I recently got the chance to talk to director Casper Andreas about his new film, ‘Going Down In LA-LA Land’. Here, Casper talks about how the film’s production and what films have inspired him as a director…
Hey Casper. Thanks for taking the time out to talk to me. Of course we‘re here to talk to you about your new film ‘Going Down In LA-LA Land’.
You acted in, produced and directed the feature – how did the idea come about in the first place? I understand it’s based on a novel by Andy Zeffer?
I thought the novel lent itself well to a movie-adaptation. I had lived in LA about ten years ago pursuing acting and I think Andy did a great job capturing the world of being a struggling Hollywood actor in his novel. Then of course the novel went into areas that I was not personally familiar with – porn, prostitution, drug-use – and I thought it would be very interesting to explore how the descent into that world could happen. Not to mention the realization that such a sordid plot would make for an interesting movie!
How would you say the film is different from other comedies released this year? Would you say there’s an inherent truth with what the original novel was trying to say?
I don’t really think of it as a comedy actually. It does have a lot of comedic stuff but it’s often of the darker kind. I think of the film more as a dramedy – drama and comedy mixed together which I personally like a lot. Granted I think ‘Going Down In LA-LA Land’ is very special. I think it’s honest in its portrayal of Hollywood and the crazy fame-seeking culture we live in today. I think it’s a bit of a cautionary tale at the same time as it’s a really fun, sexy romp. I guess I’m trying to have it both ways and I believe it works – hopefully audiences will agree.
How has the reception been to the film so far?
So far the reception has been incredible! We only played it at festivals so far and festival audiences are always amazing, but this is my sixth feature film I travelled with to festivals and I don’t think I’ve ever gotten the kind of love and support that this film has generated for me before.
The film stars Matthew Ludwinski, Allison Lane, Michael Medico, John Schile, Jesse Archer and Bruce Vilanch – what was it like working with the cast and crew?
I had such a wonderful time working with all the actors in this film. Jesse and I go way back both as friends and collaborators, having made three films together – ‘Slutty Summer’, ‘A Four Letter Word’, and ‘Violet Tendencies’. Matthew and Allison both had small roles in previous films of mine and we all got very close during the making of this film. I now consider them great friends. The other actors, Michael, John, Bruce, Alec Mapa and all the others were also really great to work with. I had an amazing crew as well. My DP Tim Naylor – who also shot my last film ‘Violet Tendencies’ was great to work with again. The rest of the crew was new to me, since they were all LA-based and I’ve shot my previous films in NYC, and everyone was fantastic. This raving about everyone probably come across as insincere, but really, this was the smoothest and most enjoyable shot that I ever done and I have my wonderful cast and crew to thank for that.
Let’s talk a bit about you Casper. What made you want to get into the writing, acting and directing chair in the first place?
I guess I was always into storytelling. As a kid I was always making up stories in my head, on paper, with my Lego figures, my dolls, or in the sandbox. I always knew I wanted to write one day but then I feel in love with acting in my later teens and decided to pursuit a life on the stage. So I went to acting school in New York. After many years as a struggling actor I wrote my first screenplay and while doing that I realized I had to direct it and so I jumped into film directing, which really is the most creative job imaginable.
What advice would you give to people wanting to pursue a career in any of these?
Make sure you enjoy the process and are not in it just because of some lofty goal of being rich and famous. Then get to work. Work on your craft – take classes, read books on the subject, watch movies, read scripts. But don’t stop there. I know so many people who prepare to be an actor, or talk about writing, or dream about making a film. Anyone can make a film these days so if you are serious about it then just do it, and don’t waste time talking about doing it. Oh, and don’t listen to anyone who says you can’t. So many people don’t follow their own dreams and therefore don’t want anyone else to go after theres. Avoid those people.
What films have inspired you as an artist? Do you have any favorites?
There are so many films that have inspired me! I don’t even know where to begin. One specific example – the ending of ‘Between Love & Goodbye’ was inspired in different ways both by ‘Romeo Is Bleeding’ and ‘Atonement’. Though most of my films are romantic comedies, many of my favorite films are actually dramas – ‘The End Of An Affair’, ‘The Hours’, ‘The Talented Mr. Ripley’, ‘Monster’, ‘A Streetcar Named Desire’, ‘Who’s Afraid of Virginia Woolf’. But I like all types of films if they are done well – ‘The Matrix’, ‘The Others’, ‘Terms Of Endearment’, ‘Erin Brockovich’, ‘Michael Clayton’, ‘Titanic’ and ‘Serial Mom’.
If you could have a dinner with three guests – (living or dead), who would you choose and why?
Jesus, Einstein, and Madonna. Jesus because I would love to hear what he really had to say, Einstein cause I would love to pick his brain, and Madonna because that woman’s drive and willingness to put herself out there is such an inspiration.
What has been the most interesting piece of local / national news you’ve heard in the last month?
Hmm. I can’t think of anything that beats the death of Gaddafi.
What’s coming up for you in 2011/12?
In addition to taking ‘Going Down in LA-LA Land’ to festivals, I’m working on selling the other films I’ve made so far around the world. In 2012 I will be releasing ‘Going Down in LA-LA Land’ in theaters and later on VOD and DVD. I hope to direct another film soon – but I would like to be hired and just come in and direct it without dealing with the producing aspect. I’m attached to a couple of projects but neither has a start date since financing isn’t in place yet. I also hope to do some more acting in other people’s projects. Then there are a couple of scripts I’ve wanted to write for a while so I’m going to make some time to get back to writing soon.
Thanks for the interview!