An Interview with Eric Casaccio – By Brian Morton

A few months ago, I had the pleasure of checking out a short film called ‘Freak’, a story about a person who’s mocked because of who he is and how he ultimately succeeds by just being himself. It’s such a powerful message that I really thought it would be great to sit down with the writer/director, Eric Casaccio, to see how he came up with this great short, how he got started making movies in the first place and what’s next for this up and coming filmmaker.

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BM – Eric thanks for taking the time.

EC – Thank you.

BM – Tell me how you got your start making movies.

EC – Well, I actually started out in the business as an actor and here and there I had some great moments of success, but on that journey I never felt totally plugged in to my overall artistic purpose in life. Back in early 2010, I discovered a class at UCLA Extension called “Making Your Own Mini-Movies.” In that setting, I got to shoot and develop a bunch of short films in a quick period of time which taught me a very important lesson, always trust your own instincts, because they are the keys to the right kinds of achievement. I left the class with a well-received 5 minute and 35 second film entitled “The Test”. It was shot in three hours, and I was the cinematographer, editor, writer and director of that project. After “The Test” was accepted into The Marblehead Film Festival in Massachusetts, I felt like I finally found the artistic path that I have been searching for my whole life. I had “Freak” already written and was more than ready to jump into a more complex longer short as an independent filmmaker. Needless to say, I am so glad I went for it!

BM – What gave you the idea for Freak?

EC – This is always a tough question for me to answer because I’m always asked this question and if I were in your shoes, I’d be asking the same question too. So this time, I am going to answer it with a different angle. When I am out hanging out on the town, I often just sit back and listen to conversations and come across people making fun of others in a certain way, criticizing how they dress, how they look, who they are, what kind of car they drive, where they live, etc. If it’s out of what they consider “the norm”, these “different” individuals are judged and verbally ripped apart from a distance, but noticeable enough to make that person left feeling worthless, alienated and unloved. I feel for that person and ALWAYS stick up for them whenever appropriate and necessary. I know that person because like many others, I was that person as a kid. So think about it. In that kind of scenario, who is really the Freak? The daring person not afraid to express themselves a certain way, or the ones making fun of him or her? I think the ending of “Freak” (that I won’t give away) pretty much says it all. 🙂

BM – Freak has received a ton of critical acclaim, did that surprise you?

EC – I am completely blown away by all the acclaim and feel nothing but blessed by the universe in every way imaginable. Every festival attended, every award, every satisfied audience, every review, every interview, every email, okay, I’ll just shut up and say…EVERYTHING! It has been by far the most amazing experience of my life. “Freak” has done wonders for me and lead actor Aaron Merken, both in our artistic and personal lives. We make an excellent team and are beyond proud of its message and continued success. That goes for the entire cast and crew as well.

BM – You’ve been involved ‘anti-bullying’ since 2008, with Psychic Glitter, how do you feel about it becoming such a ‘mainstream’ topic?

EC – In my opinion, it’s about time bullying finally reached the mainstream level because it has been going on a lot longer than the unfortunate 2010 teenage suicides receiving notoriety all over the media. I’d like to see a law of some sort in the educational system with mandatory teachings about bullying and serious repercussions to those that take part in that behavior. I know there is a lot more awareness now, but there is still tons of work to be done. During my journey with “Psychic Glitter,” a teenager named Lawrence King was murdered for simply not being afraid to express himself and love for another by giving him a Valentine. Imagine being shot and killed for just doing that, for just being who you are. Lawrence had guts, guts I wish I had when I was a kid. Guts to not live in fear. Back in 2008, I attended the West Hollywood candlelight vigil and it left me in massive amounts of tears. However, it made me realize that I was in a position to do something, so I turned “Psychic Glitter” into a three evening charity event production raising just under $2,000 for The Trevor Project honoring the memory of Lawrence King. I also dedicated “Freak” to Lawrence’s memory as well, because any way to send out awareness is a positive step for change. For more information, please visit: http://www.rememberinglawrence.org and http://www.thetrevorproject.org

BM – What advice would you give up and coming filmmakers?

EC – To always trust your instincts, be responsible, and remember to have fun. One of our makeup artists named Laurie Hallak has a great philosophy…”At the end of the day, it is just a movie.” She’s more than right. Right because yes, it is a piece of art. Yes, for a portion of your life, it is your heart and soul, and yes, it is important, but it’s not life or death. It’s just something you are born to do. So just do it with integrity, wisdom, strength, knowledge, passion, organization with the ones that support and believe in you as much as you believe in them and be thankful that you have the opportunity to do it. That’s what we did with “Freak” and that is how it got to where it is now.

BM – What projects are you working on now?

EC – My long-term goals are to find representation as writer with an original television pilot I wrote prevalent to the teenagers of today and to do an independent feature. My next project will be another short film. All I am willing to share right now is that it’s all about bullying. Indeed, it is a topic close to my heart that I feel the need to cover in a non-preachy way. My approach to storytelling lies within the subtext of the story, not just the dialogue itself. The dialogue propels the characters, but it’s what’s underneath the lines that I find fascinating. Stay tuned!

BM – I know that I’m looking forward to seeing it, all of us here at Rogue Cinema are behind you 100%!

EC – Thanks.

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First of all, if you haven’t seen ‘Freak’, then head over to http://www.freakthefilm.com and find out what festivals it’s at and get to them! Second, if you’re still not sold head over to http://vimeo.com/15145728 and check out the trailer for ‘Freak’, that should get you hooked. Again, we here at Rogue Cinema are totally behind Eric and his anti-bullying message…as "movie-geeks" most of us have been bullied too…so we understand what it feels like to be that ‘Freak’. We wish Eric a TON of good luck and can’t wait to see what cool projects he works on next!