AMERICAN GUNSLINGERS Interview with Screenwriter Drew Henriksen on Stage Screen & In Between with Helen

Check out this awesome interview with AMERICAN GUNSLINGERS’ multi-award-winning screenwriter Drew Henriksen on this episode of Stage Screen and In Between with Helen Proimos! They discuss and showcase the trailer to our film as well as Drew’s various screenplays and novels that have been honored at numerous festivals.

For anyone who is interested in seeing our American Gunslingers trailer play on the big screen next month, it is going to be shown as part of The Cutting Room International Short Film Festival in NYC. Our screening date has been announced for Saturday, Oct. 19th in the A-Block from 10:30am-12:30am. Tickets are $18 and can be purchased at their website here. Their award ceremony takes places the following evening at 8:30pm.

The Cutting Room venue is at the following address:

The Cutting Room 44 East 32nd Street (btw Park & Madison Ave)
New York, New York
10016

PRICELESS: A 10 Year Retrospective

Priceless Final Poster

AJ EPYX PRODUCTIONS’ PRICELESS: A 10 Year Retrospecive

By Andre´ Joseph

It recently dawned on me that it was 10 years ago this month when my first feature film, Priceless, had premiered at Tribeca Cinemas in New York City. I remember that evening of October 10, 2008 vividly as this was the very first time seeing my own work on the big screen after ten years of making home movies with my friends and family. The reaction from the audience was overwhelmingly positive. The cast and crew present were delighted by the way it turned out. But it was never an easy road to get there. Nor was it so simple to release. Either way, this particular picture holds dear to my heart and it shaped not only my career going forward but also the long-lasting friendships I made in the process.

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Priceless originated while I was in my second year studying film at Emerson College in Boston, MA. I had just completed my sci-fi quasi-short film, The Evil Society, and I was already setting my sights on a potential sequel. When that project could not come together, I began to turn my attention to the idea of making a romantic film with a slight caper element. Classic 80s TV shows like Moonlighting and Remington Steele came to mind as well as films such as Ocean’s Eleven and Grosse Pointe Blank. But I also was drawing from my own up and down experiences with romance while listening to my friends’ stories about relationship struggles. It would tell the story of a free-wheeling jewel thief who botches a Faberge egg heist and hides from the Russian mob in his old hometown where he faces an uneasy reunion with ex-girlfriend Diana, now a struggling single mother to her daughter, Sandy (Named after my late aunt). My intent in writing the Priceless script was to make the emotional jeopardy of the Lando and Diana characters more important than the physical danger as a way of standing out from typical genre pictures.

The script was finalized just as I graduated from college. Rather than jump into a day job straight out of school or take the Los Angeles route like most of my classmates, I made it my intention to make Priceless my first independent film. The financial backing for the film came from family friends and my own out of pocket savings. I knew I wanted to shoot on the Panasonic DVX100 because of its 24P progressive scan look ever since I saw it in action as an intern at VH1 Classic a year earlier. Now video was starting to get closer to rivaling celluloid film. Pre-production went on for 5 months to secure all accessible locations in Staten Island and Brooklyn as well as assembling the production team which included my long-time friend Albert Albanese III as a producer.

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To challenge myself to direct and act in the film, I was persuaded through an actor friend to make Priceless a SAG signatory project to ensure we would hire reliable working actors to fill some of the key roles. Among those we brought in included Anthony Mangano from Point Break (Fox), NYPD Blue (ABC), Rescue Me (FX Network), Law & Order (NBC), and just completed the film 15 Rounds where he plays Sylvester Stallone; Bernard “Pretty Purdie who is the world’s most recorded drummer best known for working with Aretha Franklin, Steely Dan, and countless other artists (also the film’s composer); A.J. Pero, the legendary late drummer of Twisted Sister; Mohamed Dione who worked with me on The Evil Society and had played Whoopi Goldberg’s son in a famous episode of Law & Order: Criminal Intent; Lisa Regina from The Sopranos (HBO); Robert Clohessy from Hill Street Blues (NBC); Oz (HBO), Boardwalk Empire (HBO), and Blue Bloods (CBS); Brandon Hannan from The Sopranos (HBO); Aesha Waks from Arresting Gena (Independent), Gotham (Fox), The Money Shot (Independent), and A Packing Surburbia (Independent); Laneya Wiles from Gimme Shelter (Roadside Attractions).

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The female lead roles of Diana and her daughter Sandy were put through the most serious audition process where we had 15 actresses read per character. Tasha Perri came recommended to me for Diana. Being a real mom juggling her career and family time, she brought the most reality to her performance which attracted me on a personal level. Shelby Renee Reitman would be cast as Sandy because she not only had the cuteness factor but was also wise beyond her years.

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Priceless was a month and a half production during the summer of 2007. I can never forget the first day of shooting at R.H. Tugs which was my parents’ favorite restaurant. Here I was directing a full restaurant scene with some heavy hitting actors like Tasha, Lisa Regina, Robert Clohessy, Judy Prianti, and Eddie McGee. Also, this was my first time with a full crew to work with. Over the course of the production, Albert and I grew very close to our gaffers Adam Chinoy and Clint Higgins. Due to their past production experience, those guys were very responsible in getting us past the home movie mentality of filmmaking and made us work harder as professionals. I know for a fact that I became more conscious about organizing my shots and shooting schedule while Albert, who did not attend film school, became more hands-on in accommodating the actors and keeping lines of communication very clear with the crew.

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There were some days when things worked according to plan and other days when things got tense like any other indie production. The most fun moments I remember from the shoot were the scene when Mangano and his goons wrecked up my cousin’s Park Slope apartment while searching for my character. There was also the actual heist scene where I did my own stunt by climbing up the ledge of my house with a grappling hook and then later had to evade the Russian mob in my yard. I had my most fun shooting the playground scene with my wrestler pal Mad Dog Joe Stone who had to throw me around slides and fences like a real wrestling match in what was my homage to Rocky III. But when it came to the more serious moments in the film, working with actors like Tasha and Shelby pushed me to step up my acting ability in ways I never thought possible.

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I remember post-production as a year-long process. Everything was done off MiniDV tapes that I had to import and then edit on the old Final Cut Express software. Then we had the post-production house Filmlook, Inc. in Burbank, CA handle our color correction and later the final audio mix by Staten Island recording studio engineer Bill Donnelly. But the best time of post was going to Fenix Studios to sit in on Bernard Purdie recording the musical score with some amazing blues musicians. One could say our score had a mix of the classic Motown sound and Danny Elfman’s score to Midnight Run.

Back in 2008, social media was still relatively new. We had a Myspace page to post the set pics and updates before Twitter and Facebook became engrained into daily norms. I even got the rare opportunity to promote Priceless on the movie review show, The Cinefiles, thanks to my connection to Michael Foltz who had been a dental patient of my dad before we became friends. Everything at that time was new for me in the filmmaking process.

After the premiere at Tribeca, I had high hopes for film festivals. However, this was long before submitting online screeners and you had to mail a DVD which could often not be guaranteed to work. I won’t say that was the primary reason for what happened next, but I must have aimed at 7 to 10 high-end festivals that rejected the film. Even the Staten Island Film Festival would not take it. The NY International Independent Film Festival would be the only festival acceptance due to its $100 entry fee despite a nice screening at Village East Cinemas. Distribution was no better due to the financial crash. I felt discouraged by the rejections, no refunds for the entries, and some of the criticisms leveled at my performance, some of the other actors, and the lack of action scenes. One person even criticized it for not having explicit content to sell the film.

In the end, I would self-distribute Priceless on Amazon via Create Space and later Vimeo on Demand. While all this may sound heartbreaking, there was a bright side to the work. In the few years after Priceless was completed, I showed it around to fellow filmmakers at festivals who came back to me very impressed by the effort. That made me question what I could have done had I not given up so easily by the rejections.

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Like most of the films that I have made, Priceless was a life-changing learning experience. While it did not turn out to be the indie smash of the year, it opened many doors to support my later films and I made so many amazing friends out of the experience. It made me mentally stronger to face most challenges that come along in the process of filmmaking. I have had the itch for some time to revisit Lando and Diana in a sequel to see how they lives would have turned out a decade later. For now, all I can say is never say never.

Priceless is currently available to rent on Vimeo on Demand.

Indieactivity Interview with Filmmaker André Joseph

Just released today is my latest in-depth interview for the filmmaker community website, Indieactivity. We talked in great detail about my career upbringing, past successes, and my upcoming short film, THE SAXOPHONIST which makes its NYC premiere on Friday, May 4th. You can read the full article at this link.

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THE SAXOPHONIST Wraps Production

We just wrapped production on THE SAXOPHONIST last night! Thank you to NYFA for being our fiscal sponsor on this project. A huge thanks to every cast and crew member as well as all of our present supporters for making this film possible. And I want to give a special thank you to Beavin Lawrence who was truly a gifted professional and now a great friend. We will keep everyone updated on our post production efforts and a trailer in the coming weeks. If you can still support our post-production work and compensating our crew, visit the NYFA website link to make your donation now!

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Now Casting Remaining Roles & Extras for THE SAXOPHONIST

With production of THE SAXOPHONIST only a few short weeks away, we are now seeking to fill the remaining roles and extras in the NYC area for the following dates of August 19, 20, and 27. So if you are a NON-UNION actor who would be interested, these are the dates and people we’re looking for:

Saturday, August 19 – Ballet Scene
Location – Manhattan, NY
Shoot Times – 7am-6pm
Extras Needed: 12 people, preferably casual males and females age 30-65.

Sunday, August 20 – Jazz Performance

Scene
 Location – Manhattan, NY

Shoot Times – 7am-5pm
Remaining Role Needed:One actor or actress to play a server, preferably African-American.

Extras Needed: 10-12 people, males and females college age 21 to casual looking 50.

 

Sunday, August 27 – Cafe Scene
Location – Brooklyn, NY
Shoot Times – 10am-5pm.
Remaining Roles Needed: Beautiful Black or Hispanic Woman with a green dress in her 30s-40s, and a Preppy Male in his 40s.
Extras Needed: 10-12 people, casual looking couples in their 30s-50s.

Food will be provided on set and all actors will receive IMDB credit for their time. For additional details regarding the specific locations, times needed, wardrobe, etc., all inquiries can reach us at ajepyx1@gmail.com. Please submit a headshot/picture and resume.

And lastly, we still need donations to help support the production. If you want to donate directly now by credit card, visit the NYFA donation page link. For personal check donations, all you have to do here is visit the SUPPORT section of The Saxophonist website for more info. All donations are 100% fully tax deductible due to our fiscal support from the New York Foundation for the Arts.

Please Support Team Randy

I was saddened to hear today that our fellow Dishonorable Vendetta cast member Randy Cellan who played the role of “Oleg” is fighting the battle against Chronic Lyme Disease. According to his wife Tricia, he’s not in the best of health and spends his days in a motorized wheelchair. He receives Intravenous Antibiotics that his wife manages at home. They rent a wheelchair accessible van to travel to Connecticut twice weekly for Intravenous Infusions , which must be monitored by his doctor during treatment. The length of time for this treatment is uncertain.

I encourage everyone to please donate and support in any way possible via his GoFundMe page in hopes that he can make a full recovery. Randy was such an all around fun guy to work with on set and one of many actors I had the joy to work with. On behalf of the cast and crew from the film, Randy and his family are in our prayers.

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Mr. & Mrs. Albanese

This past weekend, my long time friend and partner in moviemaking Albert Albanese III finally tied the knot with his long time fiancee, Linda. I couldn’t be any more proud for him for all he’s been through over the years. For us, we started as far back as 14 years ago when the group of us Curtis High School kids attempted to make a backyard wrestling movie called Junkyard Warz. It was a mess, but so much fun to make and we all bonded making it.

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From there, Albert and I did our share of small scale films before we stepped up our game in 2007 when we produced Priceless together. Both of us had the experience of seeing a movie to completion, but never on a profession level with serious actors and crew. We both grew from that experience and used that knowledge towards the next film, Dishonorable Vendetta.

We have had a ton of adventures together. I wish nothing but the best for the long loving journey that Albert and Linda are about to embark.

AJ Epyx Q&A Video Episode 01

The first episode of a new series where writer/director/actor Andre´ Joseph of AJ Epyx Productions answers fan questions about his films, thoughts on the movie industry, and life as a moviemaker.

To find out more about Andre´ and his production company, visit ajepyxproductions.com

Facebook Page
https://www.facebook.com/AJ-Epyx-Productions-LLC-219688521405057/?fref=ts

You can find him on Twitter and Instagram @ajepyx

Andre´ Joseph to Appear on THE FILMMAKERS SHOW WITH JERRY PARISI

This coming Wednesday, July 29th at 7:00 PM, writer/director/actor Andre´ Joseph will be appearing on a special live airing of The Filmmakers Show with Jerry Parisi (Formerly The Long Island Filmmakers TV Show with Greg Pursino). They will be discussing the Indiegogo campaign for Andre’s next film VENDETTA GAMES, the upcoming World Music & Independent Film Festival screenings of TEMPTED and THE DINNER, his past successes, and the state of independent filmmaking.

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The episode with Andre´ will be the 2nd show of the night as 2 live shows will be aired during the 7:00pm hour. You can view the show on MadHouseTV.com and then follow the links to the TV Shows, then to The Filmmakers TV Show. If you miss the live show, it will also air on Cablevison Channel 20 in Long Island next month.