Whenever I watch a great movie it’s the story that captivates me. I want to be led on a journey with twists and turns, ups and downs. I want to feel authenticity, emotion, anticipation and a connection. There’s a reason why great stories/films stay with you. The writer has created a world that is believable and compelling. I never thought I’d find myself fascinated by a film about dancing but when Saturday Night Fever hit the theatres, I found my 12 year old self begging my friends dad to take me with them. He did and the next day I was inspired to learn the dance moves of John Travolta. When movies inspire, it means the writer/director/actors/crew gave it 100% and probably gambled a bit too along the way.
Movies will continue to captivate and leave us wanting more. I believe that a well developed character is key to carrying the story. Sometimes those characters are based on real people with a precarious background. After all, life is stranger than fiction and some of the most riveting films have been based on history and true events. A Snake Marked was co-written by Adam Lolacher and Juan Riedinger. Adam began his career as a stage actor before TV and film. He moved from Toronto to Vancouver for more opportunities and is represented by Performers Management.
He spoke to me about his film, A Snake Marked and how it came to fruition. The short drama is just under 14 minutes long and has been nominated for a Leo.
“A Snake Marked is your second original film that you’ve written and acted in. What was the inspiration for this story?”
“I was doing some research and watching some documentaries and I came across a prisoner in the southern US that I found very interesting and charismatic. A week or two later I saw another program on him. I wrote him a hand-written letter and within a week we were writing each other. We really clicked and were talking for about 1½ year’s until he stopped returning my emails. I had the feeling that he wasn’t suppose to have a cell phone. That spawned the idea and then I started writing and doing more research, then Juan Riedinger came on board to co-write it. The next thing I know is, we’re sitting in an abandoned prison (Burnaby Youth Detention Center) in December freezing our butts off. We shot there for three days and Juan and I slept in the prison for two nights so we could watch the gear. There was no power or any water. It was good for me because it kept me in character while bonding with Juan. It was a little scary, we heard noises and I’m pretty sure parts of it were haunted.”
“You’ve been in theatre productions such as, Ithaka, Good People, A Christmas Carol in the role of Belfry as well as Us and Everything We Own. What was your last theatre production?”
“I believe it was Ithaka and it’s been a few years. I’ve been trying to focus on writing and creating more Indy projects for myself. I did quite a lot of theatre after moving here but now my focus my attention to more screenwriting work, Indy work and auditioning. There’s a chance I might be doing a play but I can’t talk about it right now.
“Medic was the first film and the concept was Fought and Forgotten. What is that a reference to?”
“That was the original title and loosely based off of some friends and family that had been overseas in the war. I wanted to write about a veteran and that kind of world. I’m pro soldier anti war. It’s a tough subject. It’s about a soldier coming home and the two worlds colliding when they both need each other. It was a labour of love and my film school. I co-wrote it, acted and produced it. I had a lot of great talented local actors help me out.”
“What is the major difference in preparing for screen acting in comparison to stage acting?”
“I think there’s more stillness required in film acting. You have to be grounded in both but you have to be very still and subtle in film. Film is waist up and in theatre its feet up. In theatre you really have to stand your ground. I think film and TV is much more relaxed, the frame is only so big so you can’t be moving or jumping around and theatre is more like a swimming pool.”
“What types of roles are you most attracted to?”
“I actually get cast for characters that are usually a little off center, a little bit dangerous, a little sporadic and unpredictable. I love playing all types. With film and TV, we’re talking cops, bad guys and young dads. In the Indy world I’m playing protagonists in one and in another I’m the rough around the edges dad losing his shit. I like playing meat and potatoes roles as opposed to showing up and just saying lines, I like doing the work. I like to think of myself as a character actor who can sometimes be a leading man.”
“Have you found more opportunity as an actor in Vancouver as opposed to Toronto?”
“When I was in Toronto I worked a bit but am definitely busier in Vancouver. At some point you have to pick one or the other. I did spend quite a bit of time in Toronto, so I did some theatre and worked on a couple shows. It wasn’t consistent, I find Vancouver more consistent. I’ve worked on a couple projects this year and last year that are coming out. My family is out here on the island, there’s nothing like the west coast. Right now it’s ideal to be here but I’m all about going where the work is and LA is a place that over the next year or two I’d like to explore.”
“I know that you have a background in theatre. Have you found that it has helped you with character development when acting onscreen and your writing?”
“I think it definitely has. Theatre really gave me a regimented lifestyle, which is discipline and putting the work in. It’s how I started, doing all the classics, analyzing, movement, Everything in theatre school helped me to not only break out of my shell, it got me comfortable in my own skin. I think as an actor or director, the more scripts I read the more comfortable I feel writing my own ideas down. To me writing is all about discipline and making the time. I’ve co-written two short films now and now I’m writing a feature and developing a TV show. I always think of a script as a blueprint, it’s not necessarily locked down. Theatre is locked in, where everything is written specifically for a specific reason or action. With screenwriting it’s very different. Writing has made me more focused and a better actor as well.”
“Have you given any thought to directing?”
“I think one day but not now. With writing the feature film version of it, it’s crossed my mind but in order for me to direct I’d need to be 110 % focused and have the right pieces in place. I think I’d need to start small and work my way up. I’ve always wanted to direct a family reunion weekend film in my hometown of Ottawa and put all my high school friends in it.”
“You still keep in touch with them?”
“I do yeah, there’s a bunch of us turning 40 this year so we’re all going to meet up in Ottawa and see what happens.”
“What is the message in A Snake Marked?”
“I think there’s a few. One is, it’s okay to forgive someone that’s wronged you in the past. It’s okay to feel what you’re feeling and you’re not alone. One of the lines in the film is ‘life moves fast.’ It always clicks with me, you can’t take anything for granted and you can’t have regret. Life moves fast, so live it.”
“What was the prisoner in prison for?”
“I believe he murdered two people, one outside of prison and one inside. I know he’s in there for life. The man had an abusive childhood from his father, both physically and emotionally. He told me that he took over where his father left off because that’s all he knew.”
“How has the audience reaction been to it?”
“Juan has attended more of them than I have. I’ve been locked down in Vancouver working. At the VSFF it was pretty strong. It’s a pretty intense heavy story. Juan had told me that somebody had given him a hug after the film in Dallas. I’ve shown it to friends and some of them have gotten emotional, I still get a little emotional when I see it. When you get to see a thought that came out of your head on screen, you’re pretty proud of it.”
“Once you wrote the screenplay, how difficult was it to find funding and the crew, actors?”
“To be honest it wasn’t that difficult because when you have a guy like Juan Reidinger (Narcos, Good Behavior), he’s a super talented guy. We also asked for favours and brought on people that we’ve worked with in the past. It happened pretty quickly and the hardest part was getting the money and the location. It all worked out and we had a lot of good people on it.”
“How long did it take to complete the film?”
“We were in preproduction for a couple weeks. We shot in the prison for three days and then we did a day of pickups a couple months later. It was a pretty quick turnaround. I think it was 6-8 months from start to finish. It’s a 2019 film and we got nominated for The Leo’s. It’s nice to be recognized and of course it’s for everyone that worked on the film. Each person that helped on this film made it possible and I couldn’t have done it without them.”
“How many festivals has the film been to?”
“I think it’s been to 13 festivals now. We’re working with a company in Germany that’s submitting the film on our behalf. We still have the rest of the year and we’re gaining traction. We’re on the Vancouver Short Film Festival, we played at the USA Film Festival a couple weeks ago, the Julien Dubuque, the CFF in Toronto and we’re also in a couple places in Europe.”
“What is the best reward you get out of being in a production/film/theatre/acting?”
“Knowing that I’m good enough and can do it. I can also bring my friends together and collaborate on something and connect together. That to me is pretty exciting. The money is great but most people in the film industry don’t do it for money. It motivates me to get up in the morning, I like to be challenged and I almost like it when people tell me no and say that I’ll never get enough money to make the film. I feel like its what I’m here for, to make films and tell stories.”
“Moving forward, do you plan on continuing with the writing?”
“Yes, it’s just a matter of finding the time. Currently I’m writing a feature film script version based on A Snake Marked. It’ll be different from the original but there will be elements of it. I’m also developing a TV show that I’ve been working on for the last few months. Writing the feature and the TV show is the next big projects I want to focus on. I want to climb that ladder and although I like making short films I think it’s time to go for the gusto.”
Adam Lolacher is tenacious and talented. With many years of acting on stage and in front of the camera, it has made him much more intuitive when it comes to character development and what is needed from the actor. Transitioning from actor to writer/producer has proven to be a good decision. Nominated for a Leo is no small task and we can’t wait to hear what comes next. All the best to Adam and future productions that continue to showcase his talent as a writer/actor and producer. We are waiting with bolstered anticipation!