Director Gabriel Adams On His Quirky Comedy-Thriller ‘Up The 5’

Close-up Culture’s James Prestridge spoke to director Gabriel Adams about his new feature, Up The 5.

Q: ‘Up The 5’ is making waves on the festival circuit right now. Can you give us a flavour of the story and what inspired it? 

A: Up The 5 is my self-financed, micro-budget feature film debut coming out in 2020. It’s a quirky and uplifting road-trip comedy-thriller about a pair of total strangers who have to team up to catch a pair of law-breaking sisters.

I grew up in the San Francisco Bay Area and live in LA now, so I spend a lot of time on Interstate 5. I always thought: what would be the worst thing that could happen? Getting your car stolen in the middle of nowhere and having to be someplace soon… like a funeral.

 Q: Can you tell us more about the characters that populate this tale? 

A: On the road we meet the most unlikely characters, and that’s what I wanted in this film. 

Our main hero, the stoner Phill, is a grieving son on his way to his father’s funeral when his prized 1980 Cadillac El Dorado gets stolen by con-artist sisters, Grace and Elsa. Phill catches a ride with his new friend, Percy, an oddball traveler determined to help Phill get the Caddy back.

These car thieves were originally written as a boyfriend-girlfriend couple, but one month before shooting I decided to change them to sisters, which helps balance out the film’s identity. It’s two patsy boys chasing two badass girls. Quite a gender role reversal!  

Q: The film stars Derek Chariton, Grace Tamayo, Mike Kurtz, Kristin Lorenz. How was your time working with this cast and shooting out on the road? 

A: Any small film needs good actors to survive. That’s why I spent a year and a half finding the best possible actors. Each one brings something I didn’t expect to the role, and I wouldn’t be surprised to see all four of them becoming huge stars one day!  

Q: Did you encounter any notable challenges during the shoot? 

A: Halfway through the 21-day shoot we had a massive change to the schedule, forcing us to shoot the next six shooting days in a span of 24 hours. This was one of the most exciting and challenging times of my life.

Luckily my brother, Jesse Adams, and I keep our script loose, and we were able to rewrite the ending in a span of 20 minutes! So when you watch the film, the last 30 minutes were shot in two days, which now is my favourite part of the whole flick!   

Q: Your brother worked as a producer, composer and editor on ‘Up The 5’. What is your creative dynamic like?

A: Good collaboration isn’t about “right or wrong,” it’s about moving forward

Jesse and I have a similar aesthetic style and a relentless work ethic. I’m not sure if it’s because we are brothers, or it’s his music and my art background colliding, but we just really work well together. From the script, to the shoot days, to the editing, we worked as a duo and knocked the film out in record time.  We are excited to direct the next film together.  

Q :Who were the filmmakers that inspired you growing up?​ 

A: My mother raised me on Twilight Zone, Monty Python and Charlie Chaplin so I think that sums it up. More recently, my brother and I have been fans of Wes Anderson, Hitchcock, and the Coen brothers. 

Q: You’ve worked on a number of high-profile films and TV series including ‘What We Do In The Shadows’, ‘Gotham’ and ‘Orange Is The New Black’. How have those experiences formed you as a filmmaker?

A: Being able to work beside some of my favourite directors and famous actors really gave me an idea of how the pros do it! You’d be surprised at how loose a good director can be with his ideas. And you would be humbled to find out how the best actors are just people trying to find direction to best tell a story. 

Q: As you alluded to, you are already working on your next feature, ‘Kirk And The Law’. Can you reveal anything about that yet? 

A: This next film will blow everything out of the water. Imagine a white-trash Sherlock Holmes trying to take down a corrupt small-town mayor. Our main actor is a mix between Ace-Ventura and Clint Eastwood. Hooked yet? That’s all I can say, but as you read this, we are casting some of our favourite stand-up comedians to star in this film.

Stay tuned on my Instagram @Gadamz and for more about Up The 5 follow, @upthe5movie.

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