close

October 2019

Trunk Bubbles

Alfred Rodríguez

AlfredRodriguezFeatured2

Name: Alfred Rodríguez

Website: HERE

Favorite Comic Book Character Growing Up: Spider-Man and Batman.

Favorite Comic Book Character Now: Death of The Endless and Emp, from Adam Warren’s Empowered.

TrunkSpace: How would you describe your writing style? What kind of writer do you hope to be?
Rodríguez: Well, the first question is a though one. I would say that I truly care for the dialogue as much as for the action shown in each panel. And I like to break the story down in rough thumbnails, in order to get a sense of the rhythm and space available to the artist.

As for the second one, that’s easy: I hope I could be a writer capable of conveying emotions in the reader. If they put down the book – or the device of their choosing for that matter – and keep thinking on the characters and the story they’ve just read… well, I think I could say it was a job well done!

TrunkSpace: How important were comic books in your life growing up and is that where you discovered your love and inspiration for writing?
Rodríguez: Comic books were always around since I was a little kid. My parents used to buy them for me to keep me busy while we were in the waiting room of a hospital, for example. In those prehistoric times, internet wasn’t around to offer hours of entertainment at your fingertips, therefore, reading comic books was the best way to make your imagination fly to strange and fantastic worlds.

As many kids, I also wanted to make comics, and I used to think that a single person did all the work I read in those pages. I wasn’t really aware of what the job of a writer was in terms of comics until I was maybe 12 or 13 years old, and I started noticing familiar names in the credits pages. Names like J.M. DeMatteis, Dennis O’neil, David Michelinie, among many others.

Then, I read my first Sandman collection by Neil Gaiman, and that’s where I truly understood what a comic book writer could do.

TrunkSpace: Was there a particular artist or title from your childhood that you remember being drawn to and inspired by?
Rodríguez:Yes! I fell in love with all Spider-Man titles of the early 90’s. I loved that sense of a shared universe with other Marvel characters, and I felt the same way when I discovered Batman and the DC universe as a whole.

TrunkSpace: Is there a specific title or character that you’d like to work on in the future and why?
Rodríguez: The X-Men. I think Stan Lee described them perfectly: The Strangest Super Heroes of All. That’s what they are to me. Yes, they do some super hero stuff, but they are much more than that. They are family, and their adventures are a soap-opera as much as a super hero story.

TrunkSpace: What would you say is your greatest strength as a writer?
Rodríguez: I think I’m fairly capable of understanding the characters and finding behavioral patterns. That helps me to keep the characters consistent with their actions and their dialogue; and I think that is something the reader appreciates, perhaps even in a subconscious way.

TrunkSpace: You are stepping in as guest writer on the Neymar Jr. Comics series Social Monsters with the Day of the Dead Special, set to debut October 31. Did you feel pressure working on a title that has such a big, universally known talent involved in Neymar Jr.?
Rodríguez: Well, yes…and no.

“Yes”, because when I started typing Saber’s dialogue I went like, “Wait a minute! This guy is a Neymar Jr’s proxy! A proxy for the football star my dad watches on TV every week! I have to make him sound cool!” And that’s real pressure there, you know?

And “No”, because I knew I had the guidance and mentoring of seasoned comic book pros- like Head Writer and Editor in Chief Jason M. Burns – who are always taking good care of such an important IP as the Neymar Jr. brand. I knew that I could count on them to provide me with the best insights and direction for the story I wanted to tell.

TrunkSpace: What was your approach like as a whole when you started working on the issue? What did you want to achieve?
Rodríguez: Since it was a Day of The Dead Special, I knew I wanted to take our characters to my country, Mexico.

The “problem” was that we have hundreds of museums and items to choose from to create an entertaining and educational story, so I had to narrow my options down to those related to the “Day of The Dead” or “death” as a concept. And then I remembered that we already have a classic “monster” to fight with. One that our typical “super heroes”, the Luchadores, have fought before: The Mummies of Guanajuato. So in a way, I wanted to convey that feel of the classic Lucha Libre movies, with our heroes fighting the mummies; while paying homage to a city that means so much to me and my wife.

TrunkSpace: Although grounded in reality from a historical sense, the Social Monsters series is very much the kind where anything is possible. How much fun is it writing in a world where there are really no boundaries to what you want to put on the page as far as your imagination goes?
Rodríguez: It’s liberating! But at the same time, it poses quite a challenge, because in a world where not even the sky is the limit, it is tempting to “abuse” that power in terms of story, and there’s always the risk of making the story too far out, or the characters too powerful for the reader to even care for them and their exploits. And that’s also the fun part, you know? To find the best way to tell a fantastic story but keeping our characters close to the reader.

TrunkSpace: What are you most proud of with your work on Social Monsters?
Rodríguez: The fact that I could have our heroes coming to Mexico, because that way, I was able to share a little bit of our culture with our readers, while keeping true to the essence of what Social Monsters is about: entertaining and educational content for readers of all ages.

TrunkSpace: You also run a podcast about all things comic books. Can you tell us about that and how it came into creation?
Rodríguez: Sure thing!

I started toying with the idea of hosting my own podcast while listening to the very scarce comic book-related podcasts in my country, back in 2012. One day, I was invited as a guest in one of those podcasts, and I took mental notes on how it was made. So, I started out recording audio on my mobile phone and mixing it (poorly) with a simple audio edit software I found online. That’s how El Café Comiquero (The Comic Book Coffee Shop would be the most accurate translation) came to be.

The first 10-15 episodes were… not bad, but far from “good”, since it was only me, talking non-stop for an hour or so. Until I found my partner in crime: my own brother, Raul. Not only did we grow up together (obviously), but we also grew up reading, mostly, the same comics and watching the same movies and TV shows. So, one day I asked him if he would be interested in co-hosting the show with me, he said yes, and 329 episodes later, I can tell you that this podcast have become an essential part of our lives.

In this podcast we talk about all kinds of comic books, movies, TV shows and pop culture-related topics. You can find us in almost all major platforms such as Spotify, iTunes or Google Podcast under the name “El Café Comiquero”. And, you can also follow us on Facebook, Twitter and Instagram as “El Café Comiquero” as well.

If you speak Spanish – or if you are taking Spanish lessons – and want to practice it a little bit while listening to some nice geeky content, give it a try and tell us what you think.

read more
Wingman Wednesday

Ashley Newbrough

AshleyNewbroughFeatured2

While Ashley Newbrough’s holiday movie “A Merry Christmas Match” premiered BEFORE Halloween, the Rhode Island native starts her own festive celebrating after the trick-or-treaters have all removed their masks and collected their candy.

I don’t start putting up Christmas decorations until November – I like to give each holiday their moment, Christmas being the grand finale,” she said in an exclusive interview with TrunkSpace.

We recently sat down with Newbrough to discuss Hallmark’s seasonal success, peanut butter cup cravings, and seaside stress relief.

TrunkSpace: Your most recent project, “A Merry Christmas Match,” kicked off Hallmark’s Miracles of Christmas event. What is it like being the unofficial ambassador of the holidays season!?
Newbrough: I’m a huge Christmas fan, I was happy to kick off the season.

TrunkSpace: What’s amazing about the premiere is that it actually took place BEFORE Halloween. What are your thoughts on getting our Christmas on before our pumpkin-shaped peanut butter cups have even been fully devoured?
Newbrough: Now I’m craving peanut butter cups! While Christmas is my favorite holiday, autumn is my favorite season. I don’t start putting up Christmas decorations until November – I like to give each holiday their moment, Christmas being the grand finale.

TrunkSpace: We’re suckers for Hallmark holiday movies here, and the popularity around the Miracles of Christmas event continues to grow. In your opinion, what is it about movies like “A Merry Christmas Match” that continues to draw such big audiences for the network?
Newbrough: Hallmark knows how to create the ultimate Christmas and they deliver it right into your living room wrapped in a red bow. Their films set the tone for the holidays and the heart they put into every story serves as a reminder of what the true meaning of the season is all about. It’s a safe place for people to relax and enjoy. It’s like an escape into a snow globe from the stresses of every day life.

TrunkSpace: So much of what makes a movie like “A Merry Christmas Match” work is the chemistry between its leads. In your case, that was Kyle Dean Massey. How much time did you two have together prior to arriving on set to play with that chemistry and see what worked/what didn’t?
Newbrough: We didn’t get any time to do anything prior to be being on set. The first time I met him was right before we shot the last scene of the movie. I got so lucky with Kyle Dean – he’s an absolute dream to work with. During the first week we both ended up at one of the diners in Idyllwild so we had breakfast together with my mom, who was in town visiting. My mom loved him instantly. I was won over after he filled me in on the fact that he was a part of “The Book of Moron” workshops! He’s very humble, so I thought I’d throw that one out there… needless to say, I adore him and we became friends immediately.

TrunkSpace: From what we understand, Hallmark movies shoot at an incredible pace. When you’re shooting so many pages in a single day, does it require a different preparation for the material than you would normally take?
Newbrough: You really have no choice but to dive in and hope they like what you’re doing. Thankfully I work well under pressure. It’s very much a team effort.

TrunkSpace: For fans, the final product of a film or series is always the most memorable part, but for those involved in a project, we’d imagine it goes much deeper than that. For you, what is something about your time working on “A Merry Christmas Match” that you’ll carry with you through the course of your life/career?
Newbrough: I will take the cast with me. After getting to know them I made the mental note of keeping them in my life long after we wrapped, whether they liked it or not. I love Idyllwild too – it’s beautiful and the town mayor is a golden retriever named Max!

TrunkSpace: You were extremely interactive with fans on Twitter while “A Merry Christmas Match” was airing for the first time. How does that real time interaction with viewers change the acting experience for you when it comes to television? Does social media allow for a more – almost theater-like experience given the ability to hear from people as the performance/piece is being seen?
Newbrough: Live tweeting is an exceptional experience. It can be overwhelming but it feels like you’re in it together with the viewers. Hearing their thoughts scene by scene offers a fresh perspective and makes it more fun to watch. Their support is always appreciated too.

TrunkSpace: You’re originally from Rhode Island. What is something that is undeniably New England about you that you can’t shake no matter how long you’re away from the Ocean State? (And as a bonus question… can you tell those who aren’t from Rhode Island what coffee milk is?!?)
Newbrough: I moved from Rhode Island when I was three so I didn’t get a chance to develop any New England tendencies or learn what coffee milk is! Now I have to look that up. I find walking along the beach – being close to the ocean – is one of the best stress relievers. It can work some serious magic… I like to think being born of the Ocean State has something to do with that. Plus, New England is famous for their vibrant falls (which is my favorite season). LA doesn’t get fall and it breaks my heart to miss it.

TrunkSpace: What has been the highlight of your career thus far?
Newbrough: All of the opportunities I’ve been grateful to experience have added up to a many highlights. One that stands out would be when I was cast in ‘Privileged’ alongside Lucy Hale and JoAnna Garcia Swisher. It was the role that got me to move to Los Angeles – it changed my life. Getting to work with legends like Rod Taylor and Barry Bostwick are also big stand out moments for me.

TrunkSpace: Time machine question. If you could jump ahead 10 years and get a glimpse of what your career looks like a decade from now, would you take that journey? If not, why?
Newbrough: And ruin all the surprises??? I wouldn’t dare.

A Merry Christmas Match” will air throughout the holiday season on Hallmark Channel and Hallmark Movies and Mysteries.

read more
Trunk Bubbles

Dustin Evans

DustinEvansPartDuex_TrunkBubbles

Name: Dustin Evans

Website:
www.neymarjrcomics.com
www.dustinart.net

TrunkSpace: You have visited us at TrunkSpace before, so we’re going to change up the format a bit and come right at you with questions. BAM! You’re spearheading the writing AND art duties on the Social Monsters: Halloween Special 2019 (Ghoul Slayers) for Neymar Jr. Comics, so we have to ask, did you feel any pressure going creative Kung fu on an entire issue by yourself?
Evans: Thanks for having me back! It’s great to be back in the Trunk! Honestly, I was having so much fun writing and drawing the Halloween special of Social Monsters, I did not even consider feeling pressured or stressed. I was familiar with the characters and it just felt very natural to put Saber and Davi in the middle of a haunting situation. The toughest part was trying to decide which creepy museum monster would be the star of the Halloween special!

TrunkSpace: As a series, Social Monsters is very episodic and reminiscent of Saturday morning cartoons from the past. What did you hope to accomplish in the 8 pages you were working within, and when all was said and done, do you feel like you accomplished those goals?
Evans: I love that Social Monsters has that Saturday morning cartoon feel to it, so for me, I wanted to sort of pay homage to a few of my favorite cartoons from my childhood. In particular, there is a Scooby-Doo-esque style chase scene that takes place as well as some other Easter eggs in the story. I also wanted to capture the style and look of an animated show with the way I drew the story. I feel like I accomplished a lot of what I set out to do with the story while also staying true to the formula that makes up Social Monsters.

TrunkSpace: Which Dustin had more fun on this issue – Writer Dustin or Artist Dustin?
Evans: It’s tough to separate the two for me, because I tend to write with my sketches, if that makes sense. I will see the story in my mind, sketch it out like a storyboard, and then I find the words later. That is, unless I think of great dialogue as I’m sketching it out, then I just write it on the page. So, to answer your question in the most decisive of indecisive ways, I think writer and artist Dustin had the same amount of fun, which was a big ole’ trick or treat bucket full of fun!

TrunkSpace: We started our conversation talking about creative pressures. As an artist, can it be stressful taking on a character who is based on someone’s actual likeness – in this case, international soccer star Neymar Jr.?
Evans: Oh, absolutely! That is always tough starting out. You want to make the person whose likeness you are creating happy, but you also have their millions of fans that will be viewing your work and judging it. I feel very comfortable with it now, because we have worked with Neymar Jr. and his team for quite a while on multiple books that are coming up. I feel like we all have a good understanding of the look and style we need to pull off to achieve a comic book likeness of Neymar Jr. that everyone recognizes and enjoys.

TrunkSpace: You have done some amazing work for Neymar Jr. Comics both with interior art and cover art, always utilizing different styles based on the tone of the book itself. How much does artistic diversity help you in your behind-the-scenes role as Art Director?
Evans: As an art director you may be tasked with wearing a lot of different hats from concept artist to colorist to cover artist, so it really helps to be able to pull off a wide range of styles. It’s beneficial on so many levels including establishing a look and tone for a book. You may be working on a post-apocalyptic comic like Red Card one day and have to switch gears to the Saturday morning cartoon look the next for something like Social Monsters.

TrunkSpace: Again, you’re tackling the Halloween Special, so does that mean you’re a fan of the spooky holiday as a whole?
Evans: Halloween courses through my blood like the pink goo in “Ghostbusters II” flows through the sewers of NYC! Yes, I love everything about Halloween and the time of year it is synonymous with. Scary movies, haunted houses, pumpkin carving and fall-flavored treats are the things this guys’ dreams are made of! I’ve been drawn to Halloween ever since I was a kid, and I think at the core of it all, it’s because there is so much imagination that encompasses the holiday.

TrunkSpace: There are some great monsters in the series, which is a big part of what makes it so much fun. You’re tackling the infamous Moth Man, which is actually a bit different than most of the monsters in the series because, at least in theory, Moth Man is an ACTUAL monster. Did that give you more creative inspiration to pull from?
Evans: Oh yes, definitely! I knew we needed something a little different for the Halloween episode of Social Monsters, so what’s better than a folklore monster that has his own museum? I always find stories like this fascinating, because the mystery and story are rooted in real, factual events, but… it’s up to the individual what exactly to believe about the story. It sort of hearkens back to the “Unsolved Mysteries” era, and those always made me think and creeped me out at the same time! (Laughter)

TrunkSpace: Beyond this one issue, you’ve also contributed colors and covers to the Social Monsters universe. What do you think are the biggest selling points of the series as a whole to readers both young and old?
Evans: I think it’s that this book is just so much fun! It has that great cartoon formula. You know you’re going to see your heroes duke it out with a monster each episode, and you know it’s going to have great puns and action with a bit of knowledge tucked away in there. And with Saber’s neural energy power, you never know what he will have to come up with, which is the coolest part. It’s like if a super hero could have a different super power when they needed it for a particular moment in the story.

TrunkSpace: What are you most proud of with your work on Social Monsters?
Evans: Part of what I’m most proud of is actually the concept artwork of creating the Social Monsters. When I get the script from Jason M. Burns, he gives me the direction to go, and I have to find out how to create these monsters from actual artifacts. We’re giving life to inanimate objects, and that can be tricky at times, so it’s like a puzzle. It’s challenging, but when you get it just right, it’s very satisfying to see. Also…THE COVERS! ‘Cause you get to see all of the monsters and Saber and Davi looking cool!

TrunkSpace: Time machine question. If you could jump ahead 10 years and get a glimpse of what your career looks like a decade from now, would you take that journey? If not, why?
Evans: It depends on the time machine. If we’re talking a DeLorean time machine, I’m going, because who could turn down a ride in one of those? Joking aside, I know I would not go, because no matter what is on the other side, I would be a paranoid mess. If I was successful or unsuccessful, I would probably just be paranoid that every choice I was making in the present would lead to my rise or downfall… but then again, if they have floating skateboards in 10 years, and I could bring one back, I’m going!

 

read more
Wingman Wednesday

Nick Hounslow

NickHounslowFeatured

Model and fitness trainer-turned actor Nick Hounslow never imagined a day when his face would be featured on a movie poster, but as the star of the “Christmas With A Prince” franchise, that unforeseen dream has become a reality, now twofold thanks to the sequel, “Christmas With A Prince: Becoming Royal,” premiering November 3 on UPtv.

I never thought I would be on the cover of a movie poster and DVD box,” he said in an exclusive interview with TrunkSpace. “That’s just mind-blowing to me!”

We recently sat down with Hounslow to discuss seasonal entertainment, accepting his fictional lineage, and working on the mental as well as the physical.

TrunkSpace: First off, we’re suckers for a good Christmas movie here at TrunkSpace. In your opinion, what is it about seasonal selections like your upcoming film “Christmas With A Prince: Becoming Royal” that continues to draw audiences in year after year?
Hounslow: I think people love a feel good movie, one where they can sit with the whole family and enter this wonderful world of Christmas. Who doesn’t want that? As busy as we all are and as diverse as all our jobs and interests, this genre of movie provides a common ground everyone can get on board with and enjoy.

TrunkSpace: “Christmas With a Prince: Becoming Royal” is a sequel that comes directly on the heels of the first film, which was released in time for last year’s holiday season. When you first signed on to play Prince Alexander, did you know this would be a multi-installment commitment to the character or was it a pleasant surprise to find out you’d be returning to the part?
Hounslow: It was a total surprise. A great surprise! The first movie did so well that the network really wanted to get a jump on a sequel.

TrunkSpace: The tag line to the sequel is “The Fairytale Continues.” When you look at your career, do you feel like you’re living out a bit of your own fairytale in terms of how everything is progressing professionally?
Hounslow: (Laughter) Well, I wouldn’t say the entire journey has been a fairytale but for sure the last couple of years I am finally seeing the hard, tireless work pay off! I was once told it is a marathon not a sprint… and ain’t that the truth! I am so excited for what’s to come. There are already some amazing things in the pipeline.

TrunkSpace: When it comes to Prince Alexander, is he someone who you could see yourself hanging out with in the real world? Was it easy for you to find a connection with him in order to give life to the character on screen?
Hounslow: For sure! He likes to have a laugh and doesn’t take life too seriously (most the time). I can relate to that. You can’t take it all too seriously otherwise what would be the point?! However, when it really matters, Prince Alexander can stand up to the plate and is learning to balance both sides of his life/career. Again, I can relate to that. I do think he’d be an easy guy to chill and have a beer with!

TrunkSpace: Speaking of people you hang out with… what do your long-time friends think about you playing a prince? Do they like to poke fun at you for taking on royalty?
Hounslow: Oh yes, I hear NO end of jokes and fun poked at me. They threw me a huge party when the first movie premiered and had everyone attending stand in and recreate the movie poster cover (the role of Dr. Tasha) so by the end of the evening I had a collection of alternative Princess brides in tiaras and a fur shawl. It was hilarious. On the other hand, they mostly believe that, as I am British, I must be at least 176th inline to the throne anyways!

TrunkSpace: You started your career as a model. When you decided to transition into acting, did it take some convincing of people within the industry that you weren’t a model who wanted to act, but instead, an actor who happened to model? Did you have to reinvent yourself?
Hounslow: In the beginning, yes, I was worried it would be hard to convince people of this. However, I quickly learned that you just have to do your thing, believe in your abilities and what you bring to the table, and if people don’t realize it then that is their loss. I remember everyone saying as an actor you have to do this and this and cut your hair more like this and act less ‘modely’. I got so lost in trying to be something different that I became inauthentic and that reads in a casting room. So I just came back to myself and said this is me, yes I modeled and I still do (I just shot a hair campaign for American Crew products) and you either get me or you don’t. It was very freeing and I started booking more roles.

TrunkSpace: Beyond your time spent on-camera, you also work behind the scenes as a physical trainer, working with other actors like Gal Gadot and Julie Benz. With all of the various types of projects you take on, do you view them as part of the same career and all leading to the same finish line, or are they separate in terms of how you manage them?
Hounslow: I love all aspects of my careers. Fitness has been a lifestyle choice since a very early age. I actually found fitness as I was an overweight teen who wanted to change. I taught myself everything I know. I don’t think you need to define yourself by one label or box. Julie and Gal are such wonderfully strong, kind, women who definitely embody having strong careers and a commitment to fitness and health. I love that! I really admire The Rock. He pursues both versions of himself. From fitness game shows to major blockbuster movies. The trick is managing them together. It is a major juggling session week after week but somehow it always works out!

TrunkSpace: We all have our own personal hang ups when it comes to our bodies. As a physical trainer, what advice do you give those clients who have a hard time seeing past what they feel are their faults, and instead, focus on their strengths?
Hounslow: Training is so much more than just the physical gains/losses or what your exterior looks like. I always try to work on the mental aspects of training. I still don’t always see a true reflection today. It has taken a lot of work and acceptance to get past the heavy kid that was bullied when I look in the mirror. Fitness comes in many shapes and forms. I tell clients to focus and find something that you enjoy and that makes you feel good. Whether that is running, spinning, swimming, weight training, yoga, Pilates…. because once you find the activity you love, it doesn’t become a chore it becomes part of you daily life. Then, and only then, will you start to see true results and love what you see. It might not be what you perceived to be perfect based on unrealistic social media images but it will be your perfect and unique to you and I promise you will be happier in the long term.

TrunkSpace: What has been the highlight of your career thus far?
Hounslow: The Prince movies have been such a dream! I never thought I would be on the cover of a movie poster and DVD box! That’s just mind-blowing to me! There are so many highlights I’ve loved! Working on the Shonda Ryhmes/Shondland show “The Catch” was incredible. The showrunner Allan Heinberg was amazing and so great to work for, coincidentally he wrote the first “Wonder Woman” movie starring Gal Gadot. I trained Gal earlier this year and my sister was personal makeup artist to Chris Pine. I love how small this world is – it is all intertwined. In high school art class we had to pick a female celebrity to paint. I chose supermodel Claudia Schiffer. Cut to 11 years later. I book a L’Oreal commercial with Claudia. She was amazing and so nice! The day we were shooting in LA my sister was on a night shoot in London for one of the X-Men movies being directed by Claudia’s husband Matthew Vaughn! What are the chances! I love these kind of moments.

TrunkSpace: Time machine question. If you could jump ahead 10 years and get a glimpse of what your career looks like a decade from now, would you take that journey? If not, why?
Hounslow: I would not. I like to live in the present. You cannot look back as that time is done. I don’t want to ruin the surprises for the future. Right here right now I am sitting in my house in Los Angeles typing about a career I couldn’t have dreamt possible when I was younger. I still have moments where I’m like, “How did this happen?!? This is WILD.” So for now, I shall not use a time machine and stay here very content.

Christmas With A Prince: Becoming Royal” premieres November 3 on UPtv and is available for preorder here.

read more
Sit and Spin

KaiL Baxley’s Beneath The Bones

BeneathTheBonesReview

Song Title: “Beneath The Bones

Single Sentence Singles Review: Soulfully subdued, it is a sonic walkabout for those of us who have a bodiless journey – free of the anchors we lay beneath ourselves – while listening to music.

Beyond The Track: Look for this tune to appear on KaiL Baxley’s third album, Danger Eye, set for release in early 2020.

And that means…

read more
Trunk Stubs

Zombieland: Double Tap

Zombieland2_TrunkStubs_FeatureImage

Title: Zombieland: Double Tap

Rated: R

Genre: Horror, Comedy, Action

Release Date: October 18, 2019

Run Time: 1 hour 39 minutes

Directed By: Ruben Fleischer

Starring: Woody Harrelson, Emma Stone, Jesse Eisenberg, Rosario Dawson, Abigail Breslin, Zoey Deutch

Reason We’re Watching It: Like so many others, we loved the first “Zombieland” and we’ve been wanting a sequel the way Tallahassee wanted a Twinkie in the first movie. The long wait is finally over and the original cast is back in action 10 years later.

What It’s All About: Tallahassee, Columbus, Wichita and Little Rock are all living in apocalyptic harmony until Little Rock decides to hit the road in search of a companion more her age. With the emergence of a new breed of zombie, dubbed the T-800, the group fears for Little Rock’s well-being and go after her to make sure she is safe and sound.

Whoah! Rewind That!: As with the first “Zombieland,” there are a lot of “Rewind that!” moments, but our favorite involved Rosario Dawson’s character, Nevada, behind the wheel of a monster truck in a pit of zombies. The results are exactly what you would expect.

Watercooler-Worthy Tidbit: Bill Murray may have been double-tapped in the first film, but stay for the end credits to see how the zombie apocalypse all began while Bill Murray was doing a press junket for “Garfield 3.”

And that’s why we’re giving it…

 

read more
Deep Focus

Ali Afshar

AliAfsharFeatured

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 Ali Afshar, producer and star of “Bennett’s War” and “The Ride,” about what draws him to underdog characters, highlighting diversity in his movies, and the parallels of producing to owning a professional race team.

TrunkSpace: “Bennett’s War” feels like the kind of film that isn’t greenlit a lot these days. Almost a throwback. In terms of the big picture, was that part of the appeal in tackling a project like this in that it isn’t the kind of film we see arriving in theaters each week?
Afshar: What really drew me to this project is that it was a bit of a throwback sports movie, with the twist of the hero being an injured veteran. I really liked that aspect.

TrunkSpace: Such as the case with “Bennett’s War,” you not only star in it, but you also produced it. When you’re on set, how do you separate Producer Ali from Actor Ali so that your focus is on a singular task? Can it be difficult, especially when it comes to being a producer because so much of the day to day is ensuring that everything runs smoothly, which we would imagine, could take you out of a creative head space?
Afshar: I’m always wearing both hats at the same time. It isn’t easy to separate, but I enjoy being a producer and an actor so when I need to focus on specific tasks then I will. That’s also what a good director is for, to help you get in to the creative space on set.

TrunkSpace: This sort of goes back to our first question, but as a producer, is part of the appeal in bringing projects to life being able to represent characters and storylines on screen that aren’t being given a spotlight otherwise? And as such, does that then open up more interesting roles for not only yourself, but your fellow actors?
Afshar: Yes, our movies include a lot of diversity with female leads, ethnicities, etc. We’ve been doing that well before it was fashionable – it’s always been a part of our stories. It does open up more interesting roles and we believe good stories should include everyone.

TrunkSpace: When you’re both starring in and producing a project like “Bennett’s War,” do you feel duel pressure for those projects to succeed, both creatively and financially?
Afshar: Absolutely, and the pressure is tough because you don’t want the business pressure affecting your acting. There’s a fine line between creativity and business.

TrunkSpace: For fans, the final product of a film or series is always the most memorable part, but for those involved in a project, we’d imagine it goes much deeper than that. For you, what is something about your time working on “Bennett’s War” that you’ll carry with you through the course of your life/career?
Afshar: The military’s influence has been the most memorable part for me. I’ve learned a great deal about PTSD and the struggles soldiers go through on and off duty. I have a lot of respect for those who serve.

TrunkSpace: You also have the film “The Ride” due out in early 2020. Can you tell us a little bit about that film?
Afshar: “The Ride” is based on a true story of overcoming diversity. An African American man played by Chris “Ludacris” Bridges, and his wife adopt a white supremacist kid. It is a story of working through and seeing beyond differences to come together with love, and a testimony of hate becoming hope.

Forrest and Charlotte Lucas at the premiere of “Bennett’s War”

TrunkSpace: Beyond Hollywood, you’re also a professional race car driver. Are there parallels between racing against the clock (and budget) to get a film made and being behind the steering wheel of a race car? Does it take the same kind of focus and discipline?
Afshar: There are a lot of similarities. I owned the race team, so knowing those details of how to manage my team helped prepare me for being a producer in putting together the right people to get the job done. The main differences are that racing is more adrenaline and a one-time motor sport, where making a movie is a lot more collaborative and has a longer timeline.

TrunkSpace: Working in independent film can sometimes mean having to change aspects of a script on the fly in order to fit into budget and time constraints. If you had a blank check to go out and make any kind of project that you wanted to, what kind of film or series would you put into development?
Afshar: I love movies like “Rocky,” “Remember the Titans,” and “Friday Night Lights.” The underdog stories are my favorite, which all of our films encompass.

TrunkSpace: When you’re acting on a project that you’re not directly involved with behind the scenes, is it difficult to shut off the producer part of your brain?
Afshar: It’s not difficult, but I definitely notice the production efficiency and strategy.

TrunkSpace: What has been the highlight of your career thus far?
Afshar: The highlight has been working with my bosses, Forrest and Charlotte Lucas. Having them believe and support us in our American dream-messages is very rewarding.

TrunkSpace: Time machine question. If you could jump ahead 10 years and get a glimpse of what your career looks like a decade from now, would you take that journey? If not, why?
Afshar: I would jump ahead. I’d be curious and a little scared, but I’d try to adjust accordingly for what I saw in my future.

Bennett’s War” is available on VOD November 12. “The Ride” cruises into theaters in early 2020.

read more
Wingman Wednesday

Chris Agos

ChrisAgosFeatured
Photo By: The Riker Brothers

Growing up in the midst of the Space Shuttle era, Chris Agos studied the stars as part of his curriculum in school, and although he admired the astronauts who traveled beyond the reach of most humans, he eventually decided that it wasn’t for him.

I think I gave up completely when I learned you had to ride in one of those crazy gyroscope things until you blacked out,” he said in an exclusive interview with TrunkSpace. “As someone who gets motion sickness just by standing next to a swimming pool, I was like, ‘Nope!’”

Gyroscopes aside, Agos is now stepping into the moon boots of one of the most famous astronauts of all time, playing Buzz Aldrin in the new series “For All Mankind,” which premieres November 1 on Apple TV+.

We recently sat down with Agos to discuss the pressures of playing an icon, getting lost in Mission Control, and why he chose to write a series of books about breaking into the voice over industry.

TrunkSpace: Taking on Buzz Aldrin seems like it could be an intimidating ask of someone. Did you feel pressure going into this project knowing that you’re not only tackling someone who is an actual person, but even more so, such a WELL KNOWN person?
Agos: There was definitely some added excitement when I realized that not only would I be playing a legendary historical figure, but one that could very possibly see the performance. The way I saw it, the challenge was to do justice to the story being told in the script, while also being as accurate as possible in terms of how Buzz carried himself publicly and privately during the Apollo era. I doubled down on my research and read every book Buzz wrote, watched as many of his public appearances as I could find, and spoke at length with Mike and Denise Okuda, the show’s technical advisors, about what Buzz was like to work with in those days. Honestly, I just hope he doesn’t wrinkle his nose if and when he catches the show. And I really hope he does see it because I think he’d find it fascinating.

TrunkSpace: What type of access to Buzz did you have in order to get an understanding of the man you were going to be portraying on camera?
Agos: Buzz wasn’t involved in the show’s development, so unfortunately, I didn’t have much contact with him. We did exchange a message or two, but not until after the show wrapped production. I hope one day I can shake his hand and thank him for his endless contributions to the nation’s space program.

TrunkSpace: What would 10-year-old Chris think about his future self playing Buzz Aldrin?
Agos: 10-year-old me thought adult me was going to be a doctor, so I’d imagine my younger self would be a little confused (they have doctors in space?) but he’d also be super excited at the prospect of strapping on a real space suit and playing inside an exact replica of Columbia and Eagle, the two spacecraft that made up the Apollo 11 mission. I mean, what kid wouldn’t want to do that?

TrunkSpace: A lot of kids dream about the stars and getting to explore space. Is there a bit of a wish fulfillment aspect for you in getting to be a part of a story like this?
Agos: Absolutely. I grew up during the Space Shuttle era and the program was a big part of our science curriculum at school. It all seemed so exciting and interesting, but also pretty far out of my reach. The more I found out about how much you had to go through to become a real astronaut, the more it seemed like it wasn’t something I could ever actually do. I think I gave up completely when I learned you had to ride in one of those crazy gyroscope things until you blacked out. As someone who gets motion sickness just by standing next to a swimming pool, I was like, “Nope!” So, joining the cast of “For All Mankind” allowed me to pretend that I actually did get to go into space, no gyro required!

TrunkSpace: For fans, the final product of a film or series is always the most memorable part, but for those involved in a project, we’d imagine it goes much deeper than that. For you, what is something about your time working on “For All Mankind” that you’ll carry with you through the course of your life/career?
Agos: By far my most memorable moment was the first time I walked into our Mission Control set. I had seen pictures of that room in history books throughout my life, so it seemed like a familiar place before I even set foot inside of it. But I can honestly say that I have never been so awestruck by a space, ever. I’m not sure I have the words for it, other than it was surreal. It literally felt like walking through every photo I’ve ever seen of Mission Control. The set was built accurately down to the inch, and the level of detail that went into every aspect of it was over the top. It went way past the consoles and screens, which of course were perfectly recreated. But the little stuff, like the ash trays and period-correct candy wrappers really completed the look. It was like stepping into a time capsule, or a very, very accurate museum where they allow you to touch everything. I spent every bit of time I could in that room looking around because there was always some new detail to see.

TrunkSpace: “For All Mankind” will appear on Apple TV+. As an actor, has it been exciting to watch the various distribution platforms take on original scripted content, because it seems like the race between them continues to elevate the storytelling to the point where it’s almost overwhelming with how much quality television is now available to viewers.
Agos: Yeah, I don’t know how anyone keeps up with it all. What’s great about the state of TV today is all the experimentation going on. When there were fewer avenues to distribute shows, I think people were less willing to take a chance on a new concept or a new talent. Sometimes those risks really pay off, and because of that people are calling this the new Golden Age of TV. I’m not sure I agree with that label 100 percent, but I do think we’re in a time of transition. We’re starting to see new ways of telling stories along with new tech that will allow for experiences that otherwise wouldn’t be possible, and that’s what’s exciting to me. I can’t wait to see what the marriage of a tech company like Apple and great storytellers like Ron Moore will produce, now and into the future.

Photo By: The Riker Brothers

TrunkSpace: Is there a character you had previously spent time with – even in a guest role capacity – that you wished you had more time to explore, and if so, why that person?
Agos: Well, as a serial guest star, I’m always eager to spend more time with just about every guy I play. Writers will often give us just enough of a glimpse into their circumstances to serve the story, but no more than that. I would have liked to spend more time as the head of the President’s secret service detail on “House of Cards,” which was a bucket list show for me. It was quite an honor to not only do that show, but to play in the first scene of the first episode of its final season. I’m a huge fan of HOC and working there was truly a gift. I had hoped to see more of Agent Bowman, but there was plenty for the show to unpack that season, so I completely get why he was not a priority.

TrunkSpace: You wrote a book about breaking into voice over work that was released earlier this year. What was it that prompted you to go down that path as an author and have you heard first-hand how it has helped those looking to explore the field?
Agos: Thanks for asking. Whatever professional milestones I’ve reached thus far have only happened because of my involvement in voice over. It’s where I got started, and it led to my on-camera career. But because it’s a relatively anonymous business, it’s sort of shrouded in mystery for a lot of people. I get asked about it a lot. So, The Voice Over Startup Guide came about in response to that. It’s actually the first in a series of books on the voice over industry written by me and a bunch of my VO friends. It’s only been available for about a month, and we’ve gotten a nice response. I’ve been teaching for years, so what’s presented in the book is very similar to what I would teach in person. Between that and the audio files that come with the book, I think it’s an effective tool for learning about the industry.

TrunkSpace: What has been the highlight of your career thus far?
Agos: Every time the phone rings with a new opportunity, it’s a highlight. I’m really grateful that I get to do this for a living.

TrunkSpace: Time machine question. If you could jump ahead 10 years and get a glimpse of what your career looks like a decade from now, would you take that journey? If not, why?
Agos: Sign me up, yeah. I’m all about making decisions using the best information possible, so I’d love to see what I’d be up to in a decade. Maybe there would be steps I could take now that might hasten any success or avoid any horrible pitfalls. Plus, I’d like to see how much hair I’m going to lose between now and then, just so I know.

For All Mankind” premieres November 1 on Apple TV+.

read more
Trunk Stubs

Drew Holcomb & The Neighbors

DrewHolcombLiveFeatured

Artist: Drew Holcomb & The Neighbors

City Attended: Boston, MA

Venue: City Winery

Concert Date: 10-22-19

The Reason We Went: If songwriting were easy, everyone would do it, and while there’s plenty of artists tackling the Americana genre these day, few do it as consistently as Drew Holcomb. While we’d argue the Memphis native has never written a bad song, we’ve only ever experienced he and his Neighbors in a studio setting, so questions remained if Holcomb could entertain a crowd as well as he can craft an album worthy of a front-to-back listen.

 

What We Thought: And now those questions are answered.

Taking the stage in the intimate setting of City Winery – an elongated, shared-table room that feels like a Viking hall built for gluttonous feasts – Holcomb and his bandmates came on strong right out of the gates with “End of the World,” a captivating track from their latest album Dragons, released this past August. In fact, while there were occasional visits to previous albums, including “The Morning Song” from 2017’s Souvenir and “American Beauty” from 2015’s Medicine, it was a night to celebrate the new material as Dragons, much like Holcomb himself, took center stage.

While Holcomb spent the evening belting out powerful vocals that reverberated throughout the venue, he was soft-spoken and engaging when addressing the crowd, sharing anecdotes about life, love and angry fans upset with past set lists. The highlight of the night was a rousing all-hands-deck accompaniment that featured the Neighbors – as well as opening act Birdtalker – gathered around a microphone singing the title track from Dragons, which filled the room and souls of those in attendance more than any Viking meal ever could.

Yes, Holcomb is consistent in his songwriting abilities, turning tracks into musical memories for his listeners, but he proved to the Boston crowd that he is also just as consistent of an entertainer, leaving everyone in attendance with a memory they will soon not forget.

Bonus Takeaway: Said to be “warming the stage” for the upcoming Holcomb, husband and wife duo Birdtalker helped to build the momentum of the night, delivering two-part harmonies backed by a drummer who, while standing the entire set, was a one man platoon of precise percussion.

And that’s why we’re giving this show…

read more
Sit and Spin

Alexander Biggs’ Madeleine

AlexanderBiggsSinglesFeatured

Song Title: “Madeleine”

Single Sentence Singles Review: Whether you’ve traversed the landscape of a toxic relationship yourself or were perched as a fly on the wall looking down on one, this song is eerily relatable, though it’s Biggs’ haunting delivery that makes it eerily believable.

Beyond The Track: Biggs has independently built up over 6 million Spotify streams. Want to help add to his total? Start with one of his other 2019 singles, “Miserable.”

And that means…

read more