Alex Kecskes

Alex A. Kecskes has written hundreds of film reviews and celebrity interviews for a wide variety of online and print outlets. He has covered red carpet premieres and Comic-Con events for major films and independent releases.

Press, Celebs Enjoy Respite from Comic-con Madness at WIRED Cafe

Liam Cunningham (selfie by James Kecskes)
Liam Cunningham
(selfie by James Kecskes)

WIRED Cafe once again provided a welcome retreat for press and celebs during the Comic-Con madness. The one-day invitation only retreat atop the rooftop terrace at San Diego’s Omni Hotel included drinks and tasty finger foods to re-energize attendees. Celebs on scene included Liam Cunningham, Alexander DiPersia, Maria Bello, and Teresa Palmer.

 

Frankie Adams & Shohreh Aghdashloo talk Expanse at 2016 Comic-con

At the roundtable with Frankie Adams and Shohreh Aghdashloo talking about the popular ski-fi TV series The Expanse at 2016 Comic-con. Hundreds of years in the future, humans have colonized the solar system and Mars has become an independent military power. Rising tensions between Earth and Mars have put them on the brink of war. Against this backdrop, a hardened detective and a rogue ship’s captain come together to investigate the case of a missing young woman. The investigation leads them on a race across the solar system that could expose the greatest conspiracy in human history.See also my interview with Cas Anvar Read more

NBC Digital Network Party Draws Top Talent

NBC rooftop party
NBC rooftop party

Featuring stars from Blindspot, Emerald City, Grimm, Powerless and Timeless, NBC’s Digital Network Party was host to top TV talent. The 6th annual, invite only soiree was once again held at the rooftop of the Andaz Hotel in San Diego. Partygoers were treated to plenty of good food and drinks as well as the opportunity to mix and mingle with NBC regulars and fellow press.

Blindspot talent
Blindspot talent

I ran into Sullivan Stapleton who plays Kurt Weller in Blindspot. He intimated that there might be a movie in the works for Strike Back, a popular British/American TV series whose final episode aired on July 29, 2015. I also ran into the beautiful Jaimie Alexander who said that it takes up to 6 hours to put on all those tattoos she wears in Blindspot.

 

Nylon and NVE the Experience Agency Present Star-Studded After-Con Party at Omnia Nightclub San Diego

Partygoers at Nylon NVE Party
Partygoers at Nylon NVE Party

The stars came out during NYLON/NVE The Experience Agency’s After-Con party on Thursday, July 21. at San Diego’s OMNIA Nightclub. Attendees included Teen Wolf’s Holland Roden, “I am Legend’s” Alexander DiPersia, and Kristian Nairn (“Game of Thrones” Hodor).

Violett Bean
Violett Bean

Musician Andre 3000 was spotted enjoying the festivities with long-time girlfriend Dominique Maldanado. Actor Tyler Posey arrived with younger brother Jesse Posey.  The “Man in the High Castle” stars met up with their newest co-star Bellla Heathcote, who recently announced that she will be joining the cast as a series regular on Amazon’s hit drama.

Andre 3000
Andre 3000

Shortly thereafter, Miguel Gomez arrived with fellow co-star Kevin Durand. “The Strain” stars were spotted celebrating the release of their spoof rap video “Vamps Boom.” Other notable attendees included: Casper Van Dien, Cody Christian, Ian Bohen, JR Bourne, Mecad Brooks, Nina Sky, Shane West, Tara Reid and Zelda Williams.

Bella Heathcote
Bella Heathcote

Ending the party with a bang, DMX hit the stage for a surprise performance, which included hits such as “Up in Here” and “Ruff Ryders’ Anthem,” as revelers sang along to every single lyric.

Tyler Posey
Tyler Posey

Interview with Amber Coney in Dead of Summer

Best known for her work on The Creation of Aspen, Send Me to Heaven and Horoscopes and Fortune Cookies, Amber Coney can also be seen in the upcoming L.A. Series, Kill The Czar, and Actors Anonymous. In Dead of Summer, Coney plays Carolina ‘Cricket’ Diaz, a warm, snarky camp counselor who harbors deep-seated issues beneath her carefree, fun-loving exterior. Read more

An Interview with Flash’s Violett Beane

Best known as the DC Comics superhero Jesse Quick in The CW series The Flash, and as the missing girl in HBO’s, The Leftovers, Violett Beane appeared in the horror feature Flay, and the indie Slash, which recently premiered at SXSW. In Slash, Beane plays Lindsay in a coming-of-age drama about adolescent outsiders who write fan fiction. Beane can also be seen in Tower, an emotionally draining film that focuses on the mass school shooting at the University of Texas in 1966. In this one-on-one interview, Beane reveals some insights about her various roles and how she approached them. Read more

Interview with Radha Mitchell on Sacrifice

A versatile talent with a broad body of work, Radha Mitchell began her career in Australia. She quickly took center stage in the critically acclaimed indies, High Art and Love and Other Catastrophes. Her major film work includes starring roles in Pitch Black, Man on Fire, Finding Neverland and the action blockbuster London Has Fallen. Read more

Interview with Radha Mitchell on The Darkness

A versatile talent with a broad body of work, Radha Mitchell began her career in Australia. She quickly took center stage in the critically acclaimed indies, High Art and Love and Other Catastrophes. Her major film work includes starring roles in Pitch Black, Man on Fire, Finding Neverland and the action blockbuster London Has Fallen. Read more

Interview: Kate Siegel & director Mike Flanagan on HUSH

Kate Siegel
Kate Siegel

Best known for her portrayal of Marisol in the spine tingler Oculus and for Jennifer in The Curse of the Black Dahlia, Kate Siegel is an accomplished actress with an impressive body of work. In Hush, Siegel teams up with Oculus writer/director Mike Flanagan to create the terrifying thriller of a deaf woman stalked by a psychotic killer in a woods-secluded home. In this one-on-one interview, Siegel and Flanagan reveal the insights and challenges they faced in bringing Hush to life.

Mike Flanagan
Mike Flanagan

Hush is both highly visual and visceral. Where did the concept come from?

Mike Flanagan: Kate and I were talking about thrillers we love over dinner—films like Wait Until Dark—and I mentioned how I’d always wanted to do a movie with essentially no dialog. She reminded me of her recurring anxiety about waking up at night and seeing someone outside her window. By the time we got to dessert, we pretty much had that “aha” moment and that’s were the concept was solidified.

Maddie senses an intruder
Maddie senses an intruder

How was the collaboration between you two? Did you outline together? Write the script together?

Kate Siegel: It was deeply collaborative. Mike would go outside our house and try to break in and I’d have to find a way to escape from him. We’d try out these things in real time, so we nailed down what to do on both ends—Maddie on the inside and the Killer on the outside. When we found something that worked, we’d stop and write down what we liked. After we turned in our first draft, we got some notes from our producer. We then took the script to the Stanley Hotel in Colorado—in room 217 in honor of Stephen King’s The Shining. We went down to the bar and hammered out the second draft.

Maddie senses someone at the door.
Maddie senses someone at the door.

There’s not much dialog, but the sound added so much to the film’s tension and terror. Can you go into the sound design of the film?

Kate: Jonathan Wales—our sound mixer—is an amazing genius who created a soundscape like nothing we’ve ever heard. Even the silences you experience have about 50 different sound levels.

Mike: It was clear going in that the sound design would be crucial for this movie. It was expensively more complex than anything else I’ve worked on. Typically, when you’re doing sound design, you want it to advance the story without calling attention to itself. Good sound design is meant to be processed almost subconsciously in most movies. For Hush, it was the opposite. Sound would be front and center, which meant that noises you typically want to bury in a sound mix—like footsteps, wind or crickets—would be the only thing the audience could hold onto sonically. So we had stretches of the movie where we wanted to imply what it’s like to be deaf. The first instinct would be to simply pull the sound out. But if you do that, all you hear is popcorn being chewed or coughing, and that takes people out of the movie. So our silence from Maddie’s perspective was actually an incredibly dense soundscape meant to give the impression of silence. Some of the noises we used were ultrasound, heartbeats, and the slowed down sound of glacial ice cracking.

Maddie confronts her tormentor
Maddie confronts her tormentor

How did you go about casting Maddie’s tormentor? His icy demeanor and explosive anger turned Hush into a cover-your-eyes nail biter.

Mike: We knew that the mask wouldn’t be on the Killer’s face too long. We wanted to see the human being behind the mask. When the mask came off, it was really important that the person underneath be someone who you wouldn’t think was capable of this. It had to be someone you’d bump into at the supermarket or street.

Kate: And John Gallagher Jr. was a tremendous talent. I was thrilled with his theater work. He was someone you’d never expect as a Killer.

Mike: He’d never done anything like this before. He could always pass as the nice guy. So he was really playing against type. When his name came up for the role, we said, that’s the guy.

John Gallagher Jr.
John Gallagher Jr.

Much of Hush was filmed in what had to be perceived as a totally dark house. What challenges did you face in shooting and camerawork?

Mike: The trick in a house with a lot of windows, and you’re shooting in the dark to light a face, is to basically turn every window into a mirror. So we had to choreograph the camera very specifically. If we deviated from the choreography by even a few inches in either direction, we’d see the camera operator or the boom operator reflected in the window. It’s one of the blessings and curses of a contained movie like this. You have to plan a visually dynamic moving camera in this limiting space without exposing the crew. A lot of filmmakers find working around windows and mirrors very difficult. And that applied to this movie in particular because once you remove dialog, and all the pressure is on the actors to perform without words, Hush became a high wire act for us.

Maddie struggles to survive
Maddie struggles to survive

There’s a saying among soldiers who finally find the courage to fight to survive: “The wolf rises.” What did you draw from to communicate that emotion without words?

Kate: The two years before Hush were very difficult times in my life. So when I approached Maddie, I saw her deafness and muteness as a characteristic. As someone who’s neither deaf nor mute, the only thing I could relate to was the internal struggle of wanting to be heard. I wanted to tap into that very human, very female feeling that the world around you won’t listen. And they won’t let you speak. At a certain point, you say, screw this, I can’t live the rest of my life not being heard. I was feeling that a lot leading up to the production of Hush. So when the time came to “awaken the wolf and let it rise,” I tapped into that feeling of needing to be heard by those around me.

Maddie fights back
Maddie fights back

Mike: There’s a moment in the movie where she kind of rises off the ground, which illustrates your analogy beautifully. We basically shot the movie in chronological order. So by the time we got to that scene, Kate had been working 16 weeks, all nighttime shoots, working in the cold woods of Alabama.

Kate: Unable to make any noise.

Mike: When we filmed that sequence, Kate was already very much in that mindset.

Kate: There was a great trust between Mike and I. I would turn to him after takes, and I would be so angry and uncomfortable that I couldn’t be myself. And Mike would look at me and say, you’re in the exact right place. One thing I like about Maddie: there was this deep well of strength that she captured for the first time and her joy at finding that inside herself.

Maddie has had enough
Maddie has had enough

What were your favorite scenes?

Kate: The scene with Samantha Sloyan, a warm, giving, open actress who played my neighbor. The dialog scene with her was such a joy. It’s a turn from the rest of the film, and it creates a sense of who Maddie really is and how she interacts with people around her.

Samantha Sloyan
Samantha Sloyan

Mike: Mine was the rooftop scene. It was the hardest to film because we had to move the camera on several different levels to make the scene kinetic. But I loved it because the actors did their own stunts. And that put everyone, especially the cast, into this whole new mindset. It was also one of the first times we got out of the house we’d been trapped in. It was a tough night but a good time.

Maddie on the roof
Maddie on the roof

 

 

An interview with James Marsters on Dudes & Dragons

James Marsters
James Marsters

Widely known as Spike, the loveable blond English vampire in Buffy the Vampire Slayer, James Marsters went on to play the alien super-villain Brainiac on Smallville. He also played time-travelling Captain John Hart in the British sci-fi series Torchwood and the terrorist Barnabas Greeley in Syfy‘s Caprica. Marsters next appeared in the 2007 movie P.S. I Love You and as Victor Hesse in the first season of Hawaii Five-0.

In the hilarious fantasy-comedy Dudes & Dragons, Marsters plays Lord Tensley, a powerful wizard who vows to rid the land of love through the use of his fire-breathing dragon. In this one-on-one interview, Marsters reveals what he liked about the role and how he enjoys playing loveable villains—like Spike.

James Marsters and Kaitlin Doubleday
James Marsters and Kaitlin Doubleday

What drew you to this film and the role of Lord Tensley?

James Marsters: When they offered me the role, I read the script, and after the first 5 or 10 pages, I was confused. But after that, I kind of clicked into the style. I realized what they were going for, the world they were creating, and I started laughing. And I didn’t stop until the end. I was reminded of some of my favorite filmmakers who often do that to me. They’ll confuse me until I understand the world they’re painting. Like the Coen Brothers: When I first saw O’ Brother Where Art Thou, I said, “what the hell is this?”

James Marsters and Kaitlin Doubleday
James Marsters and Kaitlin Doubleday

I can imagine a lot of green screen work with the dragon. What was that like?

JM: For me, working with green screen was very freeing. I come from theater where that’s kind of the environment. We had a few chairs, rocks, props and costumes—everything else was up to our imagination. When you’re acting, you’re supposed to have fun. In theater, they call it a play for a reason: No one pays money to watch you work. Your job is to play it. So when I did this film on green screen, it was glorious. If we’d actually filmed this is the real world, we’d be fighting horses and just getting our butts kicked. I heard about what the Hobbits went through in The Lord of the Rings, going through all that snow and ice water getting hypothermia. When you’re doing theater, it’s temperature controlled. But when you’re on location filming, you’re dealing with a certain level of discomfort because of the weather. I don’t know if you’ve noticed this, but you never see puffy coats in films. Actors are in these thin, fashionable coats pretending to be warm. But the truth is, they’re freezing to death.

Marsters and the Dragon
Marsters and the Dragon

What did you find most challenging?

JM: I didn’t really find that much challenging. When acting works, it’s effortless. When the script and props work, and other actors are supporting you, and it’s all working, you almost feel like it’s too easy. The temptation is to start acting more because you feel like you should be doing something. So filming this was just a joy. There was the challenge of not laughing at the dragon because the dragon was a guy with a stick and a green dragon head walking around. It was supposed to be very scary and serious but he looked silly inside.

Kaitlin Doubleday and James Marsters
Kaitlin Doubleday and James Marsters

Where did they shoot the film and what was that like?

JM: In Salt Lake City. We found a really good space with a scooped cyclorama that looks like the inside of a swimming pool. It has a nice even green tone for a background, and it had a very high ceiling for high and low camera movement.

"King' Marsters
“King’ Marsters

What do you like playing these evil off-kilter characters?

JM: The thing I liked about playing Lord Tensley was that his evil was destructive, powerful and angry; but underneath it all, he’s kind of a frightened child and heartbroken in romance, which makes him kind of adorable at the end of the day. Having that combination is delicious. I don’t know if he’s sympathetic, but you can take him into your heart and regard him as a poor little boy. So trying to achieve that was what drew me to the part. If I could bring that off, it would be really fun to watch. Playing a comedic villain, not scary, but a little more pathetic is what I liked.

James Marsters as Spike
James Marsters as Spike

Going back a few years, what did you love about playing Spike?

JM: My favorite thing was just being able to say those words. My acting process is basically just memorizing my lines and dreaming. I’d be sitting up in bed the night before, getting the lines down and letting my imagination take off. The better the writing is, the more fun that process is. I’ve never had such a consistently fun time playing Spike. Drew Goddard was one of their writers, as was Steve DeKnight, Jane Espenson, David Fury, the list goes on and on. I was working with people that would go on to be the movers and shakers of Hollywood. They were all poor, hungry and new, and working together to make one product. You get that level of talent around one table and it’s like Camelot. All that got funneled down into a script that I could enjoy.

I also liked giving Sarah (Michelle Gellar) and David (Boreanaz) a headache. I’m a bit of a punk rocker subversive, and when I see someone with power, I have this instinct to balance the scales. In Hollywood, you have to be oh so polite to the lead. They’re both great people, but being forced to do that brought out a bit of rancor in me. So between “action” and “cut,” I’d stress them out a bit, seeing if I could mess up their lines, get under their skin and make them uncomfortable.

What can you tell us about Abruptio?

JM: Oh, that’s a disgusting film. I was reading the script and thought there’s no way I’m going to be part of this. It’s too much, it’s going too far. Then I got to the end of the script and it all says something worthy. And it’s going to be done with puppets. When you see that, it becomes very interesting. I play this character who lives in his mom’s basement.

 

 

Interview with Singer-Songwriter Sara Niemietz

Sara Niemietz.
Sara Niemietz.

Known worldwide as Postmodern Jukebox’s striking front-woman and for her solo YouTube music videos, Sara Niemietz has starred on Broadway (Carol Burnett’s Hollywood Arms), appeared in television and film (Akeelah and the Bee, Glee), released four albums, sang in Times Square before 50,000 people, and spent countless hours honing her craft singing and playing the guitar, bass and piano.

Recently featured on TIME Magazine and Mashable, Sara released her Postmodern Jukebox cover of Justin Bieber’s “Love Yourself” for an upcoming feature with FELIX. After recently completing a headlining sold-out U.S. tour with the band, Sara is set to hit the road again on a 75-city international tour with Postmodern Jukebox.

In this one-on-one phone conversation (direct from Dubai), Sara provides some insights into her career and how she approaches singing and songwriting.

Sara hat

When did you first decide you wanted to write and perform songs?

Sara Niemietz: When I was four years old, I went with my Mom and Dad to a BJ Thomas concert. They wanted to familiarize me with the songs so I wouldn’t be bored at the concert, so they played them on my way to day-care and driving around Illinois. By the time we got to the concert, I knew all the songs and began singing along with them. At the concert, BJ saw me from the stage, singing along and invited me to join him — on stage. And I was hooked. I started writing songs in my early teens when I learned to play guitar. I sang and wrote a lot in high school. I released my first songs shortly after that.

How and when did you and Snuffy Walden start working together?

Sara: I first met Snuffy when I was nine. I was doing acting gigs in L.A. and he was doing the music for the show Providence. I had a guest star role on that show (as singer/actress), so I had to go to his studio to record the vocals for the show. Later, I was watching Friday Night Lights, for which he did the music, and I recognized the name. So I sent him an email with a video and we reconnected and started working together. He’s been my music mentor ever since.

Sara Red hat

 

 

 

 

 

 

Can you go into how your life experience formed the basis for some of your songs? Perhaps provide some more memorable examples?

Sara: Much of my music is influenced by what I’ve seen. When I was 10, I lived in New York for a while doing a Broadway show. I was struck by the hustle and bustle of the city, which influenced me to write the song, “Rooftops,” which is kind of an escape from the hustle and bustle of city life. I got another song off my new EP that I just did a video for called “Taxi Outside,” and much of the imagery for that is the glitz and the glam of Hollywood, and seeing what lies beneath the gilded surfaces.

Your Dad played in a Rock band in Chicago and your Mom played in church choirs. How did that influence your musical style?

Sara: I grew up listening to a lot of different music. My parents loved classic rock – Stones, Zeppelin, Beatles, Joni Mitchell, James Taylor, Dylan, Randy Newman, Carol King and Steely Dan. There was lots of jazz too, so I got to know the great American songbook.

Screen Shot 2016-02-23 at 12.42.11 PM

You said that music is the purest form of expression with no barriers. How does that apply to your work personally?

Sara: What you might not be able to say in conversation or in generally expressing yourself, you can with music. It’s art and saying anything you want to talk about is fine. With music the notes help express what you want to say.

You also said that music is a blank slate and a magic wand. So how do you wield that magic wand to create your music from a blank state?

Sara: I try to do it as honestly as I can. I love what music does. There’s so much civility in music. You can do anything, so you want to make sure you use that freedom the right way. I like to be deliberate and honest, and to tell my story. I try not to chase the coolest fad or be “in the club.” So I sing about what I see, which might resonate with someone.

Screen Shot 2016-02-23 at 12.43.36 PM

What artists would you most like to collaborate with?

Sara: Oh, man. I’d love to collaborate with Andrew Bird, who is an awesome violinist and songwriter. Also Tom Waits would be a dream to collaborate with. And Steely Dan is my favorite band, so I would carry their microphone.

You’ll be doing a 75-city international tour with Postmodern Jukebox. What can fans expect in terms of new and old songs.

Sara: I spent a lot of time in the studio before I left. So there are lots of new songs and videos. I’m in Dubai right now. We went to the top of the Burj Khalifa and then on an off-road desert Safari.

So, you’re performing in Dubai?

Sara: We’ll be opening for Toto at the Jazz festival. We shot a new video for the next single off my new EP. And I’m still writing while on the road. I use my backpack guitar and I’m always writing demos and sending stuff back to L.A. I’m going to work on a new project when I get back. We’ll be posting short videos from the road.

Check out Sara’s unique new cover of Meghan Trainor’s “Like I’m Gonna Lose You” It’s awesome.