This week, director Kevin Asch's Holy Rollers tells a different kind of crime story featuring Orthodox Jews and Ecstasy. If that sounds like a bit of a conundrum, it's because it is. That's what makes the film, starring Jesse Eisenberg and Justin Bartha, all the more interesting. We were lucky enough to talk to producer Danny A. Abeckaser about the unusual-but-true story, which New York and Los Angeles audiences can see on May 21st before expanding the following week.
You’ve got quite an interesting background, jumping from the nightlife scene to acting. What made you decide to get involved in production?
I always acted as a kid, and producing came naturally to me. I became a producer because I wanted to create movies for myself that I'd like to see.
Many of the films that you’ve been a part of – and the roles that you’ve taken on – seem to focus on nightlife and the industry that you are a part of. Was there ever a point where the work blurs the line between narrative and reality?
Not really. When I was in Made, I basically played myself, and in Point and Shoot. Other than that it's been characters, but it's always easier to act when it's about subject matter you know.
Holy Rollers follows the story of an Orthodox Jewish youth that is lured into becoming an Ecstasy dealer. What was the appeal of this story for you and why choose this film to be your first production?
I saw a documentary on the Discovery Channel called "Interpol's Fight on Drugs". I always felt people would be interested in a world they are not aware of - the hasidic communtiy has always been isolated, so i felt like this would be a good angle from which to tell such a beautiful story.
I’ve always imagined that it’d be difficult for people like Clint Eastwood or Mel Gibson to direct a film while starring in it. In Holy Rollers, you play one of the main characters and you were also active behind the scenes as producer. What were some of the personal challenges of taking on so much responsibility? Which do you prefer, behind the scenes action or on-screen time?
As a businessman, being behind the scenes comes natural to me. But if I must choose, I think acting comes natural to me, but I am not wanting to wait for someone to cast me. So I figure I'm going to go out and make my own movies.
And what movies will you be making next?
The next film I'm producing, "King's Highway", will be going into pre-prodcution within the next few months. I will also star in it, so I guess you can say I'm in the biz.
Check out the trailer for Holy Rollers, below.