CFDb Interviews D. David Morin ~ Actor/Director/Writer
=>Please tell us how you got involved in the film industry.
I was born and raised in Hollywood, California, went to Hollywood High School, took Rita Wilson (Tom Hank’s wife) to my senior prom.
I followed my dad’s footsteps and studied law but announced professional surfing for ten years through law school in San Diego, and while I was editor at Skateboarder Magazine.
Then I went to Saddleback College to host a cable TV show called Lifestyles and did one student film. I sucked. I was terrible, but I got the acting bug. I literally picked the thing I was the worst at.
I could do every other job in production just fine. but acting? beyond bad. So, I decided that to be a believable actor was the hardest thing in the world and I pursued the thing I had the least amount of talent in. I moved back to Hollywood and studied acting for six years and slowly started working. My hosting experience paid off as I became the “king of commercials” after booking over 200 national network spots. I knew how to talk into the lens and it paid off. The acting jobs came later.
=>What has been your favorite role as an actor thus far? Please explain.
After acting for over 30 years it’s hard to pick one favorite role. I’m more amazed that I booked any roles! it’s such a tough business and I was very blessed to book more than my fair share of jobs, but I loved the craft and I loved auditioning. I was very competitive about it and I had agents that were just strong enough to get me auditions.
My job was to be available 40 hours a week to make every audition and every callback, otherwise, don’t bother trying to make it as an actor. You have to be available. One of my highlights was doing a sitcom with Jennifer Aniston for CBS called Muddling Through. It was before she did Friends. I was second billing and she was third, so at one point I guess you could say I was a bigger star than she was, but then she became Rachel and blew up and I didn’t! All in God’s hands.
We did eight or fourteen episodes. it never aired, or maybe they ran it during the summer. We never made prime time. I did another network sitcom with Brad Garrett before he did Everybody Loves Raymond. I was replaced the first work of shooting with a more “character” looking actor as it was brad’s vehicle. Somehow I was upstaging him. it was very humbling, but the funnest gig was probably working with Dustin Hoffman, Geena Davis, and Andy Garcia in a big studio film called Hero. We were all parked on a 30 foot high ledge in a sound stage on the Sony lot that was doubling as the Drake Hotel in Chicago. Quite a thrill to be in a scene with those three stars. and Dustin was incredibly gracious to me.
=>How did the idea for ‘Johnny’ come about and what is the film about?
Johnny started as a script bought by PureFlix called John The Revelator, written by David Michael Anthony. Jeff Peterson was the Executive Producer behind it and Jeff asked me to read it and consider directing it. I felt the script needed some tweaks and he had some ideas as well, so they hired me to do a page-one rewrite.
In the original script John was a small boy dying from aids. i changed it to leukemia as most folks can’t really relate to that illness, and I added a few new characters to help set things up and pay them off later. Basically Johnny is about an orphan boy who is dying from leukemia and is adopted by his oncologist, against the wishes of his wife. he’s on a “special mission” and finally attains his dream of being in a loving family one day, only to have his life cut short. but he greatly impacts those around him and his mission is accomplished, without him even realizing it. (sorry for no spoiler alert!).
=>In what way do you hope this film touches lives and what has been some of the feedback on the film thus far?
The feedback has been incredible. It could be one of the saddest films ever and the score by David Miner really makes you weep. it’s a tear-jerker for sure… or what the industry used to call these kind of MOWs for TV “the disease of the week”, but it doesn’t matter.
The actors are superb and the characters come alive and you care about everybody and get emotionally invested. All of us can get jaded towards God and His plans can be confounding, but it’s paramount we keep trusting and believing, even when bad things happen and good people around us die for no apparent reason.
I lost my mom and my sister early to cancer, and my dad committed suicide from despair of losing my mom. I know a little bit about being disappointed with God and being perplexed by His “plans for welfare to give me a future and a hope”. Death is the great neutralizer, and how we respond when those dear ones around us pass away unexpectedly can really effect our future. We can choose to be bitter or somehow embrace all things that God allows to happen. I was very bitter after my dad’s suicide, but slowly I accepted it, even though it was hard.
Ultimately Johnny is about hope and forgiveness and family and it’s about how we always have a second chance with God. It’s also about how God is still in control even when people die. My sister Heidi died needlessly of gallbladder cancer leaving three kids and a missionary husband. It took me awhile to swallow that one. Writing Johnny helped me deal with some of those things. (On this note, I also wrote a small book called God Is Not A Smart Planner.)
=>Are there any other films you are working on that you can tell us about?
I am currently living in Kenya, Africa, and am actually writing a script I hope to shoot this year in Ethiopia about sexual abuse. The movie ‘Precious’ really hit something in me and sexual abuse and molestation is rampant on this continent. I’d like to bring it to light. and the actors I’ve been training in Nairobi are keen to do a film project and so am I.
Another project is a pet project I’ve been working on since 1990. It’s on the Pony Express. need to finish writing that one and possibly we can shoot it in South Africa or Zimbabwe next year. I have some horse wrangler friends in Zim, so maybe that makes the most sense, but the Pony Express hired orphans who were expendable. Their only defense was to outrun the Indians on a fresh mustang they picked up every 15 miles. My story is based on a real rider. I’m really ready to get back to narrative filmmaking.
The other project is a crossover christian film about a famous man…but that’s all I can divulge at the minute. It’s a period piece and large budget. I’ll need a miracle to pull that one off!
Lastly, I’m presently cutting a full length documentary on the Sea Turtles of Lamu I shot all of last year. here is the one sheet. I hope to festival it this year and sell it globally to television.
=>How can others learn more about you and your work?
My production company in Kenya is called Slingshot Productions Africa.
or here on Facebook for more updates:
and also here on Facebook:
Feel free to follow my blog for my adventures on the dark continent:
And for those interested, my IMDb credits after 30plus years in the biz.
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