Screening at the GI Film Festival in San Diego this year on Friday, September 27th at the Museum of Photographic Arts and Made by Veteran/Military is the twisted mind thriller THE BLACK STRING.
Frankie Muniz stars as Jonathan, a young man trying to find his place in the world and after an encounter with a strange girl finds himself horrified by what begins happening to him. Trying to get others to believe what he says is true proves to be difficult and there is something terrifying close to him. THE BLACK STRING is a mind bending thriller that keeps the viewer wondering what is true and what is an illusion which means we are with Jonathan all the way.
Muniz is best known for the family sitcom Malcom in the Middle and on the big screen with AGENT CODY BANKS. From the 90’s well into the 2000’s, Muniz was nominated and won awards for his work. Not resting on his Hollywood laurels, he has tried everything from music, to racing and a olive oil and vinegar business, participating in Dancing with the Stars (coming in third thank you very much!), co-hosting on Dancing with the Stars Juniors and so much more.
I had the opportunity to speak with Frankie about his role in the film THE BLACK STRING and found him to be exactly as I expected – charming and hoping his work pleases audiences.
Jeri Jacquin: Good morning Frankie, thank you for taking the time to talk with me today.
Frankie Muniz: Of course.
JJ: I am thrilled that your film THE BLACK STRING is playing at the GI Film Festival.
FM: Yes, director Brian Hanson and producer Richard Handley are going to be there as well.
JJ: They are under the category of veterans that have made films. How did you get involved in the project?
FM: We filmed the movie three years ago and To be honest I was sent the script, and I loved it. It was so different and dark and a different character from anything that I’ve gotten to play before. I actually went into LA to audition for it and it was the first time I’ve done that in a very long time. I was passionate about the project and wanted to be part of it. I was thrilled that they chose me and had a great time filming it. I’m even more thrilled by how the movie turned out. We had a very, very small budget but you can’t tell. When you see the film it looks big and they did a great job all around and I’m happy to be a part of that.
JJ: First of all this is a very twisted film in the sense that you never know which way it is going to go. You carry the film in that your character is always trying to figure out what is real which means we as the viewer wonder what is real.
FM: Yes, as an actor I just wanted to play it 100% real. Believe me if I was in that situation and I thought a cult was coming after me, this is how I would react. It can be difficult to tell that story especially when no one else believes you. We just really needed to figure out what level in the script that is crazy or maybe called passion. The crazier you seem the more passion you put in trying to fight for what you believe. You are trying to explain what is happening to everyone else. I never really have gotten to play a character like this in a dramatic way. I really, really loved it. I enjoyed playing this character and I’m proud of how it turned out. As an actor I usually don’t care about myself but I have to say that I’m really, really happy with the job I did and I hope everyone sees it. I hope people will look at me different as an actor.
JJ: What you managed to do is take a character that everyone already had an opinion of before the scariness started and it set up the stage for everything else.
FM: Exactly, what I like about this character in the beginning is that there is the backstory of a young man trying to better his life. Maybe when he was younger he had problems and rough days with a past with psychological episodes but now he works hard. He’s not at his dream job but he’s showing up, doing a good job and trying to better himself. Everyone else kinds of sees the fact that one time in high school he had that episode. Seeing that and when you learn those things about why everyone is dismissing him and his claims of what happened – even the doctor is like ‘it’s not a big deal’. Everybody dismisses every aspect of what he is believing about what is going on. It is hard on the viewer because you just don’t know.
JJ: This will make you happy then, I was yelling at the screen wanting everyone around him to just listen! Jonathan is very specific as to what happened and his parents are like ‘go to your room’.
FM: Imagine how hard that is for someone that truly, truly believes something and nobody believes him. It would make you go crazy. He really believed what happened and wants to fight for it. He wanted to find the answers no matter what it took, even if he had to run around town in his socks!
JJ: So, this is the one big question – what is your take on the character Homeless Mike?
FM: When I think of the character Homeless Mike, when you see him in the beginning Jonathan is in the convenience store and he’s just a crazy guy looking through the window. There is this view that when people see someone like that then he must be crazy. Jonathan becomes deep in the arc of almost becoming Homeless Mike himself. He is just one step away from it all. So you think maybe that’s how Homeless Mike got there and maybe it’s a reflection of where Jonathan is headed. Maybe I’m just reaching but that is what I imagined when I saw the character in the film.
JJ: What I would add to that is that Mike knew something was coming when he was staring at Jonathan the first time in the window.
FM: That could be true. There were more scenes with Homeless Mike but they didn’t make it into the film. I agree with that.
JJ: I reminded me of a scene in the movie ALWAYS where Richard Dreyfuss says that maybe homeless people are like antennas and they can tune into things we can’t. That’s what I thought of Homeless Mike. When Homeless Mike looks at Jonathan through the glass it’s almost like he is trying to tell him something.
FM: Oh yes, absolutely, I can see that.
JJ: Jonathan almost had the same look as the film goes on.
FM: There is a scene where Jonathan sees Dena in the house and runs to Eric at the convenience store and up against the glass. A moment shared between me and Homeless Mike.
JJ: You are right about the look of the film, the special effects are so well done. Added to that is I couldn’t stop watching how you were handling things. I also don’t think I’ll look at black string the same way every again. The effects are amazing.
FM: We had this special effects crew that was amazing. The resources that were used for the budget are surprising but that says a lot about Brian and the producers. I am so thrilled how it all turned out. It’s amazing when you can look at a project you’ve done and say ‘man, we worked hard’. I am thrilled with it and I hope people enjoy it to.
JJ: I watched the film at night which made it even creepier!
FM: It will do that absolutely.
JJ: I believe you carried this movie so well Frankie and you did a wonderful job. I appreciate all you did and all Brian did to bring THE BLACK STRING to the screen.
FM: I appreciate that so much Jeri thank you.
Prepare yourselves for a mind bending tale of illusion and reality with THE BLACK STRING starring Frankie Muniz.
The writer/director Brian Hanson served in the US Army with the 75th Ranger Regiment deployed several times to Afghanistan. He volunteers with Veterans in Media & Entertainment (VME) and grew up in Escondido studying film at Palomar College and SDSU.
Producer Richard Handley is also familiar with San Diego as he began his medical career stationed on the USS Constellation at a Lieutenant in the US Navy. He earned an MFA in Film from Mount St. Mary’s University and a Graduate Certificate in Producing from UCLA School of Theatre, Film and Television.
The GI Film Festival is returning to San Diego for another opportunity to show some of the most amazing films, documentary’s and shorts created and performed for our military. For further information on purchasing tickets and scheduling please visit www.gifilmfestivalsd.org.
THE BLACK STRING is also coming to DVD from Lionsgate who is a global leader in motion picture production and distribution for theatres, television, home entertainment and more. Theatre franchises include THE HUNGER GAMES, and DIVERGENT along with JOHN WICK. Now, adding this film to its 16,000 motion picture and television titles you can see everything coming soon as well as available now at http://www.lionsgate.com.
In the end – paranoid cuts deep!