Q. Hello Charles, it's a pleasure to have you with us for this interview. Congratulations on your ‘Best Thriller’ and ‘Best Young Actor’ awards at last September's edition of the “Rome International Movie Awards” (click HERE to read the winners).
Your new movie is “The Flower People”: in a few words, what is it about?
A. Hello, thank you for having me. “The Flower People” tells the story of a mother and her son who have a chance encounter with a mysterious woman selling flowers. Unaware of the impending danger, her son disappears the next day and becomes the victim of a cult kidnapping.
can you tell us about the shoot as such, and the on-set atmosphere? Was
it difficult to find the right collaborators and, above all, a cast who
could translate your cinematographic vision into acting and images?
A. The on-set atmosphere was pretty amazing. I usually work with a skeleton crew, but this time I was fortunate to have a dedicated team who gave me 110 percent every day. I was very appreciate of that.
When making films, I usually work with the same four people so we already have great chemistry. I also worked with one of the lead actresses, Hannah Kathryn Young (IMDB), on another film of mine so I brought her on board for this one. I think the hardest part was finding the other actress and the child actor. Fortunately for me, I had two colleagues help me out and I was able to get Yasiris Alvarado (IMDB) and Xavier Thorton (IMDB), which became a dream come true for me.
Q. What got you into filmmaking in the first place, and did you receive any formal training on the subject?
A. I’ve always been very interested in film and TV but never thought it could be something I could do. In the Philadelphia neighborhood where I grew up, you either went to college, became a police officer/fighter fighter or joined a union trade. The arts and film wasn’t something pushed on kids like me, but I was always very drawn to it because of my creativity. It wasn’t until I took an English class in community college that I was pushed toward filmmaking even more. My English teacher, Dr. Jerry McDade, is probably the reason why I am making films today. He guided me through the remainder of my community college years and then wrote me a wonderful letter of recommendation to Temple University Film School, where I received my degree in Film and Media Arts. During my time in Temple’s film program, I learned to sharpen my skill as a writer, producer and director. Temple University has an phenomenal film program.
Q. What can you tell us about your filmwork prior to “The Flower People”?
A. My work prior to “The Flower People” includes a few melodramas, but the horror and thriller genre is where I flourish the most. I did a very successful short film called “The Eye of Menw”. The film was an award winner and accepted into more than 10 film festivals. My next project was “Masks”, a trilogy of shorts film that are all interconnected, which also received accolades and was accepted into many festivals.
Q. Any future projects
you'd like to share?
A. I have two short scripts almost ready to go, and I think I’m leaning toward making a slasher/zombie film. Think “White Zombie” with Bella Lugosi meets “Friday the 13th”. I want to do something different and fun. “Masks” and “The Flower People” were more serious thrillers/horror paying homage to the Val Lewton RKO films of the 1940s.
Q. How would you describe yourself as a director?
A. As a director I would describe myself as an actor’s director. Yes, I write and storyboard all my scenes, but I love having table readings and rehearsals with my actors. I usually give the actors freedom to bring the characters I write on page to life. I always tell them, I’ve written a skeleton for your character but it’s up to you to create the flesh. So it’s always a collaborative effort with my actors. I don’t have a problem with them trying to do something new or something different from what I had in the script. I actually encourage it. I am not dictator director. I want people to challenge or question me because it benefits all of us as well as the film.
Q. Directors (and indeed actors) who inspire you?
A. There are so many directors that have inspired me, where do I start? Josh Whedon, Christopher Nolan, Martin Scorsese, Stanley Kubrick, John Carpenter, Alfred Hitchcock, Orson Welles, Spike Lee, Quentin Tarantino, Steven Spielberg, Francis Ford Coppola, Kathryn Bigelow, Brian De Palma, Wes Craven and Clint Eastwood.
The actors that inspire me include Jack Nicholson, Robert De Niro, Al Pacino, Paul Newman, Denzel Washington, Sylvester Stallone, Robert Duvall, Gene Hackman, Philip Seymour Hoffman.
The actresses that inspire me include Meryl Streep, Katherine Hepburn, Bette Davis, Audrey Hepburn, Sarah Michelle Gellar, Helen Mirren, Glenn Close, Viola Davis, Jodie Foster, Simone Simon and Grace Kelly.
Q. Your favourite movies? And of course, films you really deplore?
A. Some of my favorite movies are "Rocky", "Godfather", "The Dark Knight", "Vertigo", "Taxi Driver", "Halloween", "A Nightmare on Elm Street", "Do the Right Thing", "Citizen Kane", "A Clockwork Orange", "Reservoir Dogs", "Carrie", "Unforgiven", "The Hurt Locker", "Jaws", "Cat People", "The Exorcist".
Films that I usually deplore are ones that do not have a story. But somehow I’m always able to find one or two little things that I like about bad movies. In the end, I have to give the director credit because they were able to make a film and create new art.
Q. Thank you for this very inspiring interview, Charles. Here at the “Rome International Movie Awards” we look forward to seeing and appreciating your new film productions!
A. Thank you very much and I greatly appreciate the opportunity. I am grateful and humbled that you enjoyed “The Flower People” and that it was recognized with two awards. I wish nothing but continued success for the "Rome International Movie Awards". Thank you!