Kenny Riches, writer/director: THE STRONGEST MAN
1Q: Tell us a little about the origins of The Strongest Man, from concept to financing.
The story developed as I would visit Miami year after year before eventually moving here. Much of it is based on my own adventures with my friend Robert ‘Meatball’ Lorie, who I ultimately ended up writing the film for. He plays Beef. I wrote Miami itself as kind of a character as well since most of the situations and characters are specific to Miami. Most of the characters were written for friends of mine, including Paul Chamberlain, Ashly Burch, Davy Rothbart, and Patrick Fugit. Patrick helped me attach Lisa Banes because they had just completed another film together called Gone Girl. We financed the film independently and the rest is history.
2Q: The Strongest Man has done well at other film festivals. Will you be less nervous now at Cinequest? Does this process ever get any easier?
We just premiered at Sundance, which was a really amazing experience. I think screenings get easier. I’m not good at public speaking, but after a few screenings I feel a little less nervous in front of the audiences during the Q&As, but I usually still find a way to make an ass of myself.
3Q: What was your best and/or worst experience while making The Strongest Man?
At the end of a long day when everyone on set was wiped out, Paul improvised a scene by a swimming pool that involved spilling beer on my girlfriend’s lap was a really hilarious and wonderful moment. I looked around at all of my best friends laughing their asses off. The worst experience involved a camera and the ocean. You get the idea.
4Q: Festival audiences often have to make hard decisions about what to see, and the catalog descriptions sometimes run together. In your own words, why should people see your film?
I’d like to think it offers something a little different. It has a lot of symbolism and visually striking imagery. It’s funny too, in a sad, weird, existential sort of way. Thank you in advance for checking it out.
5Q: Time to pre-plan: You just won the Oscar for The Strongest Man. Give us your acceptance speech.
Thanks friends and family that I love. What am I doing on this weirdo TV show?