An aging war veteran changes his identity and works in a barbershop to protect himself after the assassinations of his former squad mates, but his first customer of the day knows who he is and the shadowy organization out to get him.
Credits / Collaborators / Cast
Written and directed by Chris Ortiz
Produced by Chris Ortiz & Matthew Merritte (KeepForward Productions)
Director of Photography: Sehee Kim
Editor, Action Director, Sound Designer & Sound Mixer: Matt Merritte
Music Composition: Gabriela Baez & Tamara Kachelmeier
Music Supervision: Gabriela Baez
Sound Recording: Jenna Leung & Brian Kuciak
Assistant Camera & Gaffing: Kevin Villafuerte
Transportation PA: Luis Ortiz
Bill Weeden: Gregg Schulls
Patrick Heraghty: Patrick Burns
Richard Brundage: Leon
Jay Welch: Jenson McKane
Owen Hu: RedSin Assassin
Keith Karon: James
The story behind the film
A routine haircut turned into the inspiration for “RedSin”. My barber, Leon, whose name I chose to call the sympathetic barber character in the film, told me either a joke or a true story (he has a Ukrainian accent, I couldn’t tell) about a suspicious client who might have had a secret identity. The joke is, a spy or CIA agent comes in and recognizes him, creating a messy situation.This came after the success of my last film, “ARSON”, which I think tried too hard sometimes to send its own message. So, I wanted to go a little smaller next time to improve as a storyteller. Leon gave me an idea that day.
I cast two “ARSON” alums: Gregg Rizzo and Patrick Heraghty because I wanted to do a more mature story and in ARSON, their roles weren’t very meaty. I gave them lead and co-lead roles this time out. Long story short, everyone loved the script and we had our first rehearsal on one of the hottest days in the summer by the city dump in Queens. It felt radioactive. My eyes were sticky. These sanitation workers got drunk and yelled kung fu jokes at us because we were rehearsing a fight scene. Nevertheless, all went well…
Until Gregg, our lead, became unresponsive for weeks. On a frantic Thursday during work, I ignored office assignments to do some digging. I found this Vimeo link to a film he showed me once starring an actress named Carey he worked with and had classes with. I looked her up, and she said my worst fear:
“No, I haven’t heard from Gregg, either.”
Eventually, we called his agent, landlord, and our cop friends for help. Patrick Heraghty, our co-lead, is a retired cop, so he graciously offered to help. The plan was to visit Gregg’s apartment in Manhattan…
But on the way, Gregg’s agent, Sandy, called to tell me that the landlord called police, who broke into his apartment and confirmed: he passed away. Heart attack, we learned later. I will forever hate the corner of 34th Street and 8th Avenue in New York City. Not just because of the homeless jerks and dirty sidewalks that plague that corner, but because that was where i learned the news.
Thankfully, I had my best friend, Matthew Merritte, with me that day. We called Gregg’s friends to share the news. We learned that Gregg had an estranged son and came to New York to pursue his dream of acting, and that “RedSin” was his first lead role. Not only that, he had told Carey that just recently, he finally started feeling truly happy and hopeful in his 68 year-long life. God. Damnit.
We agreed to send Gregg off one day, through film, so that he may rest in peace. That will happen in our sequel, RedSin 2 (Red2in). We have the rehearsal footage of Gregg by the river from the last time we ever saw him. Without spoiling anything, we know how to send him off. That is going to be the most emotional scene I’ll ever do.
Regardless, we were missing a lead. As much as I can’t stand Backstage, I reposted a call for a new one. I remained as objective as possible. Wouldn’t you know it, just a week after the loss, another cast member came to my aid: Richard Brundage, who plays Leon. Sympathetic, he also had someone in mind who he’d have loved to reunite with. That was Bill Weeden, our current Gregg Schulls in the film.
Bill made the role his own. He nailed it. He added dimensions to one dialogue-free scene by the river that was crucial to the film, giving it weight and emotion the script didn’t have. His work helped us move on from Gregg and helped shape RedSin’s identity. This is his movie, and there’s no shadow lingering over it.
Gregg will have his chance in the sequel. Then we can say goodbye. Until then, we have “RedSin”.
And in case you’re wondering: yes, drunk sanitation workers did interrupt our set on shooting day. Thank our DP, Sehee Kim, for telling him to “f**k off or I’ll slice your b***s off.” He ran away, telling us “go back to your farms!”
I’m from Brooklyn.