I recently got the chance to talk to Justin G. Brutico about his role in ‘Episode 50’. Here, Justin talks about how he got involved in the project and what it was like filming with the cast and crew in an abandoned hospital…
Hey Justin. Thanks for taking the time out to talk to me. Of course we‘re here to talk to you about your new film ‘Episode 50‘.
Oh yeah, Absolutely! When we first spoke, I wasn’t sure if you were addressing the right Mr. Brutico. Never has anyone called me that, but damn does it sound good! Thank you again, so much for the thinkin’ of me. I would be honoured to answer a few questions.
What’s the general plotline surrounding the film?
Basically, ‘Episode 50’ focuses on two television crews of paranormal experts: one team of skeptics, from a TV show called ‘Paranormal Inspectors’, who are looking to de-bunk myths about ghosts. And another group, the Academia Spirit Searchers Club, consisting of believers who are looking to prove demon existence. They’re effectively set up against each other, for the first time on a special episode, set in America’s most haunted W.V. State Lunatic Asylum. The crews get more than they bargained for when they actually make contact with a spirit of tremendous power and must ban together to stop it before it destroys them all.
How did you get involved in the project in the first place?
Well, I had to audition like everybody else. However, when I originally replied to the casting, I think I submitted myself for Dylan. I really didn’t know much else about the film or anything. But when I went in and read, they said I wasn’t very ‘Dylan like’. So they asked, “Do you have some time, there’s something else we would like you to read”. I said “Absolutely”. And so they handed me the sides for Richie, right there on the spot. Like any audition, I thought it went as well as any other cold read could go. However, a few days later they called me to come back in and read with a few other people. This time, I was fully prepared and thank god, it paid off. That weekend, I got the final call while in my friend’s car, about to miss my bus to come back into the city. He was yelling, “Don’t worry, we’ll make it!” and I’m screaming “I got the part!”
Tell us a bit about the character you play in the movie…
Richie is a UCLA student, who answers a post for a video and sound tech guy in his school paper. The Academia Spirit Searchers Club members were looking for someone who can come along on excursions, help set up equipment and document their encounters. Not a big deal at all, until he had to review the footage. He never really believed in all the ghost and demon stuff, but quickly got roped into it when he joined Dylan’s more religious team. Now, more than ever, he’s starting to get the whole perspective. But he’s still a little naive to it all.
How would you say this film is different and unique?
The whole story and the concept behind it was the first thing that really drew me in. I mean, I don’t want to give anything away here. Well, let’s just say, the idea was brilliant. If only the film industry worked so properly, perhaps it would have come all together better. What I found unique is, we shot most of it in this huge hospital that was recently shut down. Parts of it dated back to like, super old hospital times and other parts were almost brand new. The place was left exactly how it would have looked, if one day everyone just put down what they were doing and left! It was really weird! Operating rooms still all set up, Executive offices with desks full of supplies. The cafeteria kitchen looked like someone had just finished cooking for hundreds. We found files dating back to 1919. That alone got us all pretty set in the mood to shoot a paranormal film.
The film stars Josh Folan, Chris Perry, Natalie Wetta, Eleanor Wilson and your good self – with Joe and Tess Smalley onboard as directors – what was it like working with the cast and crew on-set?
Oh man, was it awesome! Joe and Tess are hysterical, one would say this and the other would say that. Ian Holt, the writer/producer, would be wondering around set. Making sure things were the way they should be, you know. But our cinematographer, Oliver Cary, was the man who put it all together on film. Now he’s really amazing! For the first week or so, I pretty much only worked with Eleanor Wilson and Keithen Hergott, who are both phenomenal actors. I felt so honored to be working next to them. I would find myself just watching them play off each other, it was really cool. The other crew, I didn’t get to know as much. Except for Natalie Wetta, I helped her out with her hair a few times. She’s great!
Let’s talk a bit about you Justin. What made you want to get into acting in the first place?
I always wanted to act. I would tell everyone, “Someday, I’m going to be an actor!” Growing up, I would put on shows and make movies. My parents got me into acting classes and musical theatre camps. I would make a film for every school project. My world revolved around this industry and growing up, I would do anything to get involved. So after I graduated, I moved to New York to pursue acting for film. Within a few years, I booked some solid work. And now, here I am.
What advice would you give to anyone wanting to get into the industry?
Always be prepared, for anything! Just the other day, I was on set for this ‘Animal Planet’ series. I showed up thinking I was playing this one role, all prepared and ready to shoot. However, just after arriving, the producers decided to switch me and the other guys characters. I had no clue what I was doing, but I just listened to what the director said and focused on the emotion at hand!. Which brings me to the second tip, never underestimate yourself! You can pretty much do anything you put your heart into. But also to be honest, this industry is really just a big game of chance. One day, you may be shooting a little no name film and the next, be shooting a commercial. Who’s to say which is more important or what’s going to get you noticed. As long as you do your best on every project, you’ll always look back on it and be proud. You just have to trust in yourself, and never give up on your hopes and dreams.
What is currently on your I-Pod right now?
Seriously? I have so much music on there; I couldn’t begin to tell you. I’ve been really into the Cold War Kids, Mirah & Thao and Foster The People. But I’ve got all sorts of tunes like The Rolling Stones and Booker T And The MG’s. The other day I found the soundtrack to ‘Beauty And The Beast’ on there.
If you could have a dinner with three historical guests, living or dead – who would you choose and why?
Now this one took me few days to think about. As you can see from above, I love music. So the first person I thought of was Frank Sinatra, Obviously. I can always get down with a little Frank, and to sit and feast with him would really blow my socks off! Second person I would have to invite would be Abe Lincoln, just to see if he’s really that honest. And last, but certainly not least, Ellen DeGeneres. Now she’s an amazing person, not to mention flippin’ hysterical! I find her so inspirational and all the things she supports are fantastic. Oh yeah, that would be an awesome supper, with carrot cake for dessert.
What has been the most interesting piece of local / national news you’ve heard in the last month?
Living in New York, I hear tons of news and information. The most recent thing taking over the city is the Occupy Wall Street movement. It’s not very often that I get into politics and I hardly ever watch the news; it’s just too depressing. But this past weekend, I spent some time down in Washington Square Park where there were a lot of protesters and things going on…it really opened my eyes to the economical and political problems in our world. I used to think it was just the U.S. and our forever growing money issues. But now I realize there are government flaws all over the world, including global warming. And we have to recognize that now more than ever, in the hopes to fix it before it’s too late. After witnessing the Wall Street rally first hand, I’ve felt the need to get more involved and help the world set its economy straight.
What’s coming up for you in 2011/12?
Oh, who knows! I did some work on this short film called ‘The Plan’ this spring, which should be making its festival debut soon. And also this awesome web series pilot I am so excited about entitled ‘Around My Neck’. That was a ton of fun to shoot, I can’t wait to see it. The producer said he hopes to have it up within a few months. Also, the ‘Animal Planet’ show I had talked about earlier. We just shot it last week, so that will most likely air early next year. As for me, I’m hoping to have a relaxing winter, catch up on some skiing. And start the New Year with a fresh slate, book a solid gig and get back up on the big screen as soon as possible.
Thanks for the interview!