Directed by Sheri Sussman
“One Night in Hollywood” is a dark comedy, short film about two filmmakers who are offered financing for their film if they kill a studio executive and sadly, they seem to have more of a problem over disagreeing about the ending to their film. We like to think of it as “the ultimate Hollywood disconnect”. It is a teaser for a feature film we are trying to raise money for, “One Week In Hollywood” that’s a satire about trying to raise money for an Indie film! So “One Night in Hollywood” is a film within a film — within a film?!” – director Sheri Sussman
In One Night In Hollywood you take a hilariously cynical look at what it takes to get a film made in Hollywood, with your main characters committing murder in the name of their art. What was the birth of this story?
My producing partner and actor – Markus Reymann – and I wanted to work together. We were brainstorming ideas with Rick Peters another actor who is attached to our feature project that’s a satire also about two filmmakers trying to raise money for an Indie film. So we were thinking of ideas that could be the tone and style of the feature film.
Sitting at the 101 Coffee shop in Hollywood, Rick said, “All I see is Markus and I burying a body and then flashback.” I immediately said “Two guys get paid to kill someone and use the money for their film!” That was it.
The film is about the complete disconnect one can experience after years and years of having to jump through hoops to get any project financed, whether in the entertainment industry or not. We all get crazy sometimes and I’ve seen the most absurd things watching people try to raise money for films over the years – and we’ve done a few insane things ourselves! So, it’s taking a step back and taking a fun poke at ourselves.
The theme is that no matter how powerful you are in Hollywood, there’s always someone more powerful than you that has your career in the palm of their hand.
This short film is also actually a first step in making a feature of the same name. Can you talk about this strategy?
Markus Reymann and I had been pitching our feature film for well over a year and getting a nice package of great talent interested together such as: Ian Buchanan (“Twin Peaks”); Olivia Hussey (“Romeo & Juliet”); India Eisley (“Underworld”/”Kite”); Billy WIrth (“Lost Boys”); etc. and getting interest but nobody was writing a check yet. We didn’t want to shoot a trailer, as we wanted to have a piece of work that stood on its’ own. A short film. I’ve had good luck with my previous shorts and we both love shorts. After hustling for money, we really just wanted to “do some creative work”.
Once we got the idea, I went back to the feature script ONE WEEK IN HOLLYWOOD to see if I could tie it to our feature film as much as possible. I started stripping pieces of dialogue that I liked.
The short film is the same two guys as the feature film still looking for money for their film, but a few years later! It’s a film within a film. It’s the same premise as the feature film but with a different plot; the same lead characters; same actors attached to the feature; and shows the dark comedy/satirical tone of the feature “One Week in Hollywood”.
It’s a short film that gives an example of our team of talent, resources, production value, and crew. The budget was $10,000.00 and was shot in 2 1/4 days. We were lucky all the people involved with our feature were on board for the short film. Our executive producers Earl Lestz and Francesca Von Habsburg jumped in immediately with resources and financing and we were able to move forward.
Markus and I called in all our favors and were lucky to have an incredible talent and crew that worked for mostly nothing.
Why do you think we all love films about the film business and Hollywood?
I think we all like to “peek behind the curtain”. I’m from Cincinnati, Ohio and I know there’s so many people outside of big cities around the world, like me that love movies and that love to know what it’s really like. Our feature film is about the 70% of Hollywood that still work as writers, directors, producers, actors, and are not household names. It’s the “fringe side” of Hollywood, yet may be the majority really!
You’re a Hollywood insider yourself, with years of experience. Have you ever toyed with killing someone to get your film made?
I plead the fifth!! But, actually after a private screening a pretty successful producer said to Markus and I, “Great! Now I know how to get financing for my next film!” It confirmed our theory that even the “top players” in Hollywood can’t easily finance their films!
For One Night In Hollywood you’ve assembled a fantastic cast including the great Ian Buchanan. What’s your approach to attracting talent to your work?
Yes, we were very fortunate with all four actors! Markus Reymann, Rick Peters who was on “Dexter”, Ian Buchanan from “Twin Peaks” & “General Hospital” of course; and Kyle Kaminsky were so great!
Ian was a friend of our executive producer Francesca, who came on board for the feature over a year ago. We called and asked if he would do the short film, and without hesitation he was “all in”. Rick and Kyle were referred by a mentor of mine, Maggie Abbott who was an agent for CMA and represented Peter Sellers, etc., and always has a great eye for talent. Markus is transitioning from German theater into American films and is an incredibly crafted actor and amazing to work with. One of the most versatile, interesting, and intelligent actors I’ve met.
My approach to attracting talent is simply relying on the script and trying to give actors something in their wheelhouse, yet a bit of a departure from what they’ve done previously. In this case all four actors I have known and once they said yes, I wrote the parts specifically with them in my head and for them. I always love getting actors’ input of what their dream role is and try to implement that to make it satisfying for them. Especially when they’re all working for free!
One Night In Hollywood is just starting it’s festival run. How’s that going and what’s happening next?
Markus and I are fortunate to have ONE NIGHT IN HOLLYWOOD represented by Cloud 21 Public Relations – Gotham Chandna and Melanie Marquez. They are really great to have repping our project as we are trying to capitalize on the short film for raising money for the feature film as much as possible. They completely get our vision and it’s really nice to have positive support out here in the indie film world!
They recommended a fantastic inaugural festival – The SKYWAY FILM FESTIVAL in Bradenton, Florida – where we are really excited to have our WORLD PREMIERE, JUNE 13th @ 3:45 pm.
So far also, in the fall we will be screening at HOLLYWOOD SHORTS, and then the DARAMSHALA FILM FESTIVAL in India in November. The PBS “SHORTS SHOWCASE” on Southern California/Palm Springs will also show our short film after our festival circuit ends.