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Screen gems

By LEVI AGEE SPECIAL TO THE DEMOCRAT-GAZETTE

This article was published November 16, 2012 at 2:23 a.m.

— A few weeks back I saw an intriguing poster of a local actor posed with his mouth open wide as if he were screaming, and the title of the film was, enigmatically, Grasshopper.

I also learned that this actor had won Best Actor recently at a pretty big film festival. I decided to contact the very busy thespian/comedian - Jason Thompson - online and talk to him about the project.

Thompson has been in many other local productions, including Daniel Campbell’s Antiquities and The Orderly, and he is in production on Zach D. Turner’s film Mary.

Q: How did you hear about the project, and what is Grasshopper about?

A: Grasshopper is about a guy, Alan Ramsay, who is losing his mind thinking his neighbor’s daughter’s head has been eaten by a giant grasshopper. He goes on a shooting spree through a suburban neighborhood trying to kill the grasshopper.

Q: Where was it filmed, and who are some of the key production crew?

A: I played opposite Christine Elise McCarthy (Child’s Play 2 and Beverly Hills, 90210), which was damn sweet. Best driver a crazed, gun-wielding lunatic could ask for. Ryan Roy and Michael Usry wrote and directed the flick. Jeff Tanner shot it. We shot just outside of Jackson, Miss. Can’t remember the exact name of the town. Suburban neighborhood full of very concerned citizens that were confused by seeing a guy running around their neighborhood screaming and toting a gun and butcher knife.

There were other important folks involved who wrote a lot of checks and paid for dinners, but they also put a lot of alcohol in my belly, which is why I can’t remember their names. They were a blur of fun though, for sure. And I thank them all.

Q: Tell me about your character. How did you prepare for the role?

A: Alan Ramsay is a normal guy living in the suburbs with a wife and, I’m assuming, has a normal job. He’s very sincere and serious about what he’s seen, though.

Ryan wrote the dialogue beautifully. There’s a back story to his paranoia involving a dog mutilation for which he was accused prior to this incident. His neighbor’s dog was found mutilated and [the neighbor] blamed Alan because he had complained to the city about the dog’s constant barking and threatened to call Animal Control if something wasn’t done. When the dog was found dead, the neighborhood blamed him.

Finding the grasshopper isn’t just about avenging his neighbor’s daughter’s death. It’s about clearing his name.

The script didn’t, for me, read at all like some insane sci-fi horror flick. It was really more like a poor guy at his wit’s end trying to make sense of what he’s seen and at the same time do something about it.

Q: You just won Best Actor at Freakshow Film Fest. How does that feel, and what was the experience like?

A: I wasn’t able to attend the festival, but when I got the text that I’d won, I kinda freaked out. I really wasn’t even thinking about any actor awards when I heard our film was screening. I was just excited they were able to get it into the festival.

Apparently it’s a pretty big one. And that became clearer when I went to the website and saw they were giving Robert Englund a lifetime achievement award for the Nightmare on Elm Street movies. He and I both have identical awards on our mantels.

Actually, mine is sitting on an end table that belongs to my ex-girlfriend. When she comes to get her furniture, it will have a nice spot on the floor next to my television. I bet Robert Englund has a mantel, though. Gotta work on that.

Q: When can we expect to see the film here in Arkansas?

A: I’m hoping they’re able to get it into the Little Rock Film Festival or any other horror-type festivals nearby. I want to try and make one of the screenings. I’ve seen it online but not on the big screen. Hopefully soon they’ll have some sort of screening near here.

I think everyone that sees it will love it. It’s insane.

Levi Agee is a programmer for the Little Rock Film Festival. E-mail him at: levifi lm@gmail.com

MovieStyle, Pages 35 on 11/16/2012

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