Tag - Life

Sara Colangelo to Direct ‘What is Life Worth’ Co-Starring Stanley Tucci

MadRiver Pictures has announced that Sara Colangelo (The Kindergarten Teacher, Little Accidents) will direct the true-life biographical drama, What Is Life Worth, and joining Academy Award nominee Michael Keaton (Birdman or (The Unexpected Virtue of Ignorance), Spotlight) is Academy Award® nominee Stanley Tucci (A Private War, Spotlight, The Lovely Bones). Academy Award winning producer Michael Sugar (Spotlight) will produce alongside MadRiver Pictures Marc Butan, Sean Sorensen, Max Borenstein, Bard Dorros and Keaton.  Kim Fox will executive produce along with Riverstone’s Nik Bower and Deepak Nayar.  Principal Photography will begin in New York in April.

Colangelo directed the acclaimed feature, The Kindergarten Teacher, starring Maggie Gyllenhaal which made its debut at the Sundance Film Festival in 2018, where Netflix acquired and subsequently released on October 12. At Sundance, Colangelo won best director and the film was the runner up for the Grand Jury Prize.  Previously, Colangelo wrote and directed, Little Accidents starring Boyd Holbrook, which earned an Independent Spirit Award nomination for ‘Best First Screenplay.’

Stanley Tucci, © Gerhard Kassner

Tucci can currently be seen in A Private War starring Rosamund Pike and Jamie Dornan. His other film credits include The Hunger Games films series, Academy Award® winning film Spotlight, and The Lovely Bones, for which he received a Best Supporting Actor Oscar nomination.

What Is Life Worth is an Erin Brockovich/Spotlight-type story of Ken Feinberg, a powerful insider D.C. lawyer put in charge of the 9/11 Fund, who in almost 3 years of pro bono work on the case, fights off the cynicism, bureaucracy and politics associated with administering government funds to victim’s families and in doing so, discovers what life is worth.

Blair MacDonald on ‘Team Khan’

Blair Macdonald directed the film Team Khan, a film that follows British boxer, Amir Khan, as he prepares for the fight of his career. Macdonald takes us on a journey to better understand the sport of boxing and what it means to get back up to keep fighting. 

ATM: How do you possess the same endurance seen in a fighter as a director?

BM: The correlations in this film was quite a long game. It was more about the endurance. This is a film that 2 ½ years of filming and a 1 ½ year in post-production. It was two of us, and we were pretty much a two-man game with Oliver Clark and me throughout the production period. We worked with a small budget. Boxing is one of the sports where there is no guarantee. We knew the film needed to be on the fight win or lose to end on. This was the correlation, and it was more about the process with the film. We did not understand boxing when starting the film.

ATM: What ways you showed the essence of life in this film and in your directorial style?

BM: This film is about Amir’s life and everything around him. There themes in the film about family, religion, and the desire to leave a legacy. We can relate to this and wanting success. There is ambition and a human spirit in all of us. We want to leave a mark on this world. Amir’s story was no different. We were set in the backdrop of his fame, religion, and family. This is something we wanted to bring out. We did not want to focus only on the boxing. It was more of a character study of Amir as a person.

ATM: What did you observe about him balancing his career, family, and religion?

BM: Like any person, it is always struggling with finding this struggle. This family has been very involved in this career. There is an overlap, and this creates tension within the family sometimes. He does not want to be speaking to his dad who is his manager, but to his dad. There is an overlap of your dad as manager. You have a different relationship than other people do with their dad. Amir went to the Olympics at 17 and won a silver medal and came back to become famous quite early in his years. A lot of this fast-tracked his years. He spent every weekend with his dad since he was eight.

ATM: Why did you think he keeps fighting regardless of what is against him?

BM: He does not know anything else. He has been fighting since he was a little boy. Boxing has given him everything. It is his career and source of income. He is very knowledgeable in this one subject. He will struggle to find things outside of this world when he retires. He will continue his career in boxing as a commentator or something else. He enjoys the physical nature of this sport and the lifestyle around it.

ATM: What do you see in someone who loses a fight and keeps going?

BM: Amir has lost some fights. This is a clear indication of a fighter’s character. Amir suffers a dramatic loss at the end of the film. He was knocked unconscious in front of people. It is terrifying. He had a concussion. This is no different than getting into a car accident.  This is a very serious sport where you are putting your life on the line every time to go into the ring. 

Richard Clarkin Talks American Relationships

Richard Clarkin plays David in the film Great Great Great. His character influences the female to think about her self exploration with life. The film takes you back to the foundation of love and shows people who grow out of love with each other. Clarkin speaks on the American relationship and its culture.

ATM: Explain how your character complicated the main character’s struggles with love and how to commit.

RC: I played a former lover of the lead character in Great Great Great played by Sarah Kolasky. They have a history where they had a passionate affair. He is the hire at her workplace. He is the manager of the office. They rekindle that part of their history. It is consensual. My character is single, in his 40s. This is not laid out in the script, but we talked about him having an ex and some kids. There is a strong sensual attraction between them, but he is looking for something more meaningful and permanent.

He is direct about rekindling what they had. He wants a serious relationship with his one. This is the sum and sketch of what he is about. He is successful, demanding in the workplace, and very upfront about what he wants and needs. He is at the point in his life where he wants to cut through the bullshit.  He does not get what he wants. He lets him go and makes it clear. She is not in it for anything more than just sex. She holds the cards. This is not something he is used to. What did you think about the movie?

ATM: It is interesting to see both main characters’ values intact and then change. It is like her parent’s divorce was a lock for all the things inside she has bottled up about the relationship.

RC: It is her movie. She carries the movie. She is in the driver’s seat. She is confused and does not know which way to go. She has a guy that loves her. Seemingly, a good thing on a plate with engagement and the prospect of marriage. She makes choices that seem wrong and will put her in an emotionally complicated state. Somehow, she navigates through this. As a character, I am in support of her journey. She kind of makes a fucked-up choice in choosing to get back in the affair with him. The fiance finds out, and it gets messy and ugly. We make strange choices in our journey in this life that surrounds us with people that say this is wrong. You should not be doing that, but she does. She owns it in her way.

ATM: How was love broken down in this movie?

RC: I am not sure if the movie breaks down love. My character David and she does not say we explicitly love each other. We are all searching for love. We are hard-wired for love. This could be a romantic relationship, friends, family, or children. We naturally want to find a soul male or an anchor where we are our best selves. This is what my character is looking for as he is progressing. This is what is operating in him. For Sarah, we live in a society and culture where engagement and marriage are an expected road for happiness and kids and a nice home.

There is a possibility for women where the road they take is not necessarily a straight line. It is not for her and not for a lot of women. Men and women grow up with this notion of true love and conventions of society such as marriage, rings, and weddings. It is almost an external expectation. There could be a love that is true as any that does not involve rings or marriages. It is just two people who decide they want to be together. They hold one to their love and nourish it in their way. It is an expectation of society vs. what is necessarily operating in Sarah’s character. She has girlfriends that are excited about the shower and plans. She is not ready to anchor herself just yet.

What are your thoughts about how it breaks down love?

ATM: The film adds an exploration to love after the divorce between her parents does not require a self-exploration. She goes searching for the good in life. She comes up with concerns and questions. He is confused about these findings. If love gets shattered, then we see the effects of it. If she would have known about the divorce, then they would have never broken up. Why? Because they were safe. They were in their unit. They were them. They were one. The cancellation of someone’s love broke the unit. When you focused on someone else connection, you miss what is around you. It is like when you are watching television in the living room.

You are so engrossed in what you are watching that you are not aware who is walking around you. This is how a relationship works. The two people in a relationship are a euphemism for engrossing in watching the television. Think about when you realize what is around you when watching television. You get distracted. This is when the relationship and love are shattered. You start to suddenly come up with things that are wrong, and that needs fixing. In this case, this was the finding out about the divorce.

RC: There are certain consequences that she makes with my character, her girlfriends, and her fiancé. People can surprise you, can’t they?

ATM: Yes. When you are in a relationship everyone’s notion, for the most part, is that is it will lead to marriage. You are bonded with this person. You are supposed to feel safe, and you tell this person everything about you. But, on the other hand, this person can wake up and not want to be with you anymore. You will have to deal with it. From one night to the morning, they become a stranger. This can hurt.

RC: This is very true. Sometimes a person, like this movie, could have another movie going on in their brain or a different story. The other one thinks everything is great. You can never fully know a person. It seems. They could have another agenda and story. We have all heard about relationships where there is a partner that disappears and shocks the person that is left. They say they did not see it coming. It is amazing how good we are as actors in our relationships.

ATM: Let’s say this couple in the film had gotten together at 17. People experience tremendously different things in their lives. Some can be an emotional trigger that changes them forever. This could be death, rape, or substance abuse. The divorce event happened, and it could be sad. Mom and Dad are getting a divorce. This could change a person. If the male had been in a car accident, then his life is significantly also changed. They become two different people. We live in a society and culture that says either though you are different you must stay together and work out the kinks. But why? We individually are different. They will not be the same even if they stay together while at the age of 35.

RC: True. This is why you often get advice not to settle down young. You do what you need to do and have your adventurers. Once you get whatever you have to get out of your system, then you have to get yourself to people. This is a part of deciding to settle down. You do change. I went down this road with this person.

ATM: What happens with the new you come along, and you have to fit it in with your lover’s standards? You have this new identity playing out with this person. This person does not understand you because of this new identity.

RC: It is wonderful to have talked with you. You are aware of this film. This is a small low budget Canadian movie. It has picked up attention and notice. Hopefully, we will premiere in LA or NY in the future. People think it is a relationship movie or character study. Or about superheroes. There are not a lot of audiences for these types of movies anymore. The landscape has shifted — a woman having an exploration within her boundaries. I am a big supporter of indie films that tell stories that used to be big.

Alexandra Shipp and Nicholas Hamilton Star in Scott Peer’s ‘ENDLESS’

Alexandra Shipp (Love, Simon, “X-Men” Franchise) and Nicholas Hamilton (ItCaptain Fantastic) will star in Endless, directed by Scott Speer (Step Up RevolutionMidnight Sun).  Based on a draft written by Rohit Kumar (“13 Reasons Why”), the film will co-star DeRon Horton (“Dear White People,” Roman J. Israel, Esq.).

Joining the cast in supporting roles are Ian Tracey (Man of Steel), Patrick Gilmore (“Travelers”), Zoe Belkin (“The Latest Buzz”), Eddie Ramos (“Incorporated”), Catherine Haggquist (Fifty Shades Freed), BJ Harrison (Tooth Fairy) and Barbara Meier (The Aspern Papers).

Endless follows madly in love 19-year-olds Chris (Hamilton) and Riley (Shipp) who are separated when a fatal accident leaves Chris stranded in limbo between life and death. In agony, Chris watches Riley grieve until they find a way to connect and share exhilarating, deeply emotional moments that transcend life and death. A story of love and loss, both Chris and Riley must ultimately accept the hardest lesson of all – letting go.

Endless currently in production in British Columbia.

A Look at Homelessness in LA

Remi Kessler directed and produced the film, The Advocates, that looks at the struggle of homelessness in the LA area. and shows a different perspective of the social problem. Remi discusses with ATM about the film and the effect of homelessness.

Gaby: How do you feel America and this world treat homeless people?

Remi: We do not want to look at homelessness. So, because we do not want to look at it, we just do nothing. We just turn our heads and hope this problem is going to be solved. This is how I think society looks at it.

Gaby: Although there are organizations for homelessness, why do you feel it is not focused on?

Remi: In terms of us as a society?

Gaby: Yes.

Remi: I think that we do not recognize that people who are sleeping on the streets are just regular people like you and me. I think this is really the first thing. We need to look at them and acknowledge they are a human being. This is what is missing right now.

Gaby: How does your film add to what is missing in the representation of homeless people?

Remi: My film does not represent what is missing in homeless people. My film will show what a community can achieve when they get together. This is what the film is about. There are solutions. The film shows what do we need to do.

Gaby: Express your most turning point when shooting this documentary.

Remi: The turning point I had was about five years ago. I was sitting at a lake in Los Angeles with a friend. We were having a cup of coffee. A gentleman came and asked me for a dollar. I turned him away. My friend took out a dollar bill. I asked what that was all about. And I said who am I to judge them. Somehow this was the turning point for me. I started to wonder why I was angry. It took me some years to understand why I had these reactions.

I looked at this gentleman in Brooklyn Heights in LA. I asked him how he was doing. I looked in his eyes. What I saw in his eyes was my turning point. When you start caring for these people and you want to wonder what happened to them. I thought maybe to do a film to express my own journey with people that send them away to someone who could bring in a conversation with these same people. It took a long time. I did not want to film out of misery.

Gaby: How can you say their mentality transformed from once living adequately to living a homeless lifestyle? How do they perceive life now that they are living below the lower class?

Remi: They feel invisible. People do not talk to them. This is terrible because the more they feel like this the more they think this way. I have seen many times once you stop engaging with this people, they come back to you. You can very quickly forget they are sleeping on the streets.

[I once was] flabbergasted after witnessing the conversations of homeless people. It was surprising because we say they are out of society and they use us. They are just regular people even the ones with mental illness. They have the same concerns and the same needs. It is very easy once you understand this to communicate with them.

Chip Duncan Explores Humanity in ‘First Patient’

ATM: Why the title First Patient?

CD: It is on the idea that every doctor’s first patient is a cadaver. Every doctor’s first patient is dead. They meet them close up in the lab in their first year of school.

ATM: They move from death to life.

CD: They can do things with a cadaver that they are not able to do on a real patient regarding exploring the inside of a body. These are the big scientific elements. They are studying the inside of the human body. They are learning a lot about what it means to be human. This question is something that makes the film unexpected. We keep asking the questions “what are we?”

ATM: How could working on a cadaver transform a first-year patient’s view on humanity?

CD: It would not be a disservice to put the audience in the same experimental place as the student. They are learning about this in the same sequence as the student would. The student goes into it with a lot of aphorisms. They are not a part of the business of healthcare or apart of the system regarding the controversy with pharmaceutics and drug prices. They go into it with relatively a pure vision of being a healer and trying to help. By working on these cadaver bodies, they develop a strong sense of what it means to be human. In a strong sense of approaching the frame with reverence and respect that they might not get if they walked in and worked on someone with a heart condition. There is a tenderness that comes through in this class that helps informs them.

For the audience, we are asking questions that we never expected to ask. I know for the other audience who have seen it so far, a lot of them are talking about donating their bodies when they never considered it before. You cannot help but ask the question of “what am I? or “where would the soul reside.” When I am dead, I am dead. We can always relive the rituals, but the rituals are for the people who are here. These are questions that come up when watching the film. They are dead.

ATM: For this reason, I am not a materialistic person. Some people idolize a lot of materials.

This film shows you cannot take it all with you. You have all these emotions. It shows the reality of death.

CD: Yes, the finality and reality of it. Even though you are gone, you still have the opportunity to be a gift to these students. It is pretty cool.

It was not something I spend a lot of time thinking about once making the film. Now I would do it.

ATM: So, you would donate your body?

CD: Yes, I would. Right now, I am a little too young to sign the donor card because my organs are still vital. This is one of the things that happens when people sign over their organs because they are brain dead. I am an organ donor right now, and soon I will become a body donor. I thought why not. It cannot hurt.

ATM: What about the families who want to keep the bodies or have a service?

CD: Overwhelming the number of people who die in the United States i cremated. In this case, the remains of the body still are cremated. There is a service at the end of the class, and the cremains of the body returned to the family so that they can organize a memorial service. They could go ahead to do the same service after the cremains are returned.

If I decide to get cremated, I still will, but I would first get dissected. It is a weird conversation to have then when you see the film; it is like why not?

ATM: The scene where one of the students holds the old guy’s brain, and they could see the modifications of age through time.

Do you think this shows neutral plasticity at its finest?

CD: Because I was photographing it, I am not sure I have the same point of view or experience that the students would have had. The one thing I would say is that there were 13 cadavers. In the film, we filmed seven cadavers. We had six students at a table. In each case, you could see an unique sex of aging on a body. One body, it would be the effects of obesity. Another might be heart disease, or another could be early signs of dementia within the brain. The students gained a lot of this because they would visit different tables. They see this is a clear indication of Alzheimer’s disease or extraordinary layers of fat. In one body we thought bodies were the heart in one body but was the difference in the heart of another body simply because of fat tissue. These are the value the student has when going to another table. We have one patient that had a pacemaker, and another that had a knee replacement. It was fascinating to see this on the inside.

ATM: Do you believe there is a need to be different human nature because of how similar our skeletons are?

When I look at skeletons, they honestly look the same.

CD: I think so too. The anatomy professors would tell you as soon as the skin get removed that everyone looks the same underneath. One person might be bigger or smaller but for the most part, the way nerves and veins become wired, we are all the same when the skin gets removed. These are interesting points to make the audience think.

Even when females and males are on the table other than the genitals, we are the same. Whatever created us is pretty fascinating. Whenever we enter the planet, we are all the same underneath.

ATM: So, is there a sense of trying to be different?

CD: Yes, our personalities are unique, our soul, and intelligence. Also, also how we decide to navigate on this planet is unique. One person is a musician, artist, mother, or father. Our difference comes from our consciousness and not from our body.

You and I could have a great conversation and get some coffee. We could find out we both like heavy metal or romantic comedies. We could come together in the same way, but the same ideas are what drives us. This really has very little do with our bodies.

ATM: A person that comes from their mother’s womb or embryo, they are put on this earth for “x” amount of years, and possibly can become a cadaver.

What does this entail about the purpose of life?

CD: Wow, this is a great question. I can tell you from my perspective. It is all about being a service and giving back. Especially once you realize the meaning of “dead.” When I look at it, I just take a more humanistic approach to it and ask, “Who did I help? Where did my generosity lead? Was I able to make the world a better place?” This is me. Someone else might see it differently. This is some of what I found in the donors we talked to and they were so altruistic.

ATM: Metaphorically, what does “dead” really mean? I know it is when your heart takes its last pump.

What about for the people who have died in our society and how their names and what they do still lives on in this world?

Some people in this society cannot let them go. Are they metaphorically still alive?

CD: They would be to you and me. We are talking about an actor, musician, and politician. Does Charles Dickens soul live on? A lot of us place value on celebrities for this reason. We want to believe something we did matter or last. Something we did in a scheme of things might last 100 years or 500 years. It does not go on beyond this. We remember Julius Caesar or Shakespeare.

What did you like about the film?

ATM: The scientific part was interesting. The caption was great. I have dissected things before, so I was not creeped out.

The finger scene was interesting to see how all the things they dissect are not in the same use once a part.

The human body took the form of a puzzle to me. It showed me that the little things on our body matter. As you said, it makes you think what humans are?

If there was another species living on another planet, what might they classify us? We view possible evidence of aliens as aliens, but in their imaginative society, they would view us as the same.

The fact that we can walk and get hit by a car in a matter of seconds. Your soul, your existence on this earth b in a split second. It’s gone. Everyone that is not lucky to should make their mark on the world.

CD: It is a good question. You would recommend the film to people?

ATM: Yes, I would only recommend the film the people are who extremely open-minded, deep, and philosophical.

CD: I see it too. I know it is not a film for everybody. There are plenty of people who would approach that are deep and philosophical.

ATM: You have to go under the surface. Over the surface, you see the pealing of human bodies. Thi =might be a huge turnoff for people.

CD: In the start of the conversation when you asked how my day was, it is definitely better when talking to you about this. You are asking more interesting questions than I have gotten from a lot of people. I am glad for this.

ATM: What did a soul mean to you before shooting this film and now what does it mean?

CD: Before making “The First Patient,” I had spent very little time thinking about the nature of the soul. As a non-religious person, I would love to believe that our consciousness lives on past our life experience. That said, I’m not sure if it does.

I had a mother who suffered from roughly ten years of serious dementia before passing and there was nothing during her mental decline that indicated that the same conscious being, I’d known and loved as a child was still inside her body.

In the film, the young student Maggie Cupit says that she “hopes” we live on after death, and I fall into that category.  Since there’s no way to know, it seems like our best shot is to hope. As for how we define the soul, nothing has changed for me in that regard; I directly equate the soul with our consciousness – that is, our awareness of our self and the energy of who we are and how we define ourselves in this reality.

ATM: How does body, mind, and soul all intertwine or correlate with each other?

CD: As for the relationship between mind, body, and soul, I’d prefer the audience too much greater thinkers than myself – Joseph Campbell comes to mind, indeed Emerson, but also some contemporary scientists such as Richie Davidson at the Univ. of Wisconsin Madison.

We are indeed all aware of our mind-body relationship throughout our conscious lives – and for the most part, these parts of us are inseparable without a strong commitment to meditation and mindfulness. Davidson’s work helps because of his work measuring the brain throughout different meditative and mindfulness practices. There is more, it might seem, to what we are than just our bodies.

ATM: Why is it essential for societal norms to constrain us if one’s life purpose is designed to be different, which goes outside of societal norms? 

CD: On the one strong theme that does emerge from the film (and from my overall body of work) is that we are all much more similar than we are different.

In act three of the film, it becomes clear to the students dissecting that once the skin gets removed from the human body, we all look alike. And our bodies function in very similar ways to one another.

So, what makes us unique? Our consciousness? Our thoughts? Our awareness of ourselves? During our short time on earth, I would hope that people find a way to support and love those things that make us the same – family, friendship, the pursuit of happiness – AND the realization that whatever force gave us life also created uniformity inside our bodies.

We all acknowledge our consciousness in our way, and while we may recognize our differences regarding sexual or gender preferences, our economic status, our faith, or our politics, I’ve seen nothing good come from judgment and fear of those who may exercise choices different from our own.

Perhaps, like the students in this film, if we can all acknowledge the similarity of our bodies, then we might also learn to accept the unique choices we’re able to make with our mind and our imagination. Through the dissection process, we learn that our bodies survive because of the extraordinary systems we have inside us that perpetuate life. Is it possible that emphasizing creativity, generosity, and kindness can help us survive and flourish as well?

ATM: Why do you feel these medical students are curious enough to dissect the human body?

Why were you curious enough to film them being curious about dissecting the human body?

DA: (Laughs). It is about 50/50. Some are curious, and some are just going about their business of becoming a doctor. It is a required class. Once they get in there to open the body and pull back the skin, anybody would be curious. They are analyzing what we are. It is who and what we are.

David Ajala

David Ajala speaks down with ATM and talks about his life as an actor and relates it to his latest shows CW’s Supergirl and Syfy’s Nightflyers.

ATM: The main character in Supergirl has to balance with having new responsibilities and balancing her own human relationships. How do you balance these two in your real life? 

DA: This is a very good question. Perspective is important. I have always practiced gratitude. Someone told me this and I thought it was a pretty simple way to keep one’s self in check. A lot of us are always looking after our physical health but is also important to look after your mental and spiritual health. I try to practice gratitude. I try to be kind without necessarily wanting to receive anything back. These are very important things to me. 

ATM: What is the view of an actor that does not take the advice you just gave? 

DA: Even more so for actors, it is so important to try and embrace this way of thinking. In the acting industry, I hear this figure of 95% of actors are always out of work. This just shows the competitive nature of the industry. Certainly, for myself, when I have gone into the audition room for really cool projects, I have eventually heard ‘no’ many times. This can be tough. It could be tough to be told, “No you are not good enough. No, you are not tall enough. No, you are not sexy enough etc.” Protect your passion and practice gratitude. Essential. 

ATM: How do you protect your passion? 

DA: I protect myself even when life is really challenging Gabrielle, and there are sometimes where it is hard to see it working out because you have something you can offer, and you are just waiting for someone to take a chance on you. I protect my passion by reminding myself of the reason why I am willing to believe I could make it work. It is my love of storytelling and my love of theatre. As much as possible, I am very grateful for my friends and family. My peace. My balance. I recommend this to many people, especially actors. Have hobbies and interests outside of your passion. 

ATM: What are hobbies outside of your passion? 

DA: Oh, I love music. I love listening to different songs. I love dancing. I used to dance professionally back in the day. I would do back up dancing at concerts and at dance competitions. Now the dancing I like to do is more therapeutic. This is the kind of dancing that does not require you to look any specific way or execute moves in any specific way. It is very expressive. I also love playing the drums.  

ATM: What are your key points in how you approach your character, Manchester Black? 

DA: I was not familiar with the character. I had to do a lot of research to understand his background and where he came from. The things in his life that shaped who he is today. These help me to keep him grounded and to create something that feels very real to me. Manchester Black is a character that has certain special abilities. When you strip these abilities away, he is a human being and I wanted to start there. He is from Manchester in England. I had to learn the Manchester accent and familiarize myself with it. I was listening to different people. I was listening to Black guys, Asian guys, and White guys from Manchester. There are different voices because accents are really fluid. The sound is fluid from where you are from, education, and the languages you speak. I just wanted to immerse myself into many different dialects in Manchester.

ATM: What were the differences and similarities you saw with your own British culture?

DA: Quite a few. I grew up in Hackney, East London. There is something really special about Hackney. For a lot of other people who are looking from the outside in, it was not the most desirable place to live. I grew up with some of my best friends in Hackney. A few years ago, Hackney started to become gentrified. You have a lot of people moving in and a lot of people, unfortunately, have had to move out from Hackney because they were priced out. This is something that is happening in England and many other parts of the world. People are being priced out and forced to relocate.

Manchester Black is someone who operates outside of the social norm of society. One could say he is a bit of an outcast. He might be an outcast and ostracized by society, but at heart, he is a good guy who wants to make a contribution towards making the world a better place. Even if he has very unorthodox ways of doing it. Like I said before, this season is going to be very provocative. Of course, it is going to have politics in it because this is the nature of the world. It is going to be done in a very courageous way and it is going to flip the mirror around so we can look at ourselves . . . a little deeper.

ATM: Do you believe that if you go outside of the social norms that you are seen as insubordinate or taking a new view on life? 

DA: It is all subjective. When you have people who start to challenge society, seeking a change that does not fit the social norm, it immediately becomes a threat. When I think about people like Tupac Shakur who was an amazing lyricist and poet, he spoke about a lot of things that were happening in society across the board. Because he was so articulate in the way he shared these ideas. A lot of the times his ideas were dismissed because “Oh, he was just a rapper. So what does he know.” This is what I find happens in society sometimes when people go to challenge the establishment to force us to think a little deeper and not always accept everything that is being fed to us. This becomes a threat. It is important like characters such as a Manchester Black to have a voice in society.

ATM: Would it be interesting in a pleasant way that if all the answers to the world’s problems could be solved by actually go on the other side of the social norms. Sometimes when you go backwards it is sometimes the right way. 

DA: Right. You hit the nail on the head. A very interesting thing has happened recently, which is social media. There are various platforms to social media where people can share their thoughts and ideas. Twitter and Instagram, but mainly Twitter. The power of information and knowledge is not in the hands of the media, it is in the hands of the people. People become edified and start sharing and becoming vocal about certain issues. They are calling public figures out for bad behaviour, and their irresponsibilities. This is important. When we get the power back in the hands of the people, people are going to make decisions that better everyone. When looking at governmental figures in America or in the U.K, we are always trying to work towards an effective democracy and trying to level the plane fields with equality. The main issues I find with the political figures in power is that they have been elected based upon who they know, connections etc. Class and economical background plays a big part.

ATM: Nepotism. 

DA; This is the wrong way to do it. It should be done on merit. Meritocracy is a group of people who are brought to run and lead the country for the people based on merits. Nothing to do with their social power or political power or economical power. It should be based on merits and these merits should come from serving the people. This is very important. This has gotten very political. Supergirl is going to have a lot of surprising elements than what you expect from a superhero television series.  

ATM: How does your other show Nightflyers fit into all of this? 

DA: Yes, it does. I recently came back from New York Comic Con and it was an amazing experience. We were doing panels for NightFlyers. It was well received just in terms of people who got to see it at New York Comic Con. I am very aware that it is highly anticipated because it is George R.R. Martin’s creation. It was a joy to be apart of this show and to promote Nightlfyers and Supergirl at the same time. These are very different shows and very different projects. This is what excited me to play Manchester Black because they are so different. 

ATM: What does the title Nightflyers mean NOT very much the show? 

DA: Guys who are operating in the night flying into space. It is funny because I have never actually thought about this. If we look at maybe some synonyms of the word “night” or what “night” might evoke if we are talking about word association, then it is dark, mysterious, and it is unknown. To these guys as they blast from the earth’s orbit into outer space, everything is unknown. The journey that they are going on is unknown. They have an idea of what to receive but it is not guaranteed. Little do they know that they are going to be stopped in a very claustrophobic nightmare on this ship. The threat is not what they are aiming towards or what they are trying to discover, but the threat is on this ship. 

ATM: So do you feel nightmares are real? 

DA: There is definitely a difference between nightmares and dreams. One thing I would say is that you can certainly learn from both. It is important to pay attention to dreams and nightmares. 

ATM: How so? 

DA: Let me tell you something. Here is a dream that I have had before:

I had a dream that I am doing a play in England. In this dream, I literally run on stage because I am rushing. I am on stage and doing this scene. I have been doing this play for maybe a month. I am doing this scene and I cannot remember my lines in this scene. It is the dread and the panic of being on stage in front of an audience that I cannot remember my lines. I wake up in the morning, and I am feeling anxious about something. I may not be doing a play at all or doing a T.V or film gig, I could be on a holiday. It would inform me that I am anxious about something. Because I am in tune with this experience in my dream, when I wake up I am able to meditate, breath, or stretch. This is why it is important to pay attention to your dreams. What do you think? Don’t you think so? 

ATM: Yes, I do think it is important. They are unconsciously warnings for our life. Do you think for us humans to be granted the chance to go to sleep and have pictures or another imaginative lifestyle in our brain is interesting? 

DA: Definitely. 

ATM: This is really interesting. It is like you are living two lives with one heartbeat. 

DA: Yes, if we are talking about lucid dreaming, which is mind blowing. I played on this show called Falling Water a couple of years ago. It was all about people having awareness about the power of their dreams. And how they could use lucid dreaming as a superpower. I need to research more into this. If you can control your dreams and be aware of the effects of engaging in lucid dreaming, then there are some very amazing things you can do. A friend of mine has been learning how to play the piano. When he gets a chance to in his lucid dreaming, I kid you NOT, he has extra piano practice. Imagine if you are able to utilize an extra 2-3 hours of sleep a day to work toward something you are doing. To be a guitar player or drummer. You can use lucid dreaming to speed up the process of learning something. Isn’t this amazing?  

ATM: David, this is crazy in an interesting way. 

DA: Isn’t it? 

ATM: This is like pushing the humanistic boundaries of abilities and capabilities. 

DA: Completely. We have geniuses within us. Sometimes people do not use it to maximize the potential in our brains. This is an avenue to lucid dreaming and to put in some work into extracurricular activities. 

ATM: What a way to live. 

DA: Right. (Laughs). For the opening question about Supergirl. I worked on Nightflyers earlier this year, January-June. I wanted to take a little bit time to chill and do simple things like catch up with friends. When you are in the acting industry, you are filming away from home, you are spending large amounts of time from friends and family. It could be a bit tricky from time. I told my management team, I was taking time off to chill. This was in June. I got a call in the middle of June from DC and Warner Brothers. They contacted my management team saying they had this really cool role and wanted to see if I was interested. They would love to speak to me about it because it would be cool for me. My management spoke to me and said they really wanted to speak to me. I kind of came out of semi retirement to play the role, Manchester Black. It was such a gift of a role. I loved how they used this character and other characters to elevate the storytelling for this season. I had to do a lot of physical training. 

ATM: As an actor, when you are away from your friends and family, how do you re-harness these relationships? 

DA: This is really really good question. I try to do the best I can as I am doing it. I love being in the company of my friends and family. Whenever I am in town, I reach out to my friends to say, “Yo, let’s go see this play. Let’s watch this movie. Let’s go get some good food.” It is great to speak on the phone, but I am more of a face to face kind of guy. Whenever I have time off I am literally with friends and family or in the theatre watching plays. This is me literally. 

ATM: Do they see you as still “little David” or as a professional actor? 

DA: I think it is both. It is still “little David.” I have 4 brothers and 1 sister. It is six of us. Older brother, older brother, older brother, me, younger brother, and a sister. When the baby girl came along, which is my baby sister. Mom and dad retired, because they got their girl. I am still “Little David,” but at the same time my family has been very supportive in what I do. Especially my parents, I literally owe them my career for the sacrifices they made and support they have shown. 

ATM: Do you have it in you to make these same sacrifices with your own children? 

DA: Yes, but different sacrifices for different people. I will never forget when my first son was born while waiting for him to arrive. I had not worked for a few months. I had auditioned and got offered this film. It was really cool. I met with the director and he wanted to offer me to play the lead in this movie. Prior to this, I had not worked for 6 months. It was so bittersweet because it would have been great to do this gig, but at the same time, I did not want to miss the birth of my son. Because it clashed. It would have had to fly out like 10 days before the due date of my son. I remember feeling that I really wanted to do it and my wife was super supportive. She was like, “Babe, I get it. If you need to do it, then go and do it. You deserve it. I will be fine.” When she said this, because she said it so genuinely, I remember an hour later getting on the phone and calling my team. 

I told them, “Guys I know I have not worked for 6 months and this is an amazing opportunity. Can you tell the guys I am so grateful they considered me? I have to turn this role down because I cannot miss the birth of my first born son.” It was tough. But I tell you what, I turned this gig down and my son came earlier than the due date. This means I could have done the film and been there for the birth of my son. What is for you will never pass you by. It was tough because I had a baby, a house, and a mortgage. Throughout the year I was doing a few jobs here and there because I did not want to say yes to anything. A year later on my son’s first birthday, I was gifted my first American television series. It changed the game for me. 

ATM: From a father’s perspective, what was this moment like when your first baby boy came into this earth? 

DA: Oh lord. It was so surreal and so special. I felt so proud and blessed to be given a great bundle of joy. It was immensely proud of my wife for being so awesome, so strong, and so courageous. I was completely humbled because I thought wow my mother has done this 6 times. I was there through the labor. My appreciation for mothers in the world has gone sky high. Mothers are the unsung heroes for society as far as I am concerned. 

ATM: How would you describe what you have witnessed about a women’s strength? 

DA: I posted something on my Instagram and it said, “You cannot break down the pedal stool of women if she was the one that built that pedal stool in the first place.” I really loved this quote. When I think about strong women, I think about my mum, my wife, my sister, and some of the women I really admire in the world, Serena Williams. She is one of my heroes. Not only is she an incredible athlete, I think she is a courageous woman. What impresses me about Serena Williams is despite what the naysayers have said, challenges she has faced, she has always continued to gracefully transcend it all by focusing on her craft and doing the best she can do. For me, this is the stuff of champions. A lot of the heroes in my life happen to be women. I am very happy with this. 

ATM: We would not be here without them.

DA: Amen.

Sevier Crespo Discusses New Film ‘Deceived’

Sevier Crespo produced the recent film Deceived. Crespo plays a brother who risks a lot for the safety for his sister. He realizes sometimes people do not want to be saved while in dangerous situations.

ATM: What are some differences you noticed in the atmosphere while shooting in Puerto Rico compared to what you saw as a kid?

SC: Puerto Rico has grown. The areas are very modern today. Everyone has a cell phone. Old San Juan still looks like Old Spanish and it has barely changed at all since growing up. The cars are different. Some of the areas we shot in were the same.

ATM: What persona did you want the female main character Betsy to possess? What did you want your audience to learn from her?

SC: Everybody could use the help. Sometimes life deals you a hand that is not the most positive and you do the best that you can with it. Sometimes things do not work out. This is also with the choices you make in life and what causes you to make them. The fight that he has while looking for his sister is the fact that he also did not make the best decisions in the past. He also realizes what he should have done. He tries to make this right, but it is too late.

ATM: How could a real-life brother and sister relationship that is in turmoil learn from the connection with your onscreen sister in this movie?

SC: I do have siblings and while we made this movie, I thought about them a lot. To me, there is no question that you must help your brothers or sisters if they need it. I think the key is to make sure you yourself are in a good place and getting the help you need in life, so you are of value to them. It’s like when you are on a plane, if the oxygen masks drop, you put yours on first then those around you, and that applies to this question. My character in the film had his own issues that he needed to sort out as well as needing to help his sister.

ATM: How do you help someone that does not want to be helped?

SC: Number one, you make sure they know that you are there when they are ready for your help. You offer them solutions and gently check in on them but never enforce your own point of view. You have to make yourself available and try to offer help but ultimately someone has to come to their own decision that they are ready to be helped.

ATM: What if the good intentions do not match up with the reality of the situation?

SC: You have circumstances in life. People get into drugs or find a way to get money for whatever reason. Whether it is an upbringing or an educational thing. It is almost like if someone drinks after work and this causes them to stay out late and not be ready for the next day. They do not understand why they keep repeating the same thing over again. This does not make them a bad person. This just means what they are dealing with and their circumstances are not the most survivalist way of operating.

There are no classes in the high school of how to balance a checkbook or how to create a budget for yourself. These kids get thrown into college and they become this young adult unsupervised. They are learning by bumping into each other. Credit cards approve them for an endless amount of credit. You did not teach this person anything about credit and how to survive with it. It is things like this. It does not mean they are bad people. It is very measurable. People will judge you on this vs looking at it being a part of your environment or circumstances. It does not mean you are a bad person who does not have goodwill.

ATM: What are three words to describe the film?

SC: Independent, creative, and controversial.

ATM: Explain why watching foreign documentaries without subtitles intrigues you.

SC: I really like watching people. People are fascinating. There is a documentary that is subtitled called White Hack. You have these regular people who are citizens helping each other. You hear bombs in the background destroying buildings. These are your regular mailmen, teachers, firefighters, doctors, husbands, and wives. They are running toward these locations to save people. This is an example of mankind being great. I am fascinated to see their storytelling. There is a saying that if you can watch a movie with the volume off and understand it, then this is the way to go. The message is being delivered. You can see the storytelling and the emotion of what is happening. It is interesting because you are dealing with filmmakers, creators, mankind, people, and stories. We have all seen stories told a thousand different ways and in scenarios. I always wanted to see how others are telling a story and how it relates to me without hearing the words.

ATM: Do you like 20th-century silent films?

SC: I do! I love Charlie Chaplin films. I watched the very first silent movie, which is just pictures with words on it. It had these title cards. These are fascinating and brilliant.

ATM: You see more of the emotions within the character.

SC: Exactly. They can feel “over the top,” but this was a part of the time period. The emotion and the fears.

ATM: Why do you like Google Maps?

SC: I have always been fascinated with maps and where things are located. Before moving to Los Angeles, I lived in Texas. They had something called the Thomas Guide. You had to find the Thomas Guide for that city or state. I would just sit there and look at all the maps. I could be watching a movie and become fascinated about the streets. I’ll go on Google Maps on street view and will cruise around. I’ll get a street point of view. I question if I would want to be there and who would I know. It is fascinating, and I like it.

ATM: This is a very smart way of traveling.

SC: It is a very cheap way of traveling.

ATM: You can go to like 50 places in five minutes.

SC: Exactly!

ATM: Are they any other projects in the works?

SC: I have a few films that are in development. We already have the financing and things in place for Subversion, which will start during the first quarter of next year. I have another project that I am looking to go back to Puerto Rico for, which is in the same stages. It is going through the process of signing contracts and casting. This is called Killing Class. This is primarily a 90% Puerto Rican and Hispanic speaking cast. This is a Raising Arizona meets Fargo and Three Billboards Outside of Ebbing type of film. I am very excited because it is very mainstream without it being mainstream. It shows this aspect of it to the rest of the world. Puerto Rico is a part of the United States and we are U.S citizens. African American films have escalated tremendously and have been a massive huge success. They have crossed into this mainstream. Now you have more television shows and feature films. For me, I am excited for this on a Puerto Rico level and style.

ATM: Explain the decision making of your interesting titles.

SC: Subversion is based on overtaking the control of government and corporations that cross paths. What are their intentions? This is very much a psychological thriller. It is like Sicario with the foundation of usual suspects. What you see is not really the outcome. Killing Class is kind of playing on words. This is based on a true story. The names were changed. It has to do with one of the character’s name. His last name is Class. It is about killing this character name Class and it is also about social class.

ATM: Talk about the significance of your production company Peanut Gallery Group. What is the significance behind it?

SC: When I was brainstorming about what to name my company, people responded well to the name and it was catchy. It comes from an old Vaudeville term. I am Puerto Rican, so I am feisty, edgy, and creative. I have been known stir the pot a little and play outside the norm and take risks. I like to show people what they are not used to and this name really encompassed all of that for me.

ATM: Do you like Peanuts?

SC: It is funny because I grew up eating peanuts with my family and my dad. I grew up eating Peanuts and watching baseball with my dad. We would watch baseball and eat peanuts out of the bag. We, of course, made a total mess. My mother would hate it. I still see my dad eating them. You cannot ever just have one peanut.

Violett Beane on ‘God Friended Me’

Violett Beane speaks on her lead role on the show and the importance of helping the world be a better place.

ATM: What is the show about?

VB: God Friended Me is about an atheist who gets friended by someone calling themselves God on Facebook. He ignores the request because he doesn’t believe in God and he thinks someone is messing with him. Eventually he accepts it and he start getting these friend suggestions for people. He ends up being a change in their lives. I play Cara Bloom, she’s an online journalist and she ends up being one of the friend suggestions that Miles gets. In the pilot you see that she struggles with the fact that her mother left when she was young. She came to New York in search of her and she’s found her, but she doesn’t really know how to take the next step. That’s when Miles and the God account enter. Then she decides to stick around after they’ve helped her.

ATM: What drew you to the series?

VB: Well when I was auditioning during pilot season last year, I was reading a ton of scripts and going in multiple times a day for things. It was honestly one of the only ones that I read the entire couple of months that really left me feeling uplifted and positive at the end of it. I think with the world we’re in right now, we kind of need something like this.

ATM: How important is showing different beliefs and lifestyles in God Friended Me?

VB: I think it’s everything for the series. I think the show is ultimately about inclusivity and connectivity and that would be impossible to do if we didn’t try to tell as many stories as possible. What’s great about this show, is that it isn’t just on-screen. Our writer’s room is one of the most diverse writers’ rooms I’ve ever walked into, both with race, gender, sexual preference, and age. We have every person on the spectrum in there. And, we’ve had more than 50% female directors. I’ve never worked on a show that has had that happen. We’ve had three female directors back-to-back, and it’s been amazing. There’s a different kind of story that you’re able to tell when you’re coming from different perspectives. It’s fabulous that it isn’t just what you’re seeing on screen, and I want everyone to know that we have it all the way down to our writers, our directors, and our crew.

ATM: What acting lessons did you learn from The Resident and The Flash?

VB: I think every set you go on, you learn something new. With The Flash, I was really just learning the basics and what it meant to be on a high-production television show. With The Resident, I had the experience from The Flash and I was really focused on the performance alone. Lily was a challenge for me because I have been lucky that I haven’t had to experience the difficulties that Lily was going through.

ATM: Besides acting, you are passionate about environmental causes and animal rights. Why are they important to you? 

VB: I’ve always had animals growing up and been surrounded by pets. I’ve always loved animals and I think that it’s our duty to show compassion to them. And I recently, just a couple years ago, just decided that I don’t need to eat meat after doing research. I think that our meat industry and our agriculture industry is so messed up right now and I decided I didn’t want to be a part of it. And I have honestly felt healthier being plant-based. I recently did a campaign with PETA that was called “All Animals Have the Same Parts”. It was basically saying that whether it’s human or a cat or a pig, or whatever it is, we’re all animals, and we all deserve the same amount of respect. And I think that the way that we treat our animals, and the way that we raise animals to be killed, is like a correlation to how we treat each other, and how we see each other as human beings.

Character Analysis of Nathaniel Potvin in ‘Five Points’

Nathaniel Potvin co-stars in Facebook Watch’s Five Points that follows a group of high school students who come from different walks of life. They each experience a life-changing event and it is given to us through five different perspectives. This is also an event they all contribute to and learn from. In each point, we seem to understand and develop a closer relationship with the characters. The main characters who we receive these points from are Nathaniel Potvin as Wallace Marks, Spence Moore II as Eric Harper, Ray Cham Jr as Cameron “CJ” Jin, Madison Pettis as Natasha “Tosha” Bennett, and Hayley Kiyoko as Lexi Himitsu. Five Point’s Potvin’s character will be analyzed based on information gathered from talking with him.

Potvin’s character Marks represents almost any average high school student’s life. He is eager to fit in and is willing to do things out of his comfort zone to accomplish it. He strives to fit in with a football player on the show. In his low self-esteemed behavior, we see Potvin portray a character who is trying to find someone to want him and a place in society. High school is this society. Culturally high school is a place where preteens leave while in their adolescence’s stages of life. They are usually trying to find their identity and where they fit in into the world around them. There is no one to hold their hand. Marks’ typifies these characteristics on the show.

Potvin felt he resembled some features in his own character on the show. Wallace is a character who gets bullied by a high school football player. We see a young man’s sensibilities and vulnerability played right out in front of us. This young adult actor experienced bullying while in middle school. His height and size were not the same as the other children. His social attraction and attention were not up to the standards as the other children. He expressed there were times he was not able to eat lunch in middle school because of the bullying.

Wallace creates a voice for people who are not able to fit into the high school culture. People living this experience can have a voice through a Facebook streaming platform, Facebook Watch. People who are experiencing high school in such a way as Wallace get to realize they are not alone in their journey of high school.

Additionally, Potvin feels he has lived a similar life as the other characters on Five Points. He was personally bullied. He has been a part of other characters in this show. In high school, he felt like the popular one, sports guys, and social person. We were able to see a vulnerable and emotional portrayal through talking with Potvin about his character and what he represents. We get to see a modern-day version of high school and re-experience it through the eyes of Wallace played by Potvin. Five Points originally aired on Facebook Watch this summer. You can currently still catch up and watch it countless times on Facebook Watch.