Interview with actor, Todd Robbins

Today I’m welcoming Todd Robbins, host of Investigation Discovery’s television series, True Nightmares. Thank you, Todd for stopping by!

 

 

Can you tell us a little about yourself?

I am a performing and creative artist that has spent a lifetime immersed in the shadowy worlds of arcane popular entertainment, dark illusions and sinister realities.

 

 

You have quite the impressive background from being an actor, an author, magician and even a carnival performer. What has all that been like for you and what has been the drive that got you to where you are today?

I have always been drawn to character. I like life that has twists and turns. The safe and easy has never called to me.

 

 

You’ve worked for Ripley’s Believe It Or Not! Tell us about that and what were some of the highlights of your performances?

Ripley’s is a brand that has presented reality as its most interesting and amazing for almost a hundred years. I love everything that this brand stands for, and it is an honor to have done a few things under its banner. It was a real challenge performing in their show in Branson, MO. That is a town where everything is false, and our show was a bit too real for their taste. When that show ended, I was very glad to get back to NYC, where anything is possible…good and bad.

 

 

You’re also the host of the television series, True Nightmares on Investigation Discovery (ID). What was the spark that got you into this role?

True Nightmares grew out of my theater show called Play Dead. I created that show with Teller (of Penn & Teller) and he directed me in it. That show was filled with stories of people, some good and some not so good, that had a relationship with death during their lives. We used magic as special effects to give a sense that these dead people were gone but they were not far away, and when they came back to visit the living, the resulting spectacle was terrifying. I was approached by Discovery Studios to develop a TV project along these lines and Investigation Discovery saw that I told true stories of dark people with a twist that was complimentary to the content of their channel but also an expansion of that they currently present. In the first meeting with the network I brought up the idea of have me “ghosted” in the reenactment scenes, popping up when things take a turn towards the evil. With Executive Producer Eddie Barbini, I developed the concept into a series. The result is a show that presents quirky stories of murder and mayhem that all have an ironic twist to them. I look upon my role not so much as a host or narrator, but much more of a storyteller. This lifts the series out of the docu-drama genre and puts it into a whole different field.

 

 

Share with everyone what your book, The Modern Con Man: How to Get Something for Nothing is about and where can readers get their very own copy.

This book is about the mind of the con artist, and the best way to understand it is to try out some simple cons and scams that you can perpetrate on your friends and family. The book, along with three DVDs that compliment it, are available on Amazon.

 

 

What have been some of your most memorable moments throughout your career?

I came upon the world of the sideshow when I was a teenager and was lucky to have learned how to do all the classic stunts like sword swallowing and fire eating from performers that were the last generation of true carnival and circus sideshow entertainers. It’s true that I have devoured somewhere in the neighborhood of 5,000 light bulbs. I learned it from a fellow that did an act called The Human Ostrich and it consisted of him consuming things like lit matches and cigarettes, razor blades and tin cans.

 

 

Do you have any upcoming projects?

Yes. I am working on a wicked storytelling podcast that will be titled Dark Illusions, Darker Reality, and there are a couple of TV projects that are in the planning stages right now. One is a travelogue that tells the twisted history of places I visit called Down a Road, Darkly, and a few others that too early to speak about. Yes, the word “dark” does seem to be theme in much of what I do!

 

 

Where can fans follow your work?

They can follow me on twitter @toddrobbins, on Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/Todd-Robbins-923440934335323/ and at my website www.toddrobbins.com

 

 

Any words of wisdom you’d care to share?

Live each day as if it was your last, because one day it will be…and for many, it’s later than you think!

 

 

 

todd-robbins

 

 

 

 

 

Interview with Marty Schiff

Today I’m welcoming actor and producer, Marty Schiff. Thank you, Marty for stopping by!

 

 

Can you tell us a little about yourself?

Well… I don’t really know where to start. I’ve had a pretty interesting life… much of it is public knowledge. I have been focused on a career in entertainment since I was 10 years old. I started doing regional theater when I was 14. Sometimes working on three shows at a time, acting, building sets and rehearsing was common for me. By the time I was 20 I had already done two dozen shows in some capacity. Some things that are not as public are: I was a volunteer fireman for many years. I learned to drive a stick on a 1956 American La France fire truck. I have two wonderful children, both who have interests in production. My daughter works as a Production Manager for PBS and my son is finishing up college. I’ve survived some pretty serious health issues…. and you’d never know it. As the song says…”ain’t found a way to kill me yet”.

 

 

What was the initial spark that inspired you to go into the film industry?

I think, and believe, it was in my DNA. I was a TV junkie at a very early age. I can still tell you what was on the air on Saturday mornings in Pittsburgh during the early 60s. It started with a test pattern. My family was also very into going to movies. I was never a noisy child in a dark theater. My grandmother would take me to the Warner Theater on Fifth Avenue in downtown Pittsburgh nearly every Saturday. Drive-ins were big for my parents and siblings.

When I was 12 my father gave me a Kodak Brownie 8 mm movie camera. I shot hundreds of hours of film… most lost in the Northridge Earthquake in 1994. But it was my joy at a very early age. Again, without any formal training I knew how to set up shots, light, direct and edit short films. I was always daydreaming about shooting something and never paid attention much in school. My imagination was… and still is… off the hook. My goal was always to get to Hollywood… and did just that after getting my theater degree at the age of 23.

There is a very real possibility that a past life connected me to Hollywood. When I moved there in 1979 it felt extremely comfortable… not many people say that about Los Angeles… and I knew my way around without maps. I have a particular fondness for The Hollywood Cemetery and used to take my daughter there for “Picnics with the Demilles”… next to Cecil and Agnes DeMille’s burial plot.

 

 

Some of your earlier work include great titles such as Dawn of the Dead and Creepshow. What are some of the other films that you’ve worked on?

I think the one film I’m remembered most for is CREEPSHOW but my favorite film to work on, also a Romero work, was KNIGHTRIDER. It’s a non horror film but still great. Some lesser known are CHILDERN OF THE LIVIND DEAD and PARTY ANIMAL. I also worked on BLANKMAN, CAN YOU FEEL ME DANCING, THE ASSASINATION FILE and others.

As an actor my career was very heavy in television. Most people don’t realize how many times they’ve seen me in commercials and shows from the 80s and 90s. I’m very proud of OUT OF CONTROL which was Nickelodeon’s very first show they produced for themselves. Until then they had been buying shows produced for other networks. We started it all. OUT OF CONTROL starred Dave Coulier who would go on to do FULL HOUSE. OUT OF CONTROL had an ensemble cast that I loved. It was still the most fun I ever had going to work. A close second was the two seasons I spent on DALLAS. I did many shows and still get residual checks for 12 cents when one of those shows runs somewhere in the world.

 

 

What’s your favorite role you’ve ever played and why?

In film it was probably Trashman 1 in CREEPSHOW. It was so much fun making most of that performance up. Of course working with George Romero is always a treat and acting alongside my on screen partner Tom Savini is always a blast. We’ve been partners on screen 5 times. (DAWN OF THE DEAD, KNIGHTRIDERS, CREEPSHOW, EFFECTS, CHILDREN OF THE LIVING DEAD)

On TV it was HERN from OUT OF CONTROL. We had a lot of creative freedom with that show and my fellow cast members, directors and producers were just awesome to work with. An actor’s dream come true. If you search the show on Youtube there are many episodes there.

 

 

You have your very own production company called, SCHIFF MEDIA. Tell us about that.

Schiff Media was one of the first all digital production companies in the Pittsburgh region. It was started by my brother Bill and I with four XL1s and Final Cut Pro 2… we were early adapters. We did lots of commercials, a documentary or two and some special projects. We had a studio set up in the back of Schiff Printing Company and it was a lot of fun. I would move on to other projects and a new company called Jeffrey Martin Global Media. JMGM is more of a distribution company but we still do production from time to time. Recently, we produced a pilot for TV called THE ODDS… focusing on gambling.

 

 

What’s next for Marty Schiff?

I have some shows I’d like to get off the ground. A few game shows, some magazine shows and a film or two. I’m teaching directing for the Cinema Department at Point Park University, where I graduated from way back in the 20th century. I have some interests in non production businesses and I might even slow down a bit… no… that’s a lie… I’m happy working… I will sleep when I’m dead.

 

 

How can fans follow you and your updates about current and upcoming projects?

Fans can find me on Facebook and if they are professionals on LinkedIn. If they are interested in the film program at Point Park I’m always available to discuss that.

 

 

Words of advice for those who’d like to follow in your footsteps?

It’s not easy… but so worth it… and obviously not impossible. The key to success isn’t so much talent as perseverance, practice, commitment and believing in you. And … most importantly… be passionate about it.. live it… breathe it… love it. Never give up, make interesting and smart choices and be brilliant.

 

 

 

Marty Schiff

Interview with Lawrence Chau

Today I’m welcoming Lawrence Chau. Lawrence Chau is an actor and an award-winning host and writer, who has worked in Canada, Asia and America.  He is known by most in North America as the host of Ghostly Encounters.  The paranormal program airs stateside on Destination America, in Canada on Oprah Winfrey Network, and in Asia on Crime & Investigation Channel.

Thank you, Lawrence for stopping by!

 

  1.  Can you tell us a little bit about yourself?

I was born and raised in Toronto, Canada and graduated with a degree in journalism.  I then trekked off to Hong Kong where I landed my first break in showbiz.  Then came Singapore.  That’s where my career really exploded as a host and actor.  After 10 great years in Asia, I routed back to Toronto where I landed Ghostly Encounters and other acting gigs.  Los Angeles is home now where I’ve been concentrating more on acting.  Off-camera I zone out by watching movies and TV shows.  I also love dogs.  I’m not really into nightlife as I don’t like drinking.  I’m in a more Zen state of mind.  I love my “me” time.

 

  1.  Along with being an actor, you’re also a writer.  What are some of your writing accomplishments?

You’re going to laugh, but my first exposure as a writer came when I was seven.  I wrote and illustrated a short story called Crazy Witch that was made available for loan at the school library.  It was an imaginary tale of how I escaped from a Crazy Witch after she had kidnapped me with designs of cooking me in her caldron.   I then won a scholarship award for best story-of-the-year in journalism school.  Professionally, I have contributed to numerous publications in Asia and Canada as a columnist and entertainment writer.  I also used to pen many of the scripts for Showbuzz, Singapore’s No. 1 English entertainment news program, which I also anchored and produced.  I probably will delve into scriptwriting eventually.

 

  1.   You’re the host of The Biography Channel’s television series, Ghostly Encounters.  What’s that like and are you a believer in the paranormal?

BIO.  did air Ghostly Encounters years ago, but no longer.  As of now, Destination America (owned by Discovery Channel) has bought the series and airs it stateside.  Yes, I do believe in the paranormal.  I actually recounted a chilling ghostly encounter in my personal life at the audition.   I’m guessing that helped me land the gig as host.  I’m really grateful for that opportunity.  Not many producers or networks would take a chance on an Asian male entertainment host.

 

  1.  Is there a particular episode of Ghostly Encounters that just really grabs your attention?  If so, why?

Anorexia and The Hag stands out.  The episode also resonated with a lot of viewers for they, too, claimed to have experienced the paralyzing effects of The Hag — as have my brothers and I.  To this day, I’m not sure if it was what doctors describe as sleep paralysis or a spiritual encounter, but let me tell ya, when my brothers and I had them during our teens and 20s, we were freaked out.  I don’t get them anymore, though.

 

  1.  Have you personally experienced anything paranormal?

My most vivid paranormal encounter was in an office building in downtown Toronto.   I was in university part-timing at a newspaper office and my boss was kind enough to let me stay late on a Saturday night to work on my essay on Frankenstein (appropriate, I know).  On her way out, she said, “Be careful of Big Foot.”  I’m like, “Huh?”

A little after midnight, the phone rings.  I think it’s my boss calling to check up.  Nothing.  All I hear is a breezy sound.  Then the ceiling lights slowly zap off row by row.  I quickly turn them back on.  I resume typing my essay when down the hall I hear the elevator moving.  I assume it’s building security doing the rounds.  The elevator stops on my floor.  No one.  Then I hear “thump, thump, thump;” loud footsteps coming down the hall from the elevator towards me.  I am frozen at my typewriter.  I immediately think, “Big Foot!”  I see nothing, but the slow, elephant-like steps continue right past me.  The steps stop at the end of the room.  Suddenly the pinned up papers at the end wall fall down, then a lamp falls.  I am frazzled with fear.  In a mad dash, I put everything back in place and tear off home.

The next day I ask my boss what the heck that was.  She says the same thing happened to her when she stayed behind one night, the difference being Big Foot actually walked through her and she felt an unearthly chill glide through her body.

 

  1.  If someone wanted to ask your opinion regarding the supernatural, what would you tell them?

I would say what Mark Wahlberg said in The Happening:  “There are forces of nature beyond our control.”

 

  1.  Have you conducted any paranormal investigations?  If yes, where?

No, I actually have not.

 

  1.  You have quite the impressive background with an extremely busy schedule.  How do you find time to unwind?

The entertainment industry is crazy.  Very unpredictable.  If we aren’t on-camera, chances are we’re doing something behind-the-scenes.   Breaks pop up here and there and you just seize them.   Sleep, movies, DVR, quiet nights alone or with friends — all help soothe the soul.  I travel alone sometimes, too to de-stress.  I also love Googling and YouTubing.

 

  1.  Care to share some of your current projects?

We just wrapped filming on Farm 1, a rather intense short film that sheds light on the dark world of child prostitution.  I actually had nightmares preparing for my role, arguably the grittiest role I’ve tackled to date. (No spoiler alerts, lol). It’s produced by Hoplite Entertainment, which recently won an Emmy, so I’m sure it’s in great hands.  No idea when it will be released.  It’s currently in post-production.

 

  1.  Any positive words of advice for your fans?

Firstly, thanks for watching and supporting Ghostly Encounters.  Means a lot!  Advice?  Don’t live in a bubble.  Get out and explore the world.  Discover it and your inner self.  Find what makes you tick, pursue it, and live life to the fullest.

 

LAWRENCE WEBLINKS

www.lawrencechau.com

www.imdb.com/name/nm2920680

www.facebook.com/pages/Lawrence-Chau-PR

 

 

Lawrence Chau

Interview with Brad Greenquist

Today I’m welcoming actor, Brad Greenquist. His creative skills have landed him on the big screen as well as television and theater. Thank you, Brad for stopping by!

 

Sheila ~ Tell us a little about yourself.

Brad ~ Well, I’m an actor.  I’ve been in a lot of films, lots of TV episodes and I do a lot of theater in Los Angeles.  I’ve been acting professionally since 1977 (I have the first dollar I earned as a performer framed on my wall!  It was from street mime!).  I also directed an award-winning film back when I was 19 years old.  Won best film and best acting awards at a Super-8 film festival in Washington D.C. in 1979.  Currently I also teach acting classes here in L.A. — teaching students how to work with the camera and the demands of Hollywood.  And I train in the martial arts — Kempo.  Very cool!  And tonight (Nov. 8) I’m going to a premier of a film I shot a year or two ago called “Realite.”

 

Sheila ~ What started your career for you?

Brad ~ I suppose it would be Boris Karloff in the 1931 James Whale film of “Frankenstein.”  I saw that when I was a kid and I was hooked on the Universal Studios gothic horror for a while — Frankenstein, Dracula, Wolfman… all of those.  I really enjoyed being scared… and those films at that time were a relatively safe scare for a kid.

 

Sheila ~ You played the character of Victor Pascow in the hit film, Pet Sematary, a story written by Stephen King. What was it like playing the role of a ghost?

Brad ~ Well, you know, I never really saw Pascow as a ghost.  I saw him as a guardian angel, because he’s trying his best to help everyone.  The only scary thing about him was the bloody brain, really.  But playing a ghost, an angel, or any being from the other side — it’s great because as an actor you can really do anything.  For my preparation I watched a lot of Stephen King movies and read a few of his novels, as well as reading collections of ghost stories.  Some of the true-life ghost stories were REALLY scary! — about actual ghost sightings and communications from the other side.  Very scary!

 

Sheila ~ When it comes to the paranormal, are you a skeptic or a believer?

Brad ~ I don’t really have an opinion.  I certainly don’t disbelieve, but I keep it all at an arms distance.

 

Sheila ~ Would you consider yourself a paranormal enthusiast?

Brad ~ No.  Could become one very easily though!

 

Sheila ~ Have you ever had any experiences with the ghostly realm?

Brad ~ Yeah.  Too frightening & strange to talk about!

 

Sheila ~ What was the scariest thing you’ve ever witnessed?

Brad~ Too scary to talk about!  Sorry!

 

Sheila ~ You’ve also acted in other impressive films like The Lone Ranger, Ali and Water for Elephants. Do you have a favorite role that you would like to share with us?

Brad ~ Yeah… one of my favorite roles was in a small film called “Across the Hall.”  It was a noir thriller, low budget, great fun to shoot.  I had a very odd role of the porter of an old hotel.  I thought the movie was really terrific, but it didn’t get much of a release either theatrically or on DVD.  Other favorites are Water For Elephants, Inherit the Wind, The Yearling, and my first big film, The Bedroom Window.

 

Sheila ~ Are you currently working on any new projects?

Brad ~ Believe it or not, I’m trying to raise funding for a feature I’ve written and want to direct, called “Ghost Light.”  One guess as to what it’s about!!

 

Sheila ~ Any advice for those who would like to follow in your footsteps?

Brad ~  As an actor?  Train train train!  Work as much as you can in as many mediums and genres as you can.  Film, TV, Theater, all of it!  And whatever you do, don’t give up!

 

Brad Greenquist: http://www.bradgreenquist.com/

 

Brad Greenquist