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The Fashion & Style of Mobster

The mafia-based found-footage film MOBSTER was written and directed by Brian Eric Johnson. The story is told by the point-of-view of FBI Special Agent Ron Zarger, the man appointed to bring down the west coast kingpin of the Israeli Mob.

With a large cast of newcomers, MOBSTER pulls the viewer into an action-packed drama with a unique mix of surveillance and point-of-view filming. It features original songs by international recording star Farshid Amin and an eclectic music score composed by Ninef Arsanos.

MOBSTER follows Special Agent Zarger who slips into Jacob Hadar’s inner mob circle. Hadar has focused his attention on a long standing feud with the Baja Cartel and has failed to see the saboteurs in his midst. With a deadly clock running down, Zarger must discover Hadar’s connection to black market nuclear weapons and stop him before the weapons of mass destruction are released upon the world.

How did you start your career as a director?

My directing definitely stemmed from acting. I like to think of myself as a storyteller. I started by interpreting stories as an actor. But not liking to sit and wait for the phone to ring, I began creating my own stories as a writer. Then I realized that a director gets to combine the two disciplines into a new whole; the ultimate storyteller. My first directing gigs were in the theater and then I did a couple short films. When the opportunity to direct the feature Mobster came along, I jumped on it.

How did the idea for a found-footage Mobster film come about?

I’ve been a fan of the found-footage style for a long time; all the way back to The Blair Witch Project. I feel that found-footage has a unique way of drawing an audience into the movie. But with few exceptions, horror has been the main genre of found-footage. So when Executive Producer Meni Aga suggested we do a mobster film, the wheels started turning. I thought, what haven’t we seen before, but would still feel familiar? Boom! Put a surveillance camera on an F.B.I. Agent and have him infiltrate the mob.

What makes this film different from other mob films?

Well, in addition to the shooting style, Mobster explores contemporary crime syndicates. I wanted to show people what was going on in the world today. Mobster deals with the Israelis, the Russians, the Mexican Cartels… All these organizations work on an international scale. They have the power and influence to affect the world economy. The film focuses on black market nuclear arms, but that is just the tip of a very scary iceberg.

What did you find the most challenging aspect of making Mobster?

A wise Cinematographer once told me that no matter how much money you have, you could always use more. We were trying to tell a studio-size story on a low indie budget; very difficult. But all challenges create opportunities. Not having the money to hire recognizable actors eliminated the urge to do so. Looking back at the film, the relatively unknown cast helps it maintain a sense of authenticity.

Meni Aga plays Jacob Hadar, the mobster. Had he ever acted before?

Meni had done some professional acting work in Israel before moving to the States. But this was his first role here in America.

How did you come to cast him in the roll?

Although Meni executive produced the film, he never insisted on playing the lead. He was more interested in the subject matter and making the best film that we could. But the more I got to know Meni, the more I found myself basing the lead character of ‘Jacob Hadar’ after him. Meni is a lover and a fighter. He’s a successful international business man with a dynamic personality. These qualities were perfectly suited for the role. Finally, I approached him and said he has to play ‘Jacob.’

Was it difficult to work with a first time actor as your lead?

Well, I’m a first-time feature director, so there had to be a leap of faith on both our parts. But we’re professionals. On set, Meni was an actor and I was a director. I think we collaborated very well. We’re both hard workers and each had a lot vested in the project. We trusted each other and that carried us through.

In the film, he dresses the way one would think a true life mobster would dress. For a relatively low budget film, how did you come up with the costume design in the movie?

The “what suit” in “what scene” decisions were made by our fine Costume Designer Amali Lebbos; but, the mobster’s suits were all part of Meni’s own collection. Meni has over 75 custom-made suits designed by Holland and Sherry. I think the mobster’s wardrobe has a great impact on the authenticity and production value of the film.

What film characters would you compare Jacob Hadar to?

Very humbly I’d say ‘Tony Montana,’ from Scarface. They are both immigrants who came to the U.S. with nothing, and created thriving criminal enterprises. Both are flashy and volatile, but with a compassionate core.

Now that you’ve made a mob film, what type of project are you now working on?

I have both a comedy and a drama in development, but am focusing on a horror/thriller called The Damned. It’s the story of a man haunted by the evil spirit of a serial killer. Luis Robledo is set to direct with Barbara Carrillo producing. I’ll star from my own screenplay. We expect to be in production by mid-Summer.

To learn more about MOBSTER, visit the official website.

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