Interview – Makers of ‘Kiss Me, Kill Me’
The new murder-mystery Kiss Me, Kill Me will be made available on VOD through various digital platforms and on DVD through Embrem Entertainment on Wednesday, December 7th, following a red carpet event at The Crest Theater in Westwood. The movie is a who-done-it in the vein of an Agatha Christie novel, an Alfred Hitchcock suspense or a Brian DePalma thriller. The difference is that it’s set entirely in the LGBT world of West Hollywood.
David Michael Barrett wrote the movie. He’s mainly known for writing comedies, such as the screwball Such Good People and the dark comedy Bad Actress. Yes, they were humorous, but each had a deadly element to it, which in ways primed him for this.
Casper Andreas (pictured above) was the director attached to make “Over the Rainbow,” a script that Barrett submitted to workshop at the Outfest Screenwriting Lab. That project fell through however. Unlike Barrett who studied at California State University in Northridge, Andreas never went to film school or had any formal training. Andreas is described as a self-taught filmmaker. He moved from Sweden to New York City to pursue acting where he attended the Strasberg Institute.
Through acting, he got a lot of background that would later help him to direct, which he began doing in 2004. He had trouble producing and financing the first script he wrote, but he managed to create a string of successful films about relationships between and with gay men. His sixth feature, Going Down in La-La Land, was a slightly darker look at the entertainment industry.
Barrett (pictured above) began writing the script for Kiss Me, Kill Me about four years ago. No one movie was the inspiration for it, aside from the entire genre of film noir. He said he was reading about hypnosis one day and the question became if one could be hypnotized into killing someone. He also knows a lot of TV producers, one in particular who’s older and single but who has a lot of younger suitors, and, from that, a father-figure theme emerged and the idea of exploring what it might be like for someone to be partnered with a person who has more power or money. After coming up with a plot, an arc came together where his main character would go from a boy to a man, being manipulated until eventually realizing the only person he can count on is himself.
Looking at the script, Barrett felt it paired well with Andreas’ Going Down in La-La Land. When trying to find a director, Andreas was Barrett’s only choice. Barrett sent the script to Andreas some time after Going Down in La-La Land was released to the masses in 2012. Barrett and Andreas spent about two years developing the script where one aspect that required work was enhancing the mystery in the murder-mystery. They wanted to make sure that enough people seemed guilty, that there were enough viable red herrings. Barrett also wanted to turn up the volume at the end, emphasizing twists and outrageousness, thus making it more fun.
Andreas said that the cast for the movie came together through personal connections. The low-budget nature of the project required them to go around agents and managers. As a producer, Barrett used his personal connections the most. Barrett’s previous movie Such Good People starred Randy Harrison, the actor best known for playing the teenage love-interest of Gale Harold in the hit series Queer As Folk on Showtime.
When searching for the person to be the aforementioned TV producer who’s older and single but who has a lot of younger suitors, Gale Harold was the only choice in Barrett’s mind. Other connections to Such Good People brought in a couple more cast members like Kit Williamson whom many will recognize from Mad Men. Williamson also wrote and directed the Emmy-nominated series EastSiders.
When searching for the younger suitors for Harold’s character, EastSiders proved to be fertile ground. In fact, the main love interest is played by Van Hansis, the co-star directly opposite Williamson in EastSiders. For those who don’t know, Hansis is an Emmy-nominated actor as well who is best known in his ground-breaking role on As the World Turns where he was one-half of daytime TV’s first gay-male kiss.
Matthew Ludwinski was the star of Andreas’ previous movie. He has a supporting role here as another of the younger suitors. Andreas pointed out that Ludwinski’s character is a polar reverse of his one before. Brianna Brown was also a soap star who got linked to this movie through her role in EastSiders, and she plays a sharp lawyer here. Jai Rodriguez, an actor and reality TV star, also had a small role in EastSiders, but he gets more prominence here as the macho cop investigating the murder.
Andreas shot this movie in January 2015 where he filmed for 18 days, or about 3 weeks, mostly at night. Andreas said they were very intense and long shooting days. He had to put together action scenes, which is something he hadn’t done prior. He said his previous movies were always stressful and he actually didn’t start enjoying directing until after his third feature. Yet, this movie put him back in stressful mode.
Andreas’ lessons in filmmaking came from listening to DVD commentaries. He relied a lot on his Director of Photography, or DP, named Rainer Lipski. His DP turned out to be Andreas’ biggest asset. Lipski always had ideas and gave great notes about how to achieve each of the shots. Andreas said sometimes plans had to change due to timing and lighting but Lipski was always flexible.
Barrett admitted, not only as writer but as producer, this movie was the “most difficult thing he’s ever done.” However, he said it was an amazing process overall. Andreas said that he realized during Q&A’s at film festivals later that at least the actors had a good time, meanwhile he was stressing like crazy. Two such stressful nights occurred when crafting the so-called dream or memory sequence (a scene from which is pictured above). All of the sequence occurred in the Pink Dot, an iconic grocery store in Los Angeles known for its round-the-clock, home delivery service.
Both Andreas and Barrett said that it was a stressful, two nights. It was a crucial scene to the mystery. There were a lot of special effects happening that literally had things splattering on the ceiling. It involved a lot of actors and a lot of choreography, which on a small, Kickstarter budget proved difficult, but the team managed it very well. The results of which Andreas and Barrett seemed very proud.
Next for Barrett is another dark comedy in the vein of Bad Actress. It hasn’t gone into production yet. For Andreas, he’s already finished his next project. It will be his 8th feature called Flatbush Luck. A lot of the same crew from this film helped him fast-track it.
Until then, Kiss Me, Kill Me will be available to stream on various digital platforms on Wednesday, December 7th, and the DVD can be purchased through Embrem Entertainment. For more information about the movie, you can go to its website KissMeKillMeMovie.com.