An Interview with Jerry Pyle and the Cast of Service – By Kirsten Walsh

“Service” (2014) is a film that sticks with you. A film with an intense storyline, emotional acting, and a beautiful design wasn’t just the work of one person. Jerry Pyle, a seasoned pro at this whole filmmaking thing, rounded up some of the most talented people he knew to be a part of the film, which has gone on and won several awards on the festival circuit. The film’s actors: James Babson, Denna Thomsen and 8 year old Rylie Martinez spent hours developing their tortured characters to bring them to life- to much acclaim. Here’s what they all had to say about the project:

KW- Kirsten Walsh, Rogue Cinema
JP- Director Jerry Pyle
JB- James Babson, “Steven”
DT- Denna Thomsen, “Lucy”
RM- Rylie Martinez, “Annie”

KW: "Service" is quite a unique film. If you had to describe it in one line, what would it be?

JP: A home invasion thriller that will shock you more than once.

DT: A well constructed, fucked up story.

RM: It is a creepy movie.

KW: Jerry, when you came up with the idea, did you see the finished film in your head? Did it turn out better or worse than what you anticipated?

JP: I saw the finished film in my head and it bears many resemblances to the final product. But honestly, I could not have imagined how beautiful it would look in that house, with those actors, with that crew and with all of their collected efforts. It turned out way better.

KW: For the actors, how did you develop your characters?

JB: Playing villainous characters is a unique challenge and playing someone with physical or mental handicaps equally offers a difficult task to be solved. So having to tackle both of these qualities provided me with a bit of homework to do.

However, ultimately, the work is the same as with any other role. One must approach the character with honestly and no judgment. There was a guy I had my eye on at a local grocery store. His posture and affectations and general physicality helped me base Steven in some frame of reality.

Character-wise, Steven was a man who did what he believed was a ‘service’ to this woman by trying to create a safe environment for her. He just wanted someone to play with, ( as twisted as that sounds:)

DT: (Depicting “Lucy”) Stepping outside the box. Instead of going off just instinct, I wanted to search further… push the character’s behavior by exploring all options of reaction.

RM: (Depicting the child, “Annie”) I was pretending like it was happening in real life and I would think about a scary movie that I watched.

KW: How did everyone get involved? Was everyone all friends before hand or was this the first experience you had with each other?

JB: What’s so awesome about this project on a personal level was that I got a chance to work with Jerry. He and I met back in the Czech Republic almost 10 years ago! Crazy. Cut to us, 7 years later, randomly running into each other at a bar in Los Angeles . A few emails later and “Service” was in the works.

DT: I became involved through casting. I auditioned for the role and Jerry took a chance with me. I am very appreciative of his support, having no acting training…..he really put his faith in me.

RM: I met Jerry ahead of time, but I didn’t know anyone else. Everyone was really nice and they helped me get into character.

KW: What was the onset environment like?

JP: I’m relieved to say there were not a lot of crazy stories on this film. Everyone was very focused…except for a couple of grip/electrics that snuck into the hot tub in the back of the house while I wasn’t looking during lunch on day 2. Thanks to the Martinez family, the owners of the house, for being so patient with us.

JB: Considering that this was a ‘super’ short film, economy of time and money was crucial. Jerry and Tim assembled a crack squad of filmmakers to get in there and get the job done. And because we shot at a very opulent location we had to be extra careful to not soak the place in blood!

DT: As ironic as it may sound, I felt our environment was very intimate and warm hearted. Because the entire team was all very passionate about the project, I had a great experience working with the team. We were all very excited to be able to be doing what we love. CRAZY…I was 3 months pregnant and had NO idea.

KW: Congratulations! Considering your character’s maternal instincts, what an interesting role for you to play at that time!

RM: It was a fun environment and everyone would laugh and talk in between takes. I was comfortable because it was filmed at my house.

KW: Rylie, that makes it easy for sure! With the crew, did you all have experience working on film sets prior to "Service"? Did this film pop anyone’s film cherry?

JP: The nice part of making films in LA is, we have access to experienced crews. Our gaffer, Cody Banks, was 19 years-old when we filmed, and he already had enough credits to be in the union. He and DP, Matt Garrett are the reason the film looks as good as it does.

JB: I’ve been a film and stage actor for over 15 years.

KW: So no cherry popped there!

DT: Being a professional dancer for artists like Madonna, David Bowie, and Justin Timberlake, performing and shooting have been very comfortable for me. As for acting and speaking lines, my cherry popped pretty hard on this one!!

RM: Yes, I have done other films, commercials, and a lot of print jobs. I’ve been working since I was four.

KW: As a team, what was the hardest thing for you to accomplish onset?

JP: There’s a great sequence at the end of the film that involves a lot of blood. I’m really proud of the way we all came together to create that, starting with our makeup person, Prell Charusanti, We had one chance at it and I almost blew it when I called action too quickly. James Babson saved that scene from utter failure. He told me to calm down and it worked. Everybody took a deep breath and Prell executed the blood work seamlessly.

JB: The same as any, getting all the shots off in a timely manner. Getting the material needed to cut.

DT: I would not be able to speak on behalf of the whole team, but I can say that my main focus was to make sure I was helping Jerry’s vision come to life.

KW: Now that the film is out, its playing on the festival circuit. As far as planning on which fests to submit to, how did that work? Have you been very selective?

JP: Nope. I’m taking the slash and burn approach to fests. If you’ve got a fest and want to show Service, drop me a line. I will make it happen. I want everyone to see the work we’ve done.

KW: How has the reception been?

JP: Reception has been out of this world. We’ve been honored to win a few awards already this year including Best Actress and Best Director at Hollywood Horrorfest. And the success of the film is bringing us closer together. I hope to continue working with this cast and crew on the next project.

RM: My family and friends thought it was scary.

KW: Where can people see the film? What do you hope people take away from viewing the film?

JP: We’re showing again this weekend (May 17) at Famous Monsters Film Fest in San Jose. Then at Seattle Crypticon (May 23) and Days of the Dead Indy (June 27). And lots more screenings planned. The film will be available online on Vimeo and YouTube at the end of its festival run sometime after Halloween.

I hope people who see the film walk away with a sense of excitement and wonder. I hope they’re asking themselves what they would have done if they were in the shoes of our characters. And I hope they appreciate the work we did on it.

KW: What is next for you, Jerry, and your cast and crew? Are you already working on another project?

JP: My next endeavor is a short film that’s part of a group project coming later this year called Fun Size Horror. Big announcements coming up on twitter and FB @funsizehorror

RM: I just finished a Lowe’s commercial, and I have another film that will be coming out called "Beauty in the Broken." I play Young Pele with Briana Cuoco as the lead actress, Pele.

KW: What would you advise film students about to head out into the film world?

JP: Make stuff. Be sure that in addition to the things you’re planning to make, you’ve got work to show people they should help you make it.

That is awesome guys! Congratulations on your success so far on the festival circuit, and we will definitely keep an eye out for your future projects! Check out more about “Service” on their sites:

https://www.facebook.com/serviceshort
https://twitter.com/FunSizeHorror