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Friday, March 14, 2008

Interview Recap - Lee DeMarbre - Director Of Vampiro Movie "The Dead Sleep Easy"

Courtesy of Steve “Rockamaniac” Wilson (shortly after the Montreal premiere of the film):

Main Event Radio Interview Recap

Guest: Lee De Marbre, director of the Vampiro lead action drama “The Dead Sleep Easy”

Interview Audio can be downloaded at http://www.sendspace.com/file/ualr20

Q: How did “The Dead Sleep Easy” Come About?

A: I was making a documentary about Vampiro’s life, We went all over Europe to follow him on a European tour…, and we came back to North America, then went all over Mexico with Vamp, and while in Guadalaraja at a Chilji’s restaurant, Vamp told me  his desires to make a narrative film some day, And that he would be really interested in playing the lead and that he had done that once before like in 1992, there was a movie called Vampiro night of the warrior, which no one has seen, but I have a copy of it, but he did appear in this movie years and years ago, but I don’t think he is very happy with it as it’s just about the craziest Mexican wrestling movie you’ve ever seen, but he wanted to make something more straight and we cooked up this idea at Chilji’s that day, I went home, and within 3 weeks, Ian Driscoll, my writer, wrote the whole thing really fast and in January 2007 we were filming a really wild Mexican wrestling gangster movie.

Q. Even though you were filming a documentary at the time, it must have been tough to get a movie together in such a short period of time and actually start filming it on location, especially in another country.

A: Yea, that was a real challenge, I didn’t think we could do it, we were a pretty tight team, the documentary crew was pretty tight, and if we kept the crew small I felt we could do it, We met a lot of wrestlers while we were making the documentary who I always had in the back of my head, I was looking for these guys who would be good in the film, and of course, Luke Hawx, and Joey Chaos, and Aaron Aguilera were all family by the time we were filming The Dead Sleep Easy they were family to us, so we kept it small, we kept trying to keep it like a family unit, and we made it happen. It was scary making the movie in Mexico, a lot of nasty stuff went down while we were there but overall we got him and we had a feature film in our hands, and I think it’s the first ever Mexican wrestling gangster movie.

Q. Well we get to some of those crazy stories from filming but first, As a director how was it like to work with Vampiro in terms of him as an actor, did he live up to your expectations or did he surpass them?

A: He’s a movie buff, And I think he drew on a lot of inspiration, It was weird cause when he made this one movie in Mexico he had a bad reputation, and he’d tell you about it, he thought the producers were dicks, you know you’ve heard him say things like that in his shoot videos, and he didn’t show up a lot of the times during the production of that film, and if you watch that movie it’s really disjointed because there is a big climax in the movie, and Vampiro, the lead star of it isn’t even in the climax of the movie, it was strange and we were hoping he doesn’t pull that crap while filming this project, but by that time we were family and we felt tight, and we talked a lot about movies that we both shared admiration for, and the one that really hit home with him was a movie called Bad Lieutenant with Harvey Keitel, the movie is about a down and out cop who is a really bad drug abuser, and when I mentioned it to Vamp, it meant a lot to him because that used to be his past, he had a lot of problems with drugs in the early 90’s  and because of that I think a lot of the scenes were tough for him to do because it’s a lifestyle he has left behind. So there was a lot to draw on because a lot of the movie is based on a lot of things that happened in his real life, and im really impressed (by his performance) and I knew he could pull it off because there was a lot for him to draw on and pull off all those emotional highs he had to hit, and I think the movie also relies on a lot of melodrama, you know in Mexico, if you watch Mexican movies, melodrama a bit part of it and that might not translate so well in America or Canada, but were hoping its gonna really fly well in Mexico, and a lot of people tell me he’s a little bit like Mickey Rourke, and one reviewer told me it was the best performance by a wrestler in a film since Roddy Piper in They Live.

Q: Now you mentioned the other wrestlers in the film like Luke Hawx and Joey Ryan, obviously the wrestlers got involved through Vampiro, but how did the rest of the cast come together?

A: Vamp again was very influential, he was the one who suggested Dave Courtney. Also Anna Sydal, who plays the female lead, was a old flame of Vampiro, and she is big in the latina community in North America. I brought in Martin Cove, who is a hero of mine, known for the Karate Kid movies, Rambo, Death Race 2000, he is a bit of a hero if you like action cinema, he’s got a big part of my admiration when it comes to action cinema in America, and so we added Martin to the mix, and found a lot of local actors and real gangsters to be part of the movies as our Line Producer had never made a movie before and when he read the script and see Gangsters described in the script and instead of hiring actors to play gangsters, he hired real gangsters! So it was a kind of a nightmare at times.

Q: Well you referenced the crazy stories, and that you had real gangsters on set, so if you could pick one story that you’ll forever remember when you think back to this movie, what would it be?

A: I think for me, I remember when the producer was held at gunpoint while filming on the first day! There was also a time for me I was dealing with this one guy who was a Chicago gangster who was working, killing, mugging and robbing in Mexico, and im not filming a movie to condone this lifestyle, I didn’t want to make that kind of movie, but we would find this out a couple of days into shooting. I also remember this one guy we were dealing with, and we were filming and he would always disappear and do some really bad stuff, he was snorting, smoking and he was in a really bad state, and I remember trying to direct him and it was really frustrating and I was slamming my head on the ground because he wasn’t listening to me, and Vamp wanted to kill the guy and even though there is a scene in the film where Vamp kills him, Vamp really wanted to do it, and at one point, my location manager Phil Caracas offended him and the guy got really mad at Phil but he did it in front of his mafia boss, who is also in the film, who is actually in jail right now, but he made this guy apologize to Phil, real gangster style aplogy. A lot of the guns on set were real, one guy just started shooting his gun off in the air, just for fun and we were right beside a school in Mexico at the time, it was scary, and the first week was probably the scariest week of my life, filming that movie, but it got better as it went along.

Q: Recently you’ve been on a cross Canadian tour, your have another date in the Yukon coming up as well as screenings in the states, but thus far what has the reactions been like to the film?

A: The reactions have been really good. But It’s a hard film to sell, you know you got the wrestling fans who can come out to the movie, but its not like a explotation movie, were getting a lot of press, which is really good, its getting the attention the movie deserves, this will be the step up to bigger and better things, I mean im really proud of the movie, I think everyone did a really great job, it was a really great time in my life. A lot of people have been really nice to me after the screenings, coming up to me and telling me they really like it, but im sure there are some that its not their cup of tea. But you know wrestling, people kind of look down their nose at wrestling sometimes, but I think that’s gotta change, wrestling is an art form, and people have got to start respecting that. I go to wrestling shows, and I see the younger people there, who have the more open minds, and that excites me, makes me think that wrestling is not going anywhere, and less and less people will look down their nose at wrestling, and it’s given us so much inspiration for this movie, and I have a lot of admiration for the sport.

Q: Well we’ve definitely seen a lot of wrestlers make the jump to the acting field, so pointing out the relationship between wrestling and the film is a good point. Looking ahead now, what are the future plans for the film? Will there eventually be a wide release? Otherwise will it be a DVD only release? What are looking at right now?

A: Well we have a screening in Los Angeles at the Ricardo Montebaun Cinema later this month, and later this weekend were in Philadelphia and Toledo, so it’s slowly make its way out on the festival circuit, but its hard to get your film out on a wide release now a days, you up against Jim Carey movies, Jack Black movies, and I read online that it takes an average of 79 million dollars to fully produce a movie and release it and that’s just money your spending, so its impossible to get that wide release right now, so were hoping for the festival circuit, I am hoping for a Latin American release, I think it could go over very  well there, and continue with the festival circuit and within the year have a national released home video, and blu ray dvd! You know the whole works.

Q: Another project you’ve been working on is the documentary (on Vampiro’s life) We saw a little trailer for it before the film today, and I always look forward to wrestling documentaries about wrestler’s lives, so please tell us what we could expect from this documentary.

A: I like wrestling documentaries too, I tried to watch as many as I could because I kinda wanted this to be like nothing like anything people has seen before, Im really happy about it, I had a certain admiration for wrestling that changed while making it because I started appreciating wrestling as an art form, and that’s what this documentary does, its sort of this love letter to the art form of wrestling and sort of the athleticism too, But mostly about Vampiro’s life and what it is like to be a professional wrestler and tour the world by yourself, and I think people have this conception that wrestlers show up at the arena in a limousine and are driven home at night, but we would go to the biggest arena in Mexico City, 36,000 people, and we’d have to walk home, and it was scary trying to find a cab. And Im really happy about the documentary, I hope people like it, I really think its like nothing you’ve seen before, it’s a really intense life story from a man, who started on the streets of Montreal, eating out of the garbage who went to Los Angeles working for Mickey Rourke, and became a bouncer for Milli Vanilli, so here he is working for Milli Vanilli, for the entire career, and living the biggest lie in the music industry… But I just really enjoyed making the documentary, and I hope wrestling fans love it.

Q: Wrestling documentaries have always been something that has been widely accepted by wrestling fans, We see the big companies like the WWE’s and TNA’s who make a ton of cash off of their documentaries, so its should definitely be something that wrestling fans will be looking forward too, Can you indicate when we could expect the project out?

A: Well were trying hard to avoid having someone like a Vince McMahon or someone big buy the film because we want to release it as a movie more than a wrestling documentary, because it would probably just disappear and be recut (if we sold it to a big company) Because its not a movie about the glamorous life of a wrestler, this movie is about really big social issues, it’s a tear jerker too, Vampiro’s career as a wrestler was a very successful one, he became the best non Mexican wrestler (in Mexico) there was for a decade, and today its hard to do the same, and the movie addresses a lot of that stuff, and the movie addresses a lot of that stuff, and I’d hate for a big company to take it and turn it up into a promo reel, this is a real stand alone movie about vampiro’s life, so Vince McMahon please stay away from it!

Q: Well it definitely sounds like something unique, and not only will we be keeping an eye out for it but we recommend the wrestling fans also keep an eye on it, For more information fans can check out www.odessafilmworks.com, www.vampiromovie.com, and www.thedeadsleepeasy.com, And finally, Lee any final thoughts?

A: Don’t let the man get you down, You know Ive seen people talk down their nose at wrestling like we spoke about earlier, but their the close minded ones, there the guys who cant try to see why people appreciate wrestling so much. My wife and I went to a wrestling event last week, and she sat beside me and kept saying I don’t get it, I don’t get it, I don’t get it, and im gonna take her next month to see it again and try to get her to see what its about, and its time for people to see it, people for some reason look at wrestling like its porno or something, but its not that at all, its an art form, and its time for people to appreciate it as one.

Steve: Well Lee, I thank you very much for joining me on the main event today and best of luck with the film in the months to come.

Lee: I appreciate it, thanks for the support.

Check out www.maineventradio.com for more details and MP3 downloads and to Download this Interview in Audio format  for yourself head over to http://www.sendspace.com/file/ualr20