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Interview with D. David Morin

D. David Morin InterviewD. David Morin is a prolific actor and director, who has been in the industry for over 30 years acting in countless feature films, network television shows and commercials, starring opposite some of Hollywood's biggest names. From acting to directing, skateboarding to surfing and Los Angeles to Cape Town, he's led a colourful life having free-lanced since 1983!

Having realised his first love, Morin is now directing feature films, documentaries, commercials and facilitating the Hollywood Acting Master Class in his new home, Cape Town CBD. Spling met up with the upbeat, free-spirited and multi-talented movie man for a couple of coffees to get a glimpse into his world and glean some of the wealth of experience he's gained. After a few minutes, it was clear... D. David Morin's life needs to be adapted into film.

How did your film journey begin?

I paid my way through law school selling skateboard wheels, which meant I dealt with surf shops. Because of that I ended up judging professional surf contests in Southern California and Mexico. There was one contest where the announcer didn't show up, so I filled in and was quite glib and became the voice of professional surfing for 10 years and they were flying me around the world. So I kind of started as this MC/presenter guy. When I finished law school I went to work for Skateboarder magazine and I was editor of a section called Skateboarder Now. The magazine folded and I went back to college to study film and TV production because they had a cable show called Lifestyle and I wanted to be the presenter.

So I started presenting and a friend told me we're doing this student film and I was like "finally, my close up!". That was when the bug bit me at around 25 years old that I wanted to be an actor. I was doing really well in the programme and then I pick the thing I have the least amount of talent in and was like "that's what I want to try and be good at!" In my life, to be a believable actor was the hardest thing in the world.

I grew up in Hollywood, I was living down in Orange County and after I finished the two-year programme I moved to L.A. and studied acting for six years. My dad went to Harvard law, so the lawyer part was in my background... my mom was an actor and her mom was a production designer. I was definitely more creative than I was a lawyer guy. Right before I turned 30, I got my SAG (Screen Actor's Guild) card in L.A. and because I was such a good presenter I naturally became a good spokesman. So I made a ton of money being that commercical spokesman guy... they labelled me "The King of Commercials" and I did a network national commercial every month for 12 years.

I've done nearly 5000 castings, so I know the casting process, I know how to work the lens and be present as an actor, so I've had the best life possible. I've done movies, I've done TV series... I was on two pilots, one with Brad Garrett, and then I did another sitcom with Jennifer Aniston called Muddling Through for CBS before she did Friends. That TV series didn't really go anywhere... I was second billing, Jennifer was third billing and then it got cancelled and she got picked up on Friends, which blew up... and I'm still waiting to blow up.

I ended up moving to Africa in 2011. I got a gig acting on this Kenyan independent feature, Leo. I got flown to Nairobi and after two weeks I was like "wow, this is cool". I was over in LA... I was 55 living in downtown L.A. in a groovy loft, but the phone wasn't ringing. So when the lease was up I sold everything I had and bought a one-way ticket to Kenya. I formed a production company in Kenya called Slingshot Productions and did my first docco called The Sea Turtles of Lamu and shot over sixty projects in 3 years in Kenya, Ethiopia, Rwanda, Uganda, South Sudan, Switzerland, Cambodia... like 'have camera, will travel'. I really learned how to be a shooter, I had already directed a couple of features but I wasn't an ace cinematographer. Directing is my first passion, but I'm fascinated with screenwriting... I've taken so many seminars and am teaching Screenwriting as part of the Masters series. I've been cutting all along for the last 10-12 years with Final Cut 7 - I'm old school with the software.

Bill Paxton and D. David Morin - The Gamechangers

If you had to pick a couple of highlights from your career...

I just did a project in Cape Town in April with the BBC called The Gamechangers, which is based on Grand Theft Auto. It's based on a true story, there was a black kid in Alabama who acted out the game in real life and got charged with murder and convicted. Bill Paxton plays this attorney, who is trying to get the Grand Theft Auto guys locked up or stop them from making this content of cop killing. I hadn't worked in 5 years and then I booked this job, suddenly working opposite Bill Paxton. That was really exciting, playing this judge. There were 30 cast and crew, but it was great, I loved it.

I did a big film with Geena Davis, Dustin Hoffman and Andy Garcia. It's hard to beat something on that scale... Dustin and I would have beers in his motor home after work and he was just this outstanding individual. Working with Jennifer Aniston was awesome, she's a terrific gal and we were good friends. I never really broke in, I was never that prime time name... but I can't complain, I've had a great career... I've been a freelancer since 1983!

Can you tell me a bit about your latest documentary?

I had just moved into the Cape Town City Centre and I was told they're doing Handel's Messiah on August 28th next door to my building at Groote Kerk, and I thought maybe there was a chance I could go to some of the rehearsals. The conductor only answered my emails 4 weeks later and I started attending rehearsals on 1 August and started filming the whole thing, hiring sound guys, three cameras... and then we interviewed three of the choir members as well as the conductor Leon Starker and we had this fantastic feature-length documentary. Finding Messiah is a fun piece for anyone who enjoys music or knows Handel's Messiah or choir music... I actually used very little concert footage as it's really the "making of", the rehearsal process and Leon trying to get everyone to where he wants them to get to.

Did you establish one or two focus characters?

Leon Starker's the Afrikaner, really charismatic and fun to watch, and then we focussed on three black members from the Cape Town youth choir, two guys and a girl. They're brilliant and funny, their perspective is from the choir in different voice groups. I'm really excited about it. We're trying to get into the Durban Film Festival...

When you were announcing, did you surf much and I imagine you got a to meet a few top surfers...

I was more into body surfing, I wasn't ever a great surfer. That was way back in the days of Shaun Tomson, Tom Carroll and Shane Horan. When I left the surfing and skating world I moved to Hollywood and wanted to make a go of it, studying the craft and making a career out of it. I kept a toe in the other world. I still watch the world surfing league, I was friends with Laird Hamilton, I lived in Malibu.

Stacey Peralta and I were really good friends, we lived next door to each other in Hollywood way back in the day. When he was making those videos for the Bones Brigade I was helping him shoot and cut them, being his sidekick.

Why did you move from Kenya to South Africa?

The doors were closing. I had to renew my permit and it was really pricy and the phone had stopped ringing for 18 months. I was doing post-production for the Turtles and I was down here and realised it was like heaven. Some friends in Somerset West allowed me to stay with them while I did a 10 day reccie. I moved here and it's incredible, I can't believe how much I love my life. The Western Cape has all the best bits of California, I was just driving up the M3 and it reminds me of Hawaii... those mountains and all the greenery.

Tell me about the Hollywood Masters workshop...

Right now I teach what I call the Hollywood Acting Master Class for TV & Film, 8 Saturdays... an intensive workshop like a Hollywood Boot Camp. “What to do & How to do it” to book a job and work on set, so I shoot everything. People still can't grasp that they have to memorise their lines. I say "look guys, know your lines and be on time..." that's the standard minimum. The next one starts in April and then we're doing The Hollywood Master Series over four Saturdays in May. Screenwriting, Directing, Producing and then Cinematography... each a three hour seminar.

I think the slant that I can offer is that I have a lot of practical knowledge. The screenwriting class... the script has to look a certain way otherwise no one's going to touch it. Directing, creative problems require creative solutions... it's about making your pages. I really have fun teaching everything. I've written over a 1000 pages as a screenwriter. I've directed four films now and tons of other projects. My IMDB pages for all the years in front of the camera. I kind of an old goat, I've been around for a while. It's text-book teaching but peppered with lots of practical know-how. It's for anyone who loves movies. Even some of my acting students want to take the Master Series to hear stories and see how things work. I didn't realise how much I enjoy teaching and pass on my legacy. I'd love to be a part of raising the bar of excellence in cinematic art. My brother said "You either need to make art or teach art... that's when you're at your happiest" and I think he nailed it. We create show reels for people at the end of the HAMC. I've got beautiful lenses and I know how to shoot and light, we have sound effects... it really looks great!

It's for anyone that loves movies. Even some of my acting students want to take the Masters series to hear stories and see how things work. I didn't realise how much I enjoy teaching and pass on my legacy. I'd love to be a part of raising the bar of excellence in cinematic art. My brother said "You either need to make art or teach art... that's when you're at your happiest" and I think he nailed it. We create show reels for people at the end. I've got beautiful lens's and I know how to shoot and light, we have sound effects... it really looks great!

Are faith-based films a focus area for you?

I was involved with that community of believers in Hollywood. For me, faith-based films is an excuse to make schlock... low grade films. I've been in Christian films, I've directed and rewritten them... I know the genre and the market. I get excited when something like ‘Risen’ comes out... it's high production value, a big studio release... it's not preaching to the choir. It's a nice crossover film. In L.A. we have this debate… is he a Christian filmmaker or a filmmaker who’s also a Christian? I prefer the latter. Call me a filmmaker first and if I can make Christian content, I pray I can do it at a good enough level that people can go ‘that guy's a really good filmmaker’. Not, ‘that was pretty

And the motorbike thing... how did that start?

It's just a hobby. As a kid, I grew up riding dirt bikes. When I had a house in the Hollywood Hills, my neighbour was this British director guy and one year he said it was "hogs and dogs". He bought two Harleys and some dogs and I tagged along. We had this motorcycle gang in the Hollywood and Beverley Hills and every Tuesday we'd go out and ride to a burger joint out in the valley. Then we'd come back and cruise Sunset strip, it was a bunch of posers but it was a lot of fun.

What advice would you give actors moving over to L.A.?

You can go for it and I'd say good luck. I don't know where this figure came from, but I believe it. There are 10,000 people every month that are climbing into Hollywood ready to be the next movie star. If you're a South African going to Hollywood and you don't have a rock solid American accent... how many parts are you going to land? If you think you can go there on your merit, then don't leave Cape Town now. This is the busiest it's ever been. Work on your show reel here, do as many projects as you can... and if you have an agent and your immigration is sorted, don't expect to get off the plane and be a working actor. There are thousands of others, including Americans, who are trying for the same thing.

Sure you've got Charlize Theron, but practically how good is your show reel? How many credits do you really have? Have you been on Black Sails 12 times? Are you working opposite great names? There's an actor's website called Speedreels.com and you can find any actor you want and there will be 20-200 with their 60 second show reels. I don't even need 60 seconds to tell if this person can act, I can tell in 5 seconds. As a "Young Turk", it's not easy... you can't just have a sassy head shot and a great attitude... you need a reel that makes someone who watches 5 seconds, want to watch 5 seconds more.

Sometimes it's better if you can stay put and be head-hunted?

If you can stay in South Africa and make your goal to book every international job that comes in. You need the screen time... the other thing that can be tricky is how do you get your footage. Do you use bit torrent? I used to buy the movies I was in on DVD and then I'd rip the DVD and use that footage to cut my show reel together. You book a job and then you've got to be intentional about tracking down the footage.

It's all about your reel and maybe I'm too old school, but I still leave a headshot whenever I have a theatrical job. Even if they say they don't need it, I tell them to keep it because I want it lying around. It has all of my CV credits on the back, which are a lot and then the headshot is the best shot of me I can find. It's going to end up in the rubbish bin, but if it helps you book that job than it's worth it and maybe it gives the impression that you've been around long enough that you've worked since headshots were used.

You've lived your life with the glass half-full... is that how you'd describe your outlook?

My blood type is B positive and I think I am. I just feel lucky. Your attitude is everything. Your attitude does determine your altitude. When I'm down, I just have to say to myself "look how great you have it". Unless you're a name like Jeff Bridges or George Clooney you're not going to work in LA over 45 or 50. That was my experience. Over here, I've got four or five castings a week right now. So it's like a completely different world. I was sitting in my loft in downtown L.A. in the Old Bank District and I'm looking at this building across the street. I'm as cool as you can be.

It was game over, am I just going to look at that building for the rest of my life. You've got to blaze your own trail. I think life is what you make it and you've got to roll with the punches. I wrote a book called "God is not a Smart Planner". I had a decade of loss... I was engaged, I had a TV show with Jennifer Aniston, I had a beach house in Malibu that got trashed by El Niño, my mom died, my dad died, my sister died... the biggest struggle in life is not to grow bitter. Once you get that bitter seed in you it can grow and grow. You have to be intentional. I can moan or wallow in self-pity, or I can say what else can I do?

Do you think you'll write an autobiography?

I don't know. I have a blog that I try to update monthly... I don't know if I have enough. Never say never. I enjoy writing... when I left Kenya. I came up with a title A Thousand Days... I was there for about a thousand days. I have a problem with it, the corruption... as beautiful as it is, as a culture Kenya is corrupt and duplicitous. They keep expanding the members of parliament, taxing all these poor people.

Kenya is a mixed bag for sure, like most of Africa. But I’ve had the most incredible adventure! Beats being stuck in my groovy loft in DTLA! I was SO over!

Are you a budding actor, screenwriter or director? Kick-start your dream career, sign up for D. David Morin's Hollywood Master Class, or follow the the Hollywood Master Class on Facebook.

Top Ten Movies with... Ian Bredenkamp

If you're looking for someone, who you could call "Mr. Radio"... Ian Bredenkamp is your man. Bredenkamp studied at Stellenbosch University, where he fell in love with radio at Matie FM 92.6. Since the bug bit, the self-proclaimed "music man" has turned his passion into a career. Gaining experience as the programming manager, marketing & PR manager and breakfast show DJ in his varsity days, he decided to follow lifelong hero and SA radio legend, Alex Jay, by moving into commercial radio.

Starting as a news reporter, anchor and prime time producer at 94.5 Kfm, it wasn't long before he became programming manager and 9-12 morning show presenter, overseeing the content and schedules at the no. 1 hit station. Ian's been heard on Talk Radio 702, 94.5 Kfm, 567 Cape Talk, P4 Radio (now Heart 104.9), Matie FM, Bush Radio, Radio CFlat and Rhodes Music Radio. He's all about the music, able to answer just about any music-related question you throw at him... and has been around since the first Nirvana mix tape was played on the Arc.

With more than 15 years in the media game, he was part of the development team of LeadSA and also founded media entertainment PR company, IBMedia. We were lucky to grab an interview with multi-talented and versatile Bredenkamp, whose Top Ten movie selection just emphasises his first love, music!

"I'd make a movie about rock 'n roll baby!"

I can't watch movies without...

- Popcorn and Coke Lite. It's easy to meet this wish at the cinema but a lot harder at home. It's also really bad for my waist line so an all-round bad idea!

Which famous people share your birthday?

- Mick Jagger is the day before me and Madonna and I are together. There’s some serious peer pressure to perform and excel! (16 Aug)

What is the first film you remember watching?

- The first movie I saw was E.T. The Extra Terrestrial from the backseat of my parent's station wagon at the Pietermaritzburg drive-in. I was 6 or 7 years old and was terrified! I kakked my pants right the way through.

What's the worst movie you've ever seen?

- Pretty much anything starring Katherine Heigl.

Which movies have made you tearful?

- I cry easily, so it doesn't take much.

Who is the most famous movie star you've ever met?

- Hell, I've been lucky with this. I work in radio so I've interviewed plenty of famous movie stars. I met Samuel L Jackson in his hotel room, I brushed my leg against Juliette Binoche at a press junket and I interviewed Patrick Swayze on the set of King Solomon’s Mines. Many more...

What's your favourite movie line?

- "Hoo-ah!" ~ Al Pacino in Scent of a Woman

Who would you choose to play you in your biopic?

- Kevin Spacey with botox.

If you could produce a movie, what would it be about?

- I'd make a movie about rock 'n roll baby!

Finally, your top ten movies of all-time...

- The 3 Amigos ...I was 10 when this came out. We had a pirated version and I honest to God watched it a 1000 times on VHS!

- The Empire Strikes Back ...c'mon, this is the best of them all!

- Casino ...The Rolling Stones are peppered throughout the soundtrack. There's blood & guns - it just kicks ass!

- Ray ...first and foremost, I'm a music man. Jamie Foxx nailed Ray! 

- The Doors ...this movie laid the way for a lifelong relationship I've had with Jim Morrison xxx

- Wayne's World ...best soundtrack ever, right?

- Platoon ...another great soundtrack movie. Creedence Clearwater Revival and gun grease. Excellent! 

- Django Unchained ...this movie is full of gut-wrenching surprises.

- The Godfather ...Brando and De Niro made us all want to become Sicilian.

- The Blues Brothers ...a movie with Aretha Franklin? Sign me up!

Top Ten Movies with... is a people series on SPL!NG, featuring a host of celebrities ranging from up-and-coming to established personalities from all industries including, but not limited to: Internet, Radio, TV, Film, Music, Art and Entrepreneurs. It's a chance to discover who they are, find out where they're at and to get a fun inside look at their taste in movies.

Top Ten Movies with... Tom Marais

Tom Marais Top Ten Movies

Tom Marais is a diligent, humble and talented award-winning South African cinematographer and entrepreneur. Tom brings his unique creative vision and immense talent to every project and is able to adapt to the format as a visual storyteller.

An AFDA graduate and member of the South African Society of Cinematographers, Marais has trail-blazed his way across the local film industry with a series of beautifully crafted feature films, such as: Ballade vir 'n Enkeling, Hard To Get, iNumber Number and Roepman. The prolific cinematographer has a wealth of experience and already has three feature films scheduled for release this year, including: Free State, Hatchet Hour and My Father's War.

Tom has also filmed top television dramas, including: Soul City, Home Affairs, Intersexions and Jacob’s Cross. His commercial work includes clients such as: MTN, DSTV, VUZU, FNB, Nashua Mobile and Kilimanjaro Premium Lager, among many others. He was also one of the early collaborators to shoot music videos for South African musicians such as Lebo M, Skwatta Kamp and Klopjag.

Marais is a regular contender at the SAFTAs, having won two Golden Horns and numerous accolades at Kyknet's Silverskerm Festival, SASC Visual Spectrum and AFDA's alumni. A world class talent, it seems like only a matter of time before Marais breaks into the international film scene. We managed to catch up with him to find out, which films inspire him and discover his Top Ten Movies.

"It's like watching an Indiana Jones
film, set in space." [on Star Trek]

I can't watch movies without...

- Good sound and good images! Quality is extremely important to me, and I'm not referring to the latest and greatest gimmicky digital enhancements, but the way I believe the filmmaker intended for me to enjoy it.

Which famous people share your birthday?

- I am very proud to share my birthday with the one-and-only Mr. Jack Black! And one of my favourite and much appreciated film directors David Fincher was also born on the 28th of August. Also I am very lucky to share my birthday with a talented local beauty, actress Donnalee Roberts. [28 Aug]

What is the first film you remember watching?

- I can remember a trip to the Sterland in Pretoria to watch the movie E.T. by Steven Spielberg and I loved it so much that my Aunt Salie decided to spoil me with an actual E.T. doll!! Which I still have by the way!

What's the worst movie you've ever seen?

- No doubt: The Holy Mountain. Sad to say I got it from a close filmmaker friend and still not sure if it was a prank or not, but it is a holy load of s**t!

Which movies have made you tearful?

- Any blêrrie Pixar movie, the last one was Inside Out, I cried about 3 times! They are brilliant story-telling experiences!

Tom Marais Top Ten Movies

Who is the most famous movie star you've ever met?

- Locally? Let’s just go with one of the most starstruck moments in my career. I guess that would be when I met Ian Roberts on the Bakgat! film set. I was a huge fan of the SABC '80s TV show, Arende, in which Ian played the infamous character Sloet Steenkamp as I was growing up, so that was a big one.

What's your favourite movie line?

- I have never been very good at remembering movie lines, or lyrics or people's names unfortunately.

Who would you choose to play you in your biopic?

- Chris Pratt! Because... I guess I like his sense of humor, and I wish I had hair like his!

If you could produce a movie, what would it be about?

- The list of ideas is way too long. It would definitely be a popcorn movie, involving some kind of crazy adventure romance set somewhere in our beautiful South Africa.

Tom Marais Top Ten Movies

Finally, your top ten movies of all-time...

Ten is obviously only scratching the surface, so I will revert to my "I Would Watch These Movies Anytime" list for inspiration. These are my top 10 movies I can watch no matter what mood I am in and no matter how many times I have seen it.

And now in no particular order...

- Back to the Future ...is such an interesting phenomenon. It's a film we all grew up with, enjoyed as children and now as an adult I watch it and I just marvel at the perfect execution of such an original story. In my opinion, the perfect movie! Robert Zemeckis is a genius and I watch all of his work. He's one of the few masters that really understand the art of telling a story through pase and camera movement, when to cut and when not to. When he builds tension, no matter who you are, you are sitting on the edge of your seat.

- Fight Club ...I think I watched this film about 7 times on the big screen, I was at film school and it melted my brain! I loved the cinematography and I guess just about everything else in that movie... crazy perfection!

- The Big Lebowski ...need I say more than "I'll take it away from you, stick it up your ass and pull the f**king trigger 'til it goes 'click'"? (laughs) I am a big Coen brothers fan, and love Roger Deakins who shot most of their films. This is my favorite comedy. 

- Drive ...talk about how the score and cinematography can be in perfect harmony... tell a story without the aid of unnecessary dialogue. A masterpiece!

- The Incredibles ...can’t wait to watch this movie with my children over and over and over again. Too much fun.

- Princess Mononoke ...I guess this is my idea of the perfect fairy tale. Such a beautiful story, layered with real-life situations, under the veil of fantasy.

- There Will Be Blood ...probably the closest I'll get to ever watching an opera. I've never been so conflicted about loving and hating a main character like this, all at once. Loved the art direction and cinematography.

- True Grit ...my favourite Western, by my favourite cinematographer. It's also not a typical Coen brothers story line, but I loved how plain and simple the story is and just how beautifully it was executed.

- Star Trek ...I’m a really big sci-fi fan and this is one of my favourites. I wish there were more movies like these. It's like watching an Indiana Jones film, set in space. Also love the dynamic energy and I'll watch anything with Eric Bana in it.

- In the Mood for Love ...I think this is the first movie that made me consciously aware of how beautiful images can influence your mood and tell a love story, very creatively. This movie is the epitome of visual poetry to me.

Honourable mentions: Fifth Element, Indiana Jones and the Last Crusade, The Good, The Bad and the Ugly, The Matrix, Amelie, Avatar, Contact, Fargo, Pulp Fiction, Se7en and Stoker.

Top Ten Movies with... is a people series on SPL!NG, featuring a host of celebrities ranging from up-and-coming to established personalities from all industries including, but not limited to: Internet, Radio, TV, Film, Music, Art and Entrepreneurs. It's a chance to discover who they are, find out where they're at and to get a fun inside look at their taste in movies.

Top Ten Movies with... Spling

Spling Top Ten Movies | Photo: Casey Crafford

Stephen Aspeling, better known as Spling, is a South African movie critic, who was born in Cape Town. A child of the '80s, his love for film started with animation, replaying films like Dumbo and Dot and the Kangaroo to the point that the psychedelic elephant dance and bunyip still haunt him today. The nickname "Spling" was derived at school, mostly from his surname and also from the spring in his step... (ironically, something to do with a tight Achilles tendon).

The nickname stuck and followed him to Grahamstown, where he attended Kingswood College as a boarder. Between watching the odd movie in the common room and at the old-fashioned Odeon cinema, his love for film buoyed as his dream of becoming a movie critic began to take root. After completing a B.A. degree with a focus on Film, Media & Visual Studies at UCT and getting by as a copywriter for a couple of years, Spling started Spling.co.za in 2007, reviewing a film a day for a year.

After gaining some traction as an online movie critic, he started reviewing film for the lifestyle blog 2Oceansvibe. As the years passed, his channels expanded organically to include: Talking Movies, a weekly movie review for Fine Music Radio; regular review slots on Radio 702, CapeTalk and Chai FM; hosting special previews for Ster-Kinekor; reviews in The Herald and The Weekend Post; writing Techsmart magazine's movie section; judging film festivals for AFDA and the 48 Hour Film Project; assessing local and international film productions from script to second cut and regular features on various websites.

Career highlights include: an interview with BBC 5 Live, reviewing Mandela: Long Walk to Freedom for Indiewire, an accurate Oscar predictions interview with Jeremy Maggs on eNCA and interviewing Milla Jovovich and the cast of the upcoming film, Resident Evil: The Final Chapter. Here is Spling's... my Top Ten Movies interview.

"I'd love to produce a David Lynch dream."

I can't watch movies without...

- ...trying to secure a seat where I don't have to share arm rests, a viewing room where the screen is the only window, a cool environment and a comfortable silence, where cellphones only glow and ring on-screen. I've been spoiled by press screenings, where audiences are generally more considerate and keep slurping, crunching and running commentaries to a minimum. You can't slip into a dream with constant distractions, which probably explains why many movie-goers opt to watch the first or last shows of the day.

Which famous people share your birthday?

- Edward Norton, Robert Redford, Christian Slater, Roman Polanski, Malcolm Jamal Warner, Denis Leary, Shelley Winters and the late Patrick Swayze form part of my birthday tribe. The list is pretty film-heavy and features some distinct talents... maybe I'm just biased. (18 Aug)

What is the first film you remember watching?

- I remember going to the Goodwood drive-in with the family in a combi, but can't remember what we saw?! One of my first cinema experiences was watching An American Tail, probably at Vincent Park in East London over the Christmas holidays... it was an animated tearjerker brought to dizzying realisation by the Somewhere Out There song, which I'd repressed until I interviewed Charles Tertiens. Then, I also remember The Land Before Time and The NeverEnding Story... but it's difficult to remember the viewing sequence?

What's the worst movie you've ever seen?

- Disaster Movie edges it as an aggressively unfunny and feeble attempt at a spoof, but The Creature Wasn't Nice is probably the worst movie I've ever finished watching. I had to... at the time it seemed like a necessary evil. Leslie Nielsen is a personal favourite, mostly thanks to The Naked Gun, so maybe I felt I owed it to him to finish what has been dubbed "Naked Space". The film is a cheesy, retro, low budget sci-fi spoof in which a spaceship crew are terrorised by a creature after a specimen mutates. You're never ever really sure if they're actually in on the joke and it's painfully silly.

Which movies have made you tearful?

- There have been many, although in terms of "highlights"... I'd have to say The Green Mile, Departures and The Music Never Stopped. I shed tears of anguish in The Green Mile as an inhumane injustice was carried out against a man on death row. In Departures, the funeral parlour dignity was a precursor to a beautifully heartbreaking moment involving a bittersweet father-son reunion. I was moved to tears the first time I watched The Music Never Stopped, but was a blubbing wreck the second time I watched it with my wife. From start-to-finish I just sat there locked into the tender tones of the true story, tears seeping from my eyes as a tough love father tries to help his prodigal son access long forgotten memories through the power of music... a sentimental and beautifully realised film.

Spling Top Ten Movies | Photo: Casey Crafford

Who is the most famous movie star you've ever met?

- It's a toss up between John Cleese and Milla Jovovich. As a Monty Python fan, it was an honour and privilege for me to meet John Cleese behind-the-scenes, while he was in hair and make up. Sitting to his left, above the big man's shoes, and discussing everything from the Spud movies to the Edict of Nantes and French Huguenots... it was just wonderful being in the legend's presence. He even commented on the excessive punctuation on my "Holy hand grenade of Antioch" t-shirt.

Milla Jovovich was a teenage crush of mine from as early as Blue Lagoon 2 to her iconic roles in The Fifth Element and Resident Evil. So when the chance for an interview came along, I had no choice. Our small press contingent interviewed the entire cast of Resident Evil: The Final Chapter, which warmed us up for a final and intimate interview with her... get this... in her trailer. After about 10 minutes of anxiously waiting for a moment to ask a question... I took the gap, asking her something that prompted her to say "I wish I could think like you". Since the film only comes out next year, you'll have to stay tuned to SPL!NG to find out what I asked!

What's your favourite movie line?

- I have a few. One of my favourite lines is from The Thing, in which, Garry, the oldest crew member has been detained on suspicion and subsequently found to be a non-threat.

Garry: I know you gentlemen have been through a lot, but when you find the time, I'd rather not spend the rest of this winter TIED TO THIS F**KING COUCH!

Then I have a couple of ridiculous favourites from Monty Python & The Holy Grail...

An arrow with a rescue note is fired from the turret of a castle, plummeting into the chest of a knight's squire, who with his last breath says...

Squire: Message for you, sir.

In order for King Arthur and his band of knights to proceed with the holy quest, he must provide the Knights of Ni with a shrubbery. They visit a nearby village, where they chastise an old crone... only to be interrupted by a passerby.

Roger the Shrubber: Are you saying Ni to that old woman?
King Arthur: Um, yes.
Roger the Shrubber: Oh, what sad times are these when passing ruffians can say Ni at will to old ladies. There is a pestilence upon this land, nothing is sacred. Even those who arrange and design shrubberies are under considerable economic stress in this period in history.
King Arthur: Did you say shrubberies?
Roger the Shrubber: Yes, shrubberies are my trade. I am a shrubber. My name is Roger the Shrubber. I arrange, design, and sell shrubberies.

Who would you choose to play you in your biopic?

- If it was possible, I'd like Mickey Rourke, James Spader or Mark Ruffalo to play me. I really admire these actors and while the role would require some serious make up and a physical transformation, I think they'd be talented enough to own the part.

If you could produce a movie, what would it be about?

- I'd love to produce a David Lynch dream. His work is always bold, brave, moody and surreal. I admire the director, he's a creative genius, a true artist and a visionary. If I was able to persuade him... it'd be an enigmatic and surreal biopic about the life and times of Billy Corgan and my all-time favourite band, The Smashing Pumpkins. He convinced Corgan to record Eye for Lost Highway, so there's already a synergy... watch this space!

Spling Top Ten Movies | Photo: Casey Crafford

Finally, your top ten movies of all-time...

- Monty Python & The Holy Grail ...this ridiculous medieval comedy misadventure is essentially a series of silly sketches under the banner of an Arthurian spoof. It's a passionate love letter to comedy from Monty Python with quotable quotes, hilarious animated sequences and infinite silliness. The film still holds up today and I recall watching it three times over in one sitting... although to be fair, the third time was in Romanian.

- Sunset Blvd. ...I believe Billie Wilder's old Hollywood meets new Hollywood masterpiece is what inspired David Lynch's career. The haunting, surreal and decaying atmosphere, the bold directorial choices and the delusional smoke-and-mirrors Hollywood story. Just talking about it makes me want to see it again.

- Chinatown ...Roman Polanski's sprawling film noir crime epic stars Jack Nicholson as a gumshoe. From the street smart detective tricks to the scandalous crime drama, Chinatown swathes you in an engrossing mystery that dangles our would-be hero over a chasm of conspiracy and heartache.

- Excalibur ...John Boorman originally wanted to direct Lord of the Rings, but decided it was too ambitious for the time, and set his sights on Camelot instead. This iconic tale has an epic mythological feel and conjures up visions of the boy with the golden mask and the lady in the water, which all fit perfectly to the overriding tune of Carl Orff's O Fortuna.

- As It Is In Heaven ...this powerful Swedish drama is the only film I've attended, which got a proper standing ovation. I was speechless when I left the cinema and all I can say is... seek it, watch it.

- Into the Wild ...Sean Penn directed the story of Christopher McCandless, a college student whose wanderlust took him on a cross-country runaway adventure. It's a tragic, nostalgic and haunting tale of ideals and survival and who can forget the enigmatic Emile Hirsch, a heartfelt Hal Holbrook and Eddie Vedder's on-the-road soundtrack?

- The Intouchables ...this feel good French buddy comedy about a carer and his aristocratic employer brims with life! It's an absolute winner, from the infectious Earth, Wind and Fire opening to the tender, unreserved odd couple bromance. The best part of all, it's based on a true story.

- Departures ...Japanese tradition and honour abounds in funeral ceremonies as this dark comedy drama grapples with life, death and everything inbetween. It's heartwarming, heartbreaking and at times hilarious... delivering a full spectrum of contemplative entertainment that inspires awe, humility and gratitude.

- Army of Darkness...Sam Raimi and Bruce Campbell hit the ground running with The Evil Dead. While the grotesque cabin horror won critical acclaim and cult notoriety, it was Part 3 that took The Evil Dead into hyperdrive, transporting our comic hero Ash back in time with his "boomstick" and beat up Oldsmobile. The stop-motion effects and outrageous blend of comic book action and horror comedy made it a big surprise and an instant favourite after watching it at the Odeon in Grahamstown.

- Groundhog Day ...Bill Murray is Bill Murray and this transcendent comedy turned romance manages to entertain, grapple with the big life questions and catapult us into one man's dream turned awakening without flinching... again and again.

Picking a Top Ten is no easy feat. Here are some of my other favourites that I'd call runners up: City of God, Vertigo, Highlander, Dead Poet's Society, There Will Be Blood, The Matrix, Mulholland Dr., Donnie Darko, The Naked Gun, The Wedding Singer, Mad Max: Fury Road and Before Sunrise.

Top Ten Movies with... is a people series on SPL!NG, featuring a host of celebrities ranging from up-and-coming to established personalities from all industries including, but not limited to: Internet, Radio, TV, Film, Music, Art and Entrepreneurs. It's a chance to discover who they are, find out where they're at and to get a fun inside look at their taste in movies.

Photography: Casey Crafford - CaseyCrafford.com

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