BRWC Exclusive: Michael Cross Interview

Michael Cross

New Sam Huntingon comedy “Second Nature”, directed and co-written by Michael Cross, will get a wide release this September through Nicholas Gyeney’s Mirror Images LTD.

The film, also produced by Gyeney – a filmmaker himself whose Beta Test received a wide theatrical release in 2016 – teams Huntington (Superman Returns, Sully) with Interstellar’s Collette Wolfe.   Amanda (Wolfe) uses a magic mirror to reverse the gender roles in her small town, she gains the upper hand on her womanizing opponent, Bret (Hungtinton). As each experiences life in the other’s shoes, they must decide which reality they prefer before they’re stuck in the flipped world forever.

Second Nature, which premiered at the Napa Valley Film Festival, marks the feature debut of Michael Cross.  Theatrically, the film is scheduled to open in theaters from September 8 (beginning with Ark Lodge Cinemas, Seattle). It will also play at the Catalina Film Festival (Sep 27-October 1) and Ellensburg Film Festival (October 6-8).  Second Nature will be available on iTunes, Amazon, Google Play, Vudu, Blu-ray and DVD on September 19.

We had chat with Michael Cross.

What was the pitch for the movie?

When mayoral candidate Amanda (Collette Wolfe – “Interstellar,” “Hot Tub Time Machine”) uses a magic mirror to reverse the gender roles in her small town, she gains the upper hand on her womanizing opponent, Bret (Sam Huntington – “Superman Returns, “Sully”). As each experiences life in the other’s shoes, they must decide which reality they prefer before they’re stuck in the flipped world forever.

And if the trailer is anything to go by it would seem to be both a funny movie and a dig at politics?

Those were two goals for sure, but the initial idea stemmed from taking a new look at gender bias. My writing team literally had no idea how much more relevant Second Nature would be today than when we started writing it over 8 years ago. In fact the first draft of the script wasn’t political at all. It was about 4 years ago that we rewrote the entire story to make it more affordable to produce on a small budget, which is where the small town setting came in. The mayoral special election seemed like a natural fit, providing a lot of opportunities to explore gender behavior in politics and society.

How hard is it to ground a comedy in reality – especially one like this?

That was one of the toughest challenges for this film. In order for the premise to work, the story had to live within the bounds of traditional gender stereotypes to some extent. Second Nature is rooted in truth, which is where most of the humor comes from. It’s really the movie I’ve always wanted to see. During the screenwriting process, it was clear how important it was that the script should be written and vetted by a team of women and men in order to achieve the balance of what it might be like to live in a “woman’s world.”

And would you call it a straight-up ha ha comedy or is there elements of drama and romance in here too?

I think there’s a good balance of funny scenes, dramatic and romantic moments. Comedy is so subjective, but in general I think it’s a mistake to try to make every scene funny. If you’re presenting nonstop jokes, it’s an opportunity missed, preventing your audience the chance to feel the weight of your story.

Is there another movie you’d say your movie is reminiscent of?

You might say Second Nature is in the lines of Bridesmaids meets Freaky Friday.

What about the story – any influences there? Maybe something you read about in the newspaper?

I’ve always been fascinated by gender behavior, as well as gender balance in politics. We are molded from birth and nurtured to behave a certain way, which greatly affects who we are as individuals and as a larger society. So flipping the entire world, so that women behave like men and vice versa, is a way of looking at ourselves more clearly. Through the comedy we are also able to understand better what it’s like walking in someone else’s shoes.

As a man, I have observed the gender bias that all of the women I know are constantly encountering. Despite significant progress toward equality in our modern society, there is still a persistent bias against women, and apathy toward the change that is still needed. This sparked a desire in me to create a story that not only acknowledges, but explores this issue. I asked, “What if roles were reversed – wouldn’t the world be better?”


Second Nature poster

How much did you go and learn about body swapping on Wikipedia and on Reddit before scripting?

Well, none actually – Second Nature isn’t really a ‘body swapping’ movie. That’s what makes Second Nature so unique – it flips the entire world around the two main characters. A mirror grants Amanda’s wish that women and men could switch places for a change. For me, grandma’s old magic mirror was the perfect portal of entry into the “flipped” world. Because on the “other side” of the mirror, everything is the same except backwards. And in a sense, the mirror lets us see our ourselves in our own world more clearly.

What’s coming up for you?

I’m staying busy releasing Second Nature along with writing my next one. Can’t wait to share my next story with the world…

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Alton loves film. He is founder and Editor In Chief of BRWC.  Some of the films he loves are Rear Window, Superman 2, The Man With The Two Brains, Clockwise, Eternal Sunshine Of The Spotless Mind, Trading Places, Stir Crazy and Punch-Drunk Love.



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