BWW Interview: Michael Leoni Taking FAMOUS To a New Level
Just ending its very successful, unprecedented fourteen-month run this past Sunday, Michael Leoni's FAMOUS will be looking to conquer another medium - film. Michael Leoni, a multi-media writer/director, has always envisioned his creations to be presented in both mediums of stage and film.
Got to catch up with Michael again after my initial interview with him on his ELEVATOR, and reviewing FAMOUS last year.
Thank you for taking the time for this interview, Michael!
Thank you for this opportunity. I appreciate you supporting the arts and our work at The 11:11. I am in the middle of shooting, so I hope I gave you the answers you are looking for.
I caught FAMOUS last year at The 11:11, and it was an incredible stage show. Now, you're making FAMOUS into a film. Was this always in the back of your mind to adapt your play into film?
It was actually originally intended to be a film, so I adapted the film script into a play. What we are doing now is filming the play, on stage, cinematically.
I could see that the structure of your play was set up as scenes in five different rooms of Jason Mast's split-level Mulholland Drive mansion. I remember thinking it could be fairly easy to re-format into film. You must have planned it that way, right?
We have gotten many offers to make this a feature film. I believe capturing it on-stage, in this new type of genre, is the best way to tell this particular story. The show has so many elements of light and movement that have already been done on film, through the magic of editing. Part of what audiences find so impressive about this show is that everything happening in front of them is live.
Another play of yours that I saw, ELEVATOR, started out as a short film that you converted into a stage show. Do you envision your creations in all formats?
Being that I work in film and theater, I find my work crosses into both mediums. My stage work is often very cinematic and film-like. My films often have a theatrical approach, using long takes, 10-12 minutes, for example.
What has been your three-line pitch for FAMOUS?
We don't have a three-line pitch, but this is the description we use:
Inspired by the lives of young Hollywood stars like River Phoenix, Corey Feldman, Heath Ledger and Corey Haim; FAMOUS opened on stage in 2018, and ran for eight months in Los Angeles. Writer/Director Michael Leoni successfully brought his cinematic and immersive vision to the stage and is now transforming that vision to the screen.
Which character will Chris Kattan be playing?
Chris will be playing the role of Lawrence Nichols. He is the main character's mentor, and one of the "good guys" in the industry.
What roles will Cole Pendery and C.J. Valleroy be playing?
Cole Pendery is playing the role of Dylan Mast and CJ Valleroy is playing the role of Young Jason Mast.
Will some of your FAMOUS film cast be from your stage cast?
Yes. The film and stage cast are the same people.
Do you have a pool of actors that you like to cast and re-cast?
100%. When I find people I love to work with, both actors and crew, I hold onto them.
Have you taken your stage production of FAMOUS anywhere else besides The 11:11?
No. The show has its entire run at The 11:11.
Any story tweaks from the play version to the film version of FAMOUS?
No, because we are literally taking the stage version and filming it.
You told me the last time I interviewed you about the significance of your production company name "An 11:11 Experience." Do people ask you about 11:11 all the time?
All the time. It's amazing how the significance of 11:11 resonates with people. 11:11 symbolizes the universal timing of being in the flow.
Wikipedia explains like so:
Some numerologists and New Age philosophies believe that events linked to the time 11:11 appear more often than can be explained by chance or coincidence and is an example of synchronicity. Some authors claim that seeing 11:11 on a clock is an auspicious sign. Others claim that 11:11 signals a spirit presence.
What's the latest on the non-profit Spare Some Change you founded? Good progress on The Change House?
The non-profit is still in full swing and currently assembling a board for The Change House.
Do you have a timeline for FAMOUS to be finished and distributed?
We have just finished filming this last week of September 2019, and then will go immediately into post and distribution negotiations.
Thank you again, Michael. I look forward to seeing FAMOUS again in its new format.
Thanks again and look forward to seeing you at the show!
For updates of FAMOUS the film and additional encore dates for FAMOUS the play, log onto www.1111exp.com
To read my review of FAMOUS, click here.