On The Line With Michael Damian
Interview by Marie Asner
Two years ago, I interviewed actor/singer/writer/director Michael Damian for his family film, Moondance Alexander. The story concerned a young girl and a horse. This year, Michael Damian has out on DVD, Flicka 2, (20th Century Fox) that incorporates part of the story line of Flicka and new characters to enhance the life of Flicka (beautiful girl), a black mustang filly with a mind of her own. Where Moondance Alexander is set in a smaller country setting, Flicka 2 has a herd of 110 mustangs, a ranch and beautiful western vistas. Filming was done near Vancouver. Moondance Alexander was shown at film festivals first and then went to DVD. Flicka 2 is going to DVD exclusively through Walmart/Sam’s Club for world-wide distribution.
Michael Damian’s name is familiar because of his many years as Danny on television’s “The Young and The Restless,” touring with “Joseph and the Amazing Technicolor Dreamcoat” and several top-selling music albums. Damian comes from a musical family and his mother was a concert pianist. Now, Michael has turned his talent to writing, directing and composing. Four of the songs on the soundtrack of Flicka 2 are sung and co-composed by Damian. Michael’s co-composed songs are “Not Your Girl Next Door,” “No Slowin’ Me Down” and “Worth It To Me.” Damian sings on “Never Forget You.”
The premiere for “Flicka 2” was held in Nashville, complete with the actors, red carpet and the horses. Fortunately, the premiere was held a week before the massive flooding situation in Nashville, which has disrupted the lives of many people.
After the release of Moondance Alexander, Damian was approached by 20th Century Fox about directing Flicka 2. He has spent the past year working on the film, part of which entailed figuring out angles of photography and dealing with 110 mustangs in a stampede. A helicopter was used for overhead shots. The storyline had to reference the film “Flicka” but go its own way. The character of Katy, in “Flicka,” is a cousin of Carrie (Tammin Sousek) in Flicka 2, and Hank (played by Patrick Warburton) is Katy’s uncle and Carrie's father.
I asked Michael, what was harder, directing or composing the songs. He said directing was harder to do as it was a constant thing from morning to evening and then to review the day’s work. The director heads the film, so pulling together the logistics of a helicopter, mustang stampede, storyline, actors and music is a massive undertaking. When the film was nearing completion, it was time to compose music and get the ambience of the storyline. As with Moondance Alexander, the City of Prague Philharmonic Orchestra is used for the music background, resulting in a rich, colorful sound to accompany shots of mountains and a herd of horses.
Flicka 2 requires a fair amount of horse riding skill, so what comes first, the actor or the riding skill? In this case, it was the actor and then the actor learned, or brushed up on, riding skills. The actor/musician who was familiar with riding was Clint Black, who plays Toby, a wrangler on the ranch of Flicka’s owner, Hank. Carrie, Hank‘s daughter is sent to live with him, but is not at home in Wyoming, having come from the big city and used to a skateboard. East meets West and doesn’t like it at all. However, when Carrie meets Flicka, it is love at first sight. When it was time to film the horse stampede scene, the actors were confident enough to ride with the horses. There is a naturalness among the actors in the film so you can believe that wrangler Toby and his boss, Hank, are friends. Patrick Warburton (“Rules of Engagement”) plays against type in a serious role, instead of the comedic television roles he is associated with.
Humor in Flicka 2 is provided by Carrie’s adventures with gathering eggs and the rooster there, plus being friends with a household basset hound, Speedy. Off-camera, the rooster ruled the roost. It took time to develop these animal scenes, and Michael said he kept saying there would be a time and place for them and finally, when filming was almost done---there it was. How Carrie solves these situations, with an umbrella and meat on a stick, is a highlight. You can relate to someone who is afraid to love a person, but can love an animal, change is hard and that growing up is not the easiest thing in the world to do
Michael Damian’s next project, with wife Janeen, is one they have been progressively working on called “Castlebury Hall and it will be a romantic comedy. I seem to interview Michael Damian every two years, so at this rate, the next time will be for a romantic comedy. As for Flicka 2, it is rated PG and nicely stays within that rating for family entertainment.
Copyright 2010 Marie Asner