26 10 2011

Interview with Actor Dave Vescio

CS: Nice to have you back on CSReview, Dave. We’ll be talking about some hard issues today. You have stated in your previous interviews that you always try to live the character as much as is humanly possible. Does playing dark individuals affect you on a deep intimate level and do you then need time to recover, get out of your character and get back to your normal self? If so, what does it take to do that?

Dave Vescio: Nice to be back. Thank you! To answer your question, it actually depends on the character. The child molester roles are the ones that affect me the most. I mean I have to trick myself into believing that this is right, when it actually isn’t. So, that takes a while to get out of my head. I love playing these antagonists and villains because they all justify what they do, but, in the end, is it morally right? And I think that is the question of art – to raise awareness of today’s morality. And let the audience decide for themselves.

CS: Your nomination for the hero of the week by KNX 1070 Newsradio for making a citizen arrest reveals a side of you that testifies of your high ethical standards, but you know what they say about not making it in Hollywood without budging and bending one’s integrity. Is there any truth in it for you? Are you able to remain faithful to values while working roles that seem to go in line with so many things we consider socially challenging, unacceptable, immoral and even criminal?

Dave Vescio: That’s a tough question. Yes and no. It’s my job to play my characters as truthfully as possible. Meaning, I have to think and do what they think and do which is definitely taking me in directions that I would not choose to go in real life. But, the reason I choose to play these antagonists and villains for the paying audience is because they do exist in real life. And I do feel if I play them as honestly as possible, it may veer the audience members from making mistakes in their own life that may bring them harm in some way. Meaning, always be on the look out for people who want to prey on you; because they are everywhere, and they are definitely preying on you; from child molesters, to rapists, to murderers, to con men, to etc., etc. It’s a dangerous world that we all live in, but, if you know the signs of what to look out for, then we may be fine. That’s why I choose to play the characters that I play. It’s my job to warn the world of their actual existence. Because they do exist, and they are definitely preying on us as we speak.

CS: Would you play any villain or, let me re-phrase, how far would you go in accepting anti-social roles? Would you play Adolph Hitler?

Dave Vescio: I would love to play Adolph Hitler. I mean, what would cause a young Jewish man turn against his own kind? That’s a mentality that I would love to understand and want to express to the world; because it may happen again. History does tend to repeat itself, over and over again.

CS: Your role in ‘The Custom Mary’  falls under the category of controversial, provocative. Who are you playing and what can you tell our audience about your character?

Dave Vescio: I play the character named Pat, an amateur scientist who finally figures out how to clone Jesus Christ from his DNA. It’s a feature film about the cloning of Christ in an age where cloning human beings is possible.

CS: Aren’t you concerned about a possible negative resonance?

Dave Vescio: I didn’t mind being Pat at all. He believed that it was right for him to clone Jesus Christ because he wanted a new order in the world again. He had all the right intentions to do this. But, in the end, is it the right thing to do? The film is not meant to offend anyone in any way, but what if we did have his DNA? Meaning, what if? What if we were able to pull the DNA from The Shroud? What if we were able to pull the DNA from the spear that gutted him? Would humans clone Jesus Christ? And if so, what would he actually look like? The paintings that have been painted of him over the centuries… would he belong to an ethnic group entirely different from what is seen on those paintings and the sculptures of his likeness? That’s the story of ‘The Custom Mary’ and my character. Should we or should we not clone Jesus Christ, and if we do choose to clone him, what would he finally look like? All of this is told in a dark comedy sci fi type of way. It’s just meant to raise serious questions of cloning human beings in the near future. And if we do choose to clone people, then how far are we willing to take it?

CS: How did you land this part? Were you specifically sought for the role or was it agented?
Dave Vescio: I actually auditioned for it. And I honestly cannot remember if I submitted myself or if my agent submitted me instead; probably both. Yeah, we shot this in the Fall of 2008 I think. And it wasn’t until this past August that a film festival would actually screen it for the paying audience; which was HBO’s film festival in NYC. And there’s talk that it may get picked up by HBO Latino, or by another distribution company in the coming months. Nothing is in stone just yet.

CS: Every actor has a dream they wish to fulfill on stage, an ultimate legendary role that demands a peak performance. Straight comic actors wishing to play a dramatic character, like Shakespeare’s Hamlet or Fitzgerald’s Jay Gatsby; actors who generally play only positive roles wanting to try their craft on parts of deeply conflicted and negative characters. What’s yours?

Dave Vescio: Honestly, I just want to help create great art that makes you think about life and death, and everything in between; to truly question it all, to see if your own point of view is actually correct or not. To get you to experience something that you’ve never experienced before, but, from the safety of your own home or at the movie theater. I just really love creating controversial or provocative art that invades the audience’s comfort zones. I want to get better at this though, to truly push the limits of our current art form. To take it to a whole new place that it has never been taken too. So, I’m constantly learning how to be truthful in these imaginary fictional circumstances.

CS: Thank you for talking to CSReview, Dave; always a time worth spending.

Dave Vescio: Thank you as well Camilla! I totally do appreciate it! And if you get the chance definitely follow me on twitter @DaveVescio.

 Copyright Camilla Stein ©2011. All rights reserved.

CSReview and Camilla Stein do not support ideas expressed in ‘The Custom Mary’.

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1 07 2011

Gemini Rising (2011)

Gemini Rising poster design by Camilla Stein

Image Courtesy: Gemini Rising. Poster Design by Camilla Stein

Gemini Rising  is an exciting new science fiction action feature film currently in post-production in Hollywood, with a set of complex characters who are being confronted with an extraordinary situation that puts to test their integrity and everything they are.

The story begins when NASA, while on its deep space mission, discovers an alien spacecraft with a barely alive alien inside. The technology is startling and human logic dictates that a chance like that cannot be missed. The spacecraft is brought on Earth, and on a remote Pacific island, in a military installation, some horrific things start happening…

Image Courtesy: Gemini Rising. Production Design: Madla Hruza.

The movie is being produced in an innovative fashion, which was the crew’s concious choice, calling global community of artists to contribute their skills and passion to the project.  Seeking to unravel several mysteries behind its production, Camilla Stein talked to members of the Gemini Rising  crew-Dana Schroeder, film director/producer at Pathfinder Productions, and Dave Vescio, actor playing a malicious MD in Gemini Rising.

CS: Welcome to Camilla Stein Review, Dana and Dave. It’s great having you two share about your awesome work on Gemini Rising. Some aspects of the movie have been kept under a tight lid, which is understandable. Perhaps you could shed a little more light onto what has been done so far and what is being planned. Dana, you worked in different genres, from drama to comedy. Gemini Rising is your recent science fiction project. Given the movie’s objectives, what was the most demanding part to film?

Dana Schoeder: Probably the greatest challenge of film making is taking a vision and getting it into the “can”. We spend 12 to 14 hour days, working with diverse crew of production design, camera and lighting departments to collaboratively create scenes that will speak to the visual message we wish to send to the audience. It sometimes feels like organized chaos, but when the shot works, it’s like magic. I think any genre of film making suffers the same challenges, but sci-fi adds the complexity of an actor creating relationship and reaction to a green screen, where a visual effects element will be added later.

CS: What makes Gemini Rising unique? Do you stay consistent with the canon of the genre here, or do you experiment with new forms of expression?

Dana Schroeder: I think every genre has a core demographic of committed followers, like horror, sci-fi, action, comedy, romantic dramas, etc. Take Blade Runner, for instance, a core sci-fi demographic, then add an action element, strong dramatic theme, a romantic subplot, and it creates an expanded demographic and larger audience. So, to answer your question, I built the plot to fulfill the canon of the demographic sci-fi audience, and then added elements of stronger character arcs with very capable actors, action sequences, and even a romantic subplot to create more layers to the story. Hopefully that will make it more interesting to a larger audience.

CS: Your approach sounds very involving indeed, no doubt the result will be absolutely worthy. Gemini Rising has a great cast. If you could describe working on the set in one word, what would it be?

Dana Schroeder: Challenging.

CS: That says a lot. What’s the most memorable thing that happened during shooting? Most funny?

Dana Schroeder: John Savage, singing opera backstage… Lance Henriksen in character on and off camera, chomping on his cigar and being the Alpha leader of his band of elite marines, Brian Krause being a bubbly boyish jokester, then hitting his mark with outstanding professionalism when the cameras rolled, Amy Hathaway’s intense determination on and off camera especially when she was beating on the stunt performers, Dave Vescio’s method style as he evolved into the twisted, brilliant and socially inept chief scientist.

CS: Gemini Rising has a most intriguing plot. Knowing that in action movies the story often risks getting overshadowed by the action, how does Gemini Rising deal with this side effect?

Dana Schroeder: I think a plot should evolve like a roller coaster ride. There should be moments of hard pounding action, intrigue teetering on horror, touching romantic interplay, intense drama, etc. If this all works, we give the audience a great ride.

CS: There’s no science fiction without an extraterrestrial element. How much of the human-alien interaction can we expect in Gemini Rising?

Dana Schroeder: There are touching moments. There are terrifying moments. There are intense action moments.

CS: When having aliens on the set, what’s the biggest challenge? Say, a communication problem, or do they tend to dictate their terms and undermine the authority of an Earthling? That last one is a joke. Seriously though, we’ve seen these very cute alien model-hands and are eager to discover what Gemini Rising aliens are like. Are they evil or benign, or are they controversial and are here to stay?

Dana Schroeder: Time will tell. That is part of the ride the audience will experience.

CS: Sounds like you are preparing quite a surprise. Speaking of software, Blender has been chosen for this production. How would you evaluate your experience with this program? Are you planning on using it again for your future projects?

Dana Schroeder: So far, the progress is working out well. We have artists participating from around the world, France, Germany, England, Spain, Eastern Europe, USA, Asia, and the Middle East. We use Blender as the main modeling software, giving all of the participants a way to collaborate with one another. We have 300 blender artists signed up on the web site, over 25,000 views to date, over a 1000 submissions, between 50-100 posts to the site every day. This is definitely a paradigm shift from the normal way of putting visual effects into movies. As far as I know, this has never been done this way before. Will I use this approach again? Darn right!

CS: That’s an incredible pioneer thing you’ve got going there! Thank you for lifting up the veil of secrecy around such an awesome movie project, Dana. Wishing you all the luck with Gemini Rising post-production work and release.

Dave Vescio was cast as Gemini Rising main antagonist. Dave, you have an impressive record of roles and a most intriguing trademark, exploring dark side of human nature. Let’s talk about your villain in Gemini Rising, Dr. Bainbridge. Who is he?

Dave Vescio: Thank you! Well, my character Dr. Brainbridge is one of the top medical scientists in the world (and was actually bred this way by his father), and he’s currently working on a secret military base in the middle of the Pacific Ocean for the U.S. government. And his mission is to figure out how to control combat soldiers telepathically, to create ‘the perfect soldier’.

CS: You’ve previously stated in your interviews that your purpose in portraying bad guys is to create a real-life experience for viewers, a documentary-like effect. How does that reflect on your playing Dr. Bainbridge?

Dave Vescio: Wow, that’s a good question. Well, my goal as an actor is to become my characters for real. And to bring in as many elements of Dave Vescio into these characters as I humanly can, but, at the same time, be the characters as well. And Dr. Bainbridge is an anti-social, tortured, sex driven scientist, which is definitely not me in anyway. I had to do certain things to myself to make this happen for real on set, such as being anti-social towards certain actors on set, causing real life pain to myself (so I can feel tortured in certain scenes), and to seeing women as sex objects because I’m driven to have sex with them and that’s it. Basically, this guy is morally incorrect in so many ways, so I had to make myself morally incorrect as well.

CS: Playing that sounds like quite a challenge. So, how bad your bad guy in Gemini Rising really is? Does he follow a certain code of conduct, or is he a ‘go for it at all costs’ kind of a persona?

Dave Vescio: Let’s say that he has no quam killing another human being. He likes to have sex with a comatose woman (actress Cortney Palm). And he has no regard for anyone’s personal space at all. Basically, he’ll do whatever he has to do, to get what he wants in life. But, the reason he does this screwed up stuff is because he was tortured as a young child by his own father. His father was Dr. Bainbridge back in the day, and he would use his son as a guinea pig in all his scientific studies. So, basically, my character was injected with LSD, electrocuted, and pushed to the limits physically, mentally, and definitely emotionally as a child. That’s why he is who he is.

CS: That is quite horrible! Playing such a complex and dark individual with such a painful history is not a walk in the park. When you first read the script for Gemini Rising, what was your initial impression? Did you know right away that you could do it, be this character?

Dave Vescio: I actually don’t think that I can do any character justice when I first read the script. That’s why I became an actor in the first place, because this stuff really scares the grass out of me. But, I was trained to break down a script and really figure out why this character says what he says and does what he does to the other characters in the story. That’s when the fun stuff begins and I start seeing who these guys are by repeating the dialogue over and over again, and figuring out why they’re saying this or that versus anything else. Plus I’ll do my own research on the side and find out how the other actors will play their scenes as well, and I’ll also talk to the director about the character (if the director likes to direct), and then see what actually happens while we are on set. It’s always a process, which is one of the reasons why I love to act!

CS: While practicing the secrets of your craft and doing all that hard work to make things happen on screen, what in Dr. Bainbridge can you mostly relate to, and what not?

Dave Vescio: I’m not anti-social in anyway. I definitely don’t like to have sex with comatose women; that’s for sure. And I’m not some of Dr. Bainbridge’s other traits as well. For everything else I have a real life sense memory to play off of. As for the anti-social aspect, getting sexually aroused by a comatose woman and so on, I just had to figure out how to do all of that stuff either at home or on set.

CS: There’s a brilliant, in my opinion, torture scene where you are left at the mercy of Colonel Stephen Cencula (Lance Henriksen). It’s been said that doing horror scenes always causes lots of excitement for actors and the entire crew. How would you describe working with Lance and doing this particular act?

Dave Vescio: This scene was a lot of fun. When it comes to doing my own stunts, I’m always the first one in, thinking how to make it look as real as possible; basically doing it for real. I pretty much told the stunt guys that I was working with to just do whatever they had to do to get me down into that medical chair and to strap me down, because I was going to fight them all the way. And when it came time for me to be in horrible pain, I was actually causing myself pain on set as well, to the point, where I was crying for real. As you said before I really do like to make my acting performances look as realistic as possible. That’s what I’m always trying to do on set, making it look and feel like real life. And Lance was great! He’s a pro. And I definitely learned a lot from him.

CS:The alien hands animation I’ve seen is so much fun. In its form before the final wrap-up it seems a bit inconsistent with the perhaps intended image of a creepy alien attached to these hands. Many shots for this movie are done against the green screen. While working on Gemini Rising, what presented the biggest challenge? Did you have any difficulties applying your imagination, placing yourself in the setting?

Dave Vescio: Yes and no. Imagining something is there when it isn’t is really hard for me. But I know some tricks of the trade to making it seem real, like placing a real-life human being in front of me when I’m talking to an imaginary object. That way I’m actually talking to someone. And then, when the camera angle has to show my character as well as the alien one, which is in reality a green screen, I just have a human being stand on the edges of the camera frame. That way I’m still talking to someone even though you don’t see them in the camera shot at all.

CS: That was a very impressive walk through the set, Dave. Thank you for talking to CSReview. It was great having you.

Dave Vescio: And thank you as well, Camilla. I totally had fun!

Trailer Gemini Rising is out! Click here

Courtesy Gemini Rising.

Copyright Camilla Stein ©2011. All rights reserved.

 C A M I L L A  S T E I N  S C I E N C E  F I C T I O N

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