Friday, July 8, 2011

Face your demons

Just in case you missed it, I recently interviewed Tommy Larkin and Ryan McCalla, the two creative forces behind the upcoming 'Inner Demons' web series.

Next I got a chance to shoot a few questions at some of the actors behind the series. Three of them in fact. Mark Stevens, Tony Rahme and Tim Reuben, or as you will get to see them in the forthcoming first series; Mephisto, Blackout and Sparky.

What attracted you to acting?

Mark: The sum of a life of polemic experiences... this is what I do.

Tony: Ever since I was a kid, I played the lead role of Jonah in my school play in front of a crowd of hundreds, and I aced it. Ever since then, I've just
loved the idea of taking on a different character for a short time.

Tim: I've always wanted to act since I was a kid. I love the places it takes me and the challenges it presents me with.

How did you get involved with Inner Demons?

Mark: Casting call on StarNow(great site) to which I responded; Hello, My age precludes Me from applying directly for the only role I desire..... Mephisto. I do a thousand years in hell real good. Give me hell and I`ll give you a truly outstanding Mephisto. Regards, Mark.

A: It was through the StarNow website that I found the auditions - and after reading the concept and the short character bibliography, I thought it was role that suited me and applied for it.

Tim: I auditioned for Inner Demons soon after graduating from acting school. I was totally sold on the idea of playing a super hero and getting to teleport.

How was your initial approach to your character? Did your attitude towards the character change at all between script and performance?

One of admiration and empathy! That's not changed...

Tony: Surprisingly enough, my character and I have so much in common, it's beyond the joke. The physical structure, the core beliefs, even my characters job and the incident where he discovers his powers - these are all things that made me question whether Tommy or Ryan were in fact stalking me for some time before they made this character... All in good humor, of course.

Tim: I found the character quite quickly and have basically stuck with it. Tommy and Ryan's writing is often very detailed, which really helps you access
and deliver what they're looking for.

Do you have to spend a lot of time getting inside your character's skin, or is it an easy, natural process for you?

I have a method. I close my eyes, visualize the loop of infinity and allow the universe in. Click.

Tony: It's pretty easy, seeing as Blackout and I do have a lot in common. The only difficulty is toning my natural self down to suit the quiet nature of my character, when I am very much the extrovert.

I think of Sparky as a part of myself. I just find that fun playful part of myself and bring it out.

How is it working with Tommy and Ryan?

Motivating. You wanna work with them, they value our input. Gotta love a couple of guys following their dream.

Tony: Without trying to sound like a crawler, I would have to say freaking awesome! They're both patient; they know that the cast are not a bunch of mind readers; they're always willing to help out in any way shape and form - pretty much, they are the epitome of a couple of Top Blokes.

Great. They're both so informed about the technical aspects of film making that you feel you're in safe hands. They also are incredibly trusting and give us a lot of creative freedom.

Are you a horror fan?

Mark: Not particularly. Good story fan. Okay, with a dark thread......

Kind of and not really... Like I'd watch a horror movie, but it would really have to grab my attention. I'm probably more thriller than horror though.

Horror? Ahhhhh! I love the idea of horror movies but I get scared so easily. The last horror I went to see at the movies I had to sneak out of. I then snuck into Harry Potter. That's about all the horror I can handle.

If you can say without spoiling anything, do you have a favourite scene or moment from Inner Demons?

Mark: Seeing expressions on cast and crew faces after shooting very last scene of season 1... heh heh heh!

Can't really say... We have awesome actors all around, the directing and photography always looks perfect. But from what I've seen, I reckon the opening of Episode 3 would have to be my favorite so far.

I got to shoot an amazing fight scene against a stack of demons recently. I'd been training for a few weeks in Krav Maga which was so cool!

How do you feel about independent film in Australia? Is acting work abundant or pretty hard to find?

Mark: Love the personal input
associated with indie productions. Seems to be some salacious projects out there (for a character actor with a dark streak). Sites like StarNow are a gift...

It varies really... One minute there is more work than you can handle, next minute you're bartending for three months until your next gig.

I think Australia produces great film work, but it is hard to come by.

Are there any actors you could point at as big inspirations for you?

Mark: Mark Gattis, Johnny depp, Colin Firth, Geoffrey Rush, Meryl Streep, Uma Thurman.

Yeah, several really; The old action stars like Arnold Schwarzenegger, Sylvester Stallone and Dolph Lungred - these boys were muscle heads that had to deliver pretty damned well on screen
. Hugo Weaving - after V for Vendetta, how can you NOT love him?! Hugh Jackman and Heath Ledger - some of our greatest national exports. And of course, Ed O'Neil for playing the best dad under the sun (Al Bundy in Married... With Children).

I'm inspired all the time, by not just actors. Lately I've been inspired by Moby, Bon Iver, Dayne Rathbone and Titus Andronicus. I love art that opens my perspective.

What's the funn
iest/strangest piece of direction you've received while filming Inner Demons?

Mark: To fall "gently" on the precious carpet at the Windsor Mansion....

I think my co
-star Tim Reuben (Sparky) may kill me for this; but it was when the crew told us to lie on the green screen, hug each other close and shake... Yeah, I know - kinky!

Tim: Shooting in front of a green screen can lead to some pretty funny situations. The other day we were shooting a scene where I had to lie on a green screen with Tony (Blackout). I'm sure on screen it will look amazing, but on the day it just felt like spooning.

What would be more of a dream role for you; an intense character study of a historical figure or a lead role in a super-hero blockbuster?

Mark: One that affords me a Will Smith type trailer. Luvvie!

Tony: I would probably have to go with the lead character in a super hero blockbuster - assuming it's not a box office flop. But hell, does not mean I would not like to try give the charact
er study a shot some day.

Tim: S
uper hero. Unless its a historical figure with super powers.

What's your favourite film of all time?

Mark: Eraserhead, David Lynch, 1977.

One film for ALL time?! That's not fair... But if I have to say anything; V For Vendetta - the fact that the protagonist is a well versed killing machine just locks it in for the winner.

Tied. Garden State and The Breakfast Club.

Do you have any parting wisdom for anyone interested in getting into acting?

Tony: Always remember that the only people who will ever say that you can't achieve your dreams are those who were afraid to chase their own.

I recommend training at an acting school. I trained at ACA but there are many great schools out there. I think that's the first important step into the industry today.

The first series of Inner Demons is currently in post production. It will be available via iTunes, YouTube, Blip Video and Vimeo upon release. Check out the series website for more information.

Friday, July 1, 2011

Roll credits...

Opening credit sequences are a part of movies that, thankfully, have evolved over time.

In the silver screen days they were something audiences had to suffer through; static text over a still frame, interminably long, crediting everyone and everything right down to the type of film used, before the audience had even had a taste of the movie to come.

The first evolution of film credits came in at the end of 'old Hollywood', in the late sixties to early seventies. Just a few of the more 'important' credits on opening (main cast, writer, director, producer etc.), the complete list of credits rolling at the end of the film. It was a move in the right direction. It avoided boring the audience before the movie had even begun.

Although there are some interesting credit sequences that you can point at throughout the seventies and eighties, the next and most important evolution of opening credits didn't come, in my opinion, until the mid-nineties with David Fincher's 'Se7en'. Fincher recruited a guy named Kyle Cooper to create the sequence. It was pretty revolutionary. Cooper's sequence set the mood of the film perfectly. It was like looking through the eyes of the demented serial killer that the Se7en's story was built around. It played more like a slick, dark, disturbing music video, with the cast and filmmaker credits throughout, in a font that looked as if it might have been carved manically with a razor blade. Add to this a seething, pumping remix of Nine Inch Nail's 'Closer' and the tone is set.

Cooper's sequence was truly game changing and often imitated, and he didn't stop there. His production company's have produced some of the most interesting and memorable title and montage sequences in film. There was the darkly apocalyptic opener for Zach Snyder's 'Dawn of the Dead' remake, and the cool intro to 'Spiderman 2' that showed the events of the first film in a stylistic, illustrated composition. His list of work is huge. Braveheart, The Mummy, Zoolander, Iron Man; even the opening sequence for AMC's 'The Walking Dead' series.

Kyle Cooper's mark on the film world is often understated, his influence overlooked. You might have never heard his name before, but its unlikely, if you love film as much as I do, that you haven't seen his work.

You can find the website for 'Prologue', Cooper's production company, here.