Jonah Ehrenreich is an actor from New York City who currently resides in Los Angeles. I had the pleasure of meeting Ehrenreich when I was studying abroad in Italy. He came out to Denver last year, where his new film, ‘Hooked Up,’ was premiering at the Mile High Horror Film Fest at the Alamo Drafthouse in Littleton.
The horror movie showed at midnight and Johanh, along with co-star Stephen Ohl, did a Q&A before the film. Being a part of the first film shot completely on an iPhone, and with the film making its way to OnDemand and other platforms, I thought I would interview Jonah on the film, his interest in acting, and what he has in store for down the road.
Mikey Weil: What’s the synopsis of this film ‘Hooked Up?’
Jonah Ehrenreich: Two best friends graduate college, and my character, Tonio, really wants to travel to Barcelona to party and meet some girls. His best friend, Peter, is coming out of this treacherous relationship and he comes with me for this adventure to get over what’s going on with him. Through this, we meet a couple of chicks and things go wrong from one chick wanting to get her revenge.
MW: How did you first hear about the film?
JE: I was just doing those free casting websites and I was just scrolling through the site looking at low-budget films and student films and anything to audition for. There’s nothing worse than student auditions, man. I’ve met and worked with some great people doing these, don’t get me wrong, but it’s not going to get you anywhere too fast. After doing these student films I wanted to get into indie films. The ad for ‘Hooked Up’ said, “Will send two college-age guys to Barcelona.” And I was like, ‘Yeah, sign me up. Even if it’s for my death.’ I didn’t read much more of the ad than that. And I had this shitty demo-reel, but Pablo liked it. I was skeptical at this point because I was like, ‘Who the hell am I?’ I didn’t know if Pablo was legit. But I looked him up and saw he had some success at festivals and all that.
MW: What was the audition process like?
JE: It was crazy, man. It was crazy from the get-go. Just the whole auditioning for the director, Pablo. Here we were making these student films and now this director, who’s like our age, has us send in these audition videos. One audition he wanted was just a guy getting excited to go to Barcelona. For this, I just remember this time I actually went to Barcelona in the past and that made it a little easier. My friend and I met a lot of people there and I just used that experience for the audition. Then I tried to make this other video, the second one he asked for, where you have five minutes to live, there’s someone on the other side of the door, and you have to say goodbye to your friends and family. At this point, I was new to acting and this was a big leap for me. I had taken some classes, but I felt really inexperienced. I kind of just blew off that one. I didn’t even hear back from Pablo for a while, so I didn’t think it was worth doing. But I then made the tape and used my favorite poem, If by Kipling, and I just recited this poem. It wasn’t at all what he was looking for, but he liked the first one enough. He So I redid the second shoot. I locked myself in the bedroom of my girlfriend at the time and filmed it. I spent probably the whole day on it. And Pablo liked that one enough and got Ohl and I together.
MW: I know you and your co-star, Stephen Ohl, are really close now. Did you guys hit it off from the beginning?
Definite;y. Stephen is also a filmmaker, so he knew what he was doing. So we got together and made some shorts together to send to Pablo. We did one where I played this guy locked up in a basement and Stephen came into save me.
MW: When did you first meet Pablo?
JE: So Pablo came to to New York City on New Year’s and that was the first time that Stephen and I met him. We met up in Grand Central. He was just, like this kid, standing in Grand Central with his camera. So we went back to my place in Brooklyn. At the time, Pablo was keeping the whole iPhone thing under wrap. He sat us down and filled us in on this and thought it would be good for the film, because the production was low-budget and because found-footage is such a big thing these days. So he’s pitching all of this to us, but he still had no script, or no contact or anything.
MW: What’s this story I’ve heard about you and Ohl getting tattoos with the director?
JE: Yeah, so Pablo, on the first day we met him, told us that we were going to go and get matching ass tattoos. Like I said, no script, no contacts, but this guy just wants to us to go get ink on our bodies. All I could think about was that this guy was probably just making some reality show about what he could make actors do to try to get a part.
MW: What is the tattoo that he made you all get and what does it represent?
JE: So througout the whole day he keeps talking about this tatto and how it will show our commitment to the film. Pablo is the type of guy who is always joking around, but is also completely serious. He just keeps talking about it and I’m just trying to avoid it. I’m like, ‘I’m not fucking getting this thing, man.” At the time, the last thing I wanted was to get a tattoo for something that might not even get made. So by the end of the night, we were all completely sober, and we walk into a tattoo shop on St. Mark’s street. We all got different variations of NYC in blank ink in a heart. Mine has an arrow through it. Pablo’s has 2011 in his. He got this because he wanted to always remember the year we did this. So we’re going through this crazy experience, and by the end of the night, we didn’t know what was going to happen, but we knew we were going through his crazy experience. I mean, that will make you notorious. So now I have this awesome tattoo on my butt that I love. The film had some times where we didn’t know if we were going to finish it, but we had this tattoo now. I mean, that was like Pablo’s idea for a contract. He’s a crazy kind of guy and I think he knew that if we did that, we would be all the way with this thing. And he was right. We all stuck our necks out to make this crazy film. The fact that we even have a film now is pretty cool. Just the fact that something does get out is pretty impressive. They were able to get everything they wanted. Pablo and his crew deserve a lot of credit for this.
MW: Do you feel that you’ll have to get tattoos for every film you make from now on? And if you don’t, you might not feel right about the film?
JE: This one was special. It was the first one. It was almost four years ago now. I was just like, “Fuck it.” If I’m doing some, like Saved by the Bell reboot down the road, I wouldn’t get like a Saved by the Bell tattoo. I wouldn’t want to end up there.
MW: What was the whole iPhone filming process like?
JE: So that was pretty crazy. It was just me and this actor filming each other the whole time. We had a DP and everything. We had four iPhones we were going back and fourth with because of the battery power. And we had to keep uploading footage onto computers as we went, just in case a phone broke along the way or something. They had this really cool casing they bought for these phones that had these two handles you’d hold onto for stability and they had these lighting systems. And the DP was just there holding an iPhone as if it were this big Hollywood camera. It requires you to follow so much direction and discipline this way. You can’t just cop out by looking at a certain place, you have to really get everything perfect. The whole iPhone thing was really cool from the beginning. Like an object we all use on a daily basis is making a movie that ended up bringing on Jaume Collet-Serra, a huge producer. I mean, this guy just came out with the last Liam Neeson film, ‘Run All Night.’ He’s also a Barcelona filmmaker who was a little hesitant at first, but once we finished filming, he saw how everything went down without a hitch and he got on board.
MW: What’s next in line for you for film and television?
JE: I’ve done some low-budget indie stuff so far. I’ll have some cool footage soon for this stuff. I’m coming up on doing a small role in a film called ‘Drifter.’ It’s a cool film that has a post-apocalyptic feel. I play this kind-of bandit that helps get the story started. I’m in the beginning, but I think the part can help me get some good practice and get some of that serious acting down. You have to get super heavy out here, always auditioning, always ready to put yourself out there. I’m just focusing on getting ‘Hooked Up’ passed around and getting it out there. You just have to keep working about it. It’s not about money when it comes to acting. I’ve learned that in my two years I’ve been out here. You have to do a lot of auditioning to work on it. Even Harrison Ford said he didn’t get into anything until his 30’s. He was’t a quitter, he just quietly never gave up. A lot of actors think they need to spend money to become an actor. You have to stay away from that pitfall. You have to stay away from the Hollywood monster by not giving that monster money. I have a full-time job out here besides that, but now I have this movie on my resume. We’re all just grinding out here. Patience is a virtue; you just have to remember that. Your friends and family will never really understand really what you’re doing out here, but you just become friends with people with the same dream as you. You can let your hair down around them and let your thoughts out. A lot of people are losing their shit out here, but you got to stay grounded. Los Angels is one of those places where, if you want something to happen it can, but you have to work for it. With this film, it was risky. I didn’t know what we were getting into, but you just gotta go for it.
MW: Where can we find you?
JE: I don’t know. They can find my IMDB page. I got a demo-reel I can send you as well. They can just search my name on Google. I don’t know how many other people there are with my name out there. There can’t be many, though.
Take a look at the trailer for ‘Hooked Up’ and then watch it out at one of the following links:
Jonah’s demo reel: