Q: What made you decide to make the leap from writing to directing a movie, RULE OF THREE?
Filmmaking was actually my first love, before writing. All I did was make short movies when I was younger. Then after college, filmmaking seemed too overwhelming, so I went into writing. It took me a few years to get the itch back. So people who know me as a writer think this is new, and people who knew me when I was younger think everything's on schedule.
Q: How did the story for RULE OF THREE come about? You came up with the idea and your wife wrote the screenplay?
Yeah, we spent a really long time trying to come up with an idea that could be done in one location, so we could do it for very little money. Making one location active and interesting is really hard, so we kept throwing out ideas and drafts of other stories. One night it occurred to me that viewing one location in multiple timeframes would help to open it up, and since motel rooms always change occupants -- and since I love motels in general -- we went that way. I mapped out the story line; Rhoda wrote the screenplay and developed the characters.
Q: Your wife, Rhoda Jordan, is also one of the main characters. Was it weird directing her in some of those scenes?
Not really. Cary Woodworth, the actor that played her boyfriend, asked if there was any weirdness for me in terms of the scenes when they're in bed, but I never felt that way. Film sets are extremely artificial in almost every regard: there's trash all over the place, everybody's hot from the lights. You put so much effort into capturing authenticity -- especially in intimate scenes -- that when it comes, it's more of a relief than anything else.
Q: You have a very strong cast. How did you go about casting the other actors in the movie?
I appreciate you saying that. Our plan was to create a script and gather a cast that provided high value, because God knows we were limited in terms of production values. There are 10 actors; half of them we knew; the other half we looked for. We wanted heavyweights across the board. I didn't want anybody who was just good; the intent was to get the set burning. So we went through hundreds of headshots and reels; it was almost as intense as the writing process. I had a lot of fun with the three main character actors: Rodney Eastman, Lee Schall, and Ben Siegler. I didn't know any of them beforehand, and they're all so good that I felt honored to find them.
Q: Any Tiffany Shepis stories?
She's a master politician. We only had her for a day, and she didn't know anyone on the set except for Rhoda (from another movie), but by the time she left, we were all hugging her and sad to see her go. She's got that talent, in addition to being a kickass actress: she makes you want to be her best friend. Crazy charisma; she's like the Bill Clinton of scream queens.
Q: What was the most difficult aspect about the production?
Being in such close quarters was difficult. We had the room we shot in and the room next door for staging, and that was it. The DP, Eun-ah Lee, had less creative freedom than anyone else involved, because the actors were all encouraged to cut loose, and Rhoda had cut loose with the writing, but Eun-ah was constantly trying to calculate new ways to cover the same 200 feet of space. To her credit, there's not one repeated angle in the whole movie; the lens never got to the same place twice.
Q: What's happening with RULE OF THREE now?
We're speaking very seriously with a distributor for limited theatrical, DVD, and pay-per-view, and there's also a possibility of a TV airing. Nothing's set in stone; I'm dreading the holiday slowdown.
Q: Will you be making another movie?
I want to more than anything. Rhoda and I bought the option to a Jack Ketchum novel called "Right to Life," and Rhoda's drafting the adaptation as we speak. We also have three or four other ideas going. Filmmaking is so exciting and immersive; it takes over your whole being. There's no resisting it.