Hello, there! My name is Preston Barta, and I am the features editor of Fresh Fiction and senior film critic at the Denton Record-Chronicle. My cinematic love story began where I was born: off planet on the isolated desert world of the Jakku system. It's there I passed the time scavenging for loose parts with my good friend Rey. One day I found an old film projector and a dusty reel of the 1975 film JAWS. It rocked my world so much that I left my kinfolk in the rearview (I so miss their morning cups of green milk) to pursue my dreams of writing about film. It wasn't long until I met two gents who said they would give me a lift. I can't recall their names, but one was an older man who liked to point a lot and the other was a tall, hairy fella. They got me as far as one of Jupiter's moons where we crossed paths with the U.S.S. Enterprise. Some pointy-eared bastard said I was clear to come aboard. He saw that I was clutching my beloved shark movie and invited me to the "moving pictures room" where he was screening the 1993 film JURASSIC PARK to his crew. He said my life would be much more prosperous if I were familiar with more work by the god named Steven Spielberg. From there, my love for cinema blossomed. Once we reached planet Earth, everything changed. I found the small town of Denton, TX, and was welcomed into the Barta family. They showed me the writings of local film critic Boo Allen. He became my hero and caused me to chase a degree in film and journalism. After my studies at graduate of the Hogwarts School of Witchcraft and Wizardry, I met some film critics who showed me the ropes and got me into my first press screening: 2011's THE GREEN LANTERN. Don't worry; I recovered just fine. MAD MAX: FURY ROAD was only four years away.
Preston Barta // Features Editor
Starring Anthony Michael Hall, the late Chris Penn (in his final performance), Tony Danza, and written and directed by Thomas Farone, AFTERMATH tells the story of a successful developer (Anthony Michael Hall) who seems to have everything in order, only to find things have come to a screeching halt when his longtime foreman Matt (Jamie Harrold) and subcontractor Tony (Chris Penn) start to compete for top position in the company. After Matt mysteriously goes missing and Tom gets fired, the tension rises and violence ensues.
Farone’s suspenseful thriller began production back in 2005 and wrapped shortly before Penn (brother of Sean Penn) died at age 40 in January 2006. After a long process of getting the film made, AFTERMATH is finally hitting the streets, screening in limited release.
We spoke with Farone last week about working with Chris Penn and getting the film off the ground and onto screens.
Hey, Thomas. How are you doing?
Thomas Farone: “Oh, good, Preston. Thanks for taking the time to talk about the film. I really appreciate that.”
Absolutely. Happy almost-Thanksgiving.
Farone: “[Laughs] Ah, same to you. Happy almost-Thanksgiving – I like it.”
So, about this film – I really dug it. I think what really stood out to me about, right out of the gate, was the style and the way that you told the story. For instance, I noticed the cinematography and how it really seem to fit the story, with the canted shots and how it wasn’t always centered. I noticed the way you used music as well. Do you think it is lazy filmmaking if someone doesn’t notice those aspects? Or, do you think different stories call for different things?
Farone: “Well, first of all, thank you. Thank you very much. I really appreciate that. I think a story dictates it, but yeah, it’s lazy if you don’t don’t jump in and magnify the moment – using that kind of craft in a film to push the moment. Of course, you don’t want to over-do it where it takes away from the actor. You want to be able to let them roll, too.
So as long as you’re not taking away from the story, adding to it and magnifying the moment you want to push, then yes. But, if you don’t – ‘Oh, I didn’t take the time to get that extra shot, that or push, and it just killed it.’ There has been some movies that have been left a little bit on the table that way.”
Yeah, for sure. To be honest with you, I was unfamiliar with AFTERMATH until I received an email about it, and it immediately caught my attention because I saw that it starred Anthony Michael Hall and Chris Penn, and I was confused for reasons you probably understand. But I did some research and saw that you had completed shooting in 2005. What made 2014 the year to share this with people?
Farone: “I’m glad you asked. It’s true; it was done at the end of 2005. It was a quick shot and turnaround. It was an independent film, so there’s finances; we had re-shoots to come back to – we got pushed around. You get pushed around as an independent filmmaker sometimes.
The re-shoots took up until almost 2008. There was a lot of moving around and some things got canceled along the way, so about an year-and-a-half. But it worked. At the time, 85% of the film was in the can, all of Chris Penn’s stuff was done and superb, and then you have to find the right composer. I found David Kitay (GHOST WORLD, CLUELESS), and he was tremendous. AFTERMATH got pushed around a little bit more, [Kitay] went and worked on some other bigger studio films – so I just waited for him, and he did an incredible job. So that took until about 2010.
But then it came to cutting it, color correcting it, and I wanted it to be right. I wanted it to be right for Chris and everyone involved. We edited it through 2011, and later got picked up at the Cinequest Film Festival in 2012. So I waited nine months for that. It received good reviews and got picked up. So that was the time behind it. So if you want to make an independent film, you got to put the time in and plan it. I hope that answers your question a little bit [Laughs].”
It sounds like a draining process.
Farone: “As a filmmaker, I was blessed to have it. I really liked the project. I think it’s a really good film and the force behind it is as well. Anthony Michael Hall? What an incredible job he did.”
Oh, yeah. And Chris Penn.
Farone: “Yeah. It is his last film. The time that it took to get this film made did not take away from the performance that this man put into this film. He brought all the character development and whole different level to the film. He was incredible to work with, and a major talent. And then he passed away, but his work shows here. He’s in a real independent film and he’s great in it, and that’s what people should look at.”
Most definitely. His character and Tony Danza’s are so rough around the edges. And I’ve noticed over the last couple years that we’ve gravitated towards characters like this, especially if you look at television shows like BREAKING BAD or FARGO. Why do you think we gravitate towards characters like this, and what do you think it says about ourselves?
Farone: “I don’t really know. Those are great shows, because those characters have that depth to them and are a bit edgier. And yeah, Tony [Danza]. Man, he’s great in the film and great to work with. But I’ve always enjoyed more characters like that with a little more edge and a little more on the table.”
Yeah, I guess so we can kind of live vicariously from the comfort of our seats.
Farone: “[Laughs] Yeah, yeah. You’re exactly right. Some of them are right there and are real enough to get the gist and feel.”
Agreed. So, what’s next for you?
Farone: “I got two scripts that I wrote, and they have been storyboarded out. They’re ready to go. I am ready to get it in somebody’s hands and get it started.”
And we look forward to it, sir.
Farone: “Thank you. Thank you so much.”
AFTERMATH is in theaters in limited release in NY now and opens in LA on Friday.
Distributor: Freestyle Releasing
Release date: November 28th (New York) & December 5th (Los Angeles)
Written & Directed by: Thomas Farone
Starring: Anthony Michael Hall, Chris Penn, Tony Danza, Elisabeth Rohm, Lily Rabe, Jamie Harrold, Frank Whaley and Leo Burmester
Run Time: 84 Minutes