David Bianchi: Struggle, Triumph and The Art of Dysfunktion
We sat down with David Bianchi an outstanding actor and producer with over 70 IMDB credits. During our conversation we discussed the ups and downs of trying to make it in Hollywood. His personal trials and tribulations. And what has everyone so excited about his new film Dysfunktion!
Ameer: What got you into acting?
David: My first recollection of acting wasn’t organized acting. Growing up me and the kids from the neighborhood would sit on the swing set and we would act out TV commercials. Some of us would sit on the swings and others would play in front of the swings. So in 2nd grade I was already doing improv work and I didn’t even know what improv was! It was something that just came naturally to me. My first play (in 3rd grade) I played captain hook in Peter Pan. That was the first time I was on stage in front of a lot of people, it continued through High School but I didn’t take acting serious until my mid twenties 2001.
I was a rave/club promoter for about 8 years business wise shit hit the fan. I had to reinvent myself. When I asked myself what I always loved to do, acting was the answer. So I decided to go to theatre school. I didn’t just want to be another good looking guy with a headshot, I’m interested in the science of things, i wouldn’t say I’m a deep thinker but certainly a critical thinker. I wanted to learn as much as I could about dramatic arts, the history of drama, as well as techniques (motion techniques, movement, voice and diction). I learned all these things at Arizona State where I graduated Magna Cum Laude with a BFA.
Ameer: What type of theatre teachers did you have? Were they laid back or did you have the “Whiplash” crazy type of teacher?
David: I’ve never had anyone as extreme as the character from whiplash. One director I’m still in contact with is Jack Ruler (Mixed Blood Theatre) he directed me in a play called “Good and Plenty”. He pushed me creatively and became a friend as well. There are always these people that stand out in your mind and heart that help form and shape you. I’m an “A” type personality; if you show weakness in a scene with me I’ll walk all over you. I don’t mean to upstage you its just the nature of my performance, i’m very extroverted. So when it comes to training I need someone who is equally “A” type. When I see a movie like Whiplash I get that! Anyone that knows me calls me “a beast” that’s not just how I write or produce, it’s how I train physically, it’s how I make love, it’s everything. The name of my production company is “Exertion films” www.exertionfilms.com. It’s just how I am.
I also had the honor of training under Marshall Mason (he has four Tony awards for best direction). He’s one of the more legendary living directors.
Ameer: I really believe being pushed to the limit in training or practice is the best way to get prepared. Because you’re ready once the big stage comes.
David: That type of training has been the trajectory of my career. When I first got to LA I was relatively homeless, couch surfing, broke. I had to put on 3 shirts and 4 pairs of pants to stay warm sleeping on hard wood floors wherever I could stay. I worked in the service industry for around a decade, I was rejected and turned down. Until it got to the point where I started producing my own content because I had to do something to get my art out to the world. That psychological beat down that Los Angeles gives you is a hard knocks type of training ground, producing short films and content with no money is hard. So when you get to the point where you are working in television or a studio film it doesn’t feel intimidating.
That’s why I think there are so many horror stories in LA about why people don’t make it. People come to LA thinking it’s waiting for them (the way I did) and that’s not the case. When you’re 4 years down the line and you barely have TV credits, you barely have film credits (or an agent of any merit) and you’re getting beat down by LA. That’s the true testament of how bad do you really want it. Are you literally willing to live like a grunt and believe in yourself long enough to stick around and make it. The people that don’t make it are the people that don’t stay.
Ameer: How is it being a minority actor in Hollywood?
David: My buddy director Tommy Oliver and producer of “The Perfect Guy” said “Its like carrying boulders while walking on glass… uphill.” This business is staged against you. It’s a really elite insider type of boys club. They don’t want the outsiders to get in. When you stack on being a minority actor it makes it even more difficult. The talent pool is 72% caucasian, African Americans have only gained 1 percentage point the last 10 years and are only 12% of the talent pool.
It’s not because we don’t want to be there. It’s because there isn’t enough content being written, created and produced by people of color to create content that reflects the community of people that want to work in the business. As minorities we have to work 10 times as hard and that’s not just externally, we have to work even harder internally to manifest the discipline to do the external things. Discipline comes from the inside out not the outside in.
Hollywood is very good at teaching us it’s from the outside in. They say the cars, women and material make you successful… but it’s impossible to get those things without the internal discipline to know how to fight to acquire those things. Look at our ancestors, if they did it we don’t have an excuse.
Ameer: Tell us about Dysfunktion! It reminded me of college with all the different people occupying one space.
David: The synopsis is 6 dysfunctional Hollywood types that all live in this massive mansion. The only thing that keeps them together is they all rent rooms from a landlady (played by Melinda DeKay). It’s a laugh-out-loud dark dramedy. It’s a day in the life of what can and will go wrong when you have that many selfish self-centered personalities fighting for what they want without thinking about each other. Directed by my long time partner, one of my closest friends Ryan LeMasters.
Only in LA, NY maybe Chicago are places people can’t afford their own apartments so they’re forced to live with other people. In these places the rent is so high you’re forced to live with complete strangers.
The inspiration for the film was from a friend of mine …one day he was like “Yo you got to come to my spot the fu**ed up mansion.” I was like “Whats the fu**ed up mansion?” he said “Yo that’s where i’m living.” He was living there with 7 other people renting rooms out. The more I went through LA the more I saw young aspiring actors/artists living with other industry types in big houses or mansions paying $5000+ a month in rent.
The first draft of the script came seven and a half years ago. Money fell in and out, the script got re-written about 15 times. Even after we did a crowd funding campaign we still didn’t get it off the ground for 4 more years. Finally after producing some other projects we raised enough money from about ten different sources. It really is just don’t Fu**ing quit. Just believe you can get it done. Know that your blessings are already there. The only person that’s going to get in the way of that is you.
The film isn’t for everyone, it’s a dark, adult, cult comedy, with some really interesting things to say. Life is ultimately about the decisions you make. Of the bad decisions we make the damage we see is only a fraction of the concussion that actually takes place. That is the theme, the price of success.
Ameer: What do you want the viewers to get from this film?
David: That we should love and respect our neighbor. The characters worlds implode because of their own selfish behavior. We’ve all been overtly selfish at times in our life, and usually when you’re overtly selfish bad things end up happening. When people see the film they will say “wow that was dark, crazy and I feel like I need to take a shower.”
I also want the up and coming actor or filmmaker to look at my work and see it is possible. That if you have perseverance and work your a** off it is possible.
Ameer: What was your favorite film to work on and what actor have you learned the most from working alongside?
David: Honestly the movie I had the most fun working on was Dysfunktion and I say that because when I get hired to work in Hollywood I’m like an independent contractor. I go in there, I know my marks, I say my lines I shut the Fu** up and I stay out the way. And that’s what a lot of up and coming actors need to learn; know your lines, hit your marks and shut the fuck up.
Because it’s not about you. It’s about the entire process. Dysfunktion was so much fun because there wasn’t an inch of that movie that didn’t have my creative input on it. All the way down to the set design, art direction to wardrobe. I was very involved with every step of the process. As soon as I got on set there was a decision that needed to be made. When it came down to it the acting was easy for me, producing is really hard. So I learned a lot and the people who I worked with on that movie will be family for life.
As far as people I’ve learned from I had a small role in a movie called “Filly Brown” with Gina Rodriguez (Jane the Virgin) that went to Sundance. At the premier I saw Edward James Olmos. He said “David what you did in this movie was honest and it was really good.” To hear that coming from the creator of “American Me” and probably the leader in the Latino film movement was something I’ll never forget.
Also guys like Emilio Rivera (Sons of Anarchy) he inspires me in conversations. I had the chance to work with Danny Trejo and Danny said something really fun “You know bro I’d rather aim for the moon and miss than aim for the gutter and make it.” I take little anecdotes from a variety of actors and directors i’ve worked with and I keep them in this little tiny box in the back of my mind and I pull them out as I need to. Burt Young (Paulie from Rocky) once told me “Kid just keep showing up.” It all makes perfect sense.
Hill Harper is inspiring. Whenever something big happens i’ll shoot him a text or we’ll chat and he’ll give me feedback. It’s little things like that. Whenever I can get feedback from people who are above me in their careers, those are the people I look up to. You always want to be reaching, the day you stop reaching is the day you throw in the towel. Complacency is the killer. At what point is your ego so big that you feel like you’re done. No. This is a life long journey to an unknown destination.
Ameer: We appreciate you so much for sitting down and speaking with us. I feel like you embody everything that Get Far is about. Do you have anything else coming up that you want the readers to know about.
David: Dysfunktion will be out this year. A new film called “Destined” with Hill Harper, La La Anthony and Rob Riley will World Premiere soon (directed by my dear friend Qasim Basir).
I play a Columbian drug under lord my dialogue is in English and Spanish. So I get to flex my multi-lingual muscle a little bit. But you never know how my life could change tomorrow. I never know what’s going to happen in my life and that’s what’s so exciting about it. I feed off of chaos, I feed off uncertainty. Because the only thing that’s certain is change which is uncertain. I love to know i’m in a constant state of evolution.
Ameer: Thank you
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