Greg Bennick is a speaker, a writer, spoken word performer, a world traveler, a film producer, the vocalist for the hardcore bands TRIAL, BYSTANDER (see our recent interview HERE) and BETWEEN EARTH & SKY, a humanitarian activist (One Hundred For Haiti, The Legacy Project, The World Leaders Project), and I bet most of IDIOTEQ readers and hardcore punk community participants already know that. Although he doesn’t consider himself a full time actor, he has recently crafted an immensely intriguing character that might earn him notice in the independent action cinema. We have once again teamed up with Greg to discuss his passions, get some updates on his music projects, but first and foremost, discuss his experience in acting, his process as an actor and most aspects behind the new movie “7 Splinters in Time“!
In the Gabriel Judet-Weinshel directed time-travel-themed, sci-fi thriller “7 Splinters in Time“, Greg Bennick plays a character named John Luka who helps lead actor Edoardo Ballerini (The Sopranos, Boardwalk Empire, Dinner Rush) solve a murder mystery through time. The main cahractrer, detective Darius Lefaux, investigates a murder and finds that the victim is… himself. Soon, he discovers multiple versions of himself, not all of them friendly. He therefore must find his other self, before it finds him. Sounds tricky? Well, it gets even more interesting from there. The film is being released this summer, July 11th, in ten cities for theatrical screenings and then also on Video on Demand. It’s available now as a pre-order on iTunes HERE.
This movie knows absolutely what it’s doing … writer/director Gabriel Judet-Weinshel has crafted a thriller with the DNA of several great artists before him … 7 SPLINTERS IN TIME will unnerve you with a power of its own. It’s as if David Lynch and Terry Gilliam had a love child.” — Derek McCaw, Fanboy Planet
“The look of this film is exceptional … an auspicious venture into the world of SF, and an impressive first feature. The strange cityscapes, with their buildings that look like exploded hypercubes, the lighting and set-ups, the dramatic shots are all impressive …” — Mark Cole, Rivets on the Poster
“ … vividly nightmarish … Greg Bennick is excellent as the hyperkinetic mystery figure Luka. Lynn Cohen is a howl as the salty curmudgeon Babs … plenty of eye candy and sometimes there’s the feeling of Fellini on Dexedrine.” — Scott Strickland, The Movie Gourmet
“I saw touches of ERASERHEAD, TWELVE MONKEYS, MAD MAX, CITY OF LOST CHILDREN … ”
—Robert Emmett, KFJC’s “Thoughtline”
Hey Greg! Thanks for joining us once again and introducing this new exciting project. For all the puzzled readers and your bands’ followers, please give us some background on your professional experience in the filmmaking industry.
Hi Karol! For quite a few people in my life, the news that I am starring in a feature film made them either incredibly excited or utterly confused. Or both. I actually have a college degree in Theatre. I studied acting, though most of the time I use what I learned in that degree for my speaking engagements onstage and not in traditional acting roles. In the mid 90’s a young director named Gabriel Judet-Weinshel asked me to be in a film he was making called “The Last Supper”. The film was about a man who learns that he is living his last day and must reconcile that fact. Gabriel was 17 when he wrote it. After making that short film Gabriel told me “Someday when I shoot my first feature I am going to have you in one of the starring roles”. It took a couple decades but he definitely followed through with that promise.
Wow, that’s quite a story! Have you received some fresh training in acting before the filming?
Thankfully I have been performing in various ways for the last few decades so I was ready for the set. But I definitely got a crash course whether I intended it or not during my scenes with Austin Pendleton. Austin is an accomplished actor who has appeared with many famous names, so I really had to step it up when we were in scenes together. Acting is funny: the harder you try the worse you are. It’s a zen experience in a way, in that you need to do less to accomplish more.
Are you satisfied with the role you did? Give us your thoughts on the character and how it links to the story.
I have a funny story which makes me sound like an egomaniac but it was for fun. When the director / editor Gabriel Judet-Weinshel first sat me down last winter to show me the finished film, I watched it all the way through and when it was over he turned the lights on and asked me, “What did you think?” I replied, “I’m a really good actor!!!!” It was supposed to be funny but it came from a place of sincerity and genuine surprise because I had never seen myself act before and had been scared that I would be terrible. So that was a good surprise. The character fits into quite a bit of the story. The lead character of Darius LeFaux is trying to figure out why he seems to have splintered into various aspects of himself. He is seeing duplicates of himself all over this city. My character John Luka helps him figure out why this is happening and basically brings his own special insanity to that process. He invents all of his own technology and documents himself on cameras that he has made and gets around on contraptions that he has built. He is an odd babbling lunatic but ultimately always seems to make sense. Maybe I was born to play this role? :)
What was the essential challenge of the process for you? How was the experience of the filming? What was the vibe on set?
The biggest challenge of the filming process, aside from remembering my lines and knowing them perfectly and in character, is to know the script well enough to be able to jump around in the filming process (since very little if anything is filmed in order) so that there is consistency in acting. Without that, the final edited product could seem disjointed at times. People tend to think that the first scene you see in a film is the first scene actually filmed but it’s rarely that way.
The experience of filming for me was great fun. I loved being able to dive into my character’s weirdness. I had to pull it back sometimes since I’ve been onstage my entire life and onstage everything is bigger than real life. The film set is different. The camera magnifies everything, so Gabriel (director) had to tell me to tone it down more than a few times when my facial expressions or reactions were too over the top. It fits the lunacy of the Luka character, but sometimes I was bringing the stage to the film set, so to speak.
And the vibe on set was great too. I had quite a few scenes with Edoardo Ballerini (Darius LeFaux) and we got to know one another well off camera which helped build chemistry on camera too. Gabriel and I have known one another since we were teenagers basically, so working with him flowed really well since we have a great communicative relationship and laugh all the time. The crew he had selected were too notch, so it made things move along really well too.
The director of photography, George Nicholas, is a technician when it comes to lighting and film and texture and color. He was brilliant to work with and learn from. He and Gabriel both are real film artists and work incredibly well together. They aren’t just run-and-gun filmmakers. They are examining every setup and every frame and every shot to make sure it communicates as much as possible.
Is there a certain role that you’d like to play in the future?
I was speaking with a friend of mine who is a professional actor. She asked me what I’d like to have happen next in my career. I said that it took 25 years for me to get my first role but it was a great one. A starring role at that. So, my next role? I told her it had to at least be another starring role in a feature film. I figure I have 24 more years to potentially wait once “7 Splinters in Time” comes out. I will be patient.
Haha. Ok, so let’s learn more about the movie. I wonder, is the author’s vision of time travel based on real scientific principles? What are your rules of time travel in this story? Also, please tell us more about the script and how it’s different from what you’ve seen in other sci-fi movies and books so far. Are there some factors that make it unique?
Great question, because when I normally hear about time travel being used as a convention on a film I immediately roll my eyes. Because time travel in a film means that time travel will be the point of conflict for the film and also the way that conflict is resolved. It’s like we already know what’s going to happen. But with “7 Splinters in Time” the travel component is only part of the story. Ultimately this is a film about the exploration of identity. Who am I? Why am I this person? What role do I play in my own identity or personality creation and development? And what role do others play? The film examines that by having its lead character splinter into seven duplicates of himself and then finding resolution for those splinters. Other characters like mine are driven insane by the time travel and are trying to realize and understand who they are and why and what role time plays. Time travel plays a part in that exploration, and if I say more I will be giving away key plot points, but what I can say is that the film wraps up things neatly and is very satisfying in the way it explores all of the characters and their quest to understand what’s happening. Everything makes sense at the end, or as much sense as any quest for self can make. We are always going to be uncovering new thoughts and possibilities as we examine who we are and why we are this or that way in terms of our personality. The seemingly chaotic cinematic tapestry that is “7 Splinters in Time” makes it really visually unique. It was shot on seventeen different formats(!): 8mm, 16mm, 35mm (various stocks), 35mm stills, Polaroid, Red, small format HD, and original processes like taking stills of the movie, printing them out on ink jet, painting on them, re-photographing with a Bolex 16mm. That creates such a unique look overall for the film.
Wow! Sounds like loads of work for editor!
I honestly can’t imagine how much work it was. There were well over three hundred special effects shots in the film, from matte paintings to rotoscope and 2.5 and 3D compositing. That’s not to mention the recording of the original music score. Over 90 minutes of original music was written and recorded for the 75 minute film. The editing took a few years actually. And what’s interesting is the way the plot lines and story developed in the editing process. There is a saying in film that “there are three films, the one you write, the one you film, and the one you edit”. And this was very true for “7 Splinters in Time”. As you begin to see footage, new ideas come to you and you shift and make adjustments along the way.
Back to time travels, personally, if you could time jump, how far would you want to go?
If I could time travel, I would go ALL the way back. To the Big Bang. Just so I could document once and for all that God didn’t create everything a day at a time. If the time travel didn’t work that far back I would at least go back to when Jesus was in the cave, so that I could set up some GoPro cameras and catch his friends sneaking his body out after he died. I imagine them all stoned, laughing quietly so as not to wake up the sleeping centurion guards, and imagining the chaos which would ensue as people believe he walked out and will return someday. If I had GoPro footage of the event, it would clear up so much global confusion. I also might time travel back to the vegan chicken wings I had in Baltimore yesterday because those were awesome.
Haha, awesome! Ok Greg, so lastly, my usual question. What projects are you currently working on and what can we expect from you next? Are you ready to expound a bit on what I asked the last time we spoke and reveal some more details on your future recordings and scheduled live shows with TRIAL and BETWEEN EARTH & SKY?
TRIAL will play the New Age Records 30th Anniversary Fest in Garden Grove CA on August 25th. We are looking forward to that for sure.
BETWEEN EARTH & SKY is still planning to record an LP. I am working on lyrics now for that.
And BYSTANDER has a 7” coming out this summer. It will be on Safe Inside Records in the USA and Goodwill Records in Europe along with some other labels too doing cassette versions (Kick Out the Jams; Ugly and Proud; World’s Most Appreciated Kitsch).
Of course, I am still working on One Hundred For Haiti all the time as well (onehundredforhaiti.org) and we hope to bring more clean water, new roofs, and anti-assault programs to the people of rural Haiti this year.
I have a spoken word record coming out at some point too with various musicians contributing musical tracks over which I will be speaking. I’m excited for that too as its totally different than anything else I’ve done.
People can keep in touch anytime! @gregbennick on Instagram. xxx