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September 2018

Wingman Wednesday

Salvador Chacon

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Salvador Chacon is prepared for whatever comes his way now that he’s starring as Pablo on the new FX series “Mayans M.C.” And while he tries not to attach expectations to individual jobs, if fame should come knocking, he is willing and able to open that door. He knows it comes with the territory, especially when you’re an actor appearing on a show as hyped as the gritty gang drama.

We recently sat down with Chacon to discuss the mindset of his character, how his path lead him to Los Angeles, and why in the world of entertainment, it’s important that you absolutely love what you’re doing.

TrunkSpace: When you’re working on a series like “Mayans M.C.,” which has so much buzz around it, is it hard to see it as not just a life-changing experience, but also as a game changer for your career? How do you personally approach expectations when it comes to particular jobs?
Chacon: Working on Mayans has already been a truly amazing life and career experience. Everyone involved in the show are people that have worked extremely hard to get there and that have stuck to their ground to be able to make a show like Mayans become a reality. Learning from these very talented men and women in such close proximity has been a real treat. I definitely see Mayans as a platform to open more doors and, hopefully, bigger opportunities in my career.

I try to not have expectations when it comes to what ‘a job can do or not do’ for you. I feel that’s something I’ve learned in this career; I’ve had expectations only to realize it’s just not what I thought it would be or it pans out the other way… I think for me, it’s about doing the job right and becoming better at what I do. This is what will guarantee me other opportunities. You have to go in the room and do your thing, the rest is history. There are so many other factors around it that are out of my control.

TrunkSpace: Your character first appeared in the second episode of the series. Did the excitement of the premiere, which was a few weeks ago, and your debut in Episode 2, help to carry that “Mayan M.C.” buzz an extra week?
Chacon: For sure! It’s been amazing to be a part of a show that is breaking barriers and that has so much “buzz” already. So the waiting time for my character to finally appear has seemed eternal at times… the anticipation has allowed me to get other people excited to watch the show.

TrunkSpace: Can you walk us through who your character is, how he falls into the story, and what people can expect to see when he makes his mark?
Chacon: Well, I can’t say much. But I can tell you that he is loyal, he is protective and caring, and he believes very strongly in their “mission,” which can also make him very dangerous. He is a right-hand man to one of the lead characters on the show, so it’s a character that is constantly observing his surroundings and making sure “all is good.” On this episode, people can see where he belongs and what side of the court he’ll play.

TrunkSpace: What did you like about the character in reading about him on the page, and did that ultimately transfer over to what we’ll see in the final product?
Chacon: I think on the page, his goal and his duties were very clear, as well as the fact that he is someone that gets things done – especially because most of his interactions are with the eyes and with body language, as opposed to deep prose. So for me it was all about infusing a background, a life path, motivations, humanity, and ultimately a strong purpose to help define who the character is now.

TrunkSpace: For those who are just discovering your talents for the first time, can you give us the summary of how you got to where you are today? When did your love for acting first nest itself in your brain and when did you ultimately decide to make it a career?
Chacon: Ever since I was kid I always felt drawn to create performances for my family and their friends. I was always wrangling all the other kids around to do a show (or something) for the grown-ups to see. Since elementary school we had a strong theatre program. We would have to do two plays per year all the way to the 9th grade. These plays weren’t your typical kids plays. We would do Shakespeare, Moliere, Lope de Vega and Zorrilla.

So… by the time I was in the 6th grade I knew that acting was my passion. My parents did, however, want me to attend high school and college. I put my acting dreams on hold to do that but that is ultimately what brought me to the United States. I went to the University of Texas-Pan American, where I got a BA from the Drama program, and I also got exposed to how films are done and what the process is to go from ‘paper’ to ‘screen’. My first job after college was as a Second Assistant Camera, and just-like-that I worked Camera department, Sound department, Art department, until I eventually started producing, which became my bread and butter. This is now my side gig with my company Wild Goats Creative. So after living intermittently in Texas, Mexico City and New York, I finally moved to Los Angeles in 2010 and made a commitment to myself to fully dedicate my energy to my real goal, my dream.

TrunkSpace: What kind of career do you want to have? Is the hope to achieve a particular level or status within the acting world alone, or do you hope to move beyond just performance and work behind the camera or as a content creator?
Chacon: I am multidisciplinary person; I like to do more than one thing. Acting is my passion and I dream of being able to take part in as many projects as I can. And of course I’d like a ‘swing’ in the Big Leagues, which is why I’ve dedicate most of my focus to it. But apart from acting, I truly enjoy the process of creating and developing ideas into tangible reality. I feel that is one of the reasons I began producing. It’s great to see, or even, hear an idea and then put together all the elements and watch it become a reality.

TrunkSpace: There is so much happening in the world of television, and much of what is being produced is quality, character-driven content. As an actor, does it continue to get more and more exciting to be working at this particular era in storytelling when you see not only the quality of projects finding a home, but the quantity as well?
Chacon: Absolutely. We are living in a very cool moment where there are so many platforms pushing forward great stories that are driven by amazing characters. We are also seeing a lot of shows with minority characters – for me being a Latino actor from Mexico City, that is just great. I feel today I have more opportunities to play roles that are not only the stereotypes (don’t get me wrong, there is still a lot of that going on) but I feel, now, we are digging deeper into the stories of these characters, no matter where they come from or the color of their skin. Very exciting.

TrunkSpace: Obviously there’s more work available to actors today than there was say 20 years ago, but is it still just as competitive? Are there more people going out for more roles?
Chacon: Very much so. In the same way there are tons of shows and films being produced, there are thousands of actors or people that want to become actors. Los Angeles is a city that keeps growing, and that growth brings lots of more people with the same dream. I’ve been in Los Angeles for almost nine years and I constantly meet very talented people. It’s definitely a game where you have to be prepared, you have to take sacrifices and work hard, but most importantly you have to really, really love it.

TrunkSpace: In your opinion, what is the hardest thing about being a working actor in 2018, not only from a logistical standpoint, but from a personal standpoint. What do you struggle with the most in terms of finding a balance between the work and the kind of life you want to have off screen?
Chacon: For me it’s mostly about scheduling. It’s hard and stressful when you have to be in two places at the same time of day! But that is part of the sacrifice and the willingness to be flexible with the rest of your time. It might be your anniversary or your kids’ birthday but you might find yourself in a position where you have to go to work. So within these constraints you have to find a balance. I love spending time at home, cooking and hanging out with my girlfriend, or being with my family and my friends. I feel that making time for these things allows me to have a better and more focused mind when it’s showtime.

TrunkSpace: If “Mayans M.C.” becomes a huge hit and it catapults you to a level of stardom that makes it impossible for you to venture into a coffee shop for a cup of coffee, is that something you’re prepared for? Is fame something you look forward to, or is it a necessary evil in your journey to pursue your passion?
Chacon: Well, I think “Mayans M.C.” for me is another step on the ladder, and like I’ve mentioned before, this is another door on my path that could lead to bigger opportunities… therefore, a coffee shop packed with fans dying to buy me an 8oz Americano might happen. I think fame is part of the package and (maybe even) part of the sacrifice to do the thing you love the most. At the same time, I do believe that it could be manageable to a certain point where you are comfortable with it.

TrunkSpace: Time machine question. Here goes. If you had a chance to jump ahead 20 years and see exactly how your career played out, would you take that opportunity, and if not, why?
Chacon: I don’t think I would. Sometimes I wonder those things and how life could play out in many different ways. However, as I do think of the future, I love to live one day at the time, and truly enjoy the present moment and I feel that; in our present day-in-age with the infinite access to information can be hard sometimes… we humans have so many complex emotions as it is… I am not sure I would want to add that level of anxiety into my life.

Mayans M.C.” airs Tuesdays on FX.

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Wingman Wednesday

Jason Altman

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Photo By: Charley Miller

A bad guy in a good guy’s clothing. That sums up Jason Altman’s character Herrmann in the latest season of the popular Netflix series “Orange Is The New Black.” But even the actor, who is just as comfortable on stage as he is behind the camera, didn’t expect to have the officer with the shady past stick around beyond the initial Season 5 finale that he was hired on for. Thankfully, the producers saw potential in Herrmann’s prolonged narrative and that means Altman is back in Season 6 to cause even more trouble.

We recently sat down with Altman to discuss how the opportunity to appear in the series came about, why he wouldn’t have played Herrmann any differently if he knew then what he knows now, and exactly what makes his bad cop so bad.

TrunkSpace: Any new job is exciting, but there must be an extra rush involved when you learn you’re becoming a part of something that is as acclaimed as “Orange Is The New Black.”
Altman: Yes. I was a huge fan of the show. I never missed an episode ever, prior to even getting the audition. Plus at the same time, it was the largest TV role that I had ever gotten, so it was just overwhelming at first. I also got it without having an agent or a manager, so I really was just floored. I wouldn’t say it changed as far as the way I go about life and money, and all that, but what happened is just the momentum in my career just kind of took a whole turn for the better. So yes, it was definitely a seminal moment in my life.

TrunkSpace: Is it one of those situations you hear all the time about, especially in this industry, where work begets work? Does just being associated with a show like “Orange Is The New Black” open up new doors?
Altman: Well, I’m still hoping that is the case. I’m not sure just yet. I have to be pretty patient. But as far as work begets work, I think to speak for that… the only episode I really was hired for originally was the Season 5 finale. It was not supposed to be a recurring role. Jenji Kohan, and the rest of the producers of the show, I think that they liked my work enough in the finale to spark some ideas to bring me back for this season, and turned it into a more integral role as far as the plot line of the series.

TrunkSpace: With something like that, where you’re not expected to come back, you must have already moved on emotionally from that job?
Altman: I did. It took over six months after I shot it for it to actually begin streaming, so I didn’t know what to expect as far as what it would look like or if they would cut anything out. But I did know for that particular solo episode, it was a big role in that episode. But I wasn’t expecting when I was going into it, it being expanded into sort of this antagonistic role for Season 6, and possibly Season 7 as well, hopefully.

TrunkSpace: Had you known that the character would’ve been reoccurring at the time, do you think you would’ve made any sort of initial choices with how you played him differently, again, knowing what you know now?
Altman: Looking back on it, I don’t think so. I think that I would’ve prepared the same way as an actor, because the character probably doesn’t know his future either. He didn’t know the circumstances that would arise after the fallout of the riot, which actually – spoiler alert ahead – you’ll find out if you haven’t watched Season 6 yet, the repercussions and the consequences of what happened during that episode. So it really wasn’t written yet and I wouldn’t have been able to know that in the back of my mind.

TrunkSpace: It must be such a great confidence boost, especially in a creative field, to get that call saying they want to work with you again. It speaks to everything you did on that set the first time around.
Altman: Yeah, it definitely boosted my confidence a lot, because Jenji Kohan, the creator of the show, wrote the Season 6 premiere episode. She wrote a big scene for me in it where I have a really long monologue. It was one of the longest monologues I’ve ever done – theater, film, or television – so it boosted my confidence, because I saw that she had the confidence in me to handle that type of dialogue.

TrunkSpace: What did you like about the character in that initial performance, and have you discovered anything new and exciting about who he is and how you get to play him after that?
Altman: I think that the way it was written in this current season’s premiere, you could tell that this guy has been in these type of situations before. I think that in his younger years as a cop, he developed into sort of this dirty cop, diehard blue blood, vindictive type of person. I think that you could tell – and I added this into his backstory – you could tell he’s been through these types of situations before, as far as covering up crimes, looking out for himself, and making sure that someone else takes the blame, so that he doesn’t go down.

TrunkSpace: Yeah, he’s not learning as he goes. This is old news to him.
Altman: Right. I’m almost at that 40 year mark. I’m not there quite yet, but I think that somewhere along the line in this guy’s career, whether it was when he was a rookie cop or somewhere early on in his 20s, he has learned that lesson from another superior of his, he’s taken that experience, and passing it onto these guys that he’s with, going through this riot, and leading them to the best of his ability.

Orange Is The New Black” is available to stream on Netflix.

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Musical Mondaze

Ellisa Sun

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With a new EP due next week, our favorite soulful, soul-baring singer/songwriter Ellisa Sun is sharing her latest single, “Just A Little More,” with TrunkSpace. Come for the song, stay for the chat below!

TrunkSpace: We spoke earlier this year. Are you in a different mindset – creatively, emotionally – than you were when we chatted back in May?
Sun: Absolutely. I’m still the same person, of course, but I feel like I’ve learned a lot over the past year and a half. I’ve grown not just as an artist, but as a businesswoman. And I’ve built a band I’m insanely proud to have. I’ve learned to collaborate and create this EP with my band from the ground up. With my first album “Moon & Sun” (released in April of last year), the songs were pretty much written and arranged ahead of time. With this EP, I worked with my band to create five pieces of intricate music, inspired by my personal experiences with love and loss. Emotionally speaking, I haven’t changed much – I’m still the crazy person I was back in May! But I have been lucky enough to find a partner since May, Ken Michienzi, who serves as my rock through the insanity of navigating the music industry and touring the USA in a 30-ft RV.

TrunkSpace: How do those creative and emotional changes directly relate to your new single “Just A Little More,” which we are premiering here today?
Sun: I’ll just go ahead and be super open with you: I wrote “Just A Little More” when I was first dating Ken, my current partner. When I first started dating Ken, I wasn’t totally sure what I wanted. I knew I liked him, but I also wanted my freedom. I was conflicted, and I talked to a lot of my friends about it. Nowadays, with all the dating apps and the ability to pick up a person with a single tap of your finger on a screen, it’s easy to throw people away. I was afraid of getting hurt. I was afraid to take the leap and admit I liked him. Suffice it to say, it worked out and we’re together still! But, this song is about that chaos of being afraid to admit your true feelings for someone.

I wrote the song and brought it to my band while we were on a band retreat in Watsonville, CA. We had the weekend to hang out by the beach and it was a beautiful and peaceful place. The song came together over the course of a day, as my band members added their parts organically. Over the next few months, the song grew even more into what it is today! This is a testament to the creative changes I’ve made over the past year and a half. We worked together as a group, and this is something I’ve always wanted: a harmonious band that communicates effectively, works hard, and creates fearlessly.

TrunkSpace: The single is from your upcoming EP of the same name, due September 21. Would you say this is a new chapter in your creative life, and if so, what does the EP say about who you are as an artist in 2018?
Sun: Well, here’s the sad part of all this “harmonious band” talk: my band broke up after we created this EP. Nothing bad though! One member needed a break to focus on his family, one moved to New York, and as for me: I was ready to leave the Bay Area. It’s all good – I’m so grateful we ended things peacefully, there was no drama and we still keep in touch (we’re even doing a full-band reunion tour in Boston, NYC, Philly, and DC at the end of September!)

I left 1 month ago to embark on a year-long tour in my 30-ft RV with Ken. This is DEFINITELY a new chapter in my creative life, because I no longer have my band. I am being forced to focus on my craft alone, with Ken to play the Cajon for me, which is really nice. But I’m being challenged to improve my guitar skills and songwriting.

The EP is both a showcase of me and my band’s hard work, and a sort of “time capsule” of my life in the Bay Area since this was our last project together before taking a break. I’m using this solo tour as a time of reflection, to figure out what I want next: where I want to live, what types of sounds I want to create, and how to make a full-time living off my music – cause I am hellbent on making that happen!

TrunkSpace: You and your band self-produced the EP this time around. How did that change the process of recording for you? Did having more creative control mean having more of your vision take shape?
Sun: Absolutely. We wrote, arranged, rehearsed, produced and recorded these songs over the course of a year. This is VERY different from “Moon & Sun,” which was recorded at a studio over the course of four days. I wrote three of the five songs, but the other two were started by Niko, my bassist, and Chuck, my guitarist. The songs would start out as one idea and end as another. We had the time to play around with ideas, throw out new ideas, throw away ones we didn’t like, and start over if we had to. We kept shared Google Docs with notes and ideas, rehearsed at least twice a week, and made sure we were all on the same page. It was truly a collaborative labor of love.

TrunkSpace: Last we spoke we referred to your music as “sexy.” Will that sexy vibe carry forward into the new EP?
Sun: (Laughter) Me calling my music “sexy” was a joke at first – I use that adjective too much and my bandmate Niko made fun of me, so I (of course) kept doing it. To me, “sexy” doesn’t necessarily mean the cliché, slow jam, baby-making music you hear on your local late night radio. Rather, it’s a word to describe music that makes you feel something. Sometimes that feeling is emotional – it brings you back to a certain place or time. Sometimes it’s physical – it makes you want to move your body or it gives you the chills. Other times it’s mental – it sparks questions you’d never had before.

But I do want one of my songs to result in a baby being conceived. Just saying. That’s a real goal of mine.

Photo By: Ken Michienzi

TrunkSpace: We also spoke about the various styles and influences we heard in your music. Did you try to bring anything uniquely new to this project, sonically or lyrically, that you never tackled before?
Sun: Yes! A lot of this is EP is new sonically and lyrically. Compared to “Moon & Sun,” this EP is a lot more upbeat. The songs make you want to move and sway a bit more. Sonically speaking, we experimented with tons of sounds. Quincy, my drummer, tried a bunch of different percussion instruments. David, my keyboard player, tried out piano, synth, and organ sounds with the songs. All of the guys were fabulous singers and came up with their own backup vocal lines.

We created A LOT of demos, test mixes, and versions of the songs before we settled on the final arrangements. I also had the pleasure of working with two horn players, Dan and Ethan, who work really well together and created some truly delicious horn lines in all of the songs. I even sing in Spanish in one of the songs, “Chaos”, with my guitarist Chuck! I speak Spanish and I generally want to sing more in Spanish, but haven’t had the chance until now.

TrunkSpace: When you’re choosing the first single, do you pick the track that you personally enjoy most? The track you think will be the most accessible to a mass audience? What is the formula you use when making that decision?
Sun: I chose the track that is the most representative of the band. “Just a Little More” shows off our band’s many talents and it’s my personal favorite. I have a deep emotional connection to this song because of where it came from and how it grew with the band. It’s easy to sing along to, and hopefully my audience will enjoy singing along to it! Since I’ve been on the road, I’ve played a lot of house shows where the crowd is intimately listening to every word. So I’ve incorporated a lot of sing-alongs with the song, where the crowd sings some “ooos” and the chorus line “break your little heart”. It’s been so much fun!

TrunkSpace: What are you most proud of with the new EP?
Sun: I’m definitely proud of how collaborative it was. We created the songs together and we did the legwork to finish them. It feels so good to know your music came from a place of peace, a place of true love. It wasn’t just some guys I hired to play the chords I wrote, and there was no drama about who gets to play what. We made it together.

TrunkSpace: Do you place expectations on yourself and your music when you release something into the world? Does the “Just A Little More” EP or the single of the same name have personal goals attached to them that you hope to achieve?
Sun: I absolutely place expectations on myself. Ken can attest to that – he has to deal with my constant self-deprecation. I’m incredibly proud of this EP, and therefore terrified to release it into the world. I’m scared of people saying negative things about it, or telling me what I should or shouldn’t be doing in the music business as a result of this EP. But I always try to remember that I’m following my heart and my dream for MYSELF, not for anybody else. I am doing this because I love it and it makes me feel alive.

As a personal goal for the EP, I want people to feel connected to the songs and relate to the lyrics. This EP is all about love: the chaos of love and the payoff of all the ups and downs. All I want is for people to feel something from my music and share it with people they love.

TrunkSpace: Time machine question. If you could jump ahead into the future 20 years to get a glimpse at how your career played out over the next two decades, would you take that trip? Would you want to know how things ultimately work out, and if not, why?
Sun: This is a very difficult question! I would say, yes. If someone offered me the chance to travel through time, why the hell wouldn’t I?! If I wind up under a bridge homeless and living off dead rats because my music failed, I’d rather know now. And if I wind up living in an enormous mansion surrounded by servants and statues of pure gold, then I’ll know to keep on truckin’.

Photo By: Ken Michienzi
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Trunk Stubs

The Nun

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Title: The Nun

Rated: R

Genre: Suspense, Thriller, Horror, Drama

Release Date: September 7th, 2018

Run Time: 1 hour 36 minutes

Directed By: Corin Hardy

Starring: Taissa Farmiga, Demián Bichir, Jonas Bloquet, Bonnie Aarons, Ingrid Bisu

Reason We’re Watching It: If you’re a fan of “The Conjuring” franchise, you know that one of the most terrifying characters that has appeared briefly in the previous installments is the demonic nun character, so naturally we were ready to get terrified and celebrate October a little early.

What It’s All About: The story is an origin story but definitely not of the superhero variety! A priest with a haunted history and a young nun in training are summoned by the Vatican to investigate the death of a nun in Romania.

Whoah! Rewind That!: The scares were all great and horrifying to say the very least. One scene delivered on suspense and thrills when a man must walk through a slew of undead nuns that are wearing bloody bags over their heads. This scene was very reminiscent of the creepy nurse seen from “Silent Hill.” You know the one!

Watercooler-Worthy Tidbit: Vera Farmiga, who played Lorraine Warren in “The Conjuring” series, is the older sister of Taissa Farmiga, who stars in “The Nun” and is known for her roles on “American Horror Story.”

And that’s why we’re giving it… (4 buckets)

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Chilling Out

Elysia Rotaru and Stephen Sawchuk

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Mackenzie Mowat and Jenna Romanin in “FWD”

Chilling Out is where TrunkSpace talks all things horror and genre with those who work in the projects that give us the thrills and chills to keep coming back for more. This time out we’re chatting with Elysia Rotaru and Stephen Sawchuk, the brains behind “FWD,” the new horror/comedy hybrid that is giving us a serious hankering for ’90s nostalgia.

We recently sat down with the creative duo to discuss embracing the camp, being scared to scare, and why they owe a lot of favors to a lot of people.

TrunkSpace: First and foremost, how did the creative partnership between the two of you come about?
Sawchuk: Elysia and I have known each other for nearly a decade now so it’s been a long time in the making. People always warn you not to get into business with your friends but I think what clicked for us is that we share a lot of the same creative instincts and work ethic. When we decided to pair up, Elysia was acting at the time and I was producing reality television, and we were both eager to sink our teeth into something new and different where we could flex our creative muscles a bit more.

TrunkSpace: Many of us believe in love at first sight, but does the same apply to creativity? Can two people share a like-minded creative POV right out of the gates, and if so, did you both find that in each other?
Sawchuk: We’re both creative people but that’s not to say we agree all of the time, which is a healthy part of the process. What works well for us is that Elysia brings her extensive acting and coaching background to the table, and as a producer I’m heavily involved in the day to day of both the creative and logistics, so we clicked and our skill sets complement each other and we push each other into new territory.

TrunkSpace: We love that “FWD” is ‘90s based. (Big ups to the chokers and the Skeet Ulrich reference!) Was the setting itself sort of necessary given the premise, which is based around a chain email that brings about unspeakable… wait for it… HORROR?
Sawchuk: Totally! We’re both huge fans of the 90’s slasher genre, and wanted to embrace the camp and ridiculousness of that era… Y2K fear and killer emails!
Rotaru: You remember those, don’t you?!

TrunkSpace: Speaking of horror, as filmmakers, do you feel like you kind of come into “FWD” having a built-in audience knowing how passionate the horror audience is for all things within the genre… even if there are different subsets within the larger horror umbrella?
Rotaru: The horror audience is very savvy, so it was actually a little scary (no pun intended) creating a film in the genre. It’s one thing to have a built-in audience, but another to have them actually enjoy your film!
Sawchuk: As newcomer filmmakers to the genre we wanted to make sure our first project had the elements of a horror film, but that it didn’t take itself too seriously.

TrunkSpace: On the opposite side of that coin, is the horror audience difficult to please, because in a lot of ways, it feels like a genre where each project has to keep upping itself in terms of gore and twisting plot points?
Sawchuk: Absolutely! There’s a lot to live up to in the genre, and during the brainstorming process for “FWD” I kept asking myself “what can we do differently?” And that’s a super tough question to answer because I think people kind of feel like “it’s all been done before” in terms of the slasher genre. So my challenge was to tell a contained story in less than 10 minutes that wasn’t just a guy with a knife stalking two young girls. We hope we accomplished that with a unique setting and era and a twist ending in the final scene.

Elysia Rotaru

TrunkSpace: In creating the short, do you see this as your complete vision, or is the hope to take the concept and turn it into a full-length feature?
Sawchuk: There were a ton of things we wish we could have done differently with the short, but we did our best with the time, money and resources we had available.
Rotaru: And we knew we just needed to make the film! It sounds cliché but it’s true – if you wait around for the perfect moment to start, you’ll never start. So there were a lot of things we wish we could’ve done differently with the short, but we’ve been developing a feature-length film based on the short that we’re really excited about!

TrunkSpace: Was there anything that you had hoped to accomplish with “FWD” that you had to revisit during production because of budget or time constraints?
Sawchuk: We made the movie on a buck and a half (kidding not kidding) so we really had to stretch every dollar and beg, borrow and steal. Any filmmaker in the genre will tell you that funding resources are super limited… a lot of the organizations ignore or disqualify horror altogether which is disappointing, so you have to get creative with how you’re going to make it happen. We self funded and set up an Indiegogo page and the film wouldn’t have been made if it weren’t for the support of friends, family and fans of the genre. We also had a crazy talented crew who worked on the project simply because they liked the script and the people on the team. So basically we owe a lot of favors back! Looking back, I wish we could have used some different camera gear and upped our special effects/gore game a bit, but we did what we could with the resources we had available. I think every filmmaker gets that “woulda shoulda coulda” feeling.

Stephen Sawchuk

TrunkSpace: As we said, the film is based in the ‘90s, but there’s also a great ‘90s horror vibe to it as well. Were the return of slasher films like “Scream” and “Urban Legend” an influence in “FWD” coming into fruition, particularly given the comedic tone that it strikes at times?
Sawchuk: Totally! The opening scenes of the “Scream” movies really inspired us. Those scenes are usually five to 10 minutes long but they immediately rope you in and keep you engaged until the title card comes up. Our challenge was to try to have a similar impact on an audience, but tell a contained story that had a pay off by minute seven. I could watch the openers to the original “Scream” and “Scream 4” on loop! The way the “Scream” movies infused comedy into the genre was game changing. Nobody did the horror-comedy spin better than Wes Craven and Kevin Williamson.

TrunkSpace: What did the two of you take from the experience of bringing “FWD” to life that you’ll apply to your next project and each one after that?
Rotaru: Follow your instincts, honor your vision and have fun throughout the process. Filmmaking is so collaborative, which can sometimes mean there are a lot of cooks in the kitchen, so it’s important to stick to your gut.
Sawchuk: We were lucky to work with a really great, supportive and talented cast and crew and honestly we wouldn’t have been able to make the film without them. Surrounding yourself with like-minded people who share your passion is really important. Another key takeaway from working on our first project together is to not take yourself too seriously!

TrunkSpace: What’s next for you two as far as your creative partnership goes?
Sawchuk: Our second screenplay is ready to roll!
Rotaru: It’s another horror-comedy called ‘Daddy Issues’ that we’re both really excited about, and it was written with feature film potential in mind. We’re still in development but hope to take it to camera before the end of 2018.
Sawchuk: We’re still working on the treatment for the feature-length ‘FWD’ as well!

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Musical Mondaze

Steve ‘n’ Seagulls

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You enjoyed the songs the first time around, singing along and banging your head to the familiar rock tunes that were accompanied by electric guitars and drums. Now Steve “n” Seagulls have gotten their mandolin-holding hands on them and you’re tapping your foot in a completely different tempo to classics like “Gimme All Your Lovin” and “Panama.” But make no mistake, this is not a novelty band. No, the Finland born and bluegrass-inspired Steve “n” Seagulls are rousing musicians honoring the past in the present, and they’re doing so in an innovative and exhilarating way.

We recently sat down with vocalist and multi-instrumentalist Remmel to discuss where it all began, how they choose which songs to honor, and why a Juhannus album may (or may not) be in their future.

TrunkSpace: If you can start us off on the personal inception aspect of your journey, how did bluegrass find its way into your lives in Finland and then ultimately inspire you enough to not only pursue it yourselves creatively, but to do so utilizing well-known rock tracks?
Remmel: Well, bluegrass probably came with country, which came with other acoustic music and that came along after growing up with music like rock, heavy and hard rock. There is a small but lively country/bluegrass scene in Finland.

But we ended up with this kind of mixture and flavors a little bit by accident and fortune, too. In 2010 when the band was first formed, it was only supposed to do a 15 to 20 gigs run in a chain of restaurants, playing music in country and spaghetti western style. From there it went on as a side project, changed a little bit on the way. This lineup came together in 2013 and after that more acoustic stuff came in and electrics got cut a bit. Somewhere along the way the music changed also from all kinds of pop etc., towards rock and metal. And it’s been fun and also challenging so we just dug in deeper and deeper.

TrunkSpace: Your new album “Grainsville” features 12 tracks, including Pear Jam’s “Alive” and our personal favorite, David Lee Roth’s “Panama.” With so many great songs at your disposal, what is the process of deciding what you will take into the studio? Is it democratic? Does everyone get to pick one? (It must be so hard!)
Remmel: The process itself is most of the times pretty much similar. Someone comes up with an idea to play a riff, beat or something to a song with a different kind of style, vibe or feel to it, then we start to work around this idea together, adding flavors to it, throwing in ideas, and at some point we end up with an idea which is usable or we end up never talking about it again. Or something in the middle. So it’s about fiddling around with your old favorites and finding new ways to pay a tribute or honor them.

TrunkSpace: In the process of recording “Grainsville,” were there other songs that you laid down that didn’t make the cut, but may end up seeing the light of day in another format?
Remmel: There were some. There always will be some that will never see the daylight. Some might too. Some make it to the next album or live set – who knows. But these are well kept secrets for the future. If we told you, we’d have to be so hammered that no one would remember it the next day.

TrunkSpace: Your songs have so much instrumentation – so much energy. Is it difficult to sometimes capture that energy in the studio? Are there songs that have worked on stage, but not in the studio?
Remmel: Yes to both. It is difficult, and still our live set is somewhat different from our albums. Sometimes capturing the live energy in studio is not even necessary, but trying to do it is pretty damn hard. We also at least have had songs in our live set that never made it to the studio. Not sure if we do that anymore. We have worked hard for our live set and it is a good thing that there are both sides to the band, live and studio. We feel that it gives the audience something totally new, too, when they see and hear us live. It’s all about enjoying music, playing and honoring these classic, iconic tracks. That being said, we also do our original stuff live and studio.

TrunkSpace: What are you most proud of with “Grainsville?”
Remmel: That’s a tough one. Maybe the album is more whole. It has more dimensions compared to previous ones. We’re happy and proud that we have been able to take steps forward on each album. We’re proud we made a good album. Huge thanks goes to our producer, Jarkko Viinamäki, recording engineer/co-producer, Jyri Riikonen, recording engineer Petri Majuri, and Tommi Kakko, who helped with lyrics. And many more people we love dearly. And beer and sauna too.

TrunkSpace: You guys are a tireless touring machine. What is it that keeps you on the road and performing these songs each and every night?
Remmel: Well… it’s a way of life. It’s fun! It has to be fun, even though we do not wanna be seen as a joke. It’s more about having fun with music and honoring the songs. When we play live we give our 100 percent. But playing in front of a crowd and getting that energetic feel and being worn out after a show is awesome. We really, really want to thank each individual that comes to see and hear us live. We work hard on our live sets. We want to keep it as tight as possible. We also have a great audio engineer that is responsible for our well-praised live sound. Antti “Ministeri” Laitila, we salute you.

TrunkSpace: What must be awesome about what you guys do, particularly in a live setting, is that an audience can (and probably does) sing along with every single song you perform. That has to be a powerful motivator knowing that you’re thrilling it and killing it before you even step foot on stage every night?
Remmel: Well, to be honest, you never know what’s going to happen. We need to give our 100 percent every night, but it is a blast to see people smiling, singing, having fun and dancing around, and also to have a chat with people after the show. One of the best things in playing live is to see people smiling and just having a good time.

TrunkSpace: What has been the highlight of your career thus far? What is one moment that you’ll carry with you through the rest of your musical journey?
Remmel: There are so many. Making albums. Playing live shows around the world. We never thought we’d find ourselves playing abroad, touring. Maybe our first big festival show in Sweden rock, that is one. Suddenly we were in front of 10,000 to 12,000 people with our instruments. (Laughter) That was a moment we’ll probably never forget – something between being spooked and feeling like a kid again.

TrunkSpace: We’re throwing it out there… we’d love a Steve ‘N’ Seagulls holiday album. What are the odds of that coming into fruition?
Remmel: (Laughter) “Hi, come enjoy Christmas with Steve ‘n’ Seagulls!” We have no idea. Maybe we’ll do a Labor Day album? Or to celebrate Finnish holiday, Midsummer – in Finnish, JUHANNUS! We’ll see about that. (Laughter) “It’s Juhannus with Steve ‘n’ Seagulls!!”

TrunkSpace: Going back to your take on David Lee Roth’s “Panama,” we’ve got to ask, can any of you guys rock the midair splits like the original madman of rock was known to do on stage?
Remmel: Hiltunen gets pretty close. Me and Hiltunen have tried and it seems to be hard to get back up standing on stage while playing and trying to do a split. David Lee Roth had spandex on too, so it’s easier than what we wear. He also jumped pretty high. We jump like logs of wood.

TrunkSpace: Finally, we’re on the back nine of 2018 now, but what’s on tap for the rest of the year and what should fans be on the lookout for heading into 2019?
Remmel: We’re touring the USA at the moment. October and November we’ll tour Finland and December it’s time to do a UK tour. In mid January, 2019, we start our European tour and we go on to France, Germany, Netherlands, etc., for about a month. Seems that we’re coming back to the USA in March 2019. So, touring, videos maybe some new music – who knows. But touring for sure. So we have some kick ass live shows comin’ up. See you there!

Maybe a new hat for Hiltunen.

Maybe new instruments that we’ve never played before, at least one?

Grainsville” is available now on Spinefarm Records.

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Wingman Wednesday

Lili Bordán

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Photo By: Roxanne Turpen

Lili Bordán is set to appear in the new film “The Nun,” which arrives in theaters today, but the latest installment in the “The Conjuring” franchise is only one rung on a ladder that the New York-born actress has been climbing hand over fist this year. Featured in the film “Book Club” opposite Diane Keaton and Jane Fonda, and also starring in and associate producing the biopic “Curtiz” about “Casablanca” director Michael Curtiz, she is a star on the rise with an infinite sky in front of her to shine down from.

We recently sat down with Bordán to discuss her passion for performance, how she found creative support in her mother, and why she’s happiest when on a set.

TrunkSpace: Film and performance is in your blood. Do you think you would have been set on this path had you not been exposed to it so early in life?
BordánNo, actually I’m a very impressionable person and go with the flow. I attribute it partly to being a Pisces. My interests are also varied. In college, I was studying everything from philosophy, international relations, and economics, to theater. Of course, theater has always been part of my life because I had an inclination towards it that was beautifully supported by my mother. She steered me on that path. It was interesting, because my dad was always sort of steering me in another direction.

So to answer your question, I probably wouldn’t have been an actor if left to my own devices, but I did always have a passion for it and it’s just the way my life has gone.

TrunkSpace: Did the passion for performance begin on the stage or was there was always a pull towards film and television?
BordánMy first film project was a short film that I did with a Columbia University female film grad student named Rodney Hunter. It was called The Curve of the Smile” with Lisa Roberts (Gillan). Lisa is Julia Roberts’ sister, and I played her as a child. It was a beautiful story and my mother, my very own mother, Irén Bordán, played my on-screen mother as well.

It was very natural sort of birthing, being born into this through my mother. That first project is what sealed the deal for me and I was only maybe five years old when we started the project and I ended up being much older, about nine, when we finished. I dont know why it took that long. Maybe to raise money? But it was a beautiful little film and then I did theater. In school I was Annie in “Annie,” I was Wendy in Peter Panand I recently watched the videos and I can really see the love that I had for that and how 100 percent committed I was on stage, even then. And I still feel that. When I get a project it becomes my focus. Thats my life, my child, and my family. It’s everything. My passion really is acting and I guess it has always been.

TrunkSpace: At the time of that short film when you costarred alongside your mother, were you able to appreciate the fact that she was acting opposite you in it and that you were able to learn from her?
BordánYes. She was always looking out for me on set. But then kids are the most natural story-tellers. It was a very organic process and a labor of love for all of usI’ve learned a lot from her, but I’m pretty sure she’d say she’s learned from me, too. We are very supportive of each other’s craft and careers.

TrunkSpace: As kids, we tend not to appreciate our parents and what they’ve passed on to us until we’ve grown and understand it all better.
BordánYeah, I completely agree. I do look back at my mom and say, Shes amazing! Shes a natural!And I’ll see her on stage shes part of a theater company in Budapest, one of the best and shes also filming several times a month. Shes always shooting a movie or working on something and I’m constantly inspired by her and her stamina. She paid attention to things growing up and would tell me, You need to work on this or you need to work on that.

I’ve been honing my craft since I was a kid. I took some breaks, but when I was 16 I delved in with a great teacher named Susan Batson who took me under her wing and mentored me. I steered away from it a little bit in college, but I’ve always gone back to it. It always finds me. The last two years, working on have been a real confirmation for me. Even if I steer away from it, like I always do, I always come back to it somehow. Its like the Mafia, you know you want to get out but it pulls you back in. (Laughter)

TrunkSpace: Sometimes the best thing we can do to stay passionate about our passions is to step away and refuel the tank.
BordánThats true and I guess life reminds me of that all the time. I’m interested in psychology. I’m interested in natural healing techniques like Reiki. I teach dance to kids with Autism. Im very interested in working with children on the spectrum. I have these really random interests and talents and theyve all come up by accident through connections with other people. What can you really learn from yourself? Im always learning from other people. I have so many gurus in my life and so many teachers in my life. I just follow that.

TrunkSpace: Which is a great mindset for the world of acting because, if you can view the world through that lens, you can step onto a set and be inspired by the work of someone else, which in turn, pushes you to be better.
BordánOh my god, yes! I always have experiences like that. Every set I go on, I see someone and Im like, Yeah, thats who Im going to learn from. Thats my guru on the set. Thats my teacher.It can be a kid actor or it can be a director or it can be an adult actor. It can be my mother.

TrunkSpace: All of those projects you’ve mentioned – “The Nun,” “Book Club,” etc. – they’re all being released within a pretty tight time frame. What’s more exciting for you at this stage in your career, is it being on set and shooting a project or seeing that hard work come into fruition and being released to the world?
BordánIts definitely being on set. Of course, I love going to these amazing Hollywood premieres and international festivals. I used to not go to them. I used to look at the pictures afterward and hear about these events. Now I really make an effort. No matter how big or small my role is, or how involved I was, I show up. I go and I make it happen because thats important as well.

I think that filming the project is where the magic happens. The rest of it is the icing on the cake. Not even the icing maybe more the candles. It’s a sort of celebration. And I think its equally important to celebrate your work your own work and the work of your team.

I actually just got back from Montreal World Film Festival where our film “Curtiz” had it’s world premiere. The film is about the making of “Casablanca.” It was a biopic about a very famous, important director, I would say, but not someone who is very widely known outside of the film industry these days. His name was Michael Curtiz. He made something like 117 movies in his career and he won Best Director for “Casablanca.”

TrunkSpace: And he is someone who did not get the amount of attention as some other directors did, not only of his time, but just in the history of film in general.
BordánYes, but I have a feeling he didnt seek that attention. He was actually kind of a withdrawn, moody person. The movie explores him as that type of personality. There have been books about him, recently a biography came out, but this is the first biopic thats a scripted movie about him and how he was on set.

Photo By: Roxanne Turpen

TrunkSpace: And you actually served as producer on the film as well, correct?
BordánYeah, thats right. I was a producer on the film as well as actor. I played Irene Lee. She was the Warner Bros. story editor. She found the un-produced play, “Everybody Comes to Ricks,” written by Americans Murray Burnett and Joan Alison that “Casablanca” was based on. Irene brought it to Hal B. Wallis, who brought it to Warner Brothers. Michael Curtiz was attached as director, Humphrey Bogart and Ingrid Bergman were cast as the leads, and history was made.

TrunkSpace: Between that film and “The Nun,” which is a big release, is it important for you as an actress to tamper expectations about a project in regards to how it might impact your career moving forward?
BordánWell, theres so much expectation and disappointment in this industry I try to minimize both as much as possible. I feel that every project that I do lifts me in some way. Its another rung in the ladder, another stair, another step in the right direction. Someone asked me that just a few days ago. Do you feel like having been in Book Clubchanged your career?” I’ve sensed that I’m getting more opportunities. Its a good calling card. There are moments in everybodys career where they feel “this is the one that will catapult me to world stardom.” I’m certain that can happen, but for me, it’s been more of a steady climb. I’m just happy to work, Im happy to be on set and thrive in this environment.

TrunkSpace: Has there been a perk of acting, something that you experienced or that came into your life, that you never would’ve expected by going down this path?
BordánThe love of the work. Being on set. Being part of a team. Knowing were creating something amazing. When Im on set I feel like thats where Im meant to be. I wish I got to do it more. I think as I continue to move forward in my career, I hope that I get to that point where Im like, Okay, now Im on set as much as Id like to be.Being on set, period, is amazing. Now, as I’ve mentioned, Im making an effort to be at all my premieres and all of the events and festivals. Thats a perk. I enjoy that. I enjoy traveling having seen Montreal for the first time, going back to Hungary from time to time to film something, or for a premiere.

TrunkSpace: Those work experiences become life experiences.
BordánYes, and I can’t find any reason for now to separate them. My life is my art. I want to raise a family soon. For now, my work is my baby. That sense of fulfillment is what I imagine holding your child for the first time might be close to. I want to experience it all, and there is no need to choose between the two. Always, I will follow my heart and strive to make my dreams continue to come true.

The Nun” arrives is in theaters today.

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Sit and Spin

Gold Star’s Get It Together (C’mon)

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Song Title: “Get It Together (C’mon)”

From The Album: Uppers & Downers  (art pictured at left)

Single Sentence Singles Review: Gold Star, aka Marlon Rabenreither, got it together big time with this poppy parasitic track, an impossibly infectious groove that latches onto the folds of your brain and screams SINGALONG right out of the gates.

Beyond The Track: Gold Star is kicking off the release of Uppers & Downers on September 13 with a show in his hometown of Los Angeles. Pre-save on Spotify here, and look for tour dates here.

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Musical Mondaze

Taylor Grey

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Photo By: Nikko Lamere

With her new single “Back to Bite,” pop artist Taylor Grey has created a track that she hopes will empower people to take back their voices. That motivational anthem, which is out now, is off of her forthcoming EP, a record she says is working hard to be the best representation of who she is as an artist today.

We recently sat down with Grey to discuss her dedicated fans, why a Z-list level of fame is appealing, and the reason she has a weekly mental breakdown when the summer comes to an end.

TrunkSpace: As an artist, you’re always creating in the present. Does that make “Back to Bite” the best representation of who you are as an artist today?
Grey: It is definitely part of the best representation of me! I think it’s hard for one song to encompass an entire person, but my new EP, which has “Back to Bite” on it, is for sure trying its hardest.

TrunkSpace: That being said, can you listen to the single and say, “This is the sound that I want to be creating for the rest of my career?”
Grey: I mean, I love the song but I’d be lying to myself if I said that I’m constantly changing and I would never want to put an artistic barrier on myself. What I can say is, “This is the way I want to feel when I listen to my music for the rest of my career.”

TrunkSpace: Do you feel like an artist is in a difficult position to mature and build off an established sound? It seems you’re damned if you do (people want you to grow as an artist), but damned if you don’t (they don’t want you to venture too far away from what they love about you).
Grey: I completely understand the dilemma. For me, I feel really lucky because I never had a huge fan base with my old music, but the fans that I did have are so dedicated and lovely – I think they mainly just want to hear me be more authentic. They are the absolute best to stick by me. I’m not sure what I did to deserve them.

TrunkSpace: You described your current sound as less filtered and more vulnerable. As an artist, that emotional honesty is certainly the way to connect to an audience, but as a human being, is it difficult to be more open and exposed in such a public world, especially with everyone having an opinion on social media?
Grey: Yeah, it’s really difficult for me. Part of me still gets scared when I talk about topics like feminism or sexual assault with men because, although those are integral themes in my song “Back to Bite,” I still feel like someone might get mad at me. And then I think, “Oh yeah, THIS is why songs like this need to exist – to make these themes more seen and more comfortable, just to have an open conversation about them.”

TrunkSpace: What are you most proud of with “Back to Bite?”
Grey: When the song released, a really good friend of mine messaged me and told me how much the song meant to her, she said it made her want to fight back against her assaulters. So yeah, I’m most proud of how the song connects to people. I wrote it with the intention for it run the gamut on meaning – it could be someone who is hurting from being cheated on to someone who is hurting from having their control over their body taken away. It’s just an empowerment song to take back your voice.

TrunkSpace: Where are you hardest on yourself as an artist?
Grey: Oh, a lot of places. (Laughter) Sometimes I think I’m a good songwriter and sometimes I think I’m absolute trash. I’m definitely hardest on myself about my body though. I’ve never felt good enough. Not once. So I wrote a song about that and put it on my EP.

TrunkSpace: Many people say that music is a form of therapy. Is it that way for you?
Grey: It absolutely is. But I wouldn’t suggest it be a replacement for anyone struggling; I don’t know where I’d be without real therapy.

Photo By: Nikko Lamere

TrunkSpace: How important is branding and creating a look and vibe that helps to emphasize your public persona? Is it something you enjoy, creating that extra layer beyond the music, or is it a necessary evil?
Grey: This is a really tricky question.

Well, I hate taking pictures, because I never like how I look, but I do think it’s necessary to create a look that conveys who you are. So with this new music, I’m more interested in creating a look where it isn’t about my body, but it’s about the art and the music first.

TrunkSpace: What do you think the biggest hurdle is for an artist to overcome in 2018? Where do you have to work the hardest to be seen and heard?
Grey: I think it’s really small at the top, and the music industry likes to stay where it’s comfortable – a lot of artists that are already very well known. But I don’t really want that kind of pressure. I’d be very comfortable as a Z-list celebrity with a group of really amazing supporters just doing what I love and jamming out together. That’s the dream.

TrunkSpace: You’re also currently attending Stanford. Internally, how do you juggle your studies and your creative interests? Do they coexist or are they completely separate?
Grey: It’s hard. I like summer… I’m going to miss summer. During school, I drink a lot of coffee, rarely go out, and have a weekly mental breakdown. But that being said, I want the education/degree and I want the music. I love both and wouldn’t change it, so it’s my choice. And my low-key parents because I don’t think they’d be happy if I told them I was dropping out.

TrunkSpace: Finally, we’re on the back nine of 2018 now, but what’s on tap for the rest of the year and what should fans be on the lookout for heading into 2019?
Grey: Definitely be on the lookout for my new EP coming out this year. I’m beyond excited for it!

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