"The story of two estranged brothers, one a preacher and one an ex con, and their strained relationship in the face of violence, in the past and the present." This is the premise for "Strangers," a film written and directed by Justin Nickels. The film is currently in pre-production and I was fortunate enough to score an interview with Nickels.
Jess Carson: Thank you for taking the time out for this interview. Let's start with learning a little bit about you.
Justin Nickels: I graduated from UCA's film program in 2005. I believe my group was the first group to graduate from the program. Since then I've worked with the Little Rock Film Festival since its first year. Through the festival I've made tons of friends and actually met my wife, Mallory, in the second year (see, romance is a reason people should go).
Mallory and I co-wrote the script for Bruce Hutchinson's "Europa" which is a sci-fi film about an astronaut after he gets back from visiting the titular moon of Jupiter. Bruce is a good friend of ours and we've worked with him on another film and most likely will again in the future. Europa is where Warren McCullough and I met and then, at the beginning of 2011, we decided to make another film together.
JC: Who came up with the concept for "Strangers"?
JN: Warren and I both did, but it really goes back to some of the root ideas behind "Europa." The script has been fine-tuned over the last year and I'm still revising it as we speak, but I think that will only make it a stronger film.
JC: This film is involving two brothers who contrast an extreme way. Why did you decide to bring this element into the film?
JN: It seemed interesting to me to have two characters who are bound to each other by their family but have spent the last twelve years resenting each other and they haven't had a way to really work it out while Kevin was behind bars. I feel like that can create a lot of conflict as well. There's also a woman from their past involved in the story that should make things pretty interesting between the two.
JC: You've listed your film as a thriller. What kind of sub-genre does it fall into? Is it a conspiracy, crime, psychological or some other kind?
JN: I'd say it's a supernatural thriller in some sense, with "out of the ordinary" things happening around them that force Kevin and Daniel to make decisions they probably wouldn't make otherwise. I don't want to go too far to say it's a "Twilight Zone" type feel, but I would think there's definitely a little bit of that in there. But the main thrust of the film is the story between these two brothers.
JC: Can you discuss some of the crew you're working with?
JN: We're working with the very talented Bryan Stafford as our Director of Photography and Brent Bailey. These guys work great together and can make some beautiful shots. We're also working with Cody Riggan. We're also working with Tim Trieschmann and utilizing his amazing aerial photography. We're still looking for some crew so if people are interested in helping out they should let us know at our facebook page.
JC: What about the cast?
JN: Warren is playing Kevin, and we're about to go into casting for the other lead roles.
JC: Anything else you'd like for us to know?
JN: Sure. We would love for your readers to like our Facebook Page and give us any feedback. We've got a conceptual trailer we shot for the Indiegogo campaign from last year. We're looking to raise more money as well as we go into production this Spring/Summer!