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Vincent, Roxxy, N Gary

Vincent, Roxxy, N Gary

(l) Zoë Kravitz (Roxxy), (r) Emile Hirsch (Vincent)

You can forget the old cliche about how there’s a thin line between love and hate. They are one and the same, and Vincent N Roxxy is proof of it. Men and women have committed heinous acts in the name of love, and that untamed fiery passion within our roiling blood will not be denied until the deed is done.

The film stars Emile Hirsch (Vincent), Zoë Kravitz (Roxxy), Zoey Deutch, Emory Cohen, and Scott "Kid Cudi" Mescudi. The amazing soundtrack was scored by Questlove, who truly could not have chosen a better set of tracks. There’s a great heartbreak song in there, and make no mistake, this film is all about heartbreak. The worst kind.

If I recall correctly, you mentioned at the Tribeca Film Festival that the town in which your story takes place, closely resembles where you once lived in Chicago. Did you draw inspiration from that environment, the people, or both for Vincent N Roxxy?

I draw inspiration everywhere and hopefully from everything. I grew up on the far south side of Chicago. Basically Chicago Heights area. My mother was a single mom for much of my early years. So during the summer when we were on break from school she would no doubt want a break from my brother and I, and she would send us down state to southern Illinois to my retired great grandparents’ farm in Benton, IL. The contrast of the two environments inspired the environments in Vincent N Roxxy. As a writer you need to be very aware of environment. It's a great tool to help make a story authentic, or help build tone and mood. Write what you know!

(l) Zoey Deutch as Kate, (r) Emory Cohen as JC

Thus far, I’ve seen VNR twice, and each time, the experience for me has been the same: I feel like I’ve been invited into someone’s life, and there’s a desire to want to befriend the main characters. There’s an intimacy (I feel), that only comes from something that’s more a labor of love, than something manufactured to sell tickets at the box office.

Thanks for saying that. I think with independent films you have to love them to make them. It's not worth it to fake it. It takes too much of your life. You have to love it. I love genre, but I always feel the best genre films are character based. Also I love these characters in VNR and hopefully that shows. My goal was to try and build this small world that feels like it's own little microcosm. Something timeless and authentic. With unique characters that somehow feel very real and make this journey accessible to the audiences that follow them.

The author (l), and Gary Michael Schultz (r), at Tribeca Film Festival, 2016. Photograph by Angela Lanham

You’ve worked on other films prior to Vincent N Roxxy, as writer and producer. Is there more expectation (I hesitate to say “pressure”) to make sure the film is received well, being the director, as opposed to producer?

They are all different jobs really. Producing is a hard job. The tasks are endless and there's a lot of responsibilities.  I'm definitely closer to a project that I direct. It's the Director's vision. Building the world and executing that vision is what I truly love to do. Being a storyteller. Writing is very similar because it's also intimate, like directing and your building the world and helping to shape the characters.

I don't know about pressure to be received well, obviously as a filmmaker you want audiences to hopefully love your work, but you can't think about that. You have to just focus on creating. Work your ass off. Be a strong empathetic leader. Be clear about your vision. Protect your actors so they feel safe to take chances. Work with your crew, not against them. Be a BMF.

(l-r) Emory Cohen, Emile Hirsch, Gary Michael Schultz, Zoë Kravitz, Scott "Kid Cudi" Mescudi, Zoey Deutch, Beau Knapp, Joey Bicicchi

When we first met last year, Vincent ‘N Roxxy was showing only at the Tribeca Film Festival. Earlier this year, it was released to selected theaters across the U.S., then to more theaters, and now it’s available for streaming on Netflix. That’s quite a journey. How does it feel to have come this far?

It's great. From an artistic and career POV it's been life changing. It's been a long journey. It takes years to write, finance, cast, film, edit, VFX, sound design, mix,  color, finalize, market, shop it or premiere it at a festival...Etc and so on...you get it. Look there's nothing like seeing it on the big screen, that was dope, that was a dream, but now that it's dropped on Netflix Vincent N Roxxy has reached our largest audience to date. And I know we're the underdog with no advertising but people are finding it! And to finally hear and read real audience reactions has been a trip. I've been really flattered at the responses. People seem to be blown away by our film and the performances of my amazing cast. So that has been really special to me.

Roxxy demands answers, Vincent looks willing to comply.

If I’m not mistaken, Vincent “N Roxxy is your directorial debut. How does the experience compare to what you’ve done before in other films.

Well I've directed many short films and projects, and this is technically my true feature debut I suppose, but I had been making films and learning for over decade before stepping into VNR. I used to run part of screenwriting at Columbia College Chicago and I was an instructor for a minute too. I studied and trained hard. You can't fake it. You gotta learn your craft. Respect the director's chair, man. I was as ready as I could have been so to me it felt very natural and my actors and crew seemed to fall right in. Everybody was ready to work. But I'll keep learning too. That never stops.

VNR essentially revolves around vengeance, and I’m curious as to what your take on the subject matter is. Do you think revenge is ever worth it?

Well I think in order to justify certain characters, you can't judge them as a director or writer, just understand them. Love is a powerful motivator for vengeance, especially if it's taken away. You have to build something special, something real, and the audience better be in love with the characters in order to justify any type of vigilantism. How did you feel about it?

You’ve been doing so much to promote this film, has there been time to work on anything else? In other words, is it too early to ask what's next for Gary Michael Schultz?

Indeed. Time has been tight but I'm finishing up another feature script right now. I might have something for TV in the works and possibly a comic. I write almost everyday. Lots to be revealed soon.

You can watch Vincent N Roxxy on Netflix, follow Gary Michael Schultz at Twitter, and check out Behind The Velvet Rope as Arthur Kade interviews Gary and the cast of Vincent N Roxxy.


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