Q&A with Southie Director-Actor Michael Yebba (“Bad Blood” Boston Premiere – featuring Slaine – this Wednesday)


Here at the Phoenix, we have an inkling that we'll be speaking with South Boston-bred filmmaker-actor Michael Yebba quite a bit over the next few years. He's been making moves behind important scenes for about five years now, and a lot of those moves are about to be played out at a national level.

For now, with the hometown premiere of his short film Bad Blood coming up this Wednesday, we caught up with Yebba, to give him a chance to personally introduce himself to the city he intends to illustrate on screen for years to come. In our quick interview, we asked about his projects past, present and future, and about his work with Boston rapper-actor Slaine, who co-stars in Bad Blood as the brother of Yebba's character.

Bad Blood Premiere This Wednesday, August 10th @ Down Ultra Lounge (184 High Street)


What roles did you play in the production of this film, and which do you consider to be your greatest strength?

I'm the writer, director, co-star and a producer of Bad Blood. My greatest strength was my writing; I have the most experience [in that realm], and believe the script will reflect that. But that's not to say my directing was weak; you learn from missteps along the way and strengthen those areas.

For those who are still unfamiliar with Michael Yebba, what are some projects that you've worked on, and/or are currently working on?

To date I've been fortunate to have been cast in great films, both big and small. I had a small part in The Town last year as an armored van driver in the North End scene (Yebba was gunned down by Jeremy Renner's character). In Brian Goodman's What Doesn't Kill You, I worked in scenes directly with Mark Ruffalo and Ethan Hawke. I've had a few bit parts in other films and television also, but most of those were left on the cutting room floor.

So far writing has been my bread and butter. Along with my writing partner Emilio Mauro, I just completed an adaptation of Harlan Coben's New York Times best seller "The Woods," which we are extremely excited about. We've also [worked on] several features in various stages of development, including Rush Back, which Zerogravity is producing, and which is being directed by Lin Oeding. A television show called "Borderlands" is being set up with Spike TV (Yebba finds out in October if the pilot is ordered), and I'm working on a very major television project which I am legally not allowed to talk about.

What was your first taste of showbiz, and where did you decide that you wanted to pursue screenwriting full-time?

When I was 22-years-old I had my first screenplay optioned, [but] the movie never got got made and I was totally devastated. I had no clue how the business worked, and because of this I didn't pursue a writing career again for many years. It wasn't until my second effort 10 years later, when I wrote The Fallen, and optioned that script, that I started thinking I could do this. [Since then] I've been learning the business behind filmmaking. I still haven't seen a script I've written, re-written, or worked on hit the big screen, but I've learned to let the producers produce, and to just keep on writing. Patience is the number one asset in this business; I've met writers who have been in the business making extremely good money for 20 plus years and still haven't had a spec script made into a film.

Bad Blood, at its core, seems to be rooted in a deep, disturbing sibling rivalry. How much of that comes from personal experience?

My brother and I have not had the best relationship over the years. Like in the film, we've taken different roads in life and never really seen eye to eye. The core of the film was definitely inspired by our relationship, yet the other twists and plot elements are just from my demented imagination.

Slaine, who plays a major role in this short film, is someone who you've been collaborating with for a while. Can you give us some background into your relationship?

Slaine has truly become my brother. We shared a mutual friend but had never met, and I was always looking to meet him because music is also a passion of mine, but we never crossed paths. When I was auditioning for the Bubba role in Gone Baby Gone, I had read in the Herald he got the role, and initially I was pissed – not at him but the process in general. I had gone in to read four or five times, and was confident in my auditions – so to read in the paper that someone else landed it was another blow top my ego.

It was that experience that prompted me to start writing again, though, and The Fallen was what came from that. A few months after Gone Baby Gone was released, I had signed the first of many deals with The Fallen. Slaine had read the script, and we spoke at a show of his at The Middle East. Since that day it's felt like we've been friends our whole lives. He understands me and I him, and he's been the voice of reason for me when I've wanted to quit and move on. We've experienced so much together over the past five or six years now that the bond we share is very strong.

So what's next for the two of you in the movie business?

It's definitely only the beginning. We're also writing a comedy together now, and I just finished another screenplay for an executive from his record label – it's for Slaine and I to star in, and hopefully I'll be given the chance to direct it. I feel the team Slaine and I surround ourselves with is full of extremely talented, determined individuals [who are] up and coming in the business. It's a game of chess that we're playing, and it's always good to have a partner with you in a game this complex.


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