Vitals Interview Series Part 4: Kalex Reno
Vitals tells the harrowing tale of a man (Christopher Showerman) who is kidnapped while on vacation in India. He wakes up in an abandoned motel room in a tub of ice with a kidney missing. Little does he know, it’s his heart his captors want next...
And it's only a matter of time before he discovers his wife (Charlene Amoia) in the adjacent room waiting to be the next victim to the organ-harvesting goons. Having taken the vacation to work on their failing marriage, the couple must now set their differences aside and use each other's intellects and skills to escape before their captors return.
We sat down with Vitals producer on set one day, midway through shooting, to see what was up.
Dread Central: So, you’re the producer. What does that mean, exactly, on this set? Seems to me like you’re doing a little bit of everything!
Kalex Reno: It is so very ambiguous. I do whatever needs to be done. I met Marc after the screenwriting conference and he and I started talking about a different project. We got together for lunch afterwards and it wasn't something I could really take on but I was looking forward to the project about this scope and well I got a script like that and I already read the other scripts and I said let’s do it. He said do you want to read the scripts. You pitched it to me, I know what it is. I read the other script, I know you can write, so let’s go. So we got going.
DC: Now that's one of the things that sort of the pervading theme here in my interviews is been how very well written this script is…
KR: Well I don't, as a producer, I don't take on scripts. That's not I'm looking for. I started off as a writer myself so I got enough of my own stuff to do. I don't need to find other people's projects. I'm actually looking more for people to collaborate with. To answer your question, in the script itself you have fairly complex characters which is unusual. The fact that you have a strong female lead which is very rare, I like that. The fact that, even when you get down to, you know you have Kaliah and then you have these three henchmen. These henchmen have very distinct voices and they also have a sense of what they're back story might be and how those relationships work. You don't see that a lot in scripts to this level. You don't see that sense of a fullness of the world. That makes it a good script just from a storytelling point of view. It takes a kind of urban legend cliche but a lot of writers would say oh and yeah the twist is at the end, he gets his kidney taken out. It's where our movie opens up. That's what happens. It's like okay. It's not really about how it got there but you know it twist and turns from there. That's also, it's that sense of elevation makes it good just as a story. In terms of this project it was something that I know I could shoot in a space like this with a cast like this. It's a self-contained casters there's no extra, it's like a cast of thousands of unnecessary characters. It's a fairly self-contained show. There's maybe five locations, five six locations, in the entire piece, a lot of which is these two hotel rooms that we built, I'm like okay. We get the hotel rooms. We need half a dozen, six to eight, really great actors. I know we can get those, I know some people I can plug into it. Sending it to them you know we get Chris, we get Charlene, how we get Tim and it's a combination of those things. It's a story that comes together but it's also a story I can produce because I hear stories, like that's a good story but I can't make it. And then I also hear stories that's like okay I can make that but it's not a very good story.
DC: Chris mentioned that he heard about Vitals while he was vacation, that you emailed him the script.
KR: I've worked with Chris on a couple of other projects and he jumped to mind. I recommended him. Funny thing was that I hadn't worked with him in a couple of years and I literally just put him a web pilot that I was doing. So he was fresh in my mind and I'm talking to Marc, I say well hey Marc I just put Chris in this other thing you should take a look at him. Yeah the casting process in this was incredibly simple because it's such a great show. We moved very quickly once we got a cast out, we're getting calls like hey I got these people that want to be in it, we've already casted sorry. I tend to find, when a project picks up momentum like this you can feel who you're supposed to get.
DC: What, about this story, made you want to make the movie?
KR: Well, one of the things that I like about this show is that it, I don't work in horror. The last show I did was a thriller before that it was a comedy. I don't do a lot of horror work and what I like about this show is that it's not just about a man who gets his kidney taken out. It's about this relationship between these two people and whether or not their relationship is redeemable and I can't spoil for anybody what happens in the end. But you know it's, the twists and turns are about these two characters and their relationship. Marc and I talked early on and fairly regularly about us looking for that touch tone, that true line of what's going on. For everybody it's about love and for everybody it's about relationship. When you look at Kaliyah as the villain. We've talked to all the actors, it's like okay what you know you look at the story of the surgeon. Tim's character, his motivation by a love that was ripped from him and that to me elevates this sort of thing. It's easy to do blood. It's easy to do jump scares and to scare people but it's when you get down to the heart of who humanity really is and these characters. That's what appeals to me about this sort of thing.
Vitals comes to us from writer/director Marc Morgenstern. Christopher Showerman, Charlene Amoia, Sachin Metha, Tim Russ, and Claudia Wells co-star. In it Showerman stars as an unassuming electrician who wakes up in an abandoned motel room in a tub of ice with his kidney missing. It’s only a matter of time before he finds his wife in the adjacent room waiting to be the next victim to a horrible organ harvesting organization. Now they must use each other’s wits and skills to escape before their captors return and their dark secrets are revealed.
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