Michael Sharpe - Out of One's Misery - GigSpotting.Net

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Michael Sharpe - Out of One's Misery

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Michael Sharpe is a writer, director, and actor from Charlotte, North Carolina who is making a transition to the west coast and L.A. to further his film career.

His last film that he wrote and directed is called Out of One's Misery.  A dark tale with a twist, starring Pat Dortch as David, a very troubled man.  Michael also has a part as Sanford, a gentleman looking for his wife and family.  Mahri Shelton and Kayli Maree Tolleson play the family members.

The part of Sanford was written for another actor but, because he was unavailable, Michael stepped in to play that role and it couldn't have been a better fit.  Michael used a soft spoken southern gentleman accent in the movie that, along with his attire, worked to evoke a sense of calm and tranquility that his character Sanford required.

Kudos to Joe Stauffer for the cinematography, along with Kenny Caperton's production design and set decoration.  Alexandra Hughes did an wonderful job on the special effects makeup.

Enjoy Out of One's Misery, then read my conversation with the director below.

Why did you leave Charlotte?

I left Charlotte to pursue filmmaking in Los Angeles, CA. It's really where you need to be if you want to pursue film as a career. Filmmaking is not a hobby to me. I take it very serious.

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Are you originally from the Charlotte are?  I've noticed you in several films from there.  The first being Three For Dinner.

Yes, I'm originally from Charlotte. I've acted in numerous films and theatre productions around the Carolinas. I started writing

and directing about three years ago.

Let's talk about your current film that you wrote and directed  Out of One's Misery.  I loved the device you used of the repeated question in the screenplay.  That worked well to build up the tension along with your soft spoken country gentleman character Sanford.  How did the idea for this situation form?

It's funny, because I've been asked that a few times.  To be honest, I was very depressed when I wrote the script. I felt like I was sinking in quicksand and the light was fading more and more daily. There's a big analogy behind the story and my inner demons at the time. Each one of those characters were fighting each other in my head daily. I mean you have the innocent child all the way to a vicious monster. We all have those hiding inside us, we just decide which ones we want to reveal to the world. Spoiler alert: At the end of the film everyone dies and I believe metaphorically that you can't start from scratch sometimes until you burn the whole house down and start new. So, Out of One's Misery was written out of my misery and to help me heal and get back on my feet. I believe art is one of the more healthier ways to deal with that kind of depression or sadness.

You mentioned theatre.  Is that where you began?  Do you sill do theatre?

Yes, I started out acting in theatre. I was heavy into theatre for about four years. I haven't been on stage since 2010. I wouldn't say I'll never go back to it, just waiting for the right role that inspires, I guess.

What satisfies you the most: writing, acting, or directing?

I would say that directing is the most fulfilling for me. To have a vision in your head and make it appear on screen is a real thrill. I love working with actors too. Pushing them to places in their craft that they may have not have been to before.

Going to Hollywood is a logical next step.  Had you made contacts there that pulled you in that direction?

No, not really. Just a bunch of hope, passion, and persistence.

Out of One's Misery is the kind of film that becomes even more interesting on the second view since then  we understand completely the kind of misery Pat Dortch's character, David, is in.  It reminds me of some of the Alfred Hitchcock Presents teleplays with the reveal at the end.  It's never what you were thinking.  

I'm a huge Hitchcock fan. I grew watching a lot of his stuff along with old reruns of The Twilight Zone. I loved those stories and how they would get inside your head and only show you just enough to let your imagination run away. I like a big reveal at the end of genre films, just enough where the audience can go back and watch it again and get a new perspective or find different things every time they view it. That's the stuff I like to see and experience and I hope to continue to do that in my future films.

Joe Stauffer did an excellent job with the cinematography. Had you worked with him before? .

Yes, Joe and I worked together on one of my prior films DEVILING. He's a great guy and a very talented cinematographer. We clicked instantly when we first met and there's a nice component when we're on set. He sees things a lot of the way I see them and I think we trust each other. I'm sure he'll be on my next film.

How many days did it take to film?

We shot Out of One's Misery in three nights. They were roughly ten hour days.

I understand prosthetics had to be used in one scene.

Yes, I was very lucky to get SFX make-up artist Alexandra Hughes to handle the FX in the film. She does amazing work. We actually had to cast the little girl's head (Kayli Tolleson) for the film. It's a lengthy process. Alexandra made a mold from Kayli's head. Big props to little Kayli for going through that procedure. She was in the dark for about 45 minutes with nothing to breath through except her nostrils. I've done it myself and it's not fun. We had to make an exact replica of Kayli's head (spoiler alert) because we were going to put an axe through her head on screen. Alexandra nailed the effect. I'm really proud how well it turned out. Alexandra is also based out of Los Angeles.

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Tell me about the cast.

I held an open casting call for the role of David. We had roughly 10-12 people come out and audition for the part. Pat Dortch nailed it on his first read. Plus, he listened and made great choices. It's rare when you can find an actor that listens and makes great choices. (laughing) Plus, the camera liked him. In terms of the girls, I initially wanted Kayli Tolleson and Mahri Shelton to act in those roles. Kayli came down to the auditions while we were auditioning for David and performed her scene for me. She gave me an incredible audition. I wish people could see her audition it's quite disturbing and moving, just like in the film. She is a very professional actress for her age. Great listener too! I just wanted to work with Mahri. She's a great actress. Hopefully I can get her again in another film. As for the role of Sanford, I had originally written that for a particular actor, but he rejected, and I couldn't find anyone else I trusted for the role. So, I decided to take on the role and do it myself. I have to say, I'm really glad it worked out the way it did. I had a blast playing Sanford.

I can't imagine anyone else playing Sanford.  You did a great job.  As tense as David was, Sanford was just the opposite.  That's brilliant for many reasons.

Thank you, I appreciate that.

Has anything about the film community in L.A. surprised you?

Besides how big it is, not really. It's definitely more challenging than where I came from.

What's next for you and the film?

I have a couple things I'm working on at the moment. Writing scripts, one in which I may collaborate with a local production company based out of Greenville, SC. We are thinking of making an anthology. Hopefully that will pan out. I'm also working on another feature script that is also a horror/thriller. It's pretty wicked. I'm hoping to explore new territory. I might jump back in front of the camera for a small part too. This one looks too fun. One of those projects will happen in 2014. I'm determined.

I wish you the best luck Michael and hope to hear more from you about your adventures out west.

Thanks Dan!

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Photo Credits: Sharpe Edige Films and Janna Tolleson