EXCLUSIVE interview by Lance-Henriksen.de with
NICHOLAS GYENEY, director, writer and producer of THE PENITENT MAN

Welcome everybody!

When we were talking about the The Penitent Man in the tiwwa-forum I realised that the interview I did with writer/director Nicholas Gyeney can be of interest for a lot more people than the German-speaking fans.

So right below is the interview which took place in the post-production-state of the movie in late 2009. You also can take a look at some great photographs in our gallery.
Right now the movie has been viewed in selected theatres in the USA and I wish The Penitent Man and Nicholas Gyeney all the best and a lot of success. Hopefully there will be a European release soon.

Thanks to Nicholas Gyeney for doing the interview and to all the people who are reading this right now. Be assured that there will be more interviews in English coming soon.

Dominik, Webmaster


Interview with NICHOLAS GYENEY

Dominik Starck (DS): Hi Nicholas! Thanks for being so kind to take the time for this interview.

Nicholas Gyeney (NG): It's my pleasure.

DS: First of all: the filming is over now and the movie is gone to post-production. Do you already have a release-plan? Are you aiming for something like a certain festival or date?

NG: We just finished locking the picture. It has been a very quick turnaround on this movie. We have distributors interested in a limited theatrical release, though we haven't finalized that deal yet. As soon as we finish post-production, we will head into meetings to figure out our release schedule. However, we DO plan on bringing the film to festivals everywhere.

DS: You debuted as a director with your movie The Falling in 2006. You then worked on The Riot, which isn't released yet- where did The Penitent Man came from out of the sudden?

NG: I shot The Falling when I was a 20-year old film student at USC in Los Angeles. After graduating, I began developing The Riot. The Riot is currently in pre-production, but due to some minor casting and other setbacks, it allowed time to develop a side project, which became The Penitent Man. The financing for Penitent Man was already in place, so I decided to break from The Riot, and focus on this film, which has been an amazing experience thus far.

DS: You seem to be a really fast movie-maker. Where is that coming from?

NG: I've been very driven, focused, and dedicated since I was a child. Much of that has to do with the fact that my father died when I was only 12 years old. It forced me to put my life into perspective at a young age, and it drove me to excel.

As a filmmaker, it is always important to have a concrete vision for your film, but it is also important to be open to any and all suggestions to improve it. A vision can make any film easier, and unfortunately, too few filmmakers come ready with that.

DS: Can you explain us what The Penitent Man is all about? I'm surprised by the genre-titel science-fiction/drama but it sounds like a cool and odd combination.

NG: The film is very much an emotional character drama with a hint of science-fiction about a young psychologist (Lathrop Walker) who crosses past with an old patient (Lance Henriksen) who claims to know a secret that could devastate mankind and the world. While trying to remain skeptical, our young psychologist finds himself drawn deeper and deeper into this old man's story, which eventually forces the psychologist to re-evaluate his own life and decisions.

DS: According to some online-sources TPM is produced with a low budget. Do you feel limited because of the budgets restrictions?

NG: We did have a lower budget, but the numbers online are completely inaccurate. I assure you we had more than that.

DS: TPM has an interesting casting- and I mean Lance Henriksen. How did casting him came about? Is Mr. Darnell a major role in the movie? How was the work with him?

NG: In terms of casting, I knew Andrew Keegan (10 things I hate about you) for some time, as he is involved with my other film, The Riot. When focus shifted to The Penitent Man, I immediately offered him a role. In regards to Lance, I have admired his work since I was a child. The first movie I remember watching was The Terminator with my father. When I developed the film, I felt he would be the perfect man for the job. Once I approached him, he seemed to feel the same way.

Lance was amazing to work with. A real actor who loves to work. And a great man. We developed a very close friendship through pre-production and production. After realizing my love for The Terminator films, he went as far as to give me THE portrait James Cameron painted of him AS The Terminator from the early 80s. It was one of those rare moments where you knew you were with someone special. Truly the most touching and personal gift I have ever received.

I plan on working with Lance for many years.

DS: Is the work and your approach on TPM different than your directing debut The Falling?

NG: On my first film, it was a different mentality. The film was shot on an ultra ulra low budget, and the crew was comprised primarily of film students who could only take orders. It left me in charge of every department, which is a very efficient way to doom a film. Instead of focusing on really directing the actors and trying to remain objective about the creative elements, I was busy lighting, shooting, and dressing every single scene. It was amazing that the film turned out at all. In the end, it was an experience that taught me more than any film school could, though I directed a feature when I was 17 in a similar fashion. The experience The Falling gave me allowed a certain level of preparation to enter the filmmaking world at a young age. The Penitent Man is my first feature at a significant budget level with name actors, an amazingly talented and professional crew, and a planned wide release. I am 23 years old.

DS: How did you came up with the storyline for this movie?

NG: I came up with the story line while trying to challenge myself, creatively. I wanted to see if it was possible to construct a film around a conversation between 2 men, and have it be as compelling and fascinating as many studio films today. From that parameter, the ideas began to roll in. In any development stage, I find it important to throw away MOST initial ideas. When writing or creating, most authors, artists, etc. tend to draw from a bank of ideas that is most common to them. This, to me, explains the lack of originality in most films. Writers think of an idea, assume it's good, and roll with it. Instead, the best thing to do creatively would be to think of a number of different scenarios for any given situation, and use the most compelling moments of each. This allows you to go beyond the initial stale ideas that most artists seem to settle for.

DS: I know you are a dedicated movie-fan. Who inspires you?

NG: Growing up in the world of cinema, I was always drawn to very emotional, dramatic, and suspenseful films that pushed the audience. Filmmakers like James Cameron, Michael Mann, Luc Besson, and Christopher Nolan are all masters of action and geniuses of dramatic tension. Parts of these filmmakers' have heavily inspired different areas of my work.

DS: What other projects are you working on?

NG: Next up I head to Winnipeg to direct an Action thriller called The Riot.

Originally published on Lance-Henriksen.de,
dec 13th, 2009

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See more exclusive pictures of The Penitent Man in our gallery and be sure to watch the trailer and get more information about Nicholas Gyeney and The Penitent Man on his official website www.mirrorimagesltd.com.

sep 4th, 2010