James Callis – BSGM Exclusive: Mississippi Insights Into his new Noir Crime Drama “The Hollow”


James Callis’ new movie: “The Hollow” – in which he portrays the role of FBI agent Vaughn Killinger – recently wrapped principal photography in the heart of Mississippi. The film is written/directed by Miles Doleac, produced by Historia Films (founded by Miles Doleac together with longtime friend, Mackenzie Westmoreland) and exec. produced by Academy Award Nominee Lisa Bruce (“The Theory of Everything”).

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James Callis stars in “The Hollow” © Historia Films/The Hollow, used with permission

“The Hollow” is the second film filmed in Hattiesburg, MS in the last two years by Historia Films and stars James Callis (Battlestar Galactica), William Sadler (The Shawshank Redemption), William Forsythe (The Rock) and Jeff Fahey (Lost).

Synopsis: When a U.S. congressman’s daughter passing through a small town in Mississippi dies in a mysterious triple homicide, a team of F.B.I. agents descends to investigate, the team’s brilliant but jaded lead agent battling demons both past and present, as his beautiful, tough-as-nails partner tries to hold him and the case together. They find a struggling and corrupt sheriff’s department, a shadowy and much-feared figure, who seems to be pulling all of the town’s strings from his mansion on the edge of town and a local victim with a strange connection to a number of the town’s most prominent figures.

The power team behind “The Hollow” took some time out of their schedules to tell us more about their process in making this film and James Callis’ involvement.

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The official poster of “The Hollow” ~ used with permission!

“The Hollow” was born out of Miles Doleac’s desire to write a noir-ish crime drama and to write a piece set squarely in his home state of Mississippi. He had long wanted to write something that hearkened back to the work of some of his literary heroes: Tennessee Williams, William Faulkner, James Lee Burke, Cormac McCarthy, but that also contained the unique, cultural stamp of the deepest part of the Deep South, for well and ill. The story for the film fed into a lot of things that had been swirling around Doleac’s head for a long time.

“I also very much liked the idea that a senseless act of violence brings together these tortured, complicated characters with their own enormous baggage and forces them to reckon with their own demons, that it is the conduit through which they rise above or succumb to their baser inclinations. It’s hard to locate a real “hero,” at least in the modern sense of the term. The landscape, the Mississippi heat, the flies, the wildlife … in a way, they’re all players in a kind of old school western about redemption and retribution.”

For Doleac – a Mississippi native – being based out of Mississippi and working in the area is an important surplus in his creative process. Seeing firsthand what a production can mean from a cultural and economic perspective in other states like Louisiana and Georgia, he really wants to showcase his home state as a film location. While his first feature (“The Historian“) was shot in MS but basically located in “Anywhere, USA“, shooting Mississippi for Mississippi for “The Hollow” has been a real thrill for him.

“I feel a certain duty to help in whatever way I can to lure film and television production to Mississippi. Mississippi is my home and, despite its imperfections and troubled past, it has its own kind of flawed beauty. It’s filled with fascinating people and personalities. The geography and architecture are incredibly rich and diverse. I know this place, these people, and their world is rife with drama and pathos, perhaps the singular reason why Mississippi gave birth to the blues. Maybe too many non-Southerners have told stories about the Deep South. This one at least is being told by an insider. “

With Post-Production likely running through October, “The Hollow” was shot between June 9 and July 8. Historia Films hopes to hit the festival circuit early 2016 but are expecting to release their first teaser somewhere mid-to-late August.

The script to screen process has always been about the very tricky, frustrating, delicate but very necessary dance of luring investors and luring a cast that’s right and that matters. That, and being surrounded with a team of people who will ultimately be the translators of a script into a film.

“Make no mistake, it is an act of translation, not straight transmission, and from number 1 on your call sheet to the key PA, everybody plays a part in that act. It’s more like chess than dominoes in a way, but it’s the six or so months before you shoot the film that really determine the quality of the film you’re going to make, in my view.”

Miles Doleac – a fan of James Callis’ work since his Gaius Baltar role on “Battlestar Galactica” – admits that finding the right actor to play the unsettled, alcoholic FBI agent, Vaughn Killinger was a difficult task but seeing Callis’ work on set has convinced him even more that the right decision was made .

“What he’s doing in this film blows me away every single day. He brings so many levels to Vaughn. No person is just one thing, especially not this guy and James so keenly peels back the layers of the onion to reveal the many aspects of who Vaughn is, his pain, his passions, his sense of humor, his egomania, his compromised heroism … it’s very powerful stuff indeed. He’s also a genuinely wonderful human being and that’s always a very refreshing thing to find in this business.”

James Callis stars in "The Hollow" © Historia Films/The Hollow, used with permission

James Callis stars in “The Hollow”
© Historia Films/The Hollow, used with permission

As an independent film, talks with distributers are currently ongoing, Historia Productions are hoping to be able to announce an official release date for “The Hollow” shortly after hitting the festival circuit early 2016. Doleac feels fortunate to work side by side with the talent involved with this film. Not only the cast, but also the entire crew.

“when your Executive Producer (Lisa Bruce) has been nominated for an Academy Award in the last calendar year (“The Theory of Everything“) that’s a pretty swell thing. And Lisa has been incredibly hands-on. She cares about this project and independent filmmaking in general, which says a lot about who she is. At this stage in her career to take on a smaller film like ours … it’s just huge. And this cast, not only James, but William Forsythe, William Sadler (whom I’m fortunate to be directing for the second time), Christiane Seidel, Jeff Fahey, David Warshofsky … they are, each of them, extraordinary talents, each of whom has been utterly willing to toss their unique ability into this gumbo pot and watch it simmer into a concoction that I firmly believe will be very, very special. It is truly an honor to work with each and every one of them.”

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We’d like to thank Miles Doleac and the entire team behind Historia Productions for their time in answering these questions and sharing their insights!

 

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