Director Casper Andreas latest LGBT flicks “KISS ME, KILL ME” and “FLATBUSH LUCK” bookends San Diego's FilmOut SD Film Festival as Opening and Closing Night films
An interview with Director Casper Andreas
by Oliver Carnay
LGBT communities’ favorite director Casper Andreas (Slutty Summer, The Big Gay Musical, Going Down in LA-LA-LAND, among his notable films) is back at San Diego’s prime LGBT queer film festival, FILMOUT, with his latest feature “KISS ME, KILL ME” --to serve as the Opening Night film while “FLATBUSH LUCK” bookends the festival as its Closing Night. The festival gala which is yearly housed at The Observatory North Park, San Diego, starts this weekend, June 3, Friday at 7 p.m., with the director and cast members attending for a Q&A after the screening, and an after-party with foods galore and music.
“KISS ME, KILL ME,” written by David Michael Barrett (from last year’s “Such Good People” starring Randy Harrison) is a gay-thriller about Dusty (Van Hansis) who blacks out while confronting his cheating boyfriend, Stephen (Gale Harold), and wakes up finding out Stephen has been murdered and he is the prime suspect. Also starring Brianna Brown, Yolanda Ross, Jai Rodriguez, Matthew Ludwinski, Kit Williamson, D.J. “Shangela” Pierce, Allison Lane, Jackie Monahan, Craig Robert Young, Michael Maize and Jonathan Lisecki.
“FLATBUSH LUCK” is about two cousins -- Jimmy (Tanner Novlan) and Max (Robby Stahl) who are former Wall Street hotshots who makes a living as telephone repairmen in a Brooklyn neighborhood. While Max is worried about his upcoming expensive wedding, Jimmy is thinking of going back to his fast-paced high life. With their current job and an opportunity to tap phone lines of an illegal insider trading, they found a perfect scheme how to solve their money problem. But when the stock tips turn to murder plots, it seems they are veering more into a flat out of luck. Andreas collaborated with James Balletto with the script. The movie also stars Briana Marin, Natalie Britton and Juahn Cabrera.
I caught up with the ever busy Andreas and here is an excerpt from our conversation (please read on):
Hollywoodflip: Congratulations, two of your latest films are being featured at the upcoming FilmOut, San Diego's prime LGBT Film Festival! This is a rare opportunity and an honor for a filmmaker. How does it feel about not only getting "Kiss Me, Kill Me" as the Opening Night Film but "Flatbush Luck" also bookends the Closing Night? Can you tell us how did this happen?
CA: I, of course, feel wonderful to get my work recognized in this way. I’m very proud of both films and excited to share them with the San Diego audiences. It’s especially thrilling for me because many of my actors who are attending, especially from Flatbush Luck, have not yet seen the film.
I found out about "Kiss Me Kill Me" having been selected for opening night a while back. Then I got an email from Michael, the festival director, asking me if I could send him a screener of "Flatbush Luck" as well that he had just learned about. When he told me after having watched it that he was considering it for closing night I didn’t believe it at first. This is definitely a first for me having films in both those slots and I don’t expect it to ever happen again.
Hollywoodflip: For "Kiss Me, Kill Me" can you explain about the casting process and how were you able to convince Gale Harold to star in this film?
CA: David Michael Barrett who wrote the screenplay and who produced the film with me had run into Gale at some event and told him that he had a script he wanted to send him. Gale was open to reading it and once he did he really liked the part we wanted him for. It was a long process attaching him as he wasn’t 100% on board with everything the role required, but we really wanted him and David ended up doing some rewrites to make the part more attractive for Gale which both David and I felt ended up helped the script. We were thrilled that Gale accepted as we think he is so great in this role and it’s the first time he has played a gay character since "Queer As Folk" ended over 10 years ago. We know a lot of his fans are very excited to see him in the film. A lot of the other cast we also attached by going directly to them through personal connections. It’s very hard to get actor’s agents excited about a low budget film like this so it helped a lot to get the script directly to actors we wanted. Kit Williamson who plays the character Travis in the film was a big help as he put us in touch with both Van Hansis and Briana Brown who both had worked on his web-series “Eastsiders”
Hollywoodflip: How was your collaboration with David Michael Barrett? When did the story and the writing first come into fruition?
CA: David and I worked great together and I think really complimented each other during the making of this film. He first sent the script to me and asked if I was interested in directing. I indeed was VERY interested in directing since the type of film it is — a whodunit style murder mystery/ thriller is not something I love watching, something I have not done before and I thought the script was very exciting. For a while we were looking for someone else to produce it however as I was kind of burned out on producing and really wanted to just focus on directing. But in the end we decided to just produce it together ourselves and get it done. I think David and I made a great team and we are still on speaking terms :)
Hollywoodflip: Which one did you start filming -- "Kiss Me, Kill Me" or "Flatbush Luck"? How many days of shooting you had for each?
CA: "Kiss Me Kill Me" was shot in January of 2015 for 18 days. We had planned to shoot it already end of 2014 so it got pushed a bit. At that point I already knew that I had "Flatbush Luck" lined up as the executive producer really wanted to get it done early summer. I shot that film for 17 days in June of 2015. So I had a very busy spring last year working on the post production of one film while being in pre-production and then production of my second one.
Hollywoodflip: How was the casting process for "Flatbush Luck”?
CA: It was a lot of fun actually! I had pretty free hands to cast whoever I wanted as the executive producer James Balletto just wanted me to find good actors and wasn’t worried about the name-game. So I did end up casting several actors I already knew in many of the roles. Then we put out some roles on the breakdown service and I picked actors from the submissions to do self-tapes. Then I called in the ones I liked the most for callbacks in NYC. During callbacks I had many of the actors read with each other to see if they had chemistry and how they played off each other, etc. I love working with actors so I actually enjoyed the whole process.
Hollywoodflip: What were the greatest challenges that you've encountered in creating both films?
CA: The greatest challenge making a film on a small budget is always finding locations that are willing to let you shoot for free or for a small payment. People hear about these big Hollywood productions coming in and paying tens of thousands to shoot in someone’s house or establishment and it’s not always easy to convince a bar or restaurant to let us shoot there during their off-hours in exchange for a small fee and us featuring their name in the film, etc. But that’s the only way to get films like this made so its a lot of work lining up those locations.
Hollywoodflip: In choosing the people you work with, do you have rules or requirements?
CA: It depends what roles I need them to fill but generally I like working with friendly, hardworking, skilled individuals who are willing to go the distance!
Hollywoodflip: What do you want audience to take after watching both films?
CA: Well foremost I hope they will enjoy the films and have a good time watching them. KISS ME KILL ME should hopefully have audience members at the edge of their seats at times.
Hollywoodflip: I admire that you never stop working, continuing to be visible in this industry -- either as an actor, director, or producing films. You wear different hats, but which one do you love doing most -- acting, directing, or producing?
CA: I don’t love producing but I’m good at it which is why I’ve been able to make so many films as a director. I really prefer doing the creative stuff though. At the moment I’m probably mostly focused on directing but I love acting so much as well so I hope to be able to keep doing both.
Hollywoodflip: What are we looking forward to with your next project? What are you working on right now?
CA: Several things! As an actor I have a role in an upcoming feature by director Max Emerson. As a producer I’m working on Madeleine Olnek’s period comedy about Emily Dickinson starring Molly Shannon. As a director I’m attached to direct a film starring Malcolm McDowell that we are hopefully shooting this fall. I’m also working on a really outrageous comedy called "The Homewrecker" written by my "Going Down in LA-LA Land" star Allison Lane (Allison is also in "Kiss Me, Kill Me”). We are raising money right now in case any of your readers are interested in being part of it :)
Thanks so much! Please come check out the films at FilmOut — I do hope we will have a full house for both films. I have a lot of cast members coming to join me for the Q&As and parties after the screenings so it will be a lot of fun. And do check out my website www.embrem.com for more information and links to my earlier films!
OUTFILM San Diego is a three-day weekend festival (June 3, 4, and 5, 2016). For tickets and detailed schedule of films, please go to www.FilmOutSanDiego.com