Q&A Feature: Saul Pincus

I am at it again, but this time with Canadian writer and filmmaker, Saul Pincus, as we go more in depth on his film “Nocturne.” Ya know, the one I was so intrigued with, I had to watch it twice? Now I go more in depth and behind the process of film making with the man himself!

unnamed (1)This is certainly a first. A film recommendation becomes a two part with a interview feature with the director and writer, himself! Saul Pincus, thank you for taking the time to sit down with me and discuss the world of film! It’s truly an honor to be able to do this with you. Let’s dive right in, shall we?

How long have you been working in the film industry? What or who influenced you to dive into the film industry?

Saul Pincus: I’ve been doing this for the better part of four decades, roughly four fifths of my life. The first ten years were comprised of a lengthy string of experiments on Super 8 – experiments that grew and grew in challenge and complexity, thanks in part to the fact that it was the heyday of Super 8, and there was a lot of advanced gear available to get you results not possible with just a consumer camera and projector. I would cavort around Montreal, my hometown, with my camera, having a blast.

My dad, an astronomy buff, had played ball with William Shatner when they were in high school together, but no one in my family was in the entertainment field. The original Star Wars and Close Encounters of the Third Kind opened when I was seven. I went to the library to research how these sorts of films were made – but there was nothing available, only a book on “trick photography” with still cameras. But I was hooked – and at just the right moment, because for the first time in the history of cinema, science fiction was no longer a ghetto genre. We got rafts of films with new visual achievements every six months, and some of them had great stories, too.

For me, the thought of making films professionally was never much of a question. But when I left Montreal for Toronto in the mid-90s, I was starting from scratch.

What were some of the greater aspects working on the production of La Femme Nikita in the ’90s? What are some things on the production end that were difficult to do then, that might be easier now to do? What parts of the film industry hasn’t changed since you started in your career?

SP: LFN was a cool show, in part because it a show with a large international audience that was produced by American and Canadian minds hand-in-hand. It was also well-budgeted for an off-network show of that time, so it could look the part and not often look silly doing so. That was unique, and it helped lend the show the kind of character it has.

The difference between any series or film now, versus then, is the ease with which you can lend scale or realism to the images after the fact. But if you take a look at season two versus the first season, you can already see an improvement in the visual effects, which is less due to the artistry in this case, and more due to the availability of new tools – tools which were still evolving. The first season VFX seem a bit too “video-ey.”

But other than technology, the basic process of producing a series really hasn’t changed since the advent of the medium. You still need money, great writing, a great cast, a great crew, a supportive broadcaster and a loyal audience.

Could you go into detail on how your day went while you were an assistant editor on the show?

SP: When I was there, two assistants would alternate odd and even numbered shows, which meant we’d work with one editor though the season. LFN was shot on Super 16mm negative film, which meant that the previous day’s footage would be have to be first processed by the lab in a chemical bath overnight. Then it would go to Magnetic North, a post facility, and into the hands of Bill Holley, who would transfer it with care and a keen eye to Digital Betacam tape. This process would take till the early afternoon, so I’d arrive at work around 4pm.

I generally worked with Dave Thompson. When his episode would be shooting, I’d check his dailies and feed them into his Avid, ready for him to edit. There are many checks and triple-checks when dealing with film transfers to video, especially at that time, when you’d be shooting @ 23.98fps and wind up with 29.97 video. And it wasn’t just a one-way street, because Warner Bros. would want to archive a cut negative of the finished show. So you had to be certain the metadata of each and every piece of camera negative was correctly transferred to tape, and in turn, made it into your Avid intact. Otherwise you couldn’t instruct the negative cutter with confidence. Today, that process is much simpler, because we rarely use film.

It’s a technical job, yes, but it’s also a political job. And creative – though how much depended on the project and the editor.

So, you are not from Toronto, but from Montreal. What helped you decide to relocate to Toronto, from Montreal? Was it for work purposes? What helped you to decide to stay in Toronto, instead of returning to Montreal?

SP: I left Montreal largely because my girlfriend was returning home after going to school there. She and I later married, so I guess I made the right call!

But the other reason was the political climate in Montreal, which was in the throes of Quebec’s second referendum on sovereignty in two decades. It was not a healthy environment in which to seek gainful employment or a predictable financial future.

I always believe you can read a city by its food. Toronto was just starting to get interesting food-wise. On several levels, Toronto of the mid-90s was transitioning, getting more inviting.

You are still based in Toronto decades after shooting LFN. I understand access to budget for films in Canada differ than the access here in the United States. Could you share the difference between the Canadian film industry compared to that of the US and can you share the process that is done to get budget for a film project in the industry up there compared to what is done here in the U.S.?

SP: Well, that’s a really big question with a week-long answer. In a nutshell, the English-speaking film/television world is driven by the U.S. market. Traditionally this had meant we in Canada have taken the scraps, or produced alternative programming in a bid to secure what we consider to be our Canadian identity in broadcast or theatrical form. There are government agencies set up to ensure projects with a Canadian identity get made. But as with any project anywhere in the world, the total project budget comes from several sources. Cobbling all those sources together is the big challenge.

The US isn’t as concerned with its cultural identity per se in large part because the machinery to export American movies was set up over a hundred years ago, and is still functioning at top efficiency, in great numbers, with well-worn distribution channels allowing access into nearly every country on the planet.

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Mary, Ted, Chris, Me, Dave, Natalie, & Saul

I actually had the privilege to personally meet you with numerous cast and crew of LFN back in May 2017. When you walked into the reunion convention, what was your first expression and/or your whole experience like all weekend spending time with the fans and your previous coworkers?

SP: I was amazed, in part that so many had traveled so far to celebrate it. But I’ve gotten on planes to see the late Jerry Goldsmith and then John Williams (both widely considered the greatest film composers of our time) conduct concerts, so I get it.

I’ll admit though, that the first time I was approached to autograph Chris Heyn’s book on the show, it was a strange feeling. Strange because I didn’t create this show, nor was I a key creative force. I was more like red shirt #28576 at a Star Trek convention. But it’s all about love, and that’s a beautiful thing.

Do you feel there is more expression freedom in the art of film in Canada as a whole compared to the film art expressed here in the States?

SP: Not necessarily, because if someone trusts you with a million dollars, no matter where you live, very few people on this planet are going to ask you if you achieved maximum artistic expression. They just want to know if what you’ve made is exploitable and whether it will bring returns. It’s probably healthier to find an exploitable concept, but carefully craft it and then lace it with artistic expression that does not undermine the exploitable aspect.

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Still frame from Nocturne.

Your most current project is the independent film, Nocturne. Was there a specific person or event that influenced you to write the story for Nocturne?

SP: Nocturne was borne from my desire to make a silent film about characters that struggle to communicate. Obviously it’s not a silent film, literally – but it’s a story lends itself to visual language and I hoped to stress that. It’s about an insomniac who falls for a sleepwalker, and how they eventually must come to grips with the fact that their intimate, almost myopic “relationship” has larger implications for them both.

How long did it take to create a film project like Nocturne?

SP: About a year to write, a few months to shoot, and several years to finish. The reason is because it was entirely self-financed, but also because the film contains five minutes of hand-drawn animation playing in tandem with the dominantly live-action portion of the film. That took a year to actually produce, but before doing so, I had to cut and shape the live-action very precisely to know exactly how much animation I really needed. So it took time to finish, for sure, but once we started getting invited to film festivals in the US, Canada, and in Europe (Nocturne had its World Premiere in the Free Spirit Competition at the Warsaw Film Festival), won awards for best feature film (at the New Jersey International Film Festival and at Cinema on the Bayou Film Festival, with an excellence award from the Rincon Film Festival), and landed our distribution deal with Random Media, it left me feeling gratified.

What was the difference between working on La Femme Nikita and your work with Nocturne? Do you feel you had more control as an editor or as a director/writer for a project?

SP: LFN was Joel Surnow’s vision; Roy, Peta, everyone – we were all hired to execute it. Your own project is just that, and you work with or hire people to help you execute it. Depending on what your arrangement is with your investors, you are answerable to them to some degree. But in the end, we make things for audiences, and you are always answerable to them on the basis of the work itself!

What is the difference between working on a film, compared to working on a television series in general?

SP: In the late 90s, you worked on a TV show for the better part of a year, there were semi-regular hours, each episode took roughly eight days to shoot, and you shot six to ten pages of script per shooting day. There were distinct limits as to how many locations you could visit in that eight day schedule, what caliber of guest stars you could cast, etc. And each episode had to run a specific length.

Even low budget features of the day shot for at least four weeks, often months. So you shoot less per day, meaning you can introduce more detail into the story and take a bit more time to craft the result. But the hours were crazier.

Today, the lines are a bit more blurred. A season no longer equates to a definitive number of episodes, and even the duration of individual episodes doesn’t matter as long as they remain under a certain length. In general, series work is much better funded across the board, with broadcasters (including the likes of Netflix and Amazon) having realized that to compete with features, their product must be as good as features traditionally were.

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Still frame from Nocturne with Actress Mary Krohnert

 

Do you have any new projects you are currently working on or a part of whether it would be in pre-production, production, or post-production phase? Can you tell us what to expect from you in the near future when it comes to projects or work?

SP: Well, oddly, Nocturne is still very active. Earlier this year, Nocturne was released on special edition DVD – which means that the two lead actors, Mary Krohnert, Knickoy Robinson and I, went into a studio to record a screen-specific audio commentary that describes how we made the film. And we had fun – but we were serious about it, too. If you’re curious about movies, it’s a great way to learn – sort of a film school in a box.

Also exciting for me is that Tribeca Shortlist, the digital arm of the Tribeca Film Festival, has just licensed Nocturne for a two-year run in the US. Tribeca Shortlist is a real home for the kind of “filmmaker’s film” that Nocturne has often been called. It’s also available on iTunes, Amazon, Google Play, Xbox and certain broadcast networks in more than 50 countries across the globe. This is the thing about movies – they can go on for years, even after they’re done!

And yes, I have other projects in the works. Sorry for being coy, but that’s all I can say at this stage!

The film industry isn’t an easy career to pursue in general. What helps keep you motivated in your craft to help keep you focused and allows you to keep pushing forward in your career?

SP: The simple answer: it’s just what I like to do, and has been for as long as I can remember. I like to build things.

What is some advice would you like to share, based off of your own experiences, for those who are in film school or interested in the film industry?

SP: Another simple question! But seriously, the real trick is just knowing yourself, what you want to eventually be doing, and chart a path from there. And remember, it’s not so much about where you see yourself in a year, but where you’d like to see yourself when you’re fifty or sixty. Pick an area that will keep you passionate on little or no sleep, in horrible weather, even if your health fails. I’m being dramatic, but also truthful. If you can’t do that, walk away!

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In Between Scenes with the actors of Nocturne

I don’t know about you, but I would love to see what other film art you have the ability to cook up in that articulate mind of yours. Any last words you’d like to share for the following readers before we conclude this interview?

SP: Well, I’m going to put in another plug for Nocturne. From the story, through the performances, through the crafting of the film, I never approached it as a date movie, never frivolously, but made it hoping it would satisfy in a similar fashion to the way you return to good book that’s been waiting patiently on your shelf, tempting you to return to it for another read. And when you told me you had to watch Nocturne twice, but still found that second viewing rewarding, you gave me hope that my plan may not have been in vain.

*Disclaimer – All photos are of courtesy and rightfully owned by Saul Pincus.

Q&A Feature: Patrick Barnitt

Patrick Barnitt is a very gifted and talented guy from the East Coast, who now resides in Los Angeles, California.

He plays “Jack Samms” in the Coffin franchise and I got to spend some time to ask him some epic questions about the artistry career he has flourished in in the past few decades.

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Photo Credit: IMDb

Now let’s take a moment and get to know who Patrick Barnitt is in Patrick’s world and what else he is wanting to accomplish in his career.

In seven words, who is Patrick Barnitt?

Patrick Barnitt: Crooner, actor, recovering Borg, and occasional rascal.

How long have you been working in the film industry? What are some of your experiences you’ve had during your years in the industry?

PB: I’ve been in the film industry since 1990. I’ve been lucky enough to make it onto the Star Ship enterprise, run around in the desert in the movie Se7en, and sing on a Fred Savage television show, just to name a few.

What has been the most memorable memory in your career?

PB: That’s a tough one. Here’s a few. Working with Danny Trejo on Chronology, going round for round with Bruce Davison in Coffin, and working with the late, legendary Dennis Hopper.

Do you consider yourself more of an artist, or just an actor in the film industry? In your own words, what defines someone to be more than just an actor in the industry?

PB: At the risk of sounding like a complete tool, I would consider myself more of an artist. *he says as he adjusts his beret, and slowly takes a drag of a clove cigarette*

It kind of covers it all. I spend time acting and also singing, performing. Depends on the day, the project, or the gig. At the end of the day, it’s all performing. It’s all storytelling. It’s all art.

I was introduced to you by the character of Jack Samms from the Coffin franchise. Can you tell the readers about your character in the films?

PB: Jack is a man caught in a trap. A man of wealth. A guy who seemingly has it all. A

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Patrick Barnitt as “Jack Samms” Photo Credit: IMDb

great career, a beautiful wife. Lots of dough. Security. A lot to lose. He’s achieved quite a bit in life at the expense of his marriage.

Things are crumbling. Things aren’t always what they seem.

Coffin isn’t your first project that you worked with Derik Wingo and Kipp Tribble. You have worked with them before on Derik’s film, The Waiters. Was that the first time you have ever worked with the two? How has your experience with the guys been over the years?

PB: I go way back with Derik Wingo and Kipp Tribble. I met direct on First Contact on the lot at Paramount years back. We went on to work together on The Waiters up in Portland. Good times.

You can hear me on the soundtrack. Kipp produced The Waiters, but we didn’t meet until a few years later. They’re quite a team. They can finish each other’s sentences. It’s pretty hilarious. We always have a blast. Four projects later. Incredibly talented and great guys.

Is Coffin the first project you’ve worked with actor Johnny Alonso on?

PB: Yes, I met Johnny on Coffin. Terrific guy. A real East Coast cat. When I met him I felt like I knew him for years. It was a real rush working with him on Coffin 1 and Coffin 2. He is a tremendous actor and a real Paisan! We spent a most of our time together in the first Coffin with night shoots, including driving around Los Angeles, and one crazy kitchen scene. Check it out!

Johnny’s a great singer and guitarist. We sang duet at the Dresden at the party for the premiere of first Coffin film. It was great fun.

Here’s a snippet of Johnny Alonso and Patrick Barnitt
in the bar scene in the first Coffin film.
Enjoy the sneak peak if you have not seen the film yet!

As artists, acting isn’t the only thing you and Johnny Alonso have in common. You both are also musicians. How long have you been singing? What got you into music?

PB: As long as I can remember, I’ve been singing and listening to music. Great FM rock radio of the 70s and 80’s. My brothers had an intense record collection. The Who, Led Zeppelin, The Cars, Elton John, Chicago, The Police, etc.

I was also surrounded by a lot great musicians as a kid. We formed a band. My grandfather was a great singer and played the ukulele, so he was a big influence on me. I started singing standards in college, and then I got hooked on Frank and Tony Bennett, Chet Baker, Nat Cole, etc.

Particularly, you are known as a ‘crooner.’ Can you explain that term to the readers who may not be familiar with music terms?

PB: The term ‘crooner’ suggests a singer who sings songs of the great ‘American Songbook’ standards. (The Great American Songbook, also known as “American Standards”, is the canon of the most important and influential American popular songs and jazz standards from the early 20th century.)


Patrick’s music video for his Frank Sinatra cover,
“One for My Baby (and One More For The Road).”

What are your favorite genres to sing? What genres do you find yourself listening to?

PB: I love singing all genres. Especially Rock & Jazz. Recently, I’ve been singing more R&B. I’m currently working on a new record. I listen to everything from Jazz, to Rock, to Hip-Hop. Whatever suits my mood. 

What is on your bucket list for the film or music industry that you haven’t done yet in your career?

PB: As a far as a bucket list goes, I would love to do a Western, be in an Asian action film (I’m a big fan of Korean Action Films), play at the Hollywood Bowl, and work with David Fincher again.

Is there anyone in the industry that you haven’t worked with that you would love to work with?

PB: I would love to work with Spielberg.

If you aren’t acting or singing, what are you doing with your time?

PB: If I’m not working, I’m usually at the gym, playing basketball, traveling, people watching, or catching a new film. I also love live music, and I am a news junkie.

Do you have a ‘hidden’ talent that people are not aware of beyond your music and acting?

PB: I’m an excellent whistler. I’m also a Christopher Walken impersonator.

The closure of this interview: A simple, but fun questionnaire of this or that:

Pepsi or Coke? Pepsi
Chocolate or Vanilla? Chocolate
Superheroes: DC or Marvel? DC
Music Genres: Hip-Hop or Country? Hip-Hop
Movie Genres: Documentary or Action? Action
Dinning out or dinning in? Dinning Out
Acting or singing? Today, it’s singing. (smiling).

Thank you, Patrick, for taking some time with me and allowing me to ask you some questions and to get to know you more beyond the Coffin franchise. I can’t wait to hang out with you and interview you again on the set of Coffin 3 soon enough (smiling).

Q&A Feature: Shannon Ahn

ShannonI met this author a year ago at the La Femme Nikita Reunion Convention in Toronto, Ontario. A friendship blossomed through similar articulate discoveries inspired by the one show we all are known to love. I want to take a moment, put a spotlight on, and get to know this up and coming author.

Right off the bat, can you give the audience an elevator speech to sell them on who Shannon Ahn is?

Shannon Ahn: I’m a genre-blending author who combines science fiction, action, romance, and mystery in my books to create entertaining stories that readers can get sucked into and escape reality for a little while.

Can you tell us the synopsis of your Crossing Realms series?

SA: Crossing Realms is about Nina Adler, a young woman who discovers that her dreams are a window to another world. When Nina begins to have intense, action-packed dreams about being an FBI agent, she dismisses them as nothing more than fun distractions from her mundane life, but when she falls in love with a man in her dreams and he appears in her real life, she finds out that her dreams contain deeper meaning than she first thought and that she possesses incredible powers.Crossing Realms Part One Amazon Cover

*ALERT ALERT* You can download Crossing Realms – Part One from Amazon for FREE from July 2 to July 6, 2018myBook.to/CrossingRealmsPartOne

What inspired you to become a writer in the first place?

SA: My dad was a writer. He was a journalist for many years, and he also wrote a novel that won an award in South Korea. He told me his dream was to write a memoir, but unfortunately he passed away before he could do that. So I’ve always thought maybe I should be a writer too, but I never considered it seriously until a few years ago when I was at a crossroads in my life and had the opportunity to pursue my interests.

What is your favorite genre to write?

SA: Apparently I can’t decide because I mix different genres!

One advice out there is that to be a great writer, you need to be an avid re

ader. Are you an avid reader when you aren’t writing, or are there other interests that spark your writing and creativity?

SA: I’m an introvert, so I love being alone and lost in a good book or a TV show. I’m definitely a bingereader/watcher. I try to read as much as I can, but when I’m in a writing phase such as when I’m working on a first draft, I tend to focus more on watching things because I get inspired by visuals. Before I write anything, I have to see it in my head first like a scene in a movie. A cool song can also help me come up with characters and scenes.

What is your go-to genre to read when you aren’t in a writing spell?

SA: If I can pick any kind of book to read just for fun, I’d go for chick lit, something light and funny.

LFN TRIBUTEAs I started reading the first part of Crossing Realms, I immediately noticed how “Nikita-esq” the details are. Has the show inspired you to write this particular story?

SA: Some parts of Crossing Realms were definitely inspired by La Femme Nikita, one of my favorite shows of all time. In fact, there is an Easter egg for La Femme Nikita fans in all three parts of Crossing Realms. But the original inspiration for my series was my dreams. I’ve had many dreams where I fell madly in love with a man and became completely immersed in another world, and when I woke up, I was disoriented because the dream and my emotions in it felt absolutely real. So when I decided to try writing fiction, I wanted to write a story about a woman who finds out that her dreams are special. What if your dreams are more than just dreams?

You just published the third installment for Crossing Realms. Will there be a fourth part? How many parts total do you have in the works before this story-line is complete?

SA: Crossing Realms has three parts total. Later this summer I’ll be publishing a “box set” of the complete trilogy as one eBook and also a paperback which I’m really excited about. I’ll finally get to hold my book in my hands! There will be a sequel to Crossing Realms that continues Nina’s story, but I’m going to expand the scope of the story and tell it from multiple characters’ points of view. After that, I don’t know if there will be another book in this series. I’m going to see where the story takes me and stay true to the characters.

Are you working on any other stories, or just focused on the series you currently have?

SA: My main focus is writing my current series, but I’m also interested in writing short stories. I plan to take some time this year to learn more about writing short stories and maybe enter a short story contest.

What’s something you would like to share about the writer’s life that many probably wouldn’t know in general?

SA: Hmm… Well, I used to think of being a writer as something romantic and kind of glamorous, like an interesting and intelligent person sitting in a chic café typing away on their sleek laptop and effortlessly coming up with gorgeous sentences that magically flow together to create a moving story that changes people’s live, or something like that. But that’s not how it is for me at all. I write at home because I wouldn’t be able to concentrate anywhere else. I write very slowly and agonize over every sentence. And rewrites… There are so. many. rewrites. I didn’t know before writing my books just how much editing and proofreading need to be done before publishing.

Can you share the most highlighted moment in your life currently?

SA: My husband and I recently booked a trip to Paris for September to celebrate our 10-year wedding anniversary! It might seem kind of cliché, but Paris has a special meaning for me. I went there in the summer of 2006 with a friend. I’d been dating my now-husband for about two years, and I was trying to decide if I should continue our relationship because it was getting serious and I wasn’t sure if I was ready for that. But when I went to Paris and saw the Eiffel Tower for the first time, all I could think was how much I wished he was there with me. That was when I realized how important he is to me and that I want to spend the rest of my life with him and see the world together. So I’ve been dreaming about going back to Paris with him since then, and it’s going to happen this year!

Outside of writing stories, what are your other interests and hobbies that you invest your time in?

SA: I love traveling, so I’m constantly researching or watching videos about different places I want to visit someday and foods I want to try.

Do you have a visual of where you see yourself in five years? How about ten years?

SA: Professionally, I’m really enjoying writing, even with all the challenges that come with it. For the first time in my life, I’ve found something that just feels right to me. So I hope I’ll still be writing in the next five and ten years, learning more about the craft and improving my skills along the way. On a more personal level, I feel extremely grateful for the life I have, and I look forward to finding out what the universe has in store for me in the future. Hopefully more trips abroad, new adventures, exciting plot
twists, and lots and lots of yummy food.

Thank you Shannon for taking the time for this interview. I really enjoyed my time with you. Don’t forget, readers, you can check out and download Crossing Realms – Part One from Amazon for FREE from July 2 to July 6, 2018.

Follow the link–>> myBook.to/CrossingRealmsPartOne

Also you can check her out at her website, shannonahn.com.

Q&A Feature: Mike E. Winfield

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Photo Courtesy of http://www.mikewinfield.com

This comedian has been on the Arsenio Hall Show, NBC’s The Office, and even got his debut on The Late Show with David Letterman. He’s now breaking barriers now by teaming up with one of the top country stars, Brad Paisley, on a Netflix special, Brad Paisley’s Comedy Rodeo, currently streaming, as well as, having a new film project called PIMP with the rapper and actor, DMX.

However, what is Mike E. Winfield about? Who is he really? What gets him going on his craft? I recently had the privilege to take a minute with Mike E. to ask some of these questions and more. Let’s see who he is behind his jokes and art. But before we do that, check out his newest trailer for his most recent comedy special, My Side of the Story.

Thank you for taken some time to answer some questions, Mike. Let’s get right to it now. In your own words, who is Mike E. Winfield?

MIKE E WINFIELD: I’m just a guy who started from the bottom. Now I’m here.

Is there a certain event or experience in life that influenced you to go the comedy and/or acting route? Could you take a moment and share your story?

MEW: Through the course of my life, I’ve always considered myself a funny person. The reason I decided I should share it with the world is, because of all the moments I spent with some of my closet friends. We spent a number of nights going to clubs, hanging out at parties, laughing and joking, and creating quality efforts to make each other laugh. After a while it becomes a skill. The combination of that and my college speech class equipped me with the tools to take it to the stage.

Do you consider comedy a form of art, or just strictly entertainment?

MEW: Comedy is definitely art. I pride myself on being an artist first. My favorite thing is spending many days and nights in a room, with coffee, and creating content that I can take to the stage. It’s really only art to me. The entertainment aspect comes from those who decided to stand around me and enjoy it.

Which comedians and/or actors influence your work and/or performances?

MEW: I think influence is huge. I’m a fan of several comedians, but not one of them has influenced my work. My material is raw, unique, and not stolen. I don’t think I can say that one has influenced me. What I will say is, I’m influenced by the grind in hip-hop, and how many artists’ goals are to rise to the top. That fires me up!

When did you realize that comedy would be your career route? What were you doing before acting and comedy?

MEW: I used to work at a grocery store. I hated it. I worked in the self-checkout lane, so I would watch people steal all day. When I started comedy, it was hard to maintain the two. I had this co-worker who hated me. She thought she was the boss, but she wasn’t the real boss. She was one of the little people, but with a key. When I called in, this lady would check my social media to verify that I was really sick. If I wasn’t sick, she would tell the real boss that I actually had a show that night. It was impossible that I was suffering from pneumonia. I eventually decided it was time to pursue comedy full-time.

You did a comedy special with Brad Paisley last summer. What is the story behind this opportunity? How did you get involved? Was there some kind of audition for comedians for this special?

MEW: I actually got booked to work with Brad a year prior to the comedy special. I performed with him in Nashville, and took one of his songs called “I’m Gonna Miss Her” (the song was about him choosing to go fishing, instead of spending time with his lady), and I made a joke about how that exact same scenario would go down in my life. Let’s just say it went over well. He loved the joke! That is how I got the booking for the Comedy Rodeo special.

What was it like teaming up with one of country music’s top celebrities?

MEW: It’s fun to find out that a celebrity is just a real person behind the glitz and glamour. He’s just a down to earth kind of guy that loves what he does. That’s something I can really cling on to.

Did Reba ever find out what happened to her horses?

MEW: (Laughing). I need to follow up on that, and get back to you.

Brad Paisley’s Comedy Rodeo is a Netflix Original currently streaming right now. Do you feel the expansion of the streaming services, and their ability to produce their own material, have opened more doors for artists/actors/etc. in general?

MEW: Absolutely, all it takes is a video to go viral and you’re famous. That’s the era we live in now. People have their phones accessible at all times. You don’t have to leave the house to support someone’s live show. All it takes is a watch and a like. I’m such a fan of streaming that I added that feature on my website for my newly released standup comedy special.

Currently you are touring around the States. Which cities have been your favorite to experience?

MEW: I’ve been touring a bunch and that question is so tough, because everywhere I go people show me so much love. I did a Facebook live video, and so many people tuned in; a fight started about which city loved me more. If I had to choose though, I’d say New York City. I’m a fan of so many great artists that came out from there. 

You have a new comedy special coming out soon. When and where it will be released for your fans?

MEW: It’s available now on MikeWinfield.com. It’s called My Side of the Story.

Can you tell us a bit about it?

MEW: It’s easily going to be the most world changing special in the 2000’s. It’s based off of my life experiences. I’m married to an older woman, and I give my take on how it is being with an older woman who treats you like a kid. To be honest, I’m actually surprised how fast it’s selling. It’s great to see so many people interested. I mean, I believed in it, but to see others believe in it, it’s an amazing feeling.

What is your long-term goals for your craft in the entertainment industry?

MEW: I just want to create more television, movies, and stand-up comedy.

Is there anybody in the industry you haven’t worked with yet that is on your list of people you would like to work with, whether it be a comedy segment or a film?

MEW: I want to play opposite of Wood Harris in a crime drama.

What’s next for Mike E. Winfield after your tour?

MEW: (Laughing) There’s no ‘after’ the tour.

Thank you for your time, Mike E. For comedy fans, please take a moment to head over to Mike’s web site and check out his most current comedy special now available for streaming!!! I hope he truly does follow-up with the Reba’s horse incident.

Q&A Feature: Coffin II

An interview with the Three Horsemen of the Apocalypse, or, that’s what Johnny calls the guys anyways… Take a moment and read behind the scenes details of the first two Coffin films….

DT4rmSoV4AEBXPZ.jpg_largeMy history with these guys started out with my only political rant ever posted on my blog, as well as, backing up their film project Chronology in 2014 that originally was supposed to star Kevin Sorbo. Things change, years later, and I am still kicking it with these guys and keeping our connection strong, as we all progress with our chosen fields.

Hey, guys, in all honesty, there is not a better trio to share my return with! Thank you so much for taking the time to answer the questions I want to ask you in this feature. Before we get into the juicy parts, I want to put in the plug for your most current project, Coffin 2, and share the trailer with those who have not gotten a chance to see what this film is about yet.

First and foremost before we get into the movie conversation, can you all take a minute and give the audience a brief background of who you all are?

JOHNNY ALONSO: Above anything else I am a musician. Touring, writing music and playing shows at punk rock clubs across the country is what got me into acting. I found out early in my career how to win the crowd. I still use these secret techniques in my acting. It’s my own acting method. I like to call it the “Johnny Alonso Method”.

KIPP TRIBBLE: I started in radio and doing lots of stage work, then switched over to the film world as an actor, writer, director and producer in 1996. Been doing it ever since, focusing mostly on feature films.

DERIK WINGO: I started in Makeup Effects and was lucky enough to work with some of the ‘bigs’ in the effects world like: Rick Baker (Men In Black II, Planet of The Apes, Click, Norbit), Master Effects (Star Trek: First Contact/ Voyager/ Deep Space Nine and Slither), Greg Nicotero’s KNB (Chronicles Of Narnia: Prince Caspian), and I got to work at George Lucas’ famed Industrial Light and Magic doing pick-ups for Star Trek: First Contact. I then went on to produce, write, direct and perform the lead role in my first ind-feature, The Waiters. Since then I have worked in various positions in the business and continue to produced, direct, write and act.

Let’s get to the exact topic we are all here for, Coffin. Can one of you guys give us a brief synopsis of the whole film series?

DW: Kipp would be be the best to answer that.

JA: Kipp, take the mic.

KT: You guys don’t know what the films are about? 🙂 The series is about a guy named Trick, who – as he says in the films – “puts people in situations.” Trick is an oddball ‘showman’ criminal who would have fit in perfectly back in the day when bank robbers were treated like celebrities and they would “perform” their crimes and show off for crowds. He gets off on playing with people and drawing them into cat and mouse mind games, always with a bit of money at stake. He started it as the ultimate performance game, and a way to make some cash, but things got dangerous and deadly pretty quick. Some cops get involved with investigating and tracking him, and they are still at it. And with every job, Trick wins himself some new enemies forever bent on revenge against him – like Jack Samms. And round and round we go…

The biggest thing that caught my eye the most on was not the project itself, but how close you guys seem to be, and not just as coworkers, but as friends. Was this the first film project that you all met each other on or have you guys known each other for a while before?

KT: Derik and I met in acting class back in 1999. We were also both filmmakers, so we hit it off pretty quickly. Then I left class to do a movie and he went to work on another project. We reconnected a few months after those projects were done and decided we should collaborate on some things. And we have done just that on several things: films, TV, stage, scripts, etc. But it’s way beyond work collaboration. It’s family. My kids call him and his wife Aunt and Uncle.

I first heard about Johnny from a mutual friend based in the DC/Baltimore area who had Johnny attached to a script of his that he was looking to get produced. He had told me that this actor friend of his was taking some meetings in L.A. and suggested we meet up to get acquainted. Johnny and I met for coffee and had a great meeting, talking about acting, films and the business in general. When it came time to cast the first Coffin, I had a specific vision for Trick, so I told Derik about Johnny, and this idea I had about him playing the villain. He loved the character and the idea. Things clicked almost immediately, and we all became fast friends.

Other than that, let the record state that I hate both of them. 🙂

DW: Kipp covered our history pretty well. We are family. His three beautiful girls (McKenna, Reegan and Peyton), my nieces, were even in my wedding. We’ve been in the trenches together for almost 20 years… literally, in the trenches, as we were on the film Jarheads, where we buzzed our heads and spent several 16 hour days submersed in freezing cold water-filled trenches for the training sequences in the film. We’ve been through so much together.

Johnny has been in the mix for the last ten years and it’s been a pleasure. He is one of those actors that makes directing so fun. He takes direction so well and breathes life into his characters that you didn’t know was there. Not to mention, he’s a blast to hang out with outside of work – so long as you’re not opposed to tequila shots.

JA: The problem with answering questions after Kipp and Derik is that everything I want to say has already been said!! Aaaaggggghhhhh!!! 🙂

I remember the meeting I had with Kipp in Los Angeles. Very informal, very cool. I remember Kipp talking about a new project he and this actor/writing/producing partner Derik Wingo had put together. “The project is called Coffin,” and he started filling me in on the story line – a beat the clock ransom with hostages, a mask, car chases a heist. I was totally down. He had me at the word ‘mask’.

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Johnny Alonso reprises his role as Trick in “Coffin 2.”

I remember getting in touch with Derik via email. I reached out to him and said “If I sign on to play Trick, if Kipp is setting up the shot, could I ask you for direction?” Deik replied “ Hell no, that’s your job. Get with it!” – immediately followed with “Of course!! Kipp and I are directing this project together. Whatever you need, man.” Right then and there I knew all three of us were going to get along great.

So getting back to Kipp – right before we wrapped our meeting, Kipp said, “Oh yeah, we’re talking to Kevin Sorbo to play opposite the character Trick. It’s going to be wild.” As I got into my Jeep I thought to myself how wicked cool it would be to work with Kevin. Then it dawned on me, the dude is like 6’5. How am I going to pull this off?? Great….

Kipp, we are diving into the writing portion. Now I am very curious on where the storyline of Coffin originated from? What’s the story behind this idea? Where the fictional characters influenced by real life individuals?

KT: As with most of the stories I write, it originates with just one idea for a single scene. And more often than not, that scene will formulate from a dream or nightmare I have had. I will keep that scene idea in my head and let it “collect” characters and other story elements as the days, weeks and months of everyday life pass. I’ll see or meet someone interesting, overhear an interesting exchange, or see a story in the news, and try to place a piece of these people or their particular backgrounds into that scene. So by borrowing slivers of real people and projecting them onto the scripted characters and then placing them within the scene, other scenes will organically grow from there. What would that character do if this happened? So while none of the characters I write are actually based on one real life person, they are made up of many real people.

In this particular example, the scene idea was two people wake up trapped in a wooden box. And for the record, this was well before the film Buried came out. A few people had said we just ripped off that film, which we’d never even heard of at the time and it came out several months after we shot Coffin, but whatever. Anyway, that same guy way back when that was shopping his script, David Stever, called me and said that the Executive Producer and company who produced that film – Spencer F. Johnson and Skyrocket Productions – was looking to do a low budget thriller in L.A. I had actually ended up doing some producing for that film, but I did it all from L.A., so while I had spent many hours on the phone with Spencer, we had never formally met in person. Long story short, he and I had dinner and talked about his plans. I pitched him the idea for two people trapped in a box. That was in late January and he greenlit it on the spot. We started shooting May 31st that same year.

Beyond that scene of two people trapped in a box, I wanted to do a crime thriller but with horror elements. Horror situations without the gore and blood. While I am not against those kind of horror elements at all, this film didn’t call for it. Plus, we were also aiming to maximize our foreign TV sales and that usually means less blood and gore. So from there, the writing was driven by asking and answering the obvious questions: Who are these people in the box? Why are they in the box? What do we learn from them? Who put them there and why? Is someone looking for them? How is that person going to react? All of these answers are slowly revealed as the clock ticks closer to the deadline before these two people run out of air. And of course, the two cops following the trail are always one step behind, and it’s nighttime, so the bank is closed… but Jack needs that money.

I’m also a big fan of twists, so that was always something I was going to build into the film. The double twist idea came at the very end of scripting, though. Because one twist just isn’t enough!

Is there a particular location or type of scenery that influences your writing?

KT: Not really a particular location. I grew up in the south, so I naturally have some scripts and stories set in small town southern America. Overall, I’d say that most of my writing is scaled down in scope, meaning that my stories have yet to involve an asteroid hurtling towards Earth or a tsunami destroying Manhattan. I imagine this is because I come from the indie world and usually am writing more confined pieces. I’m not opposed to writing those big films at all, I just never have yet. Maybe that’s what I’ll do after Coffin 3…

Kipp, you are currently working on the script for Coffin 3. How long did it take you to write Coffin initially? How long did it take you to write the second and third sequels compared to the first film?

KT: Well the first one I wrote in about 3 ½ to 4 weeks. Like I said, I pitched the rough outline of the idea to Spencer in late January, but didn’t actually start writing it until March because Derik and I were finishing a rewriting job we’d been hired to do on another film. Given that March is also the NCAA Tournament – and for me, that takes a backseat to nothing! – the writing didn’t really get started until the 3rd week of March. I finished up in April, got notes, did a rewrite and then focused on putting together all of the elements to direct, produce and act in the film. Other than adjusting a couple of scenes for locations, it was pretty much completed from start to finish in under 4 weeks.

When we were greenlit for Coffin 2, I had no solid story for it yet. So I started asking myself questions to kickstart the ideas: Where is Jack now? Rona? Sean Justice? The detectives? And of course, did Trick get out of that box? I started going back through my ideas folder and pulled out a treatment I had written for a horror film several years prior. The story was called Rag Dolls and it was about 5 people that are being held in the middle of nowhere, in the woods, all being kept paralyzed from the neck down. A mystery man shows up everyday to torture them, keep them immobile, etc. In that treatment, there was a lone FBI agent that was tasked with looking into a series of recent disappearances and we learn about the victims and how they disappeared through flashback. Throughout the course of that story, the FBI agent gets closer, the captor becomes more unhinged and the hostages try to figure a way out of their predicament before it’s too late. And there was a twist built into the ending. So I took this treatment and tried plugging in characters from the Coffin world: Trick, Epperson, Scott, Rona, Jack, and a few others. Some aspects of this worked nicely and others presented quite a few obstacles. But overall it started to take shape, so I used that blueprint to work from, which was very helpful. And Rag Dolls had also originally started with just one scene idea: 5 people wake up, held hostage in the woods.

It took about 6 weeks to write Coffin 2. A little longer this time, mainly because I had more characters and storylines to pay attention to, as well as sort of reintroduce the original characters and summarize the original film for the viewer, so it presented a few more obstacles. We were also actively in pre-production so my time was split between writing and producing – and preparing to direct – so that presented some time management issues.

Coffin 3 is in the early stages, but it, too, has branched from just one scene idea. I’m trying to take a little more time with this one, though. Mainly so I don’t drive myself mad trying to finish it all so quickly… and also have somewhat of a life while doing it.

Even though Kevin Sorbo didn’t end up in your Chronology project, you all still had the privilege of working with him on the first film project for the Coffin series. Tell me how it was working with the actor best known as Hercules?

KT: Kevin is very cool and fun to work with. He’s well trained and came very prepared, asked great questions about his character during our preparation stages, and was a total pro throughout. He is in that wooden box with Rona (played by Sunny Doench) for almost a third of the movie, and that is hard to pull off as an actor. We shot all of the box stuff in one day – including all of the water submersion and the ending poolside scene, so he had around 20 pages of dialogue to rip off in that day and he didn’t skip a beat.

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Sunny Doench & Kevin Sorbo in the coffin on the set of “Coffin.” http://www.imdb.com

DW: Kevin was great to work with. A total pro, comes prepared, he’s low maintenance and friendly with everyone on set. Not to mention, we had a marathon day inside the coffin, where we had him and Sunny cooking the first half of the day, as we shot outside. It was probably 110 degrees in the ‘box’. The next half of the day was spent in a freezing cold swimming pool as we submersed the box to achieve the water gag. Not to mention, especially in the water , the incredibly claustrophobic feel inside the coffin, combined with the true sense that one could actually drown at any moment. Kevin was incredible through the whole experience.

JA: Kevin rocks! I remember meeting Kevin when we shot the theatre scenes – I think the theatre/sound stage was in Studio City. Kevin and I were introduced on set. I don’t know how we got onto the topic of golf, but he invited me to a fundraiser he was hosting in Palm Springs. A charity celebrity golf tournament. I told him I love golf, that I’m pretty good and can run with the best, but Christ, I’m not THAT good! Kevin said “Don’t worry, you should see Joe Pesci play, and Joe’s on my team.” I signed up.

Speaking of Sean Justice, you had the character alive at the end of the first film. What made you decide to switch gears and build a storyline that killed him off in the opening sequence of Coffin 2?

KT: Story-wise, within the structure of Coffin 2, Sean Justice’s storyline just didn’t fit. The story was more about this new collection of victims and seeing Trick’s string of crimes finally coming back to bite him. So we learn more about Trick – without the mask – Epperson’s past, Scott’s current path, etc. Instead of picking up immediately where the other left off, we decided to make this one real time. So obviously Jack, Rona and Sean’s lives would be very different years later because of what they all did. Detailing the violent way things ended after the first film also raised the stakes a bit for this film.

We also had a very tight window in which to produce the film and we had seen Kevin’s schedule was incredibly tight for when we were planning to shoot. The guy never stops working! With that in mind, as well as having a really tough time shoehorning everyone’s story into this one, Sean Justice ended up being a victim of story and scheduling circumstance.

Was the final product of Coffin 2 the original storyline you had scripted before shooting or was there some twists and turns in the mix while making this film?

KT: Really no extra twists were added during the filming, but we lost a couple of scenes because of shooting circumstances and scheduling. Like, there was a scene where Buddy (played by Robert Mukes) was supposed to cut off another one of Epperson’s fingers in the cage, but that scene had to be cut – no pun intended. And myself and Agent Church (played by Scott Hamm) were supposed to ‘raid’ the warehouse at the end and find the carnage left behind, showing us cops still one step behind. Our characters were supposed to learn what happened from Epperson after raiding the warehouse while he was still strapped in the chair. But circumstances resulted in us having to shoot that exposition in the car while rushing Epperson to the hospital, intercut with some flashback of what went down in the ‘cage’. That sequence was never in the script, so it was added on the fly using pre-scripted dialogue from the raid, with Derik adding in some additional lines to make it fit for the car ride.

I’m going to put Johnny in the spotlight for a minute. You play the main villain, Trick, in the Coffin film series. Was the character Trick who you originally audition for or did you audition for another character initially?

JA: I didn’t audition for the role of Trick. At least, I don’t remember auditioning! I didn’t have a script. I don’t think I was offered one before the meeting. I think the meeting I had with Kipp was my audition. We spoke for an hour or so about music, the East Coast, films we both like and hate, snowboarding, New York actors vs Los Angeles actors. Then Kipp gave me the TV Guide version of the character Trick and the Coffin story.
Again, he had me at the word ‘mask’.

What was it like to play your character Trick? Was it a challenge for you to play someone that’s so different from yourself?

KT: Wait. You think Trick is different from Johnny? 🙂

JA: Yeah, Trick is real, Dude. Johnny Alonso is just the actor. Ask Jack Samms. He’ll tell you Trick is real… 🙂

I love playing the character Trick. I remember when they sent me the script, finally. Man, I was down for the count with a bad cold. Fever, achy, hoarse voice, zero energy – but I wanted to dive into my script. And once I started rifling thru it, I couldn’t put it down. I started building the character in my head, taking down notes and saying the dialogue out loud. I really dug my character Trick. A few days passed and I was getting over my cold. I picked up the script and took it back a few pages to get warmed up and try acting out a few of the lines. But for some reason, this round I wasn’t digging Trick. The slick character I built in my head versus the crap I was acting out back at my place just wasn’t as cool. I had to figure out what went wrong but I couldn’t figure it out. I even tried saying the lines in bed when I was sick. Then it hit me. When I was sick I had no voice and no energy so my voice register was lower and raspier, and had shortness of breath, making my delivery somewhat forced and anxious. If you watch the opening kitchen scene in Coffin, watch and study my character’s speed. Trick’s reactions are slower than how most would react in a heightened situation giving that scene a cool tug of war between him and Jack Samms. And when Trick blows up after Jack puts a knife to his neck, I was mimicking what I’d sound like and how I would breathe and feel when I had the bad cold. I remember out of all the scenes I wrote notes for in my script, this scene had the most. I wrote stuff like “don’t forget your fever”, “you’re sick… slow”, “where’s the creep voice?” This scene is what brought Trick to life.

Do you have a certain routine to get into your character for each film?

JA: Not really. When you’ve been building a character for months you know where you’re going to take it. Even if your director guides you into a totally different direction, what choices you make as an actor playing that character will register and feel natural. That’s why I love dark character acting. Who’s to tell you you’re not doing it right? 🙂

Kipp & Derik, you all have multiple roles on set of each projects. How do you maintain your different roles when it comes to shooting each scene?

KT: Prioritizing becomes incredibly important on an hour-to-hour basis during production, but above all, preparation is an absolute must. It is amazing to us how many people want to dive into making a movie without truly preparing. In the indie world in particular, you encounter of lot of first timers or inexperienced filmmakers, so they oftentimes want to forego the preparation and just jump right into the ‘fun’. But without preparation, it is all going to go to hell very, very quickly and not be fun at all. No one has ever started a film and said, “Wow, we wasted so much time over-preparing to do this!”

This is true for everything from script, to actors, camera department, locations, and so on. Luckily, Derik and I have been able to lean on one another and divvy up duties on the set of a few films. We’ve had a shorthand for many years and that doesn’t come naturally for a lot of people, so it’s great to have. For Coffin 2, I directed solo and Derik was unable to commit to producing because of scheduling, but my preparation remained the same. The process is the same because you always prepare as an individual and then bring your prep work to the team dynamic. There might be more duties to shoulder and you might have to be a little more careful in your prioritizing, but the hurdles to clear to get you from A to B are still going to be the same.

DW: Kipp just summed it up. Preparation is a must. The projects we have partnered up on as directors/producers, like in the first Coffin and Chronology, we were so prepared by the time we get on set that we fall into a natural rhythm that is very efficient. This is especially a must on low budget projects where literally every minute counts. We split and rotate the duties, where one of us can be working with the actors and concentrating on the performances, while the other is working with camera and lighting, or the producing duties. Then we’ll switch. Also advantageous, is if one of us is performing on camera, the other can take over the directing and producing duties so the other can focus on performance.

Derik, you co-directed the films. Can you give the audience a little detail of what is entailed in the directing position when shooting a film?

DW: I co-directed Coffin and Chronology with Kipp, and as he mentioned he took the reins on Coffin 2, due to a scheduling conflict with another project I was working on. There’s a lot that goes into directing, and again, we’ll stress preparation. There are so many moving parts of a production that people may not even realize. For starters, there is the performance side, where you are giving direction to actors and working with them throughout the film. Then there is the technical side, which ranges from working with camera and lighting, through every facet of the film, from art and production design, to wardrobe, through locations, special effects and so on. You must insure that everything is working cohesively towards achieving the final look and feel of the finished film. It also requires having a very clear understanding of editing the story together and post-production. There’s an old saying, ‘you learn to direct in editing’. That is, once you are in post, you can truly see how things you shot during principal photography cut together. What you have to work with, and more often than not, what you didn’t get during filming. Also, how performances in a scene, or in adjoining scenes, need to have a natural flow and cohesion, that often even the actors may not be able to see/feel this while shooting. All of the cinematic ‘rules’ of photography: the 180, eyelines, entrances and exits, and how they all look cut together, are a must. And that’s not even getting into one’s artistic vision of the film you are directing.

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Kipp Tribble as Scott and Derik Wingo as Epperson in “Coffin.” http://www.imdb.com/

KT: So, so true. Just to piggyback on what Derik said, editing is so crucial in making the film, but this is where so many films fail. We cannot stress enough the importance of key crew members, but above all, a DP that understands how to tell a story visually and capture the necessary elements for you to have at your disposal in editing. First and foremost, this means a person who understands the story you are telling and makes the necessary preparations to tell that story. A person that understands the characters, their personal arcs, their relationship with others within the story, and what their ‘life’ within the film means to the overall project dynamic. Once they have a real grasp for the story – and develop a passion for it – then they need to understand how the puzzle pieces we are creating will fit into the whole to tell this story during the editing process. Caring about making the quality of the image look good is certainly important, but what separates a real DP from someone that just functions as the ‘camera person’, is a visual storyteller who also has an eye for interesting framing to fit your editing game plan. When they bring all of these necessary elements to the set, especially on an indie film that is tight on time and budget, their storytelling work will be efficient and extremely effective. This will pay off huge dividends for you in editing and that will make all the difference for your film. Bottom line: learn and understand editing and surround yourself with others on set that also understand it.

The word on the streets is you are green lighted to start shooting in the fall, rather than in the summer. Can you verify that? Do you have a location for where you are shooting the film yet? Has all three films been shot in the same location over the years? Was it hard to reserve the location of these films?

KT: It is looking like the fall, but there is not an official start date. It’s getting tougher and tougher to lock in everyone’s schedules as we all are getting busier with other projects. That’s a great thing individually, but slows things down for the franchise! But we’re all committed to doing it and it is looking like this fall.

As for where, we will likely shoot in SoCal, but there have been some casual conversations about shooting on the East Coast. The first two were both shot in and around L.A., and I live here – as do most of the actors in the films – so that’s kind of convenient for us. 🙂 Derik is from here, but lives in NYC, and Johnny is always on the go, so L.A. was an easy choice. Skyrocket had wanted the first to be shot here and it fit nicely, so we just continued that on Coffin 2.

We’ve been very lucky to find and secure the locations we’ve had for both films. The first one was a collection of personal contacts and renting some spaces. The interior of the coffin was shot at an apartment complex owned by Derik’s parents. The dry stuff was shot on the pool deck and then we put the box in the pool when it came time to ‘drown’ them. In the sequel, we needed more of the same, except this one required some larger set pieces for extended periods of time. Scott Hamm had also come on as a producer and he was able to secure an insurance office in Fullerton for us that doubled as the police station, as well as the warehouse where the hostages are kept. The warehouse alone was almost half of the script and it was an extremely key location. It was originally going to be a decrepit house or basement, but once we saw the warehouse – and saw that it had a cage already built inside of it – we were sold. But again, personal contacts led to all of these locations, which is huge. Locations can drain your budget dry, but they are crucial to some specific scenes.

What can you tell us about how the story kicks off with Coffin 3? Is Trick still in his infamous coffin? Are there any characters returning from the dead for the third installment?

KT: I don’t know about Trick, but Johnny sleeps in a coffin every night in real life!

JA: This is true. I’m a 300-year-old vampire.

KT: Not going to reveal too much about Coffin 3 or how it starts just yet because it is still evolving. But it does deal with revenge. Some characters will be back. And some won’t. How’s that for a non-answer? 🙂

Will this be the final Coffin film in the series or are you planning more?

KT: There actually is another one being bounced around. It would fall earlier in the current timeline and be a bit different than these current films. But that’s just been talk right now. As far as more beyond that, as long as people are still tuning in, then why not keep it going? Not sure if that means with these same characters, but we’ll see.

DW: We’re actually thinking of taking #4 into outer space… we should probably get that Indiegogo started now. 😉

JA: Hilarious. I thought you were kidding about that outer space storyline. Get outta here….

For the audience who has or may have some interest in the film industry beyond what they see on screen, can you share some insight and/or advice on how the life in the film industry is portrayed compared to the reality of it?

DW: I’m sure it’s different for everyone, but truthfully it can be a tough road. You have to really want to do it, but if it’s in your heart and you truly have that burning desire, then the rewards outweigh the hardships.

KT: It is a lot of very hard work and weathering a lot of soul-crushing storms. Other than that, it’s a breeze! 🙂 For real, though, it is not an easy road and even when you get some success, there are still difficulties to face. Biggest piece of advice: Stop having meetings or long brainstorming sessions about projects you “could do” or are “planning to do”. Talking about it just leads to more talking.

JA: It’s a tough business. If you can do something else and be happy for the rest of your life then that’s my suggestion! Do something else. In this business you need training. Lots and lots of training. On your own you can only take your natural ability so far. You need to be able to take direction and have the ability to switch gears at the drop of a hat. Audition technique, memorization skills, etc. Being able to build a character and winning the audience. These are things I work on all the time. And even still the odds are always against me. I’m a very positive person and I love what I do. I also don’t quit. I’m an entertainer. I love acting.

Do any of you have any last words you want to share to the audience reading this?

DW: Sincerest thanks for the interview and to all of those who have supported us all! Hope you enjoy both installments of Coffin.

KT: Yes, thank you and thank you to all of our fans and supporters! Your support has always been noticed and appreciated. It’s because of you that we are preparing to make a third Coffin!

JA: Yes, this was a blast, thanks for the interview! Link up and follow us on all the social media platforms for the latest updates on Coffin and Coffin 2. Coming up next: Coffin 3. See you on set!