By: JP Frydrych
We started to run these articles with intent to highlight filmmakers on a weekly basis, but it turns out that with only two people running the articles, Nicki Legge and myself. It can become a difficult juggling act between productions, work, personal endeavors, etc. I think it also has a lot to do with the fact that we take every aspect of Jump Ship very seriously, including the articles. We want to give each person that we write about the justice they deserve because we pick people that we feel take this stuff as seriously as we do.
I met Charles Peterson last year at Phoenix Comicon; he had a few films playing and I had the pleasure of seeing two of them. From the few words we exchanged at Comicon, I can tell you that Charles is very passionate about his work, and although his work is extremely edgy, he’s probably one of the most grounded people I’ve met. Comicon has a block of films that screen really late at night. I am referring to the 18+ category. I found it interesting that I met Charles at the Con in the middle of the afternoon, considering there are tens of thousands of people that attend Comicon and the 18 + section usually screens at around midnight. The other reason I find this intriguing is because in 2012 one of my films was part of the 18+ films at the Phoenix Comicon. When Charles told me his film was playing in that category, I felt compelled to make my way back to the screening hall later that night. Let me tell you, Charles’s film blew my submission out of the water! The film I saw was Sex and Violence, and it rocked my world. Without giving too much away, the title hits the nail on the head. We didn’t pick Charles as Jump Ship Productions Filmmaker of the Week because we met him a year ago though. We picked him because he is working on a new short film that sounds really good.
Typically we write an article style piece about the Filmmaker of the Week, but Charles’s attention to detail and his wonderful grammar has inspired us to share his comments as raw as the essence of all of Charles’s films (Interview Style).
Nicki: How long have you been involved in filmmaking?
Wow, since I was a kid and made home videos. I took it seriously back in 2000 with a short film I made in black and white called “CD-ROM”. The film was heavily inspired by David Cronenberg’seXistenZ. There was a contest online that I wanted to do and the idea was to film, shoot, and edit a short entirely by yourself. When I looked at the deadline it had already passed. The idea of shooting a short like that inspired me to still do it as a personal challenge. This is one of my favorite “old school” films and one that I’m still proud of considering the time it was made. In 2004 I wrote and directed an unfinished film called “The Slick White Rabbit” starring Patti Tindall, Shannon Power, and Mark Ray. The story was about Jefferson Airplane singer Grace Slick finding her inspiration through drugs to write the song “White Rabbit”. In 2009, I had the pleasure of working with seasoned actor Corbin Bernsen for the movie “Closets” produced by Old World Producers Group. While the film was a complete disaster from the beginning, it was an honor to work with such a professional actor. I would not trade the experience for anything.
Nicki: What sparked your interest in film?
HBO and Showtime. When I was a kid my mom had cable and subscribed to HBO and Showtime and I would watch a lot of movies on there. A lot of the films may have been too mature for my age range. “Ghostbusters” is so much better watching it as an adult. I must say the year that really pushed my interest in film was the summer of 1996. In my opinion, the best summer movies came out that year – “Twister”, “Mission: Impossible”, “Independence Day”, etc. It was around that time that I really decided to make movies professionally, or try to. DVDs had started to surface and I loved that technology so much that I would buy every movie that came out. I purchased this one flick that was rated NC-17 because up until that time I had never seen a film so rated. That movie was “CRASH” (the David Cronenberg version). I watched the movie and hated it. I didn’t get it and it really disturbed me. It was a movie that I could not get out of my head. Why did I keep thinking about a motion picture that didn’t arouse me, or even make sense? I actually had to buy the book and read it to better understand the movie! To keep this short, I read the book and it was actually very close to the film. You just have to accept what these characters are doing. I have a deep love for that film, it took me on a journey that I have never seen or experienced before. Now going back and watching it today, it is a beautifully presented dark film that I think is done very tastefully, and that is why I love film. Take me on a journey that isn’t everyday normal life.
Nicki: I see that you do a lot of writing, directing, and producing. Are there any other roles that you enjoy behind and in front of the camera?
Actually, I hate the writing part. I do not consider myself a good writer at all. I would rather collaborate on the writing process with someone else. That being said, I really love the editing aspect of film making. I think it’s where the movie comes together as a whole. I love operating the camera, too. I love bringing other film makers on board as producer under the Cool Wave Pictures banner to build our team of talent. Kenneth Miller and Cody Everett are prime examples of that. They are very talented people and I am honored they allowed me to produce their films. In front of the camera? Yes, I confess I have done it, but try to avoid so at all costs. Haha.
Nicki: All of the films of yours that I have seen have a very dark and cynical feel. Even “Clint,” which is an all-around fun film, still had a bit of a sinister element to it. What is it that draws you to this type of film?
Nicki: I’ve noticed a lot of familiar faces between your films (Carrie Fee, Patrick Adam, Jose Rosete, etc.). How did you meet your key actors and what makes you bring them back on set?
I think what draws me to the dark material is a fascination for the human mind. I want to take my audience on a journey they would never take in real life. I’m not a dark person at all. I’m actually nervous, shy, and maybe a little neurotic at times. I don’t try to be dark and cynical on purpose, but it’s those types of films that get me excited and for whatever reason I latch on to. Maybe it’s my love and fascination for David Cronenberg’s work. I don’t know. “Clint” was actually a fluke. I just got into DSLR cinema and was really anxious to film a movie on the new camera. At the same time Cameron Cooper sent me a crappy cell phone video of him doing a Clint Eastwood impersonation and he wanted me to put it on YouTube. I told him it looked like crap and that we should entirely improvise a short. We came up with an outline and filmed it the next day. We needed actors so I called up Patrick Adam and Carrie Fee. They agreed to do it and the finished product is something more than we expected. With “Sex and Violence” I wanted to explore sexuality in a married couple’s life, so it was obvious we had to make a dark film. Having Javier Gomez as my DP really made that happen visually. What excited me about the films that I collaborated with Jose Rosete on (“Win, Lose, or Draw”, “Schism”, and “Sex and Violence”) was that he writes his screenplays with a lot of reality in them, and sometimes real life is dark and sinister. Happy films, or films with happy endings, just don’t interest me. “Clint” wouldn’t be as fun with a happy ending. I love the way that film ends.
I met Jose Rosete on another film set while casting for my short “Laws of Deception” in 2006. He was eager to do the film and the rest is history. Not only is he a brilliant actor, but a brilliant writer as well. We would end up collaborating on several other projects over the years. He is a joy to work with. Patrick I met on a casting session for “The 11th Aggression“. I initially cast him in a small role, but when the lead actor dropped out he took over. After that, I cast him in “Win, Lose, or Draw“, “Sex and Violence”, “Clint”, “Closets”, and “Schism”. I consider him a good friend and would cast him in future projects.
Carrie Fee I actually met through Patrick Adam. She came from the world of theater and “Sex and Violence” was her first film role. I strongly believe that if it wasn’t for her the movie would never have come out the way I envisioned it. She portrayed the role of Cassandra so perfectly and beautifully, which was not an easy thing to do – not just for the nudity, but for the craziness that Cassandra projected. I cannot think of another actress that could own that role like Carrie Fee did. I owe a lot to her for the incredible performance and her professional attitude regarding the film.
Nicki: How long has Cool Wave Pictures been around?
Cool Wave Pictures started back in 1993 as a potential software production company. When I was in high school I took a computer programming course and created a game. I wanted to come up with a company name, but had a hard time settling on one. I do a lot of thinking while in the shower, and when I was putting on deodorant the scent I was using was called Cool Wave. So I called my pseudo company Cool Wave Software. When I started film I carried the name over. First it was Cool Wave Studios, then it changed to Cool Wave Pictures in 2002. Wild Rain Pictures, also part of the Cool Wave label for internet productions, came from a deodorant scent as well. So I suppose I owe a lot to Gillette. To this day I still use Cool Wave deodorant.
Nicki: When did you create Cool Wave Post?
Cool Wave Post & Digital Media was created in 2012 to assist companies with their video production needs. We have worked with several clients including Sweet Corn Organic Nursery, The Village Health Club & Spas, British Automotive Repair, and others to name a few. Our goal is to create high quality video productions for anyone’s budgetary needs.
Nicki: What is the basic premise for 3 cars?
Nicki: How did you come up with the concept?
The story of “3 Cars” follows politician Hugo Parker, who’s likely to win an election to become state senator. He is running against his father’s principles to spite the former politico. The movie is basically a political thriller where everyone, it doesn’t matter what side you are on, is shady, dirty. I don’t really follow politics because there are always dirty games being played behind the scenes. It’s basically a fuck you to politics, but first and foremost a family drama.
The idea of “3 Cars” came while I was pondering how cool it would be to start with one car parked in a neighborhood and travel to another car parked elsewhere. I always wanted to do a political thriller, again an FU to politics. After I wrote a draft of the script, I enlisted Michael Sallustio to do re-writes. Our final shooting script is labeled draft 9, but I think we must’ve done 12-15 drafts over time.
Nicki: How long do you anticipate the finished product will be?
I think the finished product will be anywhere from 12-15 minutes. When doing a short film, not only do I direct, but also edit. I think it’s very important for me to cut my own films. While engaged in the editing process you are still directing your film, plus I love working with Avid. To be honest, I really don’t know how long the film will be. I usually don’t worry about that unless the film drags. Pacing is everything! I don’t think a lot of film makers know pacing. You can set yourself a goal, but the story can’t be too slow or too fast. I’m sure I’ll have to make sacrifices to make it work, but it’ll be well worth it.
Nicki: When do you anticipate the film will premiere?
Since this is an early 2014 production, along with my other film “Homecoming”, we may have to do a screening/premiere separately – hopefully getting into the Phoenix Film Festival next year. If we can get them done sooner, maybe Jerome this year. I would recommend checking our website for the latest screening information at www.coolwavepictures.com.
Nicki: Do you plan to take the film to any festivals?
Submitting to film festivals is a given with all of Cool Wave Pictures’ shorts. I always try to have their world premieres at Phoenix. “Laws of Deception” was the first short film that was an official selection and we had a great time at the festival. Chris Lamont and Jason Carney run an incredible festival and we are so lucky that it’s in our hometown. I have had my shares of rejections and I know it’s a difficult process to select everyone’s film. To me, Phoenix is the big dog in Arizona.
Nicki: What do you hope the audience will take away from the film?
You can want the audience to feel a certain way, but sometimes you are surprised by what people tell you after the film. With “Sex and Violence” I wanted the audience to feel disturbed, depressed, and even horrified at what they just saw. I got exactly that. That was the first film I’ve made where people – strangers even – came up to me and told be how disturbing the film was. I wasn’t insulted, I was proud! “Homecoming” is starting to take form as an intense drama, while “3 Cars” will be an intriguing thriller/drama. You can rarely predict how an audience will feel.
Nicki: What other projects are you working on right now?
I am working on “3 Cars” and “Homecoming” back-to-back, which I will never do again, but it’s been fun. I am also doing pre-pro on a feature film tentatively titled “DARK”. A film that follows the investigation of a sex club (think “Eyes Wide Shut” merged with “The Ninth Gate”). I really want to push some boundaries with that film – no holding back! I want it real and gritty. Everyone tells me that I need to turn “Sex and Violence” into a feature, but I won’t unless Jose Rosete is on board – which is a long shot. I am certain I will be working again with Kenneth Miller and Cody Everett on their future projects, and hope to build my team up even more! I just want to make films, because I love the art form!