AGENT AUGUSTA (part 2)

How did the project Agent 15 come about? ^ My ‘spousal equivalent’ and Director of Photography, Don M. Spiro, had read all the Ian Fleming books back to back and was looking for something simple to shoot for his reel. I said, “If you’re going to do it , let’s do it up right.” So we put some thought into it and decided on an internet series.
Do you have aspirations to be a secret agent? ^ Only in a Modesty Blaise, jet setting, fashionista, knowing how to kill a man in 3 moves kind of way.
What made you want to make a series of shorts dedicated to the classic James Bond films? ^ Like I said, Don was reading the books and he would read the good parts to me and we would think, “God, the books are so good, and yet the 007 films suck so bad.” Don’t get me wrong, I love Pierce Bronson, and thank God for Famke Jansen and Michelle Yeoh. But really, where are the scantily clad, beautiful Bond girls? The exotic locales? A decent villain to hate?
How is Paget Brewster to work with? ^ God, if I could just get her to come to set sober…Just kidding. ^ She’s like Audrey Hepburn: charming, beautiful, funny, up to try anything. Here’s a perfect example: We had a one day shoot on the beach in Mailbu. It was supposed to be the hottest day of the year. It wasn’t. It was cold and damp and grey, the tide kept coming in, tar was oozing through the sand in the beach and it was easier to run behind the rocks than to travel to 500 feet on uneven terrain to get to the portapotty. In was so cold, in fact, we had to put make-up on Paget’s feet because they were turning blue. And when I look at my behind the scenes stills from that day, she’s smiling in all of them.
And why has Paget not appeared naked yet in one of the shorts? We’re waiting… ^ I have to save something for the Agent 15 feature.
What’s the budget of these shorts and how long did it take you to make them? ^ They cost about $5,000 each, and there are 5 episodes. We shot on 3 consecutive weekends, mostly at a warehouse in Northridge CA. We’d shoot Saturday and Sunday, then Don and I would spend the week ripping down the old set and rebuilding a new one, then have either my Editor, Maritza Suarez or my Stunt Coordinator, James B. Myers, come in to help paint.
Why not a feature? ^ Oh, there’ll be a feature. But just by their nature, spy films cost money–cars, guns, gadgets, explosions. My plan is to make 10 more episodes, build my fan base, and then pitch the feature. I figure if I’m going to ask someone for a couple mil, I better be able to prove there’s an audience for it.
What are some of the scenes you had to cut? ^ No cutting, per se, just some changes. For example, we had a sound problem that held up shooting the office scenes. Rather than try and cram 4 scenes in the day, I moved 1 scene to the next day and shot it in the lab location. Nothing drastic.
How did you go about casting? ^ I’d say half friends, half auditions. Getting Paget involved was the easiest: she was having a cocktail party and we were knocking back cosmopolitans and I started talking about these spy films. She said she wanted in, but I was probably going to cast some buxom blonde, so she offered to get a blonde wig and a push-up bra. (Both made it into the film.) Jimmy Dore, who plays Agent 33 and D. Elliot Woods, who plays the Q character Chalmers, were actors Don and I had worked with in the past. (Jimmy is actually a standup comedian.) Eric Hoffman, who plays a thug in “Operation: Trouble” was a friend of Paget’s. At over 6 feet and with platinum blonde hair, well, hell, he just looked like a Bond villain. I found out later he’s a huge Bond fan, so it was no surprise that he understood his part.
What are your plans for the film right now? Send to festivals, release on video? ^ I’m still applying to festivals. Despite having won Best Action short, Best Women’s short and some special recognitions, it’s still a crap shoot on getting accepted. Currently, you can catch the films on iFilm.com. I won’t do a DVD until I have all 15 episodes completed.
Tell me about the screenings you have had — how do audiences react? ^ Some get it, some don’t. The line seems to be drawn on who you consider James Bond. If you grew up with Sean Connery, then you adore it. If you like Roger Moore, then not so much. What’s been really cool is that both men and women love it for different reasons. Men love the Bond elements and women love the fact that there is a woman in the lead.
Aside from Agent 15, you’d expressed an interest in directing an adult film. What would you do differently in the genre? ^ Look, I’ll be blunt, I can’t get into a porno where both the man and the woman have 5 o’clock shadows, if you know what I mean. Conversely, I’m not into the latest batch of European films with hard-core sex, but the stories are drab and none of the sex is erotic. I would love the opportunity to make an adult film that has both eroticism and sex–and those two things are not synonymous. I’m also not into the idea of porn needing ‘stories’. If I want a story, I’ll watch a Preston Sturges film.
Get the rest of the interview is part three of AGENT AUGUSTA>>>




Posted on April 3, 2001 in Interviews by
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