- Posted May 31, 2014 by
Los Angeles, California
BLUE: The Story Behind the Powerful Tale of Love and Acceptance
With director Charles Huddleston and producer and CEO of Cinema Alterna, Karl Schaulin.
By Christina Bustos
“Blue” is a powerful story about acceptance, friendship, and hardships. All audiences can relate to “Blue” in one way or another. We are all striving to be a part of something bigger than ourselves. We all know someone who has influenced our lives for the better, and this film captures the magic that can happen between two people who have a deep friendship. Everyone experiences hardships in life, but with the right friends, we can get through anything. “Blue” takes the audience on an unforgettable journey of two friends who stick together through every unfortunate event that comes their way. I has the pleasure of speaking with Charles Huddleston, the director of “Blue” and producer Karl Schaulin, the CEO of Cinema Alterna to see how this film came to be.
CB: Charles, when did you begin in the film industry?
CH: I started as an actor and I’m originally from Cincinnati. I came out to LA about 15 years ago. I started working as an actor and I got to the point where it became obvious that I needed to expand into writing and directing to create jobs for myself and the people I saw great talent in. That got me started in writing and directing and I met my great partner, Michelle Martin, who is also a great actress, and we started collaborating on some screenplays. This is my third feature film with her. With “Blue,” we started Cinema Alterna and began working on the production side of things and started to gather our team to create these films. “Blue” is the first movie of the three that people will actually see. I’m sure people will go back and watch the other two films, which are quite good, but they are on a much smaller scale than this. This is the first time we have broken through into films that will make it into festivals and distribution.
CB: Can you give me a synopsis of “Blue”?
CH: “Blue” is based on an actual condition people have. The main character’s skin has this blue appearance and it’s an actual occurrence. My grandmother lived in southwestern Virginia and she told me the story of when this happened in the 1950s in rural Kentucky, nearby, where people started coming out of the mountains who looked like this; they had blue skin. It’s something that doctors investigated and found that it is a genetic condition. It doesn’t hurt them and there’s nothing wrong with them; it’s just an appearance thing where their blood cells don’t turn red, they stay blue. She told me that story, which I filed away until I could use it in a story someday. So, the main character comes down from the mountains into the small mountain community and we see how he begins to react to people and how they react to him. It’s a story about his search for acceptance, and them learning that he is this really great guy. He represents anyone who is different or has ever felt different. He makes a connection with this young girl, played by Michelle Martin, and they strike up a relationship from the beginning. She is in a situation where her mother has recently died and she’s there with her alcoholic father raising her sisters, her brother has left town, and she is in a difficult situation on her own. This story is about how they come together and really save each other’s lives and it really only took that one person in each other’s lives to save themselves.
CB: Have you ever met anyone with the disorder and why is it so special to you?
CH: I’ve never met them in person. There is a cure, so there are probably people today that are living with this condition and it is very easily treated. It’s more about the initial shock that people see when they encounter someone with this condition. They saw this a lot in the 1950s; that innate “fish out of water” kind of situation. Hearing the stories as a kid growing up around my family, it always peaked my curiosity and my interest in what a fascinating story it was. It almost has a science fiction element to it, which I have always been drawn to story wise. In that way, this story has a lot of elements that you find in a sci-fi film. It doesn’t matter what the main character’s background is or where he came from, it’s always kind of mysterious. Nevertheless, this person has something special about themselves, something different, and is coming into a new environment, a different environment, learning to come together and be one people.
CB: What made you choose Marshall, North Carolina for your location?
CH: Marshall is about 100 miles south of where my family is from. I knew I wanted to put it in that kind of area. In writing the screenplay with Michelle, I had a small town in mind that I was personally familiar with from being with family. We started looking at places to film and North Carolina of course has a great film production incentive. At the state level, they are very welcoming of film production, and as a result they have built up a large base of skilled crew living in North Carolina. We were scouting and North Carolina has great sources and we found Marshall, which was gorgeous and exactly what we were looking for.
CB: Can you tell me about Michelle Martin and how you ended up working together on this project?
CH: This is our third feature working together. She is a brilliant actor and a really fantastic writer as well. She is very real and very connected to her environment. She feels very deeply so she is able to connect with people and write stories that resonate on a human level. She and I were thinking about what projects we might pursue next and I pitched her the story of the blue man and she really picked it up and ran with it. She had the first draft of the screenplay done in ten days, which is amazingly fast. She plays Pearl Murphy in the film. The same elements that allow her to connect in the screenplay allow her to connect on a personal level. She works really well with the actor who plays “Blue,” Drew Connick, who is a graduate from USC’s theatre department. They work together beautifully and I think that shows on the screen.
CB: What about Kenny Johnson’s past characters led him to be casted in “Blue”?
CH: I knew Kenny from “The Shield,” primarily. I love that show and I think he did a great job, so when the casting director pitched him as an idea, I was immediately receptive to it. I think in his role in “Blue,” he goes even farther than I’ve seen him before in terms of the darkness of his character. He is one of those actors that doesn’t hold back and goes all into the character. This was a great set to be on because these are the kind of actors that I enjoy working with and the kind of actor I like to be when I act. You would find Kenny in one corner with his headphones in pacing and getting worked up and you would have Michelle in the other corner with her headphones in and curled up in a ball, and they both have this emotion and energy that when they come together to shoot the scene it is very powerful and at the level of Kenny’s work in the past and even beyond that. It’s something that’s kind of frightening.
CB: What do you want the audience to take away from “Blue” and what is the moral of the film?
CH: Well, at the end of the day, we are all humans. We are all the same people, and “Blue” is the story about acceptance and a desire for acceptance. It’s a desire to be a part of a people in a group and the need to open up those doors and those boundaries to accepting people of all types no matter what they look like, no matter what they sound like, whatever peculiarities they have about themselves or their personality. There are so many people who are struggling with autism, or they’re a war veteran. Whatever challenges they have in their lives, we have to, as a people, accept them all. So, “Blue” is the story of one man who is different and his journey. At the end of the day, you see that we have much farther to go as a people, but we are getting there, and we can get there if we allow ourselves to.
KS: I think what has also been relevant as of late is the L.A. Clippers story. It is another example of how we look and how it has such an impact on how people believe who we are. It brings it home again – that it’s clouded in some way.
CB: When will post production be competed?
CH: Within the next few days.
CB: Have you entered “Blue” into any film festivals and what are your goals for this project?
CH: Yes, we are just starting to do that now, so as soon as we finish up this week we will start sending it out to film festivals and that’s the route it will take. We will distribute “Blue” to various territories around the world. You can look for “Blue” to be in various film festivals in the fall and winter, and shortly thereafter, it will be in limited release theatres, and then it will be on DVD to various outlets.
CB: Congratulations on the success of your Kickstarter campaign. Does Cinema Alterna have any future projects that you are currently discussing or producing?
CH: Yes, we are developing the play “A Doll’s House,” which is just as relevant today as it was in the late 1800s. Other than that we are working on several films from different genres. We want to make movies that have something important to say, that doesn’t necessarily lock us into a particular type of film. We are open to different genres and sizes of budget. At the end of the day, it has to say something. It can’t just be something big and loud and exciting; that’s all great, but it has to say something. We are artists and we got into this business to be artists, so we gravitate towards material that is very classical in nature - sometimes, like “A Doll’s House” and another play I’m adapting right now. Other times, it’s just classical themes with important messages, and turning them into a film that it exciting and compelling to today’s audience and has a unique aspect on the human condition.
“Blue” is a unique story that sends a strong message: accept others for their peculiarities because we are all human. With an all star cast and strong storyline, “Blue” is ready to make a lasting impact on its audience. There is no doubt that audiences will walk away from this film feeling inspired. This film is not only beautiful visually, it conveys a message of hope to improve and progress as a people in the future. The talented cast and crew of “Blue” is ready to take over film festivals around the world in fall 2015 and bring their masterpiece to a theatre near you.
For more information on “Blue” and the latest Cinema Alterna news, please visit: