Father & Daughter Film Report
An Interview with Laurence Fuller
Both Dad & I were deeply moved by the short film Mother & Brother, a Texan family drama we saw at Twister Alley Film Festival recently. We were so blow away by the story that gave a window into the lives of two Brothers burdened with the care of their abusive mother, that we had to interview someone from the film.
And perfect timing to do so.
We not only got hold of one of the award winning actors for the interview, but he and the rest of the crew on the film were kind enough to give us a link so you can see it too!
Wasn't that nice? Just click on the image of the poster that will link you to the film.
On his wedding day, the younger brother chooses to confront the guilt haunting their lives and carry a new burden alone. Directed beautifully by Dustin Cook, and starring with the powerful performance by Laurence Fuller, are Clint Napier, Ashley Hayes and Lisa Goodman.
We know you'll be moved by the film...where you are moved to depends on your constructs of family and your personal experience in one...
What stage of your life did you become interested in working with films?
I was raised in the art world by artists, critics, philosophers and art dealers, I was let into this secret society at a really young age and taught their way of life, it was a way of living which communed with a deeper self and connection to the world around us. It was always going to be something artistic, I gravitated towards films, my step-father the art and film critic John McDonald would give me lots of black & white films to watch from the age of about 7, often quite strange arthouse choices like the 1932 MGM film Freaks, I combined that with my own love for contemporary American movies, and here we are. My journey into acting started when I began taking an interest in theatre very young and joined the Australian Theatre For Young People when I was 10, and then started studying film actors at about 14, when I discovered early DeNiro and Daniel Day-Lewis. I knew there was nothing else, I wanted to be an actor.
I noticed that the leading men I looked up to in film first cut their teeth on the stage and in serious acting studios, these guys had their revelations and artistic pilgrimages where they would seek out and train with the best in the world, with rigor, discipline and sometimes a torturous kind of psychological digging to pull out the artist from deep inside, and sometimes it didn’t happen for people, sometimes it did and everyone would know it. So I tried to follow in their footsteps and went to the same drama school as Daniel Day-Lewis, Bristol Old Vic Theatre School. Drama School is much like the ancient spiritual pilgrimages that people would make to be touched by the hand of a higher power that they could take with them out into the world and seek their destiny. Then once released onto the world having had this transformation into artists, we must go out into the crusades and forge out path in the landscape of film.
What gave you the idea / What event led you to making films?
After about ten years in the theatre, I started making short films, the first film I acted in I also wrote and executive produced, it was an Australian flick directed by Jim Lounsbury called Possession(s), it was a sort of commentary on the art world. I used a painting by Peter Booth from my own collection to make a statement about the desire to possess art as an object. I was 20 at the time so I don’t know if I still agree with the statement, but there’s certainly truth to it.
Then when I got to LA a few years ago I booked the lead in Apostle Peter & The Last Supper right away, which was an amazing opportunity to be acting opposite the Oscar nominated Robert Loggia and to be on set with Bill Obert Jr, a indie darling actor I greatly admired. The film was directed by a filmmaker who was very respected in the Horror world, Gabriel Sabloff, so it had a very unique take on a biblical period film, not your typical Christian genre, which is probably did so well in that market and you can now catch it on Netflix. So that was my first taste at the feature world which has lead to more opportunities and gritty movies like Mother & Brother, Nocturnal Silence and Road To The Well.
What was the most difficult thing you had to deal with in producing a film? (Either filming-wise, organizational-wise, business-wise, editing, etc....?)
On this last feature I did "Road To The Well”, it was a week into our consecutive night shoots, so everybody was turning a little vampiric anyway. Then our location was this dodgy underpass of a freeway, which was perfect for the scene, Jon said facetiously at one point it's a "method location", when we showed up I'm pretty sure there was a drug deal going on in the corner, and a couple homeless tents were set up on the other side of the wall, one of the inhabitants would regularly get out to have a piss. Then about halfway through the scene where I'm in my underpants discovering a dead body in the trunk of my car, there was a potential biohazard spill round the corner from where we were shooting. The smell was overwhelming, a few people had to leave and camp out up the road, because they would have thrown up if they'd stayed around the stink. If I were to describe the smell I would say somewhere between a dead fish and a baby's diaper.
What did you learn about yourself personally by being in the film industry?
I learnt the value of fighting for what you believe in, I read this great quote by the art critic John Berger the other day
"Some fight because they hate what confronts them; others because they have taken the measure of their lives and wish to give meaning to their existence."
To see a film through to completion, even to go out an audition for years and sow the seeds of a career, it takes a huge amount of inner strength and determination.
What advice can you give others who wish to make a film?
To go back a little and watch the great performances in film of the last hundred years, Sean Penn in Mystic River, Daniel Day-Lewis in My Left Foot, Hoffman in Rain Man, DeNiro in Raging Bull or Nicholson in One Who Flew Over The Cuckoos Nest. These performances are iconic and forged new ground in screen acting, it’s important to honor them, they will be with us for a long time and that is the beauty of film. Go see as much as you can at the cinema too, all these things happening with Netflix and streaming are giving us a lot of new opportunities to tell stories in different ways and that’s great, but there’s nothing like seeing a movie at the cinema.
Ultimately the vision of what gives you hope is the most important thing, fight for that and all things fall in line.
What have you done to get your films ‘out there’? How do you feel distribution is changing?
I try to attend every festival I can that screens my films, then I write about the experience and the other films on my blog - https://laurencefuller.squarespace.com/blog/
Distribution is changing because there’s a lot more noise out there and it takes a lot of discipline for the individual to take back control of the content their taking in. I would encourage audiences to engage with films that make them better in some way, that challenge them to see the world in a new way or even to feel a new feeling they haven’t felt before. Definitely to go out to Festivals, I’ve had a brilliant experience with Mother & Brother this past year going to Newport Beach Film Festival, Arizona International, Nevada City, Ojai and of course Twister Ally. Now I’m very much looking forward to doing the same thing with Road To The Well the first one being Dances With Films at TLC Chinese Theatre on June 4th which will be its World Premier!
Where do you see the future of films heading? As an industry? As content?
I hope that the cinemas stay open, I think it’s an Experience that can’t be substituted by a television set. I tried watching The Revenant on a TV for instance after seeing it at the cinema about four times, and I just couldn’t, a film like that was made for the big screen and doesn’t translate to a smaller medium. At the same time cable is getting better and better, the sort of things coming out on subscriber based platforms are as good as many of the films being made. I personally stick to watching cable and going to the cinema.
Any examples of "deals" that were made which seemed involve unexplainable forces?
The first film I did Possession(s) we managed to sell to the ABC at the auction of the painting by Peter Booth (Figure With Bandaged Head) which featured as the centerpiece of the film, at Deutscher & Hackett auction house, it went down as an unprecedented deal in both film and art worlds:
The film was directed by my long time friend and collaborator Jim Lounsbury, we’re now discussing making a film about a great forger working in the early 20th Century who got found out when the Nazis were brought to trial for their stolen art collections.
In your own words, what makes your films unique?
As an actor I commit myself so fully to a character that I’m very careful to only take on roles that I’m truly and unquestionably passionate about, because I know once I give myself over to something it’ll take over my entire being for a long period of time, so it has to be special.
At the moment I’m writing a screenplay about my father the late art critic Peter Fuller who forged a new path in art criticism and the philosophy of the art world. When I first started delving into the research of the things he was writing about it hijacked my being for about six months. Once his writings had settled inside me for a while I could start carving out the story, I recently got a grant to go back to London to get into the archives at the TATE Museum, read his journal, letter correspondences and finish the screenplay.
But I really love working with great directors, I’ve really believed in the last few guys I was fortunate enough to have leads in their movies, Dustin Cook with Mother & Brother (has his first feature I Hate The Man In My Basement) coming out, Mototake Makishima with Nocturnal Silence (the Japanese art film director) - I’ve always had a kind of reverence for directors.
Whatever you can think of you wish to be known that I'm not asking that you would like expressed.
My latest feature Road To The Well premiers at TLC Chinese Theatre this Saturday (June 4th) at 7.15pm as part of Dances With Films official competition, see the Trailer and book Tickets here -https://laurencefuller.squarespace.com/road-to-the-well-1/
Laurence Fuller was raised between England and Australia, trained at Bristol Old Vic Theatre School, after graduating he went into London's West End theatre, including his critically acclaimed performance in Madness In Valencia. Fuller's first film he wrote and starred in; the Australian ABC Network feature Possession(s) opposite Max Cullen and Asher Keddie.
In 2012 Fuller moved to Los Angeles where he was tapped as a finalist in the Heath Ledger Scholarship and starred in Pureflix's Apostle Peter and The Last Supper opposite Robert Loggia, which was one of the bestselling Christian films of that year (catch it on Netflix).