Interview: The Galassi Brothers – Directors of The Know & Scott Bishop – Actor in The Know
Interview done by Helen WheelsFirst of all, congratulations to everybody, the cast and crew of “The Know,” for having your movie picked as a January Cult Critic Film of the Month. It’s great to have an opportunity to chat with the Galassi brothers, Adam and Boomer, as well as the star of “The Know,” Scott Bishop.
1. I did a little research and discovered that all of you guys are part of the Blue Man Group in Chicago. Is that correct? How did you get started?
Boomer: Scott and I are Blue Man. I have been performing for a very long time in the show all over the world. Adam also travels the world doing the camera work on stage, and props. Blue Man was a great platform for us all to meet and start creating outside projects. I moved to New York in 1997 and auditioned for the show. I didn’t even know what it was. Years later I was helping to open the Toronto show, and Scott was a new Blue Man there. We later went on a tour with the show through Brazil and Thailand, became friends and started writing things together.
Adam and I have been making movies since we were kids. We lived in the middle of nowhere when our folks got a video camera, and that’s how we entertained ourselves. We shared a room and between the beds in our small bedroom was a radio, much like the one in the movie. It would scare us sometimes in the middle of the night with warnings, tests, and alerts… and the Moody Blues song was particularly frightening at 4 am.
2. What part of filmmaking: writing, directing, camera, editing, etc. do you find most interesting?
Adam: I think all the aspects of filmmaking are equally interesting to us because it’s a collaborative process. We love collaboration!
3. How did “The Know” develop from the original idea to the actual production? Was it a collaboration? Was it an Aha! moment or something that brewed over time?
Scott: About ten years ago Adam created the original script, which was much shorter, emphasizing the character Steven. Adam asked me to be a part of it. Boomer was already a part of it, and through the filming, through the conversation, through hanging out, the story began to develop. As we shot the movie, the story continued developing and started heading in a direction that none of us anticipated. We like to refer to it as the “ghost director” that would take over, and things would come out of the shots that were poignant and creative, and unexpected.
Boomer: We talked over text late at night, and sometimes would come up with ideas right in the moment, and shoot them immediately. We stayed open, and we tried to be honest with ourselves and what we wanted to see and present to the audience.
We took off the shackles of the typical three-act narrative with proper arc and decided to make something that we would like to see. Something different, something personal, and something new and unexpected. We made this movie for ourselves. It gave us something to do, a way to express ourselves creatively. Any sort of praise or reaction, or positive and or negative comments have been something that has been very delightful to us.
Adam: Sometimes the way we make films doesn’t even seem conventional to us, let alone anyone else, and we’re not quite sure what the end result is going to be.
4. That’s great! In my experience, the best art comes from the heart. What made you decide to tell your story in black-and-white?
Adam: Black-and-white seemed like the right choice because we didn’t want to so much focus on the story. Rather, we wanted to focus on the subconscious of the characters. In black-and-white nothing is handed to you, or spoon-fed.
Boomer: Also, we had no money and no funding. We had four or five LED lights that you could buy at Home Depot, and we decided to use what we had. We thought black and white would be gorgeous with the limited resources. That, tied into what Adam said ultimately made black-and-white the correct choice. Sometimes the best ideas come when you don’t have much to work with, it forces you to get more creative, more inventive and really stretch.
5. I agree. In this case, less is definitely more! The black-and-white, high-contrast, adds to the tension. Adam, when you wrote the short script, did you have Scott in mind? Were any of the other characters getting developed at that time?
Adam: The original short script was actually supposed to be a play that I at some point wanted to put on through a small-town community theater, but never had the chance to. The Script sat on the shelf for ten years until I met Scotty, and Boomer and I decided to collaborate with him. The actual original play is nothing like the movie, outside of the fact that Steven is the character he is in the play.
Boomer: Actually, Steven and his character were developed over the course of the movie. It was a lot of trial and error. We enjoyed so much spending time together and filming this movie, that it became richer and richer over time.
Scott: I spent a lot of time thinking about the character, imagining the character, trying to understand what Boomer and Adam were looking for. After trying to get inside their heads and discover who this character is, I think that we would get into a zone as we would shoot. After about 20 minutes we would be in a zone, and Steven would start to appear. I don’t feel like Steven was written out as much as he was discovered through the process of the filming and the collaboration that the three of us would do together. Sometimes our shoots would take a few hours until we really found the core of what we were looking for.
Helen: Steven was intense. He kind of freaked me out. A really great job with this character!
Boomer: I think Stephen is the part of all of us that freaks us out. Scott did an incredible job of manifesting this character. It is a combination of Boomer, Adam, and Scott, all on the screen together, and the shared anxieties we face.
6. How did you come up with the cast of characters? For instance, brothers one (Chad Fess) and two (Jerry Fess), I’m assuming those are the guys who hire Steven to clean their apartment? Could you tell me a bit about that scene?
Boomer: We never have to look outside of our friends and coworkers to cast our movies. Sometimes the parts are written around the people we know, the people we are near, and we can say what we want to say through them and their talents. The brothers in that scene are old friends of ours who we have played music with and made multiple projects and movies with. It’s one big family, and we call each other anytime anyone has a project to help contribute.
The brothers in the movie represent that there are pockets of people around our fictional world that are feeling what Steven is feeling.
Helen: Something I found eerie about the movie was the soft-spoken reassuring voice of “The Know”. She sounded like she was straight off of NPR. Her voice was so familiar, surreal.
Boomer: The voice of the KNOW is Scott’s mother, Diana Bishop. She was a broadcaster on the radio for 40 years and an actor. I’ve never met Scott’s Mom. He took a recorder to Canada when he was visiting her. We sent some dialogue with him. She was so thrilled with the movie, and there was something poetic about her being the Voice.
Scott: It reminds me of when I was a child, and I would listen to my mother on the radio. I like the simple stories that I remember from childhood. They felt good. They were perhaps more honest and represented a slightly simpler time. So, I find the voice of the radio counterpart to the manipulated part of the media.
7. Do you have a favorite scene or moment from the movie that stands out in your mind?
Scott: I enjoy watching the scene where Steven makes the realization that he has a mission. There’s a very definite change in him in the movie. He becomes much darker and more focused. I find this an interesting arc to the movie, and I enjoy the ride. It shows a very different side to Steven that we are not expecting.
Boomer: It’s really hard to have a favorite scene in our movie, but the one that I was really happy with how it turned out, was the out of body experience that Steven had. Both my brother and I have had many out of body experiences growing up and would sometimes have to wake each other up out of it. This is a very personal and true representation of an out of astral projection.
Adam: I think the thing that touched me the most about this film is the opening scene where our protagonist Steven encounters a lone fisherman (John “Fibber” Sefick), and to the fisherman, Steven seems like a mysterious threat. As the fisherman screamed into the void, “who are you” and asked over and over again, Steven has no response. This to me is personal, in that I feel a lot like Steven in the world.
Helen: I thought Steven’s response was dissociative at that moment with the fisherman, and also at the bar when one of the other patrons was angry because he wouldn’t listen.
Adam: I think where we connect with Steven as the filmmakers is that it feels as if the world is screaming at you for answers and legitimacy at all times of the day and in your life. And sometimes you just don’t have a response right away, and you need to think about it, and most people don’t take the time to think about it anymore. I think Steven was thinking long and hard.
8. Is there anything else that you’d like to share?
Adam: For me, the most rewarding thing about doing a project like this in times of political despair and media hysteria is that instead of sitting around the water cooler and bitching and moaning about everything, we grabbed a few talented friends, put our brains together and created a catharsis. Making the movie was a healing process and our way to show, and get out what we really feel.
Scott: I want to thank you for helping us to share our story. “The Know” was one of those rare projects where you get to collaborate with good friends of like minds, with hopefully no ego, and focus on the art in the story. That is rare these days, so thank you for that.
Boomer: We want to say thank you to Cult Critic magazine, and the film festival. We are so honored, thrilled and surprised. Thank you so much!
Helen Wheels is an independent filmmaker, freelance writer, and visual artist. She has produced, directed, worked as a set designer and scenic painter, and has been an assistant director on dozens of films. Wheels graduated from Shoreline College with an AAAS in Digital Film Production and is continuing toward her MFA in New Media Communications. Known for her eye to detail and advanced research skills, Wheels is currently researching historical events for her latest script and is in the process of developing her online writing business.