June 2003
Manito : An Interview with Director Eric Eason and Actor Frankie G.

Interviewed by Tinia Gray

Manito: An Interview with Director Eric Eason and Actor Frankie G.

After spending some time on the festival circuit and garnering awards such as the Special Jury Prize at the 2002 Sundance Film Festival and a $25K prize from American Express after receiving the emerging filmmaker award at the 2002 Tribeca Film Festival, Manito is finally making its theatrical debut on June 13th. It’s a dream come true for Director Eric Eason and actor Frankie G. Frankie G., by the way, is currently gracing the screen in ironically 2 heist films, Confidence and The Italian Job. In an interview with blackfilm.com, both Eric and Frankie spoke briefly on the film Manito and their upcoming projects.

TG: Eric, What led you to make this film?

EE: A lot of the times, when I was thinking about being a film maker, I would see films shot about certain groups of people or “The Hood” or whatever and would always sort of cringe because it always felt so fake. It always felt like some Hollywood Studio cast a bunch of Hollywood actors and tried to make them look tough and it just felt so false. So I knew I wanted to make the movie in the most authentic way possible. Not just to make it authentic, but also to make it emotionally engaging.

TG: What about the violence in the film?

EE: I feel that an audience can connect emotionally if they believe what they are seeing is real. So we made a whole plan to make the film look ugly, to make the images look gritty, because it’s very easy to mount a camera on a tripod and light a scene, but then it feels like a thousand other movies you’ve seen. So we decided to throw that aesthetic out the window and have no aesthetic at all, we want it to feel almost as if you are watching a home movie.

TG: It’s interesting that the film leaves you with open ended questions. Was that your vision from the start?

EE: Again it’s typical of a Hollywood film to have you leave the theater on such an upbeat note, but to be true to this particular story and end on anything else, but sort of that emotional moment with Junior (Franky G) running at the end, would have felt false and maybe insulting to smarter people in the audience.

TG: Frankie, you’re all over the screen now with this film and 2 others. What else do you have coming up?

FG: I am now in “The Italian Job”, “Confidence”, and have “Wonderland” coming up. The story of John Holmes, I have a good role in that with Val Kilmer who plays John Holmes. I investigate the Wonderland Murders. Right now I am just reading scripts and having meetings. Even though I am Latino, I don’t want to be stereotyped, that’s why I liked “The Italian Job” “Confidence” and “Wonderland” because it’s three different roles that showed what I can do. Hopefully things will work out.

TG: How are you Eric? What next?

EE I am shooting a film in Brazil,

F G.: I’m in that too

EE It’s a crime drama about New York guy in Brazil for the last 17 years sort of in exile.

TG: Are you two ready for success?

FG: It doesn’t bother me as much. It’s how you carry yourself I guess. My girl and my family keep me grounded. I am just myself and handle it as best as I can. Just don’t get into trouble.

EE: It’s little different for me I mean he’s the face man.

EE: I don’t think the movies I make will ever put me in the spotlight. I’ll always be on the margin.

TG: But at least, you’ll be respected.

EE: Yeah, I’m just interested in making movies.

FG: Exactly, I respect people like Robert Dinero who keeps a low profile and does his thing. I’m not looking to be in the press, I am looking to do good movies. That’s how I look at it.

Manito opens Friday June 13th at select theaters.