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He played in Sara Werner’s The Things They Left Behind as Scott Staley.

SKSM: Could you start with telling me a bit about yourself? Who are you and what do you do?

Tom Frank: I am an artist living in LA – recently having moved from NYC, where I resided for 6 years. I write, produce and edit content from shorts to features. I act on stage as well as on camera. I write, record and play music. I work as an illustrator and graphic designer. I do voiceover work. Basically whatever I can get my hands on that feeds both my soul and my belly.

SKSM: How did you become involved in The things they left behind Dollar Baby film?

Tom Frank: I had recently worked with Florida-based filmmaker, Quincy Perkins, on another film called Swingers Anonymous – which Jonathan Franklin also shot – and the producer of the film, Peter Ebanks, put me in touch with Sara Werner because he knew that she was looking for somebody to play Scott Staley. He sent me the script, and I instantly fell in love with the piece and reached out to Sara.

SKSM: What do you think it is in the story that attracts people so much?

Tom Frank: Grief is a strange thing. I don’t think it ever looks the way we expect it to look. It can feel really surreal. So, when something on the scale of 9/11 happens, it’s too big to process. There are still many people who have to grieve it on an individual level because they lost somebody that day, but for them and everybody else, there was still this huge sense of loss and pain over the magnitude of the tragedy, and no real way for us to know how to grieve it. I think a lot of us felt like helpless bystanders and had some degree of “survivor’s guilt,” even if we weren’t that close to the event itself. I, for example, was in college at the time, in the middle of cornfields, Ohio. Having a character like Scott struggle through the agonizing process of grief, trying to reconcile his loss, trying to make sense of a world that no longer makes sense to him, hopefully it gives people a window into their own grief.

SKSM: Did you have to audition for the part or was it written directly for you?

Tom Frank: I was living in NYC at the time, and since production was based out of Miami, I sent in an audition “on tape” to Sara and Duba. I was in the middle of a play at the time, and I ultimately felt that my attention was pulled a bit too much by the character I was currently playing. I didn’t really love my audition. So, once the play wrapped, I decided to record another audition and sent it in to them. I honestly don’t know if I would have gotten the job had I not taken the initiative to do that – we all agreed that the work I did in the second audition was closer to who we all thought Scott Staley was. The first one was just had the wrong energy.

SKSM: You worked with Sara Werner on this film, how was that?

Tom Frank: This role and project was the greatest challenge I have ever had in work. Aside from the heightened Romeo-and-Juliet tragic love story, simply tackling the topic of 9/11 felt overwhelming and impossible. It felt constantly like we were treading on sacred grounds. On the one hand we were working with the words of Stephen King, which already puts a pretty big onus on ‘getting it right,’ but to add 9/11 to that – I don’t know how we could have navigated the project without the leadership that we had. Duba and Sara were (or at least seemed) fearless in taking the reigns. Sara was passionate, creative, dutifully respectful, truthful, and had total command of her team. She constantly looked for new ways to reach everybody, all the while keeping us constantly connected to the task at hand, and to the people for whom we were making this piece. She grounded us but also inspired us to reach beyond ourselves.

SKSM: Your film won Best Short Film 2017 at the Shriekfest Horror Film Festival. Does it have more prizes or nominations?

Tom Frank: Gosh I don’t know – I sure hope so.

SKSM: Was there any funny or special moment when they made the movie that you would like to tell me about?

Tom Frank: Yes. There were many special moments. Sara brought this up already, but on Day 3 (which many of us referred to as “D-Day”) (or at least I did) (maybe it was just me), Murphy’s law was fully in effect. We were shooting the interior of the office after the plane hit the tower. It was an incredibly elaborate, complicated shoot day. There wasn’t much room for delays, but one very large delay came in the way of a fire alarm, tripped by FX smoke, that shut down production while we evacuated and waited for the Fire Department to search the building for signs of fire. It was a truly surreal experience standing outside of the building, on the side walk, a whole crowd of us, many covered in soot, while the fire fighters rushed into the building. I couldn’t help wondering how confused and in shock survivors felt on the day of 9/11. And then, just as I started thinking, “what if the fire fighters see it and get offended by our attempts to pay homage to that day?” one of the firefighters approached us and said that he was a first responder on 9/11, and that our (incredible) art department had nailed it. We got to speak with him for a bit and thank him for his heroic service, and then they were gone, and we were back to work. It felt like destiny. This huge production problem became such a cosmic gift. For me, personally, that put to rest any doubts I had about whether or not I had any right to pay tribute and gave me permission to push forward with everything I could bring to it.

SKSM: Do you still have any contact with the crew/cast from that time? If so with who?

Tom Frank: I have kept in pretty close contact with Duba, as well as with Chaz. Also with Matthew Terrence, who was part of our skeleton crew in NYC. Screenwriter Tom Musca, who works alongside Duba at Miami University, was generous enough to share his home with me during production – he and I still connect every now and again. I think that’s it, though not out of any lack of affection for anybody involved. It was a great group of people. That’s one of the incredible things about our work – you get so intensely close, forming a “family” during production, and you really have to, but when it ends, you ultimately get pulled in all sorts of directions. It is amazing and beautiful to me how willing and open we always remain to forming these deep, intimate bonds, knowing full-well they might evaporate after wrapping. In my personal life, if I met somebody and thought “I won’t know you in a month,” that would be all the reason I would need to not take any steps forward with that person. But in this work, you have to take every step forward you can right now, knowing that ‘right now’ is likely all you have with them. And, more importantly, that the work requires it of you. Without that, the work never really leaves the page.

SKSM: What are you working nowadays?

Tom Frank: I recently finished producing a feature film, Love in Youth, about a freshman in college navigating the choppy waters of love. My producing partner on it, Quincy Perkins, who I mentioned earlier was a big part of what led me to The Things They Left Behind, wrote and directed it. I currently have a slate of projects – some of which I wrote – that I am developing. Otherwise, as I mentioned, I recently moved to LA, and I am just pounding the pavement looking for my next soul-and-belly-feeding project as an actor.

SKSM: Are you a fan of Stephen King’s work?

Tom Frank: Absolutely. Though, truth be told, I don’t really typically go for horror movies all that much. Strangely enough, I’ve written one, but in general, it’s not my genre. And yet, Stephen King always seems to write pieces in a way that go beyond the genre and tug at my heart strings just right. That said, I’m pretty sure he writes faster than I can read, and he’s got a healthy head start, so, let’s just say I am more familiar with his many screen adaptations than his massive oeuvre of written work.

SKSM: What is one thing people would be surprised to know about you?

Tom Frank: I was actually born a Rhodesian Ridgeback and had to undergo severe surgical procedures to end up looking semi-human as I do now. How’s that for surprising? I mean, I’m not sure how surprising anything I do really is once you know me. For example, I was born in Paris, but if you know me, finding out that I am french would be more of a “well, yeah, of course he’s French” moment than a “wow, I can’t believe he’s French” moment. You know? Let’s see. I like to build. Mostly furniture. A lot. I do that in as much of my spare time as I can find lately. I think part of it is because so much of the work we do is so abstract and intangible that I end up needing to put my time into something physical that reflects back the labor I put into it. Again, I can’t tell you if that’s surprising, but hopefully, right?

SKSM: Thanks for taking the time to answer my questions. Is there anything else you want to say to the fans that read this interview?

Tom Frank: Well, first of all, if you have made it all the way to the end of this interview, thanks for letting me spend so much of your time. I hope you’ve enjoyed it as much as I have. Really, I just hope that the work we did in the film offered you something valuable and meaningful, and that my interview offered something entertaining but also maybe sort of hopefully something valuable.

SKSM: Do you like something to add?

Tom Frank: Thank you so much for taking the time to interview me and for taking an interest in our film.

 

She played in Sara Werner’s The Things They Left Behind as Barbara Hargrave.

SKSM: Could you start with telling me a bit about yourself? Who are you and what do you do?

Missy Jenkins: I am a health policy advocate in Washington, D.C. for the Alliance for Aging Research. I worked for many years for the former Speaker of the House of Representatives Newt Gingrich. So health policy is my day job. But I grew up around the theatre as my mother was very involved in community theatre so it’s always been a love of mine.

SKSM: ¿Why do you use a nickname?

Missy Jenkins: I use a nickname because it’s a southern thing!

SKSM: How did you become involved in The things they left behind Dollar Baby film?

Missy Jenkins: I met Duba Leibell, the film’s lead producer, working on a televisión pilot project. We hit it off immediately and, after our project concluded, she convinced me to work on this film with her.

SKSM: What do you think it is in the story that attracts people so much?

Missy Jenkins: I think almost everyone has a personal connection to the events around 9/11. I know I do. I was in Washington, D.C., on 9/11 when the Pentagon was struck and there was a real fear that the other plane was headed toward the White House very close to where I worked. So I think people connect with the film on an emotional level.
Also, this film is not a documentary. It’s fiction. I don’t think many people have seen a fictionalized versión of 9/11 events. It deals with the emotions of surviver’s guilt and loss. The everyday lives of people that are completely thrown into chaos. Whether it’s the main love story of our film, or the couple who had been together for a long time, or the couple going through a divorce. It could have been anyone’s story of 9/11. And it addresses sensitve issues in a sensitve way. We had many conversations about how to portray the characters with the utmost respect.

SKSM: Did you have to audition for the part or was it written directly for you?

Missy Jenkins: I had to audition. I don’t think Sara Werner had any idea I had a theatre background. We were auditioning the other actors and during a break, I blurted out that I wanted to audition for the part of Barbie. By this point, I was already eating and sleeping Barbie so it wasn’t a real stretch for me to tap into who she was and what her emotions may have been.

SKSM: You worked with Sara Werner on this film, how was that?

Missy Jenkins: I am a very big Sara fan. She brings so many strengths to the table in terms of how thorough she is, how prepared, how thoughtfully she approaches the characters, and how unbelievably well she works with the actors. I wore several different hats on this film with Sara. She exceded all of my expectations.

SKSM: In addition to playing the role of Barbara Hargrave you were the producer of the film. What was more difficult to do?

Missy Jenkins: Definitely producing. Trying to make all the trains run on time when misstakes happen and things get delayed is a very difficult space. Duba really was the one who led the team and I was her sous chef. For example, we ended up setting off the fire alarms for one of the shots and the Miami firefighters showed up. We had the permits and everything, but there was a miscommunication and the smoke alarms weren’t covered. Duba and I were worried about unexpected production expenses on an already tight budget. But the firechief could not have been any nicer. It turns out he was in NYC on 9/11 and our film resonated with him. So this fiasco of fire trucks swarming our set turned out to be a poignant moment.
In terms of playing Barbie, I’d say the most difficult thing was that it was so emotional to tap into that pain. There was a book written, Sonia’s Ring, about a family reunited with the mother’s ring after 9/11 through DNA testing. Can you imagine someone showing up at your house years after your mother has passed away in 9/11 and them giving you her ring that you thought was lost forever? When Tom’s character returns the object to me, all I could think about was Sonia’s Ring.

SKSM: Was there any funny or special moment when they made the movie that you would like to tell me about?

Missy Jenkins: Yes. Maria Elizabeth, who did the hair and make up for the film, and I are very close personal Friends. She was doing my make up for Barbie and I told her I was going to do my scene in one take. And I did. The cast and crew really appreciated the break of ending the day early. I was wearing my producer and actor hat at the same time.

SKSM: Do you still have any contact with the crew/cast from that time? If so with who?

Missy Jenkins: Yes, a lot actually. Duba and her son Zach who was also in the film. Sara, Mike Gabriel another producer, and Maria Elizabeth. We also have a private Facebook page where we post periodically and I watch what the others are up to via Facebook.

SKSM: What are you working nowadays?

Missy Jenkins: I’m doing my health care work and writing on the side. My current screenplay is about a a quirky young woman in Charleston, S.C., who is an aspiring chef whose dating life is in shambles.

SKSM: Are you a fan of Stephen King’s work?

Missy Jenkins: I am most definitely a fan. We all grew up on his works whether we knew they were his or not. He has the most loyal following I have ever seen.

SKSM: What is one thing people would be surprised to know about you?

Missy Jenkins: That I’m a gentlewoman farmer.

SKSM: Thanks for taking the time to answer my questions. Is there anything else you want to say to the fans that read this interview?

Missy Jenkins: I’m so grateful that people are connecting to the film. I’m very proud of the work of our team.. If anyone feels that maybe they aren’t alone in their feelings of overcoming pain and loss after watching the film, then I think we will have been successful in achieving our goals with this film.

SKSM: Do you like something to add?

Missy Jenkins: I want to thank you for taking the time to focus on our film and our cast and crew.

 

He is the man behind Nona Dollar Baby Film.

SKSM: Could you start with telling me a bit about yourself? Who are you and what do you do?

Ben Cowper: My name is Ben Cowper, and I’m a cinematographer and editor with a background in experimental narrative film. I am currently working as a media education specialist for a university in the United States.

SKSM: When did you make Nona? Can you tell me a little about the production? How much did it cost? How long did it take to film it?

Ben Cowper: Nona was my senior thesis film in college, I started production in late summer of 2015 and wrapped principal photography in March of 2016. It took about 5 months to film, and typically I had a crew of between two and twelve people. The film cost about $300 to make. The measly budget covered food, transportation, a couple costumes, and a dollar for King. None of the cast and crew were paid, and I owe them so much for sticking with it to the end.

SKSM: How come you picked Nona to develop into a movie? What is it in the story that you like so much?

Ben Cowper: My selection process went something like this: Step one, read the Wikipedia pages for all the stories King was offering, eliminate the obvious ones that don’t interest me. 2. Read all the remaining stories and rank them based on 4 factors; feasibility, cost, number of actors, and quality of the story.
I ended up with three options: Nona, Morning Deliveries, and something else I don’t remember now. I ended up choosing Nona because it seemed like it would adapt well into a film, and would be the most fun to make.

SKSM: How did you find out that King sold the movie rights to some of his stories for just $1? Was it just a wild guess or did you know it before you sent him the check?

Ben Cowper: Sometime in the end of 2014 I was strongly considering making a horror film for my thesis project. I had just picked up a book of short stories by King and really wanted to adapt 1408. I quickly learned some so-called “professionals” beat me to it, but a friend suggested I check out King’s dollar baby program. It was then that I started the aforementioned selection process.

SKSM: Was there any funny or special moment when you made the movie that you would like to tell me about?

Ben Cowper: One evening we had just finished a long shoot and were packing up to leave. I had initially planned to load up the mini-cooper (one of the cars featured in the film) with all the equipment, and bring the actors and crew back on a bus. Unfortunately, I learned that the bus had stopped running because of an impending snowstorm. Instead, I loaded the car with equipment and packed in both actors and two crew members. The AD, co-DP, and I proceeded to hitchhike back to the college. This was somewhat ironic if you’ve read Nona, because much of the story is structured around the characters murdering friendly drivers who pick them up hitchhiking.
We decided, at the very least, that the experience would be great background research for the film. The snow was starting to pick up as the three of us moved uphill, laden by the remaining equipment. We stuck our thumbs out to multiple passing cars with no success. The walk was about 6 miles, and would be tolerable in the event no one stopped. Fortunately, an Audi driving in the opposite direction pulled a u-turn in the middle of the road and stopped to pick us up.
The interior of the car was washed with pulsating LED lighting, and the driver, Vince, was blasting bad hip-hop. We thanked him, decided not to explain the plot of the film, and rode back to the school. It was nearly impossible to talk to him because of the music, but we managed to get in a few words. His destination was roughly 7 miles in the opposite direction, and to this day I’m still not sure why he picked us up in a snowstorm.

SKSM: How does it feel that all the King fans out there can’t see your movie? Do you think that will change in the future? Maybe a internet/dvd release would be possible?

Ben Cowper: It would be cool if King changed his mind in the future, but for now I’m ok with the festival only restriction. I was able to screen Nona as a part of my thesis presentation, and that event was enough of a spectacle to satisfy me. In the meantime, film festivals provide a good route for those seeking a venue for their work.

SKSM: What “good or bad” reviews have you received on your film?

Ben Cowper: My thesis advisors, both seasoned filmmakers, provided me with regular critiques of the film. They tore apart edits, praised my cinematography, and offered suggestions for refining the film. In the end they unanimously passed me, stating “the piece was a rich cinematic viewing experience.” Around 200 people attended my final screening, and many of them also praised my work.

SKSM: Do you plan to screen the movie at a particular festival?

Ben Cowper: Yes, I’ve just submitted it to the third annual King on Screen festival in Buenos Aires, Argentina.

SKSM: Are you a Stephen King fan? If so, which are your favorite works and adaptations?

Ben Cowper: I’ve been a long time fan of films based on King’s work, but I only began reading his work shortly before making Nona. I place his films and novels in very different categories. I have enjoyed most of what I’ve read, and of course I love The Shining and The Green Mile, but a lot of films based on his work are really garbage.

SKSM: Did you have any personal contact with King during the making of the movie? Has he seen it (and if so, what did he think about it)?

Ben Cowper: Nothing more personal than communication with his assistant and an Instagram follow. I would assume he’s seen it by now, seeing as the contract requires a copy be sent to his residence. I like to imagine he watched it one night, shrugged, and went to bed. No, I have not received any feedback from King personally.

SKSM: Do you have any plans for making more movies based on Stephen King’s stories? If you could pick -at least- one story to shoot, which one would it be and why?

Ben Cowper: I’d maybe consider an abstract adaptation of my second choice story, Morning Deliveries, but at the moment it’s not really on my radar. While I enjoyed the process, it was a little too restrictive with the distribution rights. I’d rather make work I own.

SKSM: What are you working on nowadays?

Ben Cowper: I’ve been making short experimental films and editing a couple docs and personal projects. I have plans to get back into narrative soon, but the specifics of that project are a secret at the moment.

SKSM: Thanks for taking the time to answer my questions. Is there anything you want to say to your fans?

Ben Cowper: If you get a chance to see Nona, go for it. Otherwise, I’ll recommend a few films that inspired my adaptation:
Stoker (2013) – Chan-wook Park’s film about death, family, and the evil humans are capable of. One of the most inspirational in terms of its editing, structure, and color palette. If you’ve already seen the film, try rewatching it with a specific focus on camera movement and the way in which it drives the storytelling.
Suspiria (1977) – A wild take on the horror genre, Argento paints his actors in bright primary colors and dresses his sets with geometric patterns. This film is worth a watch for a multitude of reasons including its lighting design, bizarre atmosphere, and original score by Goblin.
Paris, Texas (1984) – This film rides on Harry Dean Stanton’s understated performance. His character behaves in the manner of a real person, not an actor playing a part. This keeps the viewer more engaged and allows them entry into the world of the film. In making Nona, I worked almost exclusively with non-actors, conveying to them a similar message of embodying the subtleties of a person other than yourself.

SKSM: Would you like to add something?

Ben Cowper: Nothing I can think of, thanks for doing this interview with me! If you’re interested in my other film work or want to get in touch you can visit my website at:
www.bcowper.com

He is the man behind The Boogeyman Dollar Baby Film.

SKSM: Could you start with telling me a bit about yourself? Who are you and what do you do?

Mando Franco: I’m a writer/director from Los Angeles. I walk the fine line between extrovert and introvert. I’m a mega movie and comic book fan. I’m fascinated by the strange and macabre.

SKSM: When did you make The boogeyman? Can you tell me a little about the production? How much did it cost? How long did it take to film it?

Mando Franco: We shot Boogeyman at the beginning of 2013 over 7 days. Most of the shooting took place in Pasadena and Hollywood, California. We raised just over $6000 dollars through indigogo and various donations. It was shot on a Cannon 5D and made out of love for the horror genre.

SKSM: How come you picked The boogeyman to develop into a movie? What is it in the story that you like so much?

Mando Franco: I read the short story years ago, and It just kinda stuck with me. Like, something about it was creepy and out there, and I just throught this could be a very freaky flick and has a different spin on the legend of Boogeyman. I’m a fan of small intimate films set in single locations. The story is just 2 men talking and 1 of them telling the awful and terrifying story that is so out there, it almost sounds real. There is a real grounded take on who/what the boogeyman is and could be, and I was just intrigued by it.

SKSM: How did you find out that King sold the movie rights to some of his stories for just $1? Was it just a wild guess or did you know it before you sent him the check?

Mando Franco: I honestly can’t remember where I heard about it. And I’m a big fan of Frank Darabont, who made the original Dollar Baby, and I remember reading something about it. Anyway, I just finished a stint on a webseries and I was looking for what to do next, and I happened to be reading THE NIGHT SHIFT, which is the book with the boogeyman short story. Then I remembered the Dollar Baby thing, so I went on the site and there it was. I talked to some friends and collaborators about it and then, I sent Mr King a dollar. Not a check, I just sent a dollar once I choose to do this.

SKSM: Was there any funny or special moment when you made the movie that you would like to tell me about?

Mando Franco: It’s hard to single out 1 moment. It was a labor of life and a tough shoot, but it was a blast. We had a really solid cast and crew. Some old friends, some new friends, and we just meshed really well. The film came out way ahead of any expectations I’d had. We all stepped up our game. One shot we got that just made me giddy was this simple shot of The Boogeyman’s green slim dripping off a doorknob. It was a last minute gag I wanted in a shot, and it was perfect. The slime dripped off a doorknob at the right time… We all silently showed our excitement, then I called cut and we all yelled and cheered. It’s not a big thing, but at the moment, you could tell we were all so happy to be there and make something wicked cool.

SKSM: How does it feel that all the King fans out there can’t see your movie? Do you think that will change in the future? Maybe a internet/dvd release would be possible?

Mando Franco: It’s kinda a bummer. I mean, I get it, but under the right controlled circumstances it would be nice, but you never know.

SKSM: What “good or bad” reviews have you received onyour film?

Mando Franco: I never heard any compliants. Every screening I went to had an amazing reaction. Scares, thrills, chills and 1 big punchline. 1 screening in particular had Boogeyman paired up with some other horror films for block of shorts. Myself and the other directors did a Q&A and upon announcing us, Boogeyman got the biggest applause, and was the audience favorite of the night. That’s when I knew for sure, we had a winner, and this is what I’m supposed to do. This is where I’m supposed to be.

SKSM: Do you plan to screen the movie at a particular festival?

Mando Franco: We screened all over LA. We did a Stan Lee Comic Con SK Panel, with a QandA, and we did Shriekfest, one of LA’s biggest genre festivals on closing day, so I think it doesn’t get better than that. Oddly enough, I’m still getting requests and I’m happy to keep sharing it with horror and SK fans alike.

SKSM: Are you a Stephen King fan? If so, which are your favorite works and adaptations?

Mando Franco: Oh yeah, for sure. I love his short stories and novella’s. On of my favorite short stories no one ever talks about it is, I KNOW WHAT YOU NEED. Also in the NIGHT SHIFT. It’s so simple and scary, but not in the traditional sense. It’s like a creepy vibe more than anything. I’d love to make that one, one day. As for films, my favorite of King’s is MISERY. I also love The Mist, ShawShank Redemption and the new IT. There’s also Thinner, Needful Things and Pet Semetary. I can go on and on.

SKSM: Did you have any personal contact with King during the making of the movie? Has he seen it (and if so, what did he think about it)?

Mando Franco: No, I wish. I got a standard letter that goes out to the DB filmmakers, but that’s about it. 1 condition is that he gets a copy of the film. Hopefully he’s seen it and liked it.

SKSM: Do you have any plans for making more moviesbased on Stephen King’s stories? If you could pick -at least- one story to shoot, which one would it be and why?

Mando Franco: As of now, no. I’d love to do another DB at some point, or maybe even a feature. If I made a King book it would be that short story I mentioned earlier. I always thought Geralds Game would of been a good/impossible movie to make, but someone did it. And did it well.

SKSM: What are you working nowadays?

Mando Franco: Mainly writing at the moment. I’m planning on doing a feature in a year or so, but as of now, just writing. I have a script being optioned, but I’m also working on some side projects and doing a podcast with my girlfriend.

SKSM: What is one thing people would be surprised to know about you?

Mando Franco: Even though I make dark and morbid films, I’m not a dark and morbid guy. I’m really friendly and goofy and the last person you’d expect to venture into the darkside of storytelling. Most would think I’d make comedies.

SKSM: Thanks for taking the time to answer my questions. Is there anything you want to say to your fans?

Mando Franco: Thank you for all the support, and the best is yet to come.

SKSM: Would you like to add something?

Mando Franco: When you make a movie, your cast and crew are everything. You don’t always have to have all the answers, but don’t be afraid to lead. Thanks so much!

 

He played in Sara Werner’s The Things They Left Behind as Cleve Ferrell.

SKSM: Could you start with telling me a bit about yourself? Who are you and what do you do?

Chaz Mena: Chaz is a Freedoms’ Foundation Award winner (2014) for his PBS teleplay, Yo Solo… and is currently a “Revolutionary in Residence” at Colonial Williamsburg, VA (2017). Chaz plays “Vicente Cruz,” a recurring character in Netflix’s hit series Bloodline. He is a published poet in some leading poetry journals around the country and has written four, 1-person shows that he performs at any given time. Chaz is also a company member of Zoetic Stage, a regional theatre company housed at the Adrienne Arsht Performing Arts Center. Partnering with Vanguardia Films (San Juan, PR), Chaz has co-produced independent feature films in Puerto Rico. He is next preparing to shoot a horror film in Cuba.

SKSM: How did you become involved in The things they left behind Dollar Baby film?

Chaz Mena: I auditioned. Duba Leibell (producer) has seen my work and asked me to audition, which were held at the University of Miami School of Communications, where Duba teaches screenwriting and many other wonderful things to her students. She is devoted to them on par to her craft as a writer and developer of new work.

SKSM: What do you think it is in the story that attracts people so much?

Chaz Mena: Culturally and historically, 9/11 is the moment that changed everything. Not only has it changed our foreign policy forever, but in our very lives, I mean existentially, we’re affected. It the most cruel thing that we’ve witnessed since WW2 in size, planning and execution. It’s given voice, unfortunately, to the most reactionary in all our societies in the west. The rise of Nationalism and its unfortunate, hateful face can be linked to 9/11.
It’s more than a “where were you when it happened” chapter in our lives. It’s a central event that still affects us all.
My wife was in the towers the day before the tragedy. We lived in NY at the time. She works in finance. We’re all—all of us, even those unborn at the time of the attack—living with it.

SKSM: Did you have to audition for the part or was it written directly for you?

Chaz Mena: I did audition. It was not written for me as the script was finalized and “locked in” weeks if not months before. This was a well-crafted, well-thought-out written piece. Its recet success speaks to that.

SKSM: You worked with Sara Werner on this film, how was that?

Chaz Mena: Sara’s a delight. She believed in rehearsing the week before the shooting and it made all the difference. Now that I’ve been executice producer on some other projects, I’ve advocated for that.
Sara was very respectful, keenly sensitive to the theme of the work we were engaged in. Some of us had actually lost friends or aquaintences in the events we portrayed. We always, crew and actors kept that in mind. How you handle a subject informs how you portray it. Know what you’re handeling.
I’m not saying she was unduly sensitive or pedantic. She hit the right note—exceptional for so young a person.

SKSM: Was there any funny or special moment when they made the movie that you would like to tell me about?

Chaz Mena: Tom Frank and I are francophone. We were speaking French on the set, telling jokes aloud and people didn’t know what to make of us. My French is heavily accented, being a Spanish speaker, and he was kind enough to suffer through it without commenting on it. Tom is a friend. I think he’s wonderful.

SKSM: Do you still have any contact with the crew/cast from that time? If so with who?

Chaz Mena: I’ve talked to Tom Frank and Duba as well. Who I consider a good man, a friend.
I have to tell you that the Crew was the model of professional. They do a great job at the School of Communications, UM. For some in the crew, it was their first time working in anything other than in their assigned work in class. First time working with professional actors. You couldn’t tell. They were (are) remarkable. I hope to work with them again soon!

SKSM: What are you working nowadays?

Chaz Mena: I’m in pre-production with Phonograph Films (Juan Carlos Zaldivar) on a horror story that we’re planning to shoot in the Carribean… can’t tell you more yet!
I continue partnering with Van Guardia Films (Puerto Rico) on a sci-fi film that is in post now entitled “23 Hours.”
Writing two plays: one in development with Hannah Ryan (resident director, Hamilton) and I’m in the research phase for a play about the American revolution, being a “Revolutionary in Residence” for Colonial Williamsburg.
On top of all that, I’ve been hired as a lecturer at the University of Miami, Theatre Dept.
Lot’s to do!

SKSM: Are you a fan of Stephen King’s work?

Chaz Mena: Of course, just like everyone else. I follow him on Twitter. I love, love, love his short stories having read most of his short story collections. “Night Shift” is unparralled, in my view. I mean, up there with Le Fanu and M.R. James in craftsmenship.

SKSM: What is one thing people would be surprised to know about you?

Chaz Mena: I’m a fast reader. It mostly works against me. I curb my tendency to do it. You miss things. I have a degree in English Literature.

SKSM: Thanks for taking the time to answer my questions. Is there anything else you want to say to the fans that read this interview?

Chaz Mena: Support women in film. One-half of Humanity is not being heard! We’re all the less for it.

SKSM: Do you like something to add?

Chaz Mena: Be a story teller. Stories are all we have. It’s all we do, in any field.

 

He played in Jordan Tandowsky’s The Escape Plan as Luther.

SKSM: Could you start with telling me a bit about yourself? Who are you and what do you do?

Aman Mehra: My name is Aman Mehra, I am an actor of British-Indian origin. I was born in London, grew up in India and moved to Los Angeles at the age of 18 to study acting at the University of Southern California. I graduated in 2015 and have been working on film, television, theatre and commercials since.

SKSM: How did you become involved in The escape plan Dollar Baby film?

Aman Mehra: I found out about the project through some mutual friends who also went to USC. They told me they were casting a short film based off of a Stephen King novel and I was instantly attracted to the project. It was a pretty straight forward process after that, I contacted the producer, auditioned, and the next thing I know, we were filming!

SKSM: What do you think it is in the story that attracts people so much?

Aman Mehra: I think for most people, including myself, the way in which Stephen King writes instantly hooks the reader into wanting to know what will happen next. You never know what to expect with him but if you like his style and genre you’re always in for something great! The escape plan is a thrilling story with a lot of depth so there are so many facets of it that grab the readers attention.

SKSM: Did you have to audition for the part or was it written directly for you?

Aman Mehra: Since the film was based off of one of his novels, the characters were kept the same and no part was written specifically for an actor. Obviously it was a condensed adaptation, so there were certain differences in the script. I auditioned for the part and was thrilled when I got it!

SKSM: You worked with Jordan Tandowsky on this film, how was that?

Aman Mehra: Working with Jordan was great! He was very enthusiastic, vocal and determined to turn his vision into a reality. I thoroughly enjoyed the process from beginning to end, and the entire crew and production team were awesome! Jordan was very easy to talk to and gave me the freedom to make character choices I felt were right.

SKSM: Was there any funny or special moment when they made the movie that you would like to tell me about?

Aman Mehra: I think my favorite part of the production was the stunt choreography and special effects make up. I don’t want to give too much away, but there are moments in which there are blood, bullet wounds and deaths, etc. Rehearsing those with the stunt director and having the make up on at the same time was a really fun and cool experience! The private screening was also a special experience – It was great getting together with the team and viewing what we had worked so hard to create!

SKSM: Do you still have any contact with the crew/cast from that time? If so with who?

Aman Mehra: I’m still in touch with most of the cast and crew since a lot of them were also USC alums or current students. I have worked with a few of the cast again on other projects since. I am currently in India filming a new project, but I’m sure I will catch up with all of them once I am back in Los Angeles!

SKSM: What are you working nowadays?

Aman Mehra: I’m currently shooting a television show in New Delhi, India for an Indian TV Network. I will be heading to London after this to work on some theatre before heading back to Los Angeles later in the year.

SKSM: Are you a fan of Stephen King’s work?

Aman Mehra: I am a huge fan of his work! I’m really happy that they are producing more and more movies based off his novels, like ‘IT’, so that people who have never read his work are able to learn his style and stories! Some of my favorite adaptations of his work are The Shining, Shawshank Redemption and The Green Mile.

SKSM: What is one thing people would be surprised to know about you?

Aman Mehra: People are usually pretty surprised when they find out that I am Indian. I have quite a fair complexion and am able to change my accents at ease so people usually just assume I’m American. People are also pretty surprised when they find out I grew up in a Bollywood film family!

SKSM: Thanks for taking the time to answer my questions. Is there anything else you want to say to the fans that read this interview?

Aman Mehra: Of course, I was glad to! I’d just like to encourage more people to go out and read his works, watch the adaptations and interpret the stories in their own way. There is so much more than the eye can see with Stephen King’s works, and the more you let yourself go and truly experience it, the better!

 

She played in Amy Driver’s Dollar Baby The Deathroom as Mary.

SKSM: Could you start with telling me a bit about yourself? Who are you and what do you do?

Sharon Skerritt: I’m an Irish actor who has worked in theatre for over 20 years but I have only worked in film for the last 7 years.

SKSM: How did you become involved in The deathroom Dollar Baby film?

Sharon Skerritt: I had previously worked on a student film Bare Walls and Amy Driver was part of the crew. When she was filming her versión of Willa she cast me in a small role and lucky for me she called me again for The Deathroom.

SKSM: What do you think it is in the story that attracts people so much?

Sharon Skerritt: I think it’s the old male fairytale – Oppressed man overthrows his oppressors. Everybody loves to root for the underdog.

SKSM: Did you have to audition for the part or was it written directly for you?

Sharon Skerritt: Em no but I had auditioned for a different film which Amy was AD on the part wasn’t written for me either.

SKSM: You worked with Amy Driver on this film, how was that?

Sharon Skerritt: Great! Amy is a super director to work with. Patient and warm in life as she is on set.

SKSM: Was there any funny or special moment when they made the movie that you would like to tell me about?

Sharon Skerritt: Well it was so cold I fell asleep sitting on a bale of hay while waiting to film a scene!

SKSM: Do you still have any contact with the crew/cast from that time? If so with who?

Sharon Skerritt: I knew Shane Casey from outside of the acting world so keep in touch with him and Amy via social media.

SKSM: What are you working nowadays?

Sharon Skerritt: I’m currently working on two theatre pieces I am writing and producing which will hopefully be staged next year. Filmwise I have roles in a Sci Fi called Rain and a Horror Film called RedRoom which are doing the festival rounds at the moment.

SKSM: Are you a fan of Stephen King’s work?

Sharon Skerritt: I’m an 80’s kid, Close Encounters was a highlight of my childhood and IT. I think I read everything King had to offer during the 90’s so yeah I’m a fan……who isn’t?

SKSM: What is one thing people would be surprised to know about you?

Sharon Skerritt: I’m incredibly shy!

SKSM: Do you like something to add?

Sharon Skerritt: Good luck with your Project 😊

 

She is the woman behind The Things They Left Behind Dollar Baby Film.

SKSM: Could you start with telling me a bit about yourself? Who are you and what do you do?

Sara Werner: I’m a film director, just your regular artist that’s trying to make a positive impact on the world through storytelling using the medium of film. I always wanted to be a poet but realized that film was a bit easier to translate and has a universal visual language that goes beyond words on a page. I fell into directing films from my love of working with actors to help create a truth that comes through on screen. My goal is to leave an audience not just having a cartharsis but feeling honestly moved and inspired after viewing a film I helped helm with my crew.

SKSM: When did you make The things they left behind? Can you tell me a little about the production? How much did it cost? How long did it take to film it?

Sara Werner: In May 2014, I was wrapping up a short about a paranoid schziophrenic trying to free his goldfish into the sea because he believed she was a mermaid for a actor/writer friend of mine when Duba Leibell, my passionate Producer extraordinairre, mentioned she had me in mind to direct a Stephen King story through the Dollar Babies program. I asked her to send me the original short story as she was still developing the script with her students in an adaption class she was teaching at the University of Miami. I graduated from the U two years prior with my MFA, my only interaction with Duba was the day before I was supposed to start filming my graduate thesis film (my first film) and she told me the script didn’t work, leaving my producer to drag my catatonic butt out of her office, so to say the least I was honored that I had gained her respect. We started filming in May of 2015 for 8 days. We shot all the interiors in Miami with a full crew and filmed all the exteriors in NYC with a skeleton crew consisting of my DP Jonathan Franklin, our lead Tom Frank, a PA Matthew Terrance and myself for a couple days during an unseasonably cold Memorial Day Weekend.

SKSM: How come you picked The things they left behind to develop into a movie? What is it in the story that you like so much?

Sara Werner: My producer Duba picked the story. 9/11 affected all of us Americans deeply, she lost a few friends/colleagues in the tragedy, all of our cast and crew had connections to that day and I believe bringing the story to life became a source of healing for all of us. We were able to combine our skills and passions to walk on this hallowed ground together. I was very nervous about the subject matter, I know years have passed but it will always be a scar on America, something that we as Americans cannot forget, it was a tragedy that united a nation. My job as a responsible filmmaker is to respect this hallowed ground, never to exploit it. My initial resposne was no, but when I read the story I saw that it was about healing. We meet our everyman protagonist, Scott Staley, who is suffering the survivor’s guilt that we collectively as a nation felt, that question of “Why not me?” Then as the story unfolds we see his purpose as a survivor, all our purposes, to keep fulling living for those who’s lives were cut short. A simple mantra I always go by is that “pain makes people change”, it forces us to face fear, hurt, all these emotions that aren’t desirable but evolve out of it, to grow beyond it and to become not only positive change but influence it.

SKSM: Are you a Stephen King fan? If so, which are your favorite works and adaptations.

Sara Werner: I am a Stephen King fan. I grew up on Cat’s Eye, I think the final short story played in my household at least once a week. I remember watching General be ostracized by Amanda’s family but no matter what the cat was persisent and saved little Drew Barrymore in the end. I still can’t listen to The Police the same. I’m also a big fan of all the easter eggs, such as Amanda’s mom reading “Pet Semetary” in bed, it gave the film such a rewatchability factor. When people accuse me of being a cat lady I just tell them it’s troll prevention. Cats are heroes, Stephen King always has unlikely heroes, which leads me into my other favorite work, The Green Mile. King always subverts the usual expectations. Coffey might be one of my top five characters of all time. It was also a role that Michael Clark Duncan was born to play. It was one of the first movies I had to emotionally prepare myself to watch, no matter how many times I see it I’m moved and that’s true storytelling, the kind of tales that stand the test of time.

SKSM: How did you find out that King sold the movie rights to some of his stories for just $1? Was it just a wikd guess or did you know it before you sent him the check?

Sara Werner: My producer Duba was the one that told me about the Dollar Babies program through his Foundation. I remember reading about Frank Darabont, a director I highly admire and how he got his start with his dollar baby short leading into directing his first feature. I dream of the day that I hopefully can give back to new artists, it’s an incredible gift that King gives by encouraging artists to bring to life his masterful tales. Accessibility is always one of the most difficult things about starting a project and he just exes out that issue.

SKSM: Was there any funny or special moment when you made the movie that you would like to tell me about?

Sara Werner: Maybe it’s funny now but during our most intense day of shooting, Day 3, we were filming the post plane crash office scenes, our final intense act. Let alone the hallowed ground we were filming about, emotions were very high that day and we were about to do a long stedi cam walk, that all our departments finally nailed, when our smoke machines set off the fire alarms in the buidling. The building manager had forgotten to turn off the smoke detectors in the room for us. The post apocolytpic office we created had become even more of a blurred line of reality, everyone was feeling this take and we knew that building security was going to come soon to clear the room, we only had one more run that we could get. The scene is MOS and now I am yelling “action” over the loudest buzzer I have ever heard, extras, crew, everyone is in motion in this powerful moment minus my lead who can’t hear me over the noise. Security came and we had to vacate the building. Our whole crew wound up walking down 8 floors of steps in a haunting way and finally got outside where seemingly the entire Miami fire department greeted us and panicked over our sooty, SFX blood and gore ridden actors. We quickly explained that we were a film crew and wound up making the most of loosing critical time filming to take an early lunch with our new first responder friends as they cleared the building for us. It was a crazy cathartic and dark irony ridden afternoon.

SKSM: How does it feel that all the King fans out there can’t see your movie? Do you think that will change in the future? Maybe a internet/dvd release would be possible?

Sara Werner: I hope that it builds a level of intrigue for the film, but we are definitely looking to release it to the public after we do the festival circuit. I hope that we can get a wide release through a VOD source so that it becomes even more accessible to fans worldwide.

SKSM: What “good or bad” reviews have you received on your film?

Sara Werner: The release is still so recent that I haven’t recieved any positive or negative words yet…I’ve had some emotional reactions. So far with every intiial audience test screening we’ve had some tears according to my producer. I’ll take ellicting emotion as a positive review!

SKSM: Do you plan to screen the movie at a particular festival?

Sara Werner: We are starting the festival circuit this fall, we are screening at a few Stephen King fan film festivals, I didn’t know these even existed but I’m grateful that fans will have an outlet to see the film and also to give back to them. I believe we are screening in the Netherlands and in Argentina first. Also, we are having both our LA and NYC premiere in the beginning of October at Shriekfest and NYC Horror Film Festival to close out the month. We hope to get into every festival we can, my fear with making any film is how to get it out there once it’s finished so I hope we can get into some well known market festivals so that it can get a wider viewership.

SKSM: Did you have any personal contact with King during the making of the movie? Has he seen it (and if so, what did he think about it)?

Sara Werner: I unfortunately did not, however I think spiritually yes, it was an honor to be channeling his foundation of a story onto screen. I believe he has seen it or is going to see it…can we say that no news is good news?

SKSM: Do you have any plans for making more movies based on Stephen King’s stories? If you could pick -at least- one story to shoot, which one would it be and why?

Sara Werner: I currently do not but I am not opposed to any opportunities in the future. I think I would develop this into a feature, I would want to learn more about every character that we just scratched the surface of. I would want to dive in deeper, have more time with Scott as he learns that he isn’t crazy but that the supernatural has higher plans for him. I would love to revisit these characters we made beautiful backstories for and have more time with them and to learn from their choices.

SKSM: What are you working nowadays?

Sara Werner: I’m gratefully in pre production for my first feature film. It’s a dramedy about a clinically depressed girl who wants to kill herself but can’t until she pays off her student loans because they are cosigned with her mom. I’m definitely sticking on the mental health track and hoping that I continue to be able to tell stories that affect audiences in positive ways. It’s the kind of movie that if it had been around when I was growing up life would have been alittle better. We have a website to stay up to date with the film, it’s selfdebtmovie.com.

SKSM: Thanks for taking the time to answer my questions. Is there anything you want to say to your fans?

Sara Werner: I have fans? I guess hi and I hope that you enjoy the film and this interview and be kind to one another.

SKSM: Would you like to add something?

Sara Werner: Just thank you for your time and interest in the film! I know we have an active IMDB page to stay up to date with festival screenings and other news about the film, so please check it out. This is my first film that is receiving such great attention so again thank you for this opportunity, as a director I just want to change hearts and minds through my craft so thanks for celebrating that. I hope that we can talk again over the next one!

 

He played in Daryle Moore’s Dollar Baby Mute as Cowboy Bob.

SKSM: Could you start with telling me a bit about yourself? Who are you and what do you do?

Harold Dennis: My name is Harold Dennis I live in Chicago and I act in film.  I’ve been doing this for 20 years with an accumulated 18 years of classroom study.  I coach other actors.  I volunteer film festivals and attend film screenings as often as I can.  I love what I do, I’m living the dream.

SKSM: How did you become involved in Mute film?

Harold Dennis: My character in Mute is Cowboy Bob.  I was on the set of Fangs vs. Spurs playing a cowboy when Daryle Moore approached me and said he has me in mind for the Stephen King short Mute that he plans to shoot.   I’ve worked with Daryle a few times in the past and so I told him yes I’m interested to do it.

SKSM: What do you think it is in the story that attracts people so much?

Harold Dennis: I think what attracts people to Mute is Stephen King.  Something else that attracts people to Mute is the mystery of what this story is about.  And I think what attracts filmmakers is the challenge of doing Stephen King himself justice, along with the film being made easily available to make.

SKSM: You worked with Daryle Moore on this film, how was that?

Harold Dennis: Daryle Moore wrote the screenplay and directed it.  He was efficient and kind.  We filmed our scenes at his home which he opened up to the entire cast and crew for the two weekends of shooting.  His wife cooked meals for us, we ate good.  There was a since of comradery and comfort.  He created an environment that made everyone want to do our very best work.

SKSM: Was there any funny or special moment when they made the movie that you would like to tell me about?

Harold Dennis: It was a special moment in the making of Mute when Daryle took my suggestion and brought my friend actor Edi Mehana on as the bartender in the film.   And in the bar scene the first time I laid eyes on Thomas A. Jackson (Mute), I was intimidated.  And when Thomas and I had our fight scene in the kitchen my fear carried over.

SKSM: Do you still have any contact with the crew/cast from that time? If so with who?

Harold Dennis: I still have contact with some of the cast and crew.  Social media keeps us in close contact and updated with what’s happening with each other.  Edi Mehana and I recently worked on his film “The Pride”.  I’m wrapping up on Daryle’s latest film “Scar Lake” with John Wesley Norton, Shannon Brown and Brain Barber.  Shannon Brown, North Roberts and I worked on a pilot, called “Conrad”.   Derek O’Rourke and I worked on a short film called “Pronouns”.  Pronouns screened at Tribeca and The Chicago International Film Festival. It’s currently playing on United Airline flights.  I just worked with the DP Sean Czaja last Saturday on his short and I worked with Chris O’Malley Monday of this week in Milwaukee WS.  It’s funny but it seems that a lot of us continue to connect.

SKSM: What are you working nowadays?

Harold Dennis: Nowadays I’m working on a few projects.  You can see the list of projects here along with my acting demo reel:  www.IMDb.com/name/nm1815557  I’m fortunate to have the opportunity to work in film.  I have currently over 150 projects.

SKSM: Are you a fan of Stephen King’s work?

Harold Dennis: I am a fan of Stephen King.  I’ve been a fan of Stephen King since “Carrie”.

SKSM: Thanks for taking the time to answer my questions. Is there anything else you want to say to the fans that read this interview?

Harold Dennis: I’ve been in acting classes for an accumulated eighteen years preparing for the moment when my biggest goals come to me.  I was in acting class yesterday, opportunity meets preparation.  I’ve heard that the harder you work the luckier you get.  And my Coach of 14 years (Ted Sarantos) has said many times that it takes seventeen to twenty years to become an overnight success.  I have come to understand that to mean after doing something for so long you know what to do and things and people come along to help you along your way.  I have my ten thousand hours and consider myself an expert at doing what I do as an actor.

 

 

He played in Tony Pomfret’s Dollar Baby Night Surf as Needles.

SKSM: Could you start with telling me a bit about yourself? Who are you and what do you do?

Jamie Chambers: Hi, I’m Jamie Chambers. I’m an actor and film producer from London, England. I’ve been working in film and TV for about 7 years.

SKSM: How did you become involved in Night surf film?

Jamie Chambers: That was a straight up casting process. It was a great concept and something I really wanted to get involved with.

SKSM: What do you think it is in the story that attracts people so much?

Jamie Chambers: I think the idea that “the end” is inevitable and that it doesn’t matter what you do, the outcome is fixed. To be “the last ones” and have that glimmer of hope taken away is incredibly powerful and dark.

SKSM: Did you have to audition for the part or was it written directly for you?

Jamie Chambers: I auditioned, but I was allowed to make the character my own.

SKSM: You worked with Tony Pomfret on this film, how was that?

Jamie Chambers: Tony is great to work with. He relays his vision very clearly and is always available to help with direction and guidance. He gave me a lot of support but also freedom during the shoot.

SKSM: Was there any funny or special moment when they made the movie that you would like to tell me about?

Jamie Chambers: There were some touching moments for me personally with some of the other cast. On a less serious note, I enjoyed working with the Key Grip “Barnaby”. We had a lot of fun in between takes. In general I’m a bit of a “wind up” on set and tend to mess about with everyone.

SKSM: Do you still have any contact with the crew/cast from that time? If so with who?

Jamie Chambers: Yeah we’ve all kept relatively in contact. It’s such a busy and hectic industry that you rarely get to work with the same people again.

SKSM: What are you working nowadays?

Jamie Chambers: I have been working hard as in Film Production and developing my own film slate. It’s been a great challenge to combine acting with producing. I’m also still training hard, spending about 16 hours a week in the gym.

SKSM: Are you a fan of Stephen King’s work?

Jamie Chambers: I really am. Some of his stories are really engrossing! Especially “The Stand”, “Cell” and “Secret Window”

SKSM: What is one thing people would be surprised to know about you?

Jamie Chambers: Just one? I’m a huge metal fan. I love bands like Slipknot, Linkin Park, Korn, Crossfaith and Metallica.

SKSM: Thanks for taking the time to answer my questions. Is there anything else you want to say to the fans that read this interview?

Jamie Chambers: You are more than welcome! Hope you enjoyed reading my ramblings! If you want to know more or to ask me anything else, you can contact me at: jamie@jamiechambers.co.uk

SKSM: Do you like something to add?

Jamie Chambers: Thanks for the interview! If you want to see more, please go to jamiechambers.co.uk
My twitter is: @jamiechambers_
My instagram is: @jamiebchambers

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