The Detroit-area acting community is pretty tight knit. Often on opening night, you’ll see more actors in the audience than on the stage. And it’s always fun when one of our own makes an appearance on the silver screen, too. Everyone benefits when local actors get film work – and agents and casting directors realize how much talent is concentrated in southeast Michigan. Rich Goteri, of Michigan Actors Studio, is one of those guys who always has nine or ten irons in the fire. As an actor, screen writer, instructor, director, he keeps his options open. Naturally, we were thrilled to hear that Rich and fellow MAS instructors scored featured roles in a new movie being filmed here in Michigan. Rich has been running 100 mph, but he paused long enough to answer a few questions.
Patty Nolan: Tell us about the new film – “Amanda and the Fox.”
Rich Goteri: It’s the latest family film from Producer Joel Paul Reisig (“Horse Camp,” “Small Town Santa”) and is scheduled for release in early 2016. The film is being directed by Joey Sylvester (“Walk A Mile In My Pradas”), the director of photography is Adam Rock, producer Ken Alter and was written by Mike Davidson and story by Joel Paul Reisig. The story involves ten-year-old Amanda (Elizabeth Foster) who desperately wants a dog but her Dad (Jason London) won’t have it. When Amanda finds a young fox, she and her friend Maggie (Stella Shoha) conspire to keep it as a pet. Little do they know that trouble awaits them as the fox is pursued by a pair of shady, bumbling Russians; Dimitri (Mike Mili) and Boris (you guessed it — Rich Goteri) who have an ulterior motive and are being pursued by the local authorities. This delightful and poignant story is sure to warm the heart, generate laughs and show what can happen when youthful enthusiasm, optimism and determination are put to the test. The film will be Rated G.
PN: You’ve been in many, many feature films – but not a G-rated, family friendly film. Tell us about your role.
RG: I play Boris, who along with his brother Dimitri are trying to capture a fox so that they can sell it and make some quick cash. He is over the top, funny, kind of dumb and always getting himself in trouble. If something can go wrong Boris is in the middle of it. Lots of improv and physical comedy. I love playing him.
PN: We understand that your MAS colleague and writing partner Michael Mili is also in the film. Do you have scenes together?
RICH: Yes! What a blessing! All our scenes are together. And the odds of us getting cast in the same film is one thing (it’s happened before) but to get leads and to get to play crazy, fun roles together is a dream come true. Plus that the Producers and Director are allowing us to improvise so much, has been a joy. On top of that my MAS partner Rachel Bellack was cast as the crazy cat lady.
PN: The cast features Richard Karn? Do you have scenes with him? Any fun stories from the set?
RG: I’ve just worked with Richard and he just could not have been nicer. What a pro! His body of work is so impressive and he is so much fun to watch and work with. He is a great addition to the cast. We are having so much fun on the set every day. The cast and crew couldn’t be any sweeter. Just a great bunch of professionals to be around with.
PN: And you are shooting in Michigan we hear. What and where?
RG: We are shooting in Michigan. I have shot in Rochester Hills and Lapeer so far and the people have been so supportive that films are still being shot in Michigan. Which they are. There are several slated to come in from now until the end of the year. They are smaller, independent union and non-union films not the big $100,000 million dollar movies but never the less work is coming into the state. As a matter of fact the Producer of “Amanda and The Fox,” Joel Paul Reisig will be will be shooting his next one here as well this year. “Horse Camp 2”.
PN: Excellent news for the Michigan acting/film production community! Catch us up on Michigan Actors Studio. We know that summer school is in progress. Your alums are getting work. What are you most excited about and proud of?
RG: We are very excited for our fall semester to start on September 21st. And the fact that our students are working like mad! Which couldn’t make us happier. Our students, teachers and our alums are booking in the area and with our tax incentive issues outside Michigan as well. What’s great is that we are being seen now for projects in Chicago, Pittsburgh, Ohio as well as Michigan and we are crushing it. Our agents in town are doing a great job getting us seen for those projects. We are booking TV shows such as Empire, Chicago Hope, The Outsiders, Speed Dating and the films Amanda and the Fox, Southpaw, The Pickle Recipe and others. So even though there is less high profile film and TV work here, (but there is more than people think) we have opportunity now that we didn’t have before in other markets because of the video audition.
Thanks Rich, and break a leg! Interested actors, writers and pro’s on and off screen can check out Michigan Actors Studio full curriculum of classes and extracurricular events at the MAS website.