Greetings valued readers of Dan's Movie Report, today we have an epic interview from the creative mind of Kenneth Mader. Mr. Mader chats in depth about Displacement, detailing the trials and triumphs of his lengthy odyssey to complete his opus to his mom. Displacement brings to light a unique creativity as rare as lunar rock, yet as accessible as a new day over the ocean. Displacement was my top pick for the 2016 year. Mader exudes talent, class, and a work ethic, that will no doubt see his status rise over the coming years. Grab a seat, sit back, relax, adjust your watch, bend time and get displaced! Kenneth Mader shall infuse wisdom and quantum theory in your brain, and a textual lashing of inverted reality, coupled with a deep knowledge of the inner workings of independent film making... 3-2-1- GO!
DMR: How long after your mom passed did you write the script for Displacement, or was it started while she was alive?
KM: I had begun noodling with notions for the script while she was alive, but it didn’t really coalesce until she passed and I decided to incorporate what happened when she got sick, which was her desire to see the ocean one last time. Unfortunately she had cancer and it progressed so quickly that my Dad and I weren’t able to fulfill that wish, so that became essentially the heart of the story, and the issue my lead character is dealing with that drives the entire narrative. It still took about three years after that of on-and-off writing to finish the script -- especially after I complicated things for myself making it a looping time travel story! Then in early 2013 I jumped off the cliff to start production.
DMR: Chat about some of the limitations of filming over a few years and having only at times some weekends to shoot around scheduling of performers and crew?
KM: Yeah shooting a film piecemeal over the course of two-plus years is extremely challenging on a number of levels, not the least of which is continuity. Little things like: imagine having to keep you hair exactly the same over that extended period of time... and you have Courtney’s hair! (she was great and had an excellent stylist who was able to match it shoot-to-shoot). There was also the fear of losing Courtney to a big movie or tv show. We actually had a couple of scares like that along the way, but thankfully everything worked out. (She didn’t land on The Bold and The Beautiful until just before our release.)
Conversely there were also some benefits to the extended shooting schedule, mainly the ability to shape and improve the film as we went along. Something we captured in one scene would instruct and change things in scenes we had yet to shoot. For example, Courtney’s level of intensity entering the hotel room after experiencing the timeslip on the beach inspired a complete rewrite of that timeslip sequence, which hadn’t been shot yet. In fact in the original script it was a completely different and smaller scene that took place at the hotel vending machines. But her performance felt like we needed a stronger motivation than what was written, and I also wanted to expand the scope a bit and show what was happening in the world around her. So in this case taking so much time to get the film in the can worked to our benefit, and I believe the benefit of the movie.
DMR:Share a particularly challenging shoot day on Displacement, and describe what went on to make it hard on cast and crew?
KM: The one that comes immediately to mind was the café scene. Two days of complete Murphy’s Law misery. It began with a key piece of camera equipment breaking down which rendered our Steadicam useless. We were in a location that was a 2-hour drive in traffic one way to the nearest camera house, so as an AC jumped in a car to make the 4-hour round trip for the part, I had to adjust and adapt my shooting plan to compensate for the lack of Steadicam. Then the patrons remained in the restaurant longer than expected and we couldn’t kick them out because we couldn’t afford to buy out the place as we were being allowed to film there mainly as a favor. As a result we ran out of sunlight and had to light the patio area outside the windows to simulate the sun, which put us further behind schedule. Then, running all those extra lights off of house power since on our scout we didn’t feel we needed a generator, of course we blew out the breaker box. And not just tripped the breakers, but literally burned out the box. We were lucky we didn’t start a fire. Had to call in an emergency electrician to repair it before they reopened in the morning, which cost a small fortune in overtime. Needless to say it would have been much cheaper to just rent a generator. At the end of day one I was certain and terrified the owner was going to throw us out and not allow us back the next day. I had to eat a lot of crow that night. Fortunately he let us return to finish the scenes, which ultimately turned out fine, but that was one of the worst filming experiences of the entire production.
DMR: Did you have everything planned out from the start with regards to budget, crew, and script to screen dialogue, if not what are some adjustments along the way that were made.
KM: It was planned, but with a definite plan to also remain flexible. I like to give my actors the freedom to make the dialogue their own, so unless there were specific scientific or quantum physics speeches that required accuracy, they were free to play and improvise a bit. I joke that when I direct, I throw the writer me off the set. That’s not entirely in jest. I don’t want to be so rigidly married to my words that we lose spontaneity and the potential for magic to happen in front of the camera.
Also, at one point Courtney tore a tendon in her foot and was on crutches, so I had to completely throw away my shooting plan for those days and improvise around the fact that she couldn’t walk! I think that was actually even more terrifying and challenging than the café scenes.
DMR: Chat about wearing multiple hats, was it always planned that you write direct and produce or was it supposed to have additional partners helping you?
KM: On the one hand, I’m a bit of a control freak, so wearing many hats is a choice. But on this type of film it is also a necessity. I had always planned to write, direct, produce, and also edit, in large part to maintain the creative integrity of the story, but also because I didn’t have the budget to hire anyone else. I’m also a cinematographer, so when my DP wasn’t available I would take on that hat as well. I did bring in my colleague Zander Villayne to help produce as it was just too much for one person to manage. I also had a lot of great co-producers and line production help that eased the burden.
DMR: Regarding the finished product of Displacement, I know you have two versions of the film, an extended cut and a lifetime movie network cut, are their still plans to do an extended cut on blu-ray or theatrical?
KM: Yes, I definitely want to release the extended cut on blu-ray, as well as a full-length making-of documentary. Some of the deleted and extended scenes are available as Bonus Features on the just-released DVD, but I think it’s more fun to watch the extended cut uninterrupted. Also, the DVD/VOD version is actually slightly longer than the Lifetime network cut, so it’s really three versions – and the other two don’t contain commercial breaks! Boy that was a challenge with a movie like this, figuring out where to break it. And Lifetime has very specific timings for each segment. There’s a bit of wiggle room, but not much. A good problem to have I guess.
DMR: Chat about your thoughts on the just amazing rise of Courtney Hope with the huge video game series of Quantum Break and The Bold and the Beautiful, have you noticed more of a demand for Displacement now that she is on top of Daytime TV as Sally Spectra?
KM: It’s pretty much every filmmaker’s dream to cast a rising actor and have her break large right at the moment your film is coming out! That is exactly what happened with this. It’s been pretty remarkable. I’ve known Courtney and her family since she was 15 and just starting out in the biz after moving to L.A. from Texas. In fact I helped her put together her first demo reel, where I saw just what a terrific young talent she was. Even then, she was a solid actress already booking guest star roles on major television shows. I knew she would be a star if she persisted and got offered the right opportunities, and vowed that I would cast her in something one day. Nine years later that became Displacement, and her rise throughout the making and release of the film has been really cool to watch. She actually couldn’t make our Premiere because she was presenting at the Daytime Emmy’s! Crazy. She’s a great gal and very dedicated and totally deserves all the success she’s enjoying. I’m very proud of her and excited to watch her star continue to rise. Can’t wait to see what’s ahead.
As for how it’s impacted Displacement, it certainly helped our publicity push during the release. I won’t know for another month how the film is doing online as there’s a 90-day delay before the platforms report their numbers. But I’m sure her popularity on Bold hasn’t hurt.
DMR: Chat about casting the amazing and talented luminaries in your film, an amazing get for an indie, I know you have secrets, but how much light can you shed on casting Bruce Davison, Susan Blakely and Sarah Douglas?
KM: I had met Sarah Douglas a number of years ago at a Science Fiction convention after being introduced by a mutual friend. We discussed working together, and after a couple of other projects we tried to get set up didn’t go, I wrote the part of Dr. Miles with her in mind. To my delight after reading the script she said yes. Then over a year into production of the film, I saw a post she shared on Facebook with a photo of her and Susan Blakely at lunch together. I had no idea they were friends and my immediate thought was “Susan Blakely! She’d be perfect for our mom!” So I reached out to Sarah and she reached out to Susan and the next thing I know I’m on the phone with Susan Blakely telling me she’d love to do it. A crazy Hollywood Moment. These stars that I looked up to and admired for years were now in my movie. It was pretty surreal. And then Bruce Davison came to us through his manager and of course I’m a huge fan of his work so that was another surreal Hollywood Moment.
A bit of trivia about Bruce I didn’t know: He plays one of the returning pilots at the end of one of my all time favorite and influential films, Close Encounters of the Third Kind. Did it as a favor to his friend Steven Spielberg back in the day. I nearly went complete fanboy on him when he told me that story. But I held it together until the drive back to my office. Then had to watch that scene in the movie again. Sure enough, that’s him coming out of the ship. Crazy.
DMR: You have created interesting positioning on Displacement rather than selling the film outright to one entity LMN has broadcast rights, and you still have the rights to release on DVD and limited theatrical, is that a new concept, as I never heard of that before, unless different territories buy it.
KM: It’s not necessarily new to “split rights” as they call it, but it is becoming more prominent as the industry changes. New distribution models are being tried to adapt to this changing digital landscape, such as “day-and-date” releases where indie films come out on both VOD and in theatres simultaneously, mainly as a way to drive publicity and critical reviews for the VOD. These days unless you win the lottery at Sundance it is very difficult to get a distributor to pay any reasonable amount for an all rights deal. We had numerous offers, but they all sucked. So splitting the rights became the more viable option, as we could retain more control over the release as well as the potential revenue stream. In our case we ended up releasing Displacement in a kind of backwards paradigm; on television first, mainly because we received an offer from A+E Networks at the beginning of our release window that we couldn’t refuse, then fought hard and won the right to do a limited theatrical release after their exclusive broadcast window closed, and put the film in theatres day-and-date with our VOD release, followed now by DVD (check out our website for info and links on where to see it or buy at https://displacementthemovie.com/store/).DMR: What is next for Maderfilm, some new projects in the works? What are some of your longer term goals and what actors and actresses would you like to work with in the future?
KM: We have three main projects in the hopper at the moment: a supernatural thriller feature entitled Deep Focus, a sci-fi television show we’re developing called A.L.L.I.A.N.C.E., and a book series based on my short film Passing Darkness entitled The Arcadia Chronicles which should come out later this year. There are also some smaller projects, another short film in the works, and a music video I just booked.
As for longer term goals, I would love to transition into larger films and cinematic television. I vowed when I was young that one day I would direct a Star Wars picture. A lofty goal to be sure, but after watching Rian Johnson and Colin Trevorrow’s career trajectory among others, that dream remains alive. In the meantime I will continue to create independent films and shows and find new ways to deliver them directly to our audience.
The list of actors I would love to work with is long, but certainly the greats like Pacino and Streep, also Naomi Watts, Julianne Moore, Hilary Swank, Jessica Chastain, Kate Beckinsale, Matthew McConaughey, Guy Pearce, Malcolm McDowell, Robert Downey Jr... it’s endless. Though I certainly feel blessed for the opportunity to have worked with the great actors I already have. It’s been an amazing journey so far.
And thank you and Dan’s Movie Report for all your amazing support of our film! I and my team really appreciate it, and hope your readers enjoy Displacement.
Finally, if anyone wants to know more and get the inside scoop on things, plus advance news and special offers, they can sign up on our website at https://displacementthemovie.com/
DMR: Thank you for taking the time out of your busy schedule to conduct this enlightening interview, I am sure more will follow when your new projects begin to take shape, as always keep reading Dan's Movie Report for more exclusive interviews and film reviews. Shadow reality now returns to normalcy, my audience, you are free to return to your regular lives haha!