INTERVIEW: 'Adverse' writer/director Brian A. Metcalf

Thuc Nguyen interviews triple-threat 'Adverse' writer/director and actor Brian A. Metcalf. Brian and his team are making things happen and making diversity a priority in the film world.
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Brian A. Metcalf always knew he wanted to be a filmmaker and is now in the epicenter of the film world in Hollywood. He started out life abroad. Brian is a trans-racial adoptee who was born in Korea and who grew up in Ohio and Pennsylvania. After a decade and a half of being in Los Angeles from the Midwest, Brian says he’s never leaving the city. It is his home and he adds, “I could never leave LA”. Starting with “hi-jacking” the family Hi-8 camcorder at age twelve and simulating shots and camera angles he saw in movies, Brian has learned filmmaking in various ways. He’s worked making electronic press kits for clients, as a visual effects specialist and now as a triple threat director-writer-actor.

A behind the scenes still of director Brian A. Metcalf from the action, crime, thriller, ADVERSE, a Lionsgate and Grindstone Entertainment Group, a Lionsgate Company release. Photo courtesy of Lionsgate.

A behind the scenes still of director Brian A. Metcalf from the action, crime, thriller, ADVERSE, a Lionsgate and Grindstone Entertainment Group, a Lionsgate Company release. Photo courtesy of Lionsgate.

When I ask Brian which side of the triple threat is the prominent one - he states that it’s directing. If people won’t let you direct things, you write a script to direct. When it comes to acting- he does have a manager for that. Brian appears as a drug-dealer named Dante in his thriller feature Adverse, which also features Mickey Rourke, Lou Diamond Philips (who is also Asian-Filipino), and Sean Astin. The role of Dante was offered to three other actors and even John Cho first, who said the role wasn’t for them. Brian had to step in and take over the part. Brian says he has gone the “taking acting classes to become a better director” route and ended up enjoying being in front of the camera as well.

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Adverse stars Thomas Ian Nicholas (seen in Red Band Society) as “Ethan”, a down and out ex-con on probation who is trying to do right by his teenage sister “Mia” (new-comer Kelly Arjen who also produced Adverse). Ethan and Mia are bi-lingual Spanish and English speaking siblings on the fringes of Los Angeles. Ethan is a ride-share driver to put food on the table. Mia gets caught up with drugs and LA’s seedy underbelly. Lou Diamond Philips is Ethan’s probation officer Mr. Cruz and Rourke is a criminal who had other dreams. Sean Astin is Ethan’s boss at the ride share company. Kate Katzman rounds out the cast as “Chloe”, Ethan’s neighbor who at first butts heads with, but then who becomes an ally to him.

(L-R) Mickey Rourke as Kaden and Thomas Nicholas as Ethan in the action, crime, thriller, ADVERSE, a Lionsgate and Grindstone Entertainment Group, a Lionsgate Company release. Photo courtesy of Lionsgate.

(L-R) Mickey Rourke as Kaden and Thomas Nicholas as Ethan in the action, crime, thriller, ADVERSE, a Lionsgate and Grindstone Entertainment Group, a Lionsgate Company release. Photo courtesy of Lionsgate.

One night Ethan picks up Kaden, portrayed by Mickey Rourke. Kaden has cancer and once wanted to be a professional baseball player. Instead, he got sucked into a world of narcotics and “money lending” to addicts. Kaden comes back into Ethan’s life when Mia is kidnapped by Kaden’s henchmen for owing a large sum of cash to Dante who owes Kaden. In a twist of fate, Kaden hires Ethan to help over-see his criminal empire. Ethan uses this as leverage to seek revenge against those who took his baby-sister.

Brian is genre-agnostic. He’s now working on a comedy feature screenplay. He’s also made horror films, two back-to-back before Adverse. He was offered to make a sequel to his feature Living Among Us but wanted to get into another storytelling space. Brian’s lived experience is part of the genesis of the Adverse’s story. His ex-girlfriend, like Mia, hung out with “the wrong crowd” and because of this, she became a drug addict. This is what prompted Brian to write the screenplay for Adverse. He tells me that he had two other films set up and then the pandemic hit, which caused the finances of an investor to diminish. Instead, Brian’s spent the pandemic on writing and polishing scripts and getting them out there. He adds, “You have to keep moving on, working on other things.”

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Adverse has great things happening behind the scenes. After growing up somewhere he was the only minority for miles, Brian made sure to have diversity in front of the camera and behind the camera. He states “Asian representation is very important to me. You have to have variety behind of and in front of the camera, to give Asian representation a voice. You need to mix it up with diversity.” Adverse has a cast that is half people of color and an Asian/Asian-American based crew. The film’s cinematographer Derrick Cohan is Japanese-American. When I ask Brian how he got certain actors, he tells me that the team had help from their casting agent and also reached out to performers personally on social media- Twitter, Instagram and more. Brian reminds filmmakers to make the deal with the performer’s representative after getting interest by whatever means necessary. Much like Ethan in Adverse getting his revenge by many means necessary, Brian and his team are making things happen and making diversity a priority in the film world.

Brian A. Metcalf as Dante in the action, crime, thriller, ADVERSE, a Lionsgate and Grindstone Entertainment Group, a Lionsgate Company release. Photo courtesy of Lionsgate.

Brian A. Metcalf as Dante in the action, crime, thriller, ADVERSE, a Lionsgate and Grindstone Entertainment Group, a Lionsgate Company release. Photo courtesy of Lionsgate.

Side note: If you’re wondering how many chihuahuas Mickey Rourke had on set- the answer is one and said chihuahua was referred to as “Number One”. Brian says Mr. Rourke also has other dogs at his home. Brian says he loves dogs and cats.

Adverse will be available on Digital, On Demand and DVD on March 9th.


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