Baring his Fangs, Zak Kilberg talks about Midnight Son

Midnight Son Zak Kilberg Interview

Hello everyone, Kirk aka Movie Junkie TO here again with a second interview from the guys involved with Midnight Son. My first interview can be read here. This time I get to sit down with one of the film’s leads, Zak Kilberg, for some one-on-one questioning. Enjoy!

Movie Junkie (MJ) – It’s great to talk to you again Zak, it’s been a while since Toronto After Dark last year. Congrats on the DVD release.

Zak Kilberg (ZK) – Hi Kirk, so happy you’re doing another piece on Midnight Son! Toronto After Dark has been a huge champion of our film and we all love that festival and everyone involved up there. I had a great experience coming up to Toronto for the premiere and meeting everyone!

MJ – Zak, let’s start with how you became aware of the film and eventually landed the role of Jacob.

ZK – An experienced San Francisco actor I know, David Fine, sent me the link to director Scott Leberecht’s website for the film – I was living in LA at the time. On the site Scott had a synopsis and incredible story boards from the film he had drawn. From exploring the site, I felt an immediate connection to Scott and his vision. I also happened to have an uncanny resemblance to the drawings of the main character, Jacob. I immediately emailed Scott a link to a short film I had just directed and starred in. He sent me the script right away and requested an audition tape which I sent. A month or two later I was in San Francisco for a film festival and came to Scott’s house for a call back. It was perfect timing and he offered me the role the next day.

MJ – It’s truly a great performance and as noted in my review I find your portrayal is the strongest in the quieter moments of the film. What were your influences in creating the character?

ZK – Thanks Kirk! My filmmaking influences are definitely more based in docu-drama and indie realism. I am a huge fan of Cassavetes – specifically the performances in A WOMAN UNDER THE INFLUENCE. Fleck’s HALF NELSON and Akin’s HEAD ON are two other films that inspire me deeply as a filmmaker and actor. My primary intention was to paint a picture of Jacob that felt real. I knew that realness was what separated this story from so many other vampire stories out there. If I could make the character real and relatable (and the million other filmmaking pieces came together as well) then the film would work.

MJ – Those are some strong influences for sure. You and Maya manage to present one of the more awkward romances on screen, how was it collaborating with her on this, especially since she was listed as an executive producer on the project?

ZK – Maya did an incredible job as Mary. She is an extremely professional and dedicated actress. She was cast as the actress first then became a producer on the film later so I never really saw her in that role – only as my co-star. We were able to rehearse several of our scenes before the filming began so we felt pretty comfortable together once the cameras started rolling. I think we were both just so thrilled to be working on the film that we would have done anything to make it great. We also both had a deep trust and love for Scott. It was an extremely supportive and positive working environment.

MJ – It certainly sounds like you and Maya had a great time together on this, in fact your entire cast and crew seem to be a tight knit bunch. Did you guys feel you had something special while you were making it?

ZK – We all knew from the beginning that we were making something special. Filmmaking is such a drawn out process you never really know what you’ll have by the end, but from the script, viewing Scott’s previous award winning short films and the amazing cast and crew we were able to assemble with a very micro budget, it felt clear to me we were onto something unique that would find an audience.

MJ – With a film like Midnight Son that is almost entirely set in the evening how did the evening shoots affect your sleep patterns?

ZK – I am definitely more of a night owl, so for me it was actually very enjoyable. It was exciting to wake up at 4pm and head to set, which usually consisted of running around downtown LA or Hollywood all night. It was always exciting and a truly wild experience.

MJ – That certainly must have helped! Since the film you have decided to make the leap to more of a behind the scenes role. Can you talk about that decision and is there any chance we see you back in front of the camera at some point in time?

ZK – Yes, that’s correct. Over the past few years I have taken a step back from auditions and been focused on building my production company SOCIAL CONSTRUCT FILMS. I am definitely still interested in acting and have taken some smaller roles in things I am producing, but my main focus now is in developing content and stories I love and building them from the ground up.

We just completed production on our 3rd feature film in 2 1/2 years. We also had a short film at Sundance this year called L TRAIN that was exec produced by Alexander Payne (THE DESCENDANTS) and has qualified for this year’s Academy Award consideration.

MJ– That’s great, I’m a big admirer of Payne’s work myself, sounds like you certainly have some exciting things lined up. Good luck getting a date with the “Golden Guy”, can you tell us a bit about what you have coming up next?

ZK – Two genre features I produced will be released next year in Canada, Jay Lee’s ALYCE w/ Tamara Feldman (HATCHET) and David Guy Levy’s WOULD YOU RATHER w/ Brittany Snow. We also just wrapped production last week on Ari Gold’s untitled new feature w/ Rory Culkin (SCREAM 4) and Robert Sheehan (MISFITS), and I am really excited about this one. It’s also happens to be the first non-genre film I’ve produced. You can read more about our productions at Thank you, Kirk. It has been a pleasure discussing MIDNIGHT SON with you and all the rest!

MJ – As always the pleasure is mine Zak. MisFits is a personal favorite of mine, especially because of Sheehan’s work on the show, so I’m keen to see what you guys have come up with. Thanks again for this Zak, hopefully we can get you back up to Toronto soon!

Till Next Time,

Movie Junkie TO

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Midnight Son DVD Review (Kirk Haviland)

Midnight Son (2011)

Starring – Zak Kilberg, Maya Parish, Jo D. Jonz and Tracey Walter

Written and Directed by Scott Leberecht

Last October heading into the Toronto After Dark Film Festival I remember looking at the lineup and seeing the title Midnight Son slotted into the last slot on Sunday of the fest. Not knowing much about this film I watched the trailer online and was not blown away, in fact it was a little underwhelming. Despite this I decided to take a chance on the film based on the programmer’s recommendations and the film did not disappoint. Mongrel Media’s recent release of the film on DVD allows me to happily revisit what was my most pleasant surprise of TAD 2011.

Jacob (Kilberg) is not your typical 24 year old male. Working as a night security officer in an office building, Jacob has become a creature of the night not out of habit but out of necessity. As a child he was found to have a mysterious skin disease that caused his arm to literally burn in the sunlight and has been unable to walk in direct sunlight since. Jacob has recently developed a ravenous insatiable appetite that is not curbed no matter how much he eats until he drinks some blood leftover from a piece of steak. Out at a bar one night Jacob meets Mary (Parish) outside selling cigarettes and candy. The two oddballs hit it off right away and start into an awkward relationship. One night during a date Mary develops a nose bleed that ends up giving Jacob his first taste of human blood, after which the animal blood he has been drinking fails to satiate his appetite any longer. Trying to acquire blood leads Jacob to Marcus (Jonz), a hospital employee who becomes Jacob’s blood dealer, who has many inventive ways of getting said blood. Eventually Jacob comes to learn that his actions have consequences he has to deal with as his off and on relationships with both Mary and Marcus take drastic turns that lead to the ultimate decision that occurs in the final moments of the film.

Midnight Son is not your typical bombastic gore-fest. It is deliberately a slow build that develops over time, getting increasingly dangerous and violent along the way. Director Leberecht’s script is strong, giving us one of the most awkward and unconventional love stories at its center that I’ve seen in quite a while. Kilberg and Parish are both very strong here, keeping the characters relatable and sympathetic throughout. Kilberg’s Jacob is one of the most original and unique “vampires” in screen history. Playing strongest in the quieter moments, Kilberg fleshes out Jacob’s character with intricacies and nervous ticks that help create a more enriched performance. Parish imbues her character with a frenetic energy that perfectly counterpoints Jacob’s stoicism. Jonz delivers an edgier performance, his character representing the grittiness of the real world seeping into Jacob’s solitude. Director Leberecht stages the film well, with the background of Los Angeles looming, finding little crevices to fill the film, like Jacob’s basement apartment at “43 ½ State Street”. The story is shot well, depending more on practical methods for its effects than computer-generated, and delivers a look that feels more polished than its means.

The DVD itself is sadly just a bare bones edition which includes just the film and some upcoming Mongrel release previews. Having met Leberecht, Kilberg and producer Matt Compton last year at TAD, I was really looking forward to a possible commentary track as the three men could really deliver a funny and engaging one, but alas we do not get that here. However the film itself is well worth the cost of the DVD purchase alone as the transfer to DVD looks beautiful. Keep your eyes fixed here on Entertainment Maven as I will have an interview with the creative forces behind Midnight Son coming soon.

Currently available at most retailers for less than $15 dollars (a great deal), Midnight Son is a definite recommend.

Till Next Time,

Movie Junkie TO

Make sure to keep up with what’s going on at Entertainment Maven by liking our Facebook page and having updates delivered right to your Facebook News Feed. It’s the only way to stay on top of all of our articles with the newest blockbusters and all the upcoming films and festivals in Toronto and interviews with the team behind Midnight Son.

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