February 11, 2012
Q&A with DEFORCE director Daniel Falconer

DEFORCE is a dense and provocative look at the city of Detroit, the corruption it’s endured and the resilient people who choose to call it home. Here’s a Q&A with director Daniel Falconer.

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February 9, 2012
Q&A with THE THREE WAY director Julian Renner

We sat down with director Julian Renner to give us the deets on dramedy The Three Way. 

AF: What inspired this story?
JR: The movie originally started as a short film.  Which I posted on youtube.  Everybody kept asking me what happens next.  They were bombarding me.  It took a year to figure out how to construct a tricky feature. It took me six or seven months to write it.  Luckily, at the time I had the cast in place.  I gave the script to the lead, Tasha, and to one of my close friends from school who is also the producer and some 18 drafts later we started filming.

AF: Where does the short film end and the feature begins?

JR: The short films ends where Mike and Sam leave Tasha at the table. It ends on that cliffhanger where the phone rings.  Tasha picks up the phone, you hear the “hello”, and we cut to black.

AF: The film goes from comedic to intensely dramatic.  Can you talk about your decision with that tonal arc?

JR: The movie has all these twists and turns.  I broke it down into three major incidental changing events for the character.  It had to be about something.  I kept playing the same card over and over again and then it becomes very gimmicky.  There has to be some substance.  There has to be some form of accountability for what the characters- these people- were doing.  So that was the reason why I changed the tone.  I think of it as an expensive joke.  With an expensive joke there has to be repercussions at some point.  Somebody has to atone for all of this.  I figured if I could shift the genre from comedic to dramatic I could still find a way to preserve the twist and the audience would still be more taken by the dramatic elements as opposed to being clinched of it.  Just at the moment that they’re getting very  comfortable with what they’re seeing I  lay something on them.

AF: Was the improvisation done by the actors?
JR: There was a lot of improv.  I realized during the table read that it felt a bit too rehearsed.  I remember on set there was a dispute between a supporting character and one of the major characters and I sat behind the monitor with producers and I said, “I’m not buying this.” It was too scripted and too rehearsed.  So in the middle of shooting I walked up to the actors and I told them to say my lines but we’d let the camera roll for an extra three minutes and have them keep the momentum going.  It ended up being an acting exercise for them.  It was just amazing the kind of stuff they would say because they all knew what their objectives were.  And as long as they knew that, I trusted they would come up with something interesting.  

AF: Are there any artistic liberties you took as director?

JR: My DP and I had a little bit of a struggle in the early part.  Because he was trying to light the movie like a drama.  It had a very different tone.  So we had to come up with a style and he came up with a great idea to give everyone highlights.  Also, I think trusting the actors with some of their choices.  Sometimes they’d say a line and I’d think to myself, “ I don’t know how I’m gonna make that work in editing.” But I think editing was the most ambitious part once the movie was shot.  We had so much stuff from all the improv so it was a matter of finding what were the right moments that would work with the scene but also at the same time entertain the viewer.  

AF: What did you shoot on?  

JR: We shot on Red.  

AF: How many days

JR: 94 pages in 11 days

AF: How big was your crew?

JR: It was a pretty small crew of about 7 people.  I couldn’t really afford a big crew.  And considering 70 percent of the movie is shot in one location it would have been hard if we had a lot of people in terms of maneuvering.  It was pretty ambitious but we made it through 10 pages a day.  I think the longest day we shot was 15 pages.

AF: Is there anything you want your viewers to take away

JR: I think the ending says it all .  It makes a statement about women taking the reigns and men needing to step up to the plate.  Most of the people who have seen it find it to be an enjoyable experience and enjoy the twist and the turns the story takes.  Whatever the audience pulls from it is great.  But primarily I wanted it to be entertaining.

AF: Most gratifying moment for you as director on set.

JR: The final day when we actually completed all the pages. I remember telling the DP, “I don’t think we’re gonna make it.”  Then the producer got back and said we shot the entire script and have everything.  It was like, “Oh we actually did it!”  Based on what we were seeing in the monitor we had something that was really interesting and fun.

AF: Funniest moment on set.

JR: It was when the two leads Tasha and Mike were arguing. Karmia, who plays Tasha, is a very intense actress and there’s this scene which calls for her to slap Mike.  We’re all sitting in the back watching the monitor and they’ve already rehearsed it.  I call for action, they say their lines and then “WACK!” The guy who plays Mike calls for me and asks if he can have some aspirin. The entire crew just breaks down laughing and he basically told her that if she kept hitting him like that he wouldn’t be able to come to work tomorrow.

AF: What would you say was the biggest challenge making this film?

JR: There was a moment where the movie almost fell apart.  It was about a week before we started filming.  I initially had another DP and he backed out 6 days before we were to shoot and at that point I thought the movie was done. But one of the producers said he knew a guy.  I called him and he came to the location; we sat down and had coffee and he got it.  Based on how the movie looks I think he did a phenomenal job for a guy who only had six days to plan.  He’s set to shoot my next feature.  It sucked that I lost my DP but i was fortunate to find someone that I could develop a really good working relationship and friendship with.

The Three Way screens Monday, February 20th at 9:15pm.

February 7, 2012
Q&A with Cast and Director from The Tested

Check out the Shadow & Act interview for The Tested!


February 7, 2012
Center Stage: THE TESTED

This week we’re featuring The Tested.  A portraiture of deeply complex characters and even more complicated relationships.  It’s an honest portrayal of how a life od deep poverty & injustice can lead to extremely difficult circumstances.  With strong directing from award-winning director Russell Costanzo and mesmerizing performances, The Tested proves to be a harrowing piece that will resonate on many levels.

A life shattering tragedy sends three people on vastly different paths to a similar goal of redemption and understanding.  One year ago, plain clothes cop, Julian Varone gunned down an unarmed teen.  The teen’s mother has spiraled into a pit of despair, while his brother, Dre, flirts with gang life.  As Julian prepares to get back to work, the three realize they cannot find closure without the other.

About the director:

Russell Costanzo attended Monmouth University and New York University where he wrote and directed a number of short films including the award-winning telemarketing comedy “Cold Call”.  After working at VH1, he wrote and directed the hilarious short film entitled “The Wedding Bout”, starring ESPN’s Max Kellerman, which made its debut at the Palm Beach International Film Festival.  He’s also worked as a script reader for USA Films (now Focus Features) and Lions Gate Films.  He has written several screenplays, one entitled “Crashers”, was optioned.  His next film was the urban drama short, “The Tested”, which took hom Top Prize at the prestigious Los Angeles International Short Film Festival, making it eligible for an Academy Award nomination.  ”The Tested” also made its television broadcast debut on BET last year.  Russell’s recent short film “Jeffrey” garnered Best Short Film and Best Short Screenplay awards at the Big Apple Film Festival in New York City and Kent Film Festival in Connecticut.  He shot The Tested feature in the summer of 2008 and is excited to have been invited to participate in the prestigious 2009 IFP Narrative Filmmaker Lab. 
 The Tested is playing at BAM Rose Cinemas on Sunday, February 19th at 2pm.  Purchase your tickets at BAM.org/ACTNOW

February 3, 2012
New Voices in Black Cinema Fest: love jones week
love jones screens on Sunday, Feb. 19 at 6:50pm at BAM Rose Cinemas in Brooklyn, followed by a Q&A with director Theodore Witcher, moderated by Warrington Hudlin. Find tickets here.

New Voices in Black Cinema Fest: love jones week

love jones screens on Sunday, Feb. 19 at 6:50pm at BAM Rose Cinemas in Brooklyn, followed by a Q&A with director Theodore Witcher, moderated by Warrington Hudlin. Find tickets here.

(Source: prtyazmikethegentleman)

January 24, 2012
Center Stage: DEFORCE

The present state of the American economy, housing market and unemployment rate make Deforce a hard-hitting and relevant documentary.  Its detailing of Detroit’s collapse is chilling just as it is cogent.  It will leave you ruminating on the hope of your future.

There are many divided cities in these United States of America.Divided by geography, divided by economics, and divided by a political history that most are afraid to acknowledge.

It is not easy to explain to children why the US government once subsidized housing on the basis of race.  It is not easy to explain why this country locks up so many people. Or why sentences for non-violent drug offenders would ever exceed those of violent criminals. 

More difficult than explaining these issues to our children - or ourselves - is confronting the ugly fact that our country has neverresolved these problems. DEFORCE is a chronicle of one city’s long struggle with political oppression.  

Once the engine of America, Detroit remains a proud city - rich with local triumphs and individual achievements, but known best for its overwhelming quality of life challenges.  This film reveals that these present challenges are indeed forged of the past. If nothing changes in our cities, they will shape this country’s future in ways that benefit no one.

Daniel Falconer

Daniel Falconer Born in Detroit, raised in Oakland County’s working class, Daniel Falconer studied film at NYU’s Tisch School of the Arts. Having crewed and served as Contributing Writer on several independent films, Daniel made his directorial debut with the short, On My Own (2009) which he also wrote, edited, and co-produced. In addition to producing & directing DEFORCE, Daniel oversaw the production’s research and script development. DEFORCE is his first feature-length effort, and first venture into non-fiction.


Screening Time: Friday, February 17th @ 4:30pm

For more information visit www.Actnowproduction.org

January 24, 2012

DEFORCE trailer.  Playing at Bam Rose Cinemas on Friday February 17th at 4:30pm.

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