Show business might be a tough business to break into but some individuals manage to shine in various roles of this incredibly desirable career path. Doug Bollinger has cobbled together a diverse list of credits in film, television and theater as both a director and an actor. He appeared on ABC’s “All My Children” and has appeared on the professional NJ stages of Theaterfest and the Forum Theater. He is also a founding member of the theater troupe La Strada Ensemble in Asbury Park and teaches acting at the Performing Arts Academy of Ocean County NJ. Recently, Doug spoke to the Examiner about his experiences working in the entertainment industry:
Meagan Meehan (M.M.): What inspired you to become a director?
Doug Bollinger (D.B.): After acting for a few years, my first gig that wasn’t primarily as an actor was on a small independent comedy being shot in New Jersey for a low six figure budget. I was hired as a first AD/actor because I knew the director, who had no experience. I was comfortable with the acting side of things but had no idea what a first AD’s responsibilities were. Luckily, the New York based crew was kind to me and taught me everything I needed to know to get through a four week shoot. They were my primary inspiration. They showed me that I could do this. After studying and working a bunch of shorts, I ended up directing my first feature with those same guys about 4 years later.
M.M.: What are your favorite kinds of movies?
D.B.: My taste is all over the map. I like something in almost every genre. If I had to narrow it down, I guess I find myself drifting towards the creepy side of things. Specifically, I adore 70s horror, low budget anything, and moody romance. Piled on my DVD player right now are “Last House on the Left,’ “Let the Right One In,” In the Mood for Love” and the original “Willy Wonka.” I can honestly find a reason to watch any type of film. I truly believe we learn from everything we watch, even the schlock.
M.M.: Growing up, what movies had the biggest impact on you? Why?
D.B.: “Clerks” was a big deal to me growing up. It was the first film I remember seeing that was made in my county by people that weren’t Hollywood types. I’ve never met Kevin Smith but he has such a connection to the area I grew up in (Monmouth County, NJ) that he has affected me anyway. The early nineties was the time period for me when I started getting into independent stuff and knowing that a film was done nearby was the first time to me that real person made a movie. That sounds ridiculous but up to that point, I thought films were made by huge corporate entities that I couldn’t touch. Also, a short film called “Multi-Facial” had a huge impact on me. It was made by young actor who hadn’t hit the big time yet and we had worked together prior to him making the film. He invited me to the screening and I was blown away. It was the first time I had known someone that actually made a movie that I could watch on a big screen. That young actors name was Vin Deisel. Those two couldn’t be more different but they had lasting effects on me at a time when I was developing the desire to make movies.
M.M.: What most appealed to you about “Dark Blue”?
D.B.: Two things appealed to me when I was approached to do “Dark Blue.” The story is unsettling and I feel like I can help tell that tale. Story is everything to me. I believe all of us involved in filmmaking are first and foremost storytellers. And the other reason I am doing this project is Ashley Steele. I have worked with other actors/writer/producers before and I really do love helping young artists make something they can be proud of. She has such a handle on what she wants at a young age, it inspires me.
M.M.: What other films have you worked on and what were they about?
D.B.: I’ve been involved in a diverse collection films. I’ve worked in some fashion on comedies, a documentary, a coming of age sports flick, a film addressing addiction, and most recently a horror/thriller. The last few years have been busy. I acted in two films written and directed by Joseph Pepitone (“The Meat Puppet” and “The Jersey Devil”). I also directed a horror film, “Gravedigger.” All three of these have secured distribution and are currently available online.
M.M.: If you could make any kind of film, with an unlimited budget, what type of movie would you make and why?
D.B.: I would make a movie called “Deserving Clemente.” It was one of the first screenplays I finished. It’s the story of sports talk radio host and his father. It deals with the bond they used to have that centers around baseball and the radio. I know I can’t make it on a small budget and it would have been on the list of things to do if I won Powerball.
M.M.: So far, what has been the most rewarding thing about being involved in the movie industry?
D.B.: The documentary, “The Cohesion Project,” is something I’ve been working for about five years and it has been the project I am most proud of. We are very close to completion and the subject matter is one that has the potential to positively affect many. I have also had the great opportunity to teach. It is one of my great passions. And I have found that students have had such a powerful effect on me as I grow as a filmmaker.
M.M.: Career wise, where do you see yourself in ten years?
D.B.: I expect to have a dozen more films that I can be proud of. I hope I have many people that look to me for inspiration. I look forward to watching many of my students kick butt in their endeavors.
M.M.: Do you have any upcoming projects that you would like to mention?
D.B.: The films I have currently in various stages of production are: “The Cohesion Project” which is about three successful men dealing with the challenges of having CP, “Clean Cut” which is a horror/comedy which just premiered in NYC and “Rock, Paper, Scissors” which is a thriller about a couple forced to go to great lengths to save their marriage. I am also a member of a theater company in Asbury Park, NJ. Asbury Park is becoming the arts hub of the Jersey Shore and I’m lucky to be part of a company like La Strada Ensemble producing original work. We have a one act festival coming up that I’m very involved with. I am directing two pieces, I wrote one and I’m acting in two others. We produce a full season of original theater in Monmouth County.
M.M.: What advice would you give to someone who is aspiring to become a director?
D.B.: Observe everything. The only way you can tell stories that affect people is to recognize what’s around you. Film schools are wonderful but unless you have life experience to draw from, your stories won’t have connections to real audiences. Make movies! Cameras and editing equipment are so reasonably priced that it is worth the investment to have you own gear so you can shoot films instead of talking about it.
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To learn more about Doug Bollinger, see his IMDB.