Director/Writer Christopher Pinero spoke to The Natural Aristocrat about elements of his life making it to ‘A Dark Place’ and finishing the film in 12 days.
This interview contains spoilers for the film A Dark Place.
The Natural Aristocrat [Nir Regev]: You wrote and directed A Dark Place. I was looking at your Instagram earlier and I didn’t realize you dated the leading lady [Jazlyn Yoder]. So, is this a scenario that’s run through your mind before when you were writing the script? I mean, outside of the murder suicide, of course! (laughs)
Christopher Pinero: (laughs) Yeah, yeah I have to say sometimes when she asks me to pick up after myself when I leave my clothes on the floor! (laughs)
I was wondering about the ending with Shawn [Jay Eftimoski] when he’s sitting in a suit and about to go to jail for three years. Did he admit to being an accomplice or was it that the police found the drugs at the house?
He didn’t admit it. It was a combination of both because he was the one that found the bag and he had his hands all over the hammer and the bag. He wanted to basically absolve his friend Cameron [Christopher Donnellon] of any wrongdoing because Cameron didn’t want anything to do with it from the beginning. So it’s a combination of Shawn admitting to being an accomplice and also the drugs being found.
I like the way you shot the movie, where the plot played itself out kind of in reverse. It seemed inspired by Memento. Was that one of the films that had an impact on you as a Director?
Oh yeah, absolutely! It’s definitely one of them. I love Christopher Nolan and I love how he did Batman Begins where he cuts back and forth past the present. I’m also a huge fan of Manchester by the Sea and I like how they revealed certain pieces of information as the story went along.
When you were writing the script, were you always going to end with the suicide for Alex?
No, actually no, it went through many stages. There were so many different iterations. It was really hard for me to figure out a satisfying ending for all the characters involved. I wanted everyone to get what they deserve for better or for worse.
I sent the script to one of my friends who’s a professional script consultant. I said to him like, ‘Man, I can’t really crack this ending,’ and he read it a few times and was like, ‘Hey, this whole time he’s been on this self-destructive downward spiral. And what what happens when you’ve gone too far? You have to keep going.’ And that’s how his suicide came about.
I thought you really locked into something at the beginning of the movie when Alex went to job interviews and they were just so demoralizing. I thought that really set the whole namesake of the movie. Was that something you went through yourself ever or maybe your friends? That kind of empty feeling job interview.
Yes… Yes. It’s something that I went through when I first came back to L.A. cause I came to L.A. in ’08 for the first time and I had a job for a while. Then I left to go work back east again and when I came back for whatever reason I filled out out at least 60 applications and I didn’t get any interviews. Like none. That was just something that I went through and I was like ‘Man, what if this just another thing that this character’s going through?’ But the stakes are even higher for this character.
I knew Keith [Mike Miller] was gonna perish in the film because he’d been built up as such an arrogant, cocky character. What was the inspiration for him? I’m sure Mike Miller had a lot of playing him.
Oh yeah, and it’s funny because he’s a completely different person in real life. He’s so warm and so courteous, he’s like the complete opposite. Well, we were actually working on the character when I casted him. He said he used to work in Wall Street in New York and knew that whole scene. He knows this character! He’s seen this guy before in real life.
The film is based on different people that I’ve met over the years. I used to work at this hotel for a long time, I was a bartender there. You just get a feel for these types of guys. I wanted somebody that was completely opposite than what we had seen from Alex or the other characters.
Did you picture the whole universe when you did the original short film? Did the short film’s success bring on an investment to make it a full feature?
Definitely not the universe. I didn’t know that it would be expanded to something like this. It took me years actually after I wrote a draft. I needed more experience as a filmmaker and as a writer to really get it to where it needed to be. What you see, only happened within the last year of working on up to shooting the film.
I felt you did a nice job with practicing restraint with the plot. Particularly, with Jasmine [Veronica Diaz Carranza] and Cameron. I noticed A Dark Place ended with bittersweet music going into the credit roll despite a fairly ‘happy’ ending for Cameron. What inspired this choice?
I wanted it to tonally match because I’m big on tone. You know, I didn’t want it to just be overly happy or overly sad. I wanted it to be somewhere in the middle. I feel this movie is like marriage. It’s like shades of grey, it’s not black or white. It operates in that middle area and that’s how I try to keep it throughout the whole thing. You mentioned restraint and one of my biggest inspirations is Jaws.
The idea of not seeing the shark for so long. He’s like holding it back. You see like a little bit, you know little snippets of something. You know it’s a shark but the fact that he’s held it back for almost an hour was one of my biggest inspirations. That’s why in this movie the murder happens exactly an hour in.
I’m curious about the phone that Theresa used. It wasn’t a typical smartphone because you wanted it to be a throwaway burner phone, right?
Yeah, it was like a burner phone because where I grew up back east, I knew a lot of people who sold weed like drug dealers and stuff. When I saw somebody with one of those phones, I immediately thought they were shady. I just knew that if people in the audience saw Alex reach in a bag and it was like this little burner phone… Then immediately you don’t even have to say anything. It’s just like, ‘Oh, that’s shady. She’s up to no good.’
Would you ever revisit the characters? I thought there was a lot you can still write for Shawn.
Yeah, I mean Jay [Eftimoski], he’s amazing. Jay worked on the original short film, and he was the only cast member to make it to the feature. I had a whole backstory scene set up with them that wound up on the cutting room floor. It gave more insight but I think we all figured that it didn’t really need to be there, it just slowed down the first act of the movie. But the idea was that they were all foster kids and they met each other in the foster system and that’s how they became friends.
Is that going to be a bonus scene on the Blu-ray for A Dark Place?
No, because I immediately knew once we shot that scene that we weren’t going to use it. And I didn’t even waste time cutting it together.
What’s it like as a director shooting a scene and then having to get rid of it? Is it hard to let go?
No, it’s not really hard for me because I don’t get too attached to anything. Obviously, there’s things the movie needs that need to be there. But then there’s things that I’m like well, ‘If it doesn’t work, get rid of it! If it makes this like a longer story than it has to be for no reason, then let’s get rid of it. That scene just didn’t add enough to it.
As a Director, do you think a scene can be creatively worked on until it does work or time and money simply doesn’t make it feasible?
Mainly the time, we shot A Dark Place in twelve days and the money came from our family and friends. We had twelve days to shoot the film, and if we didn’t get it done within that allotted time, than that’s it. Like that day that we were shooting that scene we were so behind. It just came to a point where I was like, ‘Let’s move on.’ I didn’t have the time to really craft the scene. As you know, making a film you need X amount of time to shoot scenes.
Do you have to get permits to film scenes in certain outside areas?
Yes, like that little pond lake area where Alex commit suicide, it looks bigger in the cut that you see in the movie because I had visual effects enhance that. It’s kind of a smaller pond, it’s not that big but we had visual effects add some stuff in there.
They made it look like a bigger space but that whole area is part of this movie ranch. It’s outside of Santa Clarita and that’s where we shot the burial and restaurant scenes. We maximized that location as much as we could. We shot all the driving stuff right there.
Did you use green screens then or do you just mean general CG enhancement of the area?
Oh no, not green screen. It was just CG like for instance we added some clouds in the background because when we shot that day it was just blue sky. I thought that giving it some texture, some clouds, some trees, would make a pond look like a lake.
A Dark Place was named Best Thriller at the Manhattan Film Festival (2018), won Best Editing and Best Supporting Actor at the Hoboken International Film Festival (2018) and was the recipient of an Award of Excellence from the Accolade Global Film Competition (2018).
Be sure to read and watch more Interviews with talents across the Entertainment industry by The Natural Aristocrat!
Ellen Toland spoke to The Natural Aristocrat about Inside the Rain’s Emma Taylor and society’s inability to separate job title from human being leading to a culture of objectification.
Ellen Toland’s Emma Taylor in new film Inside the Rain is a quiet looking glass into the day-to-day treatment of commodified human beings. When the fantasy of body sushi and the gentlemen’s club ends and a person trying to resume their regular life off-the-clock begins. Yet, separating the person from their job title appears a distant hope, like spotting individual blades of grass outside. It’s for this reason, among many others, that Emma Taylor finds comfort in another person pre-judged by society. One born with bipolar disorder and treated as such at all times to personal detriment. Even scorned in suspicion for taking their medication due to repetitional bias.
Meet Ben Glass, Inside the Rain’s lead protagonist. Ben is largely defined by one act during Into the Rain, an attempted suicide via overdose. In turn, Ben is later accused of another such attempt when he’s spotted simply organizing his medicine for the week… Leading to an unjust arrest and potential exclusion from university. Thus, Ben Glass decides to make a film about all the events leading up to the arrest as a proactive visual defense. Better Call Saul’s Jimmy McGill once told Scholarship interviewee Kristy Esposito that, ‘You made a mistake and to them that’s all you’ll ever be,’ and it feels highly applicable to Inside the Rain’s plot. Much like Jimmy tried to drive Kristy to fighting forward even without the scholarship, Emma Taylor feels Ben can be advance forward in his life without going back to a University that preemptively shunned him.
This interview contains spoilers for Inside the Rain.
Interview with Ellen Toland on Inside the Rain’s Emma Taylor:Ellen Toland as Emma Taylor in film, Inside the Rain – Photo Credit: Art 13
Nir Regev [The Natural Aristocrat]: A good portion of TV & Film audiences are unable to disconnect the character they see on-screen from an actor in real life. During Inside the Rain, these fraternity looking, rich jocks bother Emma Taylor outside of the strip club she works at. Unable to separate the fantasy of body sushi from a regular person having a smoke after work. I was wondering how you feel about that?
Ellen Toland: Oh, that’s a really, really good question. I think that’s a feminine issue especially and it’s pretty ingrained in masculine culture. To objectify women, having a hard time separating the fact that they are not an object and something to toy with. I feel that’s what that scene really plays upon because those guys definitely don’t see a difference between a human being and their sushi tray.
And I think that’s a real issue with our culture in general.
It’s something that people really need to assess within themselves. I think that happens with people and titles of their jobs in the first place too. We don’t see past the title of what people do, and we make that their entire identity… And then treat them with that sense.
Do you feel Emma’s openness lends itself to accept a bipolar person intimately into her life despite his involuntarily asylum stay? There’s many that would have second thoughts after seeing someone forcibly institutionalized but you decide to donate Ben $5,000 dollars for his student film.
Yeah, I feel Emma’s seen a lot of different types of people and has a deep well of empathy & understanding for people. She kind of sees that with Ben but I also think it’s matched with Ben’s acceptance of her and building her up. Which I don’t think she’s had a lot of in her own life. It’s the perfect combination of both of them meeting each other exactly where they’re at, building each other up, and ultimately eventually move on in their own lives.Ellen Toland as Emma Taylor, Aaron Fisher as Ben Glass in film, Inside the Rain – Photo Credit: Art 13
What was it like shooting the scene where Emma’s having dinner with Ben’s parents and mentions she works at a strip club?
I think my choice going into the dinner was that Emma hadn’t been introduced to a lot of parents and treated normally. She’s meeting their possible judgment by just really owning it and trying to almost test them out too and see how they’re going to react. When it’s met with genuine acceptance as well, she’s pleasantly surprised. Shooting that scene was really fun and the restaurant was very sweet to us as well, we ate a huge meal! [laughs] That was great, never bad to get to eat on set, you know?Catherine Curtin as Emma Glass and Paul Schulze as David Glass in film, Inside the Rain – Photo Credit: Art 13
I saw an interview with you and Aaron Fisher where he said, ‘During auditions it just kept going back to Ellen, Ellen, Ellen!’ What do you think was that X-Factor won you the role?
Ultimately, I feel Aaron and I had a pretty natural chemistry. One that you can’t really manipulate with actors necessarily. All the pieces fell together. We really had a good energy together and you really need that in a romance. (laughs)
Inside the Rain left things a little bit open ended for the ending. Why do you feel the choice was made not to send the audience home feeling ‘warm and fuzzy’ with a full happy ending?
I mean I think it was also being realistic to what really would happen in real life. Aaron was also basing the film off of his own life. He wanted to play to the truth of that. And I think they both needed to go and own themselves. They’d been given that confidence, and that’s what’s so good about the flash forward at the end.
It showed that that’s why Ben made that choice, that he really could move forward and ended up with the person he was meant to be with. We have people in our life all the time that are just chapters that are meant to lead us to end of our own story, it doesn’t make those chapters any less important.Ellen Toland as Emma Taylor, Aaron Fisher as Ben Glass in film, Inside the Rain – Photo Credit: Art 13
Inside the Rain feels so much like art imitating life. I have to ask… Is Emma Taylor the real name of the girl portrayed in the film?
Oh, no it’s not her real name! (laughs) It’s loosely based off of someone but it’s definitely not the same name! There’s elements of Aaron’s life in the film, I’d say 60/40 but the film is loosely biographical. Like the last ten years all stirred around into one movie.
Do you feel being aware that Aaron knew this person impacted your interpretation in any way? Or did you still approach the role in the same way you would any other?
You think about it for sure but you also want to create your own vision of it and own that. Aaron and I definitely talked a ton about Emma but he gave him lots of room to make my own decisions. Aaron’s an actor’s director!
There was kind of a frugal moment toward the end at the fast food joint where Emma is adding everything up on her head. It seemed based on those sexually fueled videos she was making outside of her main job and the $5,000 donation that she’d be rich. How do you feel about that scene?
That scene is trying to say that she’s working really hard to get where she is, and knows the worth of a dollar. Feeling at the same time that Ben hasen’t had that kind of struggle. I think you can be making a lot of money and still be frugal. You remember how hard it was to get there.
Why do you feel that despite ‘red flags’ being present, Emma decides to donate the money for Ben’s film? Did Ben’s dream become Emma’s dream and intertwined at that point?
Yeah it all becomes mixed up. I think it also becomes her dream. Emma sees this person that she cares about and understands how important it is to him. There was no too big of a feat to make that dream come true.
Would you like to reprise the character of Emma Taylor potentially in another film?
I love Emma! She’s so brave and strong, I really adore her. If there is an Inside the Rain: Part 2, sure. I mean Aaron and I are really good buds, I love working with him. I’d love to work with him again, of course!
How much of yourself do you see in Emma as a character?
I think that any person you play, you bring an element of yourself. There’s things that are different, there’s things that are the same but I don’t think it’s necessarily conscious. You just bring as much of your research on their perspective of the world as you can. Whether that’s the way you move or even read things. Maybe there’s pieces of yourself in that. It’s a weird little mixed up bag.Ellen Toland as Emma Taylor, Aaron Fisher as Ben Glass in film, Inside the Rain – Photo Credit: Art 13
I saw you studied over in RADA, one of the best acting schools in the world. How do you feel it established your foundations as an actress?
It was amazing! I loved it, some of the best professors I ever had were there. It was something I’d always dreamt of doing and I loved London. It was a really important step in developing my craft. Everything that people say about it… It’s all true! It did not disappoint.
Read more Film and Television interviews in The Natural Aristocrat’s Interview category section. Be sure to watch The Natural Aristocrat TV with Host Nir Regev interviewing leading talent in the entertainment and sports industry on-camera!
Draft picks in fantasy sports act as surrogates to the type of person you really are. “Well, they’re my home team. What’s a man without loyalty?” – Mustang’s [Domenick Lombardozzi] double entendre in Cold Pursuit.
This article contains spoilers for 2019 film, Cold Pursuit.
Around the 34:15 minute mark of Cold Pursuit, there’s a seemingly innocent but meaningful conversation between ‘senior enforcer’ Mustang [Domenick Lombardozzi] and his boss’ young son Ryan Calcote [Nicholas Holmes]. Mustang requests advice from the prodigy-like youngster for his Fantasy Football league… Demoralized by constant losing. “I can’t… I can’t win a game.”
Ryan inquires if Mustang is playing for money, testing the waters as he examines the squad. Mustang confirms and the youngster immediately notices a pattern, “You have four Cleveland Browns on your team.” In effect, Mustang has placed all his eggs in one basket, hedging his bets entirely on the whims of one battalion for victory. Mustang responds, “Well, they’re my home team. What’s a man without loyalty?” In essence, clearly identifying what kind of person Mustang is and gives him away. Loyal to a fault, always going down with the ship… Even when there’s a life raft within fingertips’ reach.
As such, Ryan tells him, “I can’t help you,” sensing Mustang to be a lost cause. If Mustang had approached his fantasy football team in a black and white, unattached, purely mathematical stats-based manner… He’d likely be on the road to gridiron victory already. However, Mustang let the emotional attachment of his home team get the better of him to personal financial detriment. He was willing to sacrifice both his wallet and perception as a skilled drafter to colleagues/friends in order to appease players he’d never even met.
Thus, being accepted as a Cleveland Browns supporter by some invisible corporate eye is more important to Mustang than any kind of personal gain. This mentality equals a favorable feeling to losing ‘honorably’ as part of a team, instead of ‘dishonorably’ winning as an individual. Without giving too much away from the the film, Domenick Lombardozzi’s Mustang would go on to experience loss in other areas of life than fantasy football in Cold Pursuit. It raises the question, at what times is social acceptance more important than individual success?
Watch the memorable acting scene featuring Domenick Lombardozzi & Nicholas Holmes in Cold Pursuit, now streaming on HBO Go and available to rent or buy on Amazon. HBO is available as a Channel on HBO as well for non-cable subscribers.
Be sure to read Requiem for Mac: How Domenick Lombardozzi won Ray Donovan fans on The Natural Aristocrat.
La Orquesta Sinfónica Nacional de México (OSN) will be performing two nights of Stanley Kubrick film music titled ‘Kubrick Sinfónico Reloaded’ or Kubrick Symphonic Reloaded at Palacio de Bellas Artes.
The National Symphony Orchestra of Mexico (La Orquesta Sinfónica Nacional de México) will be playing a full range of iconic pieces from Stanley Kubrick’s films on Friday, March 6 (8 pm) and Sunday, March 8 (12:15 pm) in Mexico City’s Palace of Fine Arts (Palacio de Bellas Artes).
According to INBAL (Mexico’s National Institute of Fine Arts and Literature), eleven compositions will be featured total from Barry Lyndon, A Clockwork Orange, 2001: A Space Odyssey, The Shining, and Eyes Wide Shut. * “Pomp and Circumstance March No. 1 and 4” are counted as one piece for the above INBAL link’s number of 10. José Luis Castillo will be conducting/guest directed the show with Juan Arturo Brennan narrating the event with the history of each piece. The presentation will be part of OSN’s ‘Programa 5’, or fifth program of the season.
The Full Program:
A Clockwork Orange – Beethoven/Wendy Carlos (version for film) – “Suicide Scherzo (Ninth Symphony, Second Movement, Abridged)”
A Clockwork Orange – Edward Elgar – “Pomp And Circumstance March No. 1”
A Clockwork Orange – Edward Elgar – “Pomp And Circumstance March No. 4”
A Clockwork Orange – Henry Purcell/Wendy Carlos (version for film) – “Music for the Funeral of Queen Mary”
Barry Lyndon – Franz Schubert – “German Dance No. 1 in C major”
Barry Lyndon – Franz Schubert – “Piano Trio in E-Flat, Film Adaptation of the Opus 100 2nd Movement”
Barry Lyndon – Frederick The Great – Hohenfriedberger March *
José Luis Castillo es uno de los directores y compositores más destacados y activos en el panorama musical actual. Es considerado como uno de los especialistas en el repertorio moderno y contemporáneo.#KubrickSinfónicoReloaded
Viernes 6 y domingo 8 de marzo, 2020@PalacioOficial pic.twitter.com/XlOxqPlShR
— OSN México (@OSN_MX) March 5, 2020
Kubrick Sinfónico Reloaded: Ticket Availability
Tickets for the event appear sold out on Ticketmaster for Sunday’s event and no longer available online for tonight’s performance. If you’re a local resident, your best bet might be to go to the venue’s box office.
Juan Arturo Brennan, guionista, productor, realizador y conductor de programas culturales de radio y televisión. Crítico de música y colaborador de otras publicaciones, periodista y traductor. #KubrickSinfónicoReloaded
Viernes 6 y domingo 8 de marzo, 2020@PalacioOficial pic.twitter.com/KKQEYRAzQG
— OSN México (@OSN_MX) March 5, 2020
More Stanley Kubrick Coverage at The Natural Aristocrat
Be sure to watch The Natural Aristocrat’s exclusive one-on-one interview with Stanley Kubrick’s daughter Katharina Kubrick and view a walking video tour of the ‘Envisioning 2001″ exhibit at NYC’s Museum of the Moving Image.
Footage of the entire ‘Envisioning 2001′ press presentation featuring a Q & A session with Katharina Kubrick is also available!
The Natural Aristocrat examined the greatness of Barry Lyndon’s use of Handel’s ‘Sarabande’ duel music and how it layered the film. Read more Kubrick articles on The Natural Aristocrat’s Stanley Kubrick category section.