Writer/Director/Producer Shane Stanley
SHANE STANLEY TAKES A TRIP BACK TO THE DARK SIDE
Shane Stanley has worked tirelessly writing, producing, and directing since he first gained recognition for his Emmy Award winning work on The Desperate Passage Series. His company Visual Arts Entertainment produced the number one box office hit Gridiron Gang and continues to release some of the most creative music videos and independent films on the market.
Scheduled for release in August, My Trip To The Dark Side offers a look at a period where Stanley considered working as a writer/director in the adult film industry to make ends meet. The movie features Jason Pace (Girlfriends), Courtney Gains (Children of the Corn, Memphis Belle), Ron Masak (Ice Station Zebra), and Emmy nominated actor, Sean Kanan. The sequel to the film, titled My Trip Back to the Dark Side is in pre-production and scheduled to start filming in late April. Shane is also prepping the action/comedy A Little Off The Top, starring Xzibit, where a street thug partners with a child from an affluent family to save his sister who’s being held for a $30 million ransom.
Q: When can our readers expect the release of My Trip to the Dark Side?
A: It will be available everywhere you can rent, buy or download movies (legally) August 2011.
Q. Were you surprised that the sequel to Dark Side was picked up so quickly?
A: Yes and no. No, because everyone who’s seen the picture asks, “what happens next” and “are you going to continue with the story?” And yes I was surprised because it’s such a fickle economy and nothing is for sure these days, especially in this business. We finished our distribution deal on the first one and they asked me what I was planning to do next. I told them (jokingly) “My Trip Back to the Dark Side, what else?” and they committed to it immediately. It was that quick. W.T. Smith and I have been writing non-stop ever since and I’m pleased with what we have so far. I brought Smith in because he co-wrote Corners with me, a film Dark Side splits off from, so I felt it was good for us to work together on this one.
Q: Are you planning on bringing back the cast from the original and are you writing parts with specific actors in mind on this one as well?
A: Absolutely! Everyone did a great job in the first installment, so they’ll be back for another go. We’re also creating some cameos for some other actors we admire and want to work with as well.
Q: Do you have any one favorite character whose part was more fun to write than the others?
A: Being that the story is autobiographical, I’m partial to Shawn Stone’s character but I’m having the most fun with the role of Shawn’s manager. I went haywire with her in Dark Side II. Kathy Christopherson, who plays Kelly, has great comedic timing and I really want to take advantage of that this time around.
Q: What does the sequel deal with exactly?
A: Well, of course Shawn is faced with a new set of challenges that will force him to go back and “work” in the adult entertainment industry but I’m not interested in just making a film that gratuitously goes back into porn. I walked the line in the first film and plan to go much deeper here but with a smart plot line that really causes the audience to think and follow. The goal is to make the undertone a bit Ocean’s Eleven-esque and outsmart the fox.
Q: Do you find the making of sequels a challenge?
A: I’ll let you know (laughs). Scripting it has been a blast. I knew when I wrote Dark Side what I would do if we were to continue on with the story. Of course new twists and turns have emerged but that’s what keeps it fun. Now we just have to put it down on paper and go shoot it.
A: I find it to be a tremendous advantage. The characters are already established, as is their back-story and structure so you don’t find yourself bogged down with anything. I find it more like an eco challenge than a triathlon. I’m really enjoying the process. It’s also nice, as whenever you get stuck or painted into a corner, you just put the DVD of the original in and it always ignites a new idea or reminder of something you’d like to tackle in the sequel.
Q: Shifting over to your other project, are you excited to have gotten Xzibit to play the lead on A Little Off the Top?
A: More than you know. When I first read it, I thought of him immediately and am thrilled that he’s signed on.
Q: You worked with him on Gridiron Gang as well. How did his work on that have an impact on your decision to use him in this film?
A: I know him as a person. I see the real-deal from his years running the streets in Detroit to becoming a rap star but I’ve gotten to know the incredible human being who is Alvin Joiner, which is what I plan to pull more from when making the film. A great balance of both Xzibit and Alvin will be key and if handled right, can be very dynamic.
Q: What is he like as a person?
A: X has a heart of gold. He’s driven, passionate, a great father and one hell of an entertainer. I’ve had the pleasure of seeing a few of his concerts and he just played me his new record when we last got together. There are some really good tracks on it – one with Travis Barker that is just unreal.
Q: Why do you think Jason Wright’s screenplay made such an impression on you?
A: It was one of those things where when you read something, it either works for you or it doesn’t. Art is nothing but opinion. My opinion of Jason Wright is the man can tell a story. His work is entertaining, engaging and you care about the characters and root for them as they go through the circumstances he puts them through.
Q: What do you hope your viewers take away from this particular film?
A: More than an empty bucket of popcorn. Yes, it’s a traditional “popcorn movie” but there’s a lot of heart as well. Several good messages mixed in there while wrapped in both comedy and action.
Q: You seem to always be working. Why do you think that is?
A: What else is there to do? Everyone has to work and if I wasn’t working it would get pretty lonely, (laughs). In our business you either create or generate work, or you wait for it to come to you. Patience was never one of my best attributes so I am constantly finding different ways to keep myself busy – and employed.
Q: What do attribute your drive and determination to most?
A: Life is short. There’s a lot I want to do before I’m six feet under and I always believed a 1,000-mile journey is accomplished one step at a time. I was raised to make sure every day before my head hits the pillow to do something that brings you closer to your goals. My goal is to be working constantly.
Q: What do you think is the most important thing you have learned from your career over the years?
A: Patience. This is an unpredictable business. You could be driving a delivery truck one day and be producing a major motion picture the next. As you get older, you learn to appreciate what you have and how to take care of it. There are no guarantees and the trick is to be smart so when you do work, so it can carry you ‘til the next project comes along.
Q: What is one thing about yourself that most people who know you best would be surprised to learn?
A: I could tell you but then it would no longer be a surprise. I like to keep ‘em wondering!
Q: What do you consider to be the most important thing for anyone to remember on his or her trip through life?
A: Listen carefully and don’t just hear what you want to hear. Weigh everything out and trust your gut. And while you’re at it, enjoy the ride!
Q: What one subject would you most like to cover next?
A: That’s a good question and I’ll let you know when I find the answer. I never go into something thinking, “What haven’t I done yet.” If I did that, I’d probably spend most of my days staring at the wall. If something ignites a fire inside of me, I play it out and write it down. I’ll revisit it a few days later and if it makes me feel the way it did when it first hit me, I’ll pursue it.
Q: Do you ever get tired of doing interviews with people who have already covered your work?
A: Not at all. It’s nice to have some sort of connection or familiarity with a journalist. It feels like you’re talking with an old friend.
Q: After these projects are done, what’s next?
A: I don’t know but I’ll tell you when that certain something ignites me! I try and keep my eyes and my mind open. If you had told me I’d be making a biopic called My Trip to the Dark Side last year, I’d say you were crazy. Three months ago, I didn’t know about A Little Off the Top and two weeks ago the thought of a sequel to Dark Side wasn’t even a pipedream. I’m definitely excited to see what’s around the corner.