Kim Coates Interview: Neon Lights


Neon Lights, arriving on digital and On Demand July 12, is a psychological thriller starring Dana Abraham. Regardless of this being his first main position, additionally it is his characteristic movie debut as producer and co-writer, which speaks to his tenacity as a filmmaker. The film focuses on his character Clay Amani, a tech tycoon on the verge of dropping his enterprise until he does some main soul looking out. That search takes him again to household trauma which he revisits on an odd retreat along with his estranged siblings.

In the course of awkward household dinners and intense psychiatric periods is the mysterious Denver Kane (performed by Kim Coates, Sons of Anarchy), who hangs within the shadows of Neon Lights like a nightmare ready to emerge. The movie doesn’t clarify precisely who he’s to Clay, however his position as advisor is obvious, and the stress between them builds over the course of the story. Alongside the duo, the film stars Brit MacRae, Erika Swayze, René Escobar Jr., Brenna Coates, Stephen Tracey, and Lauren Howe.

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Associated: 10 Underrated Psychological Thrillers You Have To See To Imagine

Display screen Rant spoke to Coates about what drew him to Neon Lights and the way concerned he was within the manufacturing course of, in addition to the enjoyment of getting his daughter on set in her personal essential position.


Display screen Rant: If you first learn this script, what was it that jumped out at you? What did you even perceive on the primary learn by way of? As a result of it is a thinker.

Kim Coates: Nothing. I did not get it. I am not fooling with you. I went, “Wait, what?” I learn it a second time. “What, wait? Then I learn it a 3rd time, and that is once I went, “Okay, now I am beginning to piece collectively one thing right here.”

What Dana Abraham did in starring on this movie, penning this movie, having the tenacity and the heart and the brains to get me to be on this movie? And he by no means gave up with my managers up in Canada; he simply stored going and going, and discovering a component for my daughter, Brenna Coates. That was fairly wonderful. After I actually did discuss to him and Rouzbeh Heydari, it was throughout COVID and the entire world was modified. We do not even know what is going on on within the movie and tv enterprise, however we did it proper with masks and shields. Getting COVID exams every single day to attempt to get the world again on some type of footing.

However this film, child. You need to discuss psychological well being? You need to discuss a psychological thriller? You need to discuss Alfred Hitchcock? And there is some horror in there. Eight individuals solely within the solid, plus this home – it had its personal character, that home. I imply, it blew my thoughts. We solely did it in 15 days, and it turned out so unbelievably properly. I would not have accomplished it and not using a producer credit score, as a result of I wanted to have the ability to assist edit, to have the ability to assist make selections and to assist solid.

I am fairly happy with this film.

I used to be truly going to ask about producing. What was it that you simply needed to deliver to the movie? How far would you say you went with that producer credit score?

Kim Coates: Clearly, Brenna was a giant a part of this. Then we began speaking about a few of the different actors, and I bought to satisfy Rouzbeh on the telephone. It is COVID, so there isn’t any assembly anybody; it is all Zoom, Zoom, Zoom.

However most significantly, it was the music, and the notes on the edit. It was, “Wait a minute, what corporations are we going to take it to once we’re accomplished?” That is actually the place it got here in helpful for me. I do not need to toot my very own horn, however I feel Dana, Rouzbeh and all their producers had been fairly comfortable to have me on board. And I used to be fairly comfortable to be there.

Dana clearly wore a number of completely different hats within the manufacturing of this movie, however on the appearing facet, so did you. Your character Denver, with out spoiling, represents so many issues in lots of locations. What’s it prefer to get into that mindset every time, and the way do you even preserve monitor of the place and who you might be?

Kim Coates: You nailed it. I am unable to actually discuss Denver Kane that a lot, as a result of that is actually a discovery for everyone on July 12, with popcorn and whiskey in entrance of them as a result of they will want it. My character Denver Kane comes upon us very early within the movie, and you do not know what the hell is happening. There’s a few very intense early scenes with Clay, the place his life is unraveling in entrance of him. He is a tech tycoon, however he is dropping all his cash; his enterprise. He would not know what is going on on round him.

You discover out one thing about his early days as a boy, after which abruptly, he is at his shrink’s workplace and also you begin to piece issues collectively. “Wait a minute. The place are we going with this man?” He places his head again on that sofa, after which we go to this property along with his household, his brothers, his sister-in-law… And I am telling you, my character intertwines by way of the entire thing, and you do not know what the hell’s occurring. You should not actually know what is going on on, even on the finish of the film.

On the premiere that we had simply final weekend, 700 individuals had been all questions. “What was occurring there? Who did?” I actually assume Dana and Rouzbeh did an unbelievable job on the finish of this, to have individuals wanting to speak about this movie properly after it was accomplished.

Neon Lights as a title provides you a sure mindset, which is actually integrated within the lighting of the movie. However it’s additionally current in even the methods the horror parts are launched. What was it like so that you can craft these moments on the day?

Kim Coates: It was terrific. And I gotta let you know, the title additionally comes from the mind. All of us have completely different lights and visions inside our head. Purple means one thing, inexperienced means one thing, blue can imply one thing. And what Dana did in introducing these rooms with completely different lights was crucial, the place one brother stayed there and one other brother stayed right here. The sister-in-law stayed there, as a result of that was coming from his mind and reflecting on his previous.

It is a very deep psychological well being problem film with a thriller hooked up to it.

How a lot you focus on the backstory on your character earlier than?

Kim Coates: I am unable to give a lot away, however I’ll say that I got here from a extremely lovely household. I used to be so fortunate that my mom and father had been so light and sort and powerful and humorous. We did not have rather a lot rising up as youngsters, however we at all times had a roof over our head, and it was a peaceable atmosphere.

On this film, it is the precise reverse. Clay got here from a really darkish family and from a world that you simply get to search out out about because the film evolves in entrance of us. I am a giant a part of that, so it was vital for me once I was doing my analysis, and vital for me once we modified a few of the writing and the scenes that wanted to be modified. I’ve by no means performed a man like this earlier than.

Overlook in regards to the trauma a part of it, however he must be charismatic. He must be calm and soothing. You possibly can’t simply play this facet of the tracks on a regular basis, and I by no means do. All my stuff’s with Dana, and to observe this child work along with his little stutter and his quirkiness? He inhabited that character 24/7, which was fairly particular to observe and be round.

Talking of the household side, having your daughter on set was hopefully one other good reminder of how significantly better you’ve it.

Kim Coates: Little question. [Laughs] Possibly that is why Dana actually solid me. As a result of the phrase on the road is that we love each other, and we come from a reasonably good household.

However I used to be the primary three days, after which I used to be gone. It is all Brenna and Dana for the remainder of the shoot. So, I bought to start out and set a little bit of a bar, I feel. To observe Brenna and Dana’s work in that psychiatrist’s workplace? I am unable to anticipate individuals to observe this film. It was very thrilling, and we are able to be taught rather a lot from it, I feel.

Lastly, what’s subsequent for you? What can we sit up for?

Kim Coates: I’ve bought two actually massive issues popping out quickly. Final yr, Woody Harrelson, Justin Theroux, Lena Headey and I labored on this five- or six-month venture known as The White Home Plumbers. It is about Nixon on HBO, and I don’t know when it is popping out. However to be on that venture was fairly wonderful for all that point. All of us play actual guys and actual gals – I play Frank Sturgis. That is gonna be wonderful when it does come out.

I simply starred in a film by my good good friend from Useless Poets Society, Tom Schulman – he wrote it and received an Oscar for that. He wrote this factor through the pandemic known as Southern Gothic, and it is story that he at all times needed to write down. I play the lead with Lili Simmons; the 2 of us are co-leads, actually. We shot that in Georgia for six weeks this previous February and March, and that’ll be going to all of the movie festivals developing within the fall. It is a very darkish 1997 piece of racism that must be seen and watched and discovered from. It is a fairly unbelievable piece of labor; I’ve seen it, and it is wonderful. I am unable to anticipate individuals to see that too.

Neon Lights Synopsis


Thirty-year-old tech tycoon, Clay Amani (Dana Abraham), is on the verge of a hostile takeover of Tempest Tech, all whereas he makes an attempt to beat psychological well being problems and childhood traumas. Upon the recommendation of his therapist Dr. Mori (Brenna Coates), Clay retreats to an off-grid location for a household reunion along with his misfit siblings, with the intention to “face his traumas, head on.” Through the reunion, household secrets and techniques are revealed that ripple tidal waves by way of the already strained relationships between Clay and his household.

In hopes of turning this tragic encounter round Clay’s trusted advisor Denver Kane (Kim Coates) makes an attempt to assist Clay navigate and are available to phrases with what’s really required to get again on monitor, and give attention to what’s really vital, to retake management of his firm. However issues go very awry, and Clay is left combating for extra than simply his firm, when company start disappearing.

Verify out our interview with Neon Lights star and author Dana Abraham.

Extra: 10 Psychological Thrillers To Watch

Neon Lights will probably be out there on digital and On Demand July 12.

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