The Secret Life of Jonathan Sky is the newest film presented by Artistic Analogies Film Co., the same studio behind Matthew Anderson's Franky, Frankly (a short starring Mikandrew Perdaris, Bella Dayne and Allan Hyde.)
We have recently learned more about The Secret... through its writer/director Kevin M. Slee and female lead role, Lexi Sakowitz.
Now, AOD presents another exclusive interview with The Secret of Jonathan Sky's lead actor, Amir Malaklou.
AOD: You recently collaborated with Kevin M. Slee in his creation The Secret Life of Jonathan Sky. Can you tell us about your part in this new film?
Amir: Yes, I did just actually collaborate with Slee on his new film. I was fortunate enough to be given the title role in his upcoming thriller, “The Secret Life of Jonathan Sky,” which I believe will blow many people out of the water. In this film, I play a young kid who has lived most of his life mentally in high school. He is very charming and charismatic and loves to drive. The film takes the audience into his dark past and allows them to witness his growth through dealing with his past that has shadowed him through all his years post high school. This character was a huge stretch for me, in regards to finding the humanity within the chaos of all his decisions that directly correlated with the film’s thriller genre.
AOD: Can you tell us some of the projects you've done in the past?
Amir: Prior to doing this project with Kevin Slee, I had done several short indie films and I was immersed in many different theatrical play productions, including Macbeth. However, nothing has been as dark as this upcoming film… I had completed several films with this talented Producer, named Jay Salahi, including Amistad which was about a hurried business man who befriends a Latino flower vender.. This film was much more lighthearted and faired well at several festivals, including the Sacramento International Film Festival. Alongside Amistad, I had worked on this film by another talented Director named Joe Sill, called “GOLD”, which takes place at a special two-racer world track race between long-standing champions, "Golden Laces" Magette and up-and-coming Tommy "Lightning" Johnson. GOLD took a look into the object of fame and fortune and the effects it has on how people act. As you can see my two prior film experiences were completely different than what Slee had in store for me. However, I believe that alongside Slee, we were able to create an excellent film for all audiences to enjoy.
AOD: What makes your character in Jonathan Sky different from other characters you've portrayed in the past?
Amir: This character was by far the most demanding. From the get go, Slee informed me on our first conversation that it would be like nothing I had ever experienced, and lets just say, he wasn’t joking. A lot of the characters that I had played were much more lighthearted than the character of Jonathan Sky.
AOD: Are there any challenges you've come across while doing this project?
Amir: The biggest challenge for me was jumping into the darkest aspects of myself in order to do the great roll that Slee created justice. He even hired a stunt choreographer for many of the intense scenes found in this film! I wanted to make him proud because I knew how attached he was to the story, since he was both writer and director. It was nice however, that I could go to him for almost anything needed in regards to my character, etc. Another difficult aspect of the film, which in my opinion was the most important, was the need to demonstrate to the audience the immense amount of humanity and pain found in Jonathan. I didn’t want people to see a one sided character, but instead I wanted them to feel a whole spectrum of emotions when confronted with the decisions and actions that he makes throughout the film.
AOD: You've shared with us the challenges of playing Jonathan Sky and you discussed 'jumping into the darkest aspects' of yourself. In what way do you think Lexi (and Kevin) helped you succeed in portraying Sky?
Amir: I believe that living in and bringing alive the darkest and most honest parts of oneself is always an exceptionally difficult task. For Jonathan Sky, he is forced into doing what he fears most -- basic human instinct. For a man to let go of all the societal restrictions that he has been taught and to savagely approach a woman was very difficult for me. Lexi and Kevin were a tremendous help to me in order to reach those dark places. I forced myself, once I was in that mental and emotional state, to not fall out into my habitual habits of who I am other than what is strictly a trait of Jonathan Sky. Lexi would constantly throw me curve balls which allowed me to keep the things fresh. Kevin constantly reminded me between takes how important it is that I remember what is driving me, as Jonathan, within each given moment. He made sure I never forgot what my actions and needs were, and what my goal was.
AOD: How was it working with Lexi Sakowitz? Have you worked with her before?
Amir: Working with Lexi Sakowitz, to no surprise, was a great pleasure. I had worked with her prior on another short film, “Dinner at Mathews.” Lexi and I work very much in a similar way with regards to how we approach our characters during the shoot. We both like to take the imaginary events or actions within the film, and making them real actions and events within our own lives. This tactic became vital in many of the pivotal scenes within the film, which helped bring the chemistry needed to pull off such an intense scene. We constantly reassured each other that we were there for one other.
AOD: In our previous interview with Kevin, he told us that Jonathan Sky's character was harder to cast. Can you tell us a bit more how you landed the role? Any specific aspect of the project - script, character, cast - that made you want to be part of it?
Amir: The role of Jonathan Sky actually came at me completely out of left field. Lexi had been cast in the film much earlier than myself. As a result both Kevin and Lexi were able to talk freely about their visions of Jonathan Sky and due to the heavy dramatic needs of the character within the script, they needed to be very careful with who they were to cast in the lead role. Lexi, after weeks and weeks of failed readings with potential Jonathan Skys, recommended my name to Kevin Slee. I soon got a call and was sent the script to read before deciding to audition for the part. Once I read it, I knew I needed to be in it. It was definitely a huge stretch for me as an actor, but I felt like I knew how to do it justice. From the very beginning I knew this role would force me to go places I have never gone before. I came in and read the part for the part with Lexi -- Kevin offered me the role the next day. In fact, I almost wasn’t able to do the part due to scheduling conflicts, but when such an amazing role is handed to you, it’s very hard to turn it down.
AOD: How was it working with Kevin Slee? Anything particular about your process with him or anything you'd like to share about working with Kevin?
Amir: Working with Slee was honestly a breath of fresh air for me. He was very passionate about everything he wanted to do with his film, which indirectly caused both Lexi and myself along with the entire cast to follow suite. It is always great to meet a director who trusts his actors as much as he trusts himself. I enjoyed knowing that anytime we talked, it was as equals and as collaborators to make a great piece of art for everyone to enjoy. He is first and foremost an “Actor’s Director” and always puts the needs of his actors and the truth of the scene before all else.
AOD: Do you have any interesting story you can share with us that happened during filming?
Amir: The filming process was an all around entertaining experience, as well as very demanding both physically and emotionally. However, on the third and final day of filming, we ran into an unexpected issue, a flat tire. This caused the entire crew to stop for a good hour while we sent several teams back and forth to try and find a wrench that would fit the ’65 Corvair. Initially we thought the worst. We worried that there was no spare and that we would have to either drive on the rim or cut the shot completely, which would have been a huge hit in the piecing together of the story. However, luckily we were fortunate enough to find a spare in not the trunk of the car, but in the hood, right next to the engine! Thankfully, the classic ride had a smaller engine than one would expect because it made it very plausible to store an extra tire in front of the engine in the hood.
AOD: What can people look forward to from The Secret Life of Jonathan Sky?
Amir: People can definitely look forward to a very raw and engrossing film made by a great film director that will challenge our core morale that we were taught our entire lives.
AOD: Do you have any upcoming projects?
Amir: Currently I am reading a few scripts with Salahi Films and working on a new Shakespearian play, “Titus Andronicus.” This is being done in Orange County at the local theatre and should hopefully be just as much of a smash hit as “Macbeth” was. And who knows, hopefully Slee and myself can team up on another project in the near future!
AOD: Is there anything else you would like to share with us?
Amir: Lastly I would like to add that this was a great experience and it’s incredibly nice to see young filmmakers, like Slee, working on such great, thought provoking films. I think we worked very hard to bring about the greatest film possible for our story, and I hope the audience walks away still thinking of this great film.
Presented by Artistic Analogies Film Co., The Secret Life of Jonathan Sky was written and directed by Kevin M. Slee and produced by James B. Cox, David Johnson, and Courtney Mock. Composer John Snyder and musician Vijay Venkatesh are on board to work on the film's score.
The Secret Life of Jonathan Sky will be released in May, 2011. For more information and updates on the film, visit their Facebook page.
You can also follow Amir on Twitter and check out his updates on Facebook.
Kevin and Artistic Analogies Film Co. are on Twitter as well.
Much thanks to Kevin M. Slee and Amir Malaklou!