Meet Ricardo Sean Thompson. Hardcore Adam fans will know that Ricardo is the brilliant writer/director behind the movie “A Kiss of Chaos”. Here Ricardo speaks exclusively with Adam Rodriguez Connection about the movie, Adam and his plan to take “Black and Latino filmmaking to places no one has dared to try to explore”.
Q: Some fans have described A Kiss of Chaos as a “modern day, Latino Pulp Fiction” Would you say that is a correct depiction of the movie?
Ricardo: Every actor or investor that I sent A Kiss of Chaos to said to me that this script felt like a Latino Pulp Fiction. I took that as a huge complement because Pulp Fiction was an Oscar winning screenplay. I'm a huge Quinten Tarintino fan, but when I initially wrote A Kiss of Chaos I really wasn't thinking about him. I feel in retrospect that it is an accurate description because of how strange and unique the characters are in Kiss and the way the story is told. It's an ensemble cast whose characters seem to be going about their separate lives independently of each other yet at the end of the day they become interwoven in criminal activities similar to Pulp Fiction.
I initially saw A Kiss of Chaos as sort of a Latino version of Guy Ritchie's film Snatch.
Q: How did you come up with the idea for the movie?
Ricardo: In 2003 I shot a no-budget film on my Canon XL1 titled Rap War One. It was the story of an aspiring young black male rapper from Brooklyn and the trial and tribulations he had to go through. That film got accepted into the 2003 American Black Film Festival where it was a huge hit and acquired by Maverick Entertainment for DVD and Cable distribution.
Due to the success of that film, I decided to write a sequel to it and planned to call it Rap War Two (I know it’s not a very original name...lol). I didn't want to rehash the events of Rap War One so this time I decided the sequel would be about an aspiring female poet from Brooklyn. As I began to plot the main character's conflicts, such as her criminal ex-boyfriend and HIV positive sister, a new direction for the story began to open up to me that screamed to be free from being Rap War Two.
As I continued writing about the criminal ex-boyfriend and the HIV positive sister, I found myself wanting to know more about them. So the story slowly went from being about one character to instead being an ensemble piece about the characters that travel in and out of Phoenix', the main characters, life and the ripple effects they cause.
Q: AKOC had its World Premiere at the 2009 American Black Film Festival. The movie was also nominated for a string of awards and had packed out venues at the NY International Latino Film Festival. How did these achievements make you feel?
Ricardo: I'm still on a high from those achievements. To see so many people turn out and respond positively to A Kiss of Chaos was an amazing experience. It's fuelled me to continue to do better and more exciting work and always put quality before quantity...and not be afraid to take risks.
Q: How did Adam Rodriguez obtain the part of Freddie?
Ricardo: Adam Rodriguez was suggested to me by my co-producer Ulysses Terrero. I wasn't familiar with Adam's work on CSI: Miami but Ulysses was so insistent that Adam would be perfect for the film that I cast him in the role of Freddie. Adam was more than perfect. He was a Grand Slam. In fact the entire time I was working with him, I kept thinking, man if I knew he was this good, I would have written more for Freddie to do. I also found myself thinking that I couldn't wait for the opportunity to write a project for him that he could really rock out on.
He's a really talented actor and an absolute pleasure to work with. I want him to be my Deniro to his Martin Scorsese. Adam saw my film Rap War One and he said that even though it was extremely low budget, he could tell that I knew how to tell a story properly and that was good enough for him to jump on board Kiss.
Q: Adam’s role is the complete opposite of Eric Delko. How did you help him make the transition of “a good guy cop” to “a killer”?
Ricardo: It was really all him. He read the character. Got it. And brought Freddie to life. I didn't have to pull or push him. As I said, he is extremely talented.
Q: What was your inspiration behind Adam's role in AKOC?
Ricardo: My goal was to create a character that became the ultimate victim and expression of karma. Adam's character inadvertently sets off all the bad events that happen to every character in the story's lives. The one bad act that he does in the opening of the film leads to the unfortunate chain of events that occur through the rest of the night...and he ultimately realizes that he is the cause to all this chaos.
Q: We at Adam Rodriguez Connection know Adam isn't really fluent in Spanish but in the first scene, he mostly spoke Spanish, without any errors. Most people who don't know much about Adam would think he's fluent. How did you convince him to speak Spanish for this role? What did you think of the delivery?
Ricardo: LOL...it took a little bit of prodding to get him to do the Spanish. Fortunately Ulysses Terrero speaks Spanish fluently so he coached Adam through the scene. As for his delivery, I have to take the word of those who speak Spanish...and they told me he did a great job.
Q: There are various on set photos of Adam joking around with the cast and crew. Was he the ultimate prankster?
Ricardo: Adam wasn't much a prankster as much as just being a really cool guy who when you're around him, you feel as if you're just hanging out with one of your long time friends at a club. There is no sense of a Hollywood ego.
Q: Adam is now blowing up the screen in a huge way with Tyler Perry’s I Can Do Bad All By Myself, CSI Miami and Ugly Betty; if you could impart one bit of advice to him, what would that advice be?
Ricardo: Adam has been doing what he's been doing professionally way longer than I have been doing my directing professionally so it feels a bit awkward to even suggest that I could offer him any advice. If anything maybe I should be asking him.
But if I had to offer him any advice, it would be to continue doing diverse and wide ranging projects that will challenge and improve his acting skills while display him in varying looks to his fans.
Q: Most movies show males as the superhero looking to take revenge for something hurtful done to their family. Why a female hero type? Why not a male?
Ricardo: I really got fed up of seeing females being portrayed only as girlfriends, moms, grandmoms, or the person who needs saving. To me the actresses weren't being given an opportunity to grow because they were all simply playing women. They weren't playing characters that allowed them to stretch and challenge how we view women.
In my film I want to see that gun toting 9 months pregnant mom robbing a bank to feed her other two kids at home, because it will force an actress to deal with so many layers in her performance. "What if she is killed? What will happen to her unborn child? What about her living children? How can she get away with this crime being 9 months pregnant? What if she goes into labor during the robbery"?
Or the Grandma that has to save her grandchild from the possession of an ancient demon? The girl that is a cheerleader prom queen by day but spandex wearing super hero at night. We've seen guys do these roles to death...now I want to see how a woman handles the exact same situation. Three of my favorite all time films are Alien, Aliens, and Terminator 1. All featuring a strong female lead.
Q: What made you decide to cast all Latino actors in the film? Was it a deliberate move?
Ricardo: It was a deliberate choice. I hadn't seen many Latino films where the story wasn't just about being Latino. I wanted Kiss to feel as if these characters just happened to be Latino so that audiences will view them as people first not just as Latino actors telling a story only Latinos could appreciate.
Q: You state “My goal is to take Black and Latino filmmaking to places no one has dared to try to explore.” Do you feel you’ve achieved this goal? What other stories have you yet to tell through your craft?
Ricardo: No I haven't achieved that goal yet. I've only taken the first step towards it with Kiss. Next up I have a supernatural horror adventure film titled Shadow Jumpers. It’s a three part feature film series. That's going to followed or alternated with a sci-fi trilogy I have written titled The New Ganymede Rebellion. Black and Latino actors and actresses will be featured prominently in both of these film series. For Shadow Jumpers, I plan to pursue some British actors to round out the cast.
I'm currently pursuing funding for the first film in the Shadow Jumpers series.
Q: Latino actors are finally being cast in lead roles in television and movies. Do you think it’s easier now that actors such as Adam are being portrayed on screen in a positive light in a show watched by millions?
Ricardo: It's getting better but I don't think I'll feel that we have arrived at a good place until blacks, Latinos, and Asians are portrayed in equal volumes as whites on television and in film.
Q: There was a lot of gore and sexual content in this movie. Do you think this pleased the audience? Would you go back and change or remove any of these scenes?
Ricardo: Based on the overall audience response to Kiss, I wouldn't change any of the "gore" or "sexuality". Audiences reacted appropriately to both and didn't appear to be offended.
Q: Tell us a little about your directing/writing background.
Ricardo: Originally I wanted to be a comic book writer and artist. Unfortunately I wasn't good enough to be a comic book artist and I didn't have the connections needed to get my material read by comic book editors...so I jumped into film, which I always considered to be the closest medium to the comic book experience.
I graduated from Baruch College with a BBA in Advertising and a few months later I enrolled in a film work shop at NY Film Academy. While at NY Film Academy I directed music videos for local rap groups and short films. As I got better at telling stories, I then gradually increased the length of the stories I was telling until I reached a feature film length.
Q: You’re a young director out there in Hollywood, so was it intimidating directing actors that are similar in age?
Ricardo: Their ages wasn't the intimidating factor...it was the fact that they were far more experienced at their craft than I was at mine. Fortunately they trusted me, or at least made me feel that they trusted me, so everything went smoothly.
Q: Your next project (The Ski Mask Way) is set for release in 2010; what info are you able to divulge?
Ricardo: Actually Ski Mask Way was a project that I was hired by 50 Cent to write. I wasn't going to be the director. Jessy Terrero was to be the director. 50 has since brought in another writer to rework my script of A Ski Mask Way. At the moment I don't think there is a director attached.