July 11, 2018 Interview – Edoardo Ballerini
The challenges of a working actor/actress are many, but universally, nearly everyone wants to take on an array of roles. Easier said than done, typecasting occurs all the time in the film world, but fortunately for Edoardo Ballerini, he has kept his résumé immensely eclectic.
Developing a love for the arts at a young age, Ballerini would try his hand at acting after college, since starring in an impressive list of features and television series over the course of the past 20 years. Yearning to test his abilities each time out, he most recently took on the compelling Science Fiction film 7 Splinters in Time. A project which he plays several roles in the same feature, as well as acts as producer, it could be one of his most ambitious efforts yet. Recently we caught up with the articulate actor to talk his path to the big screen, the work behind 7 Splinters in Time, future plans, plus much more.
CrypticRock.com – You have been involved in film and television for over two decades now, starring in a list of memorable films and TV series. First, tell us, what inspired you to pursue a career as an actor?
Edoardo Ballerini – I originally wanted to be a writer. When I graduated college, I set off down that path and I quickly discovered writing is a very lonely profession; you are just sitting at a desk by yourself. I started looking for something that was a little more collaborative. Acting seemed like a natural transition because you are still dealing with the written word. I joined a theater company on a lark to see if it was something I might be interested in, it kind of took, and that is how I got started. It wasn’t something I thought I would do even as a kid, even in high school. I never did any high school plays or anything like that, it was really after I graduated college.
CrypticRock.com – Very interesting. You have had a lengthy career as an actor in a list of roles ranging from Drama to Comedy, to Thriller, to Science Fiction. Do you enjoy the ability to work in a diverse mix of genres?
Edoardo Ballerini – One of the first things I thought I wanted to do when I started was, I didn’t want to do the same thing over and over again. I worked very hard to try to do different types of things. I’ve done big studio projects, micro-budget indie projects, series, worked in Europe, worked in the U.S.; worked on stage on all kinds of different mediums. I’ve tried to keep moving and make things different every time I’ve approached a project. I think it keeps me fresh as an actor and presents new challenges every time.
CrypticRock.com – Absolutely, and you have done an exceptional job of keeping it diverse.
Edoardo Ballerini – I remember when I first started out. As I say, I was just out of college, I was trying to figure out what acting was all about. I started studying some different actors, and one thing that struck me is a lot of actors did the same thing every time. Some were very successful at it, and there is nothing wrong with it; but it didn’t make sense to me. For me, it was you should try different things all the time. Fortunately now, we are living in a time where people are making all kinds of things and there is so much experimentation going on that it’s more available than perhaps it was even 20 years ago.
CrypticRock.com – Valid point. Speaking of different actors, in your latest film, 7 Splinters in Time, you play a compelling character. As the title implies, it is splintered, and it starts to come together an hour or so into the film. What attracted you to this project?
Edoardo Ballerini – Gabriel Judet-Weinshel, our director, and I were introduced by a mutual friend, who was also our casting director on this film. He kind of played match-maker: he knew Gabe, he knew me, he thought we would get along, and he was right. We didn’t have a project necessarily in mind, he just wanted us to meet. Gabe and I started to talk, became friends, and he threw out this idea he had. There was no script for it, all he had was this concept – a detective goes to a crime scene and discovers he himself is the victim. I thought that was so strange, bizzare, and I never heard of anything like it. I immediately said, “I’m in, let’s do this!” We started developing the idea together: Gabe wrote the script, I became a producer on the project. I helped bring in some of the financing, helped bring in some of the cast as well. I could tell this was an opportunity that wasn’t going to come by again, to play multiple roles in a film. It’s such an extraordinary challenge for an actor, I just couldn’t let it go. I had seen Gabe’s early work, his shorts, and he’s such a talented guy that I thought we could do something here and do something special.
CrypticRock.com – Yes, you really did. As mentioned, the film is compelling. It comes together later in the film where you begin to understand what is going on. Like your main character, who does not know who they are, the audience is a little in the dark as well; we are on the journey with you.
Edoardo Ballerini – The film is very textured and it’s akin to like listening to music; you have to be willing to sit back and accept that you might not know what’s going on for a little while. That’s kind of the project we set out to make; we wanted to try something new. The whole project was kind of like that as well; we were putting things together as we were going along. We literally didn’t have a completed script until two weeks before we started shooting. We had to make up scenes on the day sometimes.
In one instance, we got kicked out of a location, so we literally couldn’t shoot the scene we had written, so we had to make up something on the spot. We just went with it; we embraced the fact that we were doing something different. I think, in the end, it came together and it’s a testament to Gabe’s work more than anything. We just wanted to go with it, we just wanted to see what we could put together without necessarily trying to follow any rules.
CrypticRock.com – It worked, and the cast did an exceptional job. This is the type of the film you cannot talk about in detail, because you don’t want to give it away. There are a lot of interesting scenes. One scene which was really emotional, the scene when you figure out who Babs really is.
Edoardo Ballerini – Yes, Lynn Cohen, who plays the role of Babs in our film, is such a tremendous actress – she has worked with Spielberg, she has been on Broadway. She, to us, always felt like the heart of the film. She plays the motherly, matronly figure to the central character that I play, Darius. It was there that we found the humanity and warmth in the film; we felt the character of Babs grounded the whole thing.
CrypticRock.com – Yes, and once you figure out who she is, it is even more intriguing. If you are willing to sit, have the attention span, the payoff with the film is worth it.
Edoardo Ballerini – Yes, hopefully, in an era of short attention-spans, people will be willing to go along with it, because I do think the payoff is worth it.
CrypticRock.com – You said you worked as a producer on the film. Having done a little bit of production in the past, what was it like for you to work on a full-length feature?
Edoardo Ballerini – This was the first time I’ve done that. I produced a short film many years ago that I also directed. I came on as a producer because I had gotten involved in the project so early; as I said, it was just a concept when Gabe and I first met. I started doing a lot of work: I started calling people who might be able to finance it, I started calling actors – Austin Pendleton is someone I called in that I knew who came in. All of a sudden, I was much more involved in a project than I had been in the past.
During the pre-production phase, I was very involved as a producer, and as soon as we got into the actual filming, I had to step back and just be the actor. At the end of the day, I wouldn’t really sit down and necessarily sit down with the other producers to say, “What do we need to fix? What do we need to work on tomorrow? Any issues we need to address?” When it came to post-production, I got back and threw the producer hat back on. Post-production took a while; it took several years for this film to be completed. It’s such an ambitious film on such a small budget. I feel like I book-ended it as far as producing goes – pre-production and post-production – but during principle photography, I really just focused on being an actor.
CrypricRock.com – Interesting. Having had the ability to do that, would you consider doing it again in the future?
Edoardo Ballerini – I would like to produce things. There are a couple of guys I am talking to now that have a little project. We made a short film together, we are trying to develop it into a feature, and I would like to be with that project from start to finish. It’s a lot of work, I’m not going to lie. It was really my first time with this, and this one in particular took many years to come together – it’s not the usual example of how a film goes. I would like it if it’s the right project and it’s something I am passionate about. If the filmmaker is somebody I’m passionate about, I would love to do more producing work.
CrypticRock.com – That would be cool to see. 7 Splinters in Time certainly falls under the title of Sci-Fi, but it is very romantic. It is also tragic in many ways. As the tagline states, “The past is a dangerous place.”
Edoardo Ballerini – I am speaking for Gabe, but he really sees it as a film about memory and how memories inform who we are in the present. You take a very simple concept – boy meets girl, boy falls in love – and you see what happens in their relationship and the memories of what their relationship starts to inform the present. For Gabe, it was very much like a psychological journey that can be grounded in an everyday reality, and then it jumps into that Sci-Fi realm to tell that story.
CrypticRock.com – It certainly can fall into various genres.
Edoardo Ballerini – Yes, and there is Emmanuelle Chriqui, who plays the love interest of the film. That story-line, again, is also the center of the story. In essence, it’s a very basic story of boy meets a girl, he falls in love, something goes wrong, and then we play it out in this Sci-Fi of it. If it wasn’t in the Sci-Fi realm, you could say, boy meets girl, something goes wrong, and then somebody’s life takes a detour. We wanted to take that same concept and just add a whole layer of Science Fiction to it.
CrypticRock.com – Fantastic idea! The textures of the imagery used for particular scenes adds to it. There is a grayness in many scenes.
Edoardo Ballerini – That is something that is not necessarily my area, although I know something about it. They shot on seventeen different formats for this film. The extent that they went to do certain sequences was extraordinary. They would print out stills, hand-paint them, and then re-film them again. Or you would have distressed 16mm and it would be cut against digital to give it a sort of stark look.
Again, Gabe’s concept was, our memories and our lives play out in all these different ways, so the film that tells that story should also have that multi-layered look to it. I think it works in this case. I’m not sure if I would want to do that for every kind of film, but this particular film that is experimental and out there, it works. It’s all Gabe’s vision that pulls it together.
CrypticRock.com – It would be exciting to see what people think of it once it is out on July 13th.
Edoardo Ballerini – It’s an interesting thing: you make a movie, you put it out in the world, and then you see what people think of it. As we are getting closer to that date, we are excited and anxious to see how people react to it. We also have to remind ourselves that we are enormously proud of this film, whatever happens.
We made something that is unique and it’s something we are forever going to be proud of. So far so good! The screenings we have had, I have to say, we have been very surprised by how positive the reaction has been by different types of people. They have all responded to the film, whether that is what they are seeing or what they are feeling, something is clicking with audiences. We hope it continues.
CrypticRock.com – That is great to hear. You have worked on big-budget films and smaller-budget films. Do you have a preference of what you like working on? One could imagine there are positives and negatives to both.
Edoardo Ballerini – There are definitely advantages to both, I like to mix it up. To be perfectly blunt, on bigger budget projects you get paid more, so that’s a good thing. At the same time, you probably have less control over what’s happening. It’s nice to mix it up. Sometimes it’s great to be on a bigger production – you get all the toys, bells, and whistles that come with that – then it’s largely out of your hands, and you don’t know what’s going to happen with it.
On a smaller production, it can be tougher. You don’t have all the gear and gadgets you want to make things. The conditions can be rougher, but at the same time, you probably have a much bigger say in what’s happening. There is a trade off on either side. I don’t say I have a preference for either, I like going back and forth; I like doing both.
CrypticRock.com – It is great to have the ability to do both.
Edoardo Ballerini – I have been very fortunate. I have worked in some enormous series for HBO – The Sopranos and Boardwalk Empire. I also did a series for Cinemax called Quarry, which was an amazing show. Then I have done these micro-budget films, so I get to go back and forth, get to see both sides of it. I really enjoy both sides of it, I really do. I wouldn’t say I have a preference either way.
CrypticRock.com – It is good to have a balance. Last question. If you are a fan of either the Horror of Sci-Fi genre, do you have any favorites?
Edoardo Ballerini – I go back to the classics, the ones that hit me when I was sort of first becoming aware of what film was. Something like Blade Runner (1982) for me is just an absolute masterpiece. Horror is not a genre that I necessarily have spent a lot of time with. Science Fiction, I get more on the artsy side of things, but for me, Blade Runner is the one that stands out like no other. I can watch that film a thousand times in a row.
CrypticRock.com – Blade Runner is spectacular. The story, the cinematography, the soundtrack.
Edoardo Ballerini – I feel like a thousand filmmakers were launched just by watching that film. You can see the fingerprints all over so many people’s work.