On the outside, everything appears normal with the "Thaxton" Family. Nice home, nice yard, nice cars. Inside, the only thing even remotely sane is 17 year old, Kayce Thaxton. Kayce wants to invite her new crush, Trevor Beam, over for dinner with the family. Will she have just one private but innocent moment with him? You will have to watch the film to find out!!.
Produced by: Darren W. Conrad, Duane A. Sikes, Louise Greene Black, Theresa Phillips
Cast: Nadine Forbes, Teagan Heesch, Marco St John, Tim Ross
5 questions with First Kiss writer, executive producer, Darren Conrad at the half-way mark.
Saturday, September 2nd, 2017
1Hi Darren! Thanks for being a part of our festival. First, what was the initial seed that inspired you to make this film? I have always been a very dramatic writer; yet there has always been a very comedic side inside of me since childhood. Some of the idea for the story came from a real life experience I had during my Senior Year of high school. A girl I had met in Charlotte,, N.C. at a Teen Night Club wanted to go on a date with me. She was a pretty and normal as you could find for the mid 1980's. When I arrived at her house, her parents wanted me to sit down and have bologna sandwiches with them. The mom was three sheets in the wind; and constantly talked about how the bologna was on sale five for five dollars. Man, the things you never forget when you are 17 years old.
2You're the writer and executive producer. What was it about Louis Bekoe that made you want him to direct your film? How did you two meet and what was it like working together? Louis and I have known each other since 2010. He cast me as "Krampus" in his 30 minute horror short film. "A Killer Christmas Carol". I was very impressed with the way his mind works as both a writer and a director. After working with Louis on several other films as either one of his actors or producers, I realized he has a strong knack for comedy. I knew he could take my words on paper and create a great piece of work. Louis is an "Actor's Director", and has always been open minded to allow his actors to make changes on set to blend the scene a little better. I give him full creative control and have no doubts he will make the best decision for the project.
3Usually you act in your films as well. Why did you choose not to act in this film and was it a different experience for you just working behind the camera? As much as I love acting, I am now at a point in my career where I am mature enough to know when I, Darren W. Conrad, am 100% right for a specific role. Every actor and actress I cast in "First Kiss" was my absolute vision for the character. With now over 23 produced films, I love being behind the camera from time to time working in more of a "First or Second Assistant Director". You can be the best actor in the world, but if you don't look the part, it just wont give the audience a pure and honest reaction. Tim Ross, the father in the film, had that certain look and comedic timing that was needed. He and Veteran Hollywood Television and Film Actor, Marco St.John, were brilliant in their characters.
4Every family seems crazy in their own ways. Did you have a crazy childhood growing up? You know, I actually had a very normal family. Growing up in Southern North Carolina in the 70's and 80's, I had a hard working father who allowed my mother to stay home and take care of the house and us children. Like my mother, I had a very musical and artistic side. I was a very smart and yet unique kid that paid attention and studied every fine point detail of people and my surroundings. Even at a young age, I was able to watch the comedy television sitcoms from the 60's - 80's and actually laugh from what was honestly adult humor. This was what started me acting in a young age on stage and in musicals. I always enjoyed clean, family humor in stories. I do recall on Sunday as a young child sitting in a church service with my parents. I sat there wondering what type of reaction I would get from the congregation if I walked out and started ringing the outside church bell. I walked out, rang the bell, came back in, sat down, and never said a word. The look on everyone's face was priceless. Needless to say I could not sit down for the week after the real end whipping I got from my father. I guess he was just not the funny one in the family.
5What's next? I tell ya, I have gone balls to the wall since 2009. Acting, Writing, Producing. Other than when we shot "First Kiss" in January of 2017 and then got it released in the Spring, I decided it was time to take a break and focus on my own life and health. I did write a dramatic short film for a good friend and talented actress , Darlene Wynn. The film is called, "A Slight Indiscretion". It is an Adult Situation Drama. The film has been perfectly cast by me, and we shoot in October. Jesse H. Knight and Louis Bekoe will be taking the helm on this film as "Director" and "First Assistant Director". Tim Ross will also return in the Lead Male Role of "Jeremy Livingston". I will be on set as the "Second Assistant Director", "Wardrobe Supervisor", and "Line Producer". The film will be released to the 2018 National Festivals in January. As for me, I plan on returning to acting in Mid 2018. Brad Hord and I are working on a film called, "Mockingbird"; in which I play a Detective. I have lost almost 40 lbs and plan on losing another 20-25. I turn 50 in February, so I am looking to branch out to different character types. I will always continue to write and produce film.
About the Interviewer: Ben Hicks
Ben Hicks is a writer/director and co-founder of Fandependent Films. Ben is currently working on making Fandependent Films awesome and is finishing up his first feature film entitled Kids Go Free to Fun Fun Time which was selected for the 2017 IFP Narrative Lab.
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