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BWW Interview: Adam DeCarlo, Tommy Beardmore & Robin Lord Taylor of SKELETONS

Like breathing for mere mortals, creating is essential to artists, and Misters DeCarlo, Beardmore and Lord have certainly created something cool.

BWW Interview: Adam DeCarlo, Tommy Beardmore & Robin Lord Taylor of SKELETONSIn Hell's Kitchen, at the famed nightclub Don't Tell Mama, Adam DeCarlo can often be found in the light booth, running a show. One of the technical directors of the club, Adam designs the lights for the artists who appear there, then executes the effects, both lighting and sound, that assist in bringing their vision to the audiences, effectively bringing their stories to life. Adam DeCarlo does this with pride and professionalism, but there are other stories to be told... Adam's stories, and during the show business shut down Adam worked very hard to bring one of those stories to life.

While studios and production companies slept through a long summer, DeCarlo and a team of filmmakers worked under strictest coronavirus precautions to create his newest short film, SKELETONS, which is now being submitted for film festivals. The short which stars Tommy Beardmore (The Marvelous Mrs. Maisel) and Robin Lord Taylor (Gotham) recently had a trailer drop online that certainly piqued the interest of this writer, a fan of DeCarlo's earlier film LOST AND FOUND, which also featured Taylor and Beardmore. So I reached out to Adam to ask if we could chat a bit about his new work of art and, generously, he offered to bring along his leading men.

This interview was conducted digitally and is reproduced as received.

Adam DeCarlo, you are the writer and director of a new short film titled SKELETONS, and Tommy Beardmore and Robin Lord Taylor, you are the sole actors in this short that was created during quarantine. Naturally, I have many questions for all of you, so let me start by saying welcome and thank you to Broadway World.

Tommy: Thank you so much for having us! We're so excited to release this film.

Let's start with the most timely question: gentlemen, what's it like, shooting a movie under social distancing safety precautions in a small New York apartment?

BWW Interview: Adam DeCarlo, Tommy Beardmore & Robin Lord Taylor of SKELETONSAdam: It was certainly an adjustment! If you've ever been on a TV/Film set, you could imagine how difficult it would be to pull off a shoot using "social distancing". But fortunately, all in all, with cast/crew, we only had about 12 people on set which definitely made it somewhat manageable. Our fantastic COVID Compliance Officer had us following SAG-AFTRA rules to the letter, but it wasn't really too big a headache once we started working on set.

BWW Interview: Adam DeCarlo, Tommy Beardmore & Robin Lord Taylor of SKELETONSRobin: This was my first time on set since COVID-19 broke out and I could not think of a better project to come back to. The intimacy of the film really helped to ease any lingering fears or doubts. There was a real sense of camaraderie among all of us, cast and crew.

BWW Interview: Adam DeCarlo, Tommy Beardmore & Robin Lord Taylor of SKELETONSTommy: Any production, especially in indie film, has its fair share of limitations. To add on COVID precautions just another issue to work around, but that's what was great about it. Thriving amidst those limitations is a testament to the quality of the SKELETONS team. Safety and efficiency were key. Ben Thompson, our health and safety supervisor from Keep Or Destroy, was so thorough. He held team meetings, wellness checks, and kept PPE readily available. We'd get called to set, ditch our masks, and when we were ready to move on, Robin and would throw our masks back on and bounce off to our separate rooms to await the next scene.

Adam, on the subject of small New York apartments, without covid precautions it's difficult to get a film crew into a location like this - how did you manage it during this circumstance?

Adam: Luckily my producers and I found a really great, although very small, apartment on Airbnb. Even more lucky, we were also able to get the apartment on the bottom floor as well, so we had the whole building to ourselves. The apartment building was just 2 units, upstairs and downstairs. So that gave us plenty of room to socially distance, it gave all of the departments their own area, the actors got to have their own rooms, and we had a backyard to use for eating and breaks. The set was VERY small, but we really lucked out with having the whole building, and not having to worry about bothering neighbors and whatnot. And again, thankfully there were only 12 of us total.

BWW Interview: Adam DeCarlo, Tommy Beardmore & Robin Lord Taylor of SKELETONS

Robin and Tommy, I am assuming there wasn't an opportunity for you to rehearse in person; the tag line for the film says these two characters are former lovers, a relationship that requires an in-depth knowledge of each other. How were you able to find that chemistry without that time together?

Tommy: Aside from reading and chatting a couple of times together via ZOOM, Robin and I essentially went right into it. I tend to be more solitudinal in my process and Robin is the same, so it worked out well. Finding chemistry and familiarity instantly is an integral part of the job, especially in tv/film. For the most part, Indie film actors don't have the luxury of time. Of course, we're directed and there's a blocking rehearsal, but the real work for any actor should be done in their preparation.

Robin: Thankfully, I had met Tommy before, when we worked on Adam's previous short, Lost and Found, so we weren't strangers. Also, it helped that we were both independently friends with Adam, who is an excellent judge of character. But mostly, it's just luck. Chemistry cannot be forced. Sometimes you just strike gold with a scene partner, as I did with Tommy.

Adam, the lighting in the trailer for SKELETONS is wonderfully stark and moody - how does your work as one of the Don't Tell Mama's technical directors inform your work on your movies? Did you ever consider shooting it in black and white?

Adam: I really wish I could take credit for the lighting, but that would have to go to our incredible cinematographer, Benjamin J. Murray. But just like in cabaret, it's all about collaboration! Only here the roles were reversed, so instead of a performer telling me what they have in mind and I make it happen, I'm telling Ben what I have in mind, and he made it happen. As I wrote the script I had the look and style in my head; moody, lots of shadows, a few warm practical lights, the rain, etc. So when Ben and I first started talking about the film, I gave him some reference photos, and we were immediately on the same page. And he really executed everything, beautifully! Regarding B&W, I never really had that thought until we got into editing and I saw how amazing everything was looking once we started putting it all together. But to be honest, I don't think it was an idea I ever verbalized to anyone. But it was a thought that very briefly crossed my mind.

Tommy and Robin, without offering up any spoilers about SKELETONS, what can audiences expect to see?

Robin: They can expect to see an emotionally charged meditation on grief and whether or not to forgive those who have hurt us.

Tommy: Well, they'll be surprised, that's for sure. And they'll see Benjamin J. Murray's incredible cinematography. Truly, his work is some of the best I've experienced firsthand. Adam writes so well, and I think the audience will be so affected by the emotional brutality of his script.

BWW Interview: Adam DeCarlo, Tommy Beardmore & Robin Lord Taylor of SKELETONS

Robin and Tommy, there's a famous YouTube video that shows Lucille Ball's reaction to seeing the very first trailer to the movie MAME. Did you get to see footage from the film before seeing the trailer, or was the trailer your introduction to what you had made - and how would you describe your reaction?

Tommy: I had only seen stills up to that point. But I was thrilled with how it was done. I can't wait for you all to see it!

Robin: Haha I'll have to Google that one! I'm generally not a fan of watching myself so I hadn't seen anything before the trailer. After viewing, I was so impressed with what we made-a true labor of love and I think that shines through beautifully.

Adam, what kind of director are you? Did you hold the actors to the written word, or were they given some leeway to improvise at all?

Adam: I'm all about collaboration! When Robin, Tommy, and I started really getting to work via Zoom rehearsals, the boys would definitely bring up suggestions on a few words and lines being ever so slightly different, and for the most part, I think we ended up going with their edits. Likewise, when we were shooting I think we tweaked a few things that made sense to do so. Being that they're going to be the actors delivering the dialogue, I think it's hugely important to take into consideration their thoughts about what they may or may not say, or if something is feeling weird, finding a way to make it better. But these were certainly things we discussed beforehand, as we weren't really ad-libbing at all on this.

Tommy and Robin, there are those who have suggested that queer-themed cinematic stories are best told by queer artists; in SKELETONS Adam has brought together a gay actor and a straight actor in a story about two gay men. What are your reflections on that train of thought?

Robin: Queer representation is incredibly important, both in and behind the scenes. I feel so fortunate to have worked with such a great ally and advocate as Tommy.

Tommy: Adam and I met on the set of Diamonds & Rust a couple of years back and became life-long friends. He knew I could effectively tackle this highly emotional role and I was so honored that he wrote this part for me. For Robin, Adam, and I- it felt more like friends getting together to shoot something exciting during an industry-wide shutdown. Low and behold, it turned out to be one of my favorite films I've ever done. When I read the script, it was more humanistic than having anything to do with sexuality. I didn't see two gay men, I saw a reunion of two spirits who were once intertwined. I saw their capacity to overcome such pain and despair... coming to terms with their traumatic and painful history... It was tragic and beautiful and that's what I saw.

Robin, some might consider that, after achieving something as enormous as GOTHAM, an actor would only want to stay in the mainstream. Would you share your thoughts on the importance of working on films like SKELETONS, as well as studio-backed projects?

Robin: I love to work. The size of the production doesn't matter to me in the slightest. If it's a good role in a good project, especially when my dear friend Adam is involved, I'll be there.

BWW Interview: Adam DeCarlo, Tommy Beardmore & Robin Lord Taylor of SKELETONS

I'd love for all three of you to avoid spoilers while telling me your favorite line of dialogue from SKELETONS.

Adam: No spoilers?! Well, there goes my favorite line. Haha. I guess I'd have to say the dialogue in the trailer then.

Tommy: "My favorite person. You will always be my favorite person, David." I just love that line. There's so much pain and regret between the two, yet their hearts are still attached.

Robin: When my character notices David's knee bouncing. It's tender.

Adam, what's the next step in the SKELETONS journey? How, when, and where can people see the film?

Adam: It's pretty early days still, as we just started submitting to film festivals. So once we start hearing back in the Spring, we'll start to have a better picture of when and where audiences can see us.

You all worked on the film LOST AND FOUND - did you do the film festival circuit together? With the show business shut down and covid precautions, will that process be able to happen at all for SKELETONS?

Adam: As it turns out the COVID shut down happened a few weeks after we had our premiere at Big Apple Film Festival. Luckily, at least one time, we all got to see it on a big screen together. Afterward, the world shut down, so most festivals pushed their dates and turned to virtual festivals. It was a shame we couldn't share LOST & FOUND as much as we wanted to in-person, but we definitely got the film out there virtually which was great. This year it will be interesting to see what happens, but hopefully, by mid-summer and into fall, festivals will at least be able to do a hybrid version where you have some films online, others in-person at reduced capacity, others at a drive-in, etc. It's all pretty up in the air at the moment, but a lot of festivals seem pretty confident a somewhat in-person model will be able to happen come fall. Fingers crossed!

BWW Interview: Adam DeCarlo, Tommy Beardmore & Robin Lord Taylor of SKELETONS

Since this interview is for the Cabaret page of Broadway World, let me ask Robin and Tommy - do either of you have any aspirations to do a nightclub act at any time?

Robin: Haha not at this moment. But man, once we all get our shots, I plan on being a fervent cabaret audience member.

There are a lot of virtual shows happening these days - is there anything that any of you gentlemen would like to promote today? Anything Broadway World can share with your fans and followers?

Robin: I'm currently shooting a new show for AMC called Kevin Can F*** Himself. It's a brilliant show, starring the wonderful Annie Murphy. Coming out later this year.

During the shutdown, many industry professionals have turned to new means of income, such as teaching or other hidden talents. Is there a service any of you men are providing that we can help get the word out for?

Tommy: COVID has been a huge blessing in terms of allowing myself time to break away from acting and start new ventures. I founded a company called BOOKIT where we specialize in remote one-on-one actor coaching from the comfort of your device anytime anywhere. Our coaches are all working actors in Film, TV, and Broadway (Wicked, The Lion King, Chicago Fire, Law & Order) and it's been an incredible experience watching this company grow helping actors all across the world. I'll be launching a new Content Division in February where we chat with our favorite actors, producers, and filmmakers about their work and the challenges they've faced, all while guiding the next generation of storytellers. You can find out more at @bookit_nyc

Robin: I would just urge people to donate anything they can to -a charity that is very close to my heart, providing PPE to our heroes on the front lines. Thank you!

Gentlemen, I thank you sincerely for sharing this experience with Broadway World and I hope you will keep us posted. I can't wait to see the film and I hope it does great things.

Tommy: Thank you so much for chatting! Enjoy the film!

Visit the SKELETONS Instagram page HERE

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From This Author Stephen Mosher