Michael Boston: An award winning indie artist
Michael Boston is an actor from Massachusetts with acting credits going all the way back to 1989. However, recently he has begun doing directorial work as well.
His short film, Dress Rehearsal has won fifty-two different awards. These range from best actor at the Montreal Short Film Awards to an Award of Excellence at the same festival in directing. Dress Rehearsal is about a struggling method actor named Abner who takes his research too far when he dresses as a woman. One night, while dressed up, Abner is assaulted.
Michael Boston is the writer, director and the actor of Dress Rehearsal. Michael Boston is also the writer of Little Boy Blue in 1997 which starred Ryan Phillippe and Nastassja Kinski. The script won best film at Mystfest and has since been released on DVD.
We recently had the pleasure of interviewing Michael Boston regarding his work.
You have been working as an actor since 1989 but then you started making films. What was the motivation for directing films and how did this happen?
I truly wanted to make films even that early, but was intimidated somewhat. Even moreso as a youngster. I used to watch films all by myself every night. My Mom worked in bars and that meant she got home late and she had to deal with a lot of creepy men, so I couldn't go to sleep until I saw the headlights of her old car pulling up the driveway. The rest of the kids were asleep so I'd watch films til 3 am by myself, go to school the next day. I watched a story develop, watched the characters evolve and started noticing the different camera angles and why they were used and learned the significance of a close-up. I was pretty moved by them as well. Once out in Hollywood, I played around with scripts and ideas and wrote them in the manner I was directing them, though I knew that wouldn't happen. When I wrote Little Boy Blue, I wrote all the camera angles into the script and about 85% were what we saw. You have been working in the film industry as an actor, writer and a director. What was the first film project that you worked on as a director and how was the experience for you? As a director, it was Dress Rehearsal a little over three years ago. Because I was also the lone producer of the film, I felt the pressure of shooting in busy Hollywood on a Saturday night but on the other hand, I felt like a little kid that was absorbing so much. Here I was, all eyes on me, standing around looking all pretty in yellow dress... even getting hit on by strange men... cast and crew looking to me as well... and I told myself 'we're here, every shot needs to be here by the end of the night, you know you want this, let's do this!' You also act in your own films like many other great directors in the history of cinema who have acted in their own films. What is it like to act and direct at the same time? You have to trust the crew foremost so that you can immediately and totally break from them and be in your character's world as acting should be, you can not watch, right? I was almost embarrassed to take a look at the playbacks immediately but as a director, I knew the importance of seeing them. Then it was back to being in character, which even to this day, is very mesmerizing and a guilty pleasure if you will. At this point in your career, if you had to choose between acting, writing or directing, which one would you choose? Acting. I just love it so much. I missed it so much after years of being away from show business in any form. It killed me being away from it. It's a very personal thing and I respect it. I have to. I am honored any time I get a part and I get to dig deep inside. But writing is way way up there, too! It's just as personal and you're not just living with one character, but many and you're going to have to be just as honest and open because you have to write from the heart, you have to be truthful with it or else you're just pushing an agenda or an idea that you want everybody to accept. I think it's best if we write for ourself, from ourself. Everybody is human, some will get, some won't. You have won over 120 awards on IMDB in various festivals. How does this change your career and do you recommend the other filmmakers to try lots of festivals? Do awards change the life of an independent filmmaker in the film industry? Awards are nice in the way that somebody maybe wasn't disappointed in what they saw and that can be inspiring to me but, haha, it's not like I have a room full of trophies! That would be embarrassing! Many of these you have to pay for anyway and I'd rather put that money into my next film. It's like being an athlete as a kid and the coach finally winks at you, then you know you didn't mess up despite yourself and it's really just that wink at the end of the day that means something. I don't know if this has changed my career yet because I really feel, I just started over. I've gone through the school of hard knocks so I appreciate it all more and it's been fun. I do think it's important to get your film out though, especially with screenings or very film-educated juries at online events. I try to submit to different regions of the world. Europe's been very kind to us and this has been the Summer of Canada! Really blessed and grateful for the acceptance. It means the world to me to share all this with the cast and crew. Which directors inspired your work? I admire the tell-it-like-it-is of Scorsese and Tarantino. I try to follow this and not be politically correct. What genre of filmmaking do you prefer to work on as a director? A drama about real people. A good emotional love story. A cheesy little comedy with a lot of identifiable awkwardness and maybe even a horror story - that last one is truly an evolving thought as I never thought I would think that. Leave your cop dramas, mega super hero films and huge science fiction mega-budget projects to those who have the passion for it. They honestly do nothing for me. They never have. I haven't seen those type of films in literally 20 years. Please name three film directors who inspired you? I see this as a different question so my overall three would be Paul Thomas Anderson, the Coen Brothers and David Lynch. Please name three of your most favorite actors who have been influential in your work? Hah, I can in no way just name three here! Meryl Streep... her transparency is off the charts and Cate Blanchett as well. Sean Penn, Morgan Freeman, Gary Oldman, Robert De Niro all inspiring but it may surprise you... his incredible likability overshadows how in tune he is as an actor, but Brad Pitt. I truly admire him as an actor and his performance many many years ago in Kalifornia will stay with me forever. They are all artists that totally give themselves to us in a character and that's what actors should do. What draws you to film and why do you want to make films? Film is so powerful. It can change things. We can identify. We open our hearts and souls and bond with complete strangers... we love them, we hate them, we see ourselves in them, we feel a part of them... this happens in a window before our eyes and can touch us as well as teach us and we can always watch it again.