I recently got the chance to talk to Damon Lipari about his role in ‘Shark Night 3D’. Here, Damon talks about what it was like working with Christine Quinn on the opening scene of the film and how he got into acting in the first place…
Hey Damon. Thanks for taking the time out to talk to me about your new film ‘Shark Night 3D‘.
My pleasure Matt.
What’s the general plotline surrounding the film?
A group of kids take a break from school and make a trip up to a lake house in South Louisiana. They stop to pick up some essentials at a local gas station where Sara (Sara Paxton), the lead character, runs into an ex-boyfriend. From there you start to learn more about her past and what that has to do with sharks making their way into Louisiana waters.
Tell us a bit about the character you play in the movie…
I play a guy named Keith who set up camp on the lake front with his girlfriend Jess. They’re fooling around and about to get busy…but Keith decides he wants to get something to eat first. As he makes his way back to the Winnebago, Jess hangs back for more swimming. She’s about to find out that this lake is now infested with sharks, and she has a pretty good view because they’re in 3D. Keith comes back to a cool breeze and calm waters, but no Jess. As he makes his way into the lake to look for her, he spots her bloody bra. Now worried he dives deeper into the lake frantically searching for her. Keith now see’s how cool sharks look in 3D! They actually cut out the part where I come looking for her in the theatre release. But people deserve to know what happen to Keith.
How did you get involved in the project in the first place?
My agent gave me the audition from the local casting director Ryan Glorioso. He requested me to read for the Dennis role – (who was the lead bad guy). I jumped at the opportunity because I felt the character had depth, mystery, and a hidden past. I love those characters because you have so much to work with. You can really make those characters your own. Needless to say I didn’t get the role. But I guess the director David Ellis saw something he liked in the audition and brought me in for the role of Keith.
Obviously, we should mention that this film is in 3D – what are your thoughts on production companies using this sort of technology? How would you say 3D benefits this movie?
The first movie I thought was well done in 3D was ‘Avatar’. I think when you shoot the movie in 3D as opposed to converting it to 3D in post is crucial. Using the depth in its natural state while filming gives you a more realistic feel. The problem with converting it is it’s very tedious and can very easily be overdone. I think the goal is to be very subtle with it, and I think that’s what we achieved with ‘Shark Night 3D’.
The film stars Sara Paxton, Dustin Milligan, Chris Carmack, Katharine McPhee, Chris Zylka and Alyssa Diaz – with David R. Ellis onboard as director – what was it like working with the cast and crew on-set?
To be honest, my character was only in the opening scene of the movie. I only worked with Christine Quinn - who played my girlfriend in the scene. Loved working with her. Really good actress, very pretty and down to earth. We filmed in a lake as a cold front hit. It was early in the morning and it was obviously freezing. They tormented her more than me, poor thing. They tied ropes around her and pulled from different angles to reflect the natural motion of a shark attacking. We got it done and I think it turned out really well. From there we were able to film in a controlled wave pool. The crew did an exceptional job. Very professional. We had mechanical sharks, cranes, shark models, flying cameras, you name it. I’m a big fan of director David Ellis. He created a family like atmosphere. It felt like more play than work. Very nice talented guy. His wife was such the compliment of him. She’s a peach.
Let’s talk a bit about you Damon. What made you want to get into acting in the first place?
When I was around 9, I was at the Lake Cinema theater in Morgan City, Louisiana. I was watching a movie that I just responded to. The way the actors and movie made me feel was empowering. I wanted to make people feel that way. That’s when I got the bug. Of course my first love was basketball so acting had to be pushed back for a few years. Once Michael Jordan retired I decided to hang up my shoes as well. After graduating from LSU, where I met my amazing wife YaYa, we packed up the Nissan we named “Maxine” and drove out west.
What advice would you give to anyone wanting to get into the industry?
The best advice I received from a working actor was you have to give it 10 years. If you’re willing to invest that much time in it you’ll be good to go. It’s one of those industries that decides when it’s your time. Some people get their break as soon as they step into Hollywood, but for most people it takes time. And when you book something and are riding high on Cloud 9, you’ll get kicked right off the cloud and have to go back to waiting tables. Rejection becomes your best friend. Once you learn to handle that part of the business, and you learn that there’s no easy way in, you’re on the right path. Then it becomes about just getting better and taking advantage of the opportunities that present themselves. I also learned that people will see how hard you’re working and how dedicated you are. Don’t beg for work, it will find you eventually.
You’ve been in a number of different TV series’ and projects – who has been your favourite actor/actress to work with and who has given you the best piece of advice?
I really enjoyed working with Lucy Lawless. She was super fun. But I would have to say my favourite was Bruce Boxleitner who I worked on ‘Area 51′ with. You can tell he really LOVES what he does. He was a kid in a candy store on set. I picked his brain a lot as well. He gave me some really good tidbits of advice, such as how he prepared for roles and how he got to where he is. He has a lot of respect for directors and writers.
If you could have a dinner with three historical guests, living or dead – who would they be and why?
- Michael Jordan hands down. Best basketball player ever. If you Wikipedia the word basketball, Michael Jordan’s picture is front and center. Such an icon.
- The Coen Brothers. Anything they do is stellar stuff. They just know how to tell stories and make their characters come to life. I would love to be a part of their team.
- Will Smith. Too much love for this guy to express.
What is currently on your I-Pod right now?
A group called The Bird & The Bee. Also, Tom Petty’s greatest hits and Usher. A mix of what I listened to this morning.
What the most interesting/funny piece of news you’ve heard in the last month or so?
The world is going to end next year. That’s just ridiculous.
What’s coming up for you in 2011/12?
I have a movie coming out called ‘Thriftstore Cowboy’. I’m looking forward to this one. We shot it out in Arizona. Great cast and crew..was a ton of fun. I have a small role in ‘Shadow People’ which is about mysterious beings known as The Shadow People. And I just finished up a TNT movie called ‘Hide’. I worked with some really good people on this and really look forward to watching it. Loved the script and I got to work with Stephanie Germain (exec producer) who I worked with before on ‘A Perfect Day’.
Thanks for the interview!