David Heavener is what you would call a ‘jack of all trades’. With a background in music, David wrote numerous Top Ten hit songs in Nashville prior to making the move to ‘LA LA Land’ to pursue a career in film. He burst onto the scene with a starring role in the little known Chinatown set action film “The Border of Tong” (1985). Also acting as executive in charge of production for the aforementioned title, this was a sign of things to come as a few years later David Heavener had written, directed, produced, composed and starred in the action movie vehicle “Outlaw Force” (1988) opposite Sly’s younger brother Frank Stallone.
Aiming primarily for the action market, Heavener found his niche producing good quality films on a low-budget that could compete with the bigger Hollywood films of similar type. Now over twenty years since he first stepped in front of a camera and almost twenty since he stepped behind a camera, the longevity of David’s career in such a capricious industry only proves that he has earned a place in the film business.
David is here today to talk about his belated controversial thriller “Angel Blade” which is his first ten fold deviation from the action genre. The film took Best Thriller and Audience Award for Best Feature honors at the New York Film and Video Festival and is certainly a film that will leave many audiences ill at ease.
“Angel Blade” is by far your darkest and most twisted film to date. How did the idea come to fruition?
It came to be as I lived in Vegas and saw the underground sex life through a girl I had met in a restaurant, who was a call girl. As a social worker years ago, I realized that sexual encounters were sometimes the furthest thing from what people really wanted. So I decided to explore the human actions on sexual things and see where it took me…sex sin or the degradation of virtues are the only sin against your own body.
What did you do to in order to re-create the seedy underbelly of Las Vegas for your film?
I used real locations and real people.
What I like so much about the film is that you didn’t hold back with any of the content thus creating an ever so realistic portrayal. Was there ever any uncertainty in making such a no-holds-barred effort?
Yes…my wife divorcing me and my kids thinking their daddy’s a pervert, but if I stuck to the realism and to get into exploiting it I knew the truth would protect me…so far…(my wife still hasn’t seen the movie as she thinks it’s a spiritual rollerblade movie).
To quote an excerpt from my own review of the film “The look of torment and the slow growing insanity that engulfs his mind is written all over Heavener’s face in a noteworthy performance which is his best ever …It is tattooed on to his soul and that kind of acting is hard to pull off.” What did you do to prepare for the role of Bradley Cooper?
There is a dark part of me and I just focused on that. It was hard because you don’t like yourself after awhile. You see, we all have dark sides, but we don’t want to go there.
How did you pull off such a demanding performance that many actors would find so hard to do?
When you’re the low man on the totem pole with budget and time restraints, you focus and don’t let anything stand in your way. It’s do or die.
“Angel Blade” is the first starring role for Amanda Righetti who has since found fame from shows such as “The O.C.” and “North Shore”. How did she come to be cast in the film?
Amanda was a model in Vegas with no acting experience, but a natural instinct for this character.
Being a very young actress, did Amanda have any reservations about the graphic sex scenes she had to perform in the film?
No. She was a pro and had no problems with the nudity or sex scenes.
How has the film been received thus far considering its disturbing nature?
At first, the film was not well received because it does not fit the cookie cutter mold for erotic thriller. However, that is being changed because it is coming out and I’m getting more fan mail than ever before. This will definitely get me back to a strong fan base of people who like realism.
What date is set for the DVD release of the film?
Out of writing, directing, acting and composing songs which would you say is most rewarding for you as an artist?
Acting and songwriting.
You manage to always assemble cast lists filled with name value for most of your films on a low-budget such as Tony Curtis, Isaac Hayes and Martin Landau in the past. How do you go about securing actors such as Margot Kidder and Marc Singer and attracting them to your film?
Niche and hopefully good scripts.
Do you ever run into any problems taking prominent roles both in-front and behind the camera?
Never. I love it!
What is your ultimate aim in making films? What do you like to offer to audiences?
Deep intellectual and spiritual guidance.
“Angel Blade” was completed and had a limited release in 2002, with a DVD release in the UK in 2004. Why was there such a long stretch between completion and DVD release in the States?
MGM held it in limbo for a year.
What’s up next for you David?
The notorious “Angel Blade” will be released on DVD in the States this coming May. Congratulations David on over twenty successful years in the film business and I look forward to your future projects.
Thanks Daniel for your help.