ED- The Eerie Digest is very honored to introduce producer and actor Damian Chapa to all our readers. Damian, your career has spanned in all aspects of television and the silver screen. From acting, to directing, and producing you have done it all. How do you feel about all the great accomplishments that you have achieved?
DC-Really I think what I have achieved has nothing to do with film but what I have learned from the films I have made about myself and others as a human being. I actually use my films as away to find out more about who I am. To me its actually never been about the fame or the funds. It has always been away of understanding my psychology and about other aspects of subjects in the world that I am interested in knowing more about, such as secret societies.
ED- Your television roles have been many. Your early appearances were in such shows as ‘Saints and Sinners’, ‘Walker: Texas Ranger’, ‘The Rockford Files’, and ‘Dead Connection’ and lead to the TV special ‘Menendez: A killing in Beverly Hills’. How did these roles shape your career?
DC-I used to think that making films and TV really meant something in the sense of achievement however I feel the talent I wanted to express didn’t happen at all until I did ‘Polanski Unauthorized’, and ‘Bobby Fischer’. The only film I ever felt any sense of worth as an artist, and as a human being, in the “system “of “Hollywood” was ‘Blood In, Blood Out’. I think that film meant something and created actual feelings within people, and gave me a sense of understanding towards my partial Chicano roots. It also became a learning ground for people to understand many cultural things about the Mexican- American community that they might not have ever learned about without that film.
ED- You also appeared on ‘Married With Children’, ‘On Seventh Avenue’, and several episodes of ‘Melrose Place’. Tell us about your experiences with these productions.
DC-It was truly the worse experience of my life to have to do ‘Melrose Place’. I’m ashamed as an artist that I had to do it for only the money to survive, and at a time in my life where I was insecure and needy. I learned a lot about that experience. I will never take a film or a show as long as I live that I don’t think will enhance my development as a person, and as an artist.
ED- Your career has also been on the Silver screen where you not only performed as an actor, but wrote, directed, and produced a great number of important films. Tell us about ‘The Calling’ and ‘Betrayal’.
DC-‘Calling’ was changed to “Man of Faith”. It was a very interesting film and I felt as though it was actually one of the first times I was able to really create as an artist something that was interesting, and that would bring forth emotions from its viewers. It was a true blessing to me to do that film. It touched me and others as I have heard. It was my personal faith as a Christian re-established.
ED- You also wore many hats in the productions ‘Bad Cop’ and ‘Bobby Fisher Live’. Please tell us about these films and your work that you were involved in with them.
DC-Well ‘Bad Cop’ was one of David Carradine’s last performances and he helped me very much by doing that film. I was truly happy when working with him. He was a great actor. ‘Bobby Fischer’ for me was one of those films that reunited me with my artistic self and a film that I could express about a very sensitive creature, who was also very controversial, to learn more about him, and myself as a human. It was for sure something a lot of people won’t approve of. However when they watch it they will learn from it. Also it was the first film I was able to really connect as Director/ Actor to my son, Ricco Chapa, and that was very exciting to see him as a young man , a friend, and a son, to become more mature. It is very interesting to see the similar thing in your children and the things that are a world a apart. For example, I see so much more elegance in my son as an actor then I have ever done myself. He reminds me of Gregory Peck. And I thought to myself I was a part of that. That made me proud.
ED- Another famous film is ‘Polanski Unauthorized’ . Can you tell us about this production?
DC-I felt very alienated from “Hollywood” and very betrayed at the time and still do. I think this was my way of transforming my revolutionary minded ways into a world wide aspect of discovery of one of the most overrated, over protected, members of the filthy Hollywood elite. During the filming I expressed so many emotions about this disgusting aspect of the business that I was in. And I say ‘was’ in. Because I say that I was in, as I am and outsider now, and I know it. I am a revolutionary filmmaker that has caused a uproar of the subjects I take on, and The Elite have done everything in utilizing their propaganda machines, like the New Yorker Magazine, to demonize me. They need to do this because when I did the film about Polanski I started to get noticed again, however this time as a real artist, and a real revolutionary person who was not going to back down from the intimidation tactics of the Hollywood elite. One of whom actually called me and told me I “should not do the film”. I knew then that tyranny exists in “Hollywood” and that something had to be done about it. And someone needed to stand up against the propaganda machine. It wasn’t going to be Scorsese (whom I thought was one of my heroes until he signed the document supporting a child molester. And it wasn’t going to be Gibson, who I thought was a hero when he suddenly started cowering under with his addiction to fame, and he started to give answers to questions in the interviews that he knew was not what he really felt. He had such a place to begin his expression with, and one in his own truth, but he began to battle within himself. I felt like all my heroes had suddenly died that day. I then realized that I was going to have to be the only one who carries the torch of truth no matter how hard it is to the masses. Even if it meant losing millions of dollars as an artist and a businessman. I knew then I had to become the person who would lay down his career to tell the truth about our horrible click, and others, and all the horrible things I have been a part of like the system of Hollywood. Its like a high school click. If you even step out of line, and display your anger for what that click is doing no matter how horrible it is, you become black listed. I ran into a old acquaintance of mine named Rudy Durand one day and he said “Hey, how are you outlaw”. I said “What do you mean?” and he said well that’s what they call you, the outlaw” . I thought to myself “He is right. I’m an outlaw to the system of Hollywood, and I am for sure proud of that at this point. I realized all my heroes were gone and that I had to be the true revolutionary film maker, and do what I felt was right, and separate myself from the very system I was a part of. ‘Polanski’ was not a target or anything for me. It started out as a interesting subject matter for me. I thought how could this person of such fame and stature be able to do something like this and then get all this praise. It made me feel guilty about all of us in the ‘system’, and then I started to analyze myself and others around me and say “wait a minute what are we smiling about”. We should be in tears. We should be ashamed of ourselves. All of us, and all of our horrible superficial values in ‘Hollywood’ and it disgusted me to be a part of it all. I felt as if I was around a bunch of drones who were afraid to speak out against the elite, ,the Wizards of Oz’, so to speak. Then I went behind that curtain as Dorothy did in the Wizard of Oz, and I realized then this is who controls it. I looked him in the eyes, so to speak, and I said “Move the hell over. I’m taking back my own mind and my own expression and I don’t give a @### what you think”. I’m done being a drone. I’m done being a Hollywood zombie, and I was not going to let the idea, and lust, for fame and fortune stop me from expressing my portrait of something interesting such as the subject of Polanski, who is just a person. As a matter of fact the moment I knew I would do it was when I watched one of his films and in the film he as an actor look up in church at a figure of Christ, and he, as a director, made the image of Christ into Scarecrow. That Was his portrait of Jesus, that was Polanski’s image and portrait of Jesus as a scarecrow. So if he can make an Image of something so Holy and, so kind, like that who the hell is he to tell me what portrait I can make of him, or anyone else for that matter. I actually gave, and felt, a lot of compassion for him in my film and study of him as a character. Yet I also saw the hypocritical aspect of the zombies in Hollywood. I mean can you imagine if it was a Mel Gibson Type who would have drugged a kid? Where would they be now? Academy? No. Letters of support. No fricking way!!! Its now the same with Gibson, who gets drunk and says a bunch of stupid things, and loses his whole career over it. Polanski sodomizes a 13 year old, and drugs her, and leaves the country and gets praise and support from the Hollywood elite. It’s unfair. It’s not justified, and we all know it. And there is an agenda based crowd running the system and if you go against that, no matter how brilliant your movie is, no matter how many people call your work a “masterpiece”, you will get nothing. Absolutely nothing but demonization from the powers to be. The ones who need to come down off their high horse, and will eventually. It was not so easy working under the conditions I was, when I left the zombie land. Somehow I survived long enough to tell the truth, as unworthy as I am. I was able to do that with films like ‘Polanski Unauthorized’.
ED- You also wore multiple hats in ‘Bad Cop, ‘The Bad Game’, ‘Dark Crossing’, and The Mexican Gangster’ which are well known films. Please describe these productions, and the behind the scenes / and in front of the camera roles, that made them successful.
DC-What has made any success in any of my films is hard work, never giving in to the word no, or any other negative expression. I simply will not accept defeat even when it is a reality. I think it was Jesus who said “even with faith the size of mustards seeds”. I had faith of watermelon seeds, at least a thousand times through all of these films, each day. Each obstacle, each defeat, was met with the willingness to continue and prevail. ‘In Dark Crossing’ I was really helped a lot by a man named Peter Kehl. He is from Switzerland. He believed in my work and went against the concept of what some from the Elite had reported to him. He overlooked the propaganda and supported me a great deal in the work of the film, and it allowed me to create what I think is one of my better films, with new and very talented James Bardo.
ED- You just completed the film ‘Ladron’. Can you give us a preview of it and tell us about its release?
DC- It’s a strange film about three young thieves. It is not my best film but we worked our asses off on it.
ED- Your newest masterpiece is ‘Brando Unauthorized’, which is set to be released in 2011. Can you give us a sneak preview of this, and a behind-the-scenes look at the production?
DC- Well the first day of filming I took a pretty bad fall on a motorcycle and I almost got killed and injured both my hands and suffered a concussion after slamming my head into the concrete. When I saw the head injury it looked horrible, but Keith Beck, the make up artist, was able to cover it for me, and my Director of Photography, Pierre Chemaly, was able to help me hide it. Pete Allman, and Annette Young, were the producers, and they really stuck it out with me on this one and even took me to the hospital to help me get through it all. What happened then after the accident was that I was very emotional and my expression of Brando, as a actor and director, was filled with emotions. As I almost died, I felt like this film was meant to be because I almost wasn’t here for it. We used the accident in the acid trip scene with Christian Brando, played by my Son Ricco Chapa, and it gave me a head ache to watch the actual real accident. But it plays as a real interesting look at the reality of how close life and death are for all of us. I have a son named Peter Foell Chapa, who lives in Munich, and when I went to the hospital I saw the name of the hospital and that it was called Saint Peters. It kind of brought a tear to my eyes thinking my battle to see my son would soon be over and that this was Providence saying I’m not going to let you go down. I know it sounds dramatic but I am an actor :))). I explored Brando a great deal but in the end I realized that it was Christian Brando whom I ending up loving as a human being. And Christian Brando is actually more of a hero to me then his dad, who was the greatest actor of our times, and the biggest legend as actor of out times. Yet it was Christian whom, in my opinion, deserves the praise as a human being for having to endure the horrible wake of broken promises “Hollywood” has to offer. His suffering is a result of people who where selfish, and self seeking, and I wanted to show the world that even the greatest actor, and the most famed person in the world, will suffer if they do not practice the most natural aspects of life whereby family must come first, and our children must come first before any of our dreams, and any of our lusts, and any of our desires, because if they are not first we suffer in the end. And Christian Brando is a perfect example of ‘not the Hollywood dream, but the Hollywood lie’. And even though I do not gain any friends stating my true thoughts, I gain a friend in what I think is important to me, and that is the truth.
ED- Damian, it has been definitely an honor to have this interview with you and we know that not only our readers will be interested in it, but ‘ALL’ of Hollywood will be chafing at the bit to learn all about your work. We want to thank you for your time and hope that you will be back with us often.