Actor Jason Dohring has built a passionate fanbase with roles on VERONICA MARS, MOONLIGHT and RINGER. Dohring now leads an all-star cast in the new indie film, Searching for Sonny, which has been playing on the festival circuit the past several months. On Friday night, Sonny was a smash success when it was shown at The 12th Annual FirstGlance Film Festival, an event that has become the darling of the independent film movement, at Raleigh Studios in Hollywood. We Love Soaps spoke with Dohring this weekend about his comedic role in the film, working with a cast that includes FRIDAY NIGHT LIGHTS' Minka Kelly and HEROES' Masi Oki, and what he would like to do in the future.
How does Dorhing describe Searching for Sonny?
"It's a really fun story about a couple of kids that goes back to their high school reunion," he says. "There's sort of a murder mystery involved, then hilarity ensues. It's a really fun story. It's the first comedy I've ever done and my first lead in a film."
It has been a wonderful journey.
"The project first came to me two years ago, and we shot it probably a year and a half ago. We had an awesome cast with Minka Kelly. She was just super cool to work with. Totally beautiful but also an awesome person. Masi [Oki] jumped on board, and Michael Hogan, BriTANicK (Nick Kocher and Brian McElhaney). I don't know if you've seen them on YouTube, but it's really fun stuff."
How did Dohring land a role to the film?
"Andrew [Disney] had seen a show I did a while ago and he contacted me," Dohring explains, "and we had a meeting in Santa Monica. I loved the script and could see the way it was going to be shot just from reading it. It was a very stylized comedy in the vein of Kiss Kiss Bang Bang and I dug that. It was his first film and he did an unbelieveable job."
Had he wanted to do comedy for a while?
"I did comedy I guess as kid, then I started playing serial killers," he jokes. "Finally they let me do one. I was surrounded by good people in the film and I think we put together a pretty good performance."
What were the biggest differences in shooting Searching for Sonny compared with doing primetime television shows like RINGER and VERONICA MARS?
"You get a lot of rehearsal time," Dohring says. "We showed up almost a week before and got to go to all the locations to see what Andrew had in mind. Brian and Nick did a comedy show that I got to be in, so we got to do a lot of off the set stuff. In TV, you come in, rehearse, go to your trailer for 20 minutes while they light the set, then you shoot it. They have much more of a schedule doing an episode every eight days so there's not much prep time necessarily."
Were there any funny outtakes?
"Andrew let us do extra takes if we wanted to especially with the comedy guys who just started improv-ing," Dohring laughs. "There was one time I blew like 36 takes in a row. It's the longest gag reel you've ever seen. It's so funny. I couldn't hold it together."
What was the FirstGlance screening like on Friday night?
"We had a really good crowd," he says. "It was so cool to hear people respond to the film. There's a lot of introspective films when you go to festivals, but this one is really fun to watch and an entertaining ride from beginning to end."
Does Dohring get nervous watching his work with an audience?
"Very nervous," he reveals. "All my family was coming to the screening because it was in L.A. and I was thinking, 'Oh jeez, I hope it's good.' Then I heard my dad laughing his ass off a couple of seats down from me and I knew it was good. People laugh at different parts. Some stuff that you thought was super funny maybe is not and then other parts you didn't know was funny was. Audiences respond differently but everyone seems to love it."
What's next for the film?
"I think we're playing in eight different cities alone this week," Dohring says. "We've picked up some awards already. That's going to help when we get the distribution going."
Is there any type of role he hasn't played yet that he would love to tackle?
"I'd love to do a war epic where you get to go to boot camp," he reveals, "a kind of Band of Brothers type of thing."
Would he ever consider doing theater, perhaps on Broadway?
"Sure," he says. "Even in L.A. I would definitely consider it and have."
VERONICA MARS started on SOAPnet in the last week. The fans are still as passionate as ever about the show.
"Them and me as well," Dohring says. "We had such a good time working on the show. We all sort of got our first start in VERONICA. Everybody has gone on to do things: Amanda Seyfried did Mamma Mia; Kristen [Bell[ had a blowout career. Ryan Hansen's doing awesome. We had guys like Michael Cera on the show way back when. It was quite cool to see everyone spring from that."
Sometimes it's just the right chemistry.
"Rob [Thomas] had a really good eye for talent. Even our recurring stars Krysten Ritter, who's now on the B IN APARTMENT 23 show. All with our ancillary parts, people jumped from that."
If he could go back in time to give young Jason Dohring a piece of advice, knowing what he knows now, what would he say?
"Have fun. Keep your integrity. Do what you want to do and stay true to that."
EDITOR'S NOTE: Check out Searching for Sonny at searchingforsonny.com.
Roger Newcomb is a producer and writer in New York City. Aside from co-hosting WE LOVE SOAPS TV, he has written and produced a full-length indie film, Manhattanites, and two radio soap operas, SCRIPTS & SCRUPLES and ROCKLAND COUNTY. He has also made acting appearances in indie web series IMAGINARY BITCHES and EMPIRE. He has consulted on numerous indie soaps and is currently a producer on THE BAY and executive producer on the indie short May Mercy Lie, which is currently making the rounds at film festivals.