The film industry is filled with talent and so many people trying to make it. Today, I am speaking with one very talented writer, producer and director – Andrew Chiaramonte. Read on as he shares what he believes the film industry lacks, and what influenced his movie, Adam’s Package. He also offers advice to people trying to succeed in the entertainment industry.
David: Hello Andrew, so happy to speak with you. Please, bring me back to the moment you decided you wanted to embark on a career in film. What inspired you?
Andrew: Hi David, so nice to chat with you. My background was theater. I have a degree in it from New York University. My passion was acting. After university, I studied with Uta Hagen, Herbert Berghof and at the Actor’s Studio. I grew up the son of a professional neighborhood photographer in Brooklyn. In LA, my interests turned to film – music videos and then scriptwriting and directing.
David: Congratulations on your film Adam’s Package. What influence you to make the film?
Andrew: My writing partner, Emmett Alston and I were musing on a number of ‘things’ and settled on the idea of an alien living in LA as a male model and from there we ‘complicated it’ with (1)his being under house arrest for a crime he didn’t do, (2) an opera-singing ghost occupying the same living space with him as both his companion and tormentor, and (3) a disgruntled wife who puts out a hit on him for his life insurance money and so on. Its quirky and different and a lot of fun. We wrote the story together and then I took on the job of writing the screenplay.
David: You are a writer, producer and director. Which title has influence you the most?
Andrew: It’s a split between writing and directing. The writing is where you really get a chance to express who you are, your instincts and feelings, hopes, dreams and loves and fears – and maybe some of what you come up with may actually change the world for the better in some small way. I believe, as has been expressed by others, that all writing is ultimately biographical.
Directing, on the other hand, allows for orchestration, timing, spacing, pacing and the ability to manipulate feelings and emotions. I use my years of acting experience and training to meld with my actors and create an environment of ease and joy. However, I will do anything, whatever my instincts tell me to do, to ‘get it right’ – for all of us – cast, the audience and myself.
David: What have you learned about yourself as a writer, producer and director?
Andrew: That I’m involved in a noble pursuit, one of 3 international languages – music, mathematics and film that can transcend cultural differences and communicate universally. There’s a great sense of power in that, and therefore a great responsibility. I’ve learned that we take ourselves too seriously and also that hubris can flood our consciousness. In my mind, we are mediums for the messages that flow through us and ultimately that we’re not particularly responsible for them.
David: Are there any actors you would like to work with that you haven’t yet?
Andrew: Marlon Brando and James Dean! Sorry about that David, but shit I would have loved the opportunity to become part of their journey of discovery in revealing character. Here’s the thing though, I love the experimenters who are not afraid to go to places that might scare the crap out of other players – DeNiro, Pacino, Streep for sure. I like Bradley Cooper, Jennifer Lawrence, Charlize Theron, Emma Stone, Johnny Depp and Robert Downey, Jr. You asked, right? And, I would also love to own a Ferrari!
So, working with newbies or actors still on the way up, even if they’ve been in the game for 40 years or more, still is wonderful. What they are willing to give makes one almost want to blush.
David: What do you think the film industry lacks?
Andrew: The film industry lives above-the-line! It’s a heady place to be, but it’s a landscape that requires support and exclusivity. It’s a place which pressures itself to continue to survive. A place of fear. A place to be guarded with elitism and exclusivity. Film, like words and music, can exist on many levels – on scraps of paper for words and alone in a bedroom or a garage with a computer for music, while with film now it might be on a cell phone camera, YouTube, Vimeo, bloggers and the many, many worlds of streaming. I believe that there is now possibly a more democratic approach to getting one’s filmed ideas out there.
Perhaps the traditional ‘industry’ will survive because of the ‘event’ aspect of certain productions and the theatrical exhibition in theaters that we still clamor for. But, if there is a film in your heart, then make it. I had a partner once whose mantra was, “there’s nothing to it, but to do it”. And in today’s world of movies, it’s never been truer.
David: What is your favorite film?
Andrew: It starts with “Song of the South” and ends with “Last Tango in Paris”, and everything in between that I sat through without throwing my popcorn at the screen. You see, I love film with a passion. In the theater, 3rd row center, hoping to literally lose myself in its world. At home, as dark as I can make it and louder than that! Immersing into the thing at the expense of everything else that might be going on in the outside world at that moment. But seriously David, here’s my partial list: The Godfather (1972), Scent of a Woman, Field of Dreams, The Shawshank Redemption, Forest Gump, The Matrix, and It’s a Wonderful Life.
David: In your opinion what do you think has been the worst adaptation of a film and the best?
Andrew: Best: The Shawshank Redemption
David: What advice do you have for people struggling to make it in the entertainment industry?
Andrew: Stay out of your own way. Get in touch with where your ‘love’ is and pursue it with a passion. Lighting, writing, acting, telling jokes, creating content, editing, etc. Find YOURS and go after it with ferocity.
David: What is the most rewarding part of your career?
Andrew: When the writing happens so fast that I can’t keep up with it, either in long hand or on the typewriter. When the whisper in my ear is so distinct and clear that I am taken away with it and then go back later and seriously wonder again, “Where the hell did that come from?”
David: What are some future projects you will be working on?
Andrew: I am nearing completion on a 10-part mini-series based on the life of Galileo, the working title of which is, “StarStruck”. Also, a paranormal thriller called The Young and the Cursed, an action/romance set in the Republic of Georgia entitled, Stunt Driver and one of those huge Event films for the biggest screens available, X-13, a complex action-thriller set in the very near future.
David: Thank you for your time. Any words of wisdom to all the readers?
Andrew: If you’ve invested yourself in this world of film that is not for everyone (my wife calls the industry the ‘Evil Empire’), then think of it like a marathon. If you go at it diligently, one day at a time, you will eventually get there, WHEREVER ‘there’ might be. And guess what? You will definitely be better at it, smoother, easier, more confident than you were in the beginning. Take my word for it. Just be sure enjoy the journey along the way!
Photos are courtesy of Andrew Chiaramonte