Samera Entertainment and Chloe's Chronicles talk to Director, Producer, and Actor Brian Metcalf about his new film Adverse, the push to continually challenge the entertainment mold creatively, and what the future holds for him and his professional endeavors.
Chloe: Hi Brian! It is such a pleasure to get a chance to talk with you. As someone who has been working in the entertainment industry for the last 17 plus years, not only as a director but also a producer, actor, and visual effects editor can you tell our audience a little bit about your journey? Also, if there was a catalyst moment that made you want to take this creative path, and if so what it was?
Brian: Thank you. It is a pleasure to speak with you as well. I guess my journey started as a child. I always enjoyed watching films growing up and knew I wanted to somehow make my own movies. But I didn’t know where to start and it seemed extremely unrealistic to me at the time. I went to an art school in New Jersey. Then after that I moved to Los Angeles and became a digital artist, working in visual effects, animation, design. But I still had the dream of making movies. Eventually I became a creative director and finally got to direct commercials, music videos and my first short which led to my first feature. I suppose the catalyst for me was when I finally got the opportunity to direct my first feature which would require me leaving my steady full-time job. The timing was right and I went for it.
Chloe: You as a creator have explored many film genres from Crime, Thriller, Horror, Drama, and even Comedy. What do you think is next for you creatively? And on that note, what would you say each different genre experience has taught you as a filmmaker, writer, and performer?
Brian: I have multiple projects of various genres being worked on in both TV and film. I guess it depends which one hits first. Each genre has taught me a different way to learn as an artist overall. You have to imagine the world differently for your characters. For example, Los Angeles is dark and gritty for Adverse since it’s a thriller/drama. But for a comedy I’m working on, it’s more of the sunny side with beaches.
Chloe: Brian, your new film Adverse was theatrically released on February 12, 2021, in the United States after being picked up by Lionsgate’s Grindstone Entertainment can you walk us through the inspiration for the story conception of Adverse and what scene as a writer and director you were most excited to see come to script to screen?
Brian: The initial concept came about from a real life experience where an ex-girlfriend ended up hanging around the wrong crowd who were drug addicts. She herself became one and started getting herself in trouble with the law. But that was the basis for this film. My favorite scene to film was the scene in the diner where Mickey Rourke’s character is speaking with Thomas Nicholas’s about his hopes and dreams he once had.
Chloe: Along the same lines, what presented itself to be the biggest challenge when it came to the filming process and consequently bring the world and story of Adverse to fruition?
Brian: There were many challenges to this. The biggest was that this film had so many locations. We shot at over 47 locations in 22 days. We would sometimes have to move sets three times in a single day. And we had a scheduling nightmare with getting all the cast together.
Chloe: Adverse not only serves as the ultimate Los Angeles Crime Thriller but it also has a very dynamic and strong cast including Thomas Ian Nicholas, Mickey Rourke. Penelope Ann Miller, Sean Astin, and Lou Diamond Philips just to name a few. How was it to work and direct this group of actors, and what do you think each of them brought to the table character-wise and for the overall story?
Brian: Working with this group of actors was an amazing opportunity for me and something I really enjoyed. First off, it was intimidating having grown up watching these actors as a child so for me it was mind-blowing to be getting to work with them now. They lent their experience and knowledge from all their years being on set along with their own sensibilities, range of trademark personalities to the characters in ways I hadn’t thought of.
Chloe: Brian, this is the second film you’ve done with Actor/Producer Thomas Ian Nicholas who also starred in your 2018 Thriller Horror Comedy Living Among Us what inspired the two of you to work together again, and how was it as a fellow performer and artist to see him transform from a Comedic Horror role of ‘Mike’ to the serious role of ‘Ethan’ we see in Adverse?
Brian: Thomas and I agreed that when doing a film together, he would never play the same role twice as that would become boring. It was a fantastic experience to watch him transform into the role of Ethan. A lot of hours of work and dedication were put in to make that character happen.
Chloe: This is also the second project you have connected with Samera Entertainment on to be acquired by Vision Films , the first being Living Among Us and now Adverse, what has that experience been for you from both a production and creative standpoint?
Brian: It has been a great pleasure to be working both with Samera and Vision . Samera had made the introductions for us and also has been helping with publicity. Vision acquired my film Living Among Us along with Sony Pictures. For Adverse, Vision is acting as a sales agent to international territories for us. Lise Romanoff of Vision films is very experienced and knows the buyers well. As we are all creatives, there are times where we argue about creative things but we always end up coming together and working well and I have learned a lot from her. I’m very happy to be connected with both companies.
Chloe: Can you talk to us a little bit about the inspiration for making your 2018 film Living Among Us starring Esmé Bianco, Thomas Ian Nicholas, Jordan Danger, Keegan Allen, James Russo, and Jessica Morris? It looks like the mock-documentary style was a blast to shoot, how did you develop the style and the Supernatural vision and feel you were setting out to create?
Brian: For Living Among Us, I was asked to do a found footage-style film. I wanted to try something that wasn’t ghosts as they seemed the most popular subject of the found footage films at the time. But I thought of going more of a French New Wave style. I didn’t want unknown actors as everyone knows it’s all fake anyways. So I wanted to bring in recognizable faces. I also didn’t want jerky handheld footage that I’ve seen before where I start to feel sick from watching. Lastly, I thought I would have a little fun and add some dark humor to this instead of taking it so seriously.
Chloe: What part of filming that movie proved to be the biggest obstacle or challenge for you creatively and from a behind-the-scenes point of view?
Brian: Creatively, you are trying to tell a story from ‘found footage’ so you have to make sure that you can explain to the audience what is happening but find a way to film everything necessary. You have to explain there are hidden cameras about to show things. And also you still have to tell the story that the audience can understand.
Chloe: Moving back now to the release of your new film Adverse , I was curious as I’m sure our audience is to how you landed on the title Adverse . The movie deals with the effects of drugs, with the main character (Ethan) having to save his sister (Mia) from a dangerous, power-thirsty drug dealer in the heart of dark and gritty Los Angeles. The word adverse is defined by Merriam Webster Dictionary as, “hostile, causing harm, and opposed to one’s interest.” Was this title choice made deliberately to make a social commentary on the Los Angeles Drug Epidemic or what was the thought process behind it?
Brian: This title has multiple meanings to it. The drug epidemic is absolutely one of those bigger meanings. Another meaning has to do with the hostility of the characters as they cause harm to others and themselves.
Chloe: Brian, besides being a Director, Writer, Producer, and Visual Effects Editor you are an actor as well, what would say has been the biggest lesson you’ve learned through your experience both in front and behind the camera, and how does it differ and what about it is similar?
Brian: I learn new experiences every day with each new thing I do. But doing the work both behind and in front of the camera makes me a more rounded filmmaker. I always recommend you try to learn about every department you can in this business so you keep improving. When I first started, I was terrible at directing actors. I didn’t know how to properly speak to them. By taking acting classes and “walking in their shoes” I got a better understanding of how things would work in this business. And my ultimate goal is to know everything in front of and behind the camera to be a better-skilled filmmaker.
Chloe: Over the years, with all of the amazing actors and producers you have worked with have received any piece of advice that you have carried with you or applied throughout your work?
Brian: I have learned so many things from so many experienced and talented professionals that I have worked with and from those I haven’t as well. Christopher Nolan explained to me that you have to just go for it and not be afraid to express your vision, regardless of what people will think. Many great actors have explained to me that to be a real actor you have to learn not to act but just be doing. If you act, it will show up and the audience will realize it’s not natural. But I always say to be aware of what your cast and crew are doing and learn from their skills.
Chloe: For example, you had the honor of being selected for the Sundance Film Festival scholarship for the TV Writing Co//ab class. What was that experience like learning and creating with fellow artists? What would be your best advice for up-and-coming filmmakers, writers, and actors hoping to follow a similar path?
Brian: Thank you. It was a great experience. I’m doing another Sundance Co//ab soon as well. You get to hear other artists’ methods as to how they come up with something and how they rewrite scripts. Learning a process is very important. Making a script is a complete science that has to be studied and mastered. My best advice for anyone is to research and learn from your peers and those you admire. If you want to be a writer, you have to do a lot of reading. Read scripts you love, read tv pilots, read books. Watching a lot of films and tv is also very important. You start to realize over time what works and doesn’t work. How certain shots create a specific emotion and more.
Chloe: You are also an avid member of the film festival community, who does screenings and Q&As for your new releases, how important is it for you to support and represent the Indie Film Community, especially given your own career beginning and flourishing within the festival
Brian: The indie film community is extremely important. It is there that you can learn how audiences are reacting to your film. After being in some festivals, I had changed certain things on Adverse after not getting a certain emotion I wanted. Festivals are great to get recognition, to network with, and to learn from others while watching their films. I consider them to be school in a way.
Chloe: Brian, how was it working with Mickey Rourke in Adverse , what was that experience like, and any memorable scenes or stories from the movie or the set?
Brian: Working with Mickey Rourke was fantastic. I had grown up watching his films as a child and was very excited to get this opportunity. We had a very collaborative relationship in all areas. We were both able to listen to each other very well and to understand each other’s reasons for the choices we made. I remember him explaining how his brother Joe had died of cancer and the specific ways in which he acted. Because of that, we incorporated those real-life experiences into his character. He would mumble his speech to be similar to how his brother did while on his last days. And people visiting the set would ask if he’s okay because they believed his performance to be real.
Chloe: It has been announced by Variety that you and Mickey Rourke will be teaming up again on another Crime Thriller titled, Twilight into Darkness . Is there anything you are allowed to speak on regarding that or tease our Samera audience?
Brian: Nothing on that as of now.
Chloe: Finally Brian, what is next for you creatively this coming year, and where can our audiences keep up with you and your work?
Brian: This year I have several projects in the works. I am working with a number of different companies on film and tv projects and I am waiting to see which hits first. Announcements will be made at some point when things get further along but I am expanding into comedy, art-house and drama more as well as thrillers and crime dramas.
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