Michael D. Olmos, son of veteran actor Edward James Olmos, was a little out of breath when he called me for his interview. He was literally running late between meetings on new projects and doing promotions for his feature film, “Splinter”, which has its theatrical premiere Friday, August 17th at AMC, Mann Theaters in LA. But Olmos was very polite and apologized repeatedly. I told him that is was a good thing to be in demand. He laughed, “that’s true.”
“Splinter”, starring Edward James Olmos and Tom Sizemore, is a sand-blasted , complex, urban action-mystery with plenty of edge. Carrying on his father’s activism – to save young people from a life of violence – Michael Olmos uses his film to explore the affects and consequences of urban gang violence and how anyone can get caught up in it.
The film throws the violence right into your face, exploding on the screen. But it is real. It is what we see every day in our lives. Even in suburbia we see constant images of violence, young people acting out in frustration when there seems to be no way out. Angry feelings are turned inward, destroying self or outward, destroying the world. We must face it.
“Splinter” tries to answer some of the questions we all have, most importantly, can young people raised in and around that kind of violence ever escape it for a different future. If so, how?
This feature film is Michael D. Olmos’ s directorial debut. He also wrote the story. And he had a hand in the musical score. And a comic book/graphic novel that Michael Olmos publishes with his writing partner, Adrian, inspired the story. An artist in his own right, Olmos worked with Daniel Dijell designing and planning the opening credits sequence. The opening is an exciting, 3-D graphic display that has the feel of an action video game with a musical rhythm. It uses detailed images of the people in the movie and, Olmos shared with me that, “it also tells the entire back-story to the film’s characters”. Impressive somehow doesn’t do it justice.
Michael Olmos did not delve into his father’s pockets to finance the film. It was a collective effort and he worked hard with the people who shared his passion for the film. In fact, one of those is an actor in the film, Enrique Almeida. Almeida is a living example of someone who turned his life away from street violence and toward productivity. Almeida and his mom felt so committed to the project that they literally mortgaged their home to help finance the film. The importance of family support is a dominant theme.
The film and its financing were built piece by piece. That is also how Olmos attained the knowledge and skills necessary to complete a successful movie project: piece by piece. “My father was a tremendous influence” shares Olmos. “He didn’t really push me but strongly encouraged me to learn everything about what I wanted to do. He was always interested in what I was doing and my future. He made sure I learned about the business side of the industry as well as the creative side.”
Michael Olmos interned on as many films as he could. He worked on production crews. He hung around his adoptive father’s films, absorbing everything. Then he went to Columbia University and spent nine years in New York. “Growing up, too, I was surrounded by all kinds of art, ” said Olmos, when I asked about his many talents. “My parents made sure I was exposed to the best the arts had to offer.”
I had to ask how it was directing his famous father, Edward James Olmos. “Was it nerve-wracking?” “Just for a minute” he answered. “My dad came onto the set and really looked around. He saw that I had a good setup and I had hired the best people I could to bring it together successfully. He knew I was doing it right.” Then the elder Olmos relaxed and “it was all about the work” said Michael. ‘And it was fantastic. I loved it.”
“Splinter”, has all the elements a certain demographic of young men loves to love. But despite the violence (which is depicted for a reason), it does have heart. That heart, and the hunks, will bring in the women in. Resmine Atis also stars.
“Splinter” is executive produced by Mike Richardson of Dark Horse Entertainment (Mask, Time Cop, Hellboy), and presented by Image Entertainment, a division of Milwaukie.