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Title: Going Over the Falls on the American Side

Description: Today Steve is joined by the director, actors and producers of the feature film The American Side from 2016. Jenna Ricker and Greg Stuhr discuss how they made the film and the impact that Nicola Tesla had on the creation and direction of the film.

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Learn More About our Guest:
Jenna Ricker and Greg Stuhr, The American Side
https://www.imdb.com/title/tt3093286/

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Music Provided by:
“Crossing the Chasm” Kevin MacLeod (incompetech.com)
Licensed under Creative Commons: By Attribution 3.0 License
http://creativecommons.org/licenses/by/3.0/

Image Credits:
By https://www.imdb.com/title/tt3093286/, Fair use, https://en.wikipedia.org/w/index.php?curid=57788336

Begin Transcript:
American Side
, [00:00:00] this is beyond the big screen podcast with your host, Steve Guerra. Today. I’m very happy to be joined by Jenna Ricker and Greg stewer of the 2016 film, the American side, Jenna wrecker as the director and co-writer with Greg’s store, who has also the star as the lead. Charlie the movie set in Buffalo, New York.
You could say Buffalo is even more than just a setting. It’s a supporting character. Uh, Jenna and Greg, why don’t you tell us a little bit more about yourselves and maybe, uh, What connected you to make this film in Buffalo? Right. It’s like it as being so, uh, so complimentary to each other, you kick it off.
Um, okay. So I grew up in Southern California and I grew up loving [00:01:00] films and, um, really thought I might be an actress for a long time and came out to New York city to study acting at NYU. Uh, but while I was there, love. Being a part of the whole process, the set and the writing and the costumes. And, um, so I quickly worked out that I might be more of a director or at least more driven to be a director.
Then the drive, it takes to be an actor. Uh, and I have nothing but admiration for actors and, and the drive that it takes. So, um, so I started shifting gears and focusing on my writing and directing, um, some theater, but also getting some chops in some films and working on sets. And that’s, I made my first film in 2005 and, um, kept going from there.
And that first film, the work I did on that, and some theater stuff that I was involved in is how I met. [00:02:00] And we shared a very similar taste in films and love of films. And. Then I’ll toss it over you, Greg, and you can tell how we started working here. Yeah. Well, the, you know, when we first met, I think you were, you were right in the midst of rewriting in the midst of shooting.
Your first film was that. Oh yeah. Right. When we first met, we met in the theater and I was just going to pre-production for myself. Yeah. I was, I remember, uh, being very, very impressed with that. That Jenna was. Actually making a film. There’s so many people out there who want to make films who flirt with making films, but she was making it and she was taking it upon herself to make it because she was, you know, producing it.
She was, she wrote it. She was directing it, obviously. And, uh, she was using her connections to, to cast it. And, uh, it was just very, it was the main apartment with me. Um, but it was, I was just really impressive that because, um, film, I was [00:03:00] making my living, um, as a theater actor, uh, Still pretty much how I survive, but I’d always wanted to get into film.
And I, I, I thought that I naturally would, that it would just start happening and it really wasn’t happening. And then of course, the there’s so many options now for independent filmmakers. Um, and there certainly was starting to happen at that time that I thought, wow, I really just need to have the drive to, to write something and make something.
So that’s why I was really impressed with Jenna and then to top it off and we started hanging out, we discovered we both could sort of passionately talk about films and show each other films that maybe one of the other hadn’t seen. And we. And we had very similar tastes, um, for the most part and probably where we don’t have the same case.
That probably just enough to keep the other one, you know, semi honest, um, what’s that movie
yeah. We [00:04:00] used to have a list of films that maybe we wouldn’t, we will want to say that we love. Um, but we do, but we do, we do share a lot of, um, A similar taste. And so as far as the American side goes, it was just something, it was an idea that I’d been kicking around and Jetta, and I had decided to write a script, um, based on my idea of hers.
And we wrote that script together and it got into, you know, the first draft of it somehow got into this independent film market in New York, where you get to sit with producers and kind of pitch. And, but again, you know, the script gets vetted and you have all these people looking at and they say, oh, this is good enough to get in here.
And they set up these meetings for you, but we of course, went back and looked at that script and we’re like, wow, I can’t believe that got in. Yikes. Um, uh, and we went in taking those meetings. We, we ended up, you know, being asked, of course, as you often are. What else do you have? And because I’ve been kicking around this idea, um, just kind of on the spur of the moment started pitching the [00:05:00] American side because it’s a little bit.
Commercial maybe than, uh, than our other project at the time. Um, and the story itself, you know, having grown up in the Buffalo area, I loved this city. I I’ve always been a fan of mystery and film war, and, um, conspiracy theory films from the seventies. And I w I always felt like a store, like. Could be told and could be made on a, on a relatively low budget in a place like Buffalo, because I think that’s one of the few places because there was kind of throwback feel and vibe.
And as you talked about Buffalo being a character in the film, which Jenna does such a remarkable job of capturing, um, Buffalo just felt like a great place to set a story like that. So that’s, you know, basically, uh, part of the, part of the discussion’s done and I had very early on, um, as the story developed.
One of the things that I love the most about this movie is that it was, it doesn’t easily fit in any genre. It’s a crime new wire at, as a science [00:06:00] fiction element, but it’s also fit into it’s placed in the modern day. Where did this idea come from? I’m fascinated to know where this idea was originated and what the Genesis of it was.
Greg. Um, but, well, you know, it’s interesting part of the, um, challenge and the low budget world. I mean, it was never, I don’t think it was ever a consideration for us to make it any kind of period piece, even though we wanted film noir. And as I said, conspiracy film from the seventies and even Hitchcock does sort of resonate, um, throughout the story.
Um, so. You know, it was always going to be contemporary setting, but because it’s a detective story and kind of old fashioned in that sense, we also wanted, first of all, to believe in a private detective character in, you know, 2015 or 16, you. You do have to set it in a place where you can [00:07:00] buy into a character living a little bit off the grid, working out of the back room of a bar using, um, you know, public phones and things like that.
So, uh, that all sort of fit into this idea of this timeless quality. And it just, for us, it just added a layer to the, the depth of the story, given that it’s about Tesla, who. Sort of definitive autobiography on Tesla’s called man out of time. And, and then we’ve got this main character of Charlie Potynsky, who’s a detective who’s kind of out of time, you know, one’s kind of forward thinking the other, one’s a little backward thinking, but the two of them in a way come together in this world and Buffalo certainly feels like a place.
You can imagine that that might happen well. And also along those lines, I think one of the key reasons that, you know, the, the Tessa element even exists. And then so much of the story is born out of that is because, you know, in wanting to tell a story back in his hometown of Buffalo, Greg, you went [00:08:00] down that rabbit hole of like, what, what were some of the things that were happening here?

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"Going Over the Falls on the American Side" History on the Net
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June 16, 2024 <https://www.historyonthenet.com/going-over-the-falls-on-the-american-side>
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