Well, folks, as promised we’ve got the 2014 Calendar up on the website! Four of the most likely images are previewed on the website, and we’ll be taking both pre-roders and allowing you to pick up and commemorate important dates until August, when everything finalizes. At that point, reserved dates are locked and the price of the calendars increase by a few bucks to cover the inventory. Be smart and get in now!
Meanwhile, as I play “catch-up,” I caught up with Dean Vanderkolk and asked him a few questions. Dean plays Leland Crane in Jack Uzi, and, as mentioned, last week, has the starring role in “Day-Planner of the Dead.” This is one guy with a lot on his mind!
Dean Vanderkolk plays Leland Crane on Jack Uzi
Based on the IMDb, it looks like you’ve been getting pretty active as of 2009. How did you get involved in film, and what has been your favorite project so far?
I’d been active as a writer and actor since my junior high school days, but I’d always focused on writing for the stage. I had a deep love for film, but I always thought that breaking into that area was just out of my reach. One day I happened to catch an episode of a locally produced program called Wolfman Mac’s Chiller Drive In, and contacted the producers about becoming a writer. They invited me on board, and soon I became head writer for the show, writing nearly all of the episodes. Through that show, I met many members of the crew, most of whom were active in local film production, especially John Wisniewski. When the television show folded, I was fortunate enough to continue working with those folks, particularly Grindley Studios, and we’ve created so really good work together. Of course, they were creating good work without me, so at least I haven’t dragged them down!! As far as a favorite project, I have to choose Dayplanner of the Dead, our most recent film. It’s a zombie comedy that I wrote and star in, and so far, the response to it has just been wonderful! We were able to secure cooperation from the creators of the original Night Of The Living Dead, including cameos from Kyra Schon, Gary Streiner, and Tom Sullivan, and the finished film has been very well received.
I notice you both write and act. Which do you enjoy more?
Oh, that’s a tough question. Each thing has it’s own rewards, and they are very different. As an actor, it’s wonderful to be able to slip into the identity of someone else for a while, and I truly love the process of acting (finding who the character is, finding the rhythm of the dialogue, etc.), but as a writer I get to do all of those things on an even larger scale. I get to create an entire world of people and places and situations, and dive into it to see what surprises are waiting for me there. Hopefully, if I am surprised, an audience will be, too.
It looks like most of your work has been here in Michigan. Do you intend to stay here and help build the Michigan film community, or do you have other goals?
I’m very happy here in Michigan. The artists working here (in all disciplines) are as good as you will find anywhere, and they have a luxury that places like Hollywood don’t have. Because this area doesn’t have the huge deep pockets of Hollywood, filmmakers have to substitute creativity for cash. They don’t have the ability to just throw money at a problem until it goes away, and as a result, their solutions (and their projects) are more interesting. Projects tend to be more personal.
What would you say is your biggest ambition? What would you like to put together most?
Besides a winning lottery ticket? Actually, I’d like to start branching out into longer form screenplays and stories. I have a story that has been poking at me for over a year, and I am very excited about it, as I think it could make both a great novel and an interesting film. While working on that, I am going to continue working as an actor and writer on other projects.
I feel very lucky to be able to work with many great and talented people, and I think that artists have a duty to help each other. It always makes me a bit sad when people only do projects as long as it glorifies them in some way. I think good work is it’s own glory and reward, and you should give whatever gifts you have whenever possible. Never turn your back on your fellow artists.