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6 Degrees Entertainment

Eric Roberts   ('The Perfect Summer') Eric Roberts ('The Perfect Summer')

'Surf's UP!'

UP, America's favorite channel for uplifting family entertainment, presents the original Up World Premiere Movie 'The Perfect Summer' on Saturday, July 13th at 7pm, 9pm and 11pm ET.

'The Perfect Summer' stars Eric Roberts ('The Dark Knight'), Sydney Penny ('All My Children'), Adam Horner, Katie Garfield ('The Carrington Event'), JD Banks, Justin Barnhill, Louis Mandylor ('My Big Fat Greek Wedding') and singer Jason Castro (American Idol finalist, Season 7).

Fatherless teenager Jake (Horner) was one of the most popular kids in Chicago, until his mother (Penny) decided to uproot them to a small surfing town where her estranged father (Roberts), Jake’s grandfather, lives. The transition isn’t easy for anyone and it seems everywhere he goes, Jake manages to make enemies, including the town bully, Tyler (Banks).

Stuck in the beach town with no friends and no knowledge of surfing, Jake has nowhere to turn until Cody (Castro), the local surf shop owner, reveals that Jake’s grandfather is a surf legend. Tired of feeling like an outcast, Jake asks Lou to teach him about surfing. Jake learns to face his fears and inhibitions and realizes that winning the respect of his new peers, and the heart of a girl might mean facing the biggest challenge of his life.

Chatting recently with the man himself Eric Roberts, I first wondered, being that in the movie he is a "surf legend" if he had actually done any filming riding the waves for 'The Perfect Summer'? "Absolutely not! But I had the number three in the world as my stunt double. So I look greeeeat!"

So what was the closest you even got to riding the waves? "I got my feet wet a few times," he laughs.

Indeed, have you ever ridden the waves back in the day, even for personal pleasure? "You know, the only time I've ever done it was during this movie and I did not do it well."

This movie was filmed in May in just three weeks and is now getting a July premiere on the UP Channel. That's crazy and a faster turnaround than your used to for your movies, isn't it? "Yeah, that's how they're making movies now. I have shot entire feature-length films in six days and they haven't been embarrassing movies. They haven't all been big epic films, but they haven't been embarrassing movies. It's just how they're making them now."

Why is that? "It's because everybody can now afford a camera. And so there's more movies being made now then in the history of motion pictures. There's over 3000 movies being made in this country as we speak! And probably only 10% of them will be watchable, so three hundred of them only will be watchable. And only thirty of those will be great. But with that many films being shot that means the odds are good that there's obviously gonna be some good movies coming out."

So, is the fast-paced making of movies these days a good thing or a bad thing, in general? "It's a couple of things. One thing is that Hollywood isn't run by artists any more. It's run by lawyers. So the whole thing with the HD cameras is to make your filming as cheap and as fast as possible. Because the quality is of no interest to the lawyers. It's of interest to artists. But the lawyers are running the show. So we're having to adjust. So it's just a case of a whole new cycle of filmmaking. That is very different and very frightening for an actor."

"But it's our world now. So we have to do it now. I caught the tail end of it in the '70s of the old system, which changed into the new system in the early '80s. But in that system we stayed and thankfully it was reminiscent of the old system up until HD cameras. And then HD cameras came and the whole bottom fell out. You think you know how to make a living? Well, guess what, here's how we're doing it now! So that's what happened. And either you can bitch and moan about it or get on the wagon and just go with it. So that's what I decided to do."

What is your biggest beef with HD cameras? "Well, the only real issue I have with it is that on the HD cameras, especially that awful RED that everybody uses because they give you production deals, on the HD camera you can count the pores on your skin," he gently laughs. "And I have issues with that in that instead of you watching the movies you're now going 'Wow, he didn't shave today!' So it's a strain if you've just turned fifty and you look it. But, aside from that, it's just how it is now." The 'Perfect Summer' is summed up as a film about hope and also about choices. So, what are your hopes for this film and did you make the right choice in being a part of it? "Well, that's a big question that's unanswerable. But, I can tell you this: I think it's a valuable film. It's about the coming of age and about somebody who's really accomplished something in his life, meaning me. And I'm gonna pass it on to my grandson. And the reason I like choose to pass it on is because he's a social misfit and he's having issues that we all had in our adolescence."

"And so I put it to him that we should try surfing together. And so he bitches and moans through the beginning of it, but after a while he gets good at it and he likes it. And he gets his self esteem back, basically. And that's the gist of it. Which doesn't sound that profound or that valuable but it is. And especially to an adolescent because we all went through the hating ourselves, being confused with our lives and ourselves stages during adolescence. So it's about finding something that can lift you out of that. It's a good feeling story."

With Jason Castro, an American Idol Season 7 finalist having a role I'm wondering if you had beach campfires some nights where you all sat around singing and playing instruments? "We did not. But that's only because in the afternoons at that time of year those winds really kick up on those beaches down there. And you cannot be on the beach after five o'clock with the wind blowing!"

And Jason Castro must have been great to have on the set? "Yeah, Jason Castro is a wonderful guy and a wonderful singer and songwriter. My wife Eliza is his acting coach! And although we were cast separately, Jason and I, there was still this six degrees of separation. And also my stepson Keaton Simons is on tour now with Jason Castro. They are co-headlining a tour together. And they both have songs in 'The Perfect Summer.' So talk about six degrees of separation everywhere," he laughs.

I hear that one the very first day of filming that there were twenty-foot waves crashing onto the sand and the winds offshore were creating a dangerous rip current, but your crew noticed two swimmers being lifted by the wind and then driven under water. And that if they hadn't raised the alarm those two would not be with us today! "It's a true story, yes. They got caught in the undertow. And so one of the pro surfers shouted that they were having trouble and everybody dropped everything and everybody ran out there. And it was a great heroic moment for that entire movie crew," he laughs.

I've now interviewed you, your daughter Emma, and your sister Julia, so who's left in your family for me?! "That would be my wife, Eliza. Who is an actor, a writer, a producer and an acting coach. So you'll want to talk to her about all our secrets!"

And throwing you a journalistic curveball, we here at Exclusive Magazine love penguins ... do you also, perhaps? "I love them too. I could watch a penguin all day."

So, if you would own one, what would you name him?! "I think I might name him Butler," he laughs.

Eric, any last words you'd like to add? "It's a feel good movie and if you like Jason Castro you'll love him in this movie. And check out his tour with Keaton Simons."

Interviewed by Russell A. Trunk

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