SBO Exclusive: A few words with Director/Writer Stephen Milburn Anderson'
March 26, 2010, by Carolyn Koh
SBO: You are director and writer for the film CASH. What was your inspiration for the movie? Did you have "a story to tell" so to say?
SMA: The single reason I entered the (incredibly difficult) business of movie-making is because I am a story teller. Some people go to Hollywood for fame, fortune, sex, drugs, rock-'n-roll. I had all that in the 60's so I couldn't be tempted. I went to Hollywood to tell stories.
My film, CA$H, was inspired by money. I watched people and their money, how they behaved with it… and without it. Money changes people. The desire for it motivates odd behavior from otherwise normal human beings. People don't necessarily lust for the things that money can buy, they lust for the money to buy those things.
Money is invisible. You never see it except at point-of-purchase, then it sneaks back into the pocket or purse. Let's say you own a valuable bracelet and you accidentally leave it somewhere. There is a reasonable expectation that it will be returned to you. Not so with cash. If you left the same amount of money behind that equaled your valuable bracelet, you would have zero expectation of getting it back. Why is that?
Because money has no owner, but everyone is its owner. Money is impersonal. Any loose cash left lying around becomes the property of the finder/keeper.
Ever notice the sedate nature of banks? It's quieter in a bank than it is in a library? Why is that? Because money is "venerable"… to be respected. No one ever raises his voice in a bank. It would be disrespectful of that awesome talisman: money.
In the movie, CA$H, I wanted to explore just how far a normal couple would go to get and hold onto a bundle of money that they knew wasn't theirs. I wanted to explore the truthful changes that lust for money puts people through.
SBO: Many writers have their "wall of heroes" that they draw inspiration from for their characters. Did you have any heroes/heroines in mind when you wrote CASH?
SMA: Strangely enough, I have never in my life had a hero of any kind; not in sports, literary, political… none. So, no, I drew no inspiration from heroes. My characters normally come from normal people who hide things that I would like to see out in the open.
SBO: Why Chicago? Was Chicago picked as a "generic big town America" backdrop for the film or was the town written into the script?
SMA: The movie was originally set in Los Angeles, where I was living at the time. My producer, Naveen Chathappuram, suggested Chicago. I had never been there so he took me on a tour. I fell in love. It had a wonderful big city feel, as-well-as quaint residential pockets. It seemed the perfect setting for a "normal" man and woman to be living as these events overtake them.
SBO: When you were casting the movie, did you deliberately look for an actor who could and would play both Kubic brothers?
SMA: Yes. I needed an actor who could play those two roles but could distinguish them one from the other. Sean Bean did this perfectly. He is well-trained and meticulous, and it shows.
SBO: Why did you cast a veteran such as Sean Bean against an up and coming such as Chris Hemsworth and a relatively unknown such as Victoria Profeta? Was it deliberate or more of how they tested and were suited for the roles?
SMA: In the case of Sean Bean, I wanted an English actor. They are excellent performers and I wanted that Brit accent, which I thought would lend a heightened sinister air to the character of Pyke Kubic. I believe I was right.
Chris Hemsworth was only 6-weeks in the US from Australia when we saw him. He nailed the audition and we cast him on the spot. We had no idea that he would hit the scene as big as he has, but we're very glad he's done so. He's a very good actor and a well-grounded young man. I am happy for his success.
Victoria Profeta brought an innocence and a naiveté that I was seeking for the role of Leslie. She needed to be a woman of deep conscience who could convey the inner turmoil of keeping "dirty" money, and then playing the changes that allow her not only to keep the money, but like doing the things necessary to keeping it.
SBO: How did the chemistry between Bean, Hemsworth and Profeta work out on set and on screen? Did you have any fears that one or the other would steal the show?
SMA: This production went unusually smoothly, largely due to the symbiosis between actors. One was a Brit, one a Aussy, and one an American, yet all worked incredibly well with the other. It was a splendid set experience.
SBO: Sean Bean said in an interview that playing both characters in a pair of twins was something he hadn't done before and wanted to do. How well did he do it?
SMA: Proof is in seeing the movie. In my humble opinion he portrayed both characters brilliantly, managing to convey twin brothers, but at the same time two very different characters, even down to slightly different British accents. You see twins, but two vastly different men on screen. Extremely well done.
SBO: What was a memorable scene in this movie for you?
SMA: My favorite scene is Pyke with the motel clerk. Pyke requests money back from advance payment on his room. The clerk refuses, so Pyke calmly breaks his nose. Pyke is no thief and forces the clerk to count out the money owed him. Then Pyke suggests that the clerk has forgotten something, prompting him to wish Pyke "a nice day". This scene shows Pyke's duality. He's one tough SOB but also a calm, polite and considerate man--if you don't cross him.
SBO: What about a memorable moment in the filming of the movie?
SMA: We were shooting at O'hare airport. I decided at that time to change my screen-credit name from Steve Anderson to Stephen Milburn Anderson.
The reason was because there is another Steve Anderson director in Hollywood. We simply could not have that. There are probably 20 Steve Andersons in Hollywood: cameramen, grips, etc., but another director? No.
The other Steve Anderson directed a couple of movies, one entitled "Fuck". Wanting very much not to be mistaken for this Steve Anderson, I decided to use my full given name: Stephen Milburn Anderson, and this was the time to make the change.
I shot a scene (not to be seen in the final edit, but in the outtakes) of Pyke stealing a rental car using a fake ID. That California ID was in the name of Steve Anderson. I then had Pyke burn the ID and drive off. After shooting the scene, I held a wake. We buried Steve Anderson in the dirt at O'hare airport and celebrated his passing.
SBO: Finally, what's next for you then? Planning anymore movies with these guys?
SMA: My next film will be from a screenplay that is written, adapted from a novel I wrote entitled: "A MAN, A MIDGET AND A DECK OF CARDS". It's a story of friendship, manhood, love, and no-limit poker. The midget gets the girl.
We will be shooting again in beloved Chicago. Also in New York and Las Vegas, Nevada.
I would very much like to have Sean Bean and Chris Hemsworth back to play in this movie. They will be receiving scripts and offers soon.
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Coming to theatres worldwide April 9, 2010
Screenplay By Stephen Milburn Anderson
Directed By Stephen Milburn Anderson
Produced By Naveen Chathappuram
In these hard economic times, what would you do for cash?
A stroke of good luck turns lethal for Sam Phelan (CHRIS HEMSWORTH) and his wife Leslie (VICTORIA PROFETA) when they are faced with a life-changing decision that brings strange and sinister Pyke Kubic (SEAN BEAN) to their doorstep. As Pyke leads Sam and Leslie on a tumultuous adventure through the streets of Chicago, each are pulled deeper and deeper into a desperate spiral of deception and violence… All in the name of money.
Ca$h! is a psychological thriller that explores the mysterious power that money can wield over humans, triggering despicable acts to possess it. At a time where a growing number of Americans face foreclosure, debt and unemployment, Ca$h! takes a bold look at the human foibles of greed, materialism, cowardice and immorality amidst a backdrop that is ripe with satire, stereotypes, mind games and consequences.
Ca$h! is the dynamic work of acclaimed director Stephen Milburn Anderson. Known for his examination of societal evils in South Central, Anderson continues his analysis of the human persona through Ca$h!. Joining him on this endeavor are Producer Naveen Chathappuram and Executive Producer Prema Thekkek.
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