Hey guys, Mike is back with a brand new On The Rise With… The subject of today’s article is Brandon Alexander III. He’s an upcoming actor/writer/producer who is making waves on the film festival circuit with his film First Period.
It stars Elvira herself Cassandra Peterson and is sure to be a cult classic!
Mike sat down with Brandon to talk about his career, what he’s looking to do next and more!
Check it out below!
On The Rise With…Brandon Alexander III
Hey guys! This week’s interviewee is actor-writer-producer Brandon Alexander III! This painfully funny fellow is on the rise in a big way…and you’re going to want to follow his career trajectory starting now. With a popular-on-the-film-fest-circuit movie coming out on DVD on April 21st with major stars, and several other enticing projects on the horizon, this up-and-comer is making his mark in a big way.
You only need to read on to see just how hilarious this guy can be…
Michael Marcelin: When did you first know you wanted to be an actor?
Brandon Alexander III: When I found out that it was actually a job you could have. When I was a kid, I used to pretend I was in all of the movies and TV shows I’d watch and never really put it together that those people were just people pretending to be those people. Then I got to act in some school stuff and even went on to win some theater competitions in high school. That’s when I knew I was destined to one day be a waiter.
MM: Did you know early on that comedy was going to be your sweet spot? Or did you envision yourself as a dramatic actor as well?
BA3: I was always making people laugh and that made me feel really happy and accepted so I always wanted to do whatever it took to keep that feeling going. So naturally, I gravitated towards comedy. But then I fell in love with art and storytelling, acting as a part of getting to live a different life for a second and living in someone else’s shoes. I haven’t done a lot of drama but I enjoyed it, definitely in a different way than comedy.
Now whether I was good at it or not is a completely different story.
MM: In the not so recent past, there were many actors, male and female alike, who were afraid to come out of the closet, for fear they wouldn’t get highly sought after “straight roles”. How exciting is it for you that out actors and actresses don’t have to worry about that stigma as much as they used to?
BA3: I wouldn’t go so far as to say that actors of any kind no longer have to deal with stigma and stereotyping. I think it’s amazing that celebrities are now coming out of the closet and putting gay entertainers into the spotlight, but once they do they still seem to get pigeonholed as gay characters or a sexually ambiguous character that has no specified love interest. We may not be “there” yet but I am very glad to see that we are now at least being acknowledged.
MM: In fact, I believe there are now more LGBT characters in film and television now than there has ever been!
BA3: Oh, absolutely! Gay characters and story lines are slowly becoming more mainstream, which is fantastic. Diversity in the media in general is becoming even more prevalent which, in my opinion, is finally opening up doors to new stories and entertainment that hasn’t been allowed to be explored before.
MM: You also write…and are a very talented, funny writer at that. Is this something you also had a knack for when you were younger, or did you develop this craft later?
BA3: First of all, thank you! I was always obsessed with books, reading, and writing stories when I was a kid. I would write my own storybooks and draw pictures to go along with them. It wasn’t until I moved to Los Angeles did I even think you could be a writer professionally. One of my ex-boyfriends happens to be a screenwriter and pretty much sparked my interest in writing. He would always show me what script he was working on and I would give him notes. One script he was having a hard time selling because the producers didn’t like the ending, so I told him a better one and he ended up selling it. That’s when I knew I wanted to be a writer. Oh, the film was Relative Strangers (starring Kathy Bates and Danny Devito) but don’t hold that against me. I only came up with the ending. Sorry, Greg, but the rest of the script was terrible.
MM: Let’s delve into your resume, shall we? Tell me about “Our Feature Presentation”.
BA3: Oh wow. That was my first legit feature film I worked on, but it turned out to be a hot mess. It was this mother/son team: mom was producing, son was directing, his childhood friends were the writer and other producer. Myself and my friend, Haley, were both cast in the film and we had to stay in San Jose in this horrible house that no one used. (It was to be used as a set for my character’s house). We lived there with the production assistants. At first there was no electricity or running water, spider webs and dust everywhere. Haley and I didn’t have leading roles so we had a lot of spare time and became production assistants as well, which was actually the coolest experience of the whole shoot. I think it was the director’s first film and it was my first feature film, so we were both kind of terrible. Dustin Diamond was in it. He was insane. And incredibly pompous. All in all though, it was an amazing insane awful experience and I frackin loved it! Terrible movie though.
MM: Next up was one of your first larger undertakings, “Kids Eating Paste”, a web series you wrote, produced, and starred in. Tell us about the show and how that experience helped shape your future projects.
BA3: I had always wanted to do a sketch comedy series, and everyone was doing one, so we figured we would too. It was the first time either of us (Jasin Sloane) produced anything so we didn’t really know what we were doing and most of it was improvised but I really got into it. There’s a freedom to doing it yourself because you don’t have to answer to anybody and you have complete creative control. Granted, how you want something to look in your head and how you think the finished product will be are often times NOT the same thing. I did get a fascination with producing and production…and any excuse to do something stupid on camera, I’m always down for.
MM: Your next project was “Really Bad Movie!”, which you co-wrote and co-starred in.
BA3: I don’t know if I’d say “co-wrote” or “co-starred” per se. Moreso “It’s Shake N Bake, and I helped!” My buddy wrote it, animated it, and directed it and I just came on to help. I punched up some jokes here and there and tweaked a few things and I got to voice a couple of characters in it. He was just very generous with the credit titles. It was awesome though. I love working in voiceover and animation. Probably my most favorite medium to work in.
MM: That brings us to your biggest project to date: the hilarious “First Period”. Tell us what it’s about and how you came up with the idea for it.
BA3: Well, I play Cassie Glenn, the new GIRL in town and she wants to get everyone to come to her Sweet 16 party. So she thinks if she becomes popular, then everyone will come. She teams up with the school outcast (also played by a guy) to win the school talent show to obtain said popularity. However, the already popular kids decided to not let that happen, and the shenanigans ensue. It’s basically an 80’s parody of all those classic John Hughes movies with a John Waters twist and some “Teen Witch” thrown in for good measure.
My old roommate and I used to watch Lifetime movies together and make fun of them. That was our thing and I loved it! Also, Airplane! is pretty much one of my favorite movies of all time ever! I wrote a short called “Becoming A Woman”, which was a parody of terrible Lifetime movies, and I wanted to shoot it. I asked my friend Dudley Beene if he wanted to do it with me. He loved the idea, but sadly neither of us knew how to get something like that together. So it kind of fell away. Years later, while I was living in Chicago, I get a call from Dudley, who asked me if I could turn “Becoming A Woman” into a feature film. I told him, “Hell yes I can!” and moved back to LA to do it. I couldn’t really use the Lifetime parody references anymore because no one really remembered Lifetime movies at that point, so I picked the next best thing: terrible 80’s teen girl movies. I watched Heathers, Teen Witch (which I actually love), Breakfast Club, and Sixteen Candles and just rolled them together in one sexy parody. I had to make it my own voice though, so I kept the comedy very “Strangers With Candy”, but had a little “7th Heaven” heart mixed in.
MM: You also got some major celebrities to co-star in it. Tell us who you got and how they came to say “yes”, which is a hard thing to do these days!
BA3: I had a few celebrities in mind when I was writing the characters. And by in mind, I mean that someone knew them and knew we could probably get them. I knew Judy Tenuta, so I wrote Madam Mulva specifically for her. I have always been a huge fan of her delivery, and I know how much she loves playing over the top characters.
Dudley knew Jack Plotnick and I am a HUGE fan of his from “Drawn Together” and “Girls Will Be Girls”. He is a genius when it comes to comedy. Charlie, our director, is friends with Diane Louise Salinger, so he knew he could get her. And we lucked out with Cassandra Petersen (Elvira). Charlie sent her agent the script in the hopes we could actually get her to play my character’s mom. We were both huge fans of hers, so we figured: why not, lets just try. Next thing we know, we get a call from Elvira herself and she loved the script! She said it was the funniest thing she had read in a long time. I pretty much died on the spot. The rest of the cast we had gotten through auditioning and some were friends of ours doing us a favor.
MM: How has it been received so far, on the festival route?
BA3: AMAZING!!!!! We were so shocked people liked our movie. I mean, we loved it, but it’s a little weird and a little different. We had no idea it’d get the response that it did. We’ve won several festival awards so far, including Best Feature and Best Ensemble, and I even won a Best Actor in a Feature and an Emerging Talent Award.
We even were accepted into Frameline and the Hollywood Film Festival, which allowed us to play in a major theater and was beyond a dream come true. As mushy as it sounds, that’s just something you never think you’ll ever get to experience.
MM: Have you gotten distribution for it, yet?
BA3: You bet your sweet bippy, we did! Screen Media picked us up for national distribution and to be honest, I can’t remember who our International distributor is. I’m a terrible producer. But they must be amazing if they picked up our film! I think we’re pretty much on every Video On Demand platform that I know of: iTunes, Google Play, Amazon Prime, Vudu, Direct TV On Demand, and of course, Netflix. Our DVD releases April 21st which will let everyone rent on DVD from Redbox and Netflix (for those people who actually get DVDs from Netflix still). But people should just buy the DVD and own it. I mean, come on! It’s the perfect film for a night in with grandma.
MM: That’s awesome! Congrats! And if you readers look really hard, you’ll find me in my “acting debut” towards the end as a judge in the characters’ talent show. This is what happens when you come to an indie set to help out behind the scenes…you end up on camera. Begrudgingly.
BA3: I MADE YOU A STAR!!!! Nah, you were so awesome to let me use you for your body. But that eye roll you gave in your scene was pretty epic. And if you ever steal the spotlight from me again, I’ll end you. I’m legally bound to say that I’m kidding but you know what’s up.
MM: (laughs) I do. So we’ll pretend this conversation didn’t happen. But I CAN attest that you’re a “bad producer”. You didn’t even know you had music from a popular contestant on “The Voice” (Josiah Hawley) on your soundtrack until I pointed it out to you.
BA3: How was I supposed to know?!! I never met the guy! Or saw the show. To be honest, I never even heard the music until the film was done. That was all Dudley’s job. I also didn’t know Michael Turchin (who played Dirk) was dating Lance Bass, or that he was even gay for that matter. In my defense, though, I did know that Cassandra and Diane both played opposite Paul Reubens in “Pee Wee’s Big Adventure” AS WELL as Diane played opposite Paul Reubens AGAIN in “Batman Returns” as Penguin’s parents. Score one for ol’ Brandon!
MM: Up next, you wrote and co-starred in the short comedy “Slutvinka: With Love, From Russia!”. How did this short come about?
BA3: Judy and I wanted to work together again on something and my ex, the infamous writer, also wanted to write with me again, and he had previously directed a film with Judy called “Desperation Blvd”. So we figured we’d all get together and do a short film based on one of her characters named Slutvinka. It was a lot of fun. Greg and I sat down and wrote something out, Judy loved it and wanted to fund it, and I got to flex my producing chops again which I loved. I really love the whole filmmaking process. Regardless of the budget and back breaking labor, it’s always a really great experience every time. I even got to have a small part in it where Judy slaps me around.
MM: After that, you created another web series called “Raptor Raptor”. Tell us about it.
BA3: After I had gotten quite a few producing gigs under my belt. My friend Haley Mancini (the previous friend from Our Feature Presentation) and I wanted to do a web series together. We became friends when we were in a stripping improv troupe called ScripTease. One day when we were doing improv exercises, we both randomly and simultaneously started pretending to be velociraptors. Our nicknames for each other then became “Raptor” and we’ve called each other that ever since. So naturally, we wanted to do a web series about two best friends going on “cartoon-esque” misadventures together as they navigate through life as idiots. We called it “Raptor Raptor” because, well because we frackin wanted to.
MM: You’ve also done voice over for a video game coming out this month, correct?
BA3: So much correctness! I’m so excited about it because it’s one of my favorite game genres. It’s just like those old point and click adventures back in the PC gaming days of old before the consoles won the entertainment wars. It’s called The Perils of Man by IF Games and it’s about a girl, played by the fabulous Haley Mancini (yeah, we work together a lot) who is traveling through time looking for her father. At one point or another in time, she is trapped on a pirate ship. I play a not-all-with-it pirate called DonkeyGuard that the player must outsmart a couple of times to progress along the adventures and storyline and what have you.
MM: How was that experience, doing voice-over work?
BA3: I love doing voice over! So much! I’m constantly doing weird voices or accents that I’ve heard on TV or in movies to see if I can match them. And in voice over, it doesn’t matter what you look like in real life…you can be any character that you can sound like. Sometimes, you don’t even have to wear pants to do it!
MM: Do you have any other projects coming up that you can tell us about?
BA3: I do indeed! There is a hilarious web series called “Wish It Inc.” that I will be playing a character in their second season. It’s a show kind of like “The Office”, but it’s fairy tale people in charge of the different wish granting departments. I will be playing a fairy named Lionel, that’s after one of the main character’s job. One of the other main characters is also played by… wait for it…. you guessed it, HALEY MANCINI!!!! See a trend there? That’s how Hollywood works folks. Keep your friends close but make sure they’re talented first.
MM: Are there any kinds of roles you haven’t played yet that you’re dying to sink your teeth into?
BA3: Probably something supernatural or sociopathic or BOTH! Just something really far out there. I love those kinds of parts. I will always love doing comedy, but it’d be fun to try something really different and challenging.
MM: How about different genres you’re looking to write within?
BA3: I’m very into dark noir and fantasy, so I’m trying to write a few things that are in both of those genres…maybe even blend them together. That’s the best part about writing, there’s nothing stopping you. Well, I guess when you can’t find something to write on. That always sucks.
MM: Are there any particular actors you’d like to work with on future projects?
BA3: Jennifer Saunders, Amy Poehler, Tina Fey, Amy Sedaris, Melissa McCarthy, Maya Rudolph. I’m gonna have to stop myself because I could write you a novel. Oh and Hank Azaria, but that’s only if he’d do a gay love scene. Funny AND muscles? Um, yes please!
MM: If our readers would like to continue following your adventures in Hollywood, what social media sites can they add you on?
BA: Facebook: BrandonAlexanderIII Twitter: @brandonalexIII Those are the only two things I know how they work. I’m an old man on the inside and technology confuses me.
Movie: Labyrinth / Dark Crystal / The Last Unicorn
TV Show: Absolutely Fabulous / Futurama
Game: Monkey Island
Childhood Cartoon: Count Duckula
Musician: Dinah Washington
Book: I CAN’T PICK JUST ONE!
Director: Charlie Vaughn (THE DIRECTOR OF FIRST PERIOD!!!)
Comedian: Jennifer Saunders