C.M. 'Carty' Talkington is the writer-director of the 'Western psychedelic road opera' LOVE AND A .45 (1994), a film that features Renee Zellweger in one of her breakout early performances and has an enduring cult following. Unfairly overshadowed by the success of Quentin Tarantino, who remains a fan of the movie, LOVE AND A .45 exudes the restlessness, wild imagination, eclectic tastes and rebelliousness of its creator. I talked to Carty about his career as a filmmaker and musician. In part two we talked about the scripts he has written since LOVE AND A. 45, working with Steven Spielberg and Ivan Reitman, and we looked back at his time working in video stores in L.A

 Part one of the interview. 
Part three of the interview. 

What project did you work on after LOVE AND A .45? 
I finished the script for Hollywood Anarchist during pre-production on LOVE AND A .45. That's how much time I didn't want to waste. I turned down other projects in order to try and make it as a film. I was so single-minded in trying to get that film made that it didn't occur to me that people might think I'm crazy. I had a lot of passion and energy and I spoke my mind and it got me in a lot of trouble. I think if LOVE AND A .45 had been bigger it wouldn't have been such a problem. But that genre was dead when it came out.

Hollywood Anarchist is about a criminal from Texas who comes to LA to sell his life story to Hollywood and ends up killing all the people at the movie studio, being executed on national television, and becoming a media superstar. Savage TV is about a televangelist and a human guinea pig bonding together to stop TV mind control in America. That's the entertainment business we're talking about! They're about going to battle with the entertainment business. I didn't even see at the time that Hollywood was not likely to respond to them, although Johnny Depp was actually interested in Hollywood Anarchist at one point. I don't think the things I'm interested in are the same things that Hollywood is interested in.

I would still love to see Hollywood Anarchist get made but I am thinking of doing it as a graphic novel instead. It was my homage to Jean Genet. I believe that the connection between art and crime is almost seamless. About half of the people in prisons are probably frustrated artists. Graham Greene would agree about this line between creation and destruction. He wrote about it in The Destructors. I'm obsessed by it. It's a running theme in my work. LOVE AND A .45 has that duality. There's a light side to it, a positivity, that never gets mentioned. I'm very interested in the battle between good and evil that goes on within all of us – the 'war with ourselves' and how it drives our choices and behaviour. I feel compelled to explore that duality in my work. 

Aside from Hollywood Anarchist, which other projects are you trying to get made? 
There are three scripts I have worked on over the past few years that I'd love to see made. One is called 1977, which is about a group of oil refinery workers trying to break out of their bleak blue-collar existence through the power of music.

Another one is called Rodeo Fry Cook. It's based on an original play written by my late friend and mentor, Scott Mathews. I directed the play on the East Coast and we wrote the screenplay together. Its about a West Texas rodeo fry-cook who becomes an Elvis-like celebrity. I like to think of it as the DR. STRANGELOVE of American consumer culture.

The other one is called Tactics. I wrote it to be my third movie. It's about an Iraq veteran who finds out that while he has been away fighting, his wife has been cheating on him with the CEO of a defence contracting company. He decides to take him and his wife hostage and teach him a lesson. The sheriff gets called in, and he and the veteran start to realise that they share a lot of the same pain. They develop a friendship and then things start to get out of control. It's about men damaged by violence trying to make sense of what they have endured. 

What did you have to do with DEEP BLUE SEA? 
I re-wrote the script for Warner Brothers in 1997-98. My ex-agent, Jeff Robinov, had become an executive at Warners. I was desperate for work at the time and I called him about potential jobs. He told me that the studio had a script called DEEP BLUE SEA that they really wanted to put into production quickly because they wanted to use the underwater sets from SPHERE (1998) before they were destroyed to make room for a warehouse. But the script wasn't working, even though there had been about ten re-writes. Jeff told me he wasn't optimistic about the film getting made, but that I would be a hero if I could crack it. The writing schedule was brutal, and I worked like a dog on it. I have a slight fear of sharks so I scared myself a lot writing it, but it was a blast because I love movies like JAWS (1975), ALIEN (1979) and ALIENS (1986), which were also some of my main references.

After a few months I handed in my draft and it got the film greenlit for production, which was a great feeling. Akiva Goldsman was one of the producers and I did several story sessions with him, one of them at his awesome Malibu beach house, which was a very Hollywood moment for me. Everybody was happy and excited that the film was finally getting made, and I got calls from the producers and several execs thanking me. 

Why didn't you receive credit? 
They hired another writing team to go in and re-write all my dialogue, and they received final credit with the original writers. My dialogue had a darker, more serious tone and the studio wanted it lighter and funnier. Not much of the dialogue in the finished film is mine, but a significant chunk of the action sequences and a lot of the story moments are. I even wrote the moment towards the end when Sam Jackson is delivering the standard 'hero speech' to get everyone motivated when they're down, and right in the middle he is devoured whole by a shark that appears out of nowhere. I've only seen the film once but I got a big kick out of watching that moment on screen. My speech was a little different but the effect was the same. I didn't love the film. I think it could have been a lot scarier, but it was thrilling to see things I had dreamed up in my head brought to life up on the screen. 

Have you worked on any other studio movies? 
There were two others. One was for Steven Spielberg at Amblin, right after I finished writing LOVE AND A .45. They'd been trying to make a film of the comic book character Plasticman for a while. They'd read the script for LOVE AND A .45 and thought I'd be perfect. They didn't pay me much but I was beyond excited to work for Steven Spielberg. They even gave me an office at Amblin to write it, which my agent told me they never do. To my regret I never used the office, as I wrote the script at home, which I was used to. It would have been great to have got to have known everybody at Amblin, including Spielberg. They must have thought I was pretty anti-social. I thought the script was pretty good, but nothing ever happened with it, and I went off to direct LOVE AND A .45. My reclusive nature has definitely worked against me in the past, but I'm currently working on changing that. 

The other one was for Ivan Reitman. After LOVE AND A .45 had come out, he wanted me to write an original screenplay based on a character he'd created names 'Bones', potentially for me to direct. Ivan's company was on the Universal lot at the time. The story was about a really bad criminal who breaks out of prison on the eve of his execution by hijacking a news helicopter, which ends up crashing in the middle of nowhere. He's rescued by a benevolent group of self-exiles living off the grid, and eventually becomes their hero by leading them into battle against their oppressors. It had a kind of dark SEVEN SAMURAI vibe. Ivan ended up leaving Universal, and it never got made. I had a lot of fun working with Ivan, Michael Chinich, and the other folks in his office. I think it would have made a cool film. 

Can you talk about your experiences working in video stores a la Quentin Tarantino?
When I first moved to L.A. in 1990, I started working at a really great video store on the Sunset Strip called Videotheque. They had an amazing collection of hard-to find titles on VHS and Laserdisc. It was in the Carolco Building, and the parade of celebrities was endless – everyone from Johnny Depp and Winona Ryder to Tim Burton and David Byrne came into that store. The highlight of my celebrity experience there was helping David Byrne pick out a bunch of cool movies. I was pretty thrilled to do the same for Tim Burton and Peter Sellars, the brilliant theater director not the brilliant actor. Most of my background at that time was in theater so I was very aware of who Peter Sellars was. It was great to meet him. I've never seen anyone sign their signature on a credit card receipt the way that he did. He took about five minutes doing it, and it was a true work of art with calligraphy and little images. The guy could never stop being an artist, even when signing his credit card receipts. I can't believe I didn't make a copy and save it.

When I moved from West Hollywood to Silverlake, I got another job at another amazing video store named Videoactive. I didn't have a car at the time and it was within walking distance of my apartment, which was great. Videoactive probably had an even better collection than Videotheque, but way less celebrities. I guess that's another thing that Quentin and I share – we both worked in video stores, and neither of us went to film school. Working in a video store was actually a pretty good film school by the way, as I'm sure Quentin would agree.

I spoke to Carty by telephone on 3rd November 2015, and by email during April 2016, and would like to thank him for his time. 

Photographs are the property of CM Talkington and cannot be reproduced without his permission. All photos by Zachary Mortensen, except (1, 2) Renee Zellweger, (4) Warner Bros. 

Interview by Paul Rowlands. Copyright © Paul Rowlands, 2016. All rights reserved. 


C.M. 'Carty' Talkington is the writer-director of the 'Western psychedelic road opera' LOVE AND A .45 (1994), a film that features Renee Zellweger in one of her breakout early performances and has an enduring cult following. Unfairly overshadowed by the success of Quentin Tarantino, who remains a fan of the movie, LOVE AND A .45 exudes the restlessness, wild imagination, eclectic tastes and rebelliousness of its creator. I talked to Carty about his career as a filmmaker and musician. In part one we talked about his early influences and early scripts, and the making of LOVE AND A .45.     

Part two of the interview. 
Part three of the interview. 

What films impressed you the most growing up? 
I loved watching films as a kid, and I watched everything that I could. The list is endless really. GIANT (1956) impressed me a lot. I was once at a film festival in Marfa, Texas, where they shot it. We all stayed at the Paisano Hotel, which is where Rock Hudson, James Dean, Elizabeth Taylor and George Stevens stayed when they were making the film. The lounge was in the suite where Rock Hudson had his room. All I could think about was what kind of really wild things must have taken place in that room!

I loved all of Sam Fuller's films, especially ones like THE NAKED KISS (1964) and SHOCK CORRIDOR (1963). David Cronenberg is a genius, and VIDEODROME (1983) is a very important and timely film. I'll never forget first seeing the likes of Coppola's films and Scorsese's MEAN STREETS (1973) and TAXI DRIVER (1976). Scorsese's films really made me see the connection between music and film. He and Kubrick are my favorite filmmakers. When I watched the re-release of 2001 (1968) in the 70s, I sat there thinking ''This is where I have to go.'' 

What are your earliest film-related memories? 
I remember the sound of my mom's Super 8 camera whirring and the light on my face as I was taking my first steps. I immediately found it to be the most comforting sound. When I was eight I started making little short films, and my mom gave me that Super 8 camera. I got obsessed with the special effects and I started doing in-camera stop-motion animation, taking all my toys and bringing them to life. I made one movie called Barbie and Ken Have a Terrible Car Accident, where they both got decapitated. My sister and I made a bunch of films together. 

When did you become interested in acting? 
I started acting in school plays, and as I got older I started auditioning for stuff. My friends and I created an underground theater company in the warehouse district of Dallas and we did original plays that I wrote, directed and acted in. I did that for about three years, and then I did the same thing in college. I remember it was my first year of college and I was in an audition for Uncle Vanya, and I said ''You know what, guys? I can't do this anymore. I'm going to have to leave. '' I suddenly realised that I wanted to write and direct, and work with actors, but I didn't want to be an actor. I decided to move to Los Angeles and start writing films. 

Can you talk about your first script? 
It was called Savage TV. In 1986 I had read an incredibly brilliant and important book called Four Arguments for the Elimination of Television (1978). It was written by Jerry Mander, who was a huge advertising executive in the advertising industry as it took off in the 60s and 70s. He started up a firm in San Francisco that went on to become one of the biggest ad agencies in the world. He was inside the belly of the beast. Mander began to become concerned about what TV physically does to people and he found that it was toxic and affecting the way we think and use our imagination. It's all very scientific. The book really made sense to me, and I thought it was very brave and that it encapsulated a lot of the things that I was feeling. It inspired me to write the screenplay Savage TV as soon as I arrived in LA, which would have been 1990. 

What's the story about? 
It's about a guy who goes to Los Angeles and wants to get into the advertising business, but he can't get in. He sees an ad in the L.A. Weekly where you can get paid to watch television. He's like a guinea pig. He starts to realise that he is participating unknowingly in a program to control the American mind through television, and he teams up with a televangelist who was part of the program to try and stop all this from happening. Through the script I got an agent, Jeff Robinov, who also became a very good friend. Jeff later became the President of Warner Brothers for six years. 

How did the script for LOVE AND A .45 come about? 
For my next script, which became LOVE AND A .45, it was literally about what genre would give me the best chance to direct a film. Savage TV and Hollywood Anarchist, my third script, are more like the things I'd usually write. Growing up, my favourite songs and films had to do with outlaws. The idea was to take things I know and people I know and stick it into a genre. I wanted to hit all the elements of the outlaw genre and make it really rock n' roll, wild and violent. I saw LOVE AND A .45 as a Western psychedelic drive-in road opera. I was really influenced by Joseph H. Lewis's GUN CRAZY (1950). That film blew me away. 

Why do you think LOVE AND A .45 got made when Savage TV didn't? 
I clearly saw that I was getting a chance because of this Quentin Tarantino guy. I had just started to hear about him. I would send my script out and they would say ''Oh, this reminds me of Quentin Tarantino.'' I had not seen anything he had done or read anything he had written, but I realised that I was riding on his coattails. He was really helping me indirectly! I knew that I was getting a wonderful opportunity because of Quentin, but that it was also going to hurt me. And that is the way it happened. But I am just so happy to have gotten the film made. 

How did you convince the studio to allow you to direct the film? 
When I moved to L.A., I didn't know anybody and I had zilch. I told any lie I could to get in. I told Trimark I had made some short films. When they asked to see them I told them they had all burned up in a fire! I only had one four- minute short I'd made. I'm not reckless, but I'm willing to take calculated risks. I had spent years and years writing and acting in plays. When my mother came to visit me she noticed I had all the pages of 'How to Direct a Film' all over my hotel wall!

I believe they sensed that I could do it. I knew that I could do it even though I had never done it before. I certainly acted confident. Jeff Robinov got me this wonderful producer named Darin Scott, who at that point had done three or four first-time director films and delivered them successfully. He had just finished MENACE II SOCIETY (1993), which was a great film. 

Would you have let anybody else direct the film? 
I remember my agent Jeff calling me and telling me Oliver Stone's people wanted a copy of the script sent over immediately. They had the script for two weeks. Perhaps they were considering buying it. They eventually called and said they passed. I love Oliver Stone. I think I might have allowed him to direct it. But other than him, it was always going to be me. I was even offered $250, 000 by Charles Evans, the nephew of Robert Evans, for the script, but on the condition that I didn't direct it. Charles wanted to direct it himself. It was difficult to say no, not only because of the money, but because through his uncle, Charles was probably going to get Faye Dunaway to play the mom. That was so tempting. It would have been perfect because I quote BONNIE AND CLYDE (1967) in the script. 

How did you come to cast Renee Zellweger? 
My big idea was to cast all unknowns and to discover new people, which we did. I really wanted to cast a real Texan for Starlene, as I thought only a real Texan would get the role. Trimark was making the film. They were a small company distributing their own films, and was like New Line when they started out. They let me cast the film the way I wanted but we had to agree on everything. We were allowed to fly to Austin and start pre-production on the condition that we cast Cathy Ireland in the role of Starlene – unless we found someone better. Cathy was a successful model at the time, and a super nice girl, but she wasn't right for the part. 

How did Renee find out about the film? 
Rene found out about LOVE AND A .45 from Matthew McConaughey! They had acted together in THE RETURN OF THE TEXAS CHAINSAW MASSACRE (1994). She read it and thought she could nail the part. She figured out how to get an audition tape to me. It wasn't that great, to be honest - it was just her and her dog in her backyard in Texas -but she had something. We set a time to meet, and the way she was dressed, she WAS Starlene. Five minutes into the meeting I looked over to the producer, Darin, and I could tell we were both thinking ''Holy shit!'' After she left, we started high fiving each other. It was so obvious she was perfect for the role. We sent the tape to Trimark and they just couldn't see why she was so good. They still wanted to go with Cathy Ireland. We ended up telling Trimark that we would leave if they didn't cast Renee. We felt that strongly. And we were right. She is amazing in the film. Trimark would later say they discovered Rene ... which they did - at gunpoint! 

Did you stay in touch with Renee after the film? 
She struggled really hard after the movie. She used to call me and she'd be beaten down from all the rejection. I'd tell her ''Rene, I see it so clearly. You're going to win an Academy Award someday. You hang in there.'' One time she called me and she told me she had auditioned for JERRY MAGUIRE (1996) and that she thought she hadn't gotten the part. She was so crushed. But she called me a few days later and told me she had gotten it. 

Did you ever audition McConaughey for the role of Watty? 
Yes, he was one of four actors in consideration for the role. The other actors were Gil Bellows, who got the part, Stephen Baldwin, and maybe Jason Gedrick. I wasn't sure if Matthew was quite right for the role, but it was very clear to me that this guy was a movie star. DAZED AND CONFUSED (1993) hadn't even come out yet. Trimark told us ''This guy can't act his way out of a paper bag. You can have Renee but there's no way you're using him.'' It's hilarious to think about now. 

How did you cast Rory Cochrane? 
I got hooked up with Rory Cochrane and Matthew McConaughey because of a casting director named Don Phillips. He had actually discovered Sean Penn for FAST TIMES AT RIDGEMONT HIGH (1982). He had a really good eye. Rick Linklater had also hired him to cast DAZED AND CONFUSED. I just loved Rory once I met him. He is one of the best actors I have ever worked with. He just took that part and went with it. I was worried about him because he stopped eating and sleeping and really wanted to get out there. He drove to Huntsville Prison and visited an inmate he had started a pen-pal friendship with. He based his character on what they talked about. I loved his performance. 

It was quite a coup getting Peter Fonda to play Renee's dad. 
My cinematographer Tom Richmond was shooting Roger Avary's film KILLING ZOE (1993), and Eric Stoltz was the star. Eric was going out with Bridget Fonda. I asked Tom if he could get the script to Peter Fonda via Eric and Bridget. Peter read it and agreed to do it for SAG minimum. When Peter arrived at the hotel, he called my room and wanted to come and chat with me. At one point he said ''You wanna share a joint?'' Totally surreal. I'm sitting there sharing a joint with the guy from EASY RIDER (1969). After a little while I looked over at where he was sitting on the bed and I noticed there was a gun underneath his pillow. I said ''Peter, why do you have a Glock 9mm under your pillow?'' He said ''Oh, I always sleep with it under my pillow. I never go anywhere without it. '' I immediately asked ''Why?'' and he responded with ''Hopper. Hopper.'' 

What was he like to work with? 
Peter was such a hard-working actor and so kind to everyone on the set. He was a really good energy on the set. We had a horrible tragedy happen. David Whitley, the make-up effects guy on the film, died in an accident driving home from the set one night. I dedicated the film to him. We were all incredibly shaken and Peter was so good to everybody with his time. He was a pleasure to have on the movie. 

Did he ever break up a take and laugh? His scenes are hysterically funny. 
No, he was the consummate professional. He took it so seriously, even though it's the ultimate lampooning of his persona. I was so thrilled when he asked me if he could say ''I'm hip about time'' as a special homage to EASY RIDER. I think his scene is my favourite in the whole movie. 

How did you get Tom Verlaine to do the music? 
I was a big fan of Television and I wanted someone interesting and cool to do the music. One of the music people on the movie knew him and told us he was interested in scoring movies. Tom came over every day to my sister's loft on the East Side of New York where I was staying and we worked on the music for the film. He did a really subtle, atmospheric score that I really liked. There was zero money in the budget for music, but I met a guy named Happy Walters who owned a label called Immortal Records. He also represented Cypress Hill. We made a deal where he paid for the music himself and he got to release the soundtrack album. We got Johnny Cash's Ring of Fire, which I had told Happy was very important for the movie. Happy told me it would normally cost something like $500, 000, but it just so happened that Johnny was his next door neighbor in Jamaica. Happy was indispensable. He taught me everything I know about putting together a movie soundtrack. We'd never have gotten such a cool soundtrack without him. 

How do you feel about the film now? 
I was in heaven making it, even though it was a tough shoot. I was 27 years old making my first film. It's not perfect, but I think it's a pretty good first film. Some of the violence and language makes me uncomfortable now, but I was trying to channel the genre and give it some new mojo. I'm proud of it. The film is more alive now than it's ever been. I think that the film would be gone if it weren't for the internet. 

How do you feel about Tarantino calling you his favorite imitator? 
We're close to the same age. I know we like a lot of the same movies because I spent a week with him at the Stockholm Film Festival in 1994, and we talked a lot. Later he invited me to the set of FROM DUSK TILL DAWN (1996) and we had fun. So I think there are some similarities between LOVE AND A .45 and his stuff. But I also think there are some core differences. I finally saw RESERVOIR DOGS (1992) after I finished the script, and there were several things in it that were similar to mine. I seriously thought about taking those things out because I knew I would get raked over the coals, but ultimately I decided to just keep it the way I wrote it. I think he believes that I imitated his style but if you look at the timeline of when we wrote our screenplays, we were writing them at the same time. Maybe I'm Quentin's favorite imitator because I didn't imitate him? I just take it as a great compliment that he remembers my film and likes it. He's been more supportive of the film than anyone else. He's kept it alive by talking about it in interviews. I'm gonna give him a big hug if I ever see him again. 

I spoke to Carty by telephone on 3rd November 2015, and by email during April 2016, and would like to thank him for his time.  

LOVE AND A .45 on Facebook.   

Featurette on the making of the film, directed by Carty's sister, Amy Talkington.  

Photographs are the property of CM Talkington and cannot be reproduced without his permission. Photos by (1) Danny Rothenberg, (2, 10) Zachary Mortensen, (3, 4, 5) Unknown, (6) Trimark, (7) Toni Scott, wife of producer Darin Scott, (8) C.M. Talkington, (9) Created by Nathan Thomas Milliner, (11) Quentin Tarantino. 

Interview by Paul Rowlands. Copyright © Paul Rowlands, 2016. All rights reserved. 


E.B. Hughes is the writer and director of the independent features PACING THE CAGE (2014) and TURNABOUT (2016), two character-based crime dramas in the spirit of 70s filmmaking. I spoke to E.B. about the upcoming TURNABOUT, an intense, authentic piece of work that sees him developing his skills as a filmmaker and honing the themes of his work.     

When did you first get the idea for TURNABOUT? 
I always wanted to do a film shot in real time, where the story takes place over the course of one night. In the film, the character of Perry (Waylon Payne) rescues his best friend from high school, Billy (George Katt). He hasn’t seen him in 15 years, and their lives have changed dramatically. 

How would you describe the film? 
It's a dark, twisted character study, about a guy, a loner, who is alienated, and on the outskirts of society. It tells the story of how he reconnects with an old friend who is more successful than he is, a married man, a family man, and the strange events that occur in the course of one night that will change their lives forever. 

What books or films did you have on your mind? 
Dostoevsky’s The Gambler. Lots of Robert Altman films, like THE PLAYER (1992), or THE LONG GOODBYE (1973), and definitely some Cassavetes influences. Films with long takes, shot in real time. SCARECROW (1973) or THE PANIC IN NEEDLE PARK (1971), directed by my friend Jerry Schatzberg. Very real, and gritty where it almost feels documentary style. I tried my best to make it as believable as possible, and I think that comes through in the performances and in the editing. 

How did the production come together? 
I wrote the script in about 2007, and did some test footage in 2008 or 2009, to try and raise financing. The cast and crew were different, - everything was completely overhauled with the new production. In 2010 I got George Katt (ALIENATED, HOUSE OF BODIES, VALLEY OF ANGELS) attached. George is a very talented New York based actor. He loved the script, and from there we tried several avenues to get the film made. It wasn’t until Summer of 2011 when financing was secured, and we started production in very late 2011, early 2012. 

How different a production was TURNABOUT to PACING THE CAGE? 
Budget wise and schedule wise, it was very, very different. PACING THE CAGE was shot over a 3 year period, and I self financed it for roughly $20, 000. TURNABOUT was shot more traditionally, over the course of 18 days for just under $100, 000. We actually came under schedule by three days. This one was easy to shoot, tough to finish. PACING THE CAGE was tough to shoot, easier to finish. I don’t know if that makes sense, but it’s probably the best way to describe it. 

How did you cast the film? 
George Katt, who plays the role of Billy, was the first to come onboard. I went through several other actors for the role of Perry, before settling on Waylon Payne (Jerry Lee Lewis in WALK THE LINE; he also starred in Monte Hellman's ROAD TO NOWHERE). I held auditions for the female roles in New York. Judy Jerome plays Perry’s wife. Rosebud Baker was a newcomer to film when she was cast for the role of Sherri, and Sayra Player starred in PACING THE CAGE. I was so blown away by her performance in that film that I cast her immediately for TURNABOUT. As for Peter Greene (THE USUAL SUSPECTS), I wanted to get a known actor for the part of Leo, and I was lucky enough to get Peter to come in for one night of work. 

Did you feel more comfortable working with actors as this was your second film? 
Well, it was easier in the sense that we had a structured schedule to shoot it in a certain time frame, and I was more prepared. I also had a very talented assistant director - Neal Dhand - who handled much of the scheduling, and worked with a pretty close-knit crew, so that helped. Chase Bowman was the director of photography, and he and I sat down and did a shot list for nearly the first 30-40 pages. We would discuss colors, styles, how it should look, and the lighting, all those things. We had a number of tracking shots, and Chase did some handheld stuff which was pretty cool. The actors were all fantastic, and I pretty much had a hands off approach, unless I felt like they were veering off course - which for the most part wasn’t the case. They were all very invested in the film, and there was lots of passion from even the people in the small roles. It’s a very special film in many ways. 

Did this film have more professional actors? 
I would say it had less actually, considering PACING THE CAGE had roughly 10 speaking roles, most of which were SAG. However, the good thing with TURNABOUT was that it was shot in 3 weeks, so everybody knew we were on a tight schedule, and everyone just came in and did their job. 

What were some of your favorite moments on the shoot? 
There were several, but one really sticks out. I think it was the 2nd or 3rd night of the shoot, and it was a scene between Waylon and George talking outside, standing next to the car. I was watching them do the scenes over and over again, and then later that night I watched the dailies with Neal (the AD) and Chase Bowman (the cinematographer), and I just said to myself –''Man, these guys are really, really good''. I think we all knew we were onto something special. I remember talking with Neal on many occasions, and we were just so impressed with how good and natural the performances were. It’s a real good feeling. You kind of pinch yourself, but you also think to yourself, ''They're so good on Day 2, I just hope it keeps up!'' And it did. 

Were there any particularly stressful moments? 
The night with Peter Greene was pretty intense. I can recall rehearsing with him and George, and things got heated several times. Peter’s a passionate guy, and so am I and so is George, so a little screaming never hurt anyone. At the end of the day, though he was great! We got off to a little bit of a rocky start, I would say we didn’t see eye to eye on certain things, but once we ran through the scenes several times, he was fantastic. I would definitely work with him again. Also, the scene in the boat, with Waylon and George. Initially, we had another boat for the crew to follow their boat. It was incredibly cold that day (we shot it in December) and the tide was rough, so we would tie their boat to the crew boat, but it just didn’t work out - it kept drifting. So we had to scrap that idea and improvise. 

Where did you shoot the film? 
We shot mostly around where I live, near Ocean City, New Jersey – a small shore resort town. We shot in nearby towns, and also right outside of Philadelphia, mostly at night, only several day shoots. 

How happy were you with the better technology you had on this film? 
Very pleased. The Red Epic camera was great. You certainly get real clean images. It also had a nice monitor, which was something I didn't have on PACING THE CAGE. We did a lot of car shots, which are difficult, so we had car mounts and I think that stuff turned out great! Also, I had the chance to work again with Dave Rainey, who had done the sound on my second short film, Harsh Light, years ago. He also did the sound mix in post-production, and I think he did a great job. My editor was incredible - Kary H. Sarrey, from Brooklyn. I wanted an outsider, somebody who had no knowledge of the film, someone I had never worked with before. So, I put out an ad, and was blessed to come across her. She just got it, and that’s what you want from an editor. She has a very good eye, and we had so much to choose from as far as coverage, so we were good in that department. 

How do you think you've developed as a filmmaker making TURNABOUT? 
I think I've definitely matured. I have more patience working with the actors. I kind of just let them run with it, and if they needed input, I would chime in, or we would just discuss the characters, how they felt, or how they would act. But for the most part, they were so good, I didn’t need to direct much. I’m not a fan of 'over-directing'. You need to trust these people to do their job. It’s the same with editing. You can’t be looking over their shoulder all the time. They are professionals, let them do their job. If its wrong, correct it. If not, well, that’s what its all about. I just wish I could do this all the time. It reminds me of how much I love the craft and working with talented people. When the chemistry is good, there’s just nothing like it. I wish they could all be like this. 

Overall, how happy are you with the film? 
It’s pretty much exactly as I wrote it - or better. I think it reached all expectations, no doubt. I wrote it with limited locations, small cast and crew, so its exactly how I wished it would be. 

What attracts you to crime stories? 
There’s something about the bad egg, the outsider, the Ne’er-d0-well, the outcast that draws me to those characters. People with flaws. Because lets face it, life is like that, and full of people like that, and they’re much more interesting. I can’t imagine doing a comedy. I would never rule it out. Don’t get me wrong, there’s some funny moments in TURNABOUT, but for the most part it’s a dark drama, a character study. 

Are there any recent crime films you have particularly enjoyed? 
I really liked BLUE RUIN (2013). I liked NIGHTCRAWLER (2014) - not sure if that’s really a crime film though. Mostly I go back to films I like from the past, like THE HIT (1984), NIGHT MOVES (1975), STRAIGHT TIME (1977), Neil Jordan’s THE GOOD THIEF, or MONA LISA (1986). Also Rafelson’s THE KING OF MARVIN GARDENS (1972) or John Flynn's ROLLING THUNDER (1977). Movies like that. 

What advice do you have for aspiring filmmakers? 
Immerse yourself in film. Read, watch, write, keep a journal. Storytelling is key. Without a good script, you’re screwed. A lot of films just look flashy, all style no substance. I still think it comes down to a great story. Then of course - networking. Working with cast and crew you trust, people you want to work with again. More importantly, don’t be afraid to screw up. It’s okay - it’s going to happen- whether you like it or not. Nothing is as we expect. There will be many struggles, lots of tough times. If it was easy, everybody would be doing it. Filmmaking is tough. It’s not all about making the film, it’s about preparing to make the film, making the film, and then what to do after the film is shot. It’s a very long process. I think many young filmmaker’s just don’t get that. They don’t realize how involved it is. Especially nowadays as the DVD market is all but gone, and everything is streaming. The industry has changed. It’s not about just getting a cool camera, and shooting something. You really need to dig deep. There’s money involved, and you need to hire the right people. Sure, anybody can get lucky, but its rare. Also, you need some names in your film. I see this over and over again. Someone shoots a film, you don’t recognize anyone in the film, the film goes nowhere. This is because its a business, and it has to be marketable. Lots of young filmmakers don’t get that. I also see a lot of these indie guys putting out one film after another- and for what? I would rather make one great film every 5 years or so, then a bunch of forgettable films. Thats just not me. I care too much, and I respect the process.

How do you feel about the current independent film market? 
Well, like I stated above, there's some good, but there's lots of bad. At least no-one is giving up, and that's key. I've been very fortunate to come in contact with many contemporaries, and we're all trying to do the same thing - so that's encouraging. I still think for the most part, the writing isn't what it used to be. There are so many films that lack that certain element. They're good in one area - but weak in many others. For example, it may be shot well, but the acting sucks. Or the acting may be great, but the writing stinks, and so on and so forth.
 What would you like to do for your next project? 
I have a few in mind, but I’m going to scale it back a little. Less characters, minimal locations, small crew. Gritty, lots of handheld. I want to try different things, and I really want to smack the viewer in the face this time. So, I’m putting something together as we speak. These things take time though. 

When and where can we see TURNABOUT? 
I recently signed a one year deal with Glass House Distribution, so they are taking the trailer to Cannes next month and hopefully packaging a deal. I imagine in the future, it'll be on Hulu, I-Tunes, perhaps Netflix.

I spoke to E.B. by email in April 2016 and would like to thank him for his time. 

The trailer to TURNABOUT.  

My 2012 interview with E.B.    

My review of PACING THE CAGE

Interview by Paul Rowlands. Copyright © Paul Rowlands, 2016. All rights reserved.