Festivals,  Interviews,  Movies/Entertainment

[DIFF Interview] – ‘A Kiss and A Promise’ Writer/Director Phillip Guzman

This Thursday the 31st will be the opening night of the 2011 Dallas International Film Festival. One of the features playing the this year’s DIFF is the dark and challenging film ”A Kiss and A Promise“.

Step into the mind of serial killer. But first … breakfast.

David Beck, a closet sociopath, but seemingly normal man, runs the B&B with his wife Samantha, a fiery woman with masochistic tendencies. Their only tenant is an aspiring writer named Charlie Matthews, a pathological liar who has a longing to be liked by everyone.

The harmony of the house is disrupted when a young girl’s body is found on the edge of town. Veteran police Detective Anthony Dolan suspects David of the murder, but lacking evidence to make an arrest all he can do is wait for the killer to make a mistake.
The shocking climax of this twisted tale reveals the darker side of the human psyche.

Philip Guzman returns to the Dallas International Film Festival with a creepy, stark unabashed portrait of a dangerous and tortured soul that will have you looking over your shoulder days after you see it.

Prior to its screening, Go,See,Talk got a chance to sit down with writer/director Phillip Guzman and discuss his film. For those not familiar with it, check out the trailer below as well as the highlights from our time with him…



-The characters really had separate lives that while posing as a typical family unit, were anything but. It seemed that they stayed oblivious to each other’s shortcomings while falling into their own selfish indulgences. Samantha and her Suzy homemaker vanity, Charlie and his failed literary pride and David and his murdering vices. Did the actors bring anything to the roles that weren’t on paper?

Absolutely. They’re all immensely talented actors. It’s one thing to have a script in front of you, but to see the actors becoming the characters is one of my favorite parts about film making. I remember watching Mick in his first scene of violence; his mouth started quivering, it’s nothing I had ever thought of… it wasn’t in the script, but in that moment Mick let David’s true emotions take over and that’s what you get, brilliance! I love surprises like that.

– The film shows the characters in a very delicate but abnormal love triangle but it seems like we’re missing how they got to that point. Charlie is desperately behind on his rent but while the flashbacks focus on David and his uncontrollable tendencies, when/where did Charlie come into the mix? And why is Samantha OK with it?

We didn’t want to focus to much on the past, because that would take a whole different movie to get through the back story of these characters. Essential, Samantha puts up with Charlie to make her husband happy, but at this time in her life she’s had just about enough of it. It’s kind of like when you give someone an inch and they take a mile. By the end of the film Samantha is done being a victim and lets Charlie know his place in her world.

– One element noticeably missing from A Kiss and A Promise (that is over saturated and abundant in many Hollywood films) is a prominent musical theme or score. To me it’s minimal presence allowed for more a “fly on the wall” manner of viewing the film rather than have music tell us what and how to feel. Was that an important decision to downplay the score?

It certainly was important and intentional. The music was there when it needed to be, but we wanted the story and the actors’ emotions to carry the film; the less manipulation to reality, the better in this type of film. Stillness is one of the most haunting things.

-The editing and the style of the shots really helped sell/intensify some scenes, like David’s paranoia/freak outs in the bathroom. The shot of the grieving mother set against, the dinner/dancing of David/Samantha was particularly well done. Even the scene when Samantha followed Charlie, the shots from behind the trees perfectly emulated Samantha’s POV. How much thought went into certain shots and did you try anything that was new to you?

The film was well thought out ahead of time and a majority of the shots/editing were actually scripted. What you see on the screen took ample planning and meticulous attention to detail in the script writing process. All of which helped our wonderful Cinematographer/Editor Philip Roy share the vision of the project.

– One unique and interesting element I found in “A Kiss and a Promise” is how the story is told across multiple timelines. I felt it was a good way of not revealing anything too soon. What motivated you to do it in this manner?

The multiple timelines added a layer of mystery, because you want to know what happened the moment before, but that information isn’t given right away. It keeps you guessing for a while, because you want to know how this character got to this point, as well as what’s about to happen.

– The term “based on true events” can be a funny or even misleading tagline. Just how true were the events depicted? Further what about the events made you want to tell the story and what did you want to say by making this film?

It’s loosely based on a true story that happened in Europe several years ago. We changed the names of those involved to protect their privacy.

A Kiss and a Promise is a dark and challenging film, both to make and to watch. It raises the question: Do you know the people around you? The people you see everyday? I mean sure, they wear one face when they’re out in public, but who do they become when they’re by themselves, behind closed doors. You always hear people saying, “He was such a nice man, I never would have guessed he’d be capable of that.”, but the truth is, we don’t really know, do we? The fact of the matter is this: Monsters come in all shapes and sizes, but in our world, in reality, they look just like us. Our film is an examination of madness; it doesn’t pull any punches or apologize either.


The 2011 Dallas International Film Festival runs from March 31st to April 11th. G-S-T would like to thank the Dallas Film Society and Phillip Guzman for their help and time in setting up this interview.

If you want to read the story I wrote on “A Kiss and A Promise” to help promote the Festival, you can find it here: Pegasus News