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Vanessa McMahon

Vanessa is a novel writer, screenwriter, rep and a film producer. She shares her discoveries and film surprises. :-)



Greg Marcks on Echelon Conspiracy!


Director Greg Marcks speaks about his nail-biting international thriller Echelon
(2009), starring Shane West, Ed Burns, Martin Sheen, Ving Rhames and
Jonathan Pryce. Plus, he relates his humorous experience with David Lynch on
the set of Inland Empire (2006).


ME: First of all, I saw your Ernest Hemingway quote: 'Always do sober what
you said you'd do drunk. That will teach you to keep your mouth shut.' Love it!
So, Greg! Your film features an exciting ensemble cast and its been filmed all
over the world. Looks like an exhilarating international thriller! lol! Can you speak a little
bit about Echelon Conspiracy and what it is about?

GREG: Echelon Conspiracy is a thriller about an everyman who gets
caught up in a web of global surveillance systems.

ME: What made you get involved with this story? Was there a personal

GREG: I decided to get involved with Echelon Conspiracy because
I liked the theme of security vs. freedom. My father was a Security Policeman
in the U.S. Air Force, so I had some awareness of the technology behind the
real Echelon system. Since many Americans are not familiar that the real
Echelon program exists, I thought it would be fun to make a movie that might
bring greater awareness about it, even though the film itself is fiction.

ME: Cool! You guys shot this all over the place! Can you tell us a little about
the production, where you did the shooting and what it was like to work with
such a diverse cast?

GREG: The production took place in four countries: Thailand, Bulgaria,
Russia, and the Czech Republic. We cast actors out of Los Angeles, London, and
Sofia (Bulgaria). The crew was truly international. At one point scouting
locations in a van in Moscow, I counted six different languages (English,
Russian, Bulgarian, Italian, Hebrew, and German). I enjoyed the chance to work
in so many places with several different crews. The first day of shooting began
with me in a helicopter over Prague, which is a nice way to start any

ME: What was it like on set directing this all star talented cast? 

GREG: I was fortunate to be able to work with a very talented cast: Shane
West, Ed Burns, Ving Rhames, Martin Sheen, Jonathan Pryce, etc. I like shooting
on location, and especially being overseas, as you get to spend more time with
your cast during production. As the only Americans in far-flung locations, we
bonded a great deal. Working with everyone was a great pleasure. I really enjoy
discovering each actor's unique process.

ME: How did you find the co-country production experience? Does it make filming
easier in the face of crisis with US studios? Or were you more free being more

GREG: Shooting interior sets (such as the NSA) on a stage in Eastern Europe
certainly afforded us more production value for our budget than we could have
achieved in the U.S. This film felt like a hybrid picture between studio and
independent, in that it was independently financed but had Hollywood oversight.

ME: Well, now that Echelon Conspiracy is under your belt, what will you working
on next?

GREG: Next I plan to direct You Don't Love Me Yet, a romantic
comedy set in the L.A. indie music scene, based on the novel by Jonathan Lethem.
I am also attached to direct Coyote, an action-thriller about a
U.S./Mexico border crossing.

ME: Wow! You have a full plate! And you're quite young for a director.
Congratulations! One more thing...I noticed you worked with David Lynch on Inland
(2006) as TV Camera Man. Can I please ask you to mention
something about working with him? Please just add a wee bit about working with
him! Thank you!

GREG: Ha! Yes, that was fun! The location manager for '11:14' went on to produce Inland
, and I volunteered to help out the day they were shooting the TV
interview. I wound up being on-camera because they needed someone to operate
the TV camera in the shot. It was a great experience to watch David Lynch work,
buzzing about and ashing his cigarette into a styrofoam cup on which he had
written the Wheeler-DeWitt Equation. He wasn't even mad that I almost hit him
with my car!

ME: Somehow that doesn't surprise me. He's a wonderful wacky fellow and my greatest inspiration! Awesome, Greg, for so much cool information. Thank you! Looking forward for more
exciting adventures Greg Marcks style. :-D


Interview by Vanessa McMahon on July 22, 2010.

see trailer here:



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