26th Mar2018

Interview: ‘Corbin Nash’ casting director & co-producer Carmen Aiello

by Philip Rogers

Searching a world of darkness for a truth he was never ready for, a rogue detective (Dean S. Jagger) is murdered only to be reborn the ultimate killer. Embracing his destiny, vowing vengeance on all that destroyed his family; he is Corbin Nash, Demon Hunter. With the film dure for release on April 20th, I got a chance to sit down with casting director and co-producer Carmen Aiello to talk all things Corbin Nash

Carmen-Aiello

You are the co-producer and casting director for Corbin Nash, how would you describe your role as co-producer for this film?

At first, I didn’t know I was going to co-produce at all, it was just casting the movie. I co-produced the last film that I did which was my first shot at co -producing. It’s very much like theatre out here, where if you find a group of individuals that you can’t stop getting into their heads you form an ensemble. So, when we got to the point where I had helped attach all of the stars, I said that I wanted to find a way where I could be even more a part of this and they invited me to set. I had already been creating a television series right before Corbin Nash for the past year and a half before that, so I said this is what I have been doing on that set. I am here hustling and making sure that if there is a problem you haven’t heard about you are going to get it. I invited myself to spend every day with Corey Feldman on set to make sure he was being taken care of. One thing led to another and one night I pulled Ben [Jagger] aside in the middle of shooting this car scene that you will see Queeny, Corey Feldmans character with this pimp. I pulled him aside and said, “Listen Ben, this is your vision and you just have to keep pushing”. It was hard work on the set, its was all night shoots. “Do what you want to do this is your movie” and I thought what am I doing? I am co-producing right now. I am talking to the director about following his vision.

Richard [Wagner] called me, the executive producer who plays Vince. He said I need a publicist do you know any? I go no, I don’t talk to publicists but what do you need? He said I want someone to do a press release. I said “I don’t know, what about if I do it. I don’t know what I am doing, it’s trial and error, but I will make sure I do it”. I contacted Deadline got a press release out and I just started to do the publicity having been on set every single day for this film. We got our first press release on Deadline, an exclusive and from that point on I just started to bury myself into the work. Since the movie was cast the only thing I could do was continue to follow the vision and I said I will be here to the very end, whatever you guys need just keep in contact with me.

We got them a KTLA 5 spot, which is one of the most viewed local news stations, The Insider and Entertainment Tonight Canada came by to the set to do some exclusive scenes. Then up to this point it has just been working with Richard the distributer, trying to get a screening and then the premier out. Contacting iTunes, we need to get this synopsis corrected, Dean Jagger’s link is not working. It’s all the little things, but the little things matter. Lots of stories to tell on the last year and a half, but it all happened. The thing is, I knew this was going to go into the movie theatres. It will only start in 10 states, but it’s all about word of mouth so I think 10 states is a really good place to start. One theatre in each state and then on video on demand or iTunes for people who have been staying home and watching movies at home recently.

Corey is very excited as this will be his first movie in movie theatres for like 10 years. Corey is one of the most amazing people, you hear so much gossip and its just bullshit. He is very quirky, artistic and eccentric and that’s what you should be as an actor, I think most actors can identify. When you are in this world you have to have a personality, you have specifications of things you like or don’t like. There is a drive about him which is not always easy, but he has always been into the work. He is like the male Madonna, he wants to make sure everything is perfect and if it’s not around him he is definitely going to make a scene about it. But he is always going to be specific, he never yells, never goes crazy, he just makes sure after so many years of gossip and slander that he is being shed into a good light. He wants to do something different and this is very different. You know you are doing something different when you are putting yourself out like this, but I am very proud of him. I think he did an incredible job.

You have been extremely busy on the set of this film, what was the hardest part of filming for yourself?

Night shoots! You’re getting to set at four or five in the afternoon and staying there until five am. I think also moving locations. It wasn’t difficult, but there was this is a scene where Queeny takes somebody’s life and it happens on the street. We had to build a human chain for other cars that were passing by, so they couldn’t not see what was happening. It’s like any other movie, but you are never really sure what the end result would be. You are watching these actors do amazing work and these amazing shots, but in post it could end up being anything.

Managing an entire crew, having wardrobe sometimes on the street, with people sometimes getting changed on the sidewalk or in the honey wagon for the next scene. It was hard on all of us, but again its about who’s your leader and Ben knew what he was doing.

What first attracted you to the film Corbin Nash originally when you first read the script?

I loved Interview with the Vampire (1994), Bram Stokers Dracula (1992). I am not really a fan really… but one of my favorite scenes is a very old cult movie called Waxwork (1988), which is a horrifying, horrible movie. The scene where this woman goes into the wax museum, she meets Dracula and eating steak tartare, it is so well done, and I thought that’s it… Dracula is always eating at the dinner table, there’s always three girls around him, this classic monster squad. So, when I got to this script and someone was like it’s about a rogue detective, its more of a crime thriller vampire movie, and no one told me about the cross-dressing vampire at all. They said just read the script and see if it’s something you like. So, I am reading it and it was slow moving, where the Dracula of old is super-fast with tight visuals. It moved at a pace where there was a story to it and it was original. There were some pins in there of what a classical vampire is really like and when I read Queeny I was a bit taken back, but I kept reading. It was not written as a role which is campy, but it is a horrifying monster. She is a little eccentric and has her moments where you can create a meme or gif from a couple of her lines with modern day social media, but she was scary as shit. This is someone who is very much a man, very masculine, with a very feminine demeaner. This is a brand-new universe in the genre which I have never really seen before, it mixes the horror fascination of vampires with a very modern twist. We’re into these 10hrs crime dramas, but we do all this in 96 minutes. It is very fast paced, but it actually moves very slowly, there’s a story which you are following and that’s what I liked about it.

You are also the casting on the film and have brought together an amazing cast including; Corey Feldman, Rutger Hauer and Malcolm McDowell. Did you have any pre-conceptions of who you wanted when you read the script?

I have always been drawn to Corey Feldman. When I met Ben, Dean and Richard at the first table, I spurted out the name Macaulay Culkin. “Macaulay Culkin, he is Queeny” is what I said. Everybody was like, yeah, what happened to him? You need someone who has an immediacy, you remember the name and think, what is he doing? Then I thought about it and something was not going to work out about him and within a couple of days, I mentioned Corey.

The role of Macy, the female lead was written as a Caucasian woman. I think we had some names on the table, but more to the point I didn’t want to see another vampire movie with some white girl flailing around. I have seen Scream (1996) enough times to know if you go cliché people are going to expect an ending. So, I mentioned Fernanda Romero who is maybe not known all over the world, but she is certainly known in Mexico as an actress. She has been in enough movies that people will recognize her, but more to the fact she is Latina. I worked with her in Espionage Tonight (2017) and I said to Ben, what if we just make the white girl Latina! I know a Mexican actress, she’s super-hot, but really focused and can act really well. So, I sat down with Fernanda… Because I don’t do auditions, I don’t believe in auditions as a casting director. No one done any auditions or read any lines to be in this, it’s all through intuition of casting these actors. I looked at their demos looked through there IMDB pro and really though about people I wanted Ben to meet. You get to know a director in a movie, you know what his vision is and the type of ensemble he is trying to create. It’s not like being on the West End or New York where you need to validate everything you want to do in a rehearsal process, in the movie there may or may not be a rehearsal process, but you’re on. I cast people who have the ability to play these characters, but also have the best energy. I asked her to sit down and talk with him and two days later she got an offer. They had to rewrite the script to adapt it for a Latino actress. There is one scene where she is praying, and she said, “If you are praying in my country you are praying in Spanish, because it wouldn’t make any sense that a Mexican woman would be praying to Our Father in English” so she participated in the creation of that role a little bit.

Ben was like “I would like to work with Rutger, Rutger Hauer’s my dream”. I was like ok Blade Runner (1982), I didn’t realize how big of a deal Rutger was for Ben. After a week and Rutger sat down with Ben and he just couldn’t believe it, I was just kidding… Bruce Davinson, who is a Golden Globe winner plays a very important role and Malcolm. You have to make the right offer, but they were intrigued… I think it’s Ben and Dean, people love their energy there’s something about them.

You have overseen the project for Corbin Nash what do you think are the most memorable moments during filming?

I was at Corey’s side pretty much the whole time. I think one that comes to me; we had to move him from wardrobe to the set, it was somewhere in Silver Lake. When he got her, Queeny he would not break character the entire time, until he went back into wardrobe and became Corey again. But the entire time no matter where, if she was waiting to go on, if she was rehearsing or you were talking to her, once she was in all full makeup she was Queeny. So, we get her to set at the very end of the day at four thirty, five in the morning, I was driving her back with Cortney, Corey’s wife. I think I was talking to Corey and we were talking about stuff Corey and I talk about, and from the back of my car this chilling voice says, “Darling I don’t know what the fuck you are talking about”. I am trying to drive back to the wardrobe and I go, “What do you mean, you know…” We were becoming friends at this point, not just set friends and I was like, “What the fuck you talking you know…” and he said something like “Darling you don’t get it”. Cortney leans over and goes he’s still Queeny. I was like oh I’m so sorry! That was kind of creepy, you know… don’t bite me or anything. That is something I will never forget.

I think there is a moment by the car, because we couldn’t figure out how to stage this death without people being shocked. We had to build a human fence thought around this car so Queeny and this girl could go at it and not feel as though they were being watched. There was a paparazzi moment where we had a scare. We were filming with Malcolm, Fernanda and Corey. We had three photographers trying to get first hand pictures of Corey dressed up as this person. So, he had a security guard, he ran over and had a run around fence, but it took about 25 minutes of out of our running time during shooting. There is the paparazzi in Hollywood, we never had one moment until then and I think someone disclosed where the location was. We had a screen around the fence, so they couldn’t see in and we had a bunch of us had to stand by the fence to see if anyone was watching. The rest of it was pretty smooth, I don’t think we had any hiccups to be honest for most of the movie it was just getting from one place to the other.

Do you have any other projects which you are working on at the moment?

Yes, I do! The next thing that is coming out is with Adi Shankar, who is the youngest executive producer to have a number one at the box office with Lone Survivor (2013). I am co-creator, co-producer and casting director of a new television series, so I did three jobs. He is a Nerdist, he knows all about the superhero worlds and is an up and coming. This series is about superheroes, it’s a brand-new universe with blood, so no one gets stung and doesn’t bleed in this universe. There is a lot of blood and it’s a crime drama. It’s the first independent, non-studio backed television series that been green lit, so all of the shows will be made available. I can’t say where its will be shown yet as we are waiting for announcements. The cast is up on IMDB, there is Brigitte Nielsen, Jackson Rathbone, Jane Seymour and it’s a diverse group of superheroes and characters. We have all of the races, foreign languages, women over 40, transgender. The thing about the casting for that one, if they are transgender, black or Latino or speak a foreign language we don’t explain why they are there. So, there is no background on that character, where as most television series, you see someone who is transgender you may know that they are, and it goes back to when they were a boy or a girl and how they grew up and discovered that. We don’t have any that. If they are a woman and they are transgender when we go back, they are a woman. So, it’s a unique way of doing diversity for the roles, but all of the superheroes are archetypes of Marvel or DC comics. But we are telling our own story of how that happened.

Do you have a title for the new series?

Adi Shankar’s Gods and Secrets. That for me is going to be the next big one. That is the next one I am going to have to start getting myself out there because that’s been two-and-a-half-year journey since the inception of it.

As a casting director what advice would you give to young actors who want to get into film?

If they are a real actor they will have a strong intuition about what it is to be in the moment. I know a lot people give them the wrong advice by telling them all the specifics. I think the best advise is do what I want to do, follow my own lead, listen to my own intuition. There’s moments where I felt I have to do this, I have to be yelled at by this person and just deal with it. I think there is a kind of boot camp that you have to go through on your own and if you come to Hollywood don’t ever leave just push through it. No matter how hard it gets just stay there, the moment you leave that’s the moment you have given in. It’s fine because a lot of people do leave because they can’t handle it anymore; but follow your intuition and your gut instincts that’s what a real actor has, that’s what you have when you are on set, do it in your life. There is not anything specific like go here or smoosh with these people. If you are humble, you are real and not always trying to get something form someone else, you are just showcasing your own personality you have more of a chance of being trusted. Trust is something we don’t really have in Hollywood, we don’t trust other people unless you have been working with them and proven you can be trusted.

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One Response to “Interview: ‘Corbin Nash’ casting director & co-producer Carmen Aiello”

  • Jeremy Shelton

    Very excited to see this! It was a pleasure to be a part of it and work with Carmen!!