People often hold a steadfast view on their personal beliefs, particularly when it comes to their morals, faith and devotion to the people they love. That’s certainly the case for the two main characters in the upcoming drama, ‘Gun and a Hotel Bible,’ who have drastically different ideals, especially when it comes to how religion influences their judgment and decisions.
The movie was co-written and produced by longtime friends and creative collaborators, Bradley Gosnell and Daniel Floren, who also play the diverse protagonists. Much like their characters, the filmmakers often revel in sharing stories and late-night debates over life’s toughest questions and scenarios. Those real-life discussions helped infuse ‘Gun a and Hotel Bible,’s plot with intense and relatable moments that will surely leave viewers empathizing with the actors’ characters.
Freestyle Digital Media is set to release the drama, which is based on the award-winning play, ‘Gun a and Motel Bible,’ digitally on Tuesday, January 5, 2021, after it won accolades at such festivals as the LA Live Film Festival and IndieFilm Fest. The screen adaptation was co-directed by Raja Gosnell and Alicia LeBlanc, the latter of whom who also helmed the play.
‘Gun and a Hotel Bible’ follows Pete (Gosnell), a desperate man on the verge of a violent act, and his encounter with Gideon (Floren), a personified hotel bible. As Pete and Gideon spar over ideas about morality, the Bible and God, they are forced to deal with their inadequacies. With the clock ticking, Gideon does whatever he can to stop Pete from pulling the trigger.
In honor of the movie’s distribution, ShockYa is exclusively premiering the teaser trailer from the feature. Also in support of ‘Gun and a Hotel Bible’s release, Gosnell and Floren generously took the time recently to talk about co-writing and starring in the film during an exclusive interview over the phone. Watch the teaser trailer above, and read our interview below.
ShockYa (SY) Together, you co-wrote the script for the new drama, ‘Gun and a Hotel Bible,’ which is based on the original play. What was the process like of creating the story for the movie, and adapting the story for the screen:
Bradley Gosnell (BG): It’s a bit of a fun saga, but we love talking about it. Dan and I have been friends for about 10 years now, and we’ve been working together, from a writing and acting perspective, during that entire time. We have deep conversations about all sorts of things, including The Beatles-I’m a big fan, but Dan doesn’t like them as much. Sorry to throw you under the bus, Dan!
Daniel Floren (DF): Hey now! (laughs)
BG: There’s a song from The Beatles called ‘Rocky Raccoon.’ The song is about this revenge quest, and this guy checks into a hotel room and finds a Gideon Bible, and I thought that it was a dramatic situation. So I pitched (the idea for the script) to Dan in a Panera Bread, and at first, he was hesitant to jump on board.
DF: When Bradley pitched it to me, we were talking about the idea of personifying a Bible. I was hesitant because I wasn’t interested in doing a project that was making a grand statement that the Bible is this or the Bible is that.
Bradley said “No, I just think it’s a dramatic situation. Of course, we’re going to have to talk about a lot of things as we get into it. We want to characterize the Bible well, but we’re not trying to preach; we’re trying to make a good project out of it.
We essentially wrote the script on Google Docs with the expectation of doing it well. There were several drafts that we sent to each other back and forth, so we both felt as though we had ownership over the characters.
In terms of the characters, what was nice was that we found a voice for both of them that allowed us to act off of each other, and to raise the stakes of the scenes. We thought about what kind of person would make this kind of interaction its most dramatic, and what would make it difficult for him to talk to the Bible.
In terms of the Bible, the character is one part lonely book on a shelf that’s waiting for someone to come in and read him. He’s also one part theology, and is a walking, talking history of that. He’s also a human being and gets lonely.
So we wanted to make the characters a counter-balance and say things. So we needed characters on either side of the discussion to push each other towards the dramatic climax of the film.
BG: We put the script together for the Hollywood Fringe Festival in 2018, and we did it for a 21-seat theater, and it was sold out! (laughs) Then Raja approached us about turning the play into a movie, and we said absolutely. It’s been a dream come true to flush the project out and build the world up a bit as we adapted the play’s script into the film’s script.
SY: Speaking of Raja, he co-directed the movie with Alicia LeBlanc. What was the experience like of collaborating with the helmers on the film?
DF: It was awesome and so great. Alicia LeBlanc was originally our director for the play, so when Raja came on board, he and Alicia co-directed the film together. Raja, as a director, was such a big fan of the script and characters. So he did an amazing job of making sure that the things we loved about the play really shined in the film, as Alicia continued to guide the performances.
BG: I think the biggest accomplishment was taking the rhythm and blocking of the story that we had developed for the stage and brought them to the film set, especially since we had a really rapid production schedule. I think we filmed principal (photography) in five days, and then had one day of exteriors. We filmed three-four pages at a time. So using that familiarity that Dan and I had developed while doing a 50-minute scene just between us in the play helped us while we were making the film.
Then (filming with the) camera in there, we made (the room) feel big when we wanted to show we were lonely, and made (the room) feel tight when we were claustrophobic. We also gave the camera different angles when we wanted the characters to feel a little more intimate.
We worked to stay true to the message that we like about this story, and so many people have found valuable about it. One of the biggest reasons why the play was able to be adapted for the screen was that there were these conversations after the show, and it became this amazing project. It started with seeing people talk about it, and us saying, “We want more people to talk about it, and we want to share it with people.”
SY: Daniel, you portray Gideon, and Bradley, you play Pete, in the drama. Why did you decide to also star in ‘Gun and a Hotel Bible?’ How did working on the screenplay influence the way you approached playing your characters?
DF: (Acting in the film) was quite an experience. Thank God for Alicia LeBlanc, our stage director. Somewhere deep in our hearts, we never wanted to stop working on the script, but Alicia said, “You must set a deadline for you to become actors, and stop being writers.”
She was so right. We set a deadline, but we blew through that deadline. (Gosnell laughs.) We then blew through a few more deadlines before we finally said, “Okay, the script is locked, and we’re not working on it anymore; we’re just actors now. Alicia, you’re the director now, so you tell us what to do.”
So the transition (from being the writers to becoming the actors) was very intentional. It was fun, at least for me, and I’m curious to see what you have to say, Bradley. But for me, it was fun pivoting from exploring what you thought these characters could be in the writing process, to inhabiting what these characters would actually be in the acting process
BG: I would agree. In the writing process, I sort of underestimated some of the experiences that were were creating. There was this push to make (the story) more and more dramatic, narratively and with the language.
So then stepping into the role of the actor made me realize that so much of what’s happening with the Pete character is happening outside of the room, from what happened five years ago to what’s about to happen in 10 minutes, which is the real dramatic conflict. So for me, walking onto a stage, and then building the world outside of that, was quite an experience. Than having Dan play Gideon, whose whole world is inside the room, and doesn’t know what the outside world looks like, was amazing.
So overall, the writing process was ultra collaborative, and the acting was, too. You have to have a good partnership, and a lot of trust, with someone to do what we did. But as an actor stepping into it, it became somewhat of a lonely experience, as my mind was always on a certain thing, or I was looking out the window, and I had to talk to this guy who was trying to show me genuine love. That was super interesting, but really fun to do.
You don’t really get to start acting until you know the lines. But we were able to start experimenting right away, because we knew the text so well.
SY: The majority of the movie features the two of you only working with each other. What was the process like of working together to build your characters’ relationship together?
DF: It certainly doesn’t hurt that we’ve been friends for 10 years. So I’ve seen Bradley act a lot, and he’s seen me act a lot. It’s also not our first collaboration, so we drew a lot on our history working together, just to give each other what we needed for these characters, even though they’re unique. We’d say, “If this moment’s not working for you, how can I support what you’re trying to with your character, in order to maximize this scene?”
So our collaboration felt very playful, exploratory and organic, especially on my end with my character. Alicia did such a fantastic job of cultivating that organic, playful rehearsal environment, so that Bradley and I could give (our characters) our best shot, and we could succeed.
BG: I totally agree. The rehearsal process was in total contrast of how lonely my character felt…We did a lot of rehearsals on a couch, and moved furniture around, and brought in dummy props to replicate what would eventually become the set. We’ve been doing theater for so long that we know, and anyone who has done theater knows, that everything’s a little different and a little bit the same, between the rehearsals and actual production.
But I think one of the coolest things about the rehearsal process with this project was that we got to be the loading crew, because it was for (the Hollywood) Fringe (Festival), and we got to do ticketing, publicity, marketing and the costumes. We also had tons of help surrounding us, from the box office to props. I’ve never had an experience where I’ve been so engrossed in a project…there was a big fingerprint from us on it, from the responsibility to the care and the subject matter.
Going back to what Daniel said, when you risk doing something on this topic with someone, you risk offending their sensibilites. So as actors, we needed to take care of what the other person wanted to do and experience from not only an artistic perspective, but also a theological one, as well. I didn’t want to do a show that Daniel didn’t feel comfortable with and believe in. Not that we agreed with our characters 100 percent, but we had to raise our communication and care because of the subject matter. That made every aspect of this movie better and more special.