MICHAEL CROSS – DIRECTOR / COWRITER
New Sam Huntingon comedy “Second Nature”, directed and co-written by Michael Cross, will get a wide release this September through Nicholas Gyeney’s Mirror Images LTD.
The film, also produced by Gyeney – a filmmaker himself whose Beta Test received a wide theatrical release in 2016 – teams Huntington (Superman Returns, Sully) with Interstellar’s Collette Wolfe.
Amanda (Wolfe) uses a magic mirror to reverse the gender roles in her small town, she gains the upper hand on her womanizing opponent, Bret (Hungtinton). As each experiences life in the other’s shoes, they must decide which reality they prefer before they’re stuck in the flipped world forever.
Second Nature, which premiered at the Napa Valley Film Festival, marks the feature debut of Michael Cross.
Theatrically, the film is scheduled to open in theaters from September 8 (beginning with Ark Lodge Cinemas, Seattle). It will also play at the Catalina Film Festival (Sep 27-October 1) and Ellensburg Film Festival (October 6-8).
Second Nature will be available on iTunes, Amazon, Google Play, Vudu, Blu-ray and DVD on September 19.
GTN: Do you recall when you sat down to write the film – and why?
CROSS: It was over 8 years ago, on a visit to Ellensburg, my hometown. The premise for the movie – a world where women and men are flipped – came to me after a drink or two too many at the Frontier Tavern. Still have the coaster with the idea scribbled on the back. When we filmed the movie in Ellensburg 6 years later we shot a few scenes in the same tavern.
GTN: Did you sit down and watch a bunch of similar themed movies as inspiration before or during the script-writing process?
CROSS: The inspiration really came from the core premise. I’ve always been fascinated by gender behavior, as well as gender balance in politics. We are molded from birth and nurtured to behave a certain way, which greatly affects who we are as individuals and as a larger society. So flipping the entire world, so that women behave like men and vice versa, is a way of looking at ourselves more clearly. Through the comedy we are also able to understand better what it’s like walking in someone else’s shoes.
GTN: How many drafts did you go through?
CROSS: Way too many – but it sure ended up being a much better film for it. My writing team literally had no idea how much more relevant Second Nature would be today than when we started writing it over 8 years ago. In fact the first draft of the script wasn’t political at all.
GTN: What did you lose along the way?
That original script had a lot of moments that my cowriters and I had to let go of. In an alternate universe, I probably stumbled into an enormous budget and was able to produce THAT movie – but I’m not sure I ultimately would have been as happy with the finished film.
GTN: Did you write with a budget in mind – and therefore tried not to write in ‘too many’ huge explosions and costly stunts?
CROSS: It was about 4 years ago that we rewrote the entire story to make it more affordable to produce on a small budget, which is where the small town setting came in. The mayoral special election seemed like a natural fit, providing a lot of opportunities to explore gender behavior in politics and society. Even so, Nicholas Gyeney (my producer) still found a way for us to be able to afford the car crash at the beginning of the movie!
GTN: How much of the movie simply happened ‘on the set’?
CROSS: There was quite a bit of rewriting that took place during rehearsals. As a result I think we achieved a much more natural flow than was originally on the page.
GTN: Why did you decide on your cast?
CROSS: I asked Collette Wolfe and Sam Huntington to play the leads because they are both amazingly skilled actors. And it was interesting how different their approaches were for this film, with Sam always looking for the comedy in each scene, and Collette searching for the honesty and truth for the character. This resulted in each scene playing out with a perfect balance of earnestness and nuanced humor which I love.
GTN: Is a movie like this only as good as its crazy plot device? How important is that?
CROSS: The crazy plot device in Second Nature is a magic mirror that grants Amanda’s wish that women and men could switch places for a change. For me, grandma’s old mirror was the perfect portal of entry into the “flipped” world. Because on the “other side” of the mirror, everything is the same except backwards. And in a sense, the mirror lets us see our ourselves in our own world more clearly.
GTN: Do you have a bad guy?
This is more of an adventure into another world, without a specific ‘bad guy,’ apart from the ticking clock. If Amanda and Bret don’t return through the [missing] magic mirror, they’ll be stuck in this alternate world forever.
GTN: How much was Judge Reinhold an influence here? Okay, not at all.. moving on.
GTN: Who are some of your favorite screenwriters?
CROSS: Joel and Ethan Coen have proven themselves experts in pretty much all genres of filmmaking. Their sense of humor in writing The Big Lebowski has always been an inspiration.