Every week, we're featuring interviews with the cast and crew of Rooks. This week's spotlight is on actors Devon Stanley and John Prud’homme.
When not making movies, Devon is an English teacher, so he’s always been passionate about storytelling. Says Devon, “Film, specifically, has always been one of my favorite mediums to tell stories in. Getting to create some of these stories, rather that just consume them, was an offer that I couldn't pass up.” In fairness, Devon’s role was one well suited to him for a number of reasons, including that he had teaching experience: “My character was the dad of the group, so getting into character was easy. All I had to do was channel my teaching persona.”
Devon and director Robert Maynard have been friends for years, and have often consulted with each other about various writing projects. This was Devon’s first opportunity to work with Robert on a film for more than a day or two, which was exciting to both of them.
John, as avid Accented Films fans will know, has also shared a close relationship with Robert, having acted in the lead role of Tom in 2020’s Crossing. He shared, “I knew acting in Rooks would be an enjoyable experience. Honestly, I felt like I could be myself in a way because [my character] Michael and I have a similar sense of humor and way of interacting with others.”
Both actors agreed that the set, though busy, was fun to be on, and thankfully so, because they were both there almost every shoot day! Devon recalled, “The cast and crew were great! I was already friends with a few of them and I made a lot of new friends along the way. We bonded through the stress of filming and I think that those bonds will last a very long time.”
Without revealing too much, they discussed their favorite moments from production. John says he enjoyed the moments where his character Michael uses his ability, “… because they involved a lot of special effects creativity.” John and special effects supervisor Ramon Antonio developed a friendship simply because of how often their paths crossed during production. Devon said his favorite moments from production were the action sequences. “I liked throwing [redacted], being thrown by [redacted], and punching open a [redacted].” Powerful stuff.
When not on set or at work, Devon is a gamer and enjoys working out, while John enjoys running and spending quality time with friends. He also occasionally brews beer, and his personal brand "Homme Brewing" appears briefly in Rooks.
Devon identifies Christopher Nolan as his favorite director, adding “I'm sure that his penchant for postmodern, non-linear storytelling greatly affected the script of our film.” Asked about his favorite film, he answered, “What a mean question… there are too many good ones. Maybe Inception? Scott Pilgrim vs. The World? Eighth Grade? I'm going to need a higher word cap to fully answer this question.”
John meanwhile says he has no favorite movie, “… but I do love the original Star Wars movies. Exciting story, remarkable cast, exceptional score.” He also says he has no favorite actor, “but I like Tom Hanks.”
See Devon as Alex and John as Michael in Rooks, premiering at The Strand in Dover, NH, on December 17. On Amazon Instant Video December 23.
Want a printed copy of one of these posters? You can pre-order and pick up at Premiere Night!
Every week, we're featuring interviews with the cast and crew of Rooks. This week's spotlight is on Costume Designer Elizabeth Feinschreiber and Special Effects Supervisor Ramon Antonio.
Ramon met director Robert Maynard by total coincidence one night while shopping at Staples in Londonderry. Robert worked there at the time, and he and Ramon started chatting about their shared interest in films and filmmaking. About 45 minutes passed, and the conversation had only gotten livelier. They exchanged numbers and connected during pre-production, when Ramon stepped up to be the film’s special effects supervisor. It was his job to make impossible things… possible. And in a science fiction film, this was undoubtedly a challenge.
Liz's onboarding experience was rather different. Replacing another crew member, she hit the ground running and barely had time to meet with Robert before getting to work on the costume design of the film. Liz loved production, though… a friend of stars Justin Gatcomb and Eleanor Langthorne prior to the film, she slipped right into the crew seamlessly.
Liz and Ramon both play characters in the film as well. Ramon discussed his process to bring his character Dennis Albright to life: “I’ve always kind of liked the idea of being able to step into the life of a completely different person and pretend to be them so well that other people believe it. I feel like it really gets me closer to realizing who I am, as well. I decided that, as Dennis, I would try to be an older and softer version of myself.”
Ramon’s favorite experiences from set are the ones he designed with special effects, though. There’s a sequence early in the film where a character punches a keypad, “and the whole thing got destroyed, and we got the whole thing in one shot. It was great!”
As always, we asked their favorite movies. Ramon said, “Depends the mood I’m in, but I must have seen Monty Python and the Holy Grail maybe 30 times?” Liz's favorite is Tick, Tick… Boom!
And their favorite filmmakers? Ramon said, “Leonardo DiCaprio has consistently impressed me,” while Liz offered: “Andrew Garfield and Sadie Sink are two of my favorite actors currently. Their vulnerability, honesty, and truthfulness to the actions and desires of their characters is a constant inspiration.”
Though neither has any upcoming film projects to share, we thought we’d plug their other endeavors. Ramon runs and owns Ion Electrical, LLC, an electrical company, with his brother-in-law, and you can follow Liz’s acting career at her website!
See Liz’s and Ramon’s work in Rooks, premiering at The Strand in Dover, NH, on December 17. On Amazon Instant Video December 23.
Every week, we're featuring interviews with the cast and crew of Rooks. This week's spotlight is on actresses Jamie Ammon and Michela Lamparelli.
About two years ago, Jamie was having dinner with her friend John Prud’homme, who played the lead role of Tom in Crossing. John mentioned that the team from Crossing was gearing up for pre-production on a new film, and asked Jamie, an experienced stage actor, if she might be interested in joining the cast. A few months later, Jamie met with director Robert Maynard, and explained that she’d never acted on film before. Robert was unfazed, having already determined a great role for Jamie to play in Nichole. Cut to a year and a half later, and here we are!
For Michela, things worked out a bit differently. The first crew meeting and table read was held at the apartment she shares with actor Devon Stanley. The actress then intended to play Edi wasn’t able to make it to the table read, so Michela was called upon to read for that role just for the day. She ended up really enjoying the story and auditioned for Edi less than a week later.
Both actresses had their work cut out for them in developing their characters. Says Jamie, “Nichole was never much of a reach for me - dry, sarcastic, blunt… It closely aligned to my IRL personality whenever I am around Robert (we kid because we love). To me, what mattered most was not who she was or what she said - that was all laid out in advance. What I needed to build was her relationship with other characters. Spending time with the other actors and seeing their takes on their own characters was how I filled Nichole out as a character.” Michela took a more straightforward approach to Edi: “I tried to made her into a more traumatized, more maladjusted version of myself. Everyone on set was so much fun, it was hard to stay focused on actually making the movie, and hard to keep Edi’s demeanor up in scenes with them!”
The character Nichole keeps many people at arm’s length, and Edi is often quiet, shy, and reserved. The two characters feature together quite often and play off each other well. They’re perhaps the two characters least interested in everything going on in the film, they’re just along for the ride. That was a fascinating aspect of developing them for Jamie and Michela.
They echo so many of their co-stars in their discussions about the levity of being on set. As Jamie recalls, “We had to face all sorts of challenges (freezing weather, long hours, last-minute rescheduling, late nights, and more) to get the shots we needed. When everything else goes wrong, it's important that the people are right. I was so glad I got to know this group and become such good friends with so many, and I felt doubly lucky knowing how much tougher those long days of filming would be without such a stellar cast and crew.”
Asked about their favorite moments from set, Michela said she’s most looking forward to seeing the scene shot on the frozen lake, and seeing Chef, an adorable duck-shaped decoration that appears about a minute into the film. Jamie said her favorite moment was “wrapping on a particularly charged scene, but... spoilers! So second place goes to when Justin Gatcomb (who plays the protagonist Will) and I decided it would be a good idea to taste test the fake blood. It was awful.”
We pressed her about her actual favorite moment, and she had this to say: “Spoilers! C'mon! Really though, I’m excited to see if the connection I had with one particular character looks as real onscreen as it felt to film. Those two characters deserve to have their story told, and I hope we did it justice.”
As always, we asked their favorite films: Jamie’s is The Princess Bride and Michela’s is The Batman.
See Jamie as Nichole and Michela as Edi in Rooks, premiering at The Strand in Dover, NH, on December 17. On Amazon Instant Video December 23.
Want a printed copy of one of these posters? You can pre-order and pick up at Premiere Night!
Every week, we're featuring interviews with the cast and crew of Rooks. This week's spotlight is on Third Assistant Director and Location Manager Rachelle McKeown, and Stunt Coordinator Mike O’Brien.
An avid reader and writer, Rachelle knew she wanted to be involved with Rooks in some way after she read the script. She’s not into superhero content, but “there was more of a fantasy element to this story that I liked.”
Rachelle stepped into two roles on the crew. As location manager, she identified and secured permission to film at most of the locations you see in the film. As third assistant director, she coordinated the extras you see on camera. Both were new territory for her, but she says she particularly enjoyed hunting down locations. “Poor Boys Diner was my favorite find because the family who owns the business was so nice and willing to work with us!”
Rachelle cameos in the film, and she actually needed to rehearse a stunt as part of her performance. Not that she minded… she loves working out and cooking healthy when she’s not at work or on set! And who better to assist with prepping for a stunt than Mike?
When asked if he wanted to help out with the film by both director Robert Maynard and lead Justin Gatcomb, it seemed too exciting to Mike to pass up the opportunity. It just so happened the role they needed him in was one Mike is incredible well suited for! Mike coordinated the stunts of the film, alongside Justin, and had his work cut out for him with a cast of actors and performers ranging from expert fighter to completely inexperienced. For example, Justin, Mike himself, and Kaleal Cerafici all have experiencing with boxing, jiu jitsu, and other martial art forms. Devon Stanley has training in gymnastics. Almost everyone else was green to stunt work. Mike wasn’t fazed by the challenge, though: “Honestly, it was an absolute blast!”
Mike points to one particular stunt performed by Ramon Antonio as among his favorites: “He learned it just moments before filming and just performed it without hesitation! I have to say, too, filming on the mats at Nostos MMA, my home gym, was a really cool moment!” However, he’s most excited to see the film’s biggest stunt sequence at Premiere Night. “That was a joint labor of love for the whole stunt team, and I can’t wait to see how it came out!”
Rachelle, meanwhile, is excited to see everything get pieced together. And that takes on a slightly different meaning for her, as her biggest challenge as location manager was ensuring filming locations felt like they belonged to our fictional city of Passant, organically connected but distinct. She and director Robert Maynard designed Passant to have four districts, and used four extremely different New Hampshire cities for the shoot. Portsmouth stood in for Passant's quieter residential neighborhood, featuring some parks and a beautiful view of the river than runs alongside the city. Manchester acts as the city's run-down, poorer neighborhood Varia Bay. Durham was used to film the city's financial district with sleek, modern buildings. Finally, private land in Sutton was used for a more heavily wooded residential area, making scenes set there feel isolated but still connected to the rest of Passant.
Favorite movies: Mike’s is Unforgiven and Rachelle’s is Forrest Gump.
When asked about their favorite filmmakers, both offered up individuals known for their equal abilities as actors and directors. Says Mike, “Clint Eastwood certainly kills it in both roles as actor and director.” Rachelle’s answer echoed that: “Jason Bateman wears both hats and has an amazing range as an actor.”
Rachelle published a book two years ago: Broken Hearts, Open Minds. It’s available on Amazon now! You can find Mike often at Nostos MMA, 38 Market St, Somersworth, NH, and he asks you to consider this interview your open invitation to stop by and train with him!
See Rachelle's and Mike’s work in Rooks, premiering at The Strand in Dover, NH, on December 17. On Amazon Instant Video December 23