Michigan film director recognized as Best by Spanish film festival

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Even before the first local limited screening of his new film, ‘Into a Dark Mind’,  director Harley Wallen is garnering praise and accolades from film festival curators throughout the world.   The fourth feature-length film release from Harley Wallen and what is proving to be the cast and crew of his studio, Painted Creek Productions LLC  “Into a Dark Mind” is being recognized as being a prize-worthy production .Featuring Hollywood actors Tom Sizemore and Dennis Haskins,   ‘Into a Dark Mind’ is Wallen’s darkest, yet best feature to date.


This thriller has just been released to film festivals and it has to date become a selected feature of the Miami Independent Film Festival and the ARFF Barcelona/Around International Film Festival., with this film realistically expected to become a festival favorite as many more film festivals announce their selections.   Wallen’s previous feature,  “Moving Parts” was selected to screen at the   Miami Independent Film Festival, Miami, Fl; Golden Bridge Festival, Moscow, Russian, Federation Frostbite International Film Festival, Colorado Springs, Colorado, USA  and the Los Angeles Cinefest. Los Angeles, California.  Harley Wallen and Jerry Hayes received the Castell Award from the Barcelona Film Festival, Barcelona, Spain.

Most recently Wallen was named Best Director by the ARFF Around International Film Festival Barcelona, Spain for “Into a Dark Mind.”.  The ARFF is a juried international monthly competition which features independent films from throughout the world.  The ARFF Barcelona is one destination of four including Barcelona, Paris, Amsterdam and Berlin.  Each year the Best Of The Bests is selected to screen during their annual festival .

He allowed this interview after he had received word that he had been awarded Best Director for “Into a Dark Mind.”

Can you take us back and describe the moment that you found out that you had been named Best Director by the ARFF Barcelona/ Around International Film Festival?

First off thank you David to take the time to talk about and engage with us Michigan filmmakers, it’s much appreciated! Let’s see…. I would have to say it was very different than the other awards.  Because it points directly at me and that felt at first a bit odd– because I know it takes a village to make a movie–so being singled out was almost uncomfortable at first.  But it settled in and I felt much better.  It of course meant they enjoyed my choices. But it also meant they loved the movie obviously and the screens, editing and performances and that’s something my entire cast and crew made happen!

In order of release, what number of feature film is “Into A Dark Mind”?

Well there was “Deceitful”, “Moving Parts””, Taken Over” and now “Into a Dark Mind.” So this is my fourth feature and I feel it is by far my best to date with my team continuing to solidify around me–a team that dares to push and say “we can do this” as I keep pushing and raising the bar. We are courageous together.

In addition to directing this narrative you were its original screenwriter.  What was your inspiration for this story?

This is actually such a great story.  At the auditions for “Taken Over,” actor Kris Reilly came in and laid down an absolutely amazing audition for Crowe.  But it just wasn’t Crowe,  but it was so good it actually inspired me to write “Into a Dark Mind” with that only in mind.

How long did it take you to bring this production to screen?  How did this break down from writing the screenplay, to casting to filming and post production?   Has this been a normal amount of time for you?

Writing usually moves very quickly for me to achieve the first draft–anywhere from a day to a couple of weeks usually.  But then the rewrites begin and to have a script that I’m happy with enough to shoot I’ve spent 3-4 months on it. The active pre-production is usually 2-3 months;, my production schedule is generally 2 month; and then post production 2-4 months. So full turn around is 12-18 months.

While many faces  in this production also appear in your first feature films to date,  how many featured actors do you have in “Into a Dark Mind”?   Who are they and how did you arrange for them to appear in this production?

As far as Hollywood talent we have Tom Sizemore and Dennis Haskins and I am so happy with their amazing performances and strong work ethic as far as getting the job done.  What’s really exciting is how much of them we see in the film as almost half of the scenes have either or the other of them in it! As far as how, you need to obviously connect with agents or if you have friends in common to see if you can get your script in front of them and have them be your advocate to their agent. I can say it was far more difficult to draw Hollywood talent until a few awards came and the word of mouth started making its way to Hollywood. Now I am approached by Hollywood talent to be a part and that’s a beautiful thing!

As a producer/director considering all the elements of a film,  what is the single most difficult thing required of you to bring a story to screen?   Please expand on this?

Interesting question but I may be a little anticlimactic with the answer.  It’s the process! Taking the time to do each step right and first and always ask how can we do this (whatever “this” may be and do it right) starting with writing and tweaking and putting my ego aside as Kaiti, Nancy, Jerry, Annette and Nick go through and give me feedback from all angles. To casting and stick to formula even as I know the decisions can hurt feelings of close friends but to be a slave to what the film asks me for and then onto locations, props etc.,  then obviously getting performances and capturing beautiful screens. Then the dance of me and Michael starts to get a final edit that has the right pace, the right mood and flow before Kaizad and Firoze take it over and work their audio magic and the mood driving musical score.


What are some key elements of this story, “Into a Dark Mind”

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that you would like us as your audience to focus on?

I think in my stories and characters I want people to feel… feel for some, hate some, love some and identify with some but the ultimate goal is to have an audience lose themselves and be entertained for a couple of hours or so. I mean some have deeper meaning and some are more art than others I suppose.  But at the end of the day if I can give someone a roller coaster ride and engulf them in our little world then I’ve done my job.

You have a limited screening of this film coming up shortly.  For this, as for your other films you have a unique way of distributing tickets.  Rather offering tickets exclusively online or at the door, you go into the community to designated locations at hours you announce to them yourself, or with the help of your wife Kaiti or Nancy Oswein.  How did you decide to do this? 

Yes, I believe in telling stories and I believe in making things an experience even down to coming together for tickets and get people excited about what we are doing! Also I hate to say that a lot of people are procrastinators and would likely miss the event or we’d potentially have an audience much larger or smaller than the amount of theater auditoriums we rent for the event.

As your career as a producer/director takes off and you find more and more demanded of your time, what of this contact in distributing tickets will you miss most?

I actually always look for people who are professional, positive and passionate to find a way as often as possible to be a part.  I don’t mind sharing the glory and these amazing experiences with others.  I can talk film for hours and hours and often do.

This must be understood, but why are you limiting the number of available tickets you are offering for this limited screening?

We are restricted by how many theaters we can rent and this one will likely be sold out pretty quickly actually so I hope people take the opportunity to come get tickets quickly and taste a slice of Hollywood as both Tom Sizemore and Dennis Haskins will join us in person on the Red Carpet!

If someone cannot attend this screening, you have several more productions on which you are also working.  What are they? 

“Moving Parts” and “Taken Over” will soon be available as we are accepting offers on worldwide distribution so keep an eye on Red Box and Netflix for those. We just wrapped “United Colors of Bennett-Song” and we will likely screen that in February before it heads to festivals and next up is by far our biggest production “Artificial Loyalty” that we are shooting October 14 through December 10 with an absolutely amazing cast.

Normally, a director isn’t recognized until much later in their career?  What do you see for yourself in the next five years?  Ten years?

Short and sweet, I’ll be making movies…. I’ll take audiences for a ride and through me chasing my dreams I’ll provide so many others an opportunity to pursue theirs!

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