Torre Catalano and Martha MacIsaac talk ‘Seasick Sailor’

Writer/director Torre Catalano and actress Martha MacIsaac recently spoke with “Breakthrough Entertainment” about their new short film “Seasick Sailor.”

In “Seasick Sailor,” which wrapped production last week, Keir Gilchrist plays a teenager who spends his days stocking shelves at the local drugstore – that is, when he is not killing people for a boss that he has never met. Over the course of the story, we see him try to balance the growing responsibilities of this unorthodox job while trying desperately to establish a real connection with someone else like an adjusted young adult.

Question: Tell me about the inception of this project. Where did this story come from?

Torre: I have always been fascinated with looking at oddball characters. When I met Keir and saw what a great actor he was and saw that he had this darker side to him, I thought that it would be cool to put him in a part where we could explore the life of a hitman who is 17- or 18-years-old and trying to grow up, go through growing pains and balance that with killing people.

Question: The cast includes Keir Gilchrist, Martha MacIssac, Emily Osment, Brandon Jay McLaren, Martin Starr and Fran Kranz among many others. How did you get everyone together for this project? And was working around everyone’s schedules at all difficult?

Torre: No, it was not hard. We all kind of show each other what we are working on. A lot of the actors in the movie … are always working on bigger things but everyone kind of has their passion projects, as well. So when it came time to cast this, we went out to our friends and friends of friends. Devon Bostick was a huge part of that. He is a well-connected man for a 21-year-old. We didn’t even really need a casting director because everyone kind of knew what was going on. We just gave everyone the script and said, “Hey, if you are free for the day, we would love to have you. So it was pretty easy actually.

Question: Martha, aside from simply supporting your husband in all of his endeavors, what was it about this project that appealed to you?

Martha: I was kind of there from the birth of this project so it is something that I have been passionate about the whole time. And it was the first time that I actually have tried my hand at producing, which is a totally different ballgame. I am usually just on the other side of the fence, waiting for a job to kind of fall into my lap. But with this one I got to help along and give my ideas while we were on set and not have them be ignored. So was pretty cool and that side was my main interest. And then my husband is such a wonderful writer. He wrote a great little story that I think that we all just latched onto and wanted to have a part in telling.

Question: So you just wrapped up production on the project and are now in the midst of post-production. What happens next?

Torre: We just hope to get some buzz going. We have got some amazing actors who will hopefully be plugging it when they are promoting their other stuff. And then we will go to some festivals. I think that it is a really good festival film because it is entertaining, has got a good cast and shows in a short amount of time what our crew and our talent can do. So we will go to some festivals and hopefully pick up a little recognition.

Question: Is there any hope of this short being extended to feature-length?

Torre: That was not the original intent. We kind of had this compact short story and it was exciting everybody but as we brought it to different people they said, “This should be a feature!” And after we heard that for the 10th time, we were like, “ Alright. I guess it could be a feature.” So we are going to see how the first cut looks – we are editing it as we speak – and if it looks as good as we think it will, Devon and I definitely want to have a conversation about expanding it into a feature. And I would love to see these amazing actors in an expanded role for these characters. So definitely something that we are thinking about.

Question: If we could push pause on our discussion about “Seasick Sailor” for just a moment, I would like to commend Martha on a terrific performance in the undervalued NBC sitcom “1600 Penn.” What were your feelings when you heard that, unfortunately, the show had not been picked up for a second season?

Martha: I had such incredible time on “1600 Penn.” We had an amazing cast and we had such a fun time going to work everyday. It did not even seem like work. I think that, in the beginning, we all thought that we would be going forever. We were having the time of our lives on that set. I think that we produced something really wonderful but I think that we knew when the numbers were coming in and nobody was watching anything on NBC that we probably would not be sitting around for too long. So it was not a shock but it was certainly a disappointment because I thought that the material was wonderful and I really loved the people I was working with. It was disappointing but not unexpected.

Question: This short is the first time that you two have actually worked with one another. So… how did that go?

Torre: It was pretty easy. When I said, “This is our first time working together,” a lot of people would say, “Oh no! What is going to happen?” And that kind of freaked me out because I thought that it was a good thing. I think that people’s gut reaction is, “Don’t work with your family or with your wife.” But I like to have family and close friends around me during all of my endeavors. My father was one of the executive producers. My sister helped out on production. My wife is in one of the leading roles. And that made it pretty easy. That was one point on a day that was getting to be a bit long and hot. I kind of gave [Martha] some quick direction for a scene and I didn’t really say it right. But since we know each other so well, she kind of knew what I was saying anyway. So that it is an example of how it was positive.

Question: Finally, if audiences were to take away only one theme or idea from this short film, what do you both hope that would be?

Torre: It has got some darker tones but there are actually some funny and heartfelt moments in it, too. Yes there is violence and such but the theme for me is that this kid he has a job that is a bit different than the job that most teens have but he is just like everybody else. He wants to finish work quickly so that he can go hang out with his friends. It just so happens that his job is as a hitman. So I think that the theme, for me, is just an exaggerated metaphor that everybody has a job and everybody has something to do that gets in the way of their fun. This is just an extreme look at that.

Martha: That is hopefully what we got across to everybody. At the end of the day, though, movies like this are there to be entertaining. And I think that we got that done. I am excited for everyone to see it. I think that you will laugh, you will be scared, you will hide your eyes, you will hold your breath and – hopefully – at the end the day you will be entertained.

Joseph J. Airdo

Joseph J. Airdo is a film critic, producer and on-air personality for Breakthrough Entertainment, a talk radio show airing 10-11 a.m. Saturdays on KPHX 1480 AM and BreakRadioShow.com that shines a spotlight on the practical perspectives of the topics and themes explored in movies. He has a pet duck named Frozen who is as opinionated about movies as he is. E-mail him at joseph.airdo@gmail.com.

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