Tag Archives: Independence Day

The Independents need to Fly by Kent Hill

Well I’ve been working on this one for a while now. A collection, a tribute to the wondrous array of talents out there doing exactly what they want to do. Godard famously once said: “All you need for a movie is a gun and a girl.” That may have been the case for him, but I like my movies with a few more ingredients. Werewolves, giant snakes, sharks – it’s all part of my complete breakfast so, I endeavored to get in contact with those few, those happy few, this band of indie auteurs who don’t need permission or studio backing to do what they love to do – which is make movies.

Perhaps it is fortuitous regarding the timing of the release of this piece that all of the films here mentioned are now out there and available for your enjoyment. Mr. Bonk’s ‘Jaws Indoors’ sharksploitation offering, House Shark, Mr. Braxtan’s urban anaconda comedic actioner, Snake Outta Compton, Mr. Sheets Werewolf O’ glorious Werewolf killing by night picture, Bonehill Road and finally, Mr. Dean brings us his second installment of justice wreaking havoc by the full moon with his part man, part wolf, all cop, Another WolfCop.

We need these independents now more than ever ladies and gentlemen. Hollywood at large has become a cookie-cutter industry were everything is either a remake, a sequel or an adaptation. Something old, something new, something borrowed and something boring. It is and has degenerated into a vicious cycle that sees the movie business in the safest place it has been in decades. And why? Because dear reader, there is no gambling on a property that doesn’t already carry a built-in audience. No risk versus reward. It’s the same old shit – just in a different box.

So thank God for the Independents. Robert Rodriguez once said, “Don’t give me any money, don’t give me any people, but give me freedom, and I’ll give you a movie that looks gigantic.” Hollywood has long forgotten that the size of the budget does not equal the size of a film’s success. It is the films that defy convention, that resist formula, that are at play in the fields of freedom and creativity and not those designed and dictated via a committee in some corporate office that are still exciting audiences.

The studios may have the guns, but we got the numbers. We have the power now to embrace these magnificent artists. Together we can bring them in from the fringes and with all the social media tools at our command, we can use our influence to elevate these men and their glorious pictures to ever greater heights, instead of perpetuating the norm which sees us elevating fools into rich heroes.

Yes dear reader, today is the day. The day on which we can declare in one voice, “We will not go quietly into the night – we will not vanish without a fight. We’re going to live on, we’re going to survive. Today, we celebrate, The Independent’s Day.

RON BONK

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(DUE TO A BAD CONNECTION, SOME OF MY INTERVIEW WITH RON WAS LOST - BUT PLENTY REMAINS - I TRUST YOU'LL STILL ENJOY)

Ron Bonk is a producer and writer, known for Clay (2007), Night of Something Strange (2016) Strawberry Estates (2001) and She Kills 2016. He was born in Cicero N.Y. and attended Cicero, North Syracuse H.S. Then he graduated from M.V.C.C. , and Utica College. He is the president of S.R.S. Cinema L.L.C. in Central New York.

HANK BRAXTAN

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Hank was born and raised in Grand Junction, Colorado; this would be his greatest accomplishment until dropping out of film school at age 26. Even from a very early age, Hank showed a genuine interest in being entertained. In 1998, he put his lack of ambition on hold and joined the US Army as an Intelligence Analyst. After his discharge for honorable behavior in 2004, Hank attended film school for a short while, and made a bunch of nonsense about Ghostbusters fighting Freddy Krueger and other copyrighted materials. In the days before YouTube, that was kind of a big deal.

Hank has since gone on to work in the same town as many famous filmmakers. He currently has several projects in several stages of development, etc.

TODD SHEETS

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Todd Sheets is a writer and director, known for Bonehill Road (2017), Dreaming Purple Neon (2016) and Grindsploitation (2016).

LOWELL DEAN

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Lowell Dean was born on January 17, 1979. He is a director and writer, known for WolfCop (2014), Another WolfCop (2017) and 13 Eerie (2013).

 

 

 

 

 

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“Roadblocks won’t stop somethin’ that can’t be stopped.” : Remembering The Wraith with Mike Marvin by Kent Hill

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The Wraith was like many a glorious find back in the day at my local video store. The cover had a holographic shimmer to it – a strange robot-like character standing in front of some bad-ass, customized car that looked as though it would be more comfortable zipping through the galaxy rather than flying at break-neck speeds along the long stretches and cactus-lined roads of Arizona.

Yes sir, that cover held the promise of sci-fi mysticism combined with heat-thumping vehicular action to rival the Road Warrior.

Oddly enough, Dr. George’s post-apocalyptic action-adventure was the template for Mike Marvin’s Cult Classic. When the man who started out making skiing films came to Hollywood and saw an opportunity to fuse High Plains Drifter with Mad Max 2, one would assume it was a concept any studio would be happy to throw their weight behind.

But, then as now, the movie business can be treacherous, and Marvin’s experiences making The Wraith were far from pleasant. As a matter a fact, they were a nightmare. Plagued by unscrupulous producers, a tragic death while filming – along with all the other perils of production – it is a wonder that this certified 80’s classic ever made to to the screen.

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Lucky for us, however, thanks must go, in no small part, to a string of wonderful performers, a dedicated crew and a talented director at the helm, The Wraith survives as a one of a kind mash-up of genres that has endured and is, for this film writer at least, yet to be equaled.

This interview was conducted before I was able to sample Mike’s great and candid commentary on the Region 1 DVD release of the film. And while some of what he relayed to me you will find on that release, the truly glorious thing that I experienced was to hear these insights, plus a couple that were not covered in that commentary track, first hand from this journeyman warhorse of a film-maker.

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So seek out the The Wraith, those of you who have not yet experienced it. Let this interview, hopefully tantalize your interest to learn more about this incredible film that really was both ahead of its time, a product of its time and most assuredly one of a kind…

Ladies and Gentlemen…Mike Marvin.

 

 

Playing Elektra’s Father and encountering The Mummy: A chat with actor Erick Avari

Proud to present to you my latest interview, with Erick Avari, an instantly recognizable, charming actor who seems to pop up all over the place. He has very memorable appearances in films including The Mummy, Independence Day, Planet Of The Apes, Stargate, Daredevil, Hachi: A Dog’s Tale, Paul Blart: Mall Cop, Mr. Deeds, The Glass House, The 13th Warrior and more. He’s also done work in television shows like The X Files, Madam Secretary, The Mentalist, NCIS: Los Angeles, Castle, Lie To Me, Burn Notice, Heroes, The OC, Alias and many more. Enjoy! 
Nate: When did you know you wanted to become an actor?
Erick: Age 14 (1966) It was something the late Fr. McGuire said in a class named “moral science” which was essentially a forum to talk about just about anything at all. While on the topic of an artists’ responsibility to society, and he astutely pointed out that societies have flourished when artists hold up a mirror to life and crumbled when artists stopped doing so. It seemed like a noble profession and the final nail in the coffin sealing my fate as an artist. If he were around today I’d have to ask if he thought Art imitates life or the other way around?


Nate: The Mummy: Care to speak a bit about your experience on this film?
Erick: Little bit of trivia. I was originally cast in the role Jonathan Hyde played and Omar Sharif was set to play the curator but two weeks before the shoot they called to say Omar had emergency hip surgery and so they were bumping me up to the role of the curator. It was a wonderful shoot! A couple of weeks in Marrakesh, a couple of weeks in London great cast and the most fun director to work with. It was magic. Made some lifelong friends and reestablished contact with some old. Who could ask for more?
Nate: Care to speak a bit about your years growing up in Darjeeling, India? It’s an area I’ve heard a lot about and would be fascinated to hear what you have to,say about it.
Erick: Funny you bring that up as just the other day some one posted a video of Darjeeling on Facebook and a flood of memories came pouring back. It is situated in one of the most beautiful parts of the world. Nothing like you might imagine India to be at all. Small tourist town nestled in the foothills of the Himalayas with the most spectacular views of the worlds highest mountain, Kanchenjunga. I believe natural beauty stimulates the creative mind and it’s no wonder the residents have always had an affinity to the arts. Growing up I was surrounded by music, dance, theater, literature and given my father owned and operated the only two cinema halls in town, I was a very popular kid on Saturdays when traditionally the two would flock to see the latest “flick” that was playing at either the Capitol Cinema or The Rink (formerly a roller skating rink).
Nate: You have probably the best line in the movie Independence Day, despite only briefly appearing in the first scene. How was filming that for you, and how did it end up that you were uncredited for it?
Erick: Another story behind that. That was Roland Emmerich and Dean Devlin’s way of saying thanks for my work on Stargate, shot the year before. Without going into too much detail but it was my first, “offer” and a very generous one to boot and I was overwhelmed with gratitude and though (mistakenly) and by not asking for billing I would be giving back in some stupid way. It was so wonderful to be appreciated and best of all, not having to go through the audition process. I can’t tell you how much of a joy that alone was but to be reunited with the same team even if it was for a week was heaven.
Nate: If you had to think of some of your favourite roles, in both film and theatre, what might they be?
Erick: Sir Richard in Jean Genet’s The Screens performed at The Guthrie theater in Minneapolis. One of the grandest productions on stage that I have been a part of (including King and I on Broadway) and perhaps the most acrobatic role physically I have ever undertaken. I ended up tearing ligaments in my ankle and finished the run on crutches. Best part, people thought the crutches were part of the play!

Vasquez in ’Tis Pity She’s A Whore at the Public theater with Val Kilmer, Jean Tripplehorn, Jarred Harris and on and on. Anyone who know the play knows that’s the run away role. Just loads of fun playing a smooth talking, eye gouging villain with an exit applause line designed to elicit applause to boot!

Nate: Daredevil: Nice to,see you pop in a comic book universe, playing Nikolas Natchios. How was your experience on that film?
Erick: I was completely charmed by Jennifer Garner and I had become friends with Michael Clarke Duncan over the 6 months we worked on Planet of the Apes together so that was …god I’m running out of superlatives but you have in fact touched on some wonderful moments in my career. Sufficeth to say, I miss Michael and feel he died way too young as he had so much to give to the world. He was a wonderful soul.
Nate: Tim Burton’s Planet Of The Apes: an underrated film for me, doesn’t deserve the negative reviews it’s gotten. How was your experience on this one?
Erick: I think a lot of people got robbed on that one starting with Rick Baker for make up. Tim Burton had a wonderful concept going into the film and we, the actors were so excited about where this one was going to go. It’s too bad there were too many opinions that had to be considered in the making of the film and it ended up to be a completely different animal (pun regretfully intended) and was perhaps one of the biggest disappointments of my career. 
Nate: Any upcoming projects you are excited for and would like to speak about?
Erick: I am returning to the theater, that is as soon as I find a job! I have been burning to get back to my roots and fortunately I am no in a position in my life where I can afford to do just that. There are roles in the cannon that I have been waiting to grow into and King Lear is at the top of my list. It will be a challenge that I will have to work toward but that is on my bucket list. Shylock is one I’d like another shot at as well and I could go on and on on that score. I am also transitioning into directing independent features and working to develop several projects. 
Nate: Films/Actors/Filmmakers that you admire and enjoy, and maybe have inspired your work?
Erick: I have learned so much from every director and actor I have ever worked with. I have been fortunate to have worked with some of the greats of our era and I was always cognizant of the fact that I was getting a free education every time at bat. I think you learn so much from just observing and being privy to the conversations that move the creative process forward. To mention Woody Allen and Lasse Hallestrom and leave out Mike Nichols (whom I worked with although my scene from Charlie Wilson’s war was cut) or many of the theater directors I’ve worked with would be remiss of me.
Nate: Thank you so much for taking the time to chat, and keep up the great work Erick!

My chat with veteran actor Pat Skipper

Greetings again! I just had the chance to interview veteran actor Pat Skipper, who has appeared in countless films including Erin Brockovich, Lethal Weapon 2, Demolition Man, Rob Zombie’s Halloween, Seabiscuit, Ed Gein, Independence Day, Predator 2 and more. He’s also shown up in many a  TV Show, including Mad Men, ER, That 70’s Show, Charmed, Buffy The Vampire Slayer, Bosch, The West Wing, Bones, Cold Case, Criminal Minds, Medium, Justified, The Mentalist and an intense character arc on The X Files as Bill Scully. He’s been a force to reckon with in the industry for a long while, and it was a pleasure to speak with him. Enjoy!
Nate: How did you find your way into acting, was it something you always knew you wanted do? What was your background before that?

 

Pat: I was a total TV head when I was a kid. I loved Lost in Space. I loved Billy Mumy (Will Robinson). Then, I saw him in a Twilight Zone re-run and he scared me to death. That’s the first notion that I had that someone was “acting.” I was amazed. But I got into doing it myself in the way that most kids from the sticks do. I got a part in the high school play. I probably had six lines. I was an Irish cop, I think. I realized that actors were “my people.” I kept doing it and never stopped.

 

Nate: Tell us a bit about your book, ‘The Working Actor’. How was the process of writing, and coming up with it? I will also include a link here in the blog post so that anyone reading who is interested can take a look.

 

Pat: I had been coaching a friend of mine, a young woman–a girl really–on auditions. I began to look back over my career. I saw my younger self reflected back at me while I was working with her. I thought, “I wish I had me for a teacher when I was 21.” So I started taking notes. Six drafts and 2.5 years later, I have my book, The Working Actor.

 

Nate: You have an impressive, intense character arc on The X Files. Did you enjoy creating the character of Bill Scully, and how was working on the series for you?

 

Pat: I loved X-Files. I was a big fan of the series. I thought then (and still think) that Gillian Anderson is one of the best actors alive. Playing opposite her was so engaging. She’s a tremendous athlete. She made me better.

 

Nate: I saw a comment from Michael Connelly on the website for your book. Did you know him prior to being cast in Bosch, or did you meet as a result of that. He’s a wicked author, and you are an incredible actor, I feel like he should write something just for you. Did you enjoy working on Bosch?

 

I was very excited to get cast in Bosch. I had been aquainted with the Producer Eric Overmyer 30 years before (when we were both starting out in New York). Something happened in that audiiton room. I just fell apart emotionally. I got the part. I was over the moon to meet Mike Connelly as I had read every single one of his novels. I couldn’t wait to meet him. When I did, he reminded me that I had worked with him before in a pilot for a TV show that he had written in the 90s! I didn’t remember him at all. I loved working with Titus Welliver. The guy is the quintessential Working Actor. He’s worked his way all the way to the top. Titus wrote the foreword to my book. That said, playing Sam Delacroix was brutal. Such an awful, selfish, morally corrupt and lost person. It cost me a bit of my soul to play him.

 

Nate: thank you for sharing that, and it’s super exiting about Bosch, I hope to start it soon. Any hobbies, interests besides acting and writing?

 

Pat: I had 12-year-old twins. They keep me busy. I play very mediocre golf. I read A LOT. I love football season.

 

Nate: Working with Rob Zombie on Halloween- Did he pursue you for that role? He tends to specifically request actors, and cast his films, even down to the minutest role, with old familiar faces and impeccably picked talent. Did you enjoy your experience on that film? Working with Scout, Dee Wallace and everyone?

 

Pat: Rob Zombie is a very sweet guy, surprisingly. And he’s remarkably inventive. He creates a very fertile work environment. Dee, Scout and I loved each other. He helped us create a very credible little family. Then he covered me with gallons of blood. I went to audition. That’s how I get all my jobs. No one has ever requested me for shit.

 

Nate: In your website bio it says you initially had trouble finding jobs just out of school. Care to elaborate? Specifically the esoteric nature of preparing for a performance or audition, versus the practical, professional way to go about searching for the work. The art vs. the know how etc.

 

Pat: Everybody has trouble starting out. Everybody. I had no idea how to audition for jobs. I totally sucked. I came to a revelation. If I was going to work in this business, I was going to have to create my own work. Cutting to the chase, I produced a hit play starring the then 21-year-old (and unknown) actress, Marisa Tomei. It opened doors–for both of us. I have come to the conclusion that Acting is not an art form. Acting is a sport. Acting is taught as if it were some fancy, magical, mystical thing. I advocate in my book (and with the people that I coach) that we should attack our careers–and our work–with the dedication and tenacity of professional athletes. Take the magic out. Work our asses off. Have a repeatable process. Learn through repetition. Work out to stay sharp. Never settle. Never stop getting better. Expect the best out of ourselves. Deliver every time.

 

Nate: Your career is primarily acting, and now the book. Have you ever considered getting into other aspects of filmmaking such as script writing, producing or directing your own projects?

 

Pat: I act. I coach actors. I wrote a book. That’s it.

 

Nate: What are some of your favourite roles you’ve gotten to play?

 

Pat: Bosch, X-Files, Bones, Boston Legal, Halloween. A lot of my best stuff has been in other projects that no one ever watched. So it goes.

 

Nate: Besides Bosch, any other projects coming up, cinematic or otherwise that you are excited for and would like to mention?

 

Pat: I’m a Working Actor. Right now, that means I’m looking for work. I auditioned for some TV show today. I’m running my studio. I’m coaching other people’s auditions. The book comes out in a month. I’m as busy as hell making that happen. It’s exhausting. It’s also kind of scary. Mostly, though, it’s pretty cool.
Nate: It’s the coolest profession anyone could hope to a part of indeed. Best of luck, I’ll see you soon in Bosch, and will most definitely be getting ahold of your book. Thanks so much!