Max Gold directs new short film called Step One
By Michael Aaron Gallagher of StayFamous.Net
“Step One is thought-provoking, powerfully unconventional, and thoroughly engaging.” – StayFamous.Net
On March 25, director Max Gold of Blind Hummingbird Productions released his new short film called Step One. Written by Hollywood screenwriter Allison Burnett (Resurrecting the Champ), the story depicts a coffee-shop conversation between two recovering addicts who discover they have something very special in common. The 10-minute dark comedy stars John Fantasia (Law and Order) and Ben Palacios and was produced by Ben Kuller.
Q&A with the Director
Michael Aaron Gallagher: “How did you meet Allison Burnett and end up receiving the script?”
Max Gold: “During my freshman year of college, I created a Web series and Allison watched it. He called me up and we had an incredible conversation. He asked me questions about the motivations of the characters and offered his opinions on the strengths and weaknesses of the plot and the acting. I’d never spoken to anyone with such a strong understanding of dramatic structure. These were things that I’d never thought about before; the conversation taught me so much. At the end of the phone call, Allison recommended that rather than make an entire Web series, I reel it in and make a simple, short film.
I moved to LA six months ago and Allison and I met in person for the first time. He showed me the script for Step One and (five years later) I took his advice.”
Michael Aaron Gallagher: “Allison mentioned that he gave you a choice of a few of his short plays. Why did you choose Step One? What was it about the script that you thought would make a great film?”
Max Gold: “I was drawn to Step One because I am a very jealous person. I’m very familiar with the feeling of envy, like a fire burning in your stomach. The script so successfully draws you in to this situation between two people who are burning for different reasons. It is a paranoid fantasy, like what grows in one’s mind when jealousy gets the better of them. I wanted to explore that. To re-create such a devastating scenario is masochistically therapeutic.
The script is also very funny. Allison’s novels often make me laugh out loud. He leads you to what is often a dark, painful place, but along the way the characters relate to each other with this witty, screwball dialogue.”
Michael Aaron Gallagher: “Do you have a favorite line in Step One?”
Max Gold: “My favorite line in the film is when Sam says, “…my career’s going gangbusters.” Who says ‘gangbusters’?!”
Michael Aaron Gallagher: “How did you go about casting the two leads?”
Max Gold: “At the time of casting I was living in Hollywood and working every night until 8:30. There was a Coffee Bean on Sunset and Fairfax, in walking distance of my house. I posted an ad on Craigslist for a “Sam”-type, and would meet these random older men at the coffee shop at 9pm after work for a cold reading. The meetings were precedented on nothing but a short email, so they had no idea who I was. I’d show up late on purpose like Troy, then see how their anger fed in to the character. I’d read for Troy. This went on for several weeks. I had to have met some of the stranger people in Hollywood during this time. Then John showed up and brought so much to the role on his first reading. He must have been really pissed off!
Casting Troy was much easier. Ben and I are good friends from college and we’ve worked together before. I am impressed by Ben’s ability to develop idiosyncrasies specific to each character he plays. Troy is a very complicated character. Ben was moving to LA around the time I was casting, so I sent him the script and he thought Troy would be a great challenge.”
Michael Aaron Gallagher: “Overall, what do you think you learned from directing this project, a lesson that you’ll take forward with you into future projects?”
Max Gold: “What I love about directing is that you’re thrown into the middle of everything, so there is as much to learn as there are people to work with. You’re surrounded by these specialized, talented people who each bring their own experience to the story. For example, I would ask Dan, the DP, ‘What does jealousy look like?’ The way the film looks is his answer. These questions begin with the script, and go all the way through through the sound design. ‘What does the feeling of betrayal sound like?’ The sound designer sampled the steam from the cappuccino machine and inverted it to sound like it is rushing through your ears at the end. Like a cartoon. The learning experience comes from working with people who are able to use these incredibly honed technical skills in very creative ways.”
According to Gold, the entire project was funded through the generous contributions of friends and family and crowdsourcing through Kickstarter.com.
“There is something very thrilling about knowing that this film that we all labored over for months has happened because of the combined forces of the people who support us,” Gold said. “That’s a very cool, pretty unique thing to happen: even the fundraising was collaborative. I am very thankful for that.”
For more information on Step One and to watch the completed film visit http://www.blindhummingbird.com/home/step-one/ You can also follow director Max Gold on Twitter @blindhummingbrd and add him on Facebook at http://www.facebook.com/pages/Blind-Hummingbird-Productions/171617422940844 and read more about Allison Burnett at www.allisonburnett.com.
Max Gold directs new short film called Step One
Copyright 2012 by Michael Aaron Gallagher
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