AFF 2012 Filmmaker Spotlight: Dan Lee

By Mark Saldana

Immediately after attending an Austin Film Festival Screening of Murt Ramirez Wants to Kick My Ass, I had the pleasure of a casual sit down interview with writer/director Dan Lee who enthusiastically talked about his movie and some of his experiences as a film fan, student and filmmaker.  Actors Armani Del Rio and Jordyn DiNatale sat in as well. 


Here is the official trailer for the film:


The film has an exaggerated, cartoonish style used for comedic purposes and should keep kids well entertained and laughing. I really enjoyed speaking with the amiable director and the two cast members present for the interview.

To Dan Lee, Writer/Director:

Mark Saldana: I read in the festival film synopsis that you consider John Hughes to be one of your influences. Who else influenced you and this film?

Dan Lee: I am obsessed with meeting Paul Feig (who actually attended the festival, headed a panel and presented some films). Freaks and Geeks is tonally exactly what I was going for. True to life, funny, but has heart and entertaining at the same time. My feeling is that the writing on Freaks and Geeks is based on stuff that actually happened. That’s my feeling after I watch it. And I listened to an interview with Paul Feig. He talked about these scenes that actually happened to him. The movie My Bodyguard was also a huge influence on me.

Mark: Is the McConnell Character based on you?

Dan: Yes. Everything is from the best and worst stories of all my friends.

Mark: Did you go to film school?

Dan: I went to SUNY Purchase (State University of New York at Purchase) and they had a film program, but I only took film courses. That’s where I got inspired to get into film. I had a great class with Professor Tom Gunning and he would show these amazing movies, like, I saw Texas Chainsaw Massacre for the first time. I wrote my first screenplay and sent it to Ron Perlman because he actually had his child at my school (Dan has worked as a teacher.) He read it and optioned it. What happened, though, is it got caught in pre-production hell and was never made.

Mark: What’s next for you?

Dan: I want to get a manager. I have an entertainment lawyer. I want to see what’s next for this film (Murt) and I’m either going to do another family project or a basketball project which I am super passionate about. I want to shoot it all in New York, very Brooklyn. It’s a very Spike Lee type of basketball movie. I want it to have CGI, though, like a supernatural basketball movie. I want it to be the best basketball movie ever made. It’s going to have a total hip hop vibe to it, though. I want it to be an insane, violent, supernatural basketball movie that looks like it was directed by Tarantino.

At this point I turned to actors Armani Del Rio (Murt) and Joydyn DiNatale (Jenny) and asked them the same question.

Armani: I have a movie premiering in April on Showtime. It was done through a company called Scenarios USA which takes a student script and attaches it to a Hollywood director. The movie is called The Tale of Timmy Two Chins and is directed by Nancy Savoca (Dogfight and Union Square).

Jordyn: Auditioning constantly. I just got off of an off-Broadway play that was over the summer and we got really good reviews on that. So it was really fun. It was called Recall.

For more information on Dan Lee, Armani Del Rio, Jordyn DiNatale and their film, go to

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