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Sheila / October 24th, 2015

Spotlight on The Dust Storm movie & interview with co-director Ryan Lacen + actress Kristen Gutoskie

Last Thursday, I got to hang out with the filmmakers of The Dust Storm, Ryan Lacen and Anthony Baldino and chat about their film. The intimate romance drama is set in Nashville, starring ABC’s Once Upon A Time‘s Colin O’Donoghue and The CW’s Containment‘s Kristen Gutoskie. Both Anthony & Ryan are so friendly and fun to be around, two of the nicest people one would’ve had the privilege to hang out with! We went to Cooper’s Irish Pub across the street from Showplace ICON Theater, which is the kind of pub I’m sure the lead actor Colin, an Irishman, would surely love!

Twin Cities Film Fest film review
Romantic films are tricky because it’s SO easy to get into corny and mushy territory when it’s not handled well (*cough* Nicholas Sparks *cough*). But the smaller, more intimate romance dramas like the Before Sunrise trilogy, John Carney’s Once, can be truly moving and heartfelt.

The Dust Storm follows that similar formula, focusing more on the characters and how the sudden presence in each other’s life irrefutably change them. I also love the premise of lost love, the idea that there’s a history between the characters and how tough it can be for someone to let go.

I’m not going to go into the story as it’s best that you discover Brennan and Nora when you see it for yourself. I do want to comment on the performances and the wonderful chemistry of the two actors. I’ve only seen Colin in a few episodes of Once Upon A Time where he plays this swashbuckling, sexy pirate, so it’s interesting to see him display his vulnerable side. Brennan wears his heart on his sleeve so much he may seem rather weak or even clingy, but you can’t help but sympathize with him. It’s apparent that he was hurt deeply in the past and the more I spend time with the two characters, it’s easy to see why. Nora is this beautiful, carefree and confident woman who’s effortlessly dominant in a relationship. I have to admit I don’t always like either characters, but yet I still find myself drawn into their whirlwind time together.

One thing I noticed is there’s a TON of drinking in this movie, I guess as I don’t like alcohol it’s hard to relate to that but in a way it explains to the state of mind of the characters. Some drink for fun, and some drink to escape and I think in the case for Brennan & Nora, it’s the latter. The film certainly works largely thanks to the wonderful casting of Colin and Kristen, and Jim O’Heir also provide a great supporting turn as Brennan’s colleague. He’s definitely the comic relief here.

I think Colin’s fans would love seeing him here, given that he’s pretty much on every scene and he also gets to sing & play guitar. He’s clean cut in most of the film, but don’t worry, there are scenes of him w/ some scruff as well 😉 Both he and Kristen have such a lovely voice and the musical aspect is used well in the film. Nashville itself is pretty much a character in itself too, taking advantage of the city’s vibrant music scene in the way Dublin was in Once. The title is definitely perfect to describe how something or someone in this case can come into your life unexpectedly and you can’t control the effect it has in your life. Brennan is definitely engulfed, if you will, in the emotion he has for Nora. The story is definitely relatable as who hasn’t dealt with a broken heart in their life.

Interview with Kristen Gutoskie

What’s it like working with Colin O’Donoghue, who has a music background being that he was in a band? Did you have a lot of rehearsal together prior to (or during) filming?
Colin is one of the most generous actors. He is a leader on set and very humble. It was wonderful working with him. As for music rehearsal, we didn’t rehearse much at all. Sang the songs a few times, and recorded them and that was it. We did jam a lot on set, which was a blast, there was always a guitar or ukulele on stand by and we would make up songs between takes. For scene work, Colin and I ran lines the night before and rehearsed quite a bit on set.

Lastly, what’s your favorite moments filming The Dust Storm? Please share a tidbit (or two) from the set that you find memorable.
Hard to narrow that one down. The whole experience was an absolute blast. An amazing team of people to work with. But if I haaave to I would say lip syncing and dancing to “Hows it Gonna Be” by Third Eye Blind (performed by I believe Red Wine Hangover?? Confirm with Ryan), singing a ukulele duet with Colin, and screaming our lungs out on top of the John Seigenthaler Pedestrian Bridge during an argument scene and scaring random people walking by haha!

Interview with Ryan Lacen

In terms of casting how did you come to cast Colin and Kristen? Did they audition for the roles?
Colin O’Donoghue we had known for his work in The Rite (starring opposite Anthony Hopkins) and Once Upon a Time. Jessica Sherman arranged for us to meet him at a coffee shop in LA to discuss the project. He had such strong convictions about where he saw the character of Brennan, a lot of it was a tad bit darker and more brooding that we had originally envisioned, but Colin sold us on his take of where this musician was, this guy who had been “rocked” by this girl years previously.

The next step was to put him and Kristen in a room to see how their chemistry would be together. The first introduction in the room was polite and rather quiet between the pair but the second we called “action” they jump started our heart-beat and this chemistry was ignited. By the time the scene was done, we knew – we had a movie!

Did you specifically want actors that could sing?
Colin spent years touring with the band The Enemies so we were familiar with his guitar work – which is incredible – but we hadn’t had the opportunity to hear him sing. Jessica sent us a couple raw samples to give us an idea, but it was when he sat down to play one of the songs that our music supervisor Kat Meoz wrote for the film that we were hooked! His voice was soft but also complicated and a bit tortured.

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Colin O’Donoghue is an Irish actor/musician. He was born in Drogheda, County Louth, Ireland on January 26th, 1981. He is best known for his role as Captain Killian 'Hook' Jones in Once Upon a Time and his role as Michael Kovak in The Rite.

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U.S. fighter pilots are recruited to test experimental aircraft and rockets to become the first Mercury astronauts. TV adaptation of Tom Wolfe's book, 'The Right Stuff'.
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