HOME ABOUT SUPPORT US SITES WE LIKE FORUM Search Fanboyplanet.com | Powered by Freefind FANBOY PLANET
Interviews Today's Date:

Intense In His Own Right
Director Michael D. Olmos talks Splinter...

Michael D. Olmos at work in his studio...
Today, Dark Horse Entertainment released a long-awaited project, Splinter. Set in heart of L.A.'s gang territory, it's a police procedural, it's a murder mystery, it's a bit of a horror film and all around pretty tense. Plus it has an incredibly nifty comic book like opening sequence.

And why not? Director Michael D. Olmos (yes, son of Edward James) has a deep love of comics, and started his company, Chamber Six, to try and bring the graphic novel sensibility to the big screen. After a limited L.A. release, his latest effort should help make Dark Horse's "indie" name.

Last summer, Olmos invited us over to his studio, Chamber Six Productions, to talk about Splinter and other projects in the fire. Now's the right time to get you guys hyped about an up and coming talent able to face down both Tom Sizemore and Commander Adama...

Derek McCaw: How did you get involved in Splinter? One of the stars of the movie, Enrique Almeida, is actually the screenwriter; did he bring it to you?

Michael D. Olmos: Yes. The original concept was his idea, and he approached me with Noel Gugliemi, who goes by Noel G. and plays Dusty in the (finished) film. These guys approached me and they wanted to do a film that was sort of based on their experiences.

Enrique grew up among gangs in L.A., and Noel had a similar thing. They weren’t gang members, but their friends were all guys in the lifestyle and trying to get out. They wanted to do a small film. We read it. We really liked it, but it was a straightforward revenge story, really low-budget.

We added some bigger elements and experiment with the genre, make it more like a graphic novel.

Derek McCaw: So you added the police side of the story?

Michael D. Olmos: Yeah.

Resmine Atis takes down a perp...
Derek McCaw: And there’s something not quite…it’s not a superhero…I want to say just supernatural going on with the lead cop, played by Resmine Atis, who is your wife?

Michael D. Olmos: That’s my wife. We got married after the film. We were going out for two years before we did the movie, and it’s her third independent film.

Derek McCaw: You introduced this element to make it a little more comic book-y.

Michael D. Olmos: It was a weird balance with this film. We wanted to introduce those elements but not go all the way out with them. We wanted her to be sort of a psychic, but also more just in tune with the crime scenes so she can size something up. She’s a little deeper than that, and can transition into the crime.

We added that element, and I think it works pretty well. We got a nice balance with that. Other elements, we wanted it to be like a Western. So we added a lot of elements in there like, did you get to the Sergio Leone scene?

Derek McCaw: Yes.

Michael D. Olmos: When you watch the film, you see it is like a modern-day Western.

Derek McCaw: I know exactly which scene you’re talking about, and I’d just seen some Leone so I went, ah, yes, I know where that’s coming from.

Michael D. Olmos: The interesting story about the film is that when Enrique came to us, we said we’d make the movie, but where are we going to get the funding? You know you can’t make films without money.

Derek McCaw: I say HA.

Michael D. Olmos: You can try, but you know…he said, “my mom really believes in this project, and she’s going to mortgage her house and put up the money to make it.”

Derek McCaw: Tell me she has been paid back.

Michael D. Olmos: Mike Richardson at Dark Horse has assured me that she’s going to get that back. They’re really cool guys; they’ve put her in first position to recoup, which you never hear from a distributor.

Derek McCaw: He’s good people.

Michael D. Olmos: Oh, yeah, Mike’s a great person. When he heard that, he turned red and said “are you kidding me? We’ve got to make sure she’s paid back.”

It was a big risk, but Enrique said, “she wants to do this, she believes in me.” It’s hard for us to break into Hollywood, it’s hard for us to break into movies without playing the stereotypical gangster. If we’re going to do that, we’re going to do it on our terms and to commercialize off it ourselves.

Derek McCaw: How did Dark Horse get involved? You’d already started filming when they swooped in.

Michael D. Olmos: We started budgeting the film, and working with the screenplay. The screenplay got to the point where it started looking attractive to name actors. The story really had gelled. I gave it to my dad, and said here’s this little horror movie, I don’t think it’s up your alley.

He said, “this is really good.” He really liked what we were doing and he came on board. Which meant we had to go SAG. Then my dad said we should get a DGA person, and I should join the DGA. So I did, we got a great first A.D.

But all these things, once you go union, it shoots up the budget. Enrique, through a friend of his, got an introduction to Barry Levine and Mike. Barry was over at Dark Horse, we met with Mike, we said we had half the budget and we have these guys attached.

At the time, my dad was attached, but then Battlestar picked up. He had to go off and shoot, but he said he’d be attached to play the Captain, so we got Tom Sizemore. We had Tom, my dad, half the budget and Mike read the screenplay, really liked it and jumped on board. The rest is history.

Derek McCaw: Here’s the question you’ll have to answer a thousand times. Intimidated directing your dad, one of the most intense actors in modern film?

Michael D. Olmos: Of course.

Practicing staring down his dad...
Derek McCaw: Did he ever just look at you and hiss, “I changed your diapers?”

Michael D. Olmos: Yes.(laughs) No, I think the nervousness was just my own thing. Because I didn’t want to not provide the environment in which he could work as a professional; I wanted to deliver the goods as a director.

Derek McCaw: How much time did you have with him?

Michael D. Olmos: Actually, I only had two days with him. It was a short period of time. But when he came to the set…my dad’s like any good creative person, he approaches the story for story’s sake. He comes in with this creative vibe, what’s this scene about, can we shoot it this way? What do you think?

We started collaborating. When we got Tom on the set they both just jumped in, it became like jazz. It worked. It was amazing.

Derek McCaw: I think the police precinct scenes are really strong. One thing that I found interesting watching was that the gang-banger stuff was so matter of fact. Here I am, white boy from Northern California, not having experienced any of this. Was that on purpose, that even the talk of violence just seemed so casual…it was really disturbing.

Michael D. Olmos: Yes. That was the intent. The gang stuff…they’re gangsters last. They’re just like you guys, they’ll sit around talking about movies, then somebody will start saying “did you hear about so and so, two days ago he got shot...he was standing outside, he wasn’t a gangbanger, but these guys rolled up and everyone ran and kind of froze. He got hit five times and died right over there.”

They start talking about these instances that are really horrific, but they’re matter of fact. This happened. They’re great people, great guys, and they are dealt a bad card, growing up in these neighborhoods. You’re just in the situation, and things just happen.

That’s what I wanted to convey. These are just people in a bad situation.

Derek McCaw: This brings up a tough point. A lot of these actors playing the gangbangers are gangbangers, and they’re hoping this is a way out. How realistic do you really think that is?

Michael D. Olmos: To different degrees. Emilio Rivera, who plays Jesse, the leader, he’s been in tons of films. He’s been in Collateral, just look at his imdb. He’s always got a small part, but he’s always got a huge screen presence. I saw him in this independent film where he plays an AA counselor. He’s phenomenal. He’s not playing a gang member, he’s just a hard tough as nails street guy.

He was a hardcore gangbanger. In a documentary, he’s told what happened. He was in a bad place, he was gangbanging, he was on PCP, he shot at people…what made him realize he needed a change was he was on PCP in a fight with his wife, and he stabbed her. That made him snap. She didn’t leave him.

He moved away from the neighborhood, and changed his life. He was really young when all this happened. He’s in his late forties now, but he makes his living now as a professional actor. He’s always working.

These younger guys, they’re making this transition, but they’re playing gang members in the film. Can they transition as actors and learn the craft? Can they go past playing the gangbanger? Enrique has made a living just playing the same character, but the other guys, I don’t know.

I guess it’s just a question of how dedicated they become. Definitely the doors are opening. There aren’t a lot of opportunities, though, but they email me and say thank you so much, you gave us hope.

Begging to be in the ensemble...
Derek McCaw: Your next project you have would still fit in there. You could have a little ensemble.

Michael D. Olmos: It’s called Luchadores 5. We had a script meeting with Pierre Spengler, one of the producers of the (Richard Donner) Superman movie. It’s a comic book. It’s had a limited published run, sort of a small press thing, I guess.

But it’s amazing. It’s about five guys in East L.A. who are superheroes. They’re like these underdog superheroes who don Mexican wrestling masks and save the neighborhood. Basically, they’re ridiculed by the whole community, the neighbors, by everyone around them until they rise to the occasion and save the day.

It’s an action comedy. I don’t think there’s anything quite like it, so I can’t really compare it to anything. But it’s a comedy, it’s a farce and it’s in L.A. where the gangbangers are like Tiki Warriors and werewolves. It’s interesting because we’re trying to balance out the things you can get away with in a comic book with what you can do in a movie. We’re trying to tone it down for a movie reality.

Yeah, it’s a departure from Splinter, but I could still use those guys. For instance, there’s these two video clerks that ridicule one of the luchadores because he’s always wearing his mask, going, “hey, Batman, you just sit outside the video store.”

Just today in a meeting I said I wanted to make those guys cholos. Because it’s a nice twist.

Derek McCaw: How much responsibility do you have toward these guys? You're giving them hope. Your dad has been in some of the seminal films of Hispanic-American culture, Zoot Suit, American Me

Michael D. Olmos: Stand and Deliver, Selena…yeah. The responsibility I feel is not that I have to change people’s lives. But I can create product that can employ people. I can employ some of these guys. Even if they want to direct, if I can at least mentor and let them sit in on the process of filmmaking, that’s great.

Derek McCaw

Our Friends:

Official PayPal Seal

Copyrights and trademarks for existing entertainment (film, TV, comics, wrestling) properties are held by their respective owners and are used with permission or for promotional purposes of said properties. All other content ™ and © 2001, 2014 by Fanboy Planet™.
"The Fanboy Planet red planet logo is a trademark of Fanboy Planetâ„¢
If you want to quote us, let us know. We're media whores.
Movies | Comics | Wrestling | OnTV | Guest | Forums | About Us | Sites