah. I hadn’t seen him in any of the news articles. There was nobody who had gotten access to this person. And, with a name like “The Cuban,” he just seemed like this mythical figure. We weren’t planning on going after him, but as we started reaching out to people he was associated with, he heard about the project and was a little upset that nobody had interviewed him to get his side of the story! That’s what I find with a lot of crime documentaries; getting access isn’t as difficult as you might think, because everybody wants to tell their side of the story. I tell all my subjects, “I’m going to do my very best to give you the chance to tell your side and pit it against someone who might have a different perspective.” I think that provides some interesting drama.

Was there anyone you wanted to interview but weren’t able to?

Theo Love: Hmm, you know, I think we got pretty much everybody! There’s always things, while you’re making the film, that feel like, you wish you had an hour left in the day just to get that last shot one more time, or you wish that you could get this one interview, but in hindsight, I think we got everything we needed to tell the story the way we wanted.

Zooming out, way out to putting a documentary together, what is the process of working from your initial idea and how does that change based on the interviews?

Theo Love: My producing partner, Bryan Storkel, and I, we have done lots of projects. We both meet the subject as soon as possible, even before we know if we’re going to move forward with the project. We go out and try to just hang out for a week. We try to get to know the people who we think might be subjects in the film, and try to meet them at their homes, in their environment, to try to get to know how we could possibly communicate who they are on film. Then we come back to L.A. and spend about three months of creative brainstorming and how we can weave these stories together. During that time, we’re continuing to call our subjects and talking to them about how they want to tell their stories. Really, our approach is allowing real people to tell their stories. There’s no narration by us; it’s all the people who lived it, and in some cases, they’re acting in it as well. Once we get the structure down, we go out and do the interviews, which are fairly pointed, because they’re based on conversations we’ve already had. They’re not scripted. I did have, like, four hour interviews, and so we just talked about everything about the story from every angle.

Related to that, how do you play interrogator when you can tell that they’re not giving you, not what you want, but what you already know to be the truth based on your conversations? Has it ever happened that they’re holding back when the cameras are rolling and it’s time to lay down the truth, on the record?

Theo Love: When I’m preparing a subject for the interview, I say, “look, I want to give you the opportunity to defend yourself against some argument that might be pitted against you. I play the Devil’s Advocate with them, and I position myself as that. Like, “what would you say if somebody accused you of lying?” And then they defend themselves on camera, so I don’t have to be the camera. If somebody’s a liar, and they lie on camera, it’s gonna be found out. It’s not a good idea to lie in any situation, but especially on camera.

What were some of the cinematic influences going into The Legend of Cocaine Island?

Theo Love: Definitely a lot of Coen brothers films were watched. We wanted to have a quirk in it, for it to feel a little bit odd. So the Coen brothers were a big one. We watched a lot of treasure hunting stuff. That’s what we were looking for, to give the feeling that the audience was going on a real treasure hunt, to feel that adventure. A lot of adventure-type films. The Big Lebowski was probably one of the more specific films for this one.

More: 10 True Crime Podcasts You Need To Be Listening To

The Legend of Cocaine Island debuts March 29 on Netflix.

2019-03-28 05:03:58

Zak Wojnar