Interview with WAGES OF SIN Filmmaker Sam Ingraffia

Jan 19, 2014 No Comments by

Sam Ingraffia: The Wages of Art-

There are some people who are so creative that their innovation can’t be contained by just one form of expression. Enter Sam Ingraffia, Chicago-born but Los Angeles-bred. To say he wears a lot of hats is doing him an injustice. We could easily spend the next few pages going over his various creative credentials, but as an actor, he’s appeared in films as varied as Wall Street, Used Cars, Ratboy and The Falcon and the Snowman. Not to mention a little number called The Godfather, which you might have heard of. As far as TV goes, just a few of the many series in which he’s popped up include Murder, She Wrote, The Incredible Hulk, Barney Miller, and The Young and The Restless.

Sam is also quite a writer and in recent years has been involved in the production of independent films through the company he co-owns, Little Dog Productions. One of the most recent of these is an edgy, minimalist film called Wages of Sin. The movie features only 3 on-camera actors and they spend most of their time in the basement of a rural farmhouse in 1964. To say the movie is dark is a real understatement. Starting almost like a comedy of crime gone wrong, it takes a shocking turn resulting in death and insanity.

Wages of Sin was the spark that led me to speak to Sam. The following conversation certainly touches on that movie, but that’s just a starting point. It winds up being a far-ranging talk about many aspects of film, acting and creativity, as well as a cool session just trading ideas. I could say more, but right now, I’m just gonna slide right into it and let you enjoy this interview with a very productive and well-traveled gentleman…

Ravenous Monster: One of your latest projects is the movie Wages of Sin.

Sam Ingraffia: Right, that’s a feature film I worked on with my partner Doug Burch. We produced and wrote the film.

RavMon: How long had the idea behind the movie been brewing? Was it something that had been in your head for a while?

SI: It’s kind of an interesting story. We wrote and produced a film we shot on location in Virginia in late 2010 and then we were flying back home to Los Angeles. It’s a fairly long flight because you’re basically flying across the entire United States so we had four hours or so. So what do we want to do now? We just started batting around ideas. We wanted to do something in the thriller genre because Doug and I both like thrillers and thrillers tend to do well both domestically and overseas. That was how the idea started. We got back to L.A. and we wrote the script in about three weeks to a month. That was in January, early February and we started shooting the movie in May. So it moved along pretty quick.

RavMon: Were you happy with the finished result?

SI: Yeah, yeah! I think you can talk to any artist, whether it’s a film-maker, a graphic artist, a dancer and it’s always hard for them to watch the finished product, because they will see the things that didn’t work. But overall, I’d say we’re 85 to 90% happy with it. There are a few little tweaks we would do if we could do it over again, but yeah, I think we accomplished what we set out to do at the beginning. The performances are really good, it’s really well shot. Our cinematographer Michael Franks is an Emmy winner and he did a wonderful job setting up this kind of film-noir, dark and moody look to it that’s very exciting. And the audience reaction when it’s been screened at theaters and film festivals has been very positive. People laugh at the places they’re supposed to laugh and they’re scared when they’re supposed to be scared so overall, yeah, we’re happy with it. We’re ready to move on to our newest project. It’s kind of like a child in that you’re so wrapped up in it when you’re making it and then when you’re finished with it, you’re like, OK, it’s not perfect but it turned out pretty well (chuckles).

RavMon: 85% or 90% satisfaction rate with any artistic endeavor, that’s about as good as you’re gonna get.

SI: You’re absolutely right. I remember when I first started as an actor, I got a job on a television show called Hill Street Blues. When I finished the episode, I got a letter from one of the producers saying “Thank you for doing such a nice job on the show…I feel we got about 80% of what we wanted.” And I thought, wow, that’s not good. You didn’t get a 100%. And now, cut to 30 years later, and you realize, you got 80% of what you wanted to get, that’s a home run. That’s amazing.

RavMon: He was actually giving you a high compliment.

SI: I didn’t realize it at the time, but yeah. With all the variables and things that can go wrong, 85% of what you started out to get is great.

RavMon: Looking at Wages of Sin, it had a feel of the real-life Charles Starkweather incident…a dangerous young punk and a naive girl. Was that an actual influence or did it just turn out like that?

SI: No, that was definitely an influence. We have a lot of different influences that show up in all of our projects. We love Terrence Malick, we love the Coen Brothers, we love film-noir. We try to work all those elements into it. Looking at the film-noir end of it, Richard Widmark…I don’t know if you know him…

RavMon: Oh, of course!

SI: He was great in a lot of early film-noir movies where he played this young, good-looking kind of psycho killer.

RavMon: Tommy Udo, Kiss of Death.

SI: Yeah, that’s exactly right! That was kind of what we had in mind for Buddy in Wages of Sin. On the surface, he’s kind of attractive and charming but when push comes to shove, he’s a crazy man. That’s how we wanted Buddy to be. He seems likable and funny and somewhat inept as a criminal. Then as the movie proceeds and the movie gets darker and darker, you see him become darker as well. The music we added to it has a jazzy kind of feel to it, which adds to that film-noir kind of edginess. Yeah, you’re absolutely right, that’s what we were going for with our influences.

RavMon: I wonder if you have ever seen a low-budget and obscure film of the early ‘60s that has now achieved quite a reputation. It was called The Sadist.

SI: No, don’t think I have.

RavMon: The main character was played by Arch Hall Jr, who previously was doing teenybopper roles. He played the title character and it was a 180-degree turn from what he had done before. That movie is really a nerve-jangler!

SI: I’m making a note on it right now, I’ll check it out! I love to find movies like that that are obscure little gems, particularly when the actor in it is doing something he wasn’t noted for doing. That’s always kind of fun to watch as an actor and a writer.

RavMon: It was released around 1963 and this was a shocking film for its time.

SI: Wages of Sin is set in 1964. People have this idea that the ‘60s were rock-n-roll and psychedelia and drugs and all that, but earlier in the decade, it really felt more like the ‘50s. They were still relatively conservative making the transition and that’s what we try to play with in the movie, using themes like women’s roles, sexual identity. It sounds like this movie was pushing the envelope in an earlier time.

RavMon: I won’t divulge too much about it, but it’s about three teachers who are on their way to see a Dodgers game in the early ‘60s and the water pump blows on their car. They’re out in the sticks. They stop to get auto parts at a junkyard. The owners are already dead because The Sadist, who is obviously based on Starkweather, is there with his loopy girlfriend. The movie plays out in real time.  The movie is 80-minutes long and what happens to these people is 80-minutes long. The guy you think is the hero is not really the hero and the girl you think is the pushover is not the pushover.

SI: Alright, I gotta check this out, it sounds great!

RavMon: One of the things I thought was really ironic when I saw Wages of Sin was that the worst villain turns out to be the guy you never see. That’s the father of the kidnapped girl. Then the most kind-hearted character Ceelee is the one with the most blood on her hands.

SI: Yeah, exactly! We did that purposefully. We were playing games with stereotypes, like the loving father who looks after his little girl and never lets anything happen to her. We liked skewing that idea and turning it around on its head. As you watch the movie, you find out the big secret is that the father is more diabolical than Buddy, the so-called “bad guy” in the movie.

RavMon: I’ve been watching these kinds of movies for so long, I knew there was going to be a twist. You can take this as a compliment…the twist is not the one I would have predicted.

SI: Oh good, good! I do take that as a compliment.

RavMon: I almost had a feeling that the father was going to hire somebody to kill all of them just to bury his dirty laundry. But the real twist caught me by surprise, especially in contrast to the early part of the movie, when the kidnappers were sitting around with paper bags on their heads. When I saw that, I thought to myself, this might not be the kind of movie I thought it would be.

Sam Ingraffia.

Sam Ingraffia.

SI: Again, we did that purposefully. Our approach as writers has always been, if you can pull the audience in early and make them laugh and have them like the characters, then you can really take them on a ride. If the movie starts with unlikable characters and is too dark, then there’s no place for the movie to go, no place for the characters to go. It’s funny; we’ve had that comment multiple times at screenings and when the movie has played on cable, where people will say, gee, this almost starts as a comedy and then takes us someplace we weren’t expecting to go. I think that’s the best compliment you can get, as a writer.

RavMon: These days, anything that’s not a cookie cutter is welcome. Another movie classic that kind of worked that way was Dog Day Afternoon.

SI: Oh yeah, that’s one of my favorite films!

RavMon: It ended in a much different place than where it started.

SI: Right. But there are some places in that movie that are laugh-out-loud funny. The relationship between John Casale and Pacino is wonderful. They have such a tight, laughable, almost Laurel and Hardy kind of relationship. But then the darkness and violence is all around them.

RavMon: You can compare it to Wages of Sin in another way because both movies feature crooks that are way out of their depth.

SI: That’s exactly it. That’s one of the reasons we stuck the movie in ’64. We wanted to play with historical themes and we loved the music from that era, but one of the things we also wanted to play around with is this: a crook in 2013 is pretty inept. With all the surveillance techniques and the internet, they’re going to be caught almost instantaneously. But in 1964, when there wasn’t all that stuff, if you were inept, you could stay on the lam for a little while. That was one of the primary reasons we chose ‘64, because we wanted to play around with the idea that our crooks were amateurs. If the ordinary person decided they wanted to do something illegal, how good would they be at it? And that’s the kind of idea we wanted to start with.

RavMon: There were a lot better thrillers in the days before technology, when you couldn’t whip out a cellphone and dial 911 or use a GPS to keep from getting lost. I resent high-tech for a lot of things but what it’s done to storytelling is high on the list.

SI: Well, it’s really difficult. It’s made the task of writing much more difficult. First, audiences are very savvy about technology now because of the Internet. Also, it affects story points. People will say, that doesn’t make any sense, they can track the crook instantly with a cellphone. You don’t have to be a detective to know that, you just have to watch TV and be on the Internet. So it makes the task of creating thrillers and mysteries much more difficult.

RavMon: You’re a very multi-talented individual. What gives you the greatest satisfaction—writing, acting or directing?

SI: Well, that’s an interesting question. About 7 or 8 years ago, I decided I was really going to focus more on writing and producing. I’ve been an actor for close to 30 years and I’ve done pretty nicely with it. But I thought I’m going to transition more into the process of writing and producing. I don’t always like the business aspects but the process of creating something is absolutely wonderful. Acting is an interpretive art but writing is a creative art. I didn’t have to wait for anybody to hire me as a writer. I could just sit down and start writing something. I didn’t have to ask permission from anyone. That was my mindset. I’ve met so many independent film-makers and creators through film festivals and screenings and workshops, I’ve actually wound up working more as an actor in the last 5 years than I ever have before. You develop these relationships with people who are filmmakers and they’ll say, gee, I didn’t know you were an actor until I looked you up on IMDB and you have all these credits! Would you like to be in my movie? It’s actually been pretty cool. I’ve started to work more as an actor and not have to work so hard at getting the job. That’s basically the long-winded answer to your question. To me, the creative process of writing is the most exciting, but—it sounds funny—anytime I get an acting job where I get to be in front of a camera, I get so excited that I’m suddenly 17-years old again. So the most exciting thing is acting, but the most fulfilling part is the creative process of writing.

RavMon: It sounds like acting is more of the adrenaline jolt.

SI: Yeah! And also, it’s a lot of work to write and produce. As an actor, you just have to show up. You sit in your little dressing room and memorize your lines and then interact with the other actors, but I don’t have to worry about the caterer being late or the props falling apart or all the things you have to worry about when you’re producing independent films. As an actor, I just have to memorize my lines and show up and stay in character and not destroy my costume (laughs). So it’s fun being an actor but more fulfilling being a writer.

RavMon: There’s a lot of waiting involved in being an actor.

SI: And that’s one of the things I’ve never been good at. I’m not one of those people that are good waiting for phone calls, etc. One of the reasons I learned about filmmaking is that on every acting job, I got so bored sitting in my dressing room that I would come out on the set and chat with the director of photography or one of the lighting people or I’d ask the director if this was going to be a static shot or not. I just thought it was really interesting to learn more about movie making. The more I learned about movie making, the more I thought, gee, I’d like to try this. I made a few things on my own and then my partner Doug Burch and I started Little Dog Productions in 2005 and started making stuff. We started with short films and then a little bit longer films and now we’re doing both features and internet series, which is very exciting.

RavMon: Is there any project you’re working on currently?

SI: Yeah, we just finished shooting an internet series which we’re very excited about that’s called Midnight Mover. It’s based on a graphic novel by Gary Phillips, who also wrote the episodes. Doug, my partner, is a big graphic novel fan and he met Gary and introduced him to me. We wanted to work on something together so he gave us the Midnight Mover graphic novel and said this would work really well as an internet series. The central character is a vet coming back from the war in Afghanistan and he has PTSD and he’s trying to fit back into society. He gets a job as a kind of bouncer for a female escort service. Again, we really love the thriller/film-noir approach. What we did, which I think is really cool and I don’t think anybody else is doing this, we shot it mostly as live action but when our character has a PTSD episode, it flips and becomes a graphic novel. It goes from graphic novel to live action and back with sound effects and music. It looks really, really good and I think it’s an interesting premise. Also, in Los Angeles where I live, there’s a real problem with vets living out on the streets who have kind of been forgotten about. We both felt it was important to shine even a little light on them and their problems. The basic idea is to entertain but we thought, you know, if people learn a little about PTSD and a little about veterans’ problems, that’s a good thing too. So it’s called Midnight Mover, we’ve shot all the episodes and we’re in the process of post-production on it.

We also have a new feature film which is sci-fi that’s called Extraction that we’re jazzed up about.  Doug and I wrote it. It’s kind of Raymond Chandler meets Dark City meets Blade Runner. It’s set in the not-too-distant future and there’s some cool future technology involved, but it’s mainly a mystery.

RavMon: It’s kinda like a sci-noir?

SI: Yeah. It’s interesting, there’s a whole kind of sub-genre which has now come into vogue which is sci-fi-noir. We both like sci-fi, Doug introduced me to it because of his background in graphic novels and we both already knew about film-noir. We tried to incorporate both genres into the script.

Lou Ferrigno in the episode "Nine Hours" from The Incredible Hulk (1980) starring Ingraffia as Slick Monte.

Lou Ferrigno in the episode “Nine Hours” from The Incredible Hulk (1980) starring Ingraffia as Slick Monte.

RavMon: I like those kind of genre mash-ups.

SI: Yeah! If you’re gonna write something on spec, you have to be excited about it. I don’t think you can say, well, let’s just write something in the genre that will make us the most money. I think you have to pick a genre you’re excited about and then hope down the road it makes you some money.  Doug really loved sci-fi and I really love film-noir, so we just combined our interests and that’s what Extraction is. It’s set about 20 years in the future. In the US, things have gotten pretty dark.

RavMon: The vast amount of sci-fi now is set in the near-future and unlike in the ‘50s and ‘60s, it almost never looks good (laughter).  Unfortunately, it’s all too easy to see why that is. Now we have flying Amazon drones that can drop presents or bombs on you at the same time. A perfect way to keep an eye on everybody all the time (laughter).

SI: Make money and spy on people at the same time.

RavMon: There was a good movie I just saw recently called Looper.

SI: Oh yeah! I love that movie! A very unique film!

RavMon: I’d love to have a shot of whatever the writer was on when he came up with that idea (laughter). A very, very original idea and you don’t see much of that anymore. I like popcorn movies to a certain extent, but it’s nice to see movies that are kind of like the ones you do, where you don’t know what’s coming at you.

SI: I thought that was a really interesting movie. The performances were really good, which is the first thing I always look at, but also very thought-provoking and it kept you on your toes. Where is this thing going? How did that work? I like that.

RavMon: Film is not completely a dead issue yet. There are still a few people trying to come up with original stuff.

SI: Oh yeah, there are. Every time I get jaded and start to lose faith in film-making, I go to a film festival and I see some great short or some great feature and I get energized again. People are out there making good movies. I don’t think you can judge it all by the big tent pole studio movies that are kind of boring and very special-effects heavy. There are still people making a lot of really interesting movies. The problem is it’s getting harder and harder to find venues for them to play in. That’s the real trick.

RavMon: Those movies are not gonna play at the AMC 55.

SI: No, but the good news is there’s so many new venues and so many new revenue streams coming along. With our movie Wages of Sin, we talked to the distribution company Osiris Entertainment and every day they tell us “Well, the movie is going to be playing at this venue now,” which is kind of interesting. The latest thing they told us about is a thing called Flip where you download a movie onto a phone, point the phone at your television and it finds it wirelessly and you can watch the movie on a big screen television. That kind of stuff is pretty interesting. It’s not as good as having your movie play the Chinese Theater in Hollywood, I’ll concede that, but it’s getting out there and people are seeing it and that’s what the bottom line is.

RavMon: In my hometown, we have one of the great old movie palaces. It now mostly plays host to music shows and comedy, but I saw a lot of movies there in the ‘70s. When you saw a movie at that place, it was a special event. It wasn’t like going to the multiplex.

SI: That is something that makes me sad. I’m of an age where I grew up seeing movies in real movie theaters and I’m afraid there’s now a whole generation that grew up without going to movie theaters…just watching movies on a phone or on a tablet. I don’t mind watching movies on a computer or a tablet but I don’t think there’s anything more magical than walking into a theater, having the lights go down and suddenly you’re wrapped up in that magical world and you suspend disbelief. You’re right there and you become one of the characters in the movie. That’s a cool thing and I hope that never goes away.

RavMon: I think there will always be some. Drive-ins are kind of having a revival. In my general area, there’s about five of them still operating successfully.

SI: Drive-ins! Wow! They say that things never really go away, they just get found by a new generation. So maybe that will be the new hipster thing, going to a drive-in.

RavMon: Unfortunately, they all play the typical stuff you find in ordinary theaters—Pixar movies and stuff like that. I used to see stuff like Godzilla or kung fu or Italian horror flicks there.

SI: I’ll show you how old I am. I saw Easy Rider in a drive-in.

RavMon: And there was no better place to see it at.

SI: That memory is etched in my brain, seeing that movie made such an impression on me, seeing it at a drive-in.

RavMon: You had a connection with two of the greatest acting instructors that ever lived, Lee Strasburg and Jeff Corey.

SI: Oh yeah, yeah. I loved Jeff Corey. Lee was a very good teacher. It was a really interesting time to study with him. He was bi-coastal at that point. He was still in New York but he was flying back and forth to Los Angeles. It was a very formative time for me. He really worked on sense-memory stuff and relaxation and character development—all those things that you absolutely must have if you’re to be a film and television actor.  You have to internalize so much more because the camera sees so much that you don’t need to project as much as a stage actor. I had done theater work before but I kind of had to learn how to be a film actor and Strasberg was great at that. Jeff was just a wonderful person. He was a real character and a great guy to hang out with. He was a real extension of the method training I had gotten with Lee Strasberg and hanging out at the Actor’s Studio. I was very fortunate to have been associated with two such interesting guys at an early time in my career. When you get older, you get a little jaded, you say, ahh, I don’t know if I need to go to acting class, I don’t really need that anymore. But when I was first starting off, it was great to get a background in a craft that you could use later on.

Sam Ingraffia and Doug Burch behind the scenes of Wages of Sin.

Sam Ingraffia and Doug Burch behind the scenes of Wages of Sin.

RavMon: Even when I was a small kid and I used to watch a lot of old TV shows, I’d always make a note of the character actors that were on them. And Jeff Corey was a guy I always saw.

SI: He’s wonderful in everything that he does. He kind of steals the movie in Butch Cassidy and the Sundance Kid. Whether it’s episodic television or feature films, he was just one of those guys where people unfortunately may not have recognized his name but they recognized his very distinctive profile. Just a really nice man, too.

RavMon: I saw him in everything from Star Trek to The Richard Pryor Show.

SI: What I liked about him was that he was a realist. It was a good time for me to work with somebody who was an actual working actor. A lot of acting teachers are just teachers and they’re never out in the big bad world trying to make a living. Jeff was a working actor, so he focused not just on technique, but also audition skills, cold reading technique…you’ve got to get the job. You can have all the technique in the world, but if you don’t get the job, it’s never going to be used. So he was really good about this and just giving you tips about showing up, what to wear, that kind of stuff. It was very helpful because I didn’t know much of anything when I was starting out. It was great to have somebody who was not just a teacher but a mentor.

RavMon: Let me toss out some other names you’ve been associated with and maybe you can give me a capsule impression. If something’s uncomfortable, just let me know (laughter). Let me start with this name: Oliver Stone.

SI: Oh, Oliver’s an interesting character. I worked with him on Wall Street. I didn’t have a real substantial part on the movie, but I definitely had a nice little role in it. It was a very nice experience. He’s an excellent writer and director. What I liked the most about Oliver Stone is that he goes his own way. He decides what he wants to make and how he wants to do it and he does it. He doesn’t really care about reviews or what people think or any of that stuff. I was very impressed with him. I thought Wall Street was a really interesting movie that came out at a really interesting time and it was a real precursor to what was going to happen in the world of finance. Maybe people at the time didn’t really understand how “on the nose” it really was.

RavMon: How about Ron Howard?

SI: Oh, I think that might be the first real job I got. It’s real funny. Ron Howard went to high school in Burbank and I went to high school at Notre Dame here in southern California so our paths kind of crossed inadvertently on the basketball court (chuckles). Then I had a very small part in one of his very early films, maybe the first or second movie that he ever directed.

RavMon: Here’s a guy kinda like Jeff Corey that people don’t really know but they should. I know him and like him: Brad Dourif.

SI: Oh! That was really cool. We worked together on a film called Death and Cremation.  The movie is kind of a genre film, there’s a lot of blood and violence in it. It came out a couple of years ago. I tell ya, Brad brought so much into it. I’ve worked on a lot of films where the actors would be hired guns who had a reputation and showed up to get a paycheck. I have to say, he wasn’t one of them.  He showed up for rehearsals, he had comments about his character, he had ideas about things he wanted to try in different scenes. My son is a huge fan of his for some of the horror and sci-fi movies he’s done and I asked him if he’d sign a script for me. He said, sure! Why not? It was a very, very pleasant experience working with him. I have nothing but good things to say about him as a professional.  So many people just show up for a paycheck but he wasn’t one of them.

RavMon: If you want somebody to play an unhinged psycho, he’s the “go-to” guy.

SI: It’s funny, because he’s not like that. He’s quiet and a bit shy, but very funny, very smart and not what you’d expect him to be. I talked to him a lot about Deadwood. He was very good in that show playing the kind of doctor who doesn’t really want to be involved with the bad guys. He was also really good in Lord of the Rings, he was in a lot of good projects like One Flew Over The Cuckoo’s Nest. He’s a great actor who’s been around for a really long time now.

RavMon: The part he had in Exorcist III was the most intense and disturbing lunatic I’ve seen…and I’ve watched a lot of loonies in a lot of movies (laughter).

SI: He brings a lot of intensity to just about everything he plays.

RavMon: Speaking of intensity, how about this name: Sean Penn?

SI: Again, it’s so funny. Sean and I have a long history together. Sean and I started together in a small theater in Los Angeles doing a play together. He and I got to be friends and then I met his dad Leo Penn, who has now unfortunately passed away, but Leo was a director of a lot of television shows. Leo gave me one of my first acting jobs in television and we got to be even better friends. I wound up working in The Falcon and the Snowman, playing Sean’s attorney, which was really, really fun. Working with John Schlesinger was one of the most exciting things I’ve done as an actor. The problem is you get kind of spoiled when you work with a cast as good as The Falcon and The Snowman and a director like John Schlesinger and a script written by Steve Zaley based on a bestselling book. Then it’s kind of hard to go, OK, well, maybe I’ll do this cheap horror movie next (laughs). Sean and I had a great time on the film. I was kind of like his older brother—that was the direction Schlesinger gave me. “You’re like his older brother, you really love him, but he’s kind of a screw-up so don’t get too mad at him but don’t lend him too much of a hand.” Sean’s a really good actor and he was in character most of the time. You just have to give him his space and let him be the character he wants to be. If he wants to talk off camera, that’s OK with me. If he doesn’t want to talk off camera, that’s OK with me as well. We socialized a little but not a whole lot. You’re asking me about people that I really like! I was afraid you were gonna ask me about somebody I really disliked (laughs)! These are all people I had a really good experience with and I liked.

RavMon: Maybe that says more about you! Here’s one last name. How about Marlon Brando?

SI: No, I didn’t have any interaction with him, even though I worked on The Godfather. It would have been a privilege to interact with him, but no, I didn’t.

RavMon: The amount of names you’ve worked with and the amount of shows you’ve been involved with is amazing. I can’t think of too many TV shows that you weren’t on!

SI: Well, I had a nice run and I must say it’s been fun. My only note now when I work with younger actors, I tell them it’s a really small world. When you’re young, you really don’t think the acting world and the television world is a small world, but it really is. Paths crisscross again and again over the years. You have to learn how to be polite and to show up and do the best you can. A lot of actors don’t realize that when they’re young, they burn some bridges and they have problems later on. Working with Jeff Corey was a great thing, and also Leo Penn, because they drilled into you that you had to show up, you had to be on time, you had to know your lines and if you do that, people will continue to hire you. That was my approach to it. You should never take yourself seriously but you should always take what you do seriously. If you do that, most of your problems will go away (laughs). That’s been my approach as a writer, an actor and a producer.

RavMon: You actually answered my next question, which is what advice would you give somebody starting in the acting business?

SI: Yeah! If you’re an actor starting out, act. That’s the best advice I ever got. Just act. A lot of actors wait to get that role that’s gonna make them a star or make them a lot of money. I did theater in storefronts, I did summer stock, I did regional theater, I did off-Off Broadway. I did probably 50 plays just in Los Angeles alone. Most of them weren’t in big venues and most of them I didn’t get paid. But I learned how to act and I developed a bit of a resume and I was meeting people. That led to doing some television work and then that led to some film works. You just get out there and act. The same thing applies to writing and producing. People talk a good ballgame but few of them get out there and do it. Everybody and his brother has a good idea for a movie but not very many people will sit down and write the script and then rewrite it and maybe rewrite it again. Then go out and beat the bushes to raise the money to make it. There is no big secret other than show up and work hard.

wages-of-sin-poster

SAM’S WEBSITE: www.samingraffia.com

LITTLE DOG PRODUCTIONS: www.littledogproductionsllc.com

WAGES OF SIN: www.wagesofsinmovie.com

Movie Interviews, Movies & TV

About the author

Currently residing in an undisclosed location to retain the purity of his research, Dr. Abner Mality is a former resident of Northern Illinois dedicated to unorthodox medical studies, loud heavy metal music...and horror. Certain misunderstandings regarding his work have forced him to lay low and adopt a pseudonym. Raised on Universal horror movies and Toho Godzilla flicks, he continues to delve into the darker realms of man's nature with particular attention to film. Some of his favorite cinematic influences include Val Lewton, James Whale, Terrence Fisher, Roger Corman, Edward D. Wood, Andy Milligan, Tobe Hooper, Inoshira Honda and Armando de Ossorio. He's also a fan of film noir, 70's police dramas, classic comedy, spaghetti Westerns, kung fu flicks and pretty much anything that does not fall under the heading of modern mainstream film.
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