ED- The Eerie Digest is always exploring all fields of entertainment and we have a keen interest in how productions are made. Therefore, we would like to introduce producer Mark Moran to all of our readers. Mark what first made you enthusiastic to create projects on your own?
MM- Back in my college day, even during the midst of my most technically inclined period, I was Assistant Editor of the alumnus magazine of Virginia Tech for my college there. Although the college of engineering was then and nowadays still is supremely technical, I made sure that Engineers’ Forum magazine also published fiction, including fiction I myself wrote, because I intensely appreciated fiction and have always been in touch with the visceral power of stories. And I appreciated more than just fiction, especially nonfictional history. One of my springboard projects of the 1990’s was my idea to train people in the field of statistics using a science-fiction storyline on a CD-ROM.
ED- We understand that one of your first productions took place in New York with an episode of ‘Star Trek New Voyages: Phase II’. Please tell us something about this.
MM-The episode was ‘World Enough and Time”  starring A-list actor George Takei from the original series and the actress Christina Moses (Machete Joe ). I got a call out of the blue from a Hollywood producer (we had a mutual acquaintance) asking would I be interested in serving as a production assistant on the show? Since my background in the entertainment production environment was at the time limited to a collaboration with IDI corporation in the late 90’s to script and assistant direct the aforementioned ‘edutainment’ CD-ROM, I felt I could not pass up the opportunity even if it started out as little more than a go-fer situation. The production was shot mainly in upstate New York, with a small part of it shot in Hollywood.
ED- What was your full involvement with this?
MM- It started out with odd jobs, whatever needed to get done on the spur of the moment, and then for a time took an uncomfortable detour toward catering and craft services. Thankfully, an unexpected request from on high was presented to me through Tasha Hardy instructing me to get the production the use of certain cameras — and, specifically, to do so at zero cost to the production. I never have understood how I got selected for that task, except maybe Tasha’s trust in me. Apparently no one had been able to accomplish this job up until they turned to me. What steadied my nerves during the carrying out of this delicate responsibility was my tacit assumption, flowing from my awareness of documentarians shooting behind-the-scene footage in the backdrop of the main production, that the cameras were only being sought for more of these behind-the-scenes activities. I had no clue at the time, and would have been shocked to learn, that the cameras I was supposed to obtain were actually the main ones, the ones upon which the entire production stood or toppled! When I managed to pull off this feat, using a barter deal instead of a pay transaction, it was not long before I was promoted to the New York Unit Production Manager. Returning to my natural habitat in the Washington DC area, I hooked up with a close friend of mine who had helped launch the career of New York Times bestselling novelist David Baldacci, Together, he and I decided to hang out a new production shingle called Breadwin Productions.
ED- Please tell us about the cast members and your interactions with them.
MM- At the production assistant stage, I would be asked to transport cast between the set, dressing room, or the bathrooms when the set was located at a distance from the main facilities. For example, I chaffeured Christina Moses (co-star with George Takei) from point A to point B on a few occasions, as well as Michael Reeves. Michael Reeves was one of the head writers from Batman the Animated Series, one of the most proficient from that series. Along with Marc Zicree, he and Marc wrote this particular script, called ‘World Enough and Time.’ At one point I picked up an actor who was flying into the airport in Vermont. I also had to run into town to pick up whatever was on the latest shopping list — for example, glycerine to dampen Takei’s face and make it look like perspiration or tears. I met George Takei and gained profound respect for the makeup and hair department, who oftentimes would be on-call on the set round the clock, and who supported a heavier workload, working longer hours, second to almost no one on the entire production. When I got promoted to Unit Production Manager, I started to work closely with production meetings and technical discussions with the Director of Photography. I made at least one trip across the bridge into Vermont to fetch more production hardware.
ED- This past year you produced the film ‘Blast and Whisper’. What was the theme behind it, and tell us a little about the film?
MM- Even the sanest people hear voices in their heads. It may be their own thoughts, the voice of a loved one, the voice of a colleague, the voice of authority, the voice of temptation — all these voices and thoughts are whizzing around inside their heads, loud at times, almost imperceptible at other times. Do we listen only to the voices that reflect ourselves, our own experiences, and our own limited world, or do allow into ourselves much greater voices, above all the voice of God? Are we spiritual but have no clue which spirit we serve? How do we know whether that loud, brash voice is God at all, or rather could He be the softest, gentlest whisper that we strain our ears just to make out? Blast and Whisper’s insight is that to hear the most crucial voice of all, that voice will invariably be the softest of all voices. At the same time, if we deliberately and callously mute out that softest and gentlest of wisdom in favor of worldly alternatives, then that is when this soft gentle Wisdom will take on an altogether different form from whispers and instead come crashing down upon our little world in a guise that any tuned-out, pushed aside father can appreciate. ‘Blast and Whisper’ adapts the story from the Bible of the prophet Elijah, during a time of whispers. The bride of the king, an infamous woman named Jezebel, or Jazz for short, has brought into the land her own brand of whispers, unseen demons masquerading as gods that demand the sacrifice of little human beings to be placated. When Elijah and his fellow tribesmen spy upon and discover this outrage, their indiscretion is discovered and (spoiler alert!) their tribe is promptly massacred that very night. Will Elijah and the survivors — spared only because of another mysterious whisper — take revenge against this savage bloodbath, or will they entrust to God the vengeance that Elijah’s own ethics insists can only properly come from God? Elijah turns out to be a man true to his own code of conscience, and his response is not an extension of the savagery levelled against his people, but rather to tear down the pagan altars, shame his enemy but without further bloodshed, and leave the rest in God’s hands. Because of Elijah’s supreme trust in God, God rewards Elijah with a gift of unprecedented magnitude that no other had ever even thought to ask for — the promise of God to carry out Elijah’s revenge for him, on his behalf: whatever revenge the mere mortal Elijah may pick out. I won’t say what punishment Elijah selects, although anyone can easily figure this out from a quick read of the Books of Kings. In order to bring to an end the punishment that has spread across the land, Elijah must once more appeal to God who in answer sends crashing down from the sky the blast showcased in the title of the movie.
ED- Who were the main protagonists in it and tell us about the actors who played those roles?
MM- Elijah is played by Mehran Haq (Disney’s Step Up ). Mehran looks the part, is young with a heart-throb appeal, and has a riveting delivery. The evil queen Jezebel is played by Libertad Green (Our Family Wedding , Evan Almighty , and The Foot Fist Way ). Libertad is also young, and can project that diabolical power from the dark recesses of her soul. Obadiah, the Courtier with a conscience, is played big by Cylton Collymore, Jr. (Amulet ). Finally, the King, played by A. J. Faraj (Deadlands 2 ), handles Shakespearean lines with grace and finesse. Although her part (Tamar) was not especially grand, I was particularly pleased with the spell-binding performance of Tiffany Ariany (Ninjas vs Zombies , who has recently interned on the Ellen Degeneris Show and hosted celebrity red carpet affairs for a major network.
ED- You also wore many hats during the production of this film. Please explain to our readers the many roles that you had to fill to make this a success.
MM- I wrote and directed ‘Blast and Whisper,’ in addition to my (uncredited) production hat. The Bible story from which ‘Blast and Whisper’ was to be adapted challenged me on several fronts. First, the screenplay could easily mushroom into a mega-million dollar budget with gigantic set pieces. On the other hand, I sensed that, with the right touch, the core story could be presented as a microcosm of that grandiose epic. Also, the story from the Bible left out crucial, but tantalizing, details. I didn’t want to gratuitously invent things willy-nilly, but to some extent I had to invent. Development waned and pre-production cranked up. Only a few weeks before the first shoot, Lurray Caverns wierdly decided — based on the strange events described in the Bible when Elijah hides in a cave — that their customers should not be exposed to events that depict life in a cave as anything but healthy and tame. They backed out! Fortunately, we had a backup cave, a distant branch of more or less the same underground network of caverns. In the days leading up to production, the cave owner and I trekked out in his 4-wheel drive to the cave location. A tree had fallen across the path, and it would have required a chain saw to get past. On foot, we hiked the last half mile or so in the dense foliage of the mountain. Somehow I picked up spores and developed bronchitis. My doctor gave me a prescription which cured the bronchitis but during the first week on set, I would cough a few times and nearly lost consciousness. Later, I was hospitalized. Fortunately nothing bad was discovered and I continued furhter down this amazing journey, the ‘Blast and Whisper’ journey.
ED- This year you had created a documentary based on the making of ‘Blast and Whisper’. What encouraged you to do so?
MM- Our PR Agency suggested that we create a reel of some sort that could help support media opportunities in broadcast markets. Breadwin Productions had been accumulating footage that could be used for a behind-the-scenes documentary. In the meantime, I was scheduled to meet with our Producer’s Rep in Hollywood. I thought that we could shoot our interviews while in Los Angeles, and this is exactly what we did. We were fortunate to have access to the amazing voice talent Mitch Krayton, who provided the narration in a very cool, or should I say manly, tone of voice.
ED- During this same period you produced the television series ‘Yard Sale 411’. What was this about, and tell us about your work in it?
MM- ‘Yard Sale 411’ is another amazing adventure. George Selby wrote the book on yard sales, and he approached us with the idea to create a reality television series in which what seems to people outside the rather narrow niche of yard sales as just a boring topic proves to be a fun and broadly appealing unveiling of discoveries, serendipities, and human stories. For example, one family’s grandmother became medically home-bound. As a result, the extended family joined the neighborhood yard sale, and four young grand-daughters gave a unicycle show in their cul-de-sac, during the yard sale, worthy of Barnam and Bailey Circus! But this was not a set-up by our production, and things like this just happen over and over again on a routine basis in the crazy world of yard sales. Yard sales are not just for yard salers, you know!
ED- We understand that you are the founding partner of Breadwin Productions, LLC. Tell us about your company and its goals.
MM- Brian Mason and I co-founded Breadwin Productions, LLC. Brian, as I alluded to earlier, was instrumental to the launch of David Baldacci’s career as a bestselling novelist. You could call ours a spiritual, faith-enriched company. There are a lot of people these days who say they are spiritual but not religious. I always ask these spiritual but not religious people if indeed they are spiritual, then which spirit is it that they serve? Breadwin Productions devotes itself to a monotheist brand of film-making and television production, one that honors the real God who honored the real place, Jerusalem, in a specific time in the real-life history of the real world. This is what makes our edgiest titles edgy. Our goal is not to make believers in traditional morality squirm. Our goal is to make an entirely different category of people squirm. But squirm they shall.
ED- What future projects do you, and your company, look to produce?
MM- We have an ambitious slate of projects coming down the pike. Without exciting you overmuch, I can say that we have, first, Yard Sale 411, a skateboarding feature film with A-list talent, a biopic about the greatest writer in the English language, and a science-fiction feature, all on our development slate.
ED- Mark, it certainly has been a pleasure to do this interview with you. We want to thank you for taking your time with The Eerie Digest and wish you, and your company, the best of luck in the future. We hope that you will keep in touch with us so that we can keep all our readers informed of all your latest projects.