Good day everyone and thanks for stopping by to get to know the director/screenwriter, Mr. Thomas Hennessy. His directorial debut, What We Can't Have, was an official selection of the 2013 Vegas Cine Fest. He got started in the industry by being an actor in an award-winning film Battle For Haditha. I wouldn't go any further about Mr. Thomas Hennessy as he will give more info about himself and about his impressive movie project titled Another Time.
1) Could you tell a bit about yourself?
Ok, so long story short, cause I could drag this entire question out for days, I was born in the greater Chicagoland area to a very non artistic family. Sports were a thing, writing, and creativity was not. I did the sports thing, I was ok at some of them, not great, I was a little undersized at the time, a late bloomer I guess when it came to growing, but I digress, but more of a closeted artist.
I did a little bit of theater in high school, and I really liked that, and then went on to join the Navy. While I was in the Navy, I taught myself how to play the guitar and started writing songs and playing in bands, and I really started to discover the art of storytelling. I served 11 years, and then came to Los Angeles when I finished my time in the Navy. I eventually went to film school, and have been lucky enough to make a couple movies.
2) What make a film great for you?
To me a great film is something that can move somebody on an emotional level. Whether it’s make them laugh or make them cry, or just make them forget about the crap going on in their life for short while, that’s what makes a great film to me.
3) List three adjectives to describe Another Time?
Fun, Independent, Ambitious (totally not adjectives, I know)
4) What is the genesis of Another Time?
It’s kind of a silly story. I had just finished my first movie, What We Can’t Have, and I believe we were in post in it, and I was having a conversation with some friends about the ridiculous things guys do in their attempt to try and win the hearts of the young ladies. Somewhere in there I moved on to the idea that in said pursuit, rational thinking is optional, and we convince ourselves that what we are doing is rational, but it’s usually not. I had this idea then for a movie where I guy would try to travel back in time to win a girl who he couldn’t have in his current time.
5) Do you ever get writer’s block when writing Another Time? How did you get back on track?
So my friend Scott Ryann Kennard collaborated with me early on in the project, and he was a huge help. I had written about a five page outline of the characters and what the story was kind of about, and he took that and wrote a first draft of the script, which he sent me, and I instantly knew it was all wrong when I read it, but immediately became more clear on how the story did go. We went back and forth on a few drafts, and I’d write him some scenes, and then he’d send me some more drafts and we’d narrow it down from there, so working like that, writers block wasn’t really a thing. Once the decision was made to actually make the movie, I took over the writing and there were a number of drafts done at that point. I would say that writers block wasn’t too big an issue at that point either, though when it did occur, whiskey was usually the solution, haha.
6) When you are writing a screenplay, how much do you think about how your text will be translated into a visual medium?
When I write, I’m thinking very much how this plays out practically, because I’m not writing in the abstract, if I’m writing a screenplay, it is getting made, and so I’m very conscious of what it takes to do certain things on a production level, especially an indie level, and I try to be realistic in how I write scenes, and where I place them, so they are practical to make.
7) When inspiration is waning, when you feel creatively sapped, what do you do? How do you stay fresh?
To me, if I’m feeling uninspired, music can often be a great creative kick starter. I like to make a playlist of songs that match what I’m feeling go out for a walk and just let the music kinda sweep me away for a bit, and then as I’m walking start to feel more inspired, and start working out story details and scenes in my head.
8) What are your thoughts on Justin Hartley playing Eric Laziter, Arielle Kebbel playing Ally, and James Kyson playing Kal?
Working with the likes of Justin, Arielle, and James was an absolutely amazing experience. Justin is such a fantastic actor, it’s not easy to be the lead actor in a movie that is completely about you, I mean it’s his story, and he is in every scene in the movie, and to see that guy come in day after day, and just nail it every day, was such a treat to just experience, let alone be able to collaborate with on a creative level.
I like to say James Kyson is the hardest working man in Hollywood, I mean go look and see how many movies and tv shows this guy does, he’s incredible, and he totally steals the movie at times here. He brings this quirkiness and humor, but also great sincerity to the character of Kal, that is just so much fun to see.
Arielle, wow what can I say about her, working with her was almost a dream come true. I was a big fan of her work, especially films like Brooklyn Brothers Beat the Best and Supporting Characters, so when I had an opportunity to work with her on this, I was absolutely ecstatic, and she did not disappoint. She plays a really key role in the film, but we only had her on set for a few days, but the amount of work, effort, and preparation she put into the role and character was inspiring, and she is so amazingly talented. I remember our very last day of filming was with her, and it’s our last scene, last shot we are filming for the movie, and we were doing her close up, and her performance was so good, we did a second take, and was just as good, and then I remember thinking we were good, and that was it, it’s a wrap, but I wanted to ask for one more take, just so I could sit there at the monitor and watch act a little more, she was that good.
9) What films have been the most inspiring or influential to you and why?
I’ve always been inspired by the smaller indie films. Kevin Smith’s Mallrats and Chasing Amy, which I pay a bit of homage to in Another Time, and Edward Burns work are the type of films that really got me to go out and make movies myself.
10) Growing up, did you wanted to be a director first or a screenwriter?
Growing up, working in movies was never something I even thought of as a reality. Once I did, it was always directing, and writing was just a necessary evil I had to do so I’d have something to direct. My views on that may have matured somewhat, but I still see myself as a director first. I would be happy to direct a script written by someone else, but I think I’d have a really hard time writing a script for someone else to direct.
11) What’s your idea of a downtime?
Downtime for me is really only a few things, movies, which I’m not sure counts as downtime, music, I still love to write and play music, and sports, both spectating and participating.
12) What is the best thing that ever happened to you while shooting Another Time?
The best thing that happened to me making Another Time was just the amazing opportunity to work with such an amazing and well accomplished cast. Besides Justin, James, and Arielle, we also had heavy hitters like Mark Valley and Chrishell (Stause) Hartley play key roles, and Jake McLaughlin even came down for a couple days to play a small role. When you’re able to put a cast of that caliber together, it really makes a lot of my job easy.
13) What do you love about directing in general?
I think the thing I love most about directing is taking a concept that was once just an idea in my head, then collaborating with a group of talented and creative people both in front of and behind the camera to make that idea come to life. It’s the teamwork environment and the people you work with that really make the filmmaking process special, and I really enjoy kind of captaining that ship.
14) What is your favorite line from Another Time?
Favorite line, wow, that’s a good one, do I go funny here, do I go inspirational? Inside joke perhaps? Ok here we go, and this is more of an interchange I guess, but there is a scene where Chrishell’s character Julia is talking about how success is defined by the type of impact you make on the world and Justin’s character Eric responds that he helps people plan for retirement, and that is impactful, and Julia responds to him “You help rich people get richer, that’s like teaching fish how to swim, it’s pretty low impact” and I just love the way Chrishell delivered that line. There’s another line, and this is more on the poetic side, where Arielle’s character Ally says “You know, by the time we really figure out what we want in life, most of the time it’s too late. Opportunity’s lost.” That’s another line where Arielle just gave a great delivery I think it’s an idea that a lot of people can relate to.
15) What advice can you give to people wanting to get into the business?
How to get into the business? I’m still trying to figure that out myself, haha. It’s tough, it’s competitive. My best advice, or at least the path I took, was just to force my way in. I wanted to be a filmmaker, but you can’t call yourself a filmmaker if you haven’t made a film, so I went out and made my first film What We Can’t Have for less than $10,000. I scraped the money together, found some people willing to help me, bought a cheap camera and some lights at Home Depot, wrote a script and made a movie. Learned so much along the way, and made some lifelong friends in the process. From there, I did Another Time, which I was determined to do with or without any backing. With this film, I was lucky enough to get some high level talent, who liked the script, interested, and because of that more doors were opened for me. Alan Pietruszewski, who produced the movie and plays Dr. Goyer in it was a big help in making things happen on this one. At the end of the day though, a lot of what I’ve been able to do has come from just working hard and doing my own thing, as well as working on other projects as well. The more people you can collaborate with, the more potential you have to find opportunities in the future, but don’t let money or lack thereof deter you. Write a script, make a movie, and see what happens, rinse repeat, you’d be surprised what can come of it. A lot of it also really depends on what type of films you want to make. For me, I do character stories, which really focus on dialogue and performance vice action and set pieces. For those types of stories, don’t waste your time making short films. You will get so much more mileage out of a feature, and you don’t need a lot of money to do them. Look at Edward Burns, he did his film Newlyweds a few years ago for $9k. For high concept stuff, short form might suit you better, but it’s got be really really good to stand out. Less is even more in that case. Too many filmmakers try to do high concept on a budget and stretch themselves too thin and end up with something mediocre. One incredible minute of footage is better than five average minutes. At the end of the day you gotta ask yourself what you want to do, and do something that suits that goal.
16) If you were to write a book about yourself, what would you name it?
Wait for the Movie
17) Last question, if you could time travel would you do it? If yes, what reason would you go back in time for?
I might, depends on the side effects and consequences of said travel. My initial answer is to like do something silly, like go back to the 50’s and start a band called The Beatles and play all Beatles songs before John, Paul, George and Ringo can get around to doing it. I could do something like assassinate Hitler before he takes power, but then what if that actually spins the world into an even darker place? WWII doesn’t happen, and America doesn’t experience the economic boom to follow, some other dictator pops up elsewhere but we are ill equipped to fight them now, aliens take over and now we’re all living in the Matrix. Maybe it’s better to leave well enough alone. I’ve seen The Butterfly Effect.
What's not to love about a time travel movie. You should take a chance and watch Another Time on Friday, September 14 in theaters or on demand. I also want to say that I really appreciate Mr. Thomas Hennessy for answering my questions. You can clearly tell by the interview that he is truly ambitious and hardworking director/screenwriter. He's definitely going places. Be the first to experience his latest movie Another Time . Thanks as always for talking your time to visit my blog. Take care and I hope your day just got a lot better.