Multi-award winning writer/director Casper Andreas will release his sixth feature film Going Down in LA-LA Land on DVD and Blu-ray on July 3rd 2012. Based on the novel by Andy Zeffer, the film is a candid, sexy, and outrageously funny look at what and actor can ? and will do ? to survive in Hollywood. This dark comedy takes a riveting and uncensored look at our celebrity-obsessed culture and some people?s need to be loved, adored, and adulated at any cost! Casper wrote, directed, and produced the film, in addition he stars as “Nick”.
Originally from Sweden, Casper lived in Chicago and Paris before settling in New York City to study acting and directing. He made his feature film debut with the romantic comedy Slutty Summer (2004). Since then, he has directed numerous, award?winning films, including A Four Letter World (2007), Between Love and Goodbye (2008), The Big Gay Musical (2009), and Violet Tendencies (2010), and has worked with such talent as Mindy Cohn, Alec Mapa, Bruce Vilanch, and some of the hottest up?and?coming actors in the business. In 2008, he was selected as one of the 100 most influential and newsworthy GLBT people by Out Magazine.
In this exclusive interview Casper Andreas talks about his career and the process of producing, witting and directing Going Down in LA-LA Land. He also discusses the character he plays in the film as well as what it’s like to work with an impressive cast.
What inspired you to make ?Going Down in LA-LA Land??
I moved to LA in the late 90s to break into acting and I lived the life of a struggling actor in LA for almost 3 years.??When I read Andy?s book, Going Down in LA-LA Land, I totally related to Adam?s struggle trying to make it in Hollywood and, like him, I had a sassy female roommate who looked for a rich man to ?invest? in her career. So, reading the book, I thought that it was a great story for a film and that the hilarious, sometimes heartbreaking situations Adam and Candy find themselves in would make a great movie plot. So I decided to turn the novel into a film.
Tell us about the process of adapting Andy Zeffer?s book into a script and shooting the film?
I took some liberties with the novel as it was important to also make the story personal for me. But many scenes are directly taken from the book ? dialogue and all. Of course, I had to cut a lot of things out the novel, since one couldn?t fit it all into a film, but overall I think I still stayed very true to the essence of it. One thing that was very important to me was to not lose the audience as Adam?s life starts to descend into the seedier side of Hollywood. I worked on making this happen gradually, and hopefully the audience will understand why he ends up doing the things he does.
The shooting of the film took place in 19 days over four weeks. We shot on location in LA on a tight budget. I had amazing actors and an amazing crew but shooting in LA on a budget is not for the faint of heart. It?s not a film-friendly town for indie films ? permits, parking, etc. costs a lot of money. Coming from having made five films in NY, where those things are free, was very difficult ? but it is such a LA story, so I had no choice. The film had to be shot there.
The movie has been well-received on the gay film festival circuit. What has the audience reaction been so far?
The film has won more festival audience awards than any of my previous films so I think audiences really do fall in love with Adam and Candy and root for them in the end. It?s been very satisfying to go to festivals and watch the film with audiences and hear their reactions. There is a scene at the very end of the film that several times has gotten spontaneous applause and that always makes me so happy. We certainly played up the film?s sex appeal with the provocative cover art but, although the film partly deals with Adam?s descent into porn and prostitution, it also has a lot of romance, comedy, and heart; in the end, I think that is what people are responding to.
Going Down in LA-LA Land will be released on DVD on July 3; what can you tell us about the extras included in the DVD?
We went all out with the extras! There is a behind-the-scenes featurette, deleted scenes, some hilarious outtakes (two words: Bruce Vilanch!), a music video, trailers for my other films, optional subtitles in English, Spanish, French, and Swedish (!) and a really fun commentary with me and my two stars, Matthew Ludwinski and Allison Lane. I haven?t listened to it, but we had so much fun recording it that we were kind of upset when the film reached its end.
Why did you choose to make this film with?Matthew Ludwinski?
Casting Adam was a long process. I had to find the perfect actor for the role. Not only did the role call for him to be very good looking, he really had to be able to act and show a wide range of emotions; he had to be dedicated too, since Adam is in every scene of the film. And he had to have a vulnerability about him that makes his behavior endearing. That’s very important because he’s kind of a needy character and it was very important that he doesn’t come across as whiny — because who wants to see that? Matthew was someone I read for the part early on — he had auditioned for me a few years ago for one of the leading roles in Between Love & Goodbye. But to make sure he was the right person for the role I also auditioned tons of actors in LA to see what else was out there. Turns out that this was a very scary role for many of the LA actors who all are looking to get a TV show so I kept coming back to Matthew. It was his first starring role in a film so of course I was a little nervous about it but I couldn’t be happier with Matthew’s performance. He is perfect as Adam and I feel very lucky that I got him for the role.
What was it like to direct?a very impressive?cast that includes:??Allison Lane, Michael Medico, John Schile, Jesse Archer, Bruce Vilanch and Alec Mapa?
I had such a good time directing this movie! All my cast was so wonderful! Allison is a good friend since she acted in my film A Four Letter Word and I immediately thought of her for this role. It was so much fun working with her again. Jesse and I also go way back… All the way to Slutty Summer. He plays such a different role from what he usually gets cast as but did an amazing job. It was a lot of fun for me to work with Bruce and Alec — both of them added a lot of funny stuff, and Michael Medico and John Schile were just perfect in their roles. One of the reasons why I still enjoy watching this film (after having seen it countless times now) is that I enjoy watching these actors so much!
Besides writing, producing and directing this film you also star as ?Nick?, tell us about your character in the film?
I loved playing Nick as he is very different from me. For an actor that is always the most fun to do. ?Nick shoots porn and is the guy who convinces Adam to get involved in that business. He is also a meth addict and can be quite abusive.
How do you do it all [write, direct, produce, act], and is it difficult?
Writing, directing and acting are all things I’m passionate about. I’m less passionate about producing — that is just something I’ve done as a way to be able to direct. I don’t always act in my movies but Nick in LALA Land was just too good of a part to pass up! It is difficult to direct a film and also act in it. As an actor you have to be in the moment and hopefully forget everything around you. As a director you of course have to pay attention to everything. Luckily on this film I had my friend David Fardmar, who is a filmmaker in Sweden, come out to LA to shoot behind the scenes footage. When I was in front of the camera he often sat by the monitor for me and gave me advice. I also watched some of my takes to make sure I was getting what I needed before moving on to the next scene.
You were awarded as best director by The Connecticut Gay & Lesbian Film Festival for your work in this film??How does?it?feel?to win?
That was so nice of them to single me out for this! We played closing night at that festival and had an amazing screening. They have always been so supportive of my work. I think they played all my films over the years.
Can you tell us about your early years in filmmaking, and how you first got involved in directing and producing ?gay? themed films?
Well it started with me writing the screenplay for?Between Love & Goodbye,?potentially for me to star in. But as I was writing it I realized that I really wanted to direct this film, more so than act in it. So I started learning about filmmaking. Since my script was gay-themed I was especially interested in watching gay films and discovered that it’s a great niche in the sense that there were distributors focusing exclusively on gay films and therefore it’s pretty easy to get your film released. So while I was trying to make?Between Love & Goodbye?happen I came up with the idea for?Slutty Summer, which was much less ambitious and that I ended up making super-cheap with?the help of a lot of friends and a mostly volunteer crew. Because we had some success with?Slutty Summer, Jesse Archer and I decided to write a spin-off to it called?A Four Letter Word?so that became my second film. Finally I got to make?Between Love & Goodbye?as my third film. I made another three gay-themed films after that. I love telling gay stories but I’m interested in making other films as well.
Tell us about EMBREM ENTERTAINMENT, LLC the independent film company you founded.
My company is basically just me. When I tried to get to make my first film I realized that no one really wanted to produce a script with a first time director attached so I got into producing by default — the best way for me to get my films made was to just do it myself.
Looking back on your successful career as a?whole, what are your feelings on it?
That’s a funny question to me because I don’t really see myself as that successful. I’ve just been working really hard for the last few years and have pretty much made a film a year. I do feel all the hard work has been worth it but I’m also ready for a change. I would like to take to be able to focus more on the creative stuff and less on the business side of things.
What would you say you?re goal is as a film director?
I would very much like to work on bigger budget stuff and I relish the idea of being a director for hire. I’ve never done that but would love to try it.
Are you working on any new, upcoming film projects?
I’m attached to direct a wonderful gay themed script called?Over the Rainbow. Also Allison Lane wrote a screenplay that we decided to co-direct. I can’t wait to work with her again. I’m also working on adapting a Swedish novel into a screenplay. It’s based on a true story that took place in Sweden and Germany in the 30s and 40s. I love history and making a period film is a big dream of mine so I hope I will be able to make that film happen.
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