I caught up with actor and film-maker Kevin Alejandro of TV’s Lucifer, to chat film-making, movies and the art of the story in his newest directorial effort, Bedtime Story, which you can follow on Facebook here.

Bedtime Story is quite the absurd, Kafkaesque tale of an aging writer who seems to have nothing but bad luck in Hollywood until a new and novel use is found for his writing. Will he accept this new use as a victory? Or will he continue to struggle against the advancing tides of irrelevancy?

Kevin Alejandro in a still from LUCIFER.

Bedtime Story is an effective little film, if you appreciate its humor for what it is: Kafkaesque absurdity. I highly recommend checking it out after it finishes the festival rounds, and I hope you enjoy the chat with Kevin below.

Hello Kevin and welcome to The 405! I'd like to start – if I may – by inquiring about your history. What got you into film?  

It's interesting... Ever since high school, I've always been an actor. All of my dreams and most of the decisions I've made in my life revolved around being an actor. I lived and breathed it. It's really my first true love.

As time has progressed, however, the desire to expand my creativity slowly started to creep its way into my soul. The more time I spent on a set, the more I yearned to learn everything about making films. It's become somewhat of an obsession. I love stories, and I'm fascinated by the many different ways people tell them.

Film making is extremely intricate and there are so many different elements that have to fit together perfectly to make a story come to life in the way you (the director) sees it. It's trying to figure out these elements that has fueled my passion for being a film maker.  

Patrick Fischler as Melvin in a still from BEDTIME STORY.

That's cool. I can certainly appreciate that desire to know more: it fuels good writers too. What were some of the challenges for you in going from being in front of the camera as an actor to going behind it as a director? 

Getting behind the camera is an invigorating experience, but things can change in the drop of a hat. One of the things that I've learned by being on set as a director is how truly important the preparation is. As an actor you don't really get the chance to be a part of all the prep that goes into directing something.

It’s an amazing feeling to watch a story unfold, but you have to be ready and open for changes to happen. You're surrounded by many great film makers so don't be afraid to take their advice. 

Absolutely. Favorite films, directors? Which would you consider most influential on you as an artist? Also, as an actor, what are some of the performances you've seen over the years that have really stuck with you?

I'm inspired by all kinds of styles by many different directors and actors. There are so many great people to look up to in this business, and I'm fortunate to be able to surround myself with great people and directors who are willing to help groom my own growth as a story teller.

I'm influenced mostly by stories with a twist or an edge. This is why you'll find me binge watching shows like Black Mirror, or The End Of The F***ing World.

However, I don't have one favorite director or film.  Honestly, as an artist I am attracted to a story that I can relate to. As a story teller, it gives me the opportunity to express a part of myself that I wouldn't ordinarily have the chance to reveal. This is how I choose all of my projects. I ask myself how much of me and the way I think will help influence a particular story. 

Fascinating way to do it. What makes a great film?

In my opinion, a great film has to have a great story first! Then you have to find the right actors. A great film is created by a collaboration amongst artists. Film making is extremely intricate and there are so many different elements that have to fit together perfectly to make a story come to life in the way you (the director) sees it.

It's putting together these elements (your team of film makers) and making sure they understand your vision well enough to have the confidence and freedom to create within your collaboration and tell a beautiful story. Your team are all pros at what they do, so let them do their thing. Let yourself listen to their ideas. And, hopefully, when it's all said and done you will have made a great film together.

Patrick Fischler as Melvin and Tricia Helfer as Elizabeth in a still from BEDTIME STORY.

Collaboration and clarity of vision seem to be common answers when I ask that question of directors I interview. Getting into Bed Time Story, I'm curious what attracted you to the project?

Bedtime Story is an anecdote about point-blank honesty in a world where illusion, delusion and dishonesty are the norm. The story focuses on misplaced optimism, ageism, unrealistic dreams and unfulfilled ambition. And if that's not upbeat enough, it toys with the idea of whether a writer of questionable literary ability can truly become a best-selling author in today's "add-milk-and-stir" culture.

I think it differentiates itself because it's a familiar emotional struggle, but told with the unique voice of getting what you want but not in the way you expected. This story attracted me because I believe it's relative to anyone trying to follow their own dreams searching for "success." 

It does have that certain universal applicability. What were some of the challenges like in making the short?

We had two challenges that took some thought. The first challenge was how to do the falling books in a practical way so we wouldn't have to pay for special effects. After we figured out the perfect plan the night before, we began shooting the scene. One thing we forgot to imagine into our planning was the fact that the books kept hitting the dolly track, causing a bump to the camera with every hit. After about an hour of almost perfect takes, we finally got it. Talk about frustrating!

I bet. 

The other challenge was getting the right timing and smooth camera move for Melvin's attempt at suicide. This whole scene was done in one shot. It was very important to me that we never broke the scene up with cuts, I wanted the audience to feel like they were in the room watching it unfold. Again this took several rehearsals to perfect. At the end of the day, I think we were able accomplish all the goals we set for ourselves.  

I agree. The film played very well and I think will be enthusiastically grasped by people who get what (to me) made it so effective: the humor. 

The Kafkaesque absurdity of Melvin's (a very pleasant surprise that he was played by Patrick Fischler from Mulholland Dr. – one of my all-time favorite pictures) situation I thought was quite funny and sad at the same time – especially in the way they decide to use his manuscript. What were some of the inspirations for the story and your creative decision-making process in deciding how to execute it?

I loved the story the minute I read it. The entire time I read it I couldn't stop imagining Patrick Fischler playing the role. I thought, if I can get him to take on this character, we would have a cool little film. Once he said yes, everything else sort of just fell in place.

I got extremely lucky with my actors. I never had to move on to a second choice. Tricia, Henry, Natalie, Jessica… every single one was who I imagined playing their role. The character of The Agent was originally written as a male part, but I kept imagining how great Tricia would be in the role, So Adrian and I agreed to make the role Tricia's. Best decision we could have made! She was perfect. 

I agree. 

I also decided to add the falling books and the pouring of the rain to the story. This was my way of representing how Melvin is being beaten and weighed down by the very world he loves the most. These few adds and changes were a very intricate and pivotal part of telling our story. 

Patrick Fischler as Melvin in a still from BEDTIME STORY.

Absolutely. What do you hope the audience will take with them from the film?

Honestly, first and foremost, I want them to be entertained, I want them to laugh with our characters, and I want them to relate them.  The story focuses on misplaced optimism, ageism, unrealistic dreams and unfulfilled ambition. I'd like the audience to walk away questioning their definition of success. 

Last, what is next for you?

Well, as you know I am a series regular on the Fox show Lucifer. We will be finishing up our season by early April. Fortunately, I have received the honor of directing our final episode of the season! I am extremely excited for my television directorial debut.