DWF 2018 Interview – ‘Murder Made Easy’ Dynamic Duo Jessica Graham & Christopher Soren Kelly Provide Some Killer Insight

More likely than not, most people have either seen the work of or heard the names Jessica Graham and Christopher Soren Kelly.  Two multi-talented artists who have been dipping their creative toes into so many different endeavors for years, the pair has seemingly made it their mission in life to stay innovative and original.  On the movies front not only has the couple made numerous notable short films together wearing many different crew hats (see Monkeys and Chasseur!), but they’re also putting the final finishing touches on a sci-fi feature film called The Tangle.  Christopher is a writer, director and actor (see recent outing Infinity Chamber!) who also dabbles in teaching spiritual stuff, while actress/writer/filmmaker Jessica who also teaches meditation even has a new book out titled Good Sex: Getting Off Without Checking Out.  (These two are busy bees!) 

But their recent collaboration finds the two acting as delicious people pawns in a whodunnit murder mystery feature film hitting this year’s Dances With Films Festival (taking place June 14 at 9:30pm at the Chinese 6 Theaters at Hollywood and Highland – go to www.danceswithfilms.com for more details!) titled Murder Made Easy.  The brainchild of David Palamaro and Tim Davis, the film seemingly brings back the fun of those old Agatha Christie mysteries with a hint of quirky characters ala Clue for good measure.  Excited about seeing the upcoming film we wanted to do a tag-team chat with both Graham and Kelly together to get the skinny on Murder Made Easy, plus we also get personal about past work, their take on playing dark characters and even some insightful life advice on opening up feelings from expert author Jessica.  (This dynamic duo has all the answers!)  Two of the hardest working people in business, please welcome…

Jessica Graham


Christopher Soren Kelly


Can you talk a bit about how Murder Made Easy came to you guys and how you ended up starring in it together?

Christopher Soren Kelly: Actually Dances With Films was a big part of that.  It’s been an important festival for us in making our little films and what we love about it is you meet a lot of filmmakers and it’s a very strong film community and the director David Palamaro was someone we met there.

Jessica Graham: David loved Chris’s performance in Chasseur and had him in mind for a horror film he had written and he met me when we went to Dances with Monkeys.  So I got a call one day from Dave saying, ‘Do you and Chris want to play leads in my movie?’  That’s the call that every actor wants to get.  (They both laugh)  It was a really fun script and so we both said yes.

What were some of the ups and downs of shooting in a single location?

JG: You start to feel like you’re at summer camp – everybody shows up to the same place every morning so it’s fun.  Everybody came together and did it in a really short time.  All of our actors are really fun to work with.

CSK: Obviously story wise that’s a challenge because you have to maintain interest, but fortunately the dialogue is really fun in the script so with a good actor it’s really entertaining.

JG: Also I was the consulting producer on the project and one of the things I really tried to do even though we were shooting in a ridiculously short amount of time in a small space was to bring some production value and pay attention to the details.  Everybody doing everything – we really didn’t have a crew.  Sherri Kauk our DP, not only was she doing these moving handheld shots that lasted up to six minutes, she was also pulling her own focus.  She did the impossible.  We shot it like a play – really long takes.

Love hearing that – more female Cinematographers!

JG: Yeah!  I knew Sherri because she shot my directorial debut, which is kinda on the side because of The Tangle, but she shot that and I loved working with her so much that I brought her on for Dave’s project because I knew she was a team player and would get a lot done.

If the two of you were playing a game of Clue who would you choose as your character and who would be most likely to win?

CSK: I would probably be Professor Plum.

JG: I would wanna be Colonel Mustard.  But he wins all board games though.  I might have a chance to win the first time we play a game because he’s still figuring out the strategy, but after that I will never win.

CSK: That is….

JG: True!

CSK:…not true!

How is it to have Murder Made Easy in this year’s Dances With Films Festival where you have already screened multiple works – does it feel like home now?

CSK: Absolutely.  We’re really connected to that festival and we’re so glad Dave got in there and he’s connected to the festival too.  It’s on a smaller version kind of like a high school reunion.

JG: The great thing about Dances With Films though is it doesn’t matter if you’re an alumni or it doesn’t matter if you have any stars in your film, there just has to be enough people that see something of value to their audience. And this one is a teeny, tiny passion project, so to screen at the Chinese Theatre at my favorite festival is pretty special.

Both of you have a real spiritual and positive upbeat outlook on life especially through meditation – so why do you think you shine so bright playing dark characters with tons of back baggage?

(They both laugh)

JG: Well, one of my main wheelhouses is dark, disturbing, sexual, and dangerous – I really love exploring the shadow side of humanity.  It’s really important that it doesn’t get divorced from our experience of being human.  It’s when people ignore that side of themselves horrible things happen.  So I really love the idea of getting to know and then expressing these parts of humanity on film.  I also became very spiritual because I suffered a lot – I was a very unhappy person.  I was on my own very young and while I don’t use my own life experience in these roles, in things like Monkeys I can’t help but bring some of my own experience because I could have been that person.  So playing around with the darker side is not something that’s necessarily foreign to me as a person.

CSK: I’ve always been cast as an a@shole, so…(smiles)  But for me positivity isn’t genuine unless its accepting the way the world actually is.  It’s like this is actually an amazing world and this is going on too – this thing that’s really dark.  But for me music and acting has always been a great way to express aspects of sadness and anger and in a really safe and positive way.  Super dark, but super positive.

Chris I was utterly impressed by your recent almost solo work in Infinity Chamber – is it harder to create a full performance by yourself or amongst other actors and why?

CSK: I don’t know about that as a general statement – I mean Infinity Chamber was very challenging.  I did have an actor to act off of, so I wasn’t by myself.  I do think it’s really helpful to have an actor there and that was a case in which we hadn’t cast the second role in that movie when we were shooting it.  So I requested it and got a very good actor to come in and play that role – and that happened to be the person who ended up getting the role.  So to have another actor I think is essential.

Jessica your thoughtful and insightful posts featuring words of wisdom always end with ‘I see you and I love you.’  As an old school gent who grew up keeping all feelings inside mirroring movie tough guys of the 80’s how does one get to that place of an open heart and feelings?

JG: Well, I’ll tell you where that saying came from for me.  We were going to one of the big protests at LAX after the Muslim ban came up and I was trying to figure out what kind of sign I wanted to hold.  I knew I didn’t want to hold something that was angry or mean or judging or blaming because that’s not how I operate, so I came up with that.  And people responded to it in such beautiful ways, so I started using it.  It captures what my philosophy is all about.  But that’s not how I always felt.  Maybe I came out that way, but that’s not the way that I developed.  I was very afraid of being seen, very afraid of seeing other people and love was wrapped up with a lot of other things that weren’t so pleasant.  So for me meditation was a really huge part of getting in touch with my feelings. Things could slowly become more available to other people – a first step is something like a mediation practice.  But there are lots of ways to get there.

I’d be remiss not to ask about the highly anticipated sci-fi flick The Tangle – what’s going on, what stage is it in and when can an eager and excited fan see it?

CSK: You’re catching us right at the very end of the post-production process where I have a few notes this week coming back on music and sound and credits and that was all made possible by the crowd funding we did.  We’ve already started sending it off to festivals – just a few right now – but we’ll get the final version in the next couple of weeks and festivals will be getting that and we’ll see what happens from there.

JG: Also I would mention that another film to check out at the fest this year is by our Executive Producer of The Tangle Clark Schaefer whose directorial debut the short film Silence is also playing.

Finally both of you wear a multitude of hats – actor, director, model, writer, author, spiritualist, teacher – is there anything else you want to do but haven’t yet?

JG: I tell you what I want to learn – I really want to learn how to do Cat’s Cradle!  And finding a hobby that I can’t possibly turn into a job and I don’t think anyone’s gonna pay me to do that…

CSK: I don’t know – if you get good enough at it…(they both laugh!)  Me? I wanna make a fictional film about dance – that would be really cool!

Murder Made Easy screens this Thursday, June 14 at 9:30pm via the Dances With Films Festival 2018 at the Chinese 6 Theaters at Hollywood and Highland in LA – go to www.danceswithfilms.com for more details!



I'm a passionate and opinionated film critic/movie journalist with over 20 years of experience in writing about film - now exclusively for WhySoBlu.com. Previous sites include nine years at Starpulse.com where I created Forgotten Friday Flick back in 2011, before that as Senior Entertainment Editor for The213.net and 213 Magazine, as well as a staff writer for JoBlo.com. My other love is doing cool events for the regular guy with my company Flicks For Fans alongside my friend, partner and Joblo.com writer James "Jimmy O" Oster. Check us out at www.Facebook.com/FlicksForFans.

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