By Katherine V. Kotek
UNRELEASED - Sent via email
(Interviewed at the 2008 IFP/Los Angeles Film Festival. 11:11 is set to resume production.)
While attending the IFP Los Angeles Film Festival in Westwood, I unexpectedly ran into Rocky Costanzo, an indie director probably most known for his cult-like 2001 film, Return to Innocence, on my way to the food court. He and his business partner, Roy Thomasson were there meeting execs for their new film Amhurst. Rocky kindly let me interview him over lunch. I wanted to find out what happened to his film, 11:11, which was supposed to be the follow-up project to Return to Innocence and has apparently been in limbo for the last four years. I only wish the interview could have been somewhere instead of Subway Sandwiches.
KVK: Thanks for your time.
RC: My pleasure. What do you recommend? (Laughs)
KVK: I hear the subs are good.
KVK: First of all, great job with Return to Innocence. I really liked it. As soon as I watched it, I was intrigued to see what other films you did and I came across a film called 11:11. That was back in 2005 and now three years later I’m still waiting to see it. What’s going on with it? Is it dead?
RC: I can’t tell you how many times I have been asked this, and up until a few months ago, my response was “I don’t know.” But now I can say that the film is very much alive. In fact, it’s the only film on our slate.
We went through so many struggles after we shot the first Act of the film back in 2004. It’s been one nightmare after another and we almost canned the film completely last year. Roy has had endless meetings with studios, investors, and even other production companies. Many of which talked a good talk but bailed out when things got serious. Needless to say, we learned a lot about this industry and people in general. But things have been positive for us lately, having released two films earlier this year and we’re close to getting a deal for Amhurst, so it’s time now to devote all of our energy to completing 11:11.
KVK: So for sure 11:11 is going to happen.
RC: Yes, but it's not going to be in its original storyline. We’re using this long hiatus to our advantage. The script will now be restructured in a way that we can bring back the original young cast to play characters five years older.
KVK: Interesting. So the same actors are coming back?
RC: That's the plan, yes. We thought it was going to be hard to get them back because so much has changed in their lives. They aren’t little kids anymore. Myles, who was thirteen when we shot the first Act is now at UCLA, so I was worried he would be too busy, but without hesitation he said he was in. Same goes for Darian and Rachel. The only problem is that, because of this new structure, we had to drop some of the actors who were going to portray the adult versions of the kids. Unfortunate as that is, it’s the only way we can pull this thing off.
KVK: How much of the script is being changed?
RC: The entire second and third acts are being changed, which is the majority of the film. The new concept takes a completely different path, and it’s definitely much better than the original script. I can’t wait to get started.
KVK: Who is writing it?
RC: I am. I worked with another writer on the old script, which was great, but this one is all mine.
KVK: A lot of your films have had dark topics: How will 11:11 fit in to the mix?
RC: (Smiles) It’s going to be the darkest yet.KVK: Can you give me a little inside scoop?
RC: I’m very excited about the new structure, which I can’t reveal yet. All I can say is that it’s not the “Stand By Me” film that people are comparing it to.
KVK: What would you compare it to?
RC: Honestly, it’s such a unique concept that I can’t really compare it to anything. Just by bringing back the same actors five years later is unique in itself, but the second and third acts are really going to shock people... that’s about all I can say.
KVK: According to IMDB, the film is scheduled for release in January of 2009. Is that accurate?
RC: (Laughs) Is that what it says this week? Considering we don’t start filming until February or March of 2009, I don’t see that happening. More like January of 2010.
KVK: Which ironically is Sundance time, eh?
RC: (Laughs) The timing would be about right, but we don’t schedule our films around festival deadlines. It would be amazing to screen a film at Sundance. That’s like every filmmaker’s dream. Who knows?
KVK: You appear to have built a reputation of working well with kids. Who is currently one of your favorite young actors?
RC: I'm really impressed with Joseph Gordon-Levitt at the moment. He is definitely an underrated actor. I really liked his performances in "The Lookout" and he blew me away in “Mysterious Skin.” He’s come a long way since “3rd Rock.”
KVK: Did you see Brick?
RC: Yeah. Our friend Noah worked on that film.
KVK: Noah Fleiss.
RC: Yeah. Another great underrated actor. When he came out to film with us on 11:11, he had just returned to New York from Orange County where Brick was shot. So he had to come all the way back again for 11:11. Brick was really good. Kudos to Rian and his crew.
KVK: Last question. With your budgets being as low as they are, how do you manage to not only keep your head above water, but your films have all gone on to some success, correct?
RC: We struggled on the documentary that we put out last year, but I think the success in our films is that we managed to get them made first of all, and then to see them get out to the public is always a bonus. Trust me, it’s not easy. It’s the passion and drive that keeps us going. If it were the money, we would have drowned by now.(Laughs) I don’t know, I think that people are more forgiving on low budget movies when they can relate to the characters on screen, or if they are drawn into the story. That was the case with RTI (Return to Innocence). It’s so awesome to talk to people who approach me and say that they were moved by the film. It’s very flattering but the main credit goes to Gary who wrote a fantastic novel. I didn’t realize that so many people have had friends or family members arrested or even sent to prison because of false accusations. It’s very sad.
KVK: It certainly is. Best of luck with 11:11. I'm looking forward to it.