I’ve became friends and a supporter for producer and filmmaker, Jim Cirile, when I discovered his project Liberator, which featured heavy hitters like Lou Ferrigno (Hulk), Michael Dorn (Star Trek), Don “The Dragon” Wilson (Bloodfist), and last, but certainly not least in my book, one of my favorite actresses, Peta Wilson (La Femme Nikita).
A few years down the road, the creation for To Your Last Death would come to life, and I would again, support this project for Jim and his wife and business partner, Tanya Klein. Two projects later, I am confident to say that this won’t be the last project that these two amazing human beings will create that I will support and promote for.
Y’all have an astounding cast including William Shatner (Star Trek), Morena Baccarin (Gotham, Deadpool), Ray Wise (Robocop, Twin Peaks). Did you already have these actors envisioned in your mind for your characters when creating the project, or was there an audition for these actors and actress?
Tanya Klein: No, we didn’t write those parts with anyone in mind. During the pre-production process, we sat around with our producers and director and made lists of actors who would be great for these parts. Our producers called their agents and then it hinged on their interest and availability and cost.
To Your Last Death, formally known as Malevolent, has been in production for a few years now. How does it feel to finally see the light at the end of the tunnel for this project for the both of you?
Jim Cirile: I guess the best way to describe it is simply “wow.” There were times during the production process when we weren’t sure we’d be able to finish it. Animated movies are pricey and sometimes there are unforeseen hiccups. So at times it was pretty stressful. Getting it done felt great. We recently had our first cast/crew/friends/family screening to celebrate the fact that we had climbed the mountain. To show it on a big screen in front of many people was, of course, nerve-wrecking and we were thrilled to discover that it went over really well. Everyone got it. They laughed at the right places and they were scared at the right places. It was awesome. So “wow.”
How long have y’all been working in the film industry?
TK: I have been in the entertainment industry for all of my adult life starting out in theater as a playwright, director, actor and producer in New York as well as Artistic Director of a theater company before switching over to film about 15 years ago.
JC: I started out as an assistant at a small production company in New York right after college. After that, I worked my way up to writer/producer at that company before coming out to Los Angeles. All in all, I have been working in the industry for 30 years.
Actor William Shatner and the To Your Last Death crew. Jim & Tanya to your far left. 🙂
Producing isn’t the only expertise you both have on your resumes, is it? Can you give the readers an outline of your accomplishments over the years in the industry?
TK: We’re both writers, as well as, story analysts. I am also an actor/director. I has a slew of NY stage productions, as well as, several short films under my belt.
JC: I am an artist/musician. I also have written on many features including having a three-movie deal with Lionsgate.
Y’all are just co-producers for film projects, you both are married to each other. 😊 When did you two decide to take your relationship to the next level, as not just husband and wife, but as business partners?
JC: That happened quite organically because when you’re around someone a lot you naturally get involved in their projects. So I’d say pretty much from the start.
What’s the best thing about working together?
TK: Firstly, it’s efficient. If you need to discuss something you can simply walk into the other room. Secondly, you know each other well and can develop a kind of shorthand.
You’re been behind two successful crowd funding projects with Liberator and now To Your Last Death. What are some of the advice can you can share with other aspiring filmmakers to accomplish this aspect of success for raising money to budget your film projects?
JC: Oh, many! First of all, if you can avoid crowdfunding your movie AVOID IT! This might sound flippant, but I’m absolutely serious. Crowdfunding isn’t a walk in the park. A few things to keep in mind: 1. you need a strong online presence months before you start your crowdfund (so plan accordingly). 2. When deciding how much money to ask for you must keep fulfillment of perks (which costs money) as well as taxes in mind. You don’t want to end up in a situation where you lose money or barely break even when you do a crowdfund 3. On average one crowdfund team member can raise $6K (some a bit less and some a bit more depending on their social media footprint, but that’s what it averages out to). So if you want to raise $60K, you’ll need 10 committed team members.
What inspired to bring To Your Last Death to life? How was the story created?
TK: Often horror films end up in the same place: Final Girl, exhausted and blood-smeared, claws her way out of the wreckage after a time of absolute horror where she had to watch everyone else die only to finally best the bad guy. We thought: “what if that was our starting point? Final Girl crawls out into the light… and then we send her back to do it all again. Wouldn’t that be cool… and cruel? ”
Are any of the characters based on anyone you know in real life? How much did the actors end up relating to the characters they played in the film?
TK: No, thankfully not! (laughs) However, we do like to call Cyrus our Dick Cheney character. Similar bio and similar personality. (Yeah, he’s the bad guy.) The actors seemed to enjoy themselves a lot especially since some of them got to play against type.
How does this film stand out from the rest of the anime films? How does this film stand out from the rest of the films in America?
JC: Animation is only now in the process of “growing up” in the US. For many, many years animation was something for kids (and on the feature film front it still very much is). TV has led the march towards adult-themed animation and, slowly, this is opening up the feature film sphere. An animated horror film was pretty much unheard of when we first started this project and still is in many ways. It differs from anime films in the sense that we’re going for more gritty realism in character design and color-work as well as animation.
This is the very first American Anime here in the states, so that’s an accomplishment. Do you see yourself trendsetting for future anime films in this country, or even worldwide?
TK: That’d be cool! However, an animated movie is very difficult to produce when one has to do it on a small budget. Hence, the next animated movie we make has to be with a deep-pocketed investor or studio on board.
Are there any other projects in the works from Coverage, Ink you two can hint at for the near future?
JC: We actually have several scripts we’d like to make…
TK: …However, the first step is selling To Your Last Death and possibly a vacation. (Smiles!)