I’m happy to welcome my friend, Jason Schoolcraft, back to the site. Today he’ll be discussing New England legend, Lenny Schwartz, and his exciting upcoming project – “The Haunted and the Haunted!” Take it away, Jason…
What kind of movie does a lifelong film lover decide to make first? Well, Leonard Schwartz says a film that has never been made yet!
I met Lenny roughly 20 years ago because of a mutual passion for movies and physical media. That passion has not changed but we certainly have. After we met, I learned Lenny started pursuing his love while at college. He then started his own theater production company and along the way gained a reputation as a dedicated, hardworking, and proficient writer and director. Anyone who has had the pleasure of meeting Lenny will say he is also a kind and caring human being.
His projects are always all-inclusive, and his diligence is appreciated by the cast and crew. Research, writing, re-writing, and writing some more is the only way he works. Lenny’s wife, Sara, is dedicated to supporting Lenny, in front and behind the scenes. She can often be seen during the preparation and then out front at his productions. In past endeavors, he worked on a play about the co-creator of Spider-Man and Doctor Strange (amongst many comic characters) called Ditko about the artist Steve Ditko. That was a highlight during the pandemic.
As his career began to climb, his productions became larger. Lenny’s creations have been produced and staged across New England colleges, even reaching as far as NYC and Johnston, PA. His words have been heard on New England theater screens in films from Indie directors for the last decade.
Lenny has collaborated with artists across the country on all styles of media including film, books, comics, and graphic novels with people such as Nathan Suher on Higher Methods (2020) and Scary Little Fuckers (2015), Richard Griffin on Normal (2013), Before the Night is Over (2020), and many other films. He even got to direct Lloyd Kaufman in a film. How cool is that? The only achievement he had not tackled is a feature film and that is about to change. Recently, he started a Kickstarter Fundraiser to finance his long dream of filmmaking. But he can’t and won’t do it alone. Lenny has a full-time job that pays the bills, supports his family, and allows him the freedom to follow his passion. How can he do all this you ask? There are not nearly enough hours in the day as he may grab 3 or 4 hours of sleep each night if he gets any at all.
Lenny has used his contacts and friends from his years of networking to collaborate in making art. That will be the same on this, his first film, The Haunted and the Hunted. A story that he promises delivers the suspense of the golden age horror classics while gazing into the hidden horrors of our current times. As I ask Lenny a few questions I think we will find out who some of his collaborators may be.
Lenny, thank you for the interview to discuss your debut film. Tell us about yourself?
Lenny: I am a playwright and a screenwriter and a director from North Scituate RI. I love making stories. Literally, all you need is a pen and a piece of paper, and an idea and you can make something from nothing. Honestly, I’ve always loved doing that. I have always loved taking that idea and working with people (performers, designers, artists), and collaborating to make this idea live. What’s better than that?
You are a legend in the Rhode Island area for your work on writing, producing & directing plays for over 20 years. Why did you decide NOW was the time to direct a film?
Lenny: Thank you for those kind words. You know, I have always wanted to direct a film, but I needed to find something that I would be obsessed with. I can safely say after thinking about this script nonstop since I wrote the first draft that I am obsessed with this script.
You are here about your upcoming debut feature film, what genre is it, and why this story?
Lenny: I mean, on the surface, it is a horror film. But I feel that is like saying Donnie Darko is a horror film. There is a lot more to it than just straight horror and I am excited to dive into those other things as well.
What is the title and what can you tell us what it is about?
The title is The Haunted and the Hunted. The world has ended, and werewolves have destroyed much of America. It takes place after the world has ended during the three-night cycle of the werewolf. One woman tries to survive the three nights as she is being chased by a pack. She has a gun with one silver bullet. It is a character study of this woman and everything she must do to survive in this hellscape.
Have you begun filming?
Lenny: We aren’t filming yet but will be soon. The Kickstarter is trying to get us the funds to get this film in the can.
How long is the shoot going to be?
Lenny: It’s going to be a 14-to-16-day film shoot with a really great crew aboard. We are gathering people as we speak and more announcements coming.
I see it’s a small cast & crew with some heavy hitters like Sheri Lee, joining you. How did you do that?
Lenny: I think Sheri Lee is the only person I have ever met that can do this role. Sheri has a wonderful career as an actor in New England and I want to deconstruct that image and break it down into something new. When I met her, I knew that she could more than handle the role. That was four years ago. She’s willing to go the distance for this role, and it is one that is emotional and spiritual. We’ll both be putting a lot into this film and hopefully, the audience will get a lot from it. We are going to do something that hasn’t been done before and I thank Sheri for trusting me and believing that we can both do it. There is no one else besides her I want to step into this with.
I know in the past you have written scripts for other directors, and they had their screenings at local, Rhode Island theaters, do you plan the same?
Lenny: I’m saying this right now. We are having a screening for sure at either Cinema world, the Showcase or another local cinema if it’s responsible to do so. Support your local movie theater, folks, and be safe in the Pandemic as well.
We are both lovers of physical media, will this get a limited run-on Blu-ray?
Lenny: It depends on if we get a contract with a studio. Obviously, I LOVE THAT idea. But if nothing else happens I’ll press my own Blu-rays. Let’s see where it goes first!
I know you don’t sleep much or slow down much. So how are you feeling with production underway?
You know, I feel great. We are obviously in pre-production, but I am ready. It’s going to be exhausting and hard, but I won’t stop until we have done everything, we can make it the best we can make it. Come hell or high water. This will be special.
Next, I was able to catch up with a very busy Sheri Lee. An actor, writer, and producer who as Lenny stated is the only actress fit to do this character. And she is the ONLY person I have ever met that can do this role!
Sheri: Hi there and thank you so much for thinking of me!
Why do you seem to gravitate to the horror genre?
Sheri: My love for horror stemmed from my dad. I was watching Freddy vs Jason and all the good stuff since I was a kid.
What inspired you to become an actor? What was the role you had that you knew you were where you needed to be?
Sheri: I’m not sure of the inspiration. I remember sitting on my living room floor as a child, watching a movie and thinking, “I want to be on that screen”. I joined theatre and performed on stage for years. I started researching how to get into film and well, here I am.
Where are you from? Are you a New Englander?
Sheri: YES, I am a born and raised New Englander for sure. I’ve lived in NH most of my life.
I see you have some extensive work on a few notable TV series. They can be a steady paycheck, but also very long hard days. How has that been for you?
Sheri: Honestly, taking on the role of Dollface in “Dollhouse” from Killatainment Films really opened new worlds. She was an extreme character to portray, but it all felt natural. Which is scary to admit ha-ha, but it makes sense with the love for horror I suppose. Pays well for sure and yes, they can be long days, but they’re so worth it.
Any projects my readers may know you from? What are a few you might want to highlight?
Sheri: The resurrection of Victoria Wheeler” was one of my favorites to work on as that character was a challenge I was up for. I loved it. I had to memorize a sequence of around 7 different characters “coming through” me during a seance and if that doesn’t make you want to watch the series- there’s something wrong with you ha-ha I have kind of been highlighting projects as I go ha-ha but I need to highlight Luke’s project that I worked in a while back “Ghost of Upham street”. It was a great film and Luke sent me a picture of Times Square in NYC where MY face was up on a billboard showcasing the film’s poster.
How did you meet Lenny? And how did The Haunted and the hunted get you to work together?
Sheri: Lenny is honestly the kindest soul I have ever met. He has this aura about him that just makes you want to smile all the time. We know each other from other films he has written that I played just small parts in, but then I got cast in the film Nathan Suher directed and Lenny wrote “Assassination of the Western Civilization “. I played one of the evil characters and it was splendid ha-ha I will never forget that film and we won’t even mention that it might be due to the fact that I drove from NH to RI every day for rehearsals on top of working full-time ha-ha it was also done in one take.
I love the story for The Hunted and the Haunted,” and it seems like it’s going to really be something anyone has seen, what did you think when Lenny “pitched” the film to you? And were you on board right away?
Sheri: I absolutely fell in love with it. And the character of Gwen. Another challenge I was more than ready to take on. Lenny believed in me then. And he has never stopped believing in me- he also included me in all of his “pandemic films”. When he approached me with this script and asked me to be a part I was honored. And I still am to this day. I could not put the script down. I read it in one day. And it might be odd to say, but I imagined myself where this character was, and I could feel what she was feeling. Just from the first read.
Are you ready for filming to start in New England?
Sheri: I’ve never been more excited! This film will go far. I am more than ready to start filming. I read the script as much as I can.
I see more than a few projects of yours either COMPLETED or in the post, Is anything coming soon we should look for?
Sheri: Look for this film obviously ha-ha and George has a new one that we’re about to film as well- “Last Night”.
Last question, I see you are an actor, writer, and producer. What is the most rewarding?
Sheri: The most rewarding would definitely be acting. Most likely because it’s what I’m most passionate about. I was born to do it- as cliche as that may sound. I love writing and directing though! Creating in general. I have been very fortunate in my past endeavors. I got to work on a play about the co-creator of Spider-Man and Doctor Strange(amongst many comic characters) called Ditko about the artist Steve Ditko. That was a highlight of the pandemic.
I am very lucky over the years to work with people such as Nathan Suher on Higher Methods and Scary Little Fuckers and Richard Griffin on Normal, Before the Night is Over, and many films. I even got to direct Lloyd Kaufman in a film. How cool is that! The graphic novel I wrote won two awards as well! My next play is happening in NYC about Bill Finger and the creation of Batman!
I can’t wait for this film to start production. I plan to be on set often to keep readers up to date on its progress. I hope you have more time to chat, thank you again for your time and good luck making The Haunted and the Hunted.
The film is being produced locally in partnership with independent investors in Rhode Island. The film is being produced by Anthony Ambrosino of West Warwick, Rob Schulbaum of Cranston, and Sheri Lee of Salem, New Hampshire. Currently, the production team is fundraising on Kickstarter under the title “Lenny is Making a Movie.” Pledges are accepted and welcome as they work towards the 30000 dollars goal to shoot the film.