I've seen a few of James' films, so I guess you could categorize me as a fan. But, while I'm a fan of his work, I'm beginning to think I'm truly a fan of the artist. James Cullen Bressack is one of those rare few that gets it, and based on his IMDB credits, he's been getting it for a while now. If you haven't heard of him, no worries... you still have time. As James often states, "There's never enough time to do everything right, but there's always time to do it again." So, perhaps this is your do-over or maybe this is your first venture into the mind of JCB, either way, you're in for a treat that you won't soon forget.
Jessie Hobson: So, Bethany... probably your strongest film. Why do you think it stands out, man?
James Cullen Bressack: Oh, thank you. Umm... I mean, I think it’s a much more mature, darker piece than a lot of my previous work. I think it’s more rooted in, you know, human nature and the human psyche and I really think, you know, it’s just much more mature, darker filmmaking.
JH: And some of the cast really isn’t known for horror. What makes you go with people like Tom or Shannon?
JB: Umm, you know, I’ve been friends with both of them for a while, and I just really thought they could do an amazing job with the role. I mean, Shannon’s role was specifically written for her and Tom’s role was specifically written for him so there was no audition for those roles. I had already talked to them before writing the movie to see if they were interested. And, kind of like, wrote those parts where I think they would be able to perform best. And they did, and knowing their capabilities I think they did an amazing job.
JH: I definitely agree with you. I also noticed that Keith Jardine was back. Is he kind of a Grit Film Works staple now?
JB: Yeah, Keith is a friend and I think he’s super talented. I’m a huge UFC fan, so it’s always fun to have UFC people in these movies.
JH: Did you watch the pay-per-view this weekend?
JB: I did. I did. That was a really, really brutal knockout from Alistair Overeem on Mark Hunt, I was very surprised.
JH: Yeah, same here, man. And I’m a Mark Hunt fan, for sure.
JB: Yeah. I thought he was going to win. After coming in from that loss from…
JB: Lesner. I thought he was going to win.
JH: I had heard you actually met Jardine through Twitter.
JB: Yeah, I did. I did.
JH: So, you’re pretty active on social media. Do you have any other interesting exchanges… like maybe not even just through actors, but like anyone in general? Is there anything weird that has come from your social networking?
JB: I’ve made a couple friends through Twitter. Jonathan Lipnicki and I met through Twitter and we’re really close friends. Twitter is just one of those things I guess. (laughs)
JH: We’ll get to Jonathan. I have a couple questions about The Circus Kane as well. But with Bethany, where did that story come from? What were your influences as far as like the tone and the setting and things like that?
JB: You know I was really heavily influenced by the movie Mommie Dearest and The Babadook. I think those were the two heaviest influences film-wise. But I watched, you know, when I was younger, I had a friend of mine who was super talented, and their mother was a very overbearing stage mother… and I watched you know, basically them, basically start to have a nervous breakdown because they couldn’t handle the pressure their mom was putting on them even though they were so talented. They were unable to continue pushing forward with their birth given talent because whenever things wouldn’t do exactly how they had imagined they would… they weren’t just letting themselves down they were letting down their mother as well. So, they literally had a nervous breakdown, and I think seeing that was so horrifying. I was like that’s gonna have her, so…
JH: That’s really interesting. Does your friend know that you took that influence or do you still talk with that friend at all?
JB: No, they don’t know.
JB: They definitely don’t know.
JH: Probably safer. Were there any challenges you faced with Bethany that were new for this project?
JB: The biggest challenge, and I… we accomplished it in the movie, was I wanted everything to be so seamless, like woven together, so I really focused hard on coming up with creative scene to scene transitions. So, it wasn’t really quite… one scene ended and another one began. If you watch the movie it smoothly kind of morphs from one scene to the next scene.
JH: Now that you mention that, I didn’t really consider that until you shared that. That does definitely make sense. I also noticed that the lighting was a little bit different than most of your other films. How did you come up with that stylistic choice? And why?
JB: I love dark color palettes, but I also love a lot of color within a dark world, and it’s kind of a hallucinatory movie. The character is going through all this crazy stuff and there’s this battle that going on, like, is she crazy, is she not crazy through the entire film. So, I really wanted to play into that psychosis by having the world kind of be lit outside of reality. I played a lot with the colors and kind of upped the hallucinatory factor within the film by playing with that lighting. As well as memories are kind of adjusted in our minds, they’re not exactly how we remember them. So, I used that to change the colors to show that it’s an exaggerated memory a little bit, and really played with the color a lot, and I think it adds to the paranoia of this character because it kind of falls apart more and more as she falls apart throughout the movie. It starts off more standard and gets crazier and crazier.
JH: Yeah, I can definitely see that. It almost felt as if it was like tunnel-vision as the movie went on. It definitely added to the tone and the stress from the viewer’s perspective, which I definitely appreciated. So, Zach and you are really churning out the films these days, and I know that you had a two-picture deal, are you guys planning on working on anything else?
JB: We’re writing something else together right now actually which I think is going to be really great. We work really well together as writing partners.
JH: Is it also going to be a haunted house film, or can you say?
JB: No, it’s not. It’s more of a dramatic thriller.
JH: Excellent, man. And you’ve got Circus Kane with Lipnicki on deck. I’ve seen trailers for that. What else can you tell us about that film?
JB: I mean, that’s a wild movie. Chris Ray, who directed it, did a great job, it’s just a wild, fun, crazy movie. It’s one of those nonstop, crazy fun films. I mean it’s really all I can say. It’s one of those where the trailer is exactly what the movie is.
JH: Well the trailer is great, so I’m definitely excited for that one. You’re definitely known for genre films. Do you have any plans to step away from that, like less thriller… and maybe go with something different?
JB: Well, yeah, I definitely do, and I feel like Bethany kind of hints at that. Although it’s scary, it’s not quite your traditional horror movie. It starts to play more into drama and characters that have more elements around them.
JH: I had heard something about you working on a film with your dad? Is that still happening?
JB: Yeah, that’ll be out soon. I just did an animated kid’s movie, so that’s no horror at all. It’s like a musical.
JH: Cool. That’ll be different. What made you do that? Was that just something you guys had been planning on doing or… what provoked that?
JB: I feel like I have the movie tastes of a serial killer because I like horror movies and kid’s movies. That’s like the two types of movies I like to choose between when I’m like… watching films, so I wanted to make a kid’s movie. And I had an opportunity to, and my dad had been around it… and I thought it was a perfect time to team up together.
JH: So, speaking of your credits, from everything I see of you online, you’re always working. Nonstop, always working. You’re taking the time to do your interview with me, when do you sleep?
JB: Probably five minutes before the interview, and then I just set the alarm and I go back to sleep in between. (laughs)
JH: Well, excellent, man. That’s all I have for you. I definitely enjoyed Bethany as well as Restoration. We’ll keep an eye on ya.
JB: Thank you so much for taking the time to watch it. I’m glad you enjoyed it, definitely. And for anybody… is this an audio or are you transcribing what I say?
JH: I’m gonna do both.
JB: Okay, cool. So, for anybody listening or reading, follow me on Twitter @JamesCullenB, and please check out Bethany on four seven.
Don't forget to follow James on Twitter. Also, be sure to check out Bethany, written by James Cullen Bressack and Zack Ward. It releases in theaters and On Demand April 7th via Uncork’d Entertainment, and stars Tom Green and Shannen Doherty. If you're a fan of haunted houses and the like, this one is for you.