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Vanessa McMahon

Vanessa is a novel writer, screenwriter, rep and a film producer. She shares her discoveries and film surprises. :-)



Interview With Actor Gary Busey on CANDiLAND (2016)

CUN2008 Oscar party Gary Busey.jpg


Director Rusty Nixon’s film CANDiLAND (2016), based on "Elizabeth Engstrom's novel, sold to international markets during this year’s AFM. Oscar nominee Gary Busey (The Buddy Holly Story, Lethal Weapon) stars in the film alongside Chelah Horsdal (Arrow, Hell on Wheels) and James Clayton (Minority Report, Down The Line). In one of his most honest performances yet, Busey plays ‘Arnie’, an ex-marine father trying to become a gentler man in order to right the wrong and turbulent relationship with his disturbed son ‘Peter’ (James Clayton). In an attempt to shut out the modern life of materialism and detachment, Peter and his girlfriend ‘Tess’ (Chelah Horsdal) lock themselves inside his apartment while Arnie attempts to save them both from their own destruction.


I interviewed Busey during the AFM market; he is a force of wisdom and wit speaking in beats of philosophy and humor about his career and recent role as 'Arnie' in CANDiLAND.


ME: Can you tell us about your character Arnie in your latest film Candiland?

GARY: Arnie is a retired marine and he has a son who has gone against the grain of the father’s soul. He is not living well and he has a girlfriend that is completely dysfunctional in a relationship with him. The actor James Clayton lost 60 pounds for the movie and shaves his head on camera. It’s an incredible movie for fathers and sons, especially on Father’s Day because it shows the relationship you are not to be in with your son and not to be in with your father.

ME: I bet you play a scary father?

GARY: Well, yes, I play a former marine.

ME: What was it like working with director Rusty Nixon?

GARY: He wrote, directed, edited it all himself. He was personally involved with everything… his heart, his spirit, his soul. You know, when you make a cake you have to get the right ingredients and just put in the right amount of the ingredients. He did perfection in making the cake called Candiland. You can’t just eat one piece you have to have it all.

ME: You filmed this in Vancouver. How do you like shooting there?

GARY: I’ve done ten movies in Vancouver. It’s one of my favorite locations and I’ve been around the world making movies. The beauty from the mountains down to the water, and the people are so hospitable. You know, this planet we live on has so many beautiful and interesting things to simulate you and the person you are because everything you see in life, in nature- the forest, ocean, mountains, and all these beautiful places, is a reflection of yourself. You know what NOW stands for? “No Other Way!”

ME: What was it like working with the other cast?

GARY: Fantastic! Listen, when I’m doing a scene with another actor, it’s all for them, everything is for them. When the camera is on them and I’m off camera I’m going to say things that aren’t on the script to get a true reaction out of them and it’s a perfect performance. It’s all about the eternity figure 8 between the actors.

ME: Why is Candiland a film everyone should see?

GARY: Well, it’s a film especially for fathers, sons and families because it’s a picture of a father and son not getting along at all. They’re going against the grain of the soul of love and when that happens, you’re missing the point of truth. When you miss the point of truth it’s called ‘failing’. And the word ‘failing’ I’m going to take the letters and give you a definition. ‘FAILING’ stands for: ‘Finding An Important Lesson, Inviting Needed Growth’. So, you don’t fail you just find a better way to live. It doesn’t matter if you get what you didn’t want because experience still comes. It’s like dessert you didn’t order. It’s kind of like that invisible menu of unconsciousness. Just remember this: When you get lost in your imaginatory vagueness your foresight will become a nimble vagrant.

ME: You’re a very philosophical person. Do you bring your philosophy into your acting?

GARY: I do. I’m 71 years old. I’m not doing bad! You know, you must remember to chase and catch your dreams because if you don’t, your imagination will live in empty spaces and that’s nowhere land.

ME: How do you feel about this chapter in your career?

GARY: I feel great about it. As you get older, you become aware of what the truth is. You become aware of yourself and you find the truth of yourself and when you find the truth of yourself you become your own best friend. When you’re your own best friend, you love everyone and until you are your own best friend, you cannot love.

ME: Was there an experience while making this film that separates this from other films you’ve worked on?

GARY: Yes. Every film is like a different baby. I’ve made over 157 in 45 years. Some were low budgets, which comes with the 'dinner'. But you go through them and make sure everyone is having fun and that you’re happy with what you’re doing, because when your happy with what you’re doing, other people on the film are happy with what they’re doing. Candiland was very special. I have two more in the can I’ve just finished that I will talk about later!


April 2016. Canadian based IndustryWorks Distribution sold the film while at AFM.


Gary Busey states, "CANDiLAND teaches us to pay attention to the heart of the injured like you haven't paid attention before."


Interview by Vanessa McMahon

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