Gilbert Speaks On Identity Check (2020) With Director Patrick Devaney

5 Feb

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I am honored to have among my friends, several renowned and extremely talented Independent Film Directors and Producers. I have posted on my blog many reviews of Patrick Devaney’s work. The latest film which I am excited to tell you about is called Identity Check (2020). My review will be followed with an interview of Patrick Devaney.

Identity Check (2020)

In today’s world of Virtual Reality, what you see isn’t always what you get. What will the future hold for us if even our own humanity is placed on the dotted line? The film which is written and directed by Patrick Devaney, and stars Lauren Clover, Marc L. Abbott, Matthew J Kaplan, and Heather Drew, focuses on Douglas McKinney’s Virtual Reality company that is facing serious financial trouble. Multi-billionaire, Blake Harper is at the meeting with his lawyer to seal the deal of buying MDI before heading on vacation. The meeting is a classic “Big fish eats little fish” scenario with Harper and his lawyer, Sherri Prentiss, taking control of the acquisition. Harper has also demanded McKinney’s entire identity as a human being as part of the business deal. Sometimes, what you bargain for is not what you get.

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This film has an unexpected closure which I hadn’t expected. Who are we if we no longer own our name or our identity? Identity Check reveals the unsettling answer.

Gilbert: Patrick, I absolutely enjoyed this film. What was your inspiration for Identity Check?

Patrick Devaney: I was planning on filming another one of my scripts in 2018, a story called “New Zero”, about a narcissistic genetic designer who is solely obsessed with creating the perfect mate for himself regardless of the harm it might cause.  But the production costs for that script were far more than I could afford at the time so the entire project was postponed.  In March of that year, I was driving with my wife to my creative partner Lauren’s wedding, which I was going to perform the ceremony for. On the way, Jeanna told me about a dream she’d just had, where she went to her doctor but there was some other person there who said he bought out the doctor’s practice and also his name, and he tried to convince her that therefore it would be the same as seeing the old doctor.   I said “wow, that would make a great story!” and the script started forming in my head.

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Since I had to focus on the wedding, I tried to get the script idea to stop but it kept building and as I made my way out of the men’s room about an hour later, the entire script blasted its way into my head. It was dizzying, and I knew I had to tell my wife right away. So I told her, but I also had to ignore all of this and do Lauren’s wedding. But when I got home that night, I started to write it all down and a week later we had a final script. And that’s the one we shot from. My wife’s dream, expanded, something we created together.

Gilbert: What are the difficulties of doing a futuristic film.

Patrick Devaney: I would say the toughest parts of that type of a film are in the set design and/or the SFX and VFX needed to properly convey the time period or the reality in which the characters live. I never set any of my films in our universe, but they all do bleed into each other’s realities so I can do whatever I want within them. There’s a theory that they’re all in the same universe, but I’ll let other people debate that one.

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Set design can also be hugely time and budget-consuming if you need a space that does not exist anywhere. I have spent months on films just in making the things that exist inside their worlds. But with the right story and script, and the right people to become the characters, any genre of film is made exponentially less difficult, and I have been blessed with some of the best people in NY on either side of the camera.

Gilbert: Tell me about the main actors in the film.  Have any of them starred in any of your previous films.

Patrick Devaney: The main cast of “Identity Check” includes people I have worked with a few times, multiple times, and for the first time. Many of them were already cast in “New Zero”, and I brought them over to this. I mentioned my partner Lauren Clover earlier, and she was the first person put in place in the cast, portraying the successful but seemingly unsure of herself attorney Magdalene Walsh. I had created the “Mastic PD” web series with her and in general she gets to choose the roles she wants when I write them. This always works, as I know she will kill in anything she is in.

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For the two main male leads, the characters who have been butting heads for decades and are now meeting for the final time, I wanted two men who would have to play people very different than who they had played before. I worked with Matthew J. Kaplan on his brilliant short film “It’s Time For Tea” a year earlier as an actor, and eventually moved into a Producer slot on that film. I’d also shot two projects with Marc L. Abbott, an episode of “Zombie Hunters: City of the Dead” and worked with him as my male lead as the embattled Father in the science-fantasy film “Impervia”, so I knew precisely what both of these actors would bring to the table.

Newcomer Alba Caccavale and horror regulars Deana Demko and Sarah Schoofs were then included and the various combinations of them with the leads and each other are fantastic. My regular collaborator/location manager Tom Schorr added his acting talents in a supporting role as he has done on several projects I’ve been lucky enough to be a part of.

And last but hardly least, after years and years of trying to get something planned together, I finally got to work with Heather Drew, an actress I’ve always loved seeing on the screen. There was no one else I wanted for the role of Sherri Prentiss; the cold, dark heart of Blake Harper (Marc L. Abbott)’s overwhelmingly powerful corporate empire. She instantly slices her way through this film, taking no prisoners. And she even enrolled in Conversational Japanese classes to make her opening scenes as accurate as possible.

Gilbert: Identity Check will be premiered at the Queens World Film Festival. Tell me what it’s like to have your film premiered at a film festival. If your film wins, what happens next?

Patrick Devaney: There is nothing quite like the first time you have your new work shown to an audience who may not yet know you. If they are entertained and feel something inside from your work, that is one of the greatest rushes an artist in this medium can have. That makes it all worth it. To have it premiere at one of the finest and best-run festivals in all of NYC, that’s just icing on the cake. Queensworld is the only festival in existence today that I had any interest in showcasing this film at for the first time, and I am extremely happy and grateful that we got in to do that very thing.

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The film itself winning anything is always wonderful, being nominated for anything is honestly equally as amazing. But I never seek any accolades for myself, when these things come up I only really want to see my cast and crew get nominated and take top honors for their work. That truly does make me the happiest I can be in any of this. Watching Gail Gooch and DP Mark Boutros take awards for their work on “Impervia” was indescribable, and I hope I get to see many more such things for “Identity Check” over the next two years.

Gilbert: What is your next project?

Patrick Devaney: We are currently on very early pre-production on a new film written and to be directed by Carol Ritter Conley, who wrote and directed the devastating short film “Penitence” in 2016. That film floored us, as it’s floored every audience it’s ever played for, and to be working with this amazing woman is going to be fantastic.

In addition, we will be shooting Lauren’s new film “Practically Human” in the Spring, and after that I will be spending the rest of this year on several writing endeavors, finalizing and promoting two feature sci-fi scripts, and working on another project that I cannot talk about yet but is purely unique and is my first collaboration with professional writers outside of the US.

Gilbert: Thank you, Patrick, and thank you to John Sheehan for the behind the scenes shots.

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