close

October 2018

Wingman Wednesday

Lee Kholafai

LeeKholafaiFeatured

This week we’re taking an extended look at the new movie “Glass Jaw,” chatting with the creative minds responsible for bringing the gritty drama to life. Arriving in select theaters and on digital HD today, the film is a story of redemption set in the world of boxing and stars Lee Kholafai, Korrina Rico, Jon Gries, Mark Rolston, Jaime Camil, Malcolm David Kelley, Vernon Wells and Steven Williams.

Next up we’re chatting with Lee Kholafai to discuss the seven year journey he made to ensure that the film become a reality, why it takes teamwork to make the dream work, and the reason you can’t have a glass jaw in Hollywood.

TrunkSpace: From what we have read, you stared down a lot of obstacles in order to see “Glass Jaw” become a reality. How big of an accomplishment was it to call wrap on the film and how much of your life have you invested in it from conception to completion?
Kholafai: Oh man, if you only knew. Making a film is harder than I ever imagined. I’ve easily invested seven years of my life into “Glass Jaw,” if not more. I am still working on “Glass Jaw” even, so who knows what the total number might be. (Laughter)

First of all, writing it took a while. Each time, I thought we had a final copy, we would receive notes – even notes received the day before shooting. (Laughter) Then there was the task of raising money. I hate asking for money honestly, so that was really hard. Then dealing with lawyers, another learning step there as well. Then pre-production was a monster. Then production I was so mentally and physically exhausted, that I don’t think I slept at all. My mind was in a million places, which is the one thing I regret. I wish I could have just shown up on set as an actor but I had a lot of responsibility since I was the hub of information and if anything went wrong, the fingers would point at me so the pressure was on. Not to mention we ran out of money a couple of times during production. I never told anyone but I was literally raising funds for the film while shooting. Long story short, I ended up getting a lot of credit cards and maxing them all out. Then came the post, which was more complex than I imagined. VFX was a beast that we had no idea about. Then came selling the film. Everyone thought “Glass Jaw” was too commercial for the festivals so we had to deal with that and now we are in the marketing stages, which is pretty fun.

So yeah, a lot of long nights and early mornings with the belief that one day it would all make sense.

TrunkSpace: We would imagine there are a lot of parallels between boxing and filmmaking, especially on the “never give up” front. How much of seeing your dream become a reality has been a bare-knuckle, take-no-prisoners brawl, at least from an emotional standpoint?
Kholafai: Great question. It’s every similar, honestly. First of all, everyone doubts you. Secondly, you can’t take no for an answer and literally have to fight your way through every obstacle and stand up right away if anyone puts you down. I really love the quote, “Winners never quit, quitters never win.” That quote alone helped me because I thought, “How could I lose if I never give up?” Consistency, focus, and action is how, honestly, “Glass Jaw” was made. Also respecting the team. There are so many components to “Glass Jaw” and I am more than honored to have the great team that we had. Teamwork for the dream work, baby!

TrunkSpace: There is a rich history of inspirational sports stories that have found their way to film. What makes “Glass Jaw” unique, but at the same time, still delivers on that inspirational vibe that will make us all want to go down into the basement and hit the dusty, old punching bag a few rounds?
Kholafai: Well, the story of “Glass Jaw” is simply to never give up. Times get hard. People want to give up sometimes. Hopefully after watching “Glass Jaw” they’ll be inspired and see that, no matter what, if you keep fighting the good fight and never give up that eventually you will win.

TrunkSpace: Beyond starring in the film, you also wrote and produced. Was the experience of wearing so many hats a bit like a high where, there’s ups and downs, and when it wears off, you instantly want to go out and do it again – in this case, run out and make another film?
Kholafai: That was honestly the hardest part. My head was in so many places from wearing so many hats. I wish I could have just shown up as actor and focused on my scenes. As I mentioned before, we ran out of money a couple times, so that was stressful not knowing how I would be able to afford the next day or be shut down. We had locations cancel on us last minute and also I was the mediator for everyone to make sure everyone got along, and so on. It was so mentally exhausting and I didn’t sleep at all. The responsibility was heavy because if anything went wrong, I was the one to blame. I don’t ever want to wear that many hats again. I did it because of budget constraints, but I learned my lesson. I am thankful for the learning process I have now though because I can’t be taken advantage of due to my experience from doing it. The dream scenario would be able to create content, get a good team together, and have enough money in the budget where I can just show up as an actor and focus on my scenes for the day rather than everything else that could go wrong that a producer has to deal with.

TrunkSpace: Did producer Lee and actor Lee ever butt heads in terms of what one knew was possible to accomplish and what one hoped was possible to accomplish? How do you find the middle ground between the creative wants and the day-to-day needs?
Kholafai: Honestly, they were both on the same page. I am a dreamer and I go for the stars always. I will say this, “Glass Jaw” turned out better than I ever imagined. It all started with this crazy idea of wanting to make a movie and, seeing it done and a reality is still unbelievable to me. It still probably will not really hit me until it hits theaters on October 26th. I will say, I was realistic in an indie budget. I knew I didn’t have the money to do transformers, etc., so I tried to make the script as relatable and real as possible.

TrunkSpace: What are you most proud of with the film?
Kholafai: To be honest, the team we had come on board that gave “Glass Jaw” their best. I am also forever thankful to our investors because without them “Glass Jaw” would still just be an idea in my head.

TrunkSpace: Do you have a personal history/tie to the sport of boxing? Was there a personal interest/investment in the story itself?
Kholafai: I love boxing but I don’t have much of a history with it professionally. I still box often and it does wonders as my stress relief on frustrating days. I learned to respect boxing more as well because honestly, it’s a very disciplined sport. The stamina you have to have is insane. Also there is something awesome about being in a ring and seeing what you are made of. I’ve never fought professionally but I think a real fight would be cool to do one day.

TrunkSpace: You started your career as a model. Was it difficult to transition into the world of acting and convince people that you were an actor and not “a model who wants to be an actor?”
Kholafai: That’s another hard part. People don’t really take models seriously. I know people will use it against me but I suppose I just will have to keep proving myself and pushing forward.

TrunkSpace: When it comes to being an actor in this day and age, what’s more difficult – is it finding that first big break or maintaining a career that is built on longevity?
Kholafai: I think both can be difficult. Maybe the big break since it’s more sought after as difficulty goes. But you can get your big break and have not much happen after and you can have longevity but not the career you hoped for. I really respect Stallone’s career. He has the best of both worlds. He makes hit movies and has been around longer than most.

TrunkSpace: We know this is a super general question, but what’s next? What’s that next creative high you’re going to chase?
Kholafai: I thought you would never ask! (Laughter) I am actually working on a film called “Greed” now. We are perfecting the script and then will start production soon. Its message is that as fast you make it, you can lose it. So don’t be cocky, or arrogant. Always be thankful and help others.

If you haven’t noticed, I want to make films that deliver a good message and hopefully help society in some sort of way.

Glass Jaw” arrives in select theaters and on digital HD today.

read more
Chilling Out

Alexandra Feld

AlexandraFeld

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 Alexandra Feld, producer and star of the new film “Killer Kate!,” which arrives in select theaters and on Digital HD today.

We recently sat down with Feld to discuss the horror fandom, how her family helped to make “Killer Kate!” a reality, and the reason the film – their first – finished on time and within budget.

TrunkSpace: As you gear up for the official release of the film, what emotions are you juggling with?
Feld: It has been an amazing process to get to this point, but I’m still in producer-mode leading up to the release, so I’m not sure I’ve had time to process the emotions of it all yet. I’m definitely excited for the film to come out and interested to see how it’s received! I’m sure there will be some relief once the film is out but also bittersweet because “Killer Kate!” has been such a part of our lives over the last year. That being said, I’m excited to shift focus and begin something new!

TrunkSpace: You wore multiple hats in bringing “Killer Kate!” to life. How much of your blood, sweat and tears went into making the film a reality? Was there ever a moment when you doubted it would happen?
Feld: I had the wonderful opportunity to produce on this film, my first feature as an actress. As part of the film since early development, I was able to be part of the creative process, including casting, selecting locations and crew, all the way through notes on the edit, which really allows you to get close to a project. We had originally planned to shoot another script last November, but a few months prior to pre-production we decided to put that script on hold due to budget and location constraints and create a new script around our resources. We knew we were going to shoot in November of 2017; we had our director, lead actress, and budget number, so that’s where we began. There was never a moment when I thought the film wouldn’t happen. Our production company, Feld Films, is comprised of myself, my husband (director Elliot Feld), my brother-in-law, David Feld, and my father-in-law, Larry Feld – it’s a true family business, and we work extremely well together. We are a pretty driven bunch and time is valuable, so once we made the decision to shoot, it was going to get done because it had to. We work full-time in the commercial world, so we are used to quick turnaround and working with very strict budgets, which lends itself well to indie filmmaking.

TrunkSpace: Did producer Alexandra and actress Alexandra ever butt heads in terms of what one knew was possible to accomplish and what one hoped was possible to accomplish? How do you find the middle ground between the creative wants and the day-to-day needs on set?
Feld: This is something we were all aware of and tried to set ground rules early on. Once we got to our shoot days, the plan was that I take my producer hat off entirely and just focus on acting, but that was better in theory! (Laughter) It took two days or so to get into our groove and quickly learn that I was most comfortable staying involved in certain parts of day-to-day production life. It’s certainly a delicate balance and something I will continue to learn as I follow this path, but I love being able to use both sides of my brain on set. Having other things to put my energy into also allowed me not to get inside my head as an actor, and it really challenged that “acting muscle” as far as turning it on and off – I loved it!

TrunkSpace: In the film, you play THE killer Kate. Because you were involved in the project on numerous levels, how did you see the character grow from where she was in the early stages of development to where she is in the final cut of the film?
Feld: If I remember correctly, Kate didn’t start out quite as likable or relatable. She was a little harsher and more sarcastic, but not in a fun way. After a few read-throughs with our co-writers, Elliot Feld and Daniel Moya, we all agreed to work on making Kate more authentic. I mean, sure, it’s great to have flaws in the characters, but in this case, you really have to care about Kate and her sister Angie; you have to root for them to get it together because, ya know – family!

TrunkSpace: Independent films are often operating on a limited budget, which means limited time. Did you have to make any on-site adjustments that weren’t in the script that ended up making it into the film, and in doing so, made the film stronger?
Feld: Yes, actually! So, we shot this film in 10 days, with two days of pickups which, if you’re unsure, is an insanely short shoot schedule. We had a director with a strong vision, a DP who loves to try anything, an incredibly talented cast, a rock-star crew, and the best 1st AD one could dream of – it’s this magical combo that allowed us to get our film made on time and on budget.

Alexandra Feld as Kate in the horror film “KILLER KATE!,” a Freestyle Digital Media release. Photo courtesy of Freestyle Digital Media.

TrunkSpace: What are you most proud of with the film?
Feld: Honestly, there are so many things, but I am most proud of my family. First off, I got to work with my husband, who’s drive and passion never cease to amaze me, and working together in the actress and director capacity was really special. Next, my producing partner and brother-in-law, David Feld – the level of trust I have with him is next level; he is so good at what he does! Lastly, my mom was the production designer (Stephanie Brewer), my dad the art director (Keith K. Brewer), my brother the prop master (Justin Brewer), and my sister the wardrobe designer (Kevynn Brewer). Looking back on it now, it still feels unbelievable that we had this opportunity to work together in this capacity! We could not have done what we did without the closeness, ease of communication, and intuition that comes with family. Even our dog, Daisy, came to set with us! It was a wonderful, comfortable, positive environment that allowed everyone on set to feel like part of the family.

TrunkSpace: Horror fans are willing to turn out for a film regardless of if they know anything about the film or not. Do you feel like the genre comes with a bit of a built-in audience, and if so, does that put more or less pressure on you with a film like “Killer Kate!” and being accepted by that fandom?
Feld: Oh, man, I think we’ve been totally spoiled by the horror fan community for our first film! I come from a theatre background, and one thing I have always loved about that world is the sense of community and support, and I feel a lot of similarities with our new horror family. I suppose if there is any pressure it’s that I love horror audiences, and I just don’t want to disappoint. Of course, I know our film may not be all horror fans’ cup of tea, and that’s totally cool, because, even still, everyone has been so supportive and enthusiastic, which I’m so grateful for!

TrunkSpace: Aside from making a quality film, do you hope that “Killer Kate!” will open up more doors for you, both in front of the camera and behind it?
Feld: Yes, absolutely! I am an actress, first and foremost, but it’s a tough business. As I mentioned, I began in theatre, but I moved to LA to transition to film, and, after a few years of auditioning for mediocre roles, stereotypes, and reading bad scripts, I realized I needed to diversify and start producing. I took four years off from acting to start from the bottom and learn the behind-the-scenes, so I could jump back in as a producer/actress and have a creative hand in the projects I was a part of. “Killer Kate!” is my first project back in the acting game, and boy, is it good to be back!

(L-R) Alexandra Feld as Kate, Amaris Davidson as Sara, and Danielle Burgess as Angie in the horror film “KILLER KATE!,” a Freestyle Digital Media release. Photo courtesy of Freestyle Digital Media.

TrunkSpace: This is an industry with so many question marks, and often, so much is dependent on the decisions of others. Do you feel like you’ve been able to control your own destiny a little bit in bringing “Killer Kate!” to life?
Feld: Entirely! Again, it’s why I decided to become a producer. I am a creative person, without a doubt, but I am also very business minded, owing in large part to the home I grew up in, where both were of equal importance. It’s also key to be wise with whom you surround yourself and also open to different thoughts and ideas. I was able to have a lot of influence on my role as Kate and the film overall, but I also trusted everyone on our internal team and then the key crew we hired.

TrunkSpace: Super general question, we know, but what’s next? After “Killer Kate!” is released and you’re able to come up for air, what project will you be breathing in?
Feld: Well, my current “day job” is as a commercial producer, so I’m always busy behind the scenes, but we do have a horror short film we are prepping for which Elliot will be directing. Beyond that I really hope to be sinking my teeth into another juicy feature part soon! We have a few scripts in development, so I’m excited to see which one we’ll be diving into next. Keep your eyes on IMDb, and follow me @AlexandraFeld on Instagram for more updates!

Killer Kate!” arrives in select theaters and on Digital HD today!

read more
Deep Focus

Sanjay Rawal

SanjayRawalFeatured

In our ongoing column Deep Focus, TrunkSpace is going behind the camera to talk with the directors, writers and producers who infuse our world with that perennial pop culture goodness that we can’t get enough of.

This time out we’re chatting with Sanjay Rawal, Director and Producer of the captivating new documentary, “3100, Run and Become.”

TrunkSpace: Your film “3100: Run and Become” is about what motivates endurance runners. What motivated you to tell their story?
Rawal: I’d always had a sense of what motivated people like myself to do distance running. There are moments in certain runs where we feel a sense of euphoria and lucidity. Science tries to rationalize that as a chemical high. The endorphins might be a by-product of that, but the memories of those moments also make a lasting impression on our lives. At the same time, I understood that there were a few cultures for whom running was more than a lifestyle choice or a way of life. Running is seen as a tool for enlightenment; complete unity with Nature; or profound connection to one’s ancestral past. These are much deeper concepts than why most of us run. These traditional viewpoints to running are religious or deeply spiritual. I wanted to show modern runners what these spiritual running traditions looked like in practice. And hence, we managed to get access to Navajo spirit runners, to Kalahari Bushmen and to the monks who traverse the highlands of Japan. And we wrapped these ancestral traditions in the modern arc of runners trying to harness their deepest spiritual reserves to try to run 3,100 miles in the world’s longest running race – a race in New York City that was, in fact, started by an Indian Spiritual Master, Sri Chinmoy. This race, now in its 22nd year, requires participants to average 60 miles a day within the 52 day window. It is mind-blowing, extreme and beautiful all at the same time.

TrunkSpace: This seems like the kind of film where so much of the story begins to tell itself through the subjects that you’re featuring. You almost won’t know what you have until you have it. What surprised you most throughout the process in terms of the narrative direction that the film took?
Rawal: Your perception is spot-on. We spent a year trying to develop access to the traditional aspect of the film – the Navajo, Bushmen and the Monks of Mt. Hiei, Japan. We had an intuitive feeling that the stories would all go together but we had no concept of how well they would until we were on location. And these were all expensive places to shoot. We basically went for broke. And we filmed most of these well before the 2016 edition of the 3100-miler started.

At the same time, the Self-Transcendence 3100 Mile Race is a race – and the results were totally unpredictable ‘til the end. We couldn’t burden runners with microphones and dozens of cameras so we had to film very judiciously. We were constantly juggling narratives as the race was developing.

The most surprising aspect of the filmmaking process was seeing how well those traditional narrative arcs were syncing with the 3100. And we began to cherry pick aspects of the 3100 that summer that had overlaps with the footage we’d shot. It was a very dynamic and exciting process to say the least!

TrunkSpace: So much of the success of the film also seems to hinge on how engaging your subjects are to the audience. When did you know that Ashprihanal Aalto and Shamita were going to be able to carry the film in a way that would captivate viewers?
Rawal: That’s nice of you to say! We had wanted to make a documentary that felt like a narrative in its visual style and storytelling technique. We knew that with such disparate locations and stories that didn’t overlap, we had to make decisions as to our main characters very early on. I had known Ashprihanal and Shamita for almost 20 years and it was clear to me that we would be able to film scenes to the strengths of the two. And I knew enough of their motivations that we were able to focus on what I felt would be their greatest strengths and weakness during the race as we filmed them months before. In essence, we knew that their conflicts and personal motivations in life would only be heightened by the struggle during the race. We realized we could build arcs through their normal life and their race experience through my own knowledge of their unique personalities.

TrunkSpace: As a documentary filmmaker, is it a balancing act to present the narrative and facts as they unfold, but at the same time, find a way of presenting it all in an engaging way?
Rawal: You’re absolutely correct in highlighting this. In documentary filmmaking we are obviously dealing with real people. And filmmaking concentrates certain aspects of the personalities of our characters in a way that distorts their reality – and remains as a lasting public record. The whole approach is essentially exploitative. Since many of the subjects were friends of mine beforehand and the others became friends, we had to balance facts with the sensitivity of the ramifications that those facts would have on our characters. Our characters were very sharing with us. Perhaps their physical suffering of racing opened them up more than they normally would’ve been. We had to balance what they told us with what we felt they’d be comfortable with us sharing. It was a very delicate process – revealing enough of our characters to engage an audience, but respecting the sacrifice our subjects made in sharing their lives with us.

TrunkSpace: It feels like a film like this would have a lot of visual and technical obstacles to overcome. Is that something you faced and how did you approach those hurdles as they were presented to you?
Rawal: We wanted from the beginning to make a doc that looked like an indie narrative. Our DP, Sean Kirby, is a master at this. The biggest obstacle was the fact that running is incredibly boring to watch. Sean made it a point to ensure that each day he spent on the 3100 mile race course, he’d try to approach the shoots with a different look in mind. At the same time, filming in Japan, Botswana and the Navajo Nation presented unique challenges. Unlike the 3100 where subjects repeat their loops over and over, we had to capture live footage in real time with visual perfection. We wouldn’t get a second chance. In Japan, we rehearsed shots and angles multiple times so that when the monk was on location, we knew what we needed. On the Navajo Nation, we did the same. We rehearsed our drone shots and fixed shots with stand-ins before our main character did a 110 mile tribute run. In Botswana, our cameramen Omar Mullick and Forest Woodward just did what they could to keep up with our characters as we chased large game down by foot over the span of dozens of miles.

TrunkSpace: What was the biggest stumbling block you had to face throughout the process of making the film? Was there ever a moment where you thought that it may not see the light of day?
Rawal: Although I would have liked to believe that I storyboarded the film in its entirety, interweaving these narratives proved much more difficult than I could’ve imagined. Thankfully we had an incredible editor, Alex Meillier, who spent months dissecting the various narrative possibilities of the film and finding ways to make them naturally fit with one another. We studied films together, classic tandem narratives like Robert Altman’s “Nashville,” Haggis’ “Crash” and others. At the same time, with such a mélange of characters in such an unusual film, and without the celebrity that many other sports films have, we have had to work doubly hard to get the film out there. We didn’t make it into any of the classic festivals, all of which films from my team have exhibited in at one point or another. Even after making the film, and feeling very proud of what we had done, there was part of me that thought that we would never be able to get it out there because so many of the gatekeepers in the industry were unsupportive. At the same time, audience members have driven 4, 5, 6, or 10 hours to theaters to see the movie. Audience reactions have been off the charts and very heartening to myself, my producer Tanya Meiller and to Sean and Alex.

TrunkSpace: What are you most proud of with the film?
Rawal: That is very kind question of you to ask. I’m really proud of the reaction our subjects have given the film. While I’m not a Native American and the film isn’t a solely indigenous film, one of our main characters is from the Navajo nation. The reactions that we have gotten in Indian country have been spectacular. We filled theaters in some of the most unlikely locations – and over and over and over. Native Americans seem to see this film as emblematic of the importance they have given to running across millennia. And I’m really proud to feel that we have done their story justice.

TrunkSpace: What did filmmaker Sanjay learn throughout the process of bringing “3100: Run and Become” together, and beyond that, what did human Sanjay discover? What did you learn about yourself or life, which in itself is a bit like an endurance run that we’re all involved in?
Rawal: In this day and age it seems like the divisions between people, particularly in United States, are insurmountable. And I think on a mental or experiential level they are. The fascinating thing to me is that there are a handful of activities that do not depend on race, economic background, or religion. When I run, I’ve never asked anybody their political background. We all have the same tools – our feet, our heart, and our breath. At the same time there are other great uniting forces or activities like food and like music. There is power in these practices they have brought humans so much joy for so many hundreds of thousands of years. On some level, I think we need to find a way to make these types of activities a more regular part of our experiences with one another. Our Navajo character Shaun Martin says that running is a prayer, running is a teacher, and running is a celebration of life. It is one of the most unique activities on earth in the sense. In that aspect, your parallel between running and life is totally appropriate. We have to find ritual and meaning in the small things we do together, we have to realize that life is teaching all of us something unique, and we have to celebrate this journey that we are all on together.

TrunkSpace: Some people love to run. Others hate it. What would you say to the latter group to get them to sit down and watch the film? What will they find in it that goes beyond running itself?
Rawal: Shaun Martin, our Navajo character, taught me something very unique. And it bears repeating. Running is a prayer. When we run our feet pray to Mother Earth and we breath in Father Sky. Running is also a Teacher. It teaches us who we are. When we run we’re also celebrating our own lives and being alive. I think those three things are uniquely human reactions that are worth celebrating.

And, in a sense, our film itself is a celebration of life with Navajo, Bushmen, Monks, Europeans and Americans. Running is just the common thread. But running shows how these totally disparate cultures are united. And, to me, that gives me hope that we’ll recognize on many other levels all the things that can unite us.

TrunkSpace: What’s next for you as a filmmaker? Where is your creative focus these days?
Rawal: I have come across a story that is too good not to tell as a narrative. I think it would be an absolutely stunning documentary but I think it could be a revelatory narrative film. It is the story of a native American female runner that few seem to remember, but in the late ‘70s she was the most dominant runner in the world. She overcame some of the most horrific traumas that anyone could deal with, but the same time she had and still has the heart of a champion. I can’t wait to develop that story into a script and find a way to bring it to the larger world – the story of Patti Dillon.

3100, Run and Become” opens in NY tomorrow and in Los Angeles on November 9. For more information, click here.

read more
Wingman Wednesday

Korrina Rico

KorrinaRicoFeature

This week we’re taking an extended look at the new movie “Glass Jaw,” chatting with the creative minds responsible for bringing the gritty drama to life. Arriving in select theaters and digital HD tomorrow, the film is a story of redemption set in the world of boxing and stars Lee Kholafai, Korrina Rico, Jon Gries, Mark Rolston, Jaime Camil, Malcolm David Kelley, Vernon Wells and Steven Williams.

Next up we’re chatting with Korrina Rico to discuss the difficulties of traversing Hollywood as an actor, why perseverance is everything, and how they finished the film even after running out of money during the second week of production.

TrunkSpace: If we sat down with 10-year-old Korrina and said, “Some day you’re going to be writing, producing and starring in a feature film set in the word of boxing,” what would she say?
Rico: She would tell you that it’s not far-fetched. I was inspired by filmmaking since as early as I can remember. At that age we were struggling so it would have been some tears of joy because of the emotional battles I had been going through. I’ve always been inspired in business from my parents who are both self-made that came from nothing. Being Mexican, the boxing world has always been a part of my life. It was a big deal for us and I remember as a child always going with my parents to boxing viewing parties and they would bet on which round and on a specific boxer. Boxing is such an exhilarating sport and it was easy to identify with because these fighters are fighting for their life, to get out of their current situation, to bring better opportunities and fighting for their countries. It’s important to make your mark in this world and inspire any way that you can. You can make it out of any rut of a situation as long as you have the will to fight for it.

TrunkSpace: There are a lot of messages to be uncovered when sitting down to watch “Glass Jaw,” but one of the easiest ones to identity is a never-give-up mentality. Have you applied that same POV to your own career – a sense of personal perseverance – that has gotten you to where you are today?
Rico: Absolutely. In Hollywood, it’s hard. You have everything against you. Auditioning is the worst. It’s literally like waking up every day to go for a job interview. We deal with rejection on a daily basis and that does some mental torture to your soul. You start questioning your value, many question their morals and do other things to get jobs that was just out of the question for me morally. However, I’ve always kept going. Perseverance is everything. It’s important to balance your life with people that will inspire and lift you up also. Believe in yourself and know nothing of quality is made over night.

TrunkSpace: What is the biggest obstacle you’ve had to overcome to be standing here today talking about a film that you helped give life to?
Rico: Dealing with the politics of the industry. It’s all about who you know and what people run which film festivals, etc. You have to know someone to get in, so don’t waste your money. What “stars” or who is relevant or “that person isn’t relevant anymore” or “this person is worth this much in this country.” It’s all crap. It’s not about the best actor that busted their ass for the job. It is a business. So on the positive side, as an actor, I used to be so insecure that I wouldn’t get certain parts. But as a producer, now I understand why I didn’t get those parts. Also, friends getting upset I didn’t put them in my film – as a producer, I now understand it’s not that easy. Dealing with unions and budgets, it’s a whole ordeal. I felt bad because if I’m going to feed someone, I’m always going to want to feed my team.

TrunkSpace: As someone who was involved in nearly every aspect of the production, did that give you intimate knowledge and a personal closeness to the character Dana that you couldn’t have achieved if you just stepped on the set to play her? Were you already inhabiting her before you ever had to on-camera?
Rico: In many ways, yes. Because we wrote it and were able to develop the characters, I identified with Dana in many ways. We all struggle, we are all human, we are all flawed and we make mistakes. It’s important to learn from them and always stay true to yourself.

TrunkSpace: We asked Lee this as well, but did producer Korrina and actress Korrina ever butt heads in terms of what one knew was possible to accomplish and what one hoped was possible to accomplish? How do you find the middle ground between the creative wants and the day-to-day needs?
Rico: Yes, we butt heads because you battle the business aspect versus the creative aspect. Creatively speaking, I may envision a certain idea or location, etc., and then the producer side would say battle because of budget or time, etc.

TrunkSpace: What are you most proud of with the film?
Rico: I am so proud of what we were able to create. The resources we were able to pull off being so green to production. We were surrounded with such professionals. God was really on our side in guiding us the entire way, placing such talented artists in our hands. The entire crew and cast. The flow of the film was like a family and everyone was so happy to be on set, so the energy was immensely gratifying.

TrunkSpace: We talked about personal obstacles you have faced, but what was the biggest hurdle you had to overcome to see “Glass Jaw” through to the end? Was there ever a moment where you felt it wouldn’t get made?
Rico: Yes! Week 2, we ran out of money. All odds were against us. We went through every single week having to re-raise money until the end. We prayed and worked so hard. It took a toll on us. One second we were acting then as soon as they cut we would be on the phone trying to get more funds to get us onto the next week. No one ever knew because we never wanted the energy on set to be affected. We knew in our hearts we could get it done, and again, not to be preaching, but when a higher power is with you, it’s an undeniable force that has your back. We never thought negative, which got us to the finish line.

TrunkSpace: Do you feel like the film has become a calling card for what you’re capable of both in front of the camera and behind it?
Rico: Absolutely. I’m staring to get emotional just reliving the moments. This film being our first, is our baby. We learned so much that there is no film school to teach you. Making a film is so hard. So, so, so hard. “Glass Jaw” set the tone of the next wave of our films, which will all be great, but with more resources and higher budgets, there’s only greatness that can come from the caliber of what we can achieve.

TrunkSpace: Time machine question! If you could jump ahead a decade and get a glimpse of what your career looks like 10 years from now, would you take that journey?
Rico: I’m on the way! 10 years goes by so fast. So there is a lot to do. We plan to branch into distribution in addition to our film production 117 Eleven Seven Productions. We have a slate of films we are working on and really looking forward to it. We just pray everyone is able to be inspired by “Glass Jaw,” identify with the characters and take from it that no matter your circumstances, you have the power to go against the odds and pave the way for your future.

Glass Jaw” arrives in select theaters and on digital HD this Friday.

read more
Musical Mondaze

Write Home

WriteHomeFeatured

With their five-song EP “Overgrown” set to enter the world tomorrow, Ottawa’s Write Home has crafted a compelling debut meant to spread a message of perseverance that is reflected through the lyrical processing of their own struggles.

We recently sat down with guitarist and vocalist Billy Melsness to discuss the band’s growing fanbase, the Write Home song that means a lot to him, and why they wanted to make it clear that they were more than a one-genre band.

TrunkSpace: You guys are set to release your debut EP “Overgrown” tomorrow. What emotions do you juggle with as you’re preparing to release new music to the masses, especially when for a lot of people, this will be their first introduction to who you are as a band?
Melsness: It’s a little stressful because we definitely experimented with new sounds to create something that we truly love and think is unique, but I think ultimately we’re just feeling very proud and excited of the product we’ve created. Hopefully everyone enjoys it just as much as we enjoyed creating it.

TrunkSpace: For a first-time listener, what do you hope they take from listening to the new EP? What does it say about Write Home and the band’s overall sound, both currently and in terms of what the future holds?
Melsness: I think with this record we want to showcase that we listen to a vast array of music, and we want to blend everything that we enjoy together to make something that’s fresh, unique, and ever-changing. We’re not into just playing one genre and we wanted to make that clear from the debut release.

TrunkSpace: Did you guys accomplish everything you set out to do with “Overgrown” when you decided to head into the studio?
Melsness: I definitely think so. We came out with five tracks that we’re overwhelmingly proud of that summarize exactly what Write Home’s sound is at this stage. I think we’ve created something that is unique and our own, and that was ultimately our biggest goal.

TrunkSpace: What are you most proud of with the EP as a whole?
Melsness: I’m really proud of how far the three of us have come as performers and creators. I think our musicianship and chemistry together has really flourished throughout the creation and recording of this album, and is only going to improve with every release.

TrunkSpace: Where is the band currently when it comes to songwriting? Creatively, have you already moved on from the songs that are on “Overgrown?”
Melsness: We still very much love the songs, but we’ve definitely begun writing and conceptualizing the next project. I wouldn’t say that we’ve moved on from the sound of the “Overgrown” EP necessarily, but we’re very excited to build upon the sound we’ve created and push it to new heights.

TrunkSpace: What does the Write Home writing process look like? How does a new song come together from inception to completion?
Melsness: I typically will compose and record the instrumental in my bedroom. Carter (Peak) and I will then sit down and rework the drums so he can add his touch to them, and then we move into Robin’s (Parsons) room – we all live together – and we’ll brainstorm vocal melody ideas and lyrics together. Typically myself or Carter will already have something in mind for where we want the song to go lyrically. A big part of the finished product comes with the help of our producer Nick Scott as well. He’s a great songwriter and always adds super cool electronic embellishments to the songs that really bring them to life.

TrunkSpace: We love great music, but we also love great lines – lyrical snippets that stick with you beyond the macro of a song or album. What is your favorite line from “Overgrown” and why?
Melsness: I think my personal favorite is a repeated line from the songs “Sow” and “Reap.”

“I’ll leave this pain I sought, recollect my thoughts and start anew. Waiting for the break of dawn, holding on ‘til sunrise, I will bloom.”

That line (as well as all of “Reap”) mean a lot to me personally. I wrote the lyrics to that song when I was going through a period of some of the worst anxiety and depression I’ve ever had to deal with. “Reap” is a hopeful song about pushing through those feelings and putting everything you’re feeling into a creative outlet. The lyric repeated at the beginning of the album as well as the end to reiterate one of the main themes of the record: perseverance. Reminding the listener that whatever they’re going through, they can make it out. Find something that sets your heart on fire and pushes you to live another day. That’s what music is to the three of us.

TrunkSpace: Is there something creatively inspiring about working within a band atmosphere? Does creativity inspire creativity and put you all in a position to be better in the room?
Melsness: Absolutely, being able to collaborate always allows you to see things from new perspectives. Once we get going we’ll often work on a song for hours and just finish the whole thing that day. We definitely aren’t short of ideas. (Laughter)

TrunkSpace: What’s been the highlight of your “Overgrown” journey thus far?
Melsness: I think the ongoing highlight is seeing how interactive and interested the fans are with us on our social medias. We’ve never really had this kind of a fanbase that was this dedicated with previous bands. They treat us like literal pop stars and we adore them.

TrunkSpace: Finally, we’re on the back nine of 2018 now, but what’s on tap for the rest of year and what should fans be on the lookout for heading into 2019?
Melsness: Number one priority right now is to get on the road and start playing as many shows in as many places as we can. We miss being on tour more than anything, so we’re going to make sure that’s what we’re really focusing on going into the new year.

Overgrown” is available Friday October 26.

read more
Chef Life

Chef Briggitte Dix

BriggitteDix_Pic_FeaturedImage

Chef Briggitte Dix
www.veganguidetothegalaxy.com
Instagram/Facebook

TrunkSpace: When and why did you start cooking and what people have been the biggest influence in your life with regards to your culinary journey?
Chef Dix: Growing up we only had a few channels on our television and one of them was PBS, which regularly played cooking shows like Julia Child’s. Watching them cook was always like magic to me – I loved how you could combine ingredients together and make something delicious. From a young age I was cooking for my family and myself and experimenting with different flavors and recipes. Even though my dad didn’t really cook, one of our favorite activities was going to different restaurants. He was always up for trying anything so I was exposed to great cuisine from around the world at a very young age.

TrunkSpace: What style of cuisine do you enjoy creating the most and why? And what would you consider your signature dish?

Chef Dix: Right now I’m trying to perfect classic comfort food dishes that most people in the United States grew up eating. I like to keep my recipes simple by keeping them under 30 minutes and using only a few easy-to-find ingredients. My signature dish right now is probably my creamy garlic pasta. People write me all the time to tell me how much they love that recipe and it still blows me away every time!

TrunkSpace: It’s been said that food is the gateway into a culture, that it identifies a history, family and a region. What do you feel your food says about your culture and history?
Chef Dix: I was raised in a small California town surrounded by orchards and strawberry fields so I would definitely say that my love for fresh ingredients is tied into the way I cook. My grandfather on my mother’s side was a fruit farmer and my mother was raised farming, so our family has a lot of history there. My father grew up in Los Angeles, regularly eating cuisine from around the world, so I think I’ve mashed all of our shared experiences together to create recipes that represent a modern take on fresh, global cuisine.

TrunkSpace: Looking through your colorful and delicious social media posts, we found ourselves getting very hungry. (And we had just eaten lunch!) Then we noticed that your vibrant food was also vegan. While we’re not exclusively vegan, we do strive to find more and more plant-based meals in the TrunkSpace office. Do you have any tips for those folks looking to introduce some vegan options into their diet?
Chef Dix: There are so many amazing vegan options available today, that weren’t there even just a few years ago. A great way to start introducing more vegan food into your diet is to start by just switching out dairy milk for your favorite vegan version like cashew or oat milk, or ordering the vegan dish at a restaurant. I find that people are often pleasantly surprised at how tasty vegan options can be. Don’t be afraid to experiment and try a few different options before you find what you like. Sometimes people are quick to dismiss vegan food because they’ve had one bad experience, so my biggest advice is to stay open-minded and don’t be afraid to try more than one brand or dish.

TrunkSpace: Some folks hear “vegan” and think it’s all flax seed and nutritional yeast. While those have their place, what would you tell the skeptic, non-vegan believers out there to help them understand what eating plant-based really means? And how to get flavor and variety into your cuisine?
Chef Dix: The great thing about veganism is how versatile our cuisine is. As a vegan you can have everything from raw food to cooked food and junk food. Cooking vegan really is just as diverse as non-vegan cooking in that way. I try not to put myself into a box when it comes to my veganism. I always say as long as it’s vegan I’ll try it! Vegan cooking just like non-vegan cooking gets so much flavor from fresh herbs and spices. I really think vegan chefs are masters of spice. I’ve never met a vegan that didn’t have an overflowing spice cabinet!

TrunkSpace: It can be particularly difficult to find vegan options when traveling if you don’t know where to look. You have a vegan-friendly travel section on your website, and we thought it was brilliant. Can you share some of your traveling tips for those looking to get a decent vegan experience while abroad?
Chef Dix: I’ve found that traveling while vegan is much easier than most people assume. Eating vegan abroad often takes you off the beaten path, where you get the opportunity to dine with locals and get a real sense of the areas culture. I’ve had amazing meals that were handmade for me in shacks by the beach in Mexico and gone into the rainforest to eat fresh coconut ice cream in Hawaii. My biggest resource for finding vegan and vegan-friendly dining abroad is definitely the Happy Cow app and a strong sense of adventure.

TrunkSpace: We’re whacky about Halloween here at TrunkSpace, and we noticed a post on Instagram you shared about vegan candy options for trick or treaters. Can you tell us a bit about how to shop for vegan sweet tooths?
Chef Dix: I’m crazy about sweets also and there’s so many different types of candy that are accidentally vegan. Vegan.com has a great list of accidentally vegan-friendly candies that you can find at just about any store. You mostly want to look for candy without milk and gelatin in the ingredients. Some of my favorite vegan sweets are Twizzlers, Sour Patch Kids and Jolly Ranchers.

TrunkSpace: With the advancement of technology, a lot has changed in the food industry. Growing up, we don’t remember ever seeing vegan cheeses, hot dogs or even the variety of produce that is available in grocery stores now. How do you think this has changed over time and what do you think is next in the future of plant-based diets?
Chef Dix: Things have definitely changed a lot since I first became vegan over 10 years ago. Back then, vegan cheese was just horrible and never melted. Today, there are companies like Miyoko’s that make artisanal vegan cheeses that truly taste just as amazing as their dairy counterparts. The future is definitely headed towards much more realistic vegan substitutes. There are a lot of ground-breaking products that are just now coming to the marketplace and changing how we view vegan food. Things like vegan eggs made from bean protein and vegan sashimi made from algae are already here and eventually I don’t think you’ll be able to tell the difference between plant-based dairy and meat and their non-plant based counter parts.

TrunkSpace: What do you find the biggest reward is for maintaining a vegan lifestyle?
Chef Dix: The biggest reward is definitely knowing that I am contributing the least I can towards harming animals and our environment. Food is a powerful thing and I definitely feel like every time I eat I am making a conscious choice about my ethics. For me, going vegan has really changed my outlook on life. I can honestly say it’s one of the best decisions I ever made.

TrunkSpace: What do you feel like the biggest challenge is in eating a balanced vegan diet?
Chef Dix: I’m always excited to try all of the amazing new vegan products that seem to be constantly coming out, so for me, it’s about balancing wanting to try new things with trying to eat a well-rounded diet with fresh fruits and vegetables. Since I cook a lot it’s not hard for me to make healthy choices but when I eat out I do tend to indulge a lot more. For me, a good lifestyle is having occasional indulgences like a super decadent dessert, but balancing it out with the things that keep me feeling good throughout the day.

TrunkSpace: For those home cooks out there or perhaps the aspiring chefs, if you could give them one tip, what would it be?
Chef Dix: My biggest piece of advice would be to not be afraid of experimenting with food. Try new flavors and spices that you’ve never had before. You might find that you really enjoy stepping outside of your box.

TrunkSpace: If the Monopoly guy showed up with a blank check one day and asked you to create your own vegan restaurant, what would that look like?
Chef Dix: It would probably be a thatched hut on the beach with a few hammocks, swings for chairs and palm trees swaying in the wind. Of course, this would be a vegan beach hut, where we would use regional fruits and vegetables, make our own hot sauces from scratch and donate a portion of our profits to local animal charities. Oh, and we would play tacky beach music all day long for ambiance! (Laughter)

read more
Wingman Wednesday

Malcolm David Kelley

MalcolmDavidKelleyFeatured2

This week we’re taking an extended look at the new movie “Glass Jaw,” chatting with the creative minds responsible for bringing the gritty drama to life. Arriving in select theaters and digital HD on Friday, the film is a story of redemption set in the world of boxing and stars Lee Kholafai, Korrina Rico, Jon Gries, Mark Rolston, Jaime Camil, Malcolm David Kelley, Vernon Wells and Steven Williams.

Next up we’re chatting with Malcolm David Kelley to discuss his love for boxing, getting to work alongside a childhood idol, and why his music and acting fall under the same creative umbrella.

TrunkSpace: “Glass Jaw” is not the first independent project you’ve worked on. As an actor, is there a bit of a leap of faith involved with signing on to work on an indie, not knowing when (or even if) a particular film will see the light of day?
Malcolm David Kelley: Yes, there is always a gamble, so to say, but I think it’s also needed for filmmakers coming to get their vision across with a great story, work the festivals and find a partner. It works both ways – investors or studios want a project done and the up-and-coming want to get their project out. Then comes it being taken to theaters and it’s a dope process to learn and continue to execute.

TrunkSpace: What was it about “Glass Jaw” and the team behind it that gave you the confidence to jump into the work and take on the character Dennis?
Malcolm David Kelley: My dad and I love boxing and boxing movies. I also appreciated the character Dennis because he wanted to help, genuinely, and that’s like me, so I liked that characteristic and knew I could do that. I then found out one of my fav rappers growing up, Lil Boosie, was attached, so I was also excited. A dope experience.

TrunkSpace: You already touched on this a bit, but what was it about Dennis and his layers that interested you? What were you most excited to inhabit when it came to his personality?
Malcolm David Kelley: As I stated previously, I appreciated how sincere and how generous he was. Helping to see how people in his life have been, no matter if they haven’t been there the whole time, is one of the main things I liked about him because that’s a lot like me.

TrunkSpace: What are you most proud of with the work you did in “Glass Jaw?”
Malcolm David Kelley: Being that presence and working on the project – it being an indie and that people get to enjoy it in theaters. I love boxing movies – the stunt set ups – this was fun.

TrunkSpace: People love sports films, especially those that inspire us and give us that “we can accomplish anything” high. In your opinion, how does “Glass Jaw” stack up against some of the greats from the genre?
Malcolm David Kelley: I think knowing, on an indie, they achieved a lot with telling a story about not giving up. I think that’s a universal message that will connect with anyone who sees the film, so I think that’s the most important thing.

TrunkSpace: Outside of acting, you’re also a part of the pop duo MKTO. Do you view your work in music as a separate career or do they both fall under one larger creative umbrella?
Malcolm David Kelley: Appreciate you mention the music. That’s why I love how I kind of had music under wraps until I can back into the acting and then I get to promote both. It’s what I have always wanted. In my world, they all fall together under the entertainment umbrella. Both are run different, but they both open doors to do other things. Movies have music to set the mood and music uses videos to tell a story, so they go hand in hand to me. Music is a lot faster consumption to the consumer, where with a film it will take a year to come out, but both can move people emotionally, which I love.

TrunkSpace: Both the business side of music as well as film/TV continues to evolve, especially on the consumption side. Which world is more difficult to navigate in 2018?
Malcolm David Kelley: I would say film/TV would be a little more difficult to navigate, but, you have social media platforms to build up notoriety. For an artist coming up, they just need to use YouTube and Instagram to build up their following and someone will see them if they grind long enough and tour on their own and have the ups when dealing with a label. With an aspiring actor using the Insta Stories, that’s a dope way to build up your following. Studios are looking at numbers on IG, which has a say in the booking of a role. They have to be ready for the opportunity and work two times harder than the next actor, but opportunity is for everybody and everybody has their own path. They just have to stay focused.

TrunkSpace: You’ve had some incredible costars over the course of your career. Who have you learned the most from, even just by osmosis, that you still apply to your work today?
Malcolm David Kelley: I learn from every situation I have been a part of, from “Lost,” to just absorbing all the knowledge from all my castmates who were older than me, to working with Denzel (Washington). Preparation is key. Filming “Detroit,” I learned about about where acting is today and all of my castmates in that film were amazing. I learn from performing on stage as well.

TrunkSpace: What’s been the biggest highlight of your career thus far – that “pinch me” moment that makes all of the hard work over the years worth it?
Malcolm David Kelley: Man, it’s hard to name one. I also have a lot more on my bucket list I want to accomplish and there are things I wish I had done, so I have to get theses thing on my bucket list accomplished. I’m so mad I didn’t get a chance to meet or work with Michael Jackson or Tupac. Loved working with Denzel, even though I was so young. Forever proud of “Lost” and “You Got Served.” to the music with gold and platinum plaques. A lot more I will do, like directing, writing films and solo music, to give to the world in this lifetime.

Appreciate the time. Go see “Glass Jaw” and follow my socials: IG and Twitter @therealmalcolm.

Glass Jaw” arrives in select theaters and on digital HD this Friday.

read more
Trunk Gaming

The Top 13 Games to Play During October

Halloween2018_TrunkGaming

Much like the creepy wooden doll on the big wheel in the corner that is staring deep into your soul, we would like to play a game… actually, we want to play 13 games, and they have to be the very BEST games to play during the month of October, with no limit to the year the game came out, the console on which the game originated or the active availability of said games. We’ve locked our Trunk Gaming staff in a closet with nothing but a bag of candy corn and an extensive list of video games to comb through in order to find you the most horrifying of all the polygons, bit graphics and full motion video. One game which deserves an honourable mention first though is League of Legends. Did you know that there is a unique way to gain access to the public beta environment? If you would like access to a League server where you can play with upcoming features and content that are not yet finished, you can buy a PBE account from somewhere like Unranked Smurfs. There are other benefits of purchasing an account too, so if you are contemplating trying one out, make sure to do some research first. That being said, you can also check out cloud gaming. You can read reviews by Coolest Gadgets and see if this new gaming subscription is the right thing for you. One of the best services offers most of the modern games for a monthly subscription of only $10. So, here are the best October games we came up with!

13. Loaded

Though this game is technically an over the head shooter, you can’t help but recognize this game set the groundwork for the beautiful mood lighting that console games boast today, and we’re not talking Red Lobster, prom date lighting. This was one of the first games to show actual gradients and creepy flash light lighting that will have you reaching for the contrast button while playing late at night. Some could even argue the Loaded series was the forerunner for some of the trigger-happy horror games like Devil May Cry.

12. Altered Beast

Perhaps one of the earliest games, if not the earliest, to tackle life as a werewolf or an “Altered Beast.” Somewhere between a side-scrolling fight-fest and a horror flick, this game was one of the pioneers that made transforming into a monster as routine as getting fireballs from a mushroom in Mario Bros.

11. Luigi’s Mansion

Speaking of the famous plumbing Mario Brothers, Luigi stepped out of his brother’s gaming shadow and into…well, a lot more shadows in a haunted mansion! Traversing this side scroller and busting ghosts with your vacuum and flashlight was the best Ghostbuster experience to hit the gaming realm up to this point. The popularity of this now retro game has even launched a current ping-pong ball based arcade game that can be found in arcades around the globe.

10. Splatter House

Splatter House was one of the earliest games to attempt the horror genre and do it with great success. Though the first game was not featured on a mainstream console, it still garnered a fan base that launched the Splatter House franchise and made Sega Genesis the console to get if you wanted to play Galaga with the undead creatures of the night.

9. Doom II

To talk about the horror genre without discussing Doom II would be like talking mob movies and leaving out The Godfather. Simply put, Doom II was the best first-person shooter to grace PCs and terrify parents and teachers alike. Some of our Trunk Gaming staff may even remember having a friend that put Doom II on their school’s server so students could meet for “study hour” in the computer lab and blast some demons. This was also a major turning point in the discussion of age appropriate ratings for video games.

8. The Evil Within 2

Unlike movies, sequels in the horror gaming industry just get better and better with each new installment. The Evil Within 2 is no exception. This gaming experience truly plunges you into a surreal world that is as terrifying as it is gorgeous. This survival horror story is the ultimate John McClane experience and will no doubt be the fuel of our nightmares for months to come.

7. The Last of Us (remastered)

We chose the remastered version of The Last of Us because if the devil is in the details, then this game is carrying a pitchfork and twirling its mustache while sitting on a flaming throne. This installment was among the first to put you in a cinematic gaming experience. For the first time, you have some control during full motion portions of the game, which was unheard of at this time, and helps you feel like you’re experiencing this fungus zombie world in real time.

6. Jaws

Yup, the one for the NES! Anyone else remember this? There weren’t many things to be scared of on the old NES system, but the Jaws game boasted that recognizable John Williams soundtrack and put you pixel-to-pixel with the great white beast. This was also one of the first games to switch between side scrolling to first person interaction.

5. Friday the 13th

The latest installment for the PS4, Xbox One and PC is as close as you will get (or should want to get) to being in an actual Friday the 13th movie. The game serves up the option to play as a camper or the poor, misunderstood serial killer, Jason Voorhees. Though there are some gameplay issues that people get hung up on, you have to tip your hockey mask to the overall gaming experience.

4. Silent Hill

Just the idea of those sirens sounding and the ghastly otherworldly realm taking over your screen is as anxiety inducing an experience as any ever created by a video game. The haunting score and use of lighting were among the first to perfectly replicate the horror experience of suspense in a video game setting.

3. Super Ghouls ‘n Ghosts

This was that wonderful era when Nintendo took all their NES titles and plussed them up with “Super” in front of every title, but… in this instance we have to agree with them. Super Ghouls ‘n Ghosts began exploring the idea of gaming on different levels of depth much like an animation cell. You could have things happening on multiple fields of game play at the same time. This was groundbreaking stuff and helped fill your screen with numerous ways to lose your armor or be cursed into a wee little baby adventurer.

2. Super Castlevania IV

Another plussed up offering from Nintendo, Super Castlevania began delving into the realm of 3D with levels like the swirling casket room – you know the one that you have to have a Dramamine before playing now? Also impressive for its time was the masterful soundtrack. We realized upon playing the SNES Classic console that was recently released, just hearing the first few notes of the soundtrack, you immediately recalled which level and experience you were about to have.

1. Resident Evil

The crème de la crème of the horror gaming genre. Resident Evil easily takes the heavyweight title in our book. It’s the first video game we remember playing and having an actual horror movie response of jumping in surprise when the undead dog jumps through the window to chase you down the hallway. Never mind that this gaming franchise also spawned a successful butt-kicking movie franchise featuring Milla Jovovich, the Resident Evil games continue to stand on their own and terrify fans in fresh and horrifying ways. Look for Resident Evil 2 remastered coming up in early 2019!

read more
Wingman Wednesday

Mark Rolston

MarkRolstonFeatured

This week we’re taking an extended look at the new movie “Glass Jaw,” chatting with the creative minds responsible for bringing the gritty drama to life. Arriving in select theaters and digital HD on Friday, the film is a story of redemption set in the world of boxing and stars Lee Kholafai, Korrina Rico, Jon Gries, Mark Rolston, Jaime Camil, Malcolm David Kelley, Vernon Wells and Steven Williams.

First up we’re chatting with Mark Rolston to discuss working in independent film, “Rocky” overtones, and what role he’d literally eat a shoe to return to.

TrunkSpace: “Glass Jaw” is not the first independent project you’ve worked on. As an actor, is there a bit of a leap of faith involved with signing on to work on an indie, not knowing when (or even if) a particular film will see the light of day?
Rolston: Well, in addition to “faith,” there is a lot of serendipity. I had been preparing for another film when the call came, so in addition to reading it first, I have to gauge what the character will require and ascertain whether I can pull it off. Of course, you never know what film will actually make it, but “Glass Jaw” had an atmosphere on set, and with Lee Kholafai and Korrina Rico being willing to fight for it; look where we are. Theatrical release is the icing.

TrunkSpace: What was it about “Glass Jaw” and the team behind it that gave you the confidence to jump into the work and take on the character Frank?
Rolston: Frank spoke to me the first time I read the script. I knew I could create a character. I didn’t hardly know anyone on the crew, but when I saw real professionals on set like Scott Eddo (Makeup and Hair) and Charlie Picerni (Stunt Coordinator), I knew the production was real.

TrunkSpace: When you first read the script for “Glass Jaw,” what was the initial draw for you in terms of wanting to be a part of the project? Was it the overall narrative? Was it the character? A combination of both?
Rolston: The script had a lot going for it. The dramatic tension was palpable. Of course, the narrative has “Rocky” overtones. But the story was unique with enough drama to sell it, to me anyway.

TrunkSpace: When it comes to independent films, is there more freedom for character discovery and trying out different ways of delivering lines or emotion within a scene, or does a limited budget mean a limited schedule and a breakneck pace that doesn’t allow for real time experimentation?
Rolston: Independents by nature allow for a lot of creativity, because you have to create on the spot and respect that you don’t have all day to shoot three pages; YOU HAVE TO SHOOT EIGHT TO TEN! The indie atmosphere is one where you have to just bring and throw down. Like a boxing match.

TrunkSpace: What are you most proud of with the work you did in “Glass Jaw?”
Rolston: I am most proud of my character. I found the perspective of the character. I found the space to just let Frank talk.

TrunkSpace: For the audience, the finished work – the end product – is usually the most memorable aspect of a film. For actors, we assume it is the experience of making it. What is a memorable moment during the production of “Glass Jaw” that will stick with you?
Rolston: It was the set up of the pivotal scene between Frank and Travis. Our DP – legend Jeffrey L. Kimball – created a magnificent tracking shot that lands on a very intimate scene between the two men; and Lee/Austin and myself/Frank just talked like real people. Did I say it was Friday night and we were shooting until midnight after a full day? Glamorous, huh?

TrunkSpace: You’ve been acting professionally for decades. Do you still love it as much today as you did when you first stepped onto a set to start your career?
Rolston: Absolutely! I want to follow in the footsteps of the great French Dramatist and Actor, Moliere, and die on stage or on a set for that matter. (Laughter)

Rolston in “Saw VI.”

TrunkSpace: What has been the biggest surprise of your career, the thing that younger Mark who was starting out his career would be extra psyched to hear about in advance?
Rolston: Without question; being called at my home, to be told by writer/director Frank Darabont that I had landed the role of Bogs Diamond in “The Shawshank Redemption.” I thought I had lost it. Frank was my angel, and fought for me to get the role. Indebted Forever, Frank!

TrunkSpace: You’ve given life to so many great characters over the course of your career. Are there any that you wish you had more time to spend with and explore even further?
Rolston: All of them really. Shooting a film is fleeting. You shoot and it’s over. So the rehearsal and preparation – “the work” – has to be done beforehand.

TrunkSpace: We’re suckers for “Supernatural” here. When you first signed on to play the demon Alastair – a character who plays an integral part of the overall series lore – could you have ever imagined that the show would still be chugging along a decade later and that you’d be asked about it?
Rolston: That was one of the most enjoyable characters I ever created. I will never understand why I was replaced. I would literally eat a shoe to play Alistair, “Demon of All Demons,” once more. May the show chug on forever and I will get the chance!

Glass Jaw” arrives in select theaters and on digital HD this Friday.

You can also hear Rolston as Norman Osborn in the new Spider-Man game for the PS4!

read more
Deep Focus

Michael Doneger

MichaelDonegerFeatured

With Game 1 of the World Series set to kick off later tonight, we thought it was a great time to take a look at the new baseball movie “Brampton’s Own,” which is available now on Digital HD. Next up to the plate, we’re talking with writer, director and producer Michael Doneger, who originally wrote the part of Dustin, a minor league baseball player who returns to his hometown after leaving years before to chase his dreams, for himself. The film, which explores those things we sacrifice for our personal goals, stars Alex Russell, Rose McIver, Spencer Grammer, Scott Porter, Jean Smart and Riley Voelkel.

We recently sat down with Doneger to discuss combining grand ambitions with limited resources, the reason he never thinks a project isn’t possible, and why the theme of the film is eerily similar to his own journey.

TrunkSpace: You wore multiple hats in bringing “Brampton’s Own” to life. When it comes to blood, sweat and tears, just how much did you put in order to make the film – your vision – a reality? Where did Your Dreams Road and Compromise Street intersect?
Doneger: In my experiences, compromising is inherently built into the filmmaking process. However I don’t look at compromising as necessarily abandoning your vision, but instead having to find a backup solution to ultimately getting where you want to go. For instance, our story required many locations and a lot of wardrobe changes. Typically film budgets similar to what we were working with try to minimize the number of locations and wardrobe changes, but to me, that would’ve limited the scope of the world I was trying to build. I didn’t want it to feel like an indie film. I just wanted it to feel like a film. So the compromise there was that we were going to have less time and fewer days to film, which meant actors would get fewer takes than what they’re used to, and our production departments would have to work at an accelerated speed to keep up. But we knew going into it that we were combining grand ambitions with limited resources, so we planned for that far in advance, and hired a cast and crew that was game for the type of pace we were asking for. Having said all that, it’s rare for everything to go without a hiccup and the final product turn out exactly how you envisioned. We experienced quite a few hiccups, but overall the film mirrored the vision I had for it as much as I could’ve reasonably expected. That’s not to say there aren’t scenes or moments I’d like to take a second crack at, or more time I’d like to get in the editing bay to nip and tuck a couple of things. But to expect it to ever be perfect is unrealistic. “Art is never finished, only abandoned,” said the wise Leonardo da Vinci.

TrunkSpace: Because of the various responsibilities you had throughout the course of the film, did Producer Michael and Director Michael, or Director Michael and Writer Michael, ever butt heads? Did you have to find a balance between what you creatively wanted to put on film and what budget and time would allow?
Doneger: I’ve never been hired to write and direct a movie that I wasn’t producing, so quite frankly I don’t know any other way. I’m sure there are benefits to having fewer responsibilities and not being tasked with overseeing creative and business decisions, but there are also benefits of the buck stopping with you and not being able to point a finger at someone else. My producing partner Mark DiCristofaro does an excellent job of running production and making sure I have everything I would reasonably need to make our day. And again, a lot of that starts in the pre-production phase. I shot listed the film months in advance, so Mark and I were on the same page early on in terms of gathering the necessary film gear and lighting equipment for each scene. For example, my original shot list asked for seven days of a Steadicam operator, but Mark told me early on that we could only afford three days, so given that information, I adjusted and made shot list concessions where I could.

TrunkSpace: It’s always a long road to travel in order to get an independent film to that first day of shooting. At what point in the process did you know that it was going to become a reality and was it smooth sailing after that point?
Doneger: Smooth sailing? That’s a thing? Huh… I’ll have to look into that. (Laughter) In terms of coming to the realization that the film is going to become a reality: I never for one second think it’s not going to happen. Even in the writing stages, I’m never thinking about “if” it happens, but rather “when”. And I believe that as a filmmaker – you need a certain amount of naiveté to thrust yourself into this crazy business in the first place. The industry is volatile on every level, whether you’re on the creative side or business side. So if you’re too practical and calculate the odds, the numbers will tell you that you’re crazy to take the risk of going out and making a movie. So my mindset from the beginning of every project I work on is when we’re going to make this movie not if. But of course you can’t make a movie just because you want to do it. There are lots of factors that rest outside your control. But your mindset is the one thing you can control. And it all starts there.

TrunkSpace: Sacrificing a more traditional life path in order to chase a dream. For your protagonist Dustin, that’s baseball. Did you feel a kinship with the character when writing? Could you relate to those sacrifices based on your own pursuit with film?
Doneger: Absolutely. I conceived the project based on my own journey of navigating the ups and downs of trying to make it as a filmmaker. Dustin’s not a direct replica of me. I don’t have estranged relationships with my childhood friends or ex-girlfriends or family members. But for Dustin, I wanted to give him as many obstacles as I could when he returned home. And those obstacles were these relationships in which he did a terrible job of maintaining while he was off chasing his dream. The plot points of the movie aren’t similar to my life, but the themes revolving around the price one pays to chase a dream are eerily similar.

TrunkSpace: You originally wrote the script with the intention of playing Dustin. What made you step back later in the process and cast Alex Russell in the role?
Doneger: Oh, wow. You’ve done your research. You’re right, I had originally intended to play Dustin, but by the time we got closer to putting the production elements together, I cared less about owning the character of Dustin from an actor’s point of view and cared more about owning the film as its director. Acting and directing are two diverging skill sets. As an actor, your job is to solely focus on your character, your intentions, your choices. As a director, your job is to know every little detail that goes into painting the entire picture. That means being in non-stop communication with every department head. So naturally, that would distract an actor from solely focusing on his or her performance. Ultimately I feared that if I did both on such a limited 15-day shooting schedule, that my performance wouldn’t have been as good as it should’ve been, nor would the film have fulfilled the vision I had for it. And I’m so glad I made that decision because Alex is tremendous in the film as Dustin and an extraordinary person. He’s so detail oriented and every choice he made came from a place of reason, which made it very easy for us to communicate and collaborate.

TrunkSpace: When hiring someone to play a character that was originally intended to be inhabited by you, do you then look for elements of yourself in your actor, in this case Alex? (We realize this question is very meta, but it’s fascinating… the idea that you’re looking for something in a performer that you originally saw in yourself.)
Doneger: I never looked for Alex to tackle a scene or make a choice comparatively to how I would’ve played it. Each actor has their own strengths and weaknesses and it’s my job to help extract and support those for whatever the scene calls for. I believe that most of directing an actor is done in casting. You know right away upon meeting an actor whether they’re right or not to play a role – at least in my experiences. And within five minutes of meeting Alex I knew he was going to be perfect for Dustin. Then the more familiar we got with each other the more we trusted one another. The director/actor relationship is all about trust.

TrunkSpace: What are you most proud of when it comes to “Brampton’s Own?”
Doneger: I’m proud that from start to finish, it’s a production that by all accounts, our cast and crew had an overwhelmingly positive experience on. Mark DiCristofaro and I value how enjoyable it is to work alongside an actor and crew member, just as much as we value their talent. That working environment matters. Chemistry behind the scenes is just as important as chemistry on the screen.

TrunkSpace: Did you have to change plans at all mid-production because of time and budget headaches, only to then take a different creative approach and end up with a gem that you never intended to have in the film?
Doneger: You always have to be on your toes and know to expect unforeseen obstacles. I don’t think it’s an exaggeration to say that every scene calls for a pivot and change of approach in one way or another. You never get exactly what you want. But to answer your question, nothing big or extraordinary stands out.

TrunkSpace: You once wrote and produced a project that featured Bruce Campbell. Couldn’t you have just retired then and been a happy man? There are 100,000 future filmmakers sitting at home right now watching “Evil Dead 2” as we speak!
Doneger: What a great experience that was working with Bruce. We were so lucky to get him. We’re at the same agency and I have to thank his agent Barry McPherson for really making that happen and putting the project in front of Bruce. I hope to one day find another opportunity to work with him.

TrunkSpace: What we love about a movie like “Brampton’s Own” is that it is original. It isn’t “Based On The…” or a “Sequel To…” or a “Remake Of…” It’s just a great original story, which seems to becoming more and more of a rarity in the world of film. How important is independent filmmaking these days to giving audiences more than super heroes and super franchises?
Doneger: The bright side is that there are various outlets, platforms and mediums for different types of stories these days. Sure, the theatrical experience is mostly inundated with superheroes, sequels and pre-existing IP, but the streaming services, cable and networks are home to a lot of great character-driven storytelling. I’ll admit, I really do miss the mid-budget range studio drama that now rarely gets made. The studio comedy is also slowly becoming extinct. But a lot of those stories are being told, just not as a movie, but either a streaming or miniseries. However sometimes I don’t want to watch a 10-episode season of a show to get my character-driven dramatic or comedic fix. Sometimes I want to see those stories told from beginning to end within two hours. And that’s what independent film has to offer.

TrunkSpace: If someone came to you tomorrow and said, “Michael, here is a blank check. Go out and develop any project that you want for yourself.” What would you greenlight and why?
Doneger: Wow, what a question. I don’t have a dream project that comes to mind. I’m so focused on my next step, the next script, the next film, that I haven’t really taken a bird’s eye view look at my career and the specific projects I want to tackle past the ones I’m currently working on. But my goal is to continue to build projects that are bigger in budget and scope than the previous ones while still making the stories feel intimate by nature of putting character development at the forefront of any story I tell. But I guess if someone would like to give me a blank check to make a movie around the theme of love disguised as a 200 million dollar outer space spectacle, then I’m not gonna fight ya… oh, wait. Christopher Nolan already did that.

Brampton’s Own” is available now on Digital HD, including iTunes.

read more