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Home | Interviews | Exclusive Interview: Filmmaker, Johnny Alonso (Harvey)

Exclusive Interview: Filmmaker, Johnny Alonso (Harvey)


What made you want to get involved in the film industry?

I was raised in a house that loves music, playing instruments, singing and salsa and Argentine Tango dancing. My mother and her side of the family are super musically and artistically inclined. My dad’s side, not so much. When I was a kid i loved singing and playing the guitar. I figured out at a very early age that i wasnt about team sports, even though i was pretty good at lacrosse so my mom signed me up for all kinds of music lessons – guitar, voice training, piano, saxophone. I hated them all lol I just wanted to play and sing on my own and go rogue but my mom knew (since she sings, plays the piano and she and my dad are pro Argentine Tango dancers) that at least learn get the basics from a teacher or coach then if youre super serious about being an artist youll find your own way and expression. My parents are both doctors so when my brother and i were in high school we always had the house to ourselves after school and since he played drums this was the perfect time to start a band. We were in a band called The Unknown a post punk/new wave/alternative band. Our sound was a cross between Joy Division, Echo and the Bunnymen and The Jesus and Mary Chain. We were a mega hit within the huge private school footprint drawing serious crowds of alternative/new wave music fans. My band also had a reputation for drawing tons of girls to our shows so all the local bands loved getting on the bill with us – young and old lol I miss those days. My band came out with 2 albums that the stores couldnt keep on the shelves, we were written up in countless local papers, mentions in The Music Express, NME, charted on the CMJ (college music journal) in all the colleges nationwide and toured the country with all of us around the ripe old ages of 16, 17 and 18 playing incredible clubs like the original 9:30 Club and D.C. Space in Washington D.C, The Rocket in Danburry Connecticut, Knitting Factory, and legendary underground punk club CBGB’s in New York City. Everything was going our way then the band broke up. We thank our exgirlfriends for killing the band.

After the breakup i was lost. I really thought I was going to be in a band, tour and play music forever. I knew I wanted to do something that had to do with being in the entertainment industry then realized there was a lot of acting involved when we were on stage playing live in front of the crowd. I focused on college and was accepted to NYU so I decided to try my hand at acting. It took months of auditioning to get into the fine arts acting program at The Actors Studio. After almost 8 months of auditioning they accepted me into the program. Ive been going strong ever since.

From script–to–screen, how close did HARVEY come to its original vision?

From what I had pasted in my head talking with Ranelle, from my storyboards, feel of the film, acting, and overall vibe – this film is absolutely nowhere close lmfao!! No man it was really spot on, I’m serious when I say this. I had a vision that I knew was attainable we had the right cast, locations, and music (soundtrack) me being a musician I had to have the right music or this would just be another wannbe psychological thriller with poor cinematography and boring set ups. We had a super strong Harvey team that bent the rules doing the film the way we wanted to because we knew youre going to like it the way we put it together. And if you dont, thats fine too because we dont need you lmfao :P

What was your favorite day on set and why?

My favorite day on set was when I worked with my costar Allison Meister when her character Madison and my character Keith were getting rid of the body and getting ready to drop the body in the lake. I wasnt wearing my co-directing hat, I wasnt being a producer having to yell my face off and put fires out while picking up my cast from the airport – all I had to do that night was act. True story, When we were doing the dialogue for camera there was a point in that scene where i really had forgotten I was acting and it really felt like we were in super trouble and had to come up with a plan to save our asses. I was Keith and she was Madison and what was happening right then and there was real. The field we shot in was country road dark, crickets and frogs chirping . The smell of cypress, cold air off the water – it really added to my sense memory. It was wild.

What scene did you enjoy directing the most?

I co-directed so I was always collaborating with Ranelle. My fave scenes that I directed were with Darius Autry and Erin O’Brien. One scene was again at night in the baseball field the other took place in Keith’s office upstairs at the bowling alley. Our DP (director of Photography) Shannon Lanier is great at setting up shots and making them interesting. Its really because of him the film looks as pretty as it does. I remember telling Shannon I see Harvey (Darius) in the field really out of his head filled with pain and feeling like he has no way out of this hell life. Shannon got the location set up and dark lit exactly how I saw it in my head which helped me set up direction for Darius getting him to act angry drunk in low gear versus over the top drunk and confused. Its one of my favorite scenes in the film. Erin O’Brien plays the character Karen. Erin and I are no strangers to working with each other. This is our 4th project costarring next to each other and we just know what we need to compliment each other’s work when working with and against each other. The scene i directed Erin’s character Karen was upstairs in Keith’s office. Karen and Keith are supposed to have this love hate tug of war vibe. I needed a special timing for their bantar to not make it look/ feel so contrived because the scene is somewhat typical of a “keep the story moving” type dialogue. Again, having worked with her several times before I knew Erin would be ready to fire back at Keith the second she had to. So I reminded Erin that her character and Keith had a “thing” at one point. I then told Erin that her character Karen’s magic didnt work on Keith so this has always pissed Karen off. When you watch the scene Karen really digs deep trying to make Keith feel like a cheap date. Its exactly where the scene needed to be. I love working with Erin and I’m glad we’ve partnered up to work on several other projects ahead. I cant see myself doing another project without her. She’s my favorite scene partner.

What is the biggest obstacle you faced while making HARVEY?

Time. When we shot Harvey it was right when the Screen Actors Guild issued the covid contract enforcing serious new covid rules and one of them was the 8 hour rule with no overtime. A lot of the film takes place at the bowling alley and the alley opens to the public at noon every day – so sometimes we’d have a calltime at 4am . We had a SAG nurse on set checking our temperature all the time, making sure we were in our work zones – always wearing the mask. Then every 3 days we’d have to get our PCR test and that was always fun coordinating who, where and when between set ups and locations. It was a total nightmare. But if you watch the film you’d never think we were pressed for time. We were super pro on set and everyone was working toward the same goal to make a kickass film.

What was your proudest moment during production?

My proudest moment really dropped in when we were in post production. I’m the music supervisor for Harvey. I was in charge of putting the killer soundtrack together. It was my idea to give the film a modern day 80s vibe and add 80s sounding music. It was just the way to go. The Oviedo Bowling Center has that retro feel. Ranelle did the location scouting for the alley and she hit a grand slam finding this alley with the retro colors and an incredible video arcade/ pinball lounge. When we were in post I started mapping out where I wanted all the bands that I collected placing the music in select scenes. All the music was specifically placed. No throwaways. We have some incredible heavy label bands like DARK (opening title track), Leonora Post Punk, The Organ Beats on the soundtrack. These bands have huge followings and currently on tour in Central America and Eastern Europe. The other bands – RavenTree, Love In Vein, Vivid Vertigo, The Criminally Insane, Matt Naas, Janani, Pearl Fishers all made the film are prominting to all their fans and followers and getting the word out there. Even my old band The Unknown made the soundtrack :) Listen to the music in this film. Its sick.

How do you get a film to stand out in the crowd in today’s landscape?

Well, I cant give away all my secrets but in my last answer I mentioned the 80s vibe. This film Harvey really does have a cool thing going on from its cinematography, to awesome locations, the strong cast and directing and power producing. But thats every film amd thats boring. We added a personality to our film. We added a soundtrack that so many people have complimented on. We had great locations that made the film look like a million bucks. We went back to being inventive with our vision. Everything thats old is new again and the 80s is just fucking cool.

What other actors inspire you to do what you do?

Im a huge Al Pacino and Havey Keitel fan. There are several scenes in Harvey where I pulled Keith’s body language and delivery for my character Keith from characters Mr. White from Reservoir Dogs and Michael Corleone from Godfather. Here are two examples – when Keith is screaming at Madison in front of the walk in cooler (scene is also in the trailer) Keith says “Do you want to be an accessory to murder?” My cocked forward body language, my open hand pointing at Madison and that 1 second pregnant pause before delivery is soooo Keitel in Reservoir Dogs. And the scene where Keith is trying to calm Madison down when John Snyder is on the bowling alley floor Keith’s reaction and eye movement and hands to the face was super inspired by Pacino when he kills Sollazzo in the Italian restaurant in The Godfather. I love collecting scenes like these in my head and when I find a scene that needs a little more lightning ill pull from my favorite scenes.

What is your favorite horror decade and why?

Ive always been a fan to 70s horror. Movies like Erasurehead, The Omen, Texas Chainsaw Massacre, Carrie. The 70s really went from 50s and 60s Creature to the black Lagoon type films to Jaws. There was just a feeling that 70s horror had that wasnt in any other decade.

What is the next step in your filmmaking career?

We’re in the early development stage for a feature with my sights to shoot it in Atlantic City. Its a mob styled dramedy. The script is well written and hilarious. We have been talking with a named actor, an A lister. if timed properly he’ll come on board to play my grandfather. and that will be huge for this film. I cant wait to get this in production. Atlantic City is the perfect backdrop for this film.


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