An Interview with The Fare Film Screenwriter and Actress Brinna Kelley. The other day I brought you a great little indie film entitled The Fare, and I’m still waiting for the thanks and accolades I deserve for finding it for you. It’s really OK…I do this as a service to the people. But seriously! The Fare is a fantastic little film with enough head fakes to keep you guessing and fantastic characters, acted by two really great actors. Speaking of which, I had the distinct privilege to hang out with Brinna Kelley who played the part of Penny, and who also happened to write the screenplay for the film. We had fun talking about the making of the film as well as a ton of spoilers for the film. But don’t worry, the top half of this interview is fair game for everyone. The best way to appreciate this interview will be AFTER you go watch The Fare (or here or here). I clearly point out when the conversation goes rogue. For now though – let’s away shall we?
Taylor – “Hey there Brinna, thanks so much for taking time out to chat. Can you walk us through where the idea for The Fare came from?”
Brinna – “The original idea for The Fare came in the form of an email sent to me by DC Hamilton. It was an article about how, in Japan, after the Fukushima Nuclear Power Plant accident, cab drivers in the area were reporting ‘phantom fares.’ Dazed people who would stumble into their back seats, mumble something, and then disappear during the ride. DC’s note with the article was: I think this would make a good premise for a film. I took that concept and combined it with my desire to write my own Twilight Zone episode. That’s how The Fare came to be.
Taylor – “Oh, brilliant. That really is unbelievable. I really have no context for that kind of stress or mental state.” [Note to the reader – I went looking for those articles and sure enough.] “Continuing on, I can’t imagine filling a screenplay for 80 – 100 minutes of film for two individuals in a closed box. During the writing, did you find yourself hyperventilating into a bag, or did the structure and layout come to you all at once?”
Brinna – “I actually didn’t really sweat filling up the time in this film…I have a pretty extensive theater background and, to me, this script was like writing a play for black box theater, with emphasis on characterization being key. With that approach, the characters really came alive.”
Taylor – “Which brings me to the two of you – to Harris (Gino Anthony Pesi), your energy and chemistry with Gino was a must. I tell others about this film idea and they all look at me cockeyed…and my response is always, BUT THE CHEMISTRY! How did Hamilton [DC Hamilton, the Director] “find” the two of you and determine that it would work as well as it did?”
Brinna – “Thank you! A lot of people have told Gino and me about our chemistry together. And that, I really do attribute to cinematic magic. Chemistry is that undefinable quality that is hard to know during casting. The energy between two people once the cameras start rolling is always a gamble for any film…and we got lucky. That’s the truth.
“DC and I have worked together before, so we always knew we would re-team for this film. Both of us were with the project since the very beginning. But, to this day, I don’t really know how Gino found the Fare! During pre-production, we were contacted by his manager, who told us that he had read the script and loved it! I don’t know how he got the script! He must have known someone I sent it to. Anyway, this manager expressed his interest in this project. And I was like…JLo’s guy from Shades of Blue? Really? Okay, let’s meet him. So, nine days before shooting was supposed to begin (and we still had no lead, we auditioned people but couldn’t find what we were looking for) we went to meet Gino. And he just embodied how I pictured this character so well, we knew it had to be him! What we didn’t know at the time was how generous Gino would turn out to be. That he not only played a character, but he would also come on board as a producer and EP, and worked tirelessly with us throughout production and post production.
“Sometimes you gotta take a leap of faith. Gino and I both did that. Because we met nine days before production began, we only had time for ONE rehearsal…for two hours. During which, we basically just read through the script…AND we only had six days to shoot this entire film! So we got 1-2 takes for every setup. Gino and I had to trust each other as actors, that we knew what we were doing, that we won’t let each other down…and the rest, as they say, is history…or rather, chemistry.”
Taylor – “Well, it worked, whatever you did! That’s amazing that it worked as well as it did with so little pre-planning or orchestration. I heard that the film was filmed in six days. Must have been a fun shoot. I’ve heard of shoots for less than $5k. And I’ve heard of Indie shoots that were fast. But I’ve never heard of a six-day shoot. Can you share a little from your experiences from the set?”
Brinna – “A six-day shoot is, in some ways, an insane undertaking to embark upon. We were well aware of that going in. But, it’s nobody’s first rodeo, so we took the leap of faith. We had a one week window to shoot this film (our cinematographer and most of the crew came from Angie Tribecca, and they were having their hiatus week.) so we decided to take it. On the very last day, our director DC said to our cinematographer Josh, ‘Well, we did it. we shot a movie in six days!’ and Josh said back ‘Don’t tell anyone! Or they’ll expect us to do it again!'”
Taylor – “Hahahaha. That is an impressive feat. Really amazing.”
Brinna – “We were able to pull this off because of good planning, really. Everything inside the cab was shot on a sound stage in Woodland Hills. The cab was on rollers so they could spin it. The crew built dolly track around the cab so the camera can move. The driving exterior was all shot using rear-view projection (just like they did in the 50s, when they made the Twilight Zone.) The images were captured in camera and projected on a screen next to the cab while we shot.”
— OK, from here on out there will be spoilers throughout. Please only continue on if you have watched The Fare. —
Brinna – “I’m a huge Greek mythology nerd, so I knew going in that he was the Ferryman. The sci-fi time loop element was always the red herring. There’s a 16-minute video on the special features of the Blu-ray where I talk about all the Greek mythology references in the film. There are many!)
First of all, as long as you post a spoiler warning, then talk away! Let’s talk Greek mythology! The Styx, the forgetful water that’s obviously from the Lethe, Persephone and Hades, and the fact that they hit Cerberus on the second drive. If you pause it just right, there’s one frame of the dog! He’s okay though. He had three headaches that night!”
Taylor – “Caron! hahahaha. When I first saw the cabbie’s license, I stared and stared at it…but the name didn’t click as important at the time. I was more focused on the dates.”
Brinna – “And one last thing…that time Harris veered off the Styx (which, I guess due to global warming, dried up and is now a dirt road) he ended up on the river Phlegathon, which leads right into the mouth of Tartarus. That’s why he was told to turn back, by the entity who guards Tartarus.”
[Note to those of you who are currently lost (trust me, I googled it as well! hahah: Tartaros is the abyss that was used as a dungeon of wailing and gnashing of teeth for the suffering for the wicked of Titan. It’s where Plato stated that souls are judged after death and where the evil received punishment.]
Taylor – “Weren’t there star-crossed gods that were destined to only see each other at sunrise or sunset? Or was that just Ladyhawke I’m thinking about? I only ask because of the two comets that crossed in the sky, right before the credits. Was that indicative of anything particular?! I’m digging through my old Roman and Greek gods books trying to see if I can find gods that were cursed like this…to live life in passing…Diana maybe? Still looking.”
Brinna – “The two comets are Altair and Vega, the story that Penny told, of the two stars who are lovers and can only see each other once a year, when they pass each other by. That’s the literal reason why they call it ‘star-crossed’. And, of course, now Harris and Penny share their fate. They, too, can only see each other once a year. Just like her story about Altair and Vega.”
Taylor – [At which point I kicked myself for missing that comment in the movie.] “Brilliant. Love it. So many layers here. I am trying to find a streaming version of that 16-minute walk through of the making of. Can’t wait to get my hands on it.” Sensing my extreme confusion on the Altair and Vega story Brinna sent me this very helpful link about the legend of Altair and Vega.
Brinna – “I guess this particular story originated in the east, in China. I grew up with it…but the idea of ‘star-crossed’ is know everywhere, and that’s what it’s based on.”
Taylor – “I literally could do this all night – and might end up accidentally stalking you if I’m not careful. Zero social skills! hahaha. Do you have anything else you are working on? Screenplays? Acting? Would love to promote your next thing if at all possible when the time comes.”
Brinna – “The answer is yes, always yes. As a screenwriter, I am always writing. I have a couple of dream projects, one is a horror-comedy in the vein of Shaun of the Dead (one of my favorites) and the other script is a horror/thriller. I think both will be a lot of fun for audiences. So I really hope people see, and like, The Fare and want to see more from us! Maybe this film will lead to opportunities to make more. That’s the plan and the hope, at least! And yes, it’s good to meet a fellow fan of good sci-fi and mythology! Cheers my friend!”
Taylor – [A day later, after having watched the film again I reconnected with Brinna to ask one more question about the film I couldn’t wrap my head around.] “Hey there Brinna – I just watched your film again, because I’m still picking up bits and pieces…and our chat helped too. But I’m just now wondering how Harris died. I’m assuming it was suicide in his taxi cab? ‘I looked for you. Then next year when I went back, I found your cab, and had it restored.’ That she had to go back (with a different ferryman) and that was why she was gone when he went to the house. He committed suicide, she goes looking for him…can’t find him because he’s already the ferryman. She restores the cab, and then on her return trip sees him for trip #1? Does that make sense?”
Brinna – “The way you described it is pretty much how I imagined it happening…except I don’t think Harris meant to kill himself necessarily (that probably plays into why he can’t remember it clearly). I think he probably had too much to drink and then crashed his cab. Hence why dispatcher taunts him about ‘hitting the sauce’ early on.
“In my mind, before Harris arrived in the underworld, there probably was a river, and a boat, and a ferryman (Caron, perhaps, the original Caron). And every year, Penny rode the boat on her trip back, just like it always was. But then she had an affair with a mortal (as the Greek gods often do). And when Harris died, Hades came up with this unique punishment for both of them. Hence, the Styx is now a road, and the ferryman a cab driver. But since the shades (souls) of the underworld drink water from the Lethe and forget, only Penny has to live with this torture. Harris’s punishment is cruel yet fitting, his afterlife is the thing he’s afraid of becoming in life, a driver going nowhere, just like his father. But eventually he sees the humanity in his position and works to give each passenger a good final ride. (They might be dead, but it’s still a people job, and Harris was always a good cabbie, even if he didn’t always appreciate it.) I think it’s poetic that Harris had his chariot (that gorgeous old checker cab) in life, and in death. Maybe he was always meant to be the ferryman…
Taylor – “That actually makes perfect sense. I was thoroughly confused for a minute there as to how he went from being alive, then being dead, and yet there was this (potentially) big memory gap for Harris we had to account for.
“I loved The Fare, and I love support indie filmmakers like yourself and DC. Hopefully you guys will continue getting love from the community so we can see your screenplays come to life. Thanks for taking so much time out to chat and for answering my fairly insistent questions!!”
Brinna – “It’s been so much fun discussing and deep diving into The Fare with you! I hope you had a great Thanksgiving! Cheers!”
Edited by: CY