|Owen: You've had some smaller parts but
'October Moon' is your first
major film role. How did you land
the role of Elliot?
Jerod: Director Jason Paul Cullom and I met in a club
through acquaintances. We hit it off. He talked
about film, I talked about stage. Jason is really
a fun guy. We ran into each on and off over a
couple of years. Being the dedicated artist he
truly is, Jason had moved to the west coast to
pursue his film career. While back in town
once, He told me about this project he was
working towards, and I could see the fire in his
eyes already. Around that time I had landed some
background and stand-in work on major studio
projects in Chicago. I was already quite familiar
with the production demands of film. He told
me his game plan. I was impressed by his spirit.
I was immediately drawn in by the story.
Then he really threw me when he offered me
the role. He had faith in my acting and that I
could utilize my background in stage to
really propel the script forward. After that
talk we kept in touch and around three years
later we began principle shooting for "October
difficult was it to inhabit the role such
a demented character? What were the
primary things it helped to keep in mind to get
into character for Elliot?
Jerod: Wow. Where to start. When I first look
at a script, it's a surface study and
eventually what's under the skin is realized
through other characters
and circumstance. But in this
situation, with the unique style of October
Moon and our tight shooting
schedule, I was afraid I wasn't going to find
Elliot. Not to the level that was called
for in the flow of the story line. Then I
realized that true to the script, what happens to
Elliot is not planned, and for him it's
definitely not the right time. He gets hit right
in the gut and he's got to go on from there.
There is a progression to his evil, but he is
truly a tortured soul. I gave my best shot to try
to hit every mark while staying spontaneous in
violence stems from his own self-loathing
regarding his repressed sexuality. Is it
gratifying to be in a film that, although it
is classified as horror/drama, actually
contains an underlying message on the
importance of self-acceptance?
Jerod: You hit the
nail right on the head. I can't even
describe how rewarding it feels to be a part of
conveying that message. What I found in common
with the character is how
easily people tend to be so damn hard
on themselves for whatever reason, valid or
not. Self-acceptance is so important on many
levels. I saw a film a couple nights ago that had
this running line and theme of "how am
I not being myself". It really can
become a tragedy when people don't like or
even appreciate the wealth within themselves.
You're primarily a regional stage actor with a
long list of diverse credits such as 'The
'The Twelfth Night', 'One
Flew Over the Cuckoos Nest', 'The
Glass Menagerie', etc. What were
the basic differences between acting on the stage
and acting for the camera?
Jerod: I get
different responses from people who look over my
body of work in acting. "Wow, you've done
allot of different projects", or "It
appears that you're very versatile". My goal
has always been to become a well-rounded
artist. I've tried to accomplish this in my
acting through different style and medium.
I began working on stage
adaptations of films, such as the Pulp
Fiction. This was a turning point for me since I
was also working through a film-casting agent in
Chicago at the time. I believe that stage and
film are both demanding art forms. And it is true
that each has it's own school of thought.
For stage, there are times when you need to be
larger than life, yet controlled so as to make it
appear effortless. Yet film may require the
same (even though its assumed that when
you're projected on that screen, you already
are). On stage you can get a feel for the
audience since they too are a living breathing
part of the performance with their
responses. In film, you may get that response
more intimately from the crew or director
following a take. I guess to me I needed to find
the similarities instead of the differences
so I could do my best work.
were you a horror fan prior to the casting?
Were you aware of the work of Brinke Stevens,
Judith ODea, Jeff Dylan Graham,
and writer/director Jason Paul Collum?
Jerod: Yes. I was
watching late night Universal re-releases when I
was a kid along with Hammer films.
The wildest scene I remember was a
Dracula version with Christopher Lee and
Peter Cushing. They had this exciting
confrontation at the climax of the film that
blew me away. I remember it was intense,
adventurous, as well as horrific at the
same time. As for my fellow actors on October
Moon? Let's say I was already
a fan, and if not, I became one. Judith
O'Dea I had already seen when I was
a teen. On set, she was professional and
friendly. I learned that we share a
stage background as well. Brinke, I had also
seen as a teen. One of my friends has a shrine to
her in his home to this day. His wife isn't too
happy about that. I
was already familiar with Jason's work.
I am happy to know his documentary was
picked up by Showtime. I was not familiar
with Jeff, but was really impressed by his intent
when on set. On the same subject, during a
break in shooting, I was finally turned on
to Tina's work. I saw Aswang: The
Unearthing and was blown away. I was
excited like a kid all over again seeing her
work. This happening after just shooting with her
a few hours earlier that same day. It was great
working with them all and watching each of these
people at their art.
what were you primary memories of the filming of
Jerod: I will
never forget the unique experience of making this
film and the people who gave their best to be
involved. Unfortunately, during production I lost
one of the most influential as well as dearest
human beings that I have ever known and been
able to call friend. I got the call while working
on a scene. The cast was so supportive and Jason
was willing to re-arrange the schedule to
accommodate my leaving. I decided to stay on. My
friend who passed was also an actor, and one of
great talent and heart. I know that she would
have wanted me to stay and finish the work -- for
her, my cast, as well as for myself. The
circumstances were very complicated and personal.
The shooting schedule being very demanding
already, I didn't think I was gonna hold up. I
don't like to admit that. I try to be strong like
bull whenever I can. I couldn't. If it weren't
for the great people I was working with, it might
not have been a film completed, as you will see.
For their support, patience, and tolerance I was
and am still grateful.
funny stories from the shoot?
Jerod: We came
back from a late shoot with drinks to follow for
sanity's sake. The line producer stayed behind to
get some down time before the next days early
call. The D.P. and I just got back and were
talking about some thing or other and she (the
line producer) was just coming out from
a shower. Being the hard worker she is, she tried
to grab something for one of us, and she lost her
towel completely. We all stood in that panic
shock for what felt like over 5 mins. After a few
apologetic words, she was a little irritated when
the only value we found in being flashed was that
we didn't shoot it for the film. It was full
frontal. Well, it could have made the out-takes
this role opened doors for you
careerwise? What's next on your agenda?
Jerod: Currently on stage, I am appearing in the
musical Forever Plaid, (a far
cry from Elliot) and will be running up into
the holiday season. During this I have
also been taking trips to St Louis for more
pre-production work on Paradise Lost, The
Musical in which I will be playing the
lead role of Satan. With the rights and
legalities finally secured, I just found out they
will be hiring on a great arranger for the score.
What part I've played so far for this show has
been a lot of fun. It looks to be a great
production. For film, Jason and I have talked
about another project, and I have also been
recently approached by another independent
producer. As long as I can create, and hopefully
inspire, there's nothing I can't see myself doing
for some time to come. I am just grateful for the
opportunity, as well as the chance to share some
of the insanity with you all.
What's something that scares you in real life?
The fall and decline of art.