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Interview with Eric Branco, Director of Stay Cold, Stay Hungry

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Stay Cold, Stay Hungry is Director Eric Branco’s debut film. It is a story about two men, Manny and Harley, living on the streets of New York. At the onset, the characters appear to share similar hardships. But as this new found friendship unfolds, it uncovers their individual and rather unexpected struggles.

Goucher graduate Johnny Marra produced the film and played the role of Harley. (You may also recognize him as a propmaster for the Baltimore Rock Opera Society.)

Stay Cold, Stay Hungry — Teaser from Eric Branco on Vimeo.

Here’s a quick peak from the Director’s chair:

Gail Meerdter for BmoreArt: You worked on this film over a period of several years. How do you think the story evolved as a result?

Eric Branco: My earliest notes and sketches related to STAY COLD STAY HUNGRY are from August of 2003. It generally takes a long time for a script to percolate in my mind before I’m ready to write it, and this film was no different. SCSH was always intended to be my feature debut, but I let the first draft of the script sit on the shelf for a long time. In the meantime, I met my writing partner, Brandon Taylor, and we wrote several other scripts together. Finally, in the fall of 2008, we sat down and hammered out a draft I was finally happy with, and I went into production about 6 months later.

Initially, the film was centered around the character of Harley. I was much younger when I started writing it, and Harley was the most accessible character for me. By time we actually started filming, though, I realized that I felt a really strong connection to Manny. While we shot, I wrote a lot of new material for Manny that we ended up shooting. Johnny, Steve and I would have long conversations at the end of each day about the characters and motivations, and I would often turn those conversations into new scenes. The film ended up becoming a story of two men that come together, rather than a film where everything revolves around one central character. Instead, we see the story unfold through the eyes of both of these men.

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BmoreArt: What movies, books or art influenced the cinematography of the film?

EB: This film was heavily influenced by the character dramas of the 70s. Particularly, the films of Jerry Schatzberg, such as The Panic in Needle Park and Scarecrow. There’s something I just love about that period in time where everything was turning over, and we were getting away from the big studio pictures and starting to make films on the streets of New York. Midnight Cowboy is another good example of that kind of movie. They were just smaller, character driven films… And they looked stunning. The cinematography Adam Holender, Vilmos Zsigmond, Owen Roizman had a huge impact on the look of STAY COLD STAY HUNGRY. The street photography of Walker Evans, Bruce Davidson, and Jamel Shabazz also played a large part in how I shot the film. Particularly the color photography of Bruce Davidson.

As far as books are concerned, the biggest influences would be those somewhat melancholy books wherein the well-off main character has a longing to escape from a life they feel isn’t quite theirs. Hanif Kureishi’s Intimacy, Chuck Palahniuk’s Fight Club and Richard Yates’ Revolutionary Road immediately come to mind. John Cheever and Joan Didion were also huge influences in the writing of the film.

BmoreArt: The film seems to speak to a man’s integrity regardless of his circumstances. How does this manifest in each character?

EB: Honor and integrity are without a doubt the biggest themes of the film. The movie is, at its core, the story a man who always strives to do the right thing, and his naive assumption that those closest to him are playing by the same rules.

As a character, Manny has lived through much more than Harley. Manny had made huge mistakes in his life, and you get the sense that he’s really trying to get back on track and do the right thing. Harley, on the other hand, is still figuring himself out. What starts out as an innocent story eventually closes in all around Harley, until he has no way to get out of it. There comes a point in the film where he can either tell the truth and face the consequences, or keep the lie going and take Manny down with him. The whole film comes down to the repercussions of that choice.

STAY COLD, STAY HUNGRY
Director: Eric Branco |USA | 2014| 93 minutes
THE CREATIVE ALLIANCE – THURSDAY, JULY 31 at 7:30 PM
Tickets: $12 / $9 members
More info: http://www.creativealliance.org/events/2014/stay-cold-stay-hungry

* Author Gail Meerdter is an independent brand and promotional maven. She lives in Northern Bmore County.

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