“Do Not Wait Around For People To Make Your Dreams Come True – Go Off And Do It On Your Own:” A TDQ Q&A Filmmaker With Dave Zani

David Zani

David Zani

This week’s TDQ Q&A is with producer/director/writer Dave Zani. Dave spoke to us about the inspiration of growing up in the 1990s, being an amateur archaeologist and learning about show business from “Homicide: Life on the Streets”, “The Wire” and “Law & Order SVU” star Richard Belzer. Here is this week’s TDQ Q&A with Dave Zani:

The Daily Quarterly: What made you want to get into show business?

Dave Zani: I always loved movies and animation but I think that true moment it clicked for me when I was very young, maybe 4th grade. My parents took me on a family vacation to Disney World and Universal Studios in Orlando. It was the first time I had gone to the Universal theme park and back then, in 1994, they still had a lot of classic rides like the original King Kong ride with a giant animatronic ape! This blew my mind, I remember being stunned by it all. At the gift shop I bought some foam bricks – props. I was fascinated with this concept – fake things that seem real for the purpose of entertainment. That was a light-bulb moment that changed my life forever.

TDQ: What was your favorite sic-fi/horror movie growing up?

DZ: As a kid growing up, “Star Wars” – hands down. I was a kid in the mid 90’s , a dark time for Star Wars fans. It was in between “Jedi” and Episode 1, the stores literally had no Star Wars toys or anything. I had VHS tapes of the 3 original movies, the original cuts! I watched these over and over again until the tracking lines in the tape became too much to see past. I use to paint my other action figures to represent Star Wars characters since no toys were on the market then. I often think about how lucky a 10 year-old is right now, the Star Wars world is their oyster, hahaha. In high school, my friends and I got really into “Alien” and “Aliens.” The tone of the film was something that was another wonderful memory discovering.

TDQ: Who are your influences?

DZ: Since I was very young I always admired Walt Disney and Jim Henson, mostly because my mom adored them and their work. Later on, George Lucas and Steven Spielberg, of course. Any kid growing up in my time would say the same, I think. As I grew older my scope and tastes began to vary with people like Roger Corman, Mike Judge, Jim Wynorski, Quentin Tarantino, Tyler Perry, Paul Hertzberg, Samuel Arkoff. I am fascinated by many different types of film and filmmakers. Things you would think are not on my list, I might be a big fan of because I enjoy and respect the process the filmmaker developed.

David Zani's Work

When you look back on things what are you going to see? Did you work on your dream projects? It sure looks like David Zani is.

TDQ: What is the best advice you’ve ever gotten?

DZ: I hear the same advice from people – they either say it directly to me or I hear other people say it in interviews and speeches. Do not wait around for people to make your dreams come true – go off and do it on your own. I believe this statement like it is a religion.

TDQ: What is the worst advice you’ve ever gotten?

DZ: Great question! I was once told to keep my “stupid ideas” to myself. I made sure to never do that!

TDQ: You’re also a member of the American Society for Amateur Archaeology. How does producing a movie compare to finding a rare historical artifact on a dig in some desert?

DZ: Film making is fun, it is a fulfilling career. I love to tell stories and entertain people but I think uncovering artifacts and stepping in the footprints of people from long ago is the most magical thing and lifts my spirits to very high places because it is true adventure. It does not include much stress (for me). I am not true scientist, of course, dealing with the politics of it all (which I am sure is very stressful). I often think about the moment that Howard Carter opened the door to King Tut’s chamber for the first time in 5,000 years. To see things no one has laid eyes on in that amount of time – just sitting there as the days passed, remarkable to think about.

TDQ: You’ve also worked with Richard Belzer, developing content for his website and his production company. What did you learn from working with him?

DZ: I loved working with Richard. He is a great comedic talent with outrageous vision and wit. It was one of the first times I was really working with someone who was well known. I was young and nervous at first, but he was so humble and funny it was easy to create cool work. On the smaller scale of things, I learned timing from Richard, the importance of it and the basics of developing good timing. On a larger scale, I think just learning about him and his career and all the different projects he has worked on, really showed me that you can go anywhere in this world.

TDQ: What project are you working on next?

DZ: Right now I am working on something really special. It is more mainstream, animated and has a rich story, for which I am very proud! It is an epic mythology I am creating, with my own modern twist. I will have more to say soon! To keep in the loop my website OldMillEntertainment.com will have updates in time.

TDQ: Where do you see yourself and Old Mill Entertainment in five years?

DZ: I believe that we will continue to expand our horizons and to continue developing projects that increase in sophistication and audience reach. I am fascinated with the mixing of genres to create new and fresh things, I am fascinated with history and the story of people on Earth – this is the foundation of my work. As I continue to learn more about my interests I will continue to create new stories and characters that people can relate to, be inspired by and be entertained with.

Be sure and follow Dave on Twitter and on Instagram.

“It Kind Of Encapsulated All Of My Interests And Kinda Blew My Young Mind:” A TDQ Q&A With Writer/Director Jay Weisman

Shockwave Darkside

Shockwave Darkside, written and directed by Jay Weisman combines the mystery of space, along with all the feelings of camaraderie and adrenaline brought about by just war against a common foe all wrapped in a video game cut scene like presentation that makes the viewer eagerly waiting for their turn to join in. That was my take, anyway.

This week’s TDQ Q&A is with writer and director Jay Weisman. Jay spoke to us about his latest film, “Shockwave Darkside,” the difference between directing movies and TV and how he stays grounded. Here is this week’s TDQ Q&A With Jay Weisman:

The Daily Quarterly: What made you want to be in show business?

Jay Weisman: I come from a long line of storytellers. My dad is quite the raconteur and so was my grandfather – who acted in Yiddish theater when he came to this country – so on one hand, it was a natural interest. On the other, I was always into space travel and technology – so those passions kinda merged into wanting to be a filmmaker, I guess. Specifically being a science-fiction filmmaker because I figured if I couldn’t have NASA send me to the moon, I could do the next best thing and just get a set together and put myself there!

TDQ: Who was your favorite director growing up?

JW: I guess it depends at what point in my life you asked me! I had a really great film education growing up, so I went through my Lucas and Spielberg phase, then Coppola and Kubrick and then I started learning about some of the great directors of the 30s and 40s like Michael Curtiz and Howard Hawks.

Then there were directors like James Cameron, David Lean and Ridley Scott who also had a huge influence on me. I’d have the equivalent of director mix tapes where I’d binge-watch seminal movies from their body of work and try and see how their style developed, what where their recurring themes and how they grew in ability.

Shockwave Darkside

Jay Weisman’s take on war in the stars is probably exactly what it will be like in the inevitable future.

TDQ: What was your favorite movie growing up?

JW: “Star Wars” – the original. Hands down! That movie had such an impact because it kind of encapsulated all of my interests and kinda blew my young mind. There were so many ground-breaking things in that movie – but it also was the first time I could look at something that I might be able to do someday. It’s like a first love.

TDQ: What was your favorite TV show growing up?

JW: Classic “Star Trek” and “Twilight Zone.” It’s interesting – the older I got, the more I realized that these shows had a real depth to them. So when I was younger, I’d tune into all the space battles and Captain Kirk derring-do of “Star Trek,” and twist endings of the “Twilight Zone” – but as I got older, it would start occurring to me that these stories were actually about so much more than seemingly what was presented on the screen. That, to me, is really the power of science fiction.

And if you see “Shockwave Darkside,” you can definitely see those influences in the film. I think those shows managed to become really great cautionary tales about our flirtation and adolescence with technology – and through that they could comment on things like religion, politics, civil rights and science in a way that was pretty innovative.

My dad was a also a huge fan of both of these shows, so I that was really our thing as I was growing up. Some fathers and sons have baseball, and we had Rod Serling and Gene Roddenberry.
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“If Distributors Say No To Our Film, We Aren’t Shut Down; We Can Go Direct To The Consumer:” A TDQ Q&A With Producer Daemon Hillin

This week’s TDQ Q&A is with film producer Daemon Hillin. Daemon spoke to us about his company, Benetone Films, and their latest effort, “PERNICIOUS” as well as how a kid from California ended up working for the biggest film company in Thailand. Here is this week’s TDQ Q&A with Daemon Hillin:

Daemon Hillin

When faced with adversity Pernicious producer Daemon Hillin says “Yes I Cannes!”

The Daily Quarterly: What made you want to be in show business?

Daemon Hillin: I have loved film ever since I was a kid. Film can take you on a journey no matter what kind of day you are having. Growing up I didn’t really have a clue what producing was, but as my business savvy increased I really found a great opportunity to pursue something that I love with all my heart.

TDQ: Who was your favorite film producer growing up?

DH: Steven Spielberg without a doubt.

TDQ: Who are your influences?

DH: My Grandfather and my Mother. Couldn’t have done anything without them.

TDQ: What is the best advice you’ve ever gotten?

DH: “You are your word.”

TDQ: What is the worst advice you’ve ever gotten?

DH: That’s a tough one, because the advice might have been good, but the timing bad.

PerniciousTDQ: Tell us about Benetone Films, your production company.

DH: Benetone Films is the biggest production company in Thailand. We have been rated number 1 by the Thai film commission six years in a row. We do about 100 commercials a year, eight Bollywood Films and two US films. My partners are some of the smartest and kindest men I have ever met. Not only do I contribute, but I am also taught by a great group of guys!

TDQ: You grew up in California, what led you to a production company in Thailand?

DH: Fate is a funny thing. I had been visiting Thailand my whole life spending time there for vacation. When the opportunity came up to make a film in Thailand I jumped on it and pushed with all my heart to make it happen. The film went well, then Benetone Films bought my US company Hillin Entertainment. We are now eight films deep in four years.

Emily O'Brien and Jackie Moore in Pernicious

Pernicious characters Julia (Emily O’Brien) and Rachel (Jackie Moore) are starting to suspect something isn’t right.

TDQ: Tell us about Benetone’s first theatrical release, “PERNICIOUS.”

DH: Our first Theatrical was actually “A Stranger In Paradise” starring Colin Egglesfield, Stuart Townsend and Oscar-Nominated Catalina Sandino Moreno.

Pernicious is my second film that I shot in Thailand that we have a theatrical for. This film was really myself and Rachvin and Kulthep coming together and trying to take Thai folklore and pretty ladies and turn it into a gruesome film.

We then hired James to flesh out some ideas based on our parameters, and, boom, we had “PERNICIOUS.”

Ciara Hanna in Pernicious

Here we see Pernicious character Alex (Ciara Hanna) taking, what appears to be, what, a refreshing mud bath? No, I’m being told it’s a terrifying blood bath.

TDQ: What other projects are you working on?

DH: By The Rivers Of Babylon (Thriller), starring Crispin Glover, Connie Stevens, Mark Boone Jr, and Joely Fisher. We are in post and this will be finished soon.

“Killing Winston Jones” (a dark comedy), starring Richard Dreyfus, Danny Glover, Jon Heder, Danny Masterson, Aly Mychalka, Tyler Labine, and Lyne Shae. Also in post.

“Oliver Storm and The Curse of Sinbad’s Treasure” is in development. It is “Goonies” meets “Indiana Jones” and will be shot in Thailand. Continue reading

“I Never Paid Attention To The Extras Until I Was One:” A TDQ Q&A With Actor Jesse Heiman

Jesse Heiman

Jesse Heiman

You may not know it, but you’ve seen this week’s TDQ Q&A subject in damn near everything on TV and in movies. Known as “The World’s Greatest Extra,” Jesse Heiman somehow made time for us to talk about a typical week working all over Hollywood, why he looked up to Michael J. Fox and his thoughts on Will Ferrell’s future in Hollywood. Here is this week’s TDQ Q&A with Jesse Heiman:

The Daily Quarterly: How did you hear about thedailyquarterly.com?

Jesse Heiman: Well, to be honest I had never heard of this site prior to this interview. But I’ve checked it out and it’s a good read.
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“There’s Definitely Some Low Level Endorphin Activity:” A TDQ Q&A With Writer And Hotel Chain Spokesman Tom Bodett, Part 2

Tom Bodett

If all goes right with the casting process expect to see Penelope Cruz playing Tom Bodett on the CW this pilot season.

TDQ: What are you reading right now?

Bodett: This questionnaire. When I’m done with this I intend to return to my work translating the poems of Robert Frost into Urdu and Farsi. Did you know that Farsi has no word for ‘snowy wood’?

TDQ: You showcased your voice talents on Steven Spielberg’s “Animaniacs,” too. (To this day, we find ourselves humming the state capital song in elevators.) Were you given the leeway to ad-lib on there like you did with that “We’ll leave the light on for you” thing? 

Bodett: Yes, Spielberg wanted to give me co-creator credit on the series because I basically made the whole thing up over the donut table at our first session, but I would have none of it. He’s a really nice guy and deserves a little credit for the few things he manages to get to market.
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