Interview with Sean Cunningham (Friday the 13th Director)

In October I was honored to be part of the San Pedro International Film Festival, where I got to walk and work the red carpet, see some amazing new Indie films, support those filmmakers, and celebrate the industry. One of the two weekends was October 13th to the 15th, which meant we were in attendance for Friday The 13th. This Friday became the horror night, which was the perfect opportunity to show the original Friday the 13th film.

What was even more serendipitous was the fact that Sean Cunningham was in attendance that evening too as a special guest. Mr Cunningham is quite an interesting artists and a pleasure to talk to. I think I learned more in those few hours than I have in a long time about movies, filmmaking, and the industry as a whole. He was also gracious enough to grant me an interview and sit down in front of a camera for a change.

One of the things we talked about was his new project, The Nurse With the Purple Hair, a Social Good film that shows what hospice care is and what it can be. It’s the story of Michelle Lasota who makes the switch from surgical nurse to hospice nurse after the death of her father.

Sean met Michelle at Fan Expo in Toronto, CA, and was captivated by her stories about her hospice work. As filmmakers often do, he turned his interest into a project.

To date, the film has been viewed by focus groups from Vitas Healthcare, Skirball, and Kaiser Permanente. This has been their reactions:

– A catalyst to break through American culture’s denial of death.
– A great tool to bring awareness to what hospice is really about.
– Takes the mystery and fear out of hospice and dying.
– I feel brave, inspired, and honored to start a conversation that matters.
– A true look at a caring hospice nurse and the wonderful qualities of hospice care.

Here is out interview from SPIFFest:

Here is the trailer for The Nurse with the Purple Hair, you can learn more here:

Onyx Movie promises to leave you questioning your reality

Do you love psychological thrillers as much as I do? If so, I think Onyx Movie will be the film for you! I am especially interested in this project because my friend Patrick White is acting in it AND directing. It also interests me since it is an indie project that can become a reality through crowd funding and fan support. Be sure to follow Onyx on Twitter and Facebook to find out all the latest info and be sure to support the campaign so we can get this film from concept to reality. Also check out the following interview I did with Patrick and Nati Rabinowitz and the trailer for the film below that. I think you’ll find it quite the teaser!

Q: Congratulations on your work with Onyx Movie! Can you tell me a little about what the film is about and what it means to you?

NATI: The Onyx story on its most basic level is about a man experiencing some very real realities while in a coma. It’s a film that can certainly be interpreted various ways, none are wrong.

PAT: Onyx really is about the possibility of losing everything. I mean when we are at our happiest is when we are most vulnerable. This is one mans battle with loss.

Q: This was your directorial debut, correct? What was that experience like?

N:Hard to say, as we haven’t shot the film yet, but so far the writing process, development and shooting of the teaser has been exciting. Overwhelming at times, but that’s been the advantage of working with a writing and producing partner. Patrick and I both keep each other motivated and on track with the project.

P: We haven’t shot the film yet so it will be a fun experience. Collectively we all have a lot of experience working in front of the lens, but this process from idea to completion is a huge learning experience about the business of making movies and is completely different than only preparing the script or our scenes.

Q: What advice do you have for fellow actors who want to direct?

N:Just do it. Start writing. Today.

P: if you really want to make a movie the first thing you should do is read other scripts. Decide if you want to write it and if not make sure you have some creative friends.

Q: What would you tell someone who wants to be an actor but isn’t sure about the right path to take or the right way to get started?

N:Sign up for classes. The rest will fall into place, the business aspect of things. Once you sign up I highly recommend my first acting coach Matt Newton’s book “10 Steps to Breaking into Acting.”

P: Take a class and see if you like it. Audition for student films and try to just get in front of the camera as often as you can.

Q: How can people help to make sure Onyx Movie is seen by the masses?

N: We need funding to make the film. The more funding we have the more amazing the film can be, and the more likely it’ll be to get into festivals, perhaps be made into a TV Pilot or feature film. That’s way down the line but right now we need your dollars. :)

P: the campaign is super important. Raising the money let’s us make the movie. We know not everyone can donate and that’s okay, but sharing the campaign with anyone and everyone is a HUGE deal. We want anyone who wants to see this movie, to have an opportunity to participate.

Q: Where can we find you and the film online and on social media?

N&P: We’re on Facebook at @OnyxShortFilm

Instagram as @OnyxShort

N: I’m @natirabinowitz on both Instagram and Twitter.

P: I’m @PatrickWhite_ on just about everything.

Q: What is one thing you absolutely cannot live without and one thing you wish we could all live without?

N: I can’t live without a good kitchen, I absolutely love cooking and do so often. Without? ISIS. Seriously, we can do without them.

P: Food. Literally I love good food. Cheese specifically. I wish money wasn’t so important, everyone would be a lot happier and less stressed.

Q: What is the best advice you have ever received? Who gave it to you?

N: Advice is like food. There’s healthy, phenomenal tasting food. There’s terrible, bland, unhealthy food and there’s food that’s just mehhh. But there’s no best food. I’ve been pushed to not play it safe, to get out of my comfort zone. It makes sense - as being adventuring with food is important too. Don’t eat grilled cheese every day. As for giving advice, and following it, I certainly think I try and pass on and follow the lessons passed on to me.

P: My mom always told me not to be a dick, you’d be surprised how far you can get in life by just being genuinely nice and caring about other people. As for advice I would give? Never eat expired cheese. Seriously. I’ve done this once or twice so I guess that tells you how good I am at listening to my own advice.

Q: What’s up next for Patrick White or what else do you have in the works?

P: What’s up next for me? Well that’s up in the air. I have a lot of fun ideas I’d like to develop but I’m taking it one day at a time and hoping this film is as fun for everyone as it was for us to make it.

Teeco71: Here it the trailer for your enjoyment, I hope you find it as intriguing as I do!

Nico Tortorella and the Heart of Hunter&Game

It’s not secret that I love all things TV Land and am a huge fan of their show, Younger. I have worked alongside my TV Land family, live tweeting the premiere and am an avid viewer from home. I don’t need a twitter party to motivate me to live tweet what I love (as you all know). I have enjoyed the entire first season but haven’t crossed paths with any of the stars, until now.

A mutual friend, Richard Hine alerted me to the fact that Nico Tortorella had done this amazing Indie film, Hunter&Game,  about the world of Indie music in my hometown of Brooklyn, NY. This was of major interest to me because Nico is a favorite actor of mine but also because I have many friends who are Indie musicians in NYC and was even a part of the scene for a few years myself. (promotions mostly, not performing).

When I was given the opportunity to speak to Nico about the film, I didn’t hesitate to say YES. I was not disappointed in any way. Nico Tortorella is as fun to talk to as you would imagine from seeing him on screen. He definitely shares many qualities with his character Josh on Younger in his spirit, authenticity, and ability to make others feel comfortable around him. He also shares the fun loving quality of his character in Hunter&Game, Carson. You can tell why he was drawn to the character and why the character is so endearing.

We spoke last Friday night about life, Younger, and of course Hunter&Game. I think you will enjoy Nico’s advice, humor, and insight as much as I did:

Q: Tell me a little about Hunter and Game. What drew you to the role?

Nico Tortorella: Ninety percent of the film was real life. I was supposed to read for Sasha but I knew I had to go in for Carson. Carson was obviously the role I was meant to play, he is the heart of the movie. So, I smoked a joint, put on a fur coat, and got the role.

Q: Are you a musician as well as an actor? 

NT: I taught myself to play the guitar and bass. I’ve also written some sappy love songs. When this film came around, it was perfect because I’ve always seen myself as more of a rock star than an actor.

Q: Did you or do you hang out with many Indie musicians?

NT: While filming, I did but I don’t have an abundance of musician friends. Musicians were around constantly during production.

Q: Hunter and Game is being called “Spinal Tap meets Bushwick”. How does that make you feel? 

NT: It feels EPIC, it’s everything we ever hoped for. We went into this with a first time filmmaker, low budget, like a bunch of friends hanging out. I think Hunter and Game has a reality Spinal Tap didn’t have, a relate-ability.

Q: Can we talk about Younger for a minute. The show will be returning for a second season this January after a phenomenal first season. What is that like for you? Have you settled into being a TV star and a leading man?

NT: You can’t really take any of that too seriously. I think I keep a sense of humility, it’s the first series I’m in that hasn’t been canceled early. The first time I’m coming back for a second season. Let’s face it, romantic comedy is a dying genre but we can turn that around.

Q: Do you like your character, Josh?

NT: I’d hang out with Josh, he shares my core values of life. He’s cool, wants to have fun, and wants everyone to live authentically.

Q: What’s the best advice you’ve ever been given? From who?

NT: Scott Fellows (Big Time Rush) said something with me that really resonated early on. He said, “As an actor, if you’re starting off and there’s ANYTHING you think you can do other than act, go do it now”.

That hit me hard and I realized I truly belong in this industry.

Q: What’s the best advice you’ve ever given? Are you usually able to take or heed your own words of wisdom?

NT: To young actors, I’d say if you have an audition, really think about what everyone else is going to do for theirs and do the opposite. Don’t be predictable or like everyone else going in.

As far as taking my own advice, yeah, I’d like to think I can and do.

Q: What is one thing you absolutely cannot live without and one thing you wish we could all live without?

NT: I absolutely cannot live without honey, I just love it. As far as something we could all live without, Jealousy. It’s a nasty mofo!

Q: What’s up next for Nico Tortorella?

NT: There’s a small rumor about a season three for Younger and I’m also reading scripts. I’d love to play a superhero and tackle the action genre. Other than that, I just want to do good work and work with good people.

Q: Do you have a preference between New York City and Los Angeles?

NT: I miss LA, my heart is there for sure.

Q: Since you are in New York City, any plans to do Broadway? 

NT: I’d love to! I just haven’t seen the right script. But it’ll happen at some point for sure!

I’d like to thank Nico for taking time out of his Friday night for me and for being such a delight! Be sure to catch him this January in Season two of Younger on TV Land and be sure to watch Hunter&Game for FREE here:

Let me introduce you to Patrick’s Law

Patrick White has been a bright addition to my Twitter world for quite a while now. When I heard he was working on a new film project, I was immediately interested to find out more. What I didn’t know was that in recent years, he has been through so much that would cause many of us to retreat or affect us in ways that would change our dispositions. Patrick has never shown anything but kindness and positivity online for as long as I have known him but he felt a need to share his true story in hopes of helping others. This is what our new world of Social Media should be for, reaching out to help others with the tools we have learned by going through our own trials.

Knowing Patrick, I’m sure it will be an important project with a hint of fun, learning, and laughter. I included the video interview from his Kickstarter page because I enjoyed watching it and felt he conveys his message perfectly. As an added bonus, Patrick agreed to do a little interview with me. This was truly a delight to do because it allows me to share him with you!

Q: Tell me a little about the film you are working on “Murphy’s Law“. I read that it’s based on your own experiences. Has it helped you cope with the things that have happened? 

Patrick White: Yeah, its loosely based on recent experiences in my life. Most notably losing my mother to cancer this past April. Writing and producing this film has helped me grow as a person to understand that no matter how much it feels like it’s the end of the world. Its not.

Q: Do you believe in luck? Some people think there really is no such thing. Oprah says luck is when being prepared meets opportunity. What is your take on that?

PW: A friend once said something very similar to me, that luck is when opportunity meets preparation and thats when success happens. But at the same time I believe a string of bad things happening can be the other end of the spectrum of luck. So to answer your question, yes I believe in luck.

Q: What do you do to turn yourself around when too many things seem to be going wrong?

PW: My go to response when the world is crashing down around me is to just pretend like you have your life together, and eventually you will. Not everything is going to be great in your life, bad things do happen. Be patient and work hard, good things will come.

Q: If you could go back in time and give yourself advice, what time period would you go to & what advice would you give yourself?

PW: I would go back to my childhood right around my pre teen years, and tell myself to appreciate family a little more. For all of you reading the people you love in your life might not always be around, so let them know how much they mean to you.

Q: You have a Kickstarter campaign for the film. How can people get involved and help you make this film a reality?

PW: They can donate whatever amount they can or if donating just isnt in the cards right now sharing the project with friends who might appreciate it would be extremely helpful to our campaign too! We need all kinds of support for this project to be successful.

Q: What advice would you give to others who are going through similar experiences and feel like they are all alone?

PW: My advice to people going through similar experiences is to let the people who care about you take care of you for a little bit. They want to help, so let them. I felt the weight of my world on my shoulders when my mom was sick and tried to hold it together for every one and it was too much of a burden to bear. Not everything is in your control, emotions are human. Be human and let the ones who love you, love you.

Q: What is one thing you absolutely cannot live without and one thing you wish we could all live without? Feel free to give me a serious or playful answer! 

PW: Oh, this is a fun one. My serious and funny answer would probably have to be cheese. Im a huge foodie and good cheese in anything is usually a big win for me. What I wish we could all live without? I love technology, but I wish we could all do with less of it. Me and my friends always make it a point to not be on our phones frequently when we are together. Everyone being so wrapped up in things going on elsewhere they can never completely just be in that moment. Kind of sad to think about really.

Q: Where can we find you and the film online? 

PW: I am on twitter @PatrickWhite_ and my website www.PatrickWhiteActor.com has all my information and click the Murphy’s Law tab, it will bring you to the Kickstarter page where you can find more on the project!

White Rabbit Film Explores the effects of bullying on Today’s teens

Unfortunately, Bullying and school shootings are topics we find ourselves discussing far too often. We’ve seen how in many cases, the torment of bullying leads to a break in an individual which cause them to lash out in tragic ways. This is a topic that has been near and dear to my heart since I was bullied growing up and can fully understand the desperation associated with it. Thankfully, I had a loving support system at home but I can never say that it had no effect on me. I’ve even experienced bullying in the workplace from a superior who obviously suffered from an inferiority complex.

“White Rabbit” is a film that addresses the effects of bullying on an already troubled boy and how it can push someone to react with violence. The official synopsis of the film:

Harlon Mackey (Nick Krause) has been tormented by visions since his alcoholic father (Sam Trammell) forced him to kill an innocent rabbit while hunting as a boy. Now that Harlon is a bullied high school teen, his undiagnosed mental illness is getting worse. He begins to hear voices, and his imagination encourages him to carry out violent acts. Things begin to look up when Julie (Britt Robertson), a rebellious young girl, moves to town and befriends Harlon…But when she betrays him, the rabbit along with other imaginary comic book characters taunt him into committing one final act of revenge.

The line between reality and Harlon’s imagination begin to blur in this intense dramatic thriller.”

The film stars Britt Robertson (Cake), Ryan Lee (This is 40), Nick Krause (Boyhood), and  Sam Trammell (True Blood). Directed by Tim McCann, written by Anthony Di Pietro.

There is an old saying about not knowing what someone else is going through until you’ve walked a mile in their shoes and then there’s the one about how we should smile and be nice to others because we don’t know what they are dealing with. This film shows just how true this is. Bullies do what they do because they have unresolved issues of their own but they have no idea what issues the person they are tormenting deals with on a daily basis. Just as some victims of bullying retreat and deal with their issues by overeating, developing self-esteem issues, or other things that harm themselves, they can react outwardly to retaliate on a larger level.

The reasons I am so interested in this film are the undeniable talent involved AND the conversations that will be sparked from it. I have always been supportive of entertainment that makes a statement, teaches, and contributes to furthering necessary discussion. When a work of art can act as a conduit or catalyst, it has so much to offer!

I do hope you will check it out in theaters, online, or wherever you can. I also encourage you to have those conversations with your friends, your children, and those you care about. Pay attention to the signs you see in others, check in with them, and maybe we can facilitate a healing process on a larger scale.

Be sure to check out “White Rabbit” in theaters beginning Friday, February 13th and check them out on Facebook, IMDb, and their official website. I will be at the premiere on the Red Carpet tonight, opening night. Be sure to follow along on Twitter and Instagram (@teeco71) for pictures, video, and fun!