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Director Peter Siaggas Talks about His New Film and Greek Roots

Well-known TV director, Peter Siaggas, is inspiring, moving, and making us proud to be Greek.  The founder of the production company, “Spots Films”, has directed countless commercials and television projects.  Some of his television projects include the VH1 hit television series “Free Radio”, “The Lance Krall Show”, and “Jimmy Kimmel Live!” He is currently producing and directing a new film called “Fists of Kill”, which is a martial arts parody/comedy set to shoot in June of this year.  The Atlanta-based director, in an exclusive interview with Greek Reporter, talks to us about his family, his career, and of course his Greek roots.

What part of Greece is your family from? Dad= Zaharo (Kalamata), mom= Perdikonari (Tropea)

Did you begin your professional career as a director or did you start in another profession?
I was a producer at a Post Production house (editorial) right out of college so that I could edit my films for free. This was before Final Cut Pro and other PC editing software for the home so it was a big deal.  I was able to build a reel and still make a living.

Do you think it is better for somebody who wants to become a director, to go to school or use the money to make his/her first film?
Film school.  It teaches you the right way to make films and groups you together with people who have the same interests.

Peter Siaggas working on set with Jack Black and Will Ferrell

Was your family supportive of your choice to be a director?
Kind of.  They didn’t get it though.  “How are you going to make money in film?”  That is what they’d said.  Now they get it.

Which director’s style do you admire the most?
I like my talent to improv scenes with boundaries. When actors can put lines into their own words, the scene feels more real.

What genre do you most enjoy directing?

Do you like television better than film?
They are different.  Apples and oranges. I like both equally.

Which recent film have you watched and enjoyed the most?
I really like “The Fighter”. The characters are perfect.  Though it isn’t a comedy, the perfection of the characters and how they react to the scenes makes it funny to me.

What would be one word to best describe your style of directing?
With talent… relaxed. With crew… demanding.

We all know the cliché, Hollywood is fake. Do you agree?
For sure. It is an entire town whose job is to fake it and make it seem real.

What do you look for when casting actors?
People who become the character and add to it in a positive way. And those who are listening to other characters in the scene and not just delivering lines.

What is the best advice you could give actors for the audition process?
To conserve their energy until the audition begins. Walk in quietly and to the mark. Wait for direction. Talent that listens and observes is very important on set.

How connected do you feel to your Greek heritage?
Very. The first word that comes to mind when I describe myself to others is “Greek”.

Have you ever tried/ would you want to shoot in Greece?
I would shoot in Greece; however, I’ve heard horror stories about the crews there. Too many breaks, work slowly, and expect to go home at 6pm ‘cause their wife has dinner on the table. LOL.

Is it true that you modeled, and you did a spot for Coca-Cola that can be still be seen even today on Coca-Cola machines all over the world?
I did a lot of print work and commercials one of which was Coca-Cola. I don’t consider myself a good actor at all. I was just someone who had a good smile and could hold a product well.  Acting and modeling taught me a lot at an early age about how a set works and what talent needs to get a good performance.

Have you been to Greece?
I’ve been there 15 times or so. I use to go every summer as a kid. Then college and work got in the way later in life. I was there 3 years ago the last time.

Who has had the most influence in your career?
An agency producer that took me under her wing. She gave me a lot of good advice and to keep throwing darts at the board… eventually I’ll get a bulls-eye.

What has been your most memorable experience on set?
As an actor, I had a creative director loudly tell me (when I was confused what I needed to do) to just sit and look pretty, that is what I do. That was a negative memorable experience.  A positive one was when I worked with a big celebrity that wanted to do one thing and I told him to do another. He fought with me before hand saying my way wasn’t as good. I convinced him to try it. He later agreed I was right and that it was a better choice.

What is your favorite thing to do off set?
I love food. I try every good restaurant. If I wasn’t a director, I’d be a food critic.

Do you listen to Greek music? And who would be your favorite singer/artist?
I grew up listening to Greek music. My parents played it everywhere (car, home, etc).  I still do. My iPod has more Greek music than American. Ploutarhos is my favorite. We resemble each other too.

You have also built a great career as a director of many commercials.  Will you continue doing commercials, or are you planning to solely work on television and/or film projects in the future?
I get bored easily. I love all formats. Commercials are great because the project only takes a few weeks and pay really well.  TV is fun because you get to build character and a family on set. Also, it is better for comedy because you can take longer for comedic beats.  I’ll do anything fun that people will hire me to do.

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