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 Hitting the Lonely Road With Colin Michael Day: An Interview 
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Colin Michael Day was fresh out of the University of Denver when he packed up and headed out to Los Angeles with longtime friend Mardana Mayginnes. Within months, the two would begin planning to create their own break in the form of producing a full-length feature. The Loneliest Road in America stormed onto the festival scene with appearances at the Method Independent Film Festival, the Delrey Beach Film Festival, the Reno Film Festival and the Park City Film Music Festival (where the film won a Bronze Medal). With the film's festival run nearing its end and distribution opportunities being explored, Colin Michael Day chatted by telephone recently with The Independent Critic about his acting career, world travels, willingness to take risks and lessons learned along the way.

While he'd dabbled with acting as a youth, Colin Michael Day was a devoted member of the University of Denver tennis team and a business major when he took, mostly just for the credit, an improv acting class. Bitten by the bug, Day began taking extracurricular acting classes and looking for opportunities to explore this renewed interest. When things between he and his coach soured, Day quit the tennis team and switched his major to theater. Since finishing The Loneliest Road in America, Day has kept himself busy on the L.A. stage in acclaimed productions at the Elephant Theatre including a sold-out run of "Love Bites" and the award-winning "Block Nine" (LA Weekly awards for Best Production of the Year and Best Comedic Direction). Additionally, Day continues working on a variety of potential film projects from Los Angeles to Chicago to London and beyond.


THE INDEPENDENT CRITIC

Let's start off simple. Tell me about The Loneliest Road in America.

COLIN MICHAEL DAY

The Loneliest Road in America is a road trip movie that takes place from Denver to L.A. on a strip of U.S. 50 that is known as the loneliest road in America. It's about these two best friends who decide to go on this road trip. I play Jamie. Jamie wants to visit all these small mining towns along U.S. 50 in Nevada that were mostly abandoned when the mines moved on. He wants to just meet some of the people who live there, hear their stories. These towns, they used to have 50,000 to 200,000 people when they were mining towns. Now, they have 100 maybe 200 people and Jamie wants to see who these people are and what's going on in these towns and what has happened to these places. These towns, they've been used up and exploited by capitalism. Capitalism has really just done it's thing. He's really starting to ask himself "Where am I really going in life?," so he decides to go on this road trip with his best friend. Matt, the best friend, is like "I don't want to do that, because that doesn't sound fun at all." He wants to just go to Las Vegas and have a good time.

They end up going to these small towns and drinking a lot. They meet a lot of the people in these small towns, many who are not always a lot of fun. So, yeah, they go on this trip and end up discovering a lot about themselves and a lot about the people that they meet. They end up the movie in Los Angeles. What we're really showing is that Jamie is kind of becoming what these corporations were for these mining towns. They pick up a girl along the way on the trip, and there ends up being a relationship between Jamie and this girl. Then, there's problems with Jamie's girlfriend back home. Jamie starts using women like these mining companies used people for these towns. It's not necessarily a happy ending (laughs).

THE INDEPENDENT CRITIC

Was this your first film?

COLIN MICHAEL DAY

This was...I went through the process with my good friend Mardana Mayginnes, who was the writer/director of The Loneliest Road in America. We went out to L.A. together. We went to college together. We went out to make movies, make it in the industry. This is our first project, and we decided to do a feature film. Everyone told us we were crazy.

THE INDEPENDENT CRITIC

How did you do that? Did you commit all your finances? Did you find investors? You were still pretty new to Hollywood and fresh out of college. It's a big project to tackle.

COLIN MICHAEL DAY

Mardana and I committed our own stuff as well as we found people to invest. We did the movie for under $100,000. We used the Red Camera. We had an amazing D.P., Tony McGrath. We had a lot of people help out that weren't necessarily being paid, but were good quality. Without those people and without them believing in us, the movie never would have happened. Mardana and I kept pushing and stayed positive, even though there are plenty of times when you want to quit. It's not easy at all.

THE INDEPENDENT CRITIC

How long had you been in L.A. when you and Mardana decided to make the film?

COLIN MICHAEL DAY

We hadn't been in L.A. that long when we decided to do it. It was probably 3-4 months into us moving out here. We moved out here in December 2006. It was early 2007 when we came up with the idea. Mardana kind of already had an idea for the film. I helped flesh out an outline. We went to a coffee shop and outlined. Mardana went off and spent about nine months writing the script. During that time, we were doing other stuff...survival jobs. He was working in the commercial industry, which helped him meet people who were shooting commercials and wanted to get into film. So, it was a long process after deciding to do the movie, getting the script done, getting the project out to people and getting them inspired and liking it and getting the rest of the funding. Mardana and I went on a scouting trip to all these towns that we were going to shoot in. We changed the script because of all the stories that happened to us.

THE INDEPENDENT CRITIC

So there was a tie-in to the trip? The film isn't really about your trip, but there is a connection?

COLIN MICHAEL DAY

We changed a lot of the stories because of the things that happened in the small towns. We had a lot that happened. Mardana had put in these stories, but the things that happened to us were way better because it was real. This was what these people were really like. The same people were there when we were really shooting. We actually had actors playing them, but we had the real people as extras.

THE INDEPENDENT CRITIC

Have any of them seen the finished film?

COLIN MICHAEL DAY

Nope. (Pause). I don't think any of them have seen the finished film. Of course, all these people are in really small towns and I don't even know these people's addresses. Who knows where these people really live?

THE INDEPENDENT CRITIC

Probably somewhere down the road you're going to hear from them when they finally get a chance to rent it...What's the film's status at this point? Is it still on the festival circuit?

COLIN MICHAEL DAY

Technically, but it's near the end. I think there might be a couple more festivals that we're going to, but at this point we're negotiating with distributors and working on getting it out to the public. Of course, we'd love to get a theatrical release. That's obviously never guaranteed. So, it may just go to DVD and then to all the online sites like Netflix and Amazon. We've been through the process, and we've already moved on to other projects. We're not going to be mad if we don't get a theatrical release. It's our first project. We're proud of it.
THE INDEPENDENT CRITIC

Did you learn from it? Personally? Professionally? That's really kind of baptism by fire...

COLIN MICHAEL DAY

Definitely, but all great projects are like that. It's a growing experience. You learn from it... like learning how to corral people, because so many people have their own ideas. It was a learning experience, especially with us being younger and having to be the driving force. Our D.P. was in his 40's.

THE INDEPENDENT CRITIC

That says a lot about you, though, that you got the people to do it and to work with you and to trust the vision.

COLIN MICHAEL DAY

The thing is there is a lot of talk out here. People are used to people just saying "Yeah, I'm going to do this." We were actually proving that we were really moving forward. We were putting the scenes together and showing that we actually had the money together to do it. All those things factored in to getting those people to do it. Some people were paid, like our line producers and 1st A.D. How we pretty much got our D.P. Tony was that we kidnapped him on our scouting trip. He was drinking with his friends down in Mexico and we literally kidnapped him and brought him back up with us and took him with us and had a great time. He read the script on that trip. He was like "I want to do this movie."

THE INDEPENDENT CRITIC

You've got other projects going on now. The information I received talked about a movie that you're trying to put together called Passenger...

COLIN MICHAEL DAY

That's actually Tony, the D.P.'s, film. He wrote that film. Alex Malt (Co-writer of The Loneliest Road in America) is the Associate Producer. Right now, Tony has signed the rights over to Drexel Box, which is another production company. At the moment, they're in charge of everything. What we're hoping is that they'll bring us on and that they'll keep their word. If not, they'll make Tony's film and Tony will be the writer on it. So, that's really taken its course. Personally, I am moving to produce another play in Chicago. That's probably the most recent thing.  I've got a couple plays that I've acted in out here. Then, I'm just auditioning for certain things.

THE INDEPENDENT CRITIC

Did doing all this work with the film help with your professional networking? Did your name get out there more? I just interviewed an acting coach who talked about that necessity of going out there and creating your own opportunities.

COLIN MICHAEL DAY

Yeah, and that's what I'm still doing. Making the film was great and we got a lot of good publicity from it. To be honest, though, most people out here are like "What are you going to do next?" Unless you win an Academy Award or go to Sundance and have your film really do well or something, you can't really rest on your laurels out here...We had a good festival run, but we didn't make it to the Sundances. It's still a lot of grind. We gained a lot of people and gained a lot of respect, but we're still moving forward. Mardana's writing more scripts. He just finished this one script that he's really excited about.
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