Director Cory Wexler Grant Shows The Sketchy & Eccentric Art World In PAINTER [Exclusive Interview]

Every artist wants to be remembered. The new movie PAINTER by Cory Wexler Grant shows how far some people will go to make that happen.  

PAINTER is an eerie psychosexual thriller set in the Los Angeles art scene. The story centers around a young artist named Aldis (Eric Ladin) who is frustrated with his career. He develops a relationship with an older, wealthy art collector named Joanne (Betsy Randle). Joanne becomes his benefactor but the nurturing behavior soon turns into an obsession. Aldis wants recognition for his craft, but now that might involve having more than paint on his hands.

 

PAINTER is full of twists and turns. This independent feature is backed by an eerie score thanks to composer Dylan Glatthorn. The stellar cast of characters consists of Betsy Randle (Boy Meets World, Charmed), Eric Ladin (Boardwalk Empire, American Sniper), Casey Deidrick (In the Dark, Teen Wolf), Cinthya Carmona (The Tax Collector), and Patrick Gorman (Avengers: End Game). 

The Los Angeles based company 1844 Entertainment will distribute PAINTER. For more information please visit: http://www.1844entertainment.com. The film is available on VOD and digital platforms now. 

Cory Wexler Grant is a triple threat. Not only did he direct PAINTER he also wrote the script and produced the film. He is a graduate of the New York University Tisch School of the Arts and started his own production company in 2001. He is an actor, author, playwright, and has completed eight screenplays since the end of production on PAINTERPAINTER is his first feature film.  

LRMOnline reached out to Cory Wexler Grant with questions about his career and his debut film, PAINTER.  

Jake Perry: You wrote, directed, and had a hand in producing this film. It’s your baby.  Why did you
chose this scene of the art world? Are you a painter yourself?

Cory Wexler Grant: It is my first film baby. 2 years of labor, what a relief… The art world is huge, and it’s an ideal world for me to set a small existential, psychosexual drama. It’s a great world in which to discuss jealousy, rage, delusions of granduer, obsession, sex, and success. It’s beautiful, ridiculous, pure, righteous, and full of diverse, outrageous personalities. I love the art world, particularly because I’m not directly involved with it. I can just be observant. As well, my father is a sculptor, my brother is a photographer, my great uncle was a celebrated cinematographer, my cousins are painters, and drawers, and shoe designers. My best friends are artists and work in galleries. I’m comfy stealing all their great stories for my own personal use. I am no painter, but I love painting. Everyone should try painting -you’ll immediate realize how hard it is to be Rembrandt or Rothko.

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Jake Perry: Did this script go through many drafts before you reached your final version?

Cory Wexler Grant: I wrote the first draft in 11 days. It was a longer the film than you see today. I write really fast, because I do a lot of mental prep, and spend a lot of time on the outline. That way, when I finally get my ass in the chair to write, I can just dive. The subsequent drafts were less about story or character, and more about money and time. If we didn’t have the money or time to shoot something, it was out. We only had 16 days to shoot, and a very small budget.

Jake Perry: As the writer of the script what scene were you most excited to film?

Cory Wexler Grant: If I tell you, it’s a SPOLIER so… pause, pause, stop reading if you care… I was most excited about shooting the scene where Aldis Browne confronts Ryan West. That is a hell of a scene. I couldn’t wait to watch Eric Ladin and Casey Deidrick perform that psychological battle. I think they blow that scene up! They certainly did on set. Such good actors.

Jake Perry: The actors in this film were all great. Tell me about the casting process, did you already have some actors in mind for the roles or did they all audition for their roles?

Cory Wexler Grant: Thank you. I think they were great too. I was honored to have them. They all auditioned. We cast this so fast – 2 to 3 weeks before our first day of shooting. That is the process we could afford. We got lucky, no question. One person came in for each role that absolutely took the part. Usually you have to make concessions. This was an embarrassment of riches.

Jake Perry:  The main character named Joanne, played by Betsy Randle, is fantastic.  I was more into Topanga back in the day but I definitely remember her from watching Boy Meets World. What did you learn from having some veteran actors on set?

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Cory Wexler Grant: Betsy Randle gives the performance of her life in this film. Who knew she could do this!? Her, I imagine. I grew up watching Boy Meets World too, and when Betsy came into the casting, I assumed her audition would be bubbly and sweet, like her character on Boy Meets World, and thusly completely wrong for the part. Turns out Betsy Randle is an actor’s actor. In life she is a lot like the mom on TV – very sweet, earthy, warm, with honey colored hair. She transforms entirely to play Joanne – her walk, her cadence, her voice, her aura – it’s an entirely different person on screen. I’m so thrilled you dug her performance. I love seeing older female actors as the lead of a film. I love writing for them. I love working with
them.

Jake Perry: My favorite person in the film is the Clint Eastwood look-a-like Gardner named Bill.  He and Joanne have a strange relationship.  Without any spoilers can you elaborate on their backstory?

Cory Wexler Grant: Oh man, this puts such a smile on my face. Patrick Gorman, who plays ‘The Gardener’ is a such an amazing man, with a past that will blow your fucking mind. The backstory between Joanne and The Gardener is explained well in the film, I wish I had the budget to illustrate it and shoot it. Without spoiling anything, Joanne and her gardener are the picture of co-dependence, and no matter how psychologically toxic these two humans are for each other, they are forever chained to each other.

Jake Perry: The art used in PAINTER is very funky and looks like it’s all from the same artist.  Was there a really talented P.A. on set or where did you get the artwork from?

Cory Wexler Grant: My cousin, Gabriel Gigliotti, is a brilliant painter and artist living in LA. I commissioned him to paint Aldis’s paintings. He wants me to be very clear: those paintings are NOT HIS WORK. And truth be told, Gabriel Gigliotti is a much better painter than Aldis Browne. But he did paint those in the style I think Aldis would paint, and I got to watch him paint. If you get the chance, watch a great painter paint. It’s dope. We also did have some talented production assistants that did some of the other paintings in the film.

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Jake Perry:  The music really added to the film’s eeriness, what did you tell the musician to keep in mind when composing the film’s score?

Cory Wexler Grant: I’m so happy you noticed. I think the score of the movie, by Dylan Glatthorn, is brilliant, and makes me look like a much better director. I wanted something angular, huge, with great texture. I wanted classical, rich instruments playing something very modern and unnerving. Glatthorn over delivered.

Jake Perry: This is your first feature film, congratulations!  Were there any obstacles you encountered during production that you now know to avoid for your future films?

Cory Wexler Grant: Thank you. It wasn’t obstacles that taught me what do to on my next film. We were lucky during production. No one died, no one showed up hung over, no one had a psychotic break. Very lucky. It was a very professional crew and cast. But I know I could make 5x the movie for the same budget after making PAINTER. Nothing like making a movie to teach you how to make a movie.

Jake Perry:  When it comes to movie making who are some of your influences?

Cory Wexler Grant: I’m in love with my influences, so I love answering this question. Jonathan Glazer, Steve McQueen, Coen Brothers, David Fincher, Paul Thomas Anderson, Michael Haneke. And Kubrick. Many more, but for PAINTER, those were the guides.

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Jake Perry:  Since this is your movie, is there a hidden Cory Wexler Grant cameo somewhere in the film? Stephen King style.

Cory Wexler Grant: No. I’m an actor, but I hate looking at myself on screen. I like being on stage. My son, Errol, makes a little cameo though. I also painted all the paintings that are The Gardener’s.

Jake Perry: Haim, Feldman, or Matthews?  (There is no wrong answer!)

Cory Wexler Grant: HUGE QUESTION! Tough question… Feldman. Yeah, Feldman. You know why? Stand By Me.

Jake Perry:  2021 is right around the corner. What’s next for you?

Cory Wexler Grant: I’ve written 8 screenplays, a movie musical, and a play since finishing production on PAINTER. I want to make them all. Lord give me a good agent or manager! Thanks for having me, man. Much appreciated.

Stay up to date with Cory Wexler Grant and follow him on Instagram.

PAINTER is available on all digital platforms now!

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Jake Perry

Jake Perry is a contributing writer and interviewer for LRM. He hails from Massachusetts and graduated from Emerson College in Boston. He's been working in the entertainment industry for over 15 years and is currently the talent buyer at the world famous Whisky A Go Go on the Sunset Strip in Hollywood,CA. He is a pop culture junkie who is a fan of music, film, and the Two Coreys. Follow Jake on Instagram @JakeOnSunset. For interview inquiries: [email protected]

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