I was contacted a few weeks ago by a gentlemen for a potential interview and it came during a time that I was recovering from surgery. Great timing because it allowed me to devote more time and energy into researching the individual and his company. These particular interviews are favorites of mine because years ago, prior to joining the military, my life's passion was acting. I've been lucky enough to find phenomenal local Theatre groups to work with over the years and that has sustained the passion I have for acting. Chris Greene, the subject of this interview has that same passion and drive. We struck up a great email conversation while conducting the interview and I have now made it my personal goal to aid him and his company in any possible way I can. I'm sure when you read the interview you will agree with me that this is a man and company that are poised for great things in the not distant future. Read the interview, check the links and support independent talents such as Chris.
Chris let me start by wishing you a happy belated birthday.
I appreciate the birthday wishes Mike! Yea it is crazy because my daughter and I share the same birthday and it was her 1st one, so it was a lot of fun.
Ok first question, being that I am currently active duty military I have to ask what your military and SWAT training consisted of and what project was it for?
Well first off let me say that I appreciate what you do for this country and in some cases the world. Military doesn’t get enough credit in my opinion. I have an older brother that was in the Army and two really close friends that are in the service as well and let me tell say that you guys go through hell regardless of where you are stationed and what you are doing. My training was for a project that I was cast for back in 2005 I believe. The premise was that I was 1 of 5 members of a Zombie Task Force in a post apocalyptic world. We would go out and find survivors and bring them back to shelter all while eradicating Zombies, basically S.W.A.T. meets I am Legend if you will. It was shopped as a pilot and didn’t get picked up but the Director had all of us go through real SWAT training with some members out of VA and DC, so we could look as real as possible on camera! Doing stuff like extractions, riot control, learning all types of firearms and what situation would require what weapon, how to rescue a wounded team member…the list goes on and on. One of the best experiences of my life! Gave me a whole new respect for SWAT and Military personnel after going through that weekend of training. Also got me hooked on going to the gun range which is not a good thing for anyone who gives my films a bad rating lol.
For BFF you directed, executive produced, and appeared in the production. Any difficulties juggling multiple tasks for the film?
Absolutely! More so the directing and acting portions. Producing is relatively easy, especially when you are pumping your own money into it. You know what you can and can not afford to do. But when you are directing other Talent, you know their strengths and weaknesses and you use those to get the best performance, however it is hard to do that with yourself. In general people do not want their flaws exposed, so you tend to have stuff written and or mapped out to where you won’t have to worry about those things when you direct yourself. Acting is my passion and what I have done for over 8 years now so I never cheat myself on screen! I had my 1st A.D. Trisha Connell direct when I had to do my scenes, this way I could focus on my character and if I gave a B.S. performance, she would be there to let me know we needed another take!
What were some of the challenges you faced on this production?
Same as any Indie project...TIME & MONEY! It sucks when you are not able to get the things you want, but I have always been a huge fan of Spike Lee, Quentin Tarantino and Robert Rodriguez all of whom use their creative abilities to make their films, not their wallets. As long as we had enough money to take care of food and basic needs, I knew that my Cast & Crew would work hard to make a damn good short film. Locations became a slight problem due to no time for pre-production with this film, which boils down to a time factor. The two Lead Actresses, Raven Daria Megna and Anna East, were headed back to school soon and I had two films I was going to be working on as an Actor coming up, so I literally had to run and gun as they say. In the end though we were able to get some good stuff because I was able to convince people that this was not going to be a normal horror film, that B.F.F would stand out…hopefully in a good way haha!
Switching gears slightly, what would you say the impact of social media has had on B.F.F.? Has it been a benefit or a detriment?
Oh a huge benefit! Now a days it is almost a necessity to have a Facebook, Twitter, Blog, YouTube, Vimeo and Website for any film that you do! These sites are so powerful that there are folks sitting at home making more money off them than people working 9-5 jobs. But I am still very careful about what is posted in relation to the film and make sure that my Cast & Crew are also very careful! Less is more as far as a film promotion is concerned in my opinion. You also don’t want too much negativity surrounding your project and people love to hate in this industry!
Ok, I caught the Greene High School and the Canales Fl, as well as the creativity behind the girl’s names. Does the entire film have hidden messages (I hope) throughout?
Lol yes sir! At first people on set thought I was losing my mind, and the girls, bless their hearts, had to deal with the flip flop of names. I think they secretly cursed me out at the end of each day of filming. As we got more into filming though everyone was diggin’ the little Easter Eggs that myself and Writer Luis Canales came up with. I think that it includes the audience and keeps them focused on the film when a Director does stuff like that. That is why I appreciate Directors like Robert Rodriguez because you know that the Director cares enough about the project to devote time to the little things like that. Plus it makes people watch your film over and over to see if they can catch something new each time out!
How does one go about becoming a sponsor for one of your projects?
Very simple, I go and find a business and or person that will thrive off of the film’s story. One of our sponsors, Mrs. Debbie Cole who owns The Book Worm, was game because of the fact that my film not only showcases Women in the dominate role, but also shows that one of the characters really cares about educating herself. Granted it is a horror film so there is that element of violence, but it is not gratuitous, which she was also a fan of. Sponsors want their products and or businesses shown in a positive light, so as a filmmaker I want to make sure that my film can not only benefit from the sponsorship, but also make sure that the sponsor can benefit from my film. This way if I ever want to use them again there will be no hesitation or reservations!
How do you cast for your films?
A lot of Talent will hate me after they read this but I cast strictly off referral! I honestly am not a big fan of having open auditions for my projects. As an Actor I am the worst person to audition for because I will know if you took the time to prepare for the audition. It is a slap in the face to the Casting Department for an Actor or Actress to come into an audition and know nothing about the project! I do as much research as possible when I go audition for a part and I feel that a lot of Casting Director’s respect me for that because I respect the time it takes to put a casting call together! I also feel like when you cast based off referrals you know what you are going to get. I know that people sent to me will be hard working and love what they do! I am sure there will be times when I will need to have an open audition, but I have been lucky with my last two projects finding the perfect Talent to fit the roles.
We interviewed Cyndi Crotts a couple of months ago and she was so much fun. How was she to work with?
Cyndi is NUTS haha! I enjoy working with her! She knows when it is time to play and time to be serious on set. I have directed her twice, “B.F.F” of course and another project called “La Fleur De Mai” which is a web series coming out early next year. When the script was finished I gotta be honest and say that Cyndi didn’t come to mind as a lock for her part because I wasn’t sure she would go for it. She has been in some quality films, especially in the horror genre, so I wasn’t sure she would go for a PG-13 type horror film. But when she e-mailed me back after reading the script and said she loved it, I knew that character was going to be in good hands!
What other projects do you have forthcoming?
Producer and Director wise I have an action/comedy short film titled “GEEKS” which is doing the festival run. It is a collaborative project between my company Detour Entertainment, LLC and Dark Elf Films. The short is produced by Valensky Sylvain who is by far the hardest working man I know when it comes to this industry. This guy works more than me and trust that is saying a lot ‘cause I never sleep! I also have a docufilm that is coming out under my production company called “The Story of the Seven Maids from Stockbridge”, which is based on the script novel written by Ken Sagoes, best known as KINCAID from the Nightmare on Elm St. films. Actor wise I just wrapped two very cool projects, one called “TWO DAYS”, directed by Jose Zambrano Cassella, and the other called “365 Decision Time”, directed by Ariel A. Santiago. Earlier this year I worked on two great projects “QUITE A CONUNDRUM”, directed by Thomas L. Phillips and “DO IT IN POST”, directed by Rob Dionne. I have to admit, I have been very fortunate this year.
Tell us where you see Detour Entertainment in the next five years. What would you like to have accomplished?
I want Detour to be the go to production company in the southeast within the next five years. My goal is not to have anything huge, like a studio or back lot, but hey if it happens then that will be great! Basically I am striving for Detour Ent. To become the OVERBROOK ENTERTAINMENT, Will Smith’s production company, of the southeast. As I said earlier I am an Actor by trade so I will always focus on that, but being a Producer is a back up plan for when I hang up the acting hat. It would be nice to still have Detour and make quality films later on in my career!
Which directors to you admire?
Like I said earlier, Spike Lee, Robert Rodriguez & Quentin Tarantino for starters. I also follow Antoine Fuqua, F. Gary Gray, Ridley & Tony Scott & Danny Boyle…I mean to be honest there are so many great directors out there but I watch more of these guy’s films than most.
Which actors/actresses would you most like to work with?
Wow…I don’t think people have enough time to read all that haha! Far as Actor’s I grew up watching or started out studying go, if it weren’t for Will Smith I would not be talking to you today! Aside from my lil one and my father, he is really what motivates me to be in the film game. I would be happy if I had one scene with this man as an Actor much less Direct him or Produce a film that he would be starring in! Denzel Washington is also another legendary talent. He commands your attention every time he is on the screen you can’t help but watch! I am actually from the same part of New York that he is from, ‘Money Earnin’ Mount Vernon! There are many more but I won’t bore you to death with my list. Actress wise Helen Mirren is my cougar crush haha. She is a hot older woman and aside from Meryl Streep I don’t think there are any Actresses in the game right now that can hold a candle to her! On the younger end of the spectrum as far as talent I would like to work with, Zoe Saldana is a very talented actress…she is so good I named my daughter after her haha! No but seriously she is definitely one that I would love to work with. I also think Joseph Gordon-Levitt is going to get his place among the elite when it is all said and done. I just hope people will consider me as good as these folks when I hang it up…IF I ever hang it up that is.
If I promise not to tell, which ones would you avoid at all costs?
Hell I will tell it so don’t worry about that! I can not and will not work with DIVAS! Everyone on set should be there because they want to be not because they have to be! I have a saying that goes “Filmmaking is a MIND STATE not a PAY RATE”. If you think that your sh*t don’t stink because you have a few more zeros on your check, or a few more fans than the next talent, then you are setting up for failure in this biz. Filmmaking is a team effort PERIOD, and some of these DIVAS don’t realize that the climb to the top is slow and crowded, but the fall to the bottom is quick and lonely!
What classic movie if given the chance to remake would you want to? And you can’t cop out and say “Oh I would never touch the classics”
Cyndi warned me you were a tough interviewer Mike…Can I say I plead the fifth lol??? Man it is so hard to say…if I absolutely had the RIGHT Cast & Crew and support from the fans, I would love to remake “THE OUTSIDERS” or “THE WARRIORS” and set it in modern times! Those films in my mind should not be altered in any way but I have always been a fan of the underdog, or person from the other side of the tacks beating all odds! I am more partial to WARRIORS because after all I am a New Yorker haha.
Dream role as an actor?
Damn you are good man! Hmmmm…Something similar to Denzel’s role in GLORY or Will Smith’s role in THE Pursuit of Happyness or I AM LEGEND. Those roles are so powerful because a lot was said without words. Neither Denzel nor Will had a lot of lines during their emotional scenes, and could have played them so over the top, but they didn’t and still made you feel for them with their expressions and movements. Any male actor will tell you that it is not an easy task to perform those types of scenes. To be emotional and let down your guard but still maintain your masculinity…very very tough!
WTF is up with young actresses in Hollywood these days?
Beats me…too much ELMER’s GLUE sniffing as a child I guess. Seriously I think it is the accessibility. Back in the day getting access to a Movie Star or Celeb was not as easy as it is now and some of these chicks thrive off the spotlight. They also lack the right people around them to keep them grounded. That is why I have to give much praise and respect to Pete & Lisa Megna and Robert & Jennifer East, the parents of my lead actresses in “B.F.F” Raven and Anna! Their parents are so good at supporting their daughters yet making sure they understand the importance of morals and values! Also you had to have TALENT to gain the notoriety of a Celeb back in the day, now any ******* with a good look, video camera, YouTube account and some time on their hands can come up with a reality show and boom…INSTANT CELEB! Sounds like some sort of energy drink doesn’t it…INSTANT CELEB.
Superman emblems…coolest one you’ve had on set with you?
Hmmm…gotta say my tatts! I have the emblem tattooed on the back of both of my arms. I always try to have something on set with me that has the “S”. It’s my good luck charm!
Ok onto Geeks, what is Geeks about?
“GEEKS” is part of the Cinematic Haiku series which are a bunch of short films that cover one aspect, be it drama, comedy, action or horror of an everyday situation. My company along with Dark Elf Films decided to take two everyday gamers and see what would happen if they really had the chance to sit down and talk about the effect of video games on society. When I first got the script I wasn’t quite sure I was going to be able to work with it, but as things went along and we tweaked and tightened I realized that this is a story that everyone can relate too! We all know that one person who loves their video games and wishes that they could live out a level or scene from those games in everyday life! We had a great cast with Michael Santi, Alex Banos, Natalie Stavola, Lj Grillo and Elizabeth “DeeDee” Strauss. My crew was able to make the best out of a crap situation weather wise and my post production team Ashton Bracciodeta, Danny page and Josh Wright brought it all together. I think people are going to get a kick out of it!
When can we expect to see Geeks?
It is currently being submitted to festivals and will be available for download in the beginning of 2012! You can follow the films progress through the festival run at my production company site www.detourentertainmentproductions.com or Dark Elf Film’s site www.darkelffilms.com
I have to admit that as the co-owner of an internet gaming company, I am stoked about seeing Geeks. What was the influence for this project?
Well as I said Valensky approached me about directing the project after the script was already written. We both thought it would be cool to let the “Nerds” have their day so to say. Funny thing is the film does not portray game lovers in a negative light, it is more like this is what your would hear if you went to a gamer convention or sat down and sparked a heated debate about which game and or system was the best. But of course it is a film so we had to have a few embellishments in there! To be honest the gaming industry and movie industry are pretty much hand and hand now a days if you think about it. There are several A and B list actors and actresses that dub for the characters in video games and of course you have comic books becoming live action features with technology being the way it is!
Our flagship game Bloodletting allows the players to choose their race in game…so which is it for you, Vampire, Slayer, Witch, Werewolf, or Angel?
I am a Scorpio and we love getting physical with our companions so for me the natural choice would be VAMPIRE. True the sunlight thing sucks, yes I said sunlight…for those of you who think TWILIGHT vamps are the real deal smh, but being able to seduce any woman into being with me and living forever would be a great trade off! Plus Vampires are just flat out fun, sarcastic and intimidating because they can blend right in, make you feel vulnerable, then strike at any moment…very chameleon like! I am a night owl anyways so I don’t think it would be too hard to manage and identify with my game character haha.
For more information about Detour Entertainment and upcoming projects, check out their website at http://detourentertainmentproductions.com/
Also check out these cool teaser trailers from B.F.F. and Geeks