The Movie Waffler Interview - UP ON THE GLASS Director Kevin Del Principe | The Movie Waffler

Interview - UP ON THE GLASS Director Kevin Del Principe

Kevin Del Principe
Director Del Principe discusses his new thriller.

Reminiscent of the thriller The Talented Mr. Ripley, Up on the Glass is about a wanderer named Jack DiMercurio who secretly desires the life and wife of his more affluent friend, Andy Shelton. Past tensions surface between the two men during an informal reunion at Andy’s cottage on Lake Michigan. One heinous act allows Jack to draw close to Andy’s wife Liz, but Jack finds living Andy’s life is a dangerous lie.

We spoke to director, co-writer and producer Kevin Del Principe about the September 8th US release.

You wear numerous hats – author, filmmaker, actor. When you started in this game, did you set out to be one in particular?

In my early twenties I became comfortable with the idea of being an artist—a job I see as trying to tell the truth. It is true that I do wear different hats from time to time in order to make art. One through-line for me, however, has always been my work as a writer.

Acting isn’t something I’ve done too much of since I was very young, though I do think my training in college in acting for the theatre did teach me discipline and an appreciation for all aspects of collaborative artmaking. If anything, the theatre led me to playwriting, which then led me to screenwriting, novel writing and then filmmaking. Music has always been an interest of mine too as has poetry. Filmmaking allows me to combine all of these passions.

You started in shorts. What did you learn working on short films that would later prepare you for directing a feature?

Making short films on a shoestring budget taught me to prepare like crazy and to move fast. Quick problem-solving is a necessity. Learning on shorts definitely helped me shoot this feature... as we shot it in only 11 days.

I imagine you noticed some significant differences though?

Directing and producing a feature is a marathon overall as opposed to a sprint. Years of sustained focus on one specific thing is quite maddening, but out of that focus and difficulty, something is earned. Perhaps, it’s as simple as growth. Being pushed beyond whatever limits I thought I had or whatever preparation I did previously to make this film has led to a certain kind of strength.

Financing, I’m guessing, would’ve been more difficult to wrangle for the future?

Given where I come from, in terms of a blue-collar background growing up, securing $50,000 or $100,000 to make a movie felt just as foreign as $1,000,000 or $10,000,000. Though we did have some help, my wife and I were eventually able to invest in the film ourselves and that allowed us to move forward.

When did you know you were ready to direct a feature?

After my third short, I felt ready. I felt that all the artistic preparation I had done throughout my life had led to this point where I was ready to dive in.

The film is a thriller first and foremost yet it’s hard to squeeze snugly into just that box. How did you describe it to your investors?

That’s very right. Though Up on the Glass is primarily a thriller, it doesn’t quite fit in that box alone. In a way, this could have made it difficult to explain to people; particularly industry-types. But given that we made it ourselves, we didn’t have to convince big money people. I did find, however, when talking about the story, that many people intuitively understood Jack and responded to the moral aspect of the story.

Any films or filmmakers influence the story or look of the film?

The Servant directed by Joseph Losey and screenplay written by playwright Harold Pinter: A great study on class dynamics and amazing use of sound as silence.

Shotgun Stories by Jeff Nichols: I really appreciated the setting of this film and liked the colour too.

It’s striking. Where did this shoot?

We shot the film in Western Michigan in Oceana County. It is a very beautiful area that is meaningful to my wife (and creative partner) Nikki Del Principe (known as Nikki Brown in the film) as she spent summers there when she was growing up. The Silver Lake Sand Dunes are particularly impressive.

How much rehearsal time did the cast get before the shoot?

We didn’t have much time to rehearse as an entire cast at all. What did help is many constructive, open chats with some of the actors over a period of many months. I think this really helped to get deep with the characters, and to create a sense of teamwork and a language in which to speak about the work as needed.

What’s the perfect food to eat while watching the movie?

For a drink, I’d recommend two to three glasses of Pinot Noir. I’d advise popcorn, of course, but would suggest that it be made on the stove top with olive oil. For topping, if at all possible, please secure vegan butter and use sea salt. Also, one to two vegan oatmeal raisin cookies would help. Don’t forget to drink water.

Do you know a Jack?

Yes, I know a Jack. In fact, I think I know a few. Like Jack, I grew up working class, etc., and used education in order to “better myself.” But, for me, as an artist, there was no clear path, despite education. Regardless of how far I have climbed via education, I still feel like an outsider in these environments. This continued even when I taught screenwriting at an elite, private university. Partly, this is due to class. Also, it’s temperamental. I don’t want to fit in inside systems that uplift mediocrity as greatness. People like Jack see the limitations of institutions and their perpetuation of established power… and this can be inhibiting. A Jack with a higher consciousness, and enough support and opportunity, can see past the limitations of corrupt institutions in order to develop healthy relationships and perhaps even create new, reciprocal institutions.