Toronto/Canadian-Media: An award-winning action-actor, playwright, and screenwriter from Chicago, Sammy Horowitz, was a member of a predominantly Latino street gang and drug addict who is now thriving in the film industry.
During an E-mail interview with Sammy, Asha Bajaj, Editorial-Director of Canadian-Media had an opportunity to learn about Sammy’s multitude of talents and skills in “Danny Boy.”
Given below is the extract of the interview:
Asha to Sammy: What inspires you as a writer?
I’m inspired by ideas that push boundaries and challenge people to think outside the box.
Where did the idea of your film Danny Boy come from?
Cory and I spoke several years ago about developing a project which would take place in a car and explore a challenging narrative. The idea for Danny Boy was born, and we both wanted an homage to one of our favorite filmmakers, Quentin Tarantino.
Why is telling this story so important to you, and why are you the best person to tell it?
As a former criminal, gang member, and drug addict who often robbed and stole to get what I wanted, I could easily identify with both Francis and Danny on their journey, both in the secrets which we keep and the distrust which we feel.
All my stories come from lived experience and I wanted to bring something to the table so to speak which is raw and uncut and shows the type of nuances that exist in the criminal world.
Danny is gay, Francis is old school. Both characters reflect shades of people I have known and had interactions with throughout my life. Their truths were important to me.
What was the most challenging or unusual part of making this film?
To have a story take place almost entirely in a car and remain interesting was a challenge for me as a writer and I’m sure pushed Cory to bring his best.
Tell us about your creative process? What is unique or unusual about it?
I wrote this script two years ago after a sit down with Cory, but after both of us became busy I grew frustrated during the COVID-19 pandemic and was planning on shooting it on an iPhone in my car. Cory came out for a job in Los Angeles and, on 24 hour notice, decided to assemble a team of incredible artists to film Danny Boy properly. We were on location within 48 hours, rehearsed the script over a one-night period, and shot the film in four and a half hours.
Talk to us about the theme of your film and how you would like the audience to receive and/or interpret its message?
There are several themes present in Danny Boy: betrayal, trust, criminality, sexuality.
I want the audience to take from it that nothing is as it seems and that you can never judge a book by its cover.
Sammy can you tell us about your transition into writing and how your career as a stunt performer informs your writing.
Sure! I have always considered myself a storyteller but didn’t understand the different mediums through which to tell them until I met my writing partner Adam Pasen, who taught me pretty much everything I know about the craft or writing. I started out partnering with him on a biopic about my life, and from there moved into writing plays, short movies, and television series about the darker side of society that I relate to – marginalized stories which I feel need to be told.
The biggest upside of coming from a stunt background is that I understand action sequences very well (since I’ve been a part of many of them), and this really helps when creating them on the page.
As a solo writer, I have a play and short movie in development now: Prisons, which is a play exploring class and racism through a Jewish lens, and Dayroom, a short film that Cory and I will be shooting soon further delving into prison life and the boundaries (and lack thereof) which exist inside those walls. Also, my partner Adam and I have two feature films: God Shot, which is based on many of my experiences and is currently in development with Unified Pictures, and Musket and the Rat, which is adapted from the play I wrote in 2018 and which Cory is now attached to direct. We also have three television pilots that we are getting ready to go out with and have been working on for some time!
I just want to keep telling stories that interest me, and that I feel the need to tell. I would love to be in a Writers’ Room of course, but for me, I just feel the intrinsic need to put things down on paper that call out to me. I want to put up Musket and the Rat in Chicago and make art that is truthful and honest to my lived experience.