MIXED SIGNALS: Laughter And Suspense Converge In A Smart Throwback To Classic Hollywood Mysteries
An imaginative yet modern nod to those suspenseful nail-biters from the Golden Age of Hollywood, writer/director Nick Savides’ new film Mixed Signals shows how escaping from the past doesn’t really ensure that the past escapes from you.
In Mixed Signals, a mysterious man named Matthew (played by Matthew Yerby, who starred in Savides’ PTSD drama Trent’s War) catches the eye of a spirited young woman, Regina (Clare Riley) as he prepares to get his shopping completed at a backwoods country store. When Matthew suddenly faces a confrontation with his ex-partner, Jay (Jay Caputo), the hidden life he thought he left behind comes back to haunt him.
This past April, Savides’ film played to audiences at the recent Louisiana International Film Festival — or LIFF — in Baton Rouge. Savides, whose insightful nsavides Podcast (on iTunes and various platforms) has featured his interviews with talented filmmakers, actors, artists, authors and musicians, credits the Louisiana International Film Festival for providing a showcase for Mixed Signals and other independent films produced in the Pelican State. “My film premiered at the festival, which was quite an honor,” he says.
In several ways, Savides believes that the Festival itself made both Mixed Signals as much of a reality as his podcast would be. “My podcast started after I connected with (film and TV hair stylist) Dana Boisseau, my first guest, at a LIFF event several years ago, and two of the three actors who star in the film (Riley and Caputo) were actors I met because of the podcast. So, it was nice to get included in a festival that helped to make the short possible.”
Savides’ filmmaking partnership with Caputo and Yerby started later. “I had gotten to know Jay a while ago when I did a podcast interview with him about his career as a stuntman. As we spent more time together over the years, we realized we wanted to work together on something,” remembers Savides. “I met Matthew Yerby when I was directing Trent’s War, a short film about a soldier battling PTSD, and I thought he would be a good fit for this project, as well.”
Thanks to an online contest he started in collaboration with one of Louisiana’s most respected actors, Savides found the perfect fit for the role of Regina in Mixed Signals. “I met Clare when she submitted a video for the #KnowMonologues challenge I did with Laura Cayouette, an actor and acting instructor living in New Orleans who has worked on Django Unchained, Treme, and Friends. Her video made it into our top 5 monologues, and I’ve been looking for a chance to bring her into a project ever since.”
Mixed Signals is a creative homage to classic suspense thrillers from cinema’s past — specifically, some of the most revered films directed by “The Master of Suspense” himself, Alfred Hitchcock. Those classics were essential viewing for Savides and his team before the start of principal photography on Mixed Signals.
“We watched a number of Alfred Hitchcock films like The Man Who Knew Too Much and Notorious while prepping for the film to study how he builds suspense,” recalls Savides. “(You) might as well learn from the best, right?”
Filmed in Pearl River, Louisiana, the two-days long production of Mixed Signals was not without its stumbling blocks — no pun intended. “The first day, we were shooting in a forest area, and it was a bit of a frantic day,” Savides says. “My car was damaged as we were driving to an off-road location. Later, as we were scrambling to get all our shots for the day, I slipped on a slick rock and fractured my wrist.”
With his cast and crew as witnesses, Savides would personify that old showbiz axiom: the show must go on. “Some of the crew suggested that I should go to the hospital, but I laughed it off so that we could finish shooting. I kept it on ice between shots, which helped,” he adds. “Somehow, we got through it all in spite of the setbacks. I didn’t get to a doctor until several days later. Fortunately, my wrist had started to heal on its own and they didn’t need to break the bones again to set it back into place, which was a possibility that had been initially discussed.”
Mixed Signals boasts an entertaining mix of humor and suspense, packaged in a deeper examination of how even the morally proper choices we make aren’t as simple as they appear to be.
“I wanted to explore how difficult it can be to do the right thing, especially when that involves standing up to someone we once admired, “ Savides comments. “Sometimes, we have to make those decisions at inconvenient times, when we’re distracted by other things or off balance, and doing the right thing is not always as easy as it looks in some films. That’s what was interesting to me about the story, but we tried to have some fun with the story. I just hope it will be an enjoyable experience for viewers.”
To listen to the nsavides Podcast, visit: