29th Nov2019

Black Forest Films to undertake ‘An American Masquerade’

by Phil Wheat


In 2014 I watched a small Aussie film called Chocolate Strawberry Vanilla, mainly because I was a fan of rockabilly meets monster movie El Monstro Del Mar and CSV was the directors follow-up. Little did I know back then that the films writer, Addison Heath, would go on to be one of my favourite indie filmmakers.

Yes the writer… Addison Heath, who penned Chocolate Strawberry Vanilla, would go on to write and direct – to name a few – Under a Kalideoscope, Mondo Yakuza and The Viper’s Hex, ALL of which we’ve (well I have) reviewed here on Nerdly. And, over the 5 years since I first saw CSV it’s safe to say I’ve built up a decent relationship with Heath, his partner Jasmin Jakupi and their Black Forest Films production company. So much so that now, at the end of 2019, not only have I been given the scoop revealing details on latest film, An American Masquerade – which will shoot down the US West coast from Portland to Las Vegas and finishing in Los Angeles – but I’m also joining the production as an Executive Producer!

A Tarantino-esque crime thriller, An American Masquerade tells the story of two failed actors taking a road trip across the US to deliver a car full of contraband. Only nothing, and I do mean nothing, goes according to plan. Explaining the birth of the film, co-writer and co-director Addison Heath states: “I wanted to write a film about good people making bad decisions. Underdogs in search of purpose. While in America, Jasmine and I came up with the story and characters, I’ve always wanted to make a road trip film so at it’s core, that’s what it is. However there are a lot of influences and other themes at play, it’s a romance, a crime film, an absurd comedy. It has something for everyone. It’s honestly the most hyped I’ve been to make a film.” Adds co-writer and co-director Jasmine Jakupi: “I think we’ve assembled a really diverse and dynamic cast that will elevate the project. I’m in love with the landscape of rural America and so I can’t wait to bring the visuals to life with this amazing cast and crew”.

Principal photography on An American Masquerade will begin in March 2020 and casting is well underway on the film – with a few surprises! Here’s the breakdown:

Yoji Yamada and Dylan Heath

Yamada and Heath, who have both worked with Addison and Black Forest Films on previous features, will be playing two of the lead roles. Yoji Yamada can be seen in the film The Viper’s Hex as well other productions such as Yuki Hatayama’s short Sense Of Sin and Katsumi Sasaki’s When You Wish Upon A Star. Dylan Heath appeared in the aforementioned Chocolate Strawberry Vanilla as well as all of Black Forest Films’ previous productions in some capactity.

Yoji Yamada

Says Yamada:

I am so excited to work with the entire Black forest films crew again with their newest film “An American Masquerade”. My first appearance in one of their films was “The Viper’s Hex” shot in Tokyo and Nagano, Japan. I had such a great time working with them we became very close friends right after that.

My character Scott is a very exciting and interesting role to play as it’s an Asian lead in an American feature which is unfortunately too rare these days. I used to live in LA for a number of years so I can’t wait to go back there and begin filming. This is my dream work. I really appreciate Black Forest Films giving me this opportunity so I’m going to live and enjoy every single moment of it.


Adds Dylan Heath:

Previously i have been mostly behind the camera working as a producer with Black Forest Films while also appearing in small acting roles. I have always found working with Addison and Jasmine creates an incredibly collaborative and rewarding creative environment and I’m very proud of our past achievements. After hearing Addison and Jasmine talk about the project and then reading the script I knew it was something I had to be a part of and the role of Lenny really captured my imagination.

I love the wild and often hilarious nature of the script as well as the dynamic between the lead characters of Scott, Lenny and Indiana. I can relate to my character Lenny in a lot of ways. He’s intensely loyal to his friends but not someone you would want to f#ck over. He’s a bit wild and unpredictable at times, but at his core he’s an honest aussie bloke who’s down on his luck and is looking to change that. I couldn’t be more excited about bringing this character to life.

Cris Cochrane


Longtime Black Forest Films collaborator Cris Cochrane – whose work also includes western The Legend of Ben Hall and Simon Harcourt and Hussein Khoder’s short for Faces Of Snuff – plays an ide-cold loan shark in the film, in a role written specifically for him.

States Cochrane:

Well, having worked with Black Forest films on several other projects (Mondo Yakuza, The Perfect Nonsense, and Drive By) the opportunity to be involved with Jasmine and Addison again was too much to resist. I love their style; both in the writing and making of the film including the whole creative process, but also the camaraderie on set. Liam is a character I think Addison has wanted me to play for some time; elements of his personality will be easy, and others…hard, like the character himself!

Trent Haaga


Trent Haaga is known for his work in front and behind the camera, acting in such flicks as Terror Firmer, American Muscle and playing Full Moon’s psychotic clown Killjoy. His films as writer and/or director include Cheap Thrills, Deadgirl, Citizen Toxie: The Toxic Avenger IV and 68 Kill.

Trent Haaga on teaming with Black Forest Films:

I was fortunate enough to attend the Tokyo Premiere of Mondo Yakuza in 2017. I knew immediately I was in the company of some truly independent filmmakers who did things their own way. The entire Black Forest crew and I got to know one another while in Japan and I thought that after we parted ways that geographic distance would prevent us from ever working together. Now they’re coming to my home country and were foolish enough to ask me to be in their next film. No way I was saying no to that! My character, Bronson, is the role that Gary Oldman would have been offered if this movie were made in 1992 – an un-hinged and unpredictable (but oddly likable) lunatic. I can’t wait to get crazy with the friends who helped keep me sane during my long stint in Tokyo.

Eddie Pollard


Eddie Pollard has joined the cast in a key role in an insane scene that will undoibtedly be a talking point after you see the movie! Eddie can be seen in horror flicks It Wants Blood and Clown Fear, appearing in the latter alongside his awesome wife Elissa Dowling. Speaking of whom…

Elissa Dowling


Appearing in such films as We Are Still Here, Girl On The Third Floor, Tales Of Halloween, Starry Eyes, Cheap Thrills and Death House, Elissa Dowling has joined the cast of An American Masquerade in the lead female role, Indiana. A role that, I think, we undoubtedly be as iconic as any of Tarantino’s leading ladies.

Elissa Dowling on An American Masquerade:

An American Masquerade is the captivating story of three antiheroes with nothing to lose. The script is gritty, gripping and outrageously entertaining. It’s no wonder that I fell head over heels with this project. All the characters in this film are fun to get to know, even the bad guys. I’m super stoked to play “Indiana” a woman of dubious background, who’s tough as nails exterior hides her heart of gold. I can’t wait for you to join me on this raucous ride filled with chaos and laughter!

And the surprising role in An American Masquerade? Well that goes to…

Tom McLoughlin

Yes Tom McLoughlin, most known for his work behind the camera which includes writing and directing duties on Friday The 13th Part VI: Jason Lives, Sometimes They Come Back Again, One Dark Night and many more, is on board for a cameo appearance in An American Masquerade. No stranger in appearing in front of the camera, McLoughlin has appeared in a bunch of films including Critters 2, The Black Hole and recent F13 fan film Vengeance.


The rest of the cast includes Monique Dupree (Tommy Dreamer’s House of Hardcore wrestling promotion, Troma’s Shakespeare’s Sh*tstorm); Tommie Vegas (Albert Pyun’s The Interrogation of Cheryl Cooper, American Virus); Sotiris Tzelios, who worked with Heath and co. on Mondo Yakuza and appeared in the Venice special jury prize winning Sweet Country; and Shawn C. Phillips, aka YouTube’s Coolduder who, besides revewing a ton of movies on his YouTube channel, has carved out something of a film career appearing in indie genre films such as Ghost Shark and the Frightfest-screened Dead Ant.

So that’s it, the current line-up for An American Masquerade. I’m super-excited to be involved with the film and working with a team of filmmakers I believe in and whole-heartedly support. Make sure to keep checking back here for more on the film as production gets underway next Spring.


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