Exclusive Interview: Michael Masucci, ‘The Hostage Game’

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One of Corey Haim’s final films, The Hostage Game, finally makes its way to DVD this month. We caught up with its director Michael Masucci.

 

The Hostage GameThe Hostage Game was previously released as American Sunset. Any idea why the title changed?

I was told mainly for marketing purposes, but you would need to ask the executives over at Global Universal Pictures, who produced the movie.  They are very smart film and business minded people, so I trusted in their decision.

I like the name The Hostage Game; I think it embodies more of what the movie is about.

Was financing for the film reliant on the casting of a fairly big name, like Corey Haim?

Honestly, I don’t know the answer to that question.  That wasn’t my department, although in this industry it always helps to have a name in your film or TV show, but I honestly don’t know.

How was Corey to work with?

Corey was a pleasure.  He came up to me on the first day and said, “Anything you need from me, you got it”.   He knew this was his comeback and he took it very seriously.  He was dedicated, professional to his other actors and to me, so for me it was a pleasure.

The funny thing is that people always ask me, “What was it like to work with Corey Haim?”  “What was Corey like?”

I think he was misunderstood.   The public had this perception of him; as a Hollywood child star, who got into drugs, etc.   That was true, but he was 15 years old, not that I am condoning it, but he was a kid, and 15 year old kids make mistakes; unfortunately his mistakes he dealt with, and carried with him, his entire life.

So, I didn’t know the 15 year old Corey who got into drugs.   I only knew of his work from “The Lost Boys”, “Dream a Little Dream”, “Lucas”, etc… but when I met him, I met a 38-year-old man who had made amends for his mistakes, was open and honest about his past, and just wanted to get his life back together.

He wanted to work, and was happiest on a movie set.  He desperately wanted to be trusted again as an actor, and I think, if he had lived, he would have continued to work and gain peoples trust back.

The more directors and producers that he would have worked with; slowly he would have begun to earn their trust back and show them that he was genuine and sober, but unfortunately he passed away before he got a chance to do that.

The Hostage GameAny other films influence the plot or structure of “The Hostage Game”?

I had a vision in my mind of how I wanted this film to look and the energy and pacing of the movie, that I felt the film needed to work; so I watched and studied a lot of thrillers, as I was preparing to direct this movie.   Films that I thought would have a similar intensity and tone, but there really wasn’t one movie that influenced me, it was more like a combination of everything I watched.

As a director, I had a clear vision of how I wanted to make this movie, and part of a director’s job is to communicate that vision as clearly as you can to your crew and cast.  By referring to other movies is a great way to communicate your idea, so everybody can be on the same page.

There is a tremendous amount that you can learn, (from the look, to the mood, or tone, or style of a film, to the structure); by simply studying other films, especially if you’re lucky enough to have a director commentary on the DVD.

However; in the end you have to go out and make your own movie, and try to be original as possible.   You’re in the director’s chair, nobody else, so you trust the actors, the subject matter, your crew, your preparation and your vision, and go out there and make your movie.

Any influences on a conscious or subconscious level can be stored away in your mind and act as a great foundation to start from.   To me; it’s tremendously fulfilling and I am grateful beyond words to have the opportunity to direct this or any other film or TV show.

Where did you discover leading lady Angela Cullin?

We discovered her in Canada where we filmed.  She actually came into read for another supporting role and it was one of those moments where we looked at her and I said to the producers, “I think that Samantha, just walked into the room”, she was perfect for the role.

She is beautiful, so she had the look that I envisioned for the character, and when she read she embodied a strength that was essential for the character.  Then she and Corey met and immediately had a dynamic that really felt like they were a married couple to me. 

The Hostage GameHad Corey have lived, do you think he could’ve reprised his character for a sequel – or even a series of films?  It does seem to possess that potential.

I agree the movie does lend itself for sequel, and yeah we had discussed the potential of a sequel, only if there had been a public demand for it.  It would have been a blast to bring these characters to life again and tackle a second installation of the story.  I know Corey and his co-star Frank Molina was interested.

Corey and I had also talked about doing other films together.   We had built an actor, director trust that can only be created by working together.   He was a truly gifted actor; and I will always cherish the opportunity to have worked with him.

When was the last time you saw Corey Haim?

In Las Vegas, a couple of months before he passed away.   We screened the movie out there and a lot of the cast and producers went out to support the movie.  He was in great spirits and excited about the future.  I spoke to him on the phone a few times after Vegas.

What a tragedy, my heart goes out to his lovely Mom. 

The Hostage Game is now on DVD

 

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About the Author

Shawn S. Lealos
Shawn is a film critic with over 25 years of experience in print and online media. He is a member of the Oklahoma Film Critics Circle and loves everything from critically acclaimed movies to B-level action flicks.
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