Interview with G. Anthony Joseph

When it comes to filmmaking, budgets can exist anywhere from behemoth amounts like the $500 million Avatar to dirt-cheap affairs like the average YouTube video. What’s more important than the budget, however, is the production value. An entertaining film doesn’t need to cost a lot of money if the budget is spent in the right places. It’s this philosophy that seems to drive the independent film production company Tritan-Northstar Entertainment founded by actor and producer G. Anthony Joseph. He sat down with Buzzine to discuss his life in the entertainment industry, the success of his most recent film Contract Killers and to tease readers with details about his upcoming film Trafico.

“I just got up one day – bored,” G. Anthony Joseph says bluntly after recounting his pre-Hollywood life, “This can’t be all there is.” After founding one of the largest martial arts schools in Trinidad, Joseph decided to pursue acting, landing a few roles on the stage and on television. Despite his success in Trinidad, Joseph was convinced that his future was in the United States, so he and his wife took a leap of faith and moved to Hollywood.

G. Anthony Joseph subjected himself to the life of most struggling actors. He worked several jobs to the pay bills, took acting classes at night and picked up acting gigs when he could – many of which were USC student films. “An interviewer once asked me, ‘When did you sleep?’” Joseph recalls fondly. “I said, ‘Traffic lights!’” During those hard years he wrote a screenplay that interested a television executive in Trinidad, so Joseph teamed up with a director he liked working with at USC – Ric Moxley – and they made the film. From those meager beginnings, Joseph has landed guest-starring roles on several series, such as American Family, JAG and The District. Not satisfied with simply being an actor, G. Anthony Joseph founded the independent film production company Tritan-Northstar Entertainment. “I’m only about maybe 50% of where I want to be,” he says, “But the good thing I love about my life now is that I’m calling the shots.”

Joseph’s natural instincts and savvy intuition have paid off thus far with the success of his most recent film Contract Killers. He beams with pride when he talks about the film and he takes the time to mention everyone that contributed to the production. “I would like to thank all my cast and crew that has made Contract Killers such a  growing success including Dave Cabral, Ian Philip and Andre Powder at Galt Alliance Films, Carla Foderingham at the Trinidad and Tobago Film Commission,  my cast Frida Farrell, Nick Mancuso, Christian Willis, Paul Cram, Steve Boergadine, Rhett Giles and Lee Sherman.  And the constant support and encouragement from Christopher George, Gerry Wolff, Michael and Marie Lattuca, Mary Dee and my consulting producers on Contract Killers, Richard Chin Fatt and Julian Caine.”

What’s most impressive about Contract Killers is that it’s a high-octane action movie produced on a moderate budget. Since most viewers have very high expectations for action movies, filmmakers are wise to steer clear of this genre unless they have the money to meet viewers’ demands. Instead, Contract Killers acclimates the audience to the reduced budget, using affordable substitutes – like a dirt bike instead of a motorcycle, for instance – and then amazes viewers with a fantastic set piece that involves an attack chopper. Joseph shared an embarrassing story regarding that scene, which was actually supposed to have multiple helicopters. “The end was supposed to be these 10 or 15 SWAT guys flying over the city and [the heroine] runs into a city building. [The SWAT guys] rappel down into this building trying to get her and there’s this whole chase through the city. We planned this thing out for six months.” Then the management providing the helicopters pulled out. “I cried,” Joseph confesses. “I went down on my knees in front of everyone; I didn’t care. I cried. I could not even move.” He laughs about it now. Regardless of the ending, audiences obviously enjoyed Contract Killers. The film garnered wins for “Best Feature Film Award” at the Orlando Film Festival 2008 in Florida and “Best Picture Award” in September 2008 at the BBF Film Festival in Philadelphia. Contract Killers was nominated four times in July 2008 at the Action on Film Festival in Los Angeles, and won awards for “Best Action Sequence in a Feature Film” and “Best Break Out Female Star – Frida Farrell – In a Feature Film.”

“I am finally finding this niche and doing it well,” Joseph says of his films, “And because of that, these next couple of ones I’m doing are actually coming through at a much bigger budget. I can now take hundreds of thousands more and make it look like millions more.” In regards to his upcoming film Trafico, Joseph says, “You never know who’s watching. Some investors saw Contract Killers. They found this really good director, Mirwan, and just decided this was the project we were going to mount.” For Trafico, Joseph wanted a story that was edgier and had more of a point of view. While details are scarce, the plot revolves around retired US bank robbers, living in Trinidad. Circumstances force them to plan one more heist, which puts them in the crosshairs of the local drug lords. While the cast hasn’t been finalized, industry veterans appear to be drawn to the project. Joseph is in the middle of early negotiations with Tom Sizemore and Michael Rooker. Eric Roberts and several other high profile stars are also rumored to be interested as well. Filming is scheduled to begin in April.

It’s always refreshing to meet someone like G. Anthony Joseph. His goals are ambitious. His energy is overflowing. And his positivity is infectious. Furthermore, he never forgets that he’s dealing with people and not simply a means to an end. He remembers this credo when choosing business partners. “It’s 80% who you are. The rest is putting the deal together. I think the best deals come out of personalities first, deal second….I think people forget about the human element. When someone walks in for a meeting, the first thing I think of is “can I get along with this person for the next 10 years?”

The best part about G. Anthony Joseph is that he’s genuine and happy to talk unguardedly. He shared personal details about his kids and lovely wife of 23 years, his love for the Rat Pack and even offered to bring this writer out to Trinidad to find a nice girl. “I am who I am,” he says, “and I’m going to enrich the world any chance that I get.”