Friday, 3 May 2013

Framing Film – An Interview With Dave Vescio

Framing Film – An Interview With Dave Vescio

Part 1

Welcome to our brand new feature, ‘Framing Film’. 

I just want to give you all a little bit of an introduction – we started this blog about three weeks ago as a very possible past-time for spreading our love of film. It has so rapidly started to escalate that I can’t even begin to encompass it any other way than to share with you the journey that got us here to this feature – a feature which we can thank Dave Vescio (“Hick”, “Virus X”) for. It’s fairly long as it is our special first edition, but we hope you all enjoy it!

We don’t want the ‘Framing Film’ series to be easy-to-swallow fluff pieces, but questions that either tackle a core issue, body of work or point of view - hence the length and necessity of the questions.
Dave was the first actor to engage and chat with us after we mentioned that we loved “Hick”, a film he appears in, over Twitter. He’s a very recent actor in the business, having started in acting less than a decade ago. He’s been in a news studio, on a film set, in the army and even in prison for dealing drugs.
We sat down, metaphorically, to interview Dave on his storied tale that has brought him to our screens, his life experiences and where he hopes to take it all. It’s a revealing and in-depth interview, and since this is our first feature, we want to extend our gratitude again to Dave for taking his time to engage with us. Dave’s currently engaged with new work, so we had to ask big questions in a batch way – but he gave some great responses. We’ll leave the questions bolded to help them stand out!

He’s the constant shadow, the evil lurking in your garden… Well, in at least 40+ recent productions over the last 6/7 years. Dave Vescio is known for taking on tougher roles, with very menacing aspects – in the feature film “Hick” for example, he simply plays “Stranger”, a would-be-rapist who gets attacked by Eddie Redmayne’s character “Eddie”, who initially tried to cheat him out of money.

Where has he come from, what's his take on method acting, how has it affected him and what does he want to do next? Read on to find out!

Kind of like a bad studio movie idea,(but a necessary evil due to the actual length of the interview) we are releasing part 1 now and part 2 within the next week – so keep your eyes peeled! And keep up to date with us on Twitter: @bydhifu!


Ferenc Igali: Hey, welcome and thanks for doing this interview at But You Didn’t Hear It From Us – Dave Vescio!

Dave Vescio: Thank you as well Ferenc and Georgia!  I totally do appreciate it!

Photo: Dave Vescio

Life History

FI: First off, let’s start off with a bit of your history; What was it like being a CBS journalist?

DV: I was actually a TV photojournalist. I was in charge of shooting & editing the news stories, while the reporter wrote the story.  But, it was fun.  I definitely enjoyed it.  I mostly did spot news, which is natural disasters and man-made disasters.  But, in the end, it just got too easy for me.  And I really got bored watching all this life happen in front of me, not being able to participate in it, because my job was to record it and tell their story, and not be a part of the story.  So, I became an actor instead.  And acting is definitely challenging, I’m not bored yet, and it’s been eleven years now. 

FI: Clearly, your performances are drawn from some experience. You’ve said before that going to prison was an important part of your life – was it a turning point in what you wanted to do with your life?

DV: Umm, not really…  I actually decided to be an artist because of LSD.  I never understood art or why people did it in the first place.  I just didn’t get it.  And one night while I was clubbing in Waikiki doing LSD, I went outside with my friends and I started to notice the skyscrapers in the distance and that’s when hit me: that I wanted to be an artist.  I just didn’t know what kind of artist though.  So, before I went to prison I used to do realistic drawings with my sketchbook.  And while in prison I did some cooking which lead me to take culinary classes while I was on federal parole.  And after working in restaurants for awhile, I then decided to shoot documentaries while in school, and got hired by CBS News as a TV photojournalist.  And then I became a theatre actor who then became a movie actor.  And now, I’m co-producing and co-writing my very first feature film that I’m going to star in.  So, it’s always transforming from decade to decade.  And I honestly don’t know where it’s all going to lead to in the end. :)   But, I’ve definitely been an artist on a journey since that one night that I did LSD in Hawaii back in 1991.  By the way, whoever is reading this, do not do LSD.  I’ve seen more people harmed by it than not harmed by it.  So, definitely do not do it; it’s illegal for a reason.

DV: But, prison did turn me around though in other areas of my life.  I went clean and sober for seven years.  I only drink alcohol from time to time now.  No illegal drugs at all though.  And I started to read more (on average I read one to two non-fiction books a month – mostly business books these days), and I went back to college after prison, and started to observe life differently.  Definitely became more spiritual.  I try to meditate or connect my chakras each day.  Prison was the best thing for me.  It made me who I am today.  And it definitely changed my life for the better as well.  Shoot, I’m the only ex-con method actor in the world.  So, it definitely made me a rarity, that’s for sure.  And now I teach the world about the criminal world through my art.  So, I can’t beat it.

FI: You’ve mentioned your time in the U.S. Army before – has your time spent there affected your acting in anyway?

DV: Probably, the morality part, and serving others as well.  I’m definitely trying to expose the truth of the criminal world to the world’s audience.  To teach them how we really are, so, they can protect themselves from us.  And to also teach them that crime does not pay.  You will get caught or you will get killed / maimed in the end.  So, growing up in a military family, plus, serving in the U.S. Army definitely taught me right from wrong. 

DV: Plus, I do my own stunts and I can properly use most weapons, so, serving in an infantry unit taught me how to do all of that.  Plus, the U.S. Army taught me that failure is not an option.  Do or die there is no try.  So, that mentality definitely helps me on setting goals for myself, and then achieving them in the end.  I definitely learned self-discipline from the U.S. Army.

FI: Both have certainly seemed to galvanise you - you’ve become a prolific man since - appearing in over 40 films and TV productions, as well as gaining over 120,00 Twitter followers; how do you keep up with it all?

DV: Ha, ha, ha, that’s funny! :)   Yeah, umm, working all the time, working every single day with no days off (and I’m serious about that), and finding new ways to work smarter than before and harder than before is how I keep up with it all.  Hollywood is the Olympics for the movie and TV business.  The best of the best from around the world all work here.  So, you definitely have to outwork them or out hustle them to stay in the game.  And it’s hard, but, it’s my most favorite thing in the world to do.  And if I couldn’t be a movie actor, honestly, I would not want to be alive anymore.  It’s the only thing that truly makes me happy.  I just love serving mankind.  I truly do.  And that’s why I have a Twitter page for my growing fan base, and that’s why I try to communicate to my fans each day as well, because without them, shoot, I wouldn’t be able to do what I love to do most in this world.  So, I’m truly grateful! :)  I truly, truly am.

FI: Your Twitter fans certainly appreciate it – not only did you sit down to interview with us but you also take the time to look after your growing fan base by answering personal queries and constantly responding and engaging with them – it makes a difference to your on screen characters though! How hard is it to swap from that mindset you need to play those characters to the one the public see every day?

DV: Actually, both mindsets are me.  There’s an old saying that goes like this.  In each and every one of us are two dogs: a good dog and an evil dog.  And the dog that wins is the one that you feed the most.  So, I try to feed the good dog the most, but, I still feed the evil dog every single day as well when I have to prepare for an audition or prepare for an upcoming movie role or do these kinds of interviews or even write my own script.  So, I definitely have to feed him each & every day, so, I do.

Career So Far

Theatrical Trailer for 'Hick' - Phase 4 Films

FI: Your acting is known by a total dedication to the role; as a ‘good’ villain, you have to make people hate your character and you have done that so effectively on so many occasions. I have read about your time with studying method acting – how hard is it to get into a new role for you? How do you commit to it and what kind of prep do you do before filming?

DV: It’s very hard.  Each and every character thinks and acts differently.  And it’s my job to figure out why they think this way and why they choose to do these actions over any other action.  So, that’s a challenge in itself.  But, then, once I figure that out, I then have to make it for real on set.  No  pretending, but, actually doing it.  So, I try to figure that as well, and once I have it figured it, then we go to set and we start shooting it.  So, for me as a Method actor, I try to do what my character is doing but for real.  So, if he doesn’t sleep much, I don’t sleep much; or if he doesn’t drink much or eat much, the same exact thing; or If he gets into fights or gets thrown around or whatever, I do that too; no stuntmen ever.  I just realistically try to do whatever my character is doing but for real.  But, at the same time, not hurt any other actor on set.  But, definitely take it to that extreme distance though; because in the end, the audience wants this kind of reality.  They all say they don’t, but, in the end they actually do.  That’s why news and reality TV and documentaries are so popular these days.  The audience just loves reality based programs.  And the industry is changing because of the internet, and the acting style is changing again as well.  Everything is evolving into reality these days.  Well, at least drama acting is. Comedy, well that’s a whole different story.  That’s definitely becoming more abstract than anything ever before.  But, everything is evolving in this business, and I mean everything.

FI: Your favourite role so far?

DV: So far I would say my Stranger character in ‘Hick’, or my small role character in ‘The Millionaire Tour’.  But, I definitely do like my characters in my upcoming movies.  Let’s say the more I do this the better I get at it (because my art is always evolving as well).

FI: You’ve mentioned in another interview with Yahoo! that you would like to play anti-heroes as well; what draws you to that role?

DV: I actually became an actor with the hope of playing these kinds of roles.  I grew up watching John Wayne, Clint Eastwood, Charles Bronson, the Rambo characters, to etc. etc.  I love anti-hero roles! :)  Even Batman is an anti-hero role.  But, the business and the audience saw me as the villain.  And don’t get me wrong, I love doing these roles as well.  But, maybe one day the audience will see me as an anti-hero role and I’ll do that for them as well.  But, if not, trust me, villain roles and antagonistic roles are a blast to do.

DV: As for the anti-hero role, umm, maybe citizens taking responsibility for their own neighborhoods, or correcting the wrongs of the world in a quick manner: an eye for an eye or a tooth for a tooth type mentality; versus the whole “you’re innocent until proven guilty” mentality, that the democracy world tends to live in these days.  I don’t know.  I just admire men and women who help others and are willing to risk their own lives to save others from harm.  And these are normal day citizens, not soldiers, police officers, or firemen.  Shoot, I made a citizen’s arrest two summers ago, and got awarded for it by CBS Radio as “Hero of the Week”.  And trust me, if I didn’t intervene in anyway to stop this crime from happening, who knows how long this guy would have gone on harming others that night.  So, that’s why I love anti-hero roles.  Taking matters in your own hands is not wrong if someone is doing wrong to others right in front of you.  And yes, you’ll be classified as an anit-hero, for taking the law into your own hands.  But, what happens if you don’t do it?  Are you honestly going to watch others get harmed without ever doing anything about it? 

FI: What draws you to your current roles of playing the villain?

DV: As for what draws me to playing the villain; as I said before, the industry and the audience really wants me to play these roles.  And probably because I used to be a real life villain in my own life, so, I know that world better than most.  And maybe the audience wants to know that truth, versus the typical one dimensional or two dimensional villain characters that Hollywood usually turns out each and every year.  Plus, the customer is ALWAYS right!  And plus, I’m here to serve the audience, and no one else.  So, I do it, and trust me, I love to do it.  I get to expose the truth of the criminal world to the audience, and I get to correct my past wrongs by doing this, by doing good this time around, and I may help save lives as well, by telling the truth.  So, honestly, I’m fine being a villain actor for the rest of my career.  Totally fine!

FI: So, you aren’t afraid of being typecast for the future?

DV: And as for being typecast; well, everyone in this business is typecast somehow someway.  It’s called being an expert.  You have heart surgeons, you have classical musicians, and you have the lonely tough guy role (which is Clint Eastwood).  Everybody is an expert or seeking to be an expert at one or two things in their own lives.  It’s human nature.  It’s who we are.  And we’re only smart enough to be an expert in only one or two areas.  We just don’t live long enough to be an expert at much more.  And what’s the rule of becoming an expert at anything in life?  It’s the 10,000 Hour Rule; meaning, you actually have to put in 10,000 hours of work to become an expert at anything in life.  10,000 hours of work is a lot of work, and a lot of years of dedication.  And we humans only have so much time on this planet to only do what we truly love to do.  So, no, I’m not worried about being typecast at all.  If it makes the world happy, trust me, it’s going to make me happy as well. 

Join us for Part 2 next week where we look at Dave's thoughts on morality within films, heroes and anti-heroes, method acting and his favourite film!

Link to Dave’s iMDb page
Follow him on Twitter: @davevescio
Follow us: @bydhifu

If you like the interview, or have any thoughts/queries, get in touch with us below in the comment section or tweet us! Please share if you enjoyed it; the more known we are, the more makers of film we can get in touch with to interview - thanks for reading!

Also part 2 is now up! Click here and it will take you to it!

But you didn’t hear any of this from us,

The Mr and Misses.

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