Archive for the ‘Interview’ Category

Thursday morning cast members Caitriona Balfe and Sam Heughan along with showrunner Matthew B. Roberts chatted with Antonia Blyth, Deputy Editor of Deadline’s Awards Magazine, after a virtual screening of the season finale of Outlander‘s current, 5th season [which aired on May 10].

If you watched that gripping season finale, you will know about the horrible assault perpetuated against Claire Fraser. The way the episode played out viewers was from Claire’s perspective both in real time – as to what was happening to her in – and in an disassociated state – where she escaped to a dreamscape where her family and, most importantly, her husband Jamie were there to protect her as much as possible until she could be rescued.

With that finale clearly in mind for the interview, Cait, Sam and Matthew were asked about how they prepared for that episode with Matthew sharing that they knew from the beginning of this season how they wanted it to come to an end so they sought out expertise from their consultants. Cait shared they knew they had to be careful with how they depicted the sexual abuse, and the trigger warnings at the beginning of the episode was also helpful in warning viewers.

As for the emotional scenes they had to depict, not just in the season finale, Cait and Sam stated that it was helpful to have a safe environment to work within, giving credit to everyone in front and behind the cameras. Cait further shared that as an actor you have to learn how to separate your own life from work; to be in character and deal with the dark places that you have to go, but to leave all of that at the door at the end of the day.

In breaking down the dreamscape of Claire’s disassociation, they all had to work together, they had to pick a very specific time period, the costumes, the music, the house, the color – all of that was key to making those scenes work as well as sharing a lot of discussions with Sam and Cait. Matthew said he was proud of how the episode turned out.

They were then asked about Jon Gary Steele, the production designer (the man behind all of the elaborate sets used on the show) since the first season – who announced he was leaving the series after five season. While his will be big shoes to fill, Cait, Sam and Matthew were asked if they had a favorite set created by Steele. For Sam it was the Great Hall at Castle Leoch in season one; Cait’s choice was Master Raymond’s apothecary. Matthew shared that there were so many to choose from but the Star Chamber in season 2 was a top choice for him, but he also liked the Boston apartment, Claire and Jamie’s home in France, even the Wilmington and Paris streets. He further stated that every drawer and cupboard was filled because you never knew what would be seen during filming. They all agreed that it was his attention to detail that really made the difference.

Cait was then asked about Claire’s medical background, and how she dealt with all of that. She stated that she did a lot of research into all of that – in fact, they all joked that she is practicing now. Then getting serious with her answer she shared that she watched a lot of YouTube videos – even falling into a rabbit hole when she researched the breech birth for season 1.

Sam was asked about getting into character for Jamie with all that happened in the current season – from him having to don the redcoat, losing Murtagh and not being able to protect Claire. He said Murtagh’s storyline, of course, was not in the books, but he raved about working with Duncan Lacroix, especially in those final scenes.

Both Sam and Cait agreed that they are protective of and bonded to their characters but they are not their characters; in fact, Cait joked that she doesn’t go around saying “Jesus H. Roosevelt Christ.”

They also talked about new costumer Trisha Biggar, who took over for Ronald D. Moore’s wife Terry Dresbach, who was the costume designer for the first 3 seasons of the show. Specifically asking if they had a favorite outfit from this season. Cait stated it was blue riding coat, the green suit that had a nautical feel to it and the red dress from the finale. For Sam it was the return of Jamie’s kilt, the long leather jacket from the finale and even the redcoat.

When asked about what they have learned from being on the show, Cait and Sam both joked “nothing and everything,” sharing they were both “green” when they started on the show. Cait said she learned a lot of “technical terms,” but they also learned how to trust themselves and allow themselves to be surprised.

Cait was later asked about working with Sophie Skelton (who plays her daughter Brianna), and she shared that she “loves when (she) and Sophie get to work together…and be supportive (of each other).” She further stated that there was such a gulf between Claire and Brianna in season two, that now in season five it’s so great that their relationship has shifted to the point that Brianna can be there for Claire.

Lastly, Sam and Cait were asked about what it was liked becoming producers for the 5th season, and they shared it’s been “fantastic to have (that) role, getting to have more input; learning a lot (about) putting the jigsaw puzzle (together). Sam stated that their influence (as producers) could be seen in the season finale. They both agreed that it’s been great to “take on more responsibility (to) grow and learn and be of benefit to the show.”

You can watch the full video interview here:

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Actor Micahel McMillian (True Blood, Crazy Ex-Girlfriend) has long been a fan of comics. Finally, after years of work in development programs and with other publishing companies, McMillian’s dream of writing a book has come true with the help of his long time comic shop, Golden Apple.

Golden Apple Comics is branching out into publishing, McMillian’s book being one of the first. A fantasy story where the hero is the long lost heir to a kingdom, Adventure Van, is a tale of coming of age and true friendship.

At Comic Con last month, I had a chance to talk with McMillian about the process of writing this book and what he loves most about the story. Watch below for his take on writing comics, his inspiration and a little big about the journey for everyone involved.

Adventure Van is available today.

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On July 20 at San Diego Comic Con, actress Melissa Joan Hart (best known for her work on Sabrina, the Teenage Witch and the sitcom Melissa and Joey) and her producing partner (and mother) Paula Hart [among others] participated in a panel focusing on their upcoming new project from their Hartbreak Films production company: The Watcher in the Woods.

This new take on the book by Florence Engel Randall and the 1981 Disney film, which starred legendary actress Bette Davis, will air on Lifetime this Saturday, October 21.

In this new version Academy Award winner Anjelica Huston takes on the role of Mrs. Alywood, the distraught mother whose daughter, Karen, vanished in the English countryside 36 years ago. Jan Carstairs (relative newcomer Tallulah Evans) and her family move into the idyllic Alywood manor for the summer. Upon arriving in the small village of Northrop, the family is warned against entering the surrounding woods, but Jan and her little sister Ellie (newcomer Dixie Egerickx) hear voices coming from the forest. Strange occurrences begin to unnerve the family and Jan begins to suspect that they are linked to Karen’s disappearance. As Jan unravels the dark past hidden by the townspeople, she delves further into the mystery and deeper into danger, but now it might be too late to escape the Watcher in the Woods.

Melissa not only served as executive producer alongside her mother, but she also directed the film, which has been a passion project of hers for the past 20 years. In a special roundtable interview with the press, Melissa and her mother as well as writer Scott Abbott and associate producer Andrew Gernhard shared details about the reimaging of The Watcher in the Woods.

Here is an excerpt of that interview:

What inspired you to reimagine The Watcher in the Woods?

Melissa: I was obsessed with the 1981 movie. I watched it over and over again with my family. When we were doing Sabrina, (we were constantly) looking for projects to do when I was off from the show.

Paula: At the time, Melissa would have been perfect for the part of Jan.

Melissa: (Mom) tried getting the rights for 17 years and we finally got Disney to give us the rights to let us do it, but at this point I was too old to play Jan and too young to play Mrs. Alywood.

Paula: Melissa really wanted to play Mrs. Alywood (though)…

Melissa: Then I was going to play the mom, but I really (didn’t) want to have to act AND direct so we ended up finding a really wonderful woman (Melanie Gutteridge) to play the mom and I didn’t have to do it.

What are the things you most wanted to use in this reimagining?

Scott Abbott (Writer): The first thing I wanted to preserve was the story itself. It’s a gothic story; it’s really a ghost story. The biggest concerns I had were, “Who is the Watcher?” “What is the Watcher?” and “What does the Watcher want?” Another thing I wanted to observe was (the) tone. (I wanted) to tell a straight gothic story. I didn’t want it to be a tale full of blood. I wanted it to be a tale of suspense.

Melissa: I think one of the things that Scott did that was so great, he really preserved (the) family aspect. (He also made) the Watcher be his own character (and that is the one major difference (from the movie and the book). I think he did an amazing job streamlining the story and making it clear who the Watcher is, what it wants and what’s going on.

You’ve got Anjelica Houston and some talented newcomers playing the kids. Can you talk a little about the casting process?

Paula: When we work on projects like this we have wish lists: “Who do we want?” “What do we think?” On top of my wish list was Anjelica Houston. And she said yes, it was fairly simple. We have this fantastic script, (we) sent it off to her and she said “yeah, I’ll do it.”

Melissa: And I freaked out. And (then) I (got) to direct her. We did casting in London and even some of the day players are people from Downton Abbey and Doctor Who because we filmed in Cardiff. But we cast in London and they were an amazing cast. They were all so easy to work with. Everyone gave 110 percent.

Paula: Everybody auditioned…no matter how small the part was or how big the actor was, they all auditioned.

NOTE: It should be noted that actor Benedict Taylor, who played Mike Fleming in the 1981 movie, plays John Keller – the grown version of the teenager who was in love with long missing Karen – in this new version. It should also be noted that Huston was the only American actor, playing a character with a British accent, while many of the British actors in the cast were playing Americans.

What was your favorite part of this version?

Melissa: Everything. It was really fun. It’s been fabulous. It’s an actual dream of mine. This has been going on for almost 20 years for us. So this is something – to finally get it done. This is a dream come true.

Scott: I learned a lot about the process from working with Paula and Melissa.

Andrew Gernhard (Associate Producer): We did all the post-production. We loved every minute of it. From the rough cut to the color correction to the special effects. It was just cool to get to recreate the 1980’s to something that was new.

Here is a trailer for the movie:

The Watcher in the Woods will debut on Lifetime on Saturday, October 21 at 8/7c.

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Most TV viewers will recognize actress Sarah Lancaster from her roles in the acclaimed TV series Everwood as well as the fan favorite dramedy Chuck, but she actually got her start in television via the youth-oriented series Saved by the Bell: The New Class for which she appeared in from 1993 to 1996.

Since then she has appeared in a number of made-for-TV movies such as Fir Crazy, Love Finds You in Sugarcreek, Looking for Mr. Right, Along Came a Nanny, Christmas in the Smokies and ‘Tis the Season for Love.

Tomorrow, October 6, her latest movie – The Stray – will be hitting the big screen. The inspirational film tells the true story of a stray dog who saves a struggling family in more ways than one.

Pluto comes out of nowhere and quickly makes himself at home with the Davis family, who are on the brink of falling apart. Dad, Mitch Davis, (Michael Cassidy from The O.C. and People of Earth) is a career-driven workaholic who is neglecting his marriage and family. Mom, Michelle Davis (Sarah Lancaster) is at her wit’s end raising three young kids. The last thing they need is another mouth to feed.

In just a short time with the Davis family, Pluto the wonder dog manages to save a lost toddler, bring comfort and companionship to a hurting 9-year-old boy (Connor Corum from Heaven is for Real), help restore a marriage, and repair a broken father-son relationship. Pluto is not only a guard dog – he’s a guardian angel.

The film is written and directed by the real life Mitch Davis (The Other Side of Heaven).

In an exclusive interview with me through NiceGirlsTV, Sarah had this to share with her fans:

Question: What was it about Michelle Davis and the theme of the movie The Stray that drew you to the role?

Sarah: I’ve never played a real life person before, that came with its own set of responsibilities and I hope I do her justice. She’s no wallflower. She’s the driving force behind the family. I love that.

Question: It is said that working with kids and animals can be a little difficult. Did you find that to be the case with this film?

Sarah: There are, of course, certain challenges; but you also always stumble upon magic with kids. It can be trying, but really special at the same time. I think I found it difficult before I had children, now that I’m a mom … bring it on.

Question: Can you share a sneak peek at one particular scene from The Stray that moved you the most or was the most challenging to film?

Sarah: Without giving anything away… there is one particularly emotional scene for my character and the real life Michelle was there that day while we we’re shooting. I tried to sort of stay in my own space until I was done with the scene so I didn’t get in my head about getting it right for her. Afterward I went by the monitor and saw that Michelle was crying too. It was a special moment.

Question: How much research did you do for your role in The Stray or did you have the opportunity to spend time with the real Michelle Davis to prepare for filming?

Sarah: Michelle opened up her home and we got to spend a bit of time together before filming. The Davis’ in general we’re always around set, it was really a family affair. They are a remarkable family and it was a treat getting to know them. I was quite homesick… and sick sick during filming since I was 10 weeks pregnant. I didn’t tell anyone on set at the time that I was expecting. But the way the Davis’ took us in, it was really special and helped ease that ache I had to be home with my boys.

Question: What message do you hope viewers of The Stray will take away after seeing the film?

Sarah: I love the idea of a fresh start. Second chances. This film speaks to that… it’s never too late the lead the life you want to live. And family, of course is everything.

Question: What is the one thing your fans would be surprised to learn about you: a hidden talent? a favorite charity you support/believe in? or something else?

Sarah: If I listed my current interests I’d sound like a little old lady. Actually some of my friends call me “Betty” that’s the grandma in me. Betty Lancaster at home baking, reading and going to bed at 9.

The Stray will open in select theatres throughout the country tomorrow. You can check the movie’s official website for tickets.

Here is a trailer for the upcoming movie The Stray:

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With the season premiere of Merlin airing tonight on Syfy, fans might find it interesting to get an inside look at the main cast of the popular series before the big event happens.

The following are parts of interviews with Colin Morgan (Merlin), Bradley James (Arthur) and Katie McGrath (Morgana):

Katie McGrath as Morgana

Question: (This season) Morgana is the villain, but she didn’t start (out) that way. How do you create some form of humanity or sympathy for such a wicked character?

Katie: It’s fairly easy for me because ultimately I believe in what she’s doing and why she’s doing it. She’s been betrayed by her father, ostracized from her family and she’s all alone. She’s running on pure revenge, pure adrenaline fueled by pure revenge. I do feel sorry for her.

Question: Has Morgana’s appearance also made the transition to evil?

Katie: (She) now kind of looks like a Goth Jessica Rabbit. She is the character that (has) really changed the most…it’s a massive transformation.

Question: This season continues down a darker, more dramatic path. Do you feel the show is following a natural evolution?

Katie: The co-creators (Julian Murphy and Johnny Capps) have found a formula that works and they have taken it to the next level with this season. The show still has all the great comedy and relationships that the audiences adore, but we’ve gotten more sinister and the show has gotten there in a very organic way.

Colin Morgan as Merlin

Question: Morgana presents the greatest threat to Camelot, correct?

Colin: Yes, she is desperate to claim the throne, and the only person standing in her way is Arthur. She is absolutely power hungry, fixated on regaining Camelot. She is Merlin’s ultimate enemy.

Question: What is Arthur and Merlin’s relationship like now?

Colin: They are master and servant, but they have also always been friends. They can’t help but like each other for their own quirks. What is different this season is that you see a vulnerable prince making use of Merlin as an advisor.

Question: Is Arthur still in the dark about Merlin’s magical power?

Colin: Yes, Arthur still has no idea about Merlin’s magic. If Merlin revealed his power to Arthur now, he could risk everything. Merlin’s dream is to live in a land where he can be free and ruled by the greatest king the world has ever known. But right now it would be madness for him to risk that for the selfish reason of revealing himself.

Bradley James as Arthur

Question: What has happened to Arthur since the last time we saw him?

Bradley: Arthur has to take the responsibility for the kingdom on his shoulders because his father has lost his mind. All eyes of the kingdom are now upon him, looking to him, not to Uther. Morgana poses an enormous threat to the kingdom Arthur is trying to protect. He has been thrown into the deep end of a very grave situation.

Question: How does Arthur cope with this responsibility?

Bradley: It’s not always easy for him, constantly learning lessons from his mistakes. But he’s the man you would want in a crisis because he always sticks by what he feels is right, which is a very good quality.

Question: Has this changed the relationship between Arthur and Merlin?

Bradley: Their friendship has grown, and Merlin comes up with pearls of wisdom more and more often. It’s harder for Arthur to turn those into a joke and pretend Merlin is just being stupid. They are now forming a much closer relationship.

Once again, tune in tonight at 10 PM for the return of Merlin on Syfy to find out just what happens next for Merlin, Arthur and Morgana.

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This past April I had the opportunity to attend Wonder Con, which is an annual pop culture convention held in San Francisco and is the precursor to the San Diego Comic Con. As part of my press duties for this convention, I was invited to participate in round table interviews with some of the actors and creative team behind the upcoming box office film Immortals, which will be hitting cineplexs on November 11.

Isabel Lucas as Athena

The members of the cast in attendance included actors Luke Evans (Clash of the Titans) and Henry Cavill (The Tudors) as well as actress Isabel Lucas (Transformers 2). Director Tarsem Singh and producer Mark Canton were also on hand to discuss the film.

The basic premise behind Immortals is that King Hyperion (Mickey Rourke), mad with power, has declared war against humanity. The king has amassed a bloodthirsty army, scorching is way across Greece in search of a weapon of unimaginable power that was forged in the heavens by Ares himself. The one who possesses this weapon can unleash the Titans. If this weapon ends up in the king’s hands it will rain destruction on mankind and annihilate the Gods. Ancient law dictates the Gods must not intervene in man’s conflicts and they are powerless to stop the king until a peasant named Theseus comes forth as their only hope to defeat the king.

Henry Cavill as Theseus

In the hands of visionary director Tarsem Singh, the man behind the independent films The Cell and The Fall as well as the upcoming Snow White film that stars Lily Collins and Julia Roberts, Immortals will assuredly be vividly dynamic in color and scope. Singh himself is a man in motion, never sitting still and is very animated. He displayed passion for his craft and excitement for his work.

On the reverse side was producer Mark Canton who was calm and sedate; explaining the differences between Immortals and the film 300 was the approach to filmmaking as overseen by Tarsem. And, he raved about actor Mickey Rourke’s portrayal of the power-hungry king. “He is fierce in the movie; wind him up and get out of the way,” Canton explained.

As for the actors, the very soft-spoken Isabel Lucas seemed hesitant to answer questions almost as if she preferred being a bystander than in the spotlight; but she did share that filming the action scenes for which her character Athena participated in were hard, especially the rehearsing beforehand.

Luke Evans at Zeus

Actors Luke Evans, who plays Zeus and Henry Cavill, who plays the lead role of Theseus, both agreed the training for the film was difficult. In fact, Evans shared the training “changed me physically forever”. When asked what it was like working with Mickey Rourke, Cavill shared that “you can learn so much from just doing a scene with him”.

Both actors also felt the pressure of their next high-profile roles – Evans plays Aramis in the recently released The Three Musketeers and, of course, Cavill was cast as Superman/Clark Kent in the reboot of the franchise called Man of Steel that is filming right now but won’t be out in theatres until 2013.

If you are a fan of the “sand and sword” type of films, Immortals will be just what you are longing to see. Again, Immortals will open in theatres on Friday, November 11.

Here is the trailer for Immortals.

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Young adult fiction. Those are three of the hottest words in the publication world especially given the box office successes stemming from the Twilight Saga novels and the Harry Potter juggernaut as well as the worlds of The Vampire Diaries and Pretty Little Liars that have been turned into TV gold.

In what I hope will become a regular feature here at Rueben’s Ramblings, I will shine a well-deserved spotlight not only on well-established writers but exciting up-and-coming novelists in the world of young adult fiction and delve into the interesting worlds for which they have created.

Stacey Kade

Entering into this wonderful world of young adult fiction is author Stacey Kade, an award-winning corporate copywriter, who has written about everything from backhoe loaders to breast pumps; but now she has turned her writing toward a more interesting subject: ghosts

Her current series consists of the books The Ghost and the Goth and Queen of the Dead (both available through Hyperion Books). But, why don’t we find out what Stacey has to say about her career and how she became a young adult novelist in her own words:

Question: What inspired you to write your books?

Stacey: I guess I write the stories I want to read. I love young adult novels, and I was intrigued by the idea of a romance between people who are total opposites, in every way, including life/death status.

Question: How long was the story in development and how long did it take you to write each book?

Stacey: I don’t outline in any kind of formal way, but it takes me about a month or so to kind of wrap my head around the characters and the story and where it’s going. I need to know the end before I can start. Each one took between three and four months to write.

Question: What inspired you to become a writer? Did you always know or did the interest come at a later time in your life?

Stacey: I’ve always been interested in storytelling (but) it took me awhile to realize that it was something I could try in book form, though. I didn’t seriously start trying to write a book until after I graduated from college.

Question: What was the most difficult scene to write in either book?

Stacey: Oh, I think the end of Queen of the Dead was tough. It was emotionally difficult for the characters (and for me) and just a tricky scene to manage for a lot of different reasons. I can’t explain too much more without spoilers!

The Ghost and the Goth

Question: Can you please provide a general premise for each book?

Stacey: The overall premise of the series revolves around two characters: Alona Dare and Will Killian. Alona Dare is part of the popular crowd, the girl everyone wants to be: Captain of the cheerleading squad, Homecoming Queen, and kind of a mean girl. And then she dies in a rather abrupt fashion–death by school bus. So, now she’s a ghost, trying to figure out why she’s still here instead of moving on to the light.

Will Killian is a ghost-talker, someone who can see, hear and touch ghosts, and it makes his life miserable. He’s a social outcast, the school weirdo. He’s just trying to make it through high school without being kicked out or locked away in a mental institution because everyone thinks he’s crazy.

The first book, The Ghost and the Goth, is about Alona discovering that she is, indeed, a ghost and she’s stuck in a place in between the living and the dead. Will is just trying to get by. His principal is out to get him, and his psychiatrist thinks he should be locked up. The last thing he needs is another ghost–particularly a very persistent one–pestering him. But Alona is in danger of disappearing for good, and he’s the only one who can help.

So the two of them, with all their bickering and name-calling, have to figure out a way to work together.

In the second book, Queen of the Dead, Will and Alona have figured out how to work together and they’re both struggling a little with feeling more for each other than they should. Then a new ghost-talker, Mina, shows up on the scene, claiming to have more information about Will’s dad, who died years before. Alona doesn’t trust her, but Will is intrigued. And Alona has her own problems with her still living family–they’re moving on with their lives without her. All of this sets Will and Alona more at odds with each other than ever. And when they’re not working well together…well, it causes all kinds of problems, some of which cannot be easily remedied.

Question: Do you have a favorite character?

Stacey: That’s like asking me to pick a favorite child, but I will say that, in terms of writing, Alona is a lot of fun because she has a very distinct voice and she doesn’t hold back. And as a writer, sometimes it’s fun to really let loose!

Question: Will you be writing more books in the series?

Stacey: One more book in this series, and then I have a new series starting in 2013 with The Rules. It’s about a girl who was raised as a genetic experiment hiding from her creators under the guise of being a “normal” sixteen-year-old, and the boy who tempts her to break the rules that confine her existence and keep her safe.

Question: If a movie were adapted from the book, which actors/actresses would you like to see play the primary characters?

Stacey: The models on the cover are pretty much exactly how I pictured Will and Alona, so I’d love for that to be the case with a movie as well. Readers have suggested actors for Will (Landon Liboiron from Terra Nova or Jeremy Sumpter from Friday Night Lights), but I haven’t heard any suggestions for Alona yet.

SECRET REVEALED: Here’s a little behind-the-scenes trivia: Alona is named for the wonderful actress Alona Tal, after I saw her in (the TV series) Veronica Mars as Meg.

Queen of the Dead

Question: When is your next book coming out and will it be a continuation of the first two books?

Stacey: The third and final book (to be called Body & Soul) in the trilogy will be out in May of 2012, and it’s definitely a continuation of the first two books.

Question: Do you have a favorite story arch or favorite character?

Stacey: You know, Liesel and Eric (secondary characters in the first two books) were so much fun to write especially in the scenes where Liesel and Alona argue. Actually, thinking about it, I really loved writing all of the ghosts. It was fun coming up with their individual backgrounds and deaths.

Question: Were any of the characters modeled after you or anyone you know?

Stacey: Every character, I think, always has a piece of the writer in him or her. But, no, the characters aren’t based on anyone in real life.

Question: Are there any story arcs that you ended up not using in the book?

Stacey: I toyed with the idea of Will’s father’s death being murder, but it added an unnecessary layer of complication and I felt it didn’t resonate with the rest of the story as well.

Question: Do you have any advice for new writers?

Stacey: Don’t give up. It’s really easy to begin doubting yourself, but believe in the story and your passion for telling it.

Question: If you weren’t a writer, what would you be doing?

Stacey: Assuming my non-existent training wasn’t an issue? I’ve always been interested in archeology; however, the dirt and sleeping in tents aspect does not appeal to me.

Question: What book(s) are you currently reading?

Stacey: Right at this very second, I’m reading The Forgotten Garden by Kate Morton; but when I’m not deep in writing mode, I often go through two or three books a week.

Question: Who is your personal favorite writer?

Stacey: Oh, that’s a tough one. I have so many! My mentor and critique partner is SF/F author Linnea Sinclair. I’ve learned so much from her. I also greatly admire Meg Cabot, Jennifer Echols, and Suzanne Collins. Jane Austen is my all-time favorite.

Question: If anyone would like to get in touch with you both, where should they write, email, tweet and do you have a website dedicated to the book (or any of your other work)?

Stacey: I’m on Twitter (waaaay too much) and you can find me there as @staceykade. I’m also on Facebook (facebook.com/staceykade), and I have a personal website with an email/contact form here.

Stacey Kade lives in the Chicago suburbs with her husband, Greg, and their three retired racing greyhounds, Joezooka (Joe), Tall Walker (Walker) and SheWearsThePants (Pansy). When she’s not reading or writing, you’ll likely find her parked in front of the television with her Roswell DVDs, staring rapturously at Jason Behr. [EDITOR’S NOTE: A woman with good taste!]

Make sure to check out Stacey Kade’s books the next time you are at your local bookstore, visiting Amazon or whatever book outlet you prefer; and make sure to pick up the third book in her trilogy (Body & Soul) when it is released on May 29, 2012 and be on the look-out for new trilogy The Rules in 2013.

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Kevin Herrera as Alaster Stone in Project: Elysium

Imagine you have an endless supply of cash, wealthy behind all imagination, and you fund a program where you can do anything, be anyone and go anywhere – that is Project: Elysium. But, as Alaster Stone (Kevin Herrera) – the man behind and within that program – quickly learns from a scientist named The Consultant (Meaghan MacLean), he can’t be extracted from that well-crafted world. How much will he sacrifice to have it all? That is the interesting premise of the new short film by up-and-coming, young director Devon Newberry.

Coming off an incredible response to a private school screening of the short film at the CSU Long Beach Spring Showcase in May and after having the film selected into the 15th annual LA Short Film Festival last month, Project: Elysium will be available for viewing online tomorrow Tuesday, August 9.

Meaghan MacLean as The Consultant in Project: Elysium

I recently had the opportunity to interview Devon Newberry about his latest project, the work that went into completing that film and much more. Here is what he had to share:

Question: What was the driving factor behind your making this film?

Newberry: I was looking for something to direct, as it had been a few months since I directed a short called “See Ryan”. My good friend and one of my producing partners, Aaron Rubin, presented me the script for this movie, asking me to only do rewrites. After I wrote a couple drafts, I sort of, subconsciously, geared my rewrites as a directorial vehicle for myself. I was fortunate enough that after I did my pitch with Michael Demas, who wrote the original idea and the first draft, he was comfortable enough to let me direct. Aaron Rubin was on my side the whole time and played a role in planting the seed to get me in the directing chair, but I think it came down to the pitch between Demas and I.

Question: What was the hardest aspect of filming Project: Elysium?

Newberry: Honestly, it was a breeze. I thrive on high-pressure situations and with Elysium, it was my first ‘big-budget’ short. There are a lot of visual effects. We had a lot to shoot in a very short amount of time, and we were fighting nature. It was probably a nightmare for the production team, but I just move in stride and work as I go. We shot under schedule and initially shot under-budget; it ended up being a really smooth shoot. I think the pace at which I shoot was new for the crew, as a lot of the team was new and hadn’t worked with me yet, but Luke Dejoras and I, my director of photography, run-and-gun. Luke is one of those guys who can shoot at whatever speed is presented, but I rarely do more than four takes and I try to shoot as much as possible, as fast as possible. It’s a lot of fun.

Behind the Scenes of Project: Elysium with Director Devon Newberry

Question: How long did it take to film and then work on post-production?

Newberry: I was hired to direct the film in October 2010, and I initially wanted to shoot in December 2010, but (realistically) there was no way (that) was going to happen. I cast the film before the New Year, but my team and I didn’t start official pre-production until January 2011. We were scheduled to shoot in February; but, of course, on the weekend we were scheduled to shoot, we got rained out – and the movie is 95% exterior. We ended up shooting the film in March and had a REALLY quick turn-around to hit some festival deadlines. My wonderful editor, Aaron Robinson, cut the film, did all the VFX – all that jazz – in six weeks. It was pretty extensive. He did an incredible, incredible job.

Question: How long were you in development, putting the script and pre-production together?

Newberry: We spent 5 to 6 months preparing it from first rewrite to day one of production. It didn’t take too long. It was just a matter of putting the pieces together.

Rupa Shah as The Woman in Project: Elysium

Question: Was the casting process easy or hard? Can you elaborate on that whole process?

Newberry: For me, it’s easy. I’m a big fan of the actors I’ve worked with and I’m always interested in working with first time actors – which is one of those high risk/high reward actions, as it’s terribly easy to cast a dud – so I cast based off reels, looks, motivation, etc. I had told Kevin [Herrera] about the script and told him I wanted him to play Alaster Stone well before I signed on as director, and the cast fell in place from there. I had wanted to work with Meaghan [MacLean] for a couple of years prior to this and immediately brought her on, then Ron Drynan and Rupa Shah came pretty quick. Funny thing about Rupa, she was cast two days before production began. We started shooting on a Friday and on Wednesday night she confirmed that she was in. The original actress cast to play The Woman had to drop out due to scheduling conflicts, so a little bit of improvisation was required. I think it worked out for us.

Question: What was the inspiration for you to want to become a director?

Newberry: There were a (number) of factors, all entertainment based, that eventually led to directing. I wrote and directed an awful, awful play in junior high that got a standing ovation and an A+ in the class. But in retrospect, it was a pretty goofy, Lord of the Rings-inspired play. So that kind of kick-started it. I went on a tram tour at Universal Studios one day and saw the set where a big truck collapses through the roof into the subway and water pours from the side and thought, “Man, I really want to build sets… so I can destroy them!” But that only lasted so long, as I’m awful at math and anything that requires a hammer. (Instead I) started making movies and felt 100 percent comfortable and confident in what I was doing.

One Sheet Poster for Project: Elysium

Question: What is the best advice you can provide other young directors?

Newberry: Make YOUR movies. Make the movies YOU want to make. It’s easy for young filmmakers to try to make movies (like those) of the directors that inspire them or make movies they think people want to see, but they really need to be thinking about what they want to see. If you’re confident in what you’re doing, in the movies you’re making, the audience will be able to tell. There’s nothing worse than seeing an inconsistent movie because the filmmakers weren’t sure what they wanted to do. I can’t be the next Christopher Nolan, Michael Bay, Steven Spielberg, etc… but I can be the first and best Devon Newberry possible. That’s all I can do.

Question: Can you share any details on your next film?

Newberry: I start shooting a small, pseudo-indie short called Phynes with actor Dominick Aznavour on September 2. We’re shooting on a shoe-string budget – MUCH smaller than Project: Elysium – and we’re hoping to show it in January. It should be done by then, (and) there’s only one VFX shot. Otherwise, it’s all character. I have plans after that as well. When I was rewriting Project: Elysium, I had a trilogy in mind. I wanted to be able to one-off the first film in case people didn’t respond well to it, but I wanted to continue Alaster’s story if the audience wanted to see more. I can confirm that Project: Elysium 2 is deep in the writing process and some early prep has begun. I can also confirm we’re doing tests to see if we can shoot it in 3D – which would be totally new for us – and I can confirm we’re going to raise the bar. It’s going to be exciting.

Question: Where is the best place for fans to reach you, learn more about your work and upcoming projects?

Newberry: I’m all over the place. I have an “official site“. I’m on Facebook (he can be found under Devon Newberry there), I do the whole Twitter thing (he can be found @DevonNewberry), I email. I love feedback – good AND bad – so I encourage people to (reach me by any of those means) to say how much they loved or hated what I do. My team and I can’t get better if no voices are heard, SO BE LOUD!

With those thoughts in mind, make sure to check out Project: Elysium when it goes live online tomorrow August 9, get in touch with Devon with your thoughts on the film and keep an eye out for more of his work next year. He is definitely a director and writer to be on the lookout for in the future.

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Last month at the annual Wonder Con in San Francisco the creator, director and some of the cast of the upcoming box office movie Priest – which opens in theatres this Friday, May 13 – gathered to participate in a roundtable interview, sharing their experiences on the film and the creative process involved in bringing the story to life.

The interviews started out with the creator – graphic novelist Min-Woo Hyung – who, flanked by his two interpreters – explained that he “couldn’t believe it when (he) was approached about (hiss novel being made into a movie,” including “it wasn’t real” to him until he saw it firsthand. And while the finished product was different from the novel, which worried him at first, he was relieved when he saw how the film turned out.

The graphic novel Priest, published by Tokyopop is a manhwa – aka a Korean comic – created by Hyung which fuses the Western genre with supernatural horror and dark fantasy themes. It is most notable for its unusual, angular art style. The basic premise of the comic is telling the story of humanity’s battle against 12 fallen angels, spanning three distinct time periods: modern times, the Crusades and the Wild West with the primary focus being on the latter.

Paul Bettany at Wonder Con Photo Credit: Jennifer Schadel

Meanwhile, the film version is set in an alternate world where humanity and vampires have warred for centuries. After the last Vampire War, a veteran Warrior Priest – portrayed by actor Paul Bettany – lives in obscurity with other humans inside one of the Church’s walled cities. But, when his niece – actress Lily Collins – is kidnapped by vampires, he breaks his vows to hunt them down.

For Bettany, the draw to work with director Scott Stewart was strong (as they worked together on the film Legion) and it was a challenge to play a character of such depth and physicality. In regards to the heavy action and fighting involved in the film Bettany said, “it was a really great working experience even (on) the days (where) I got injured”. He further explained that he fell on a de-acceleration line, which was quite painful; but he did “as many stunts as insurance would allow” him to do.

As for relative newcomer Collins – who is the daughter of Genesis front man Phil Collins – it “was daunting to be in a project with such a huge following,” but she rose to the challenge of playing a character (the kidnapped niece of the Warrior Priest) that was specifically created for the movie. It was joked about during the interview that she has been nicknamed “the screamer” because of all the screaming her character does throughout the movie, but she was quick to point out that while she “starts (out) as a damsel in distress, she has Priest blood in her, allowing her to be “kick ass” as the movie draws to a conclusion.

Lily Collins at Wonder Con Photo Credit: Jennifer Schadel

The Warrior Priest is not alone in his hunt for his niece, as he is joined by a former Warrior Priestess – actress Maggie Q from the television series Nikita – and his niece’s boyfriend – actor Cam Gigandet – who is a sheriff of the wasteland outside the Church’s city walls. While Maggie Q was not part of the roundtable, Gigandet was there. He explained that his character is “inexperienced when it comes to fighting vampires” but he and the Priest set out “to save the day”. When asked about being in another vampire film (he starred as James in the worldwide phenomenon film Twilight), he simply stated “everything is different about this project” and that Twilight “has opened so many doors” for him, making him very grateful.

To finish up the interview, director Stewart shared how challenging it was to design a “whole world” from that of the story of Priest and to take a much more “hands-on approach” with storyboarding and working with a large scope, landscape movie. And while he joked that it was “horrible” to work with Bettany again he actually gushed over how Paul has a “contemporary face,” making him a perfect fit to the Priest character.

You can judge for yourself when Priest opens in theatres this Friday, May 13. Check out the film’s official website for more details.

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Live from the Artists Den (R)

The third season of the Emmy nominated public television music series Live from the Artists Den will air its season premiere this Friday, April 1, featuring a concert by Elvis Costello and his band The Sugarcanes recorded at the New York Public Library’s world-famous Stephen A. Schwarzman Building.

This innovative programming features music icons and rising stars in unique and intimate venues, allowing the viewer to feel as if the concert is happening right in their living room. The specials also include interviews with each performer conducted by noted music critic Alan Light, who also serves as Director of Programming for Live from the Artists Den.

In an exclusive interview with Rueben’s Ramblings, series creator Mark Lieberman explains the genesis of Live from the Artists Den. “When I was living and working in San Francisco, I became very aware that my friends were no longer going out to hear live music – shows were too late, too inconvenient, too difficult to fit into a life with a job and kids. I wanted to create a way for people to continue to experience music performances in a setting that was inviting and welcoming.”

Besides Elvis Costello being the opening act for this season’s series, Ray LaMontagne and the Pariah Dogs performed at the Don Strange Ranch located in Texas (this performance will air on April 5). Mr. Lieberman explained that this was “probably the most ambitious production we’ve pulled off so far” because the performance was held “in a barn on a ranch thirty miles outside of San Antonio”.

While artists like Ringo Starr, Alanis Morissette, David Gray, Tori Amos and The Black Crowes (among many others) have performed in previous airings of Live from the Artists Den, Mr. Lieberman acknowledged that his personal dream artist would be “someone like Neil Young, who is constantly innovating and experimenting with his music, seems like the kind of artist who would take really interesting advantage of an unconventional place to play.” He further explained “that kind of independence is close in spirit to the Artists Den’s vision”.

Among the other performers for this season’s airings are:

Grace Potter and The Nocturnals, who were filmed in New York’s Bryant Park, airing on April 15;

Robert Plant and the Band of Joy at the War Memorial Auditorium in Nashville to be aired on April 22;

The UK pop legends Squeeze reunite for a concert that was also filmed in New York’s Bryant Park, airing on April 29; and,

A special compilation recorded at Sotheby’s auction house in New York with R&B singer-songwriter Daniel Merriweather, alternative pop songstress A Fine Frenzy and folk singer-songwriter Lisa Hannigan.

When asked if he had a personal favorite among all the performances out of the three seasons, Mr. Lieberman shared that “of course (I) love them all, but the last two performances that (were) filmed—with Robert Plant in Nashville and with Adele in Los Angeles—really highlight the range of music we feature, from an incomparable rock legend to a soulful rising superstar”. Notably that is the only sneak peek Mr. Lieberman would give for the planned 4th season of Live from the Artists Den – that UK songstress Adele was filmed for the new season. He jokingly stated “I don’t want to give away any other secrets while we’re still putting this next batch together”.

But if anyone is interested in finding out how to become a part of the studio audience for one of the upcoming performances for this unique concert experience, all you have to do is sign up for the Artists Den mailing list here or ‘like us’ on Facebook because “Artists Den members are the ones who get to register for a chance to win tickets to our shows,” explained Mr. Lieberman.

In speaking about the logistics involved in arranging these unique venues and artists, Mr. Lieberman noted that “we like to have things set up weeks ahead so that everyone can breathe a little easier, but when we filmed Ringo Starr and Ben Harper at the Metropolitan Museum of Art last year, that whole shoot came together in just over a week”. He further explained that, “it was a scramble, but it’s one of our finest episodes (and) in the end, it usually comes down to a mad dash in the final few hours.”

Also, while Mr. Lieberman did not point out any specific artist who had turned down the opportunity to perform on Live from the Artists Den he did state that “it’s always complicated to line up an artist’s touring schedule with the right venue in the right city at the right time, so it’s always an ongoing process. It’s not so much a question of people turning the opportunity down as it is finding the best chance to make everything come together”.

Obviously it takes a dedicated crew to make the entire series possible and Mr. Lieberman highlighted that he “(works) closely with our Director of Programming, Alan Light, to select the performers, and everyone on our small staff gets their chance to weigh in”. He went on to say that he and his team “are dedicated to artists who are great live performers, regardless of (the) genre. We have featured performers from country (such as Dierks Bentley) to R&B (like Raphael Saadiq and Corinne Bailey Rae), to legends (like Robert Plant, Ringo Starr) and even emerging stars (such as Grace Potter and the Hold Steady)”.

One particularly special music performance was when Live from the Artists Den filmed the Swell Season. Mr. Lieberman stated it was “just after the film “Once” was released. By the time the episode aired, they had won the Academy Award for Best Song of the Year and were selling out Radio City Music Hall.” On the reverse side of that – at least in terms of difficulty with arranging the set up for a specific performance – was “when we filmed the band Fountains of Wayne a few years back. Not only did we arrange the shoot on board a 19th century tall ship docked in lower Manhattan, but the night before the shoot, a tornado swept through New York City. When it passed, the subways were flooded, and the following day was a steamy 90-some degrees. Somehow, we still got a show out of it, but that was certainly the toughest spot we have found ourselves in”. He further explained that “every single show has its own set of challenges, from weather issues (a freak snowstorm in Nashville nearly meant the cancellation of the Robert Plant show) to last minute equipment arrivals (at the Ray LaMontagne show, we had gear arriving from four cities in Texas which caused some last minute scrambling). But the excitement of that improvisational aspect translates into unique and exciting episodes each time. If we filmed everyone in the same studio all the time, the system would be a lot more reliable, but it would also be less fun for us, for the artists, and for the audience.”

Speaking of the audience, Mr. Lieberman stated that “for our shows (there) are generally only a few hundred people, so it’s never been a problem to fill the room”. With that being said I would encourage any interested music fans to sign up for the Artists Den (as stated above) or check out Live from the Artists Den’s Facebook page to learn more about how to register for your chance to win tickets to one of the upcoming shows. You won’t regret that you did.

I would like to extend a hearty thank you to Mr. Lieberman and his staff for taking the time to participate in this exclusive interview with Rueben’s Ramblings. And, for the readers, please make sure to check your local listings for when your public television network will air the upcoming performances of Live from the Artists Den.

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