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Exclusive Interview: Filmmaker Linda Palmer on Her Quirky and Touching ‘Turnover’

Turnover, a new film by writer/director Linda Palmer, will make you love its characters. It’s a quirky, but charming story of people down on their luck who end up helping one another in spite of themselves.

Peter, played by Paul Guilfoyle (CSI: Crime Scene Investigation, Air Force One ), needs help. He’s a friendly old guy whose customers like him, but his restaurant, the Creperie Café, is failing. So is his marriage, and his health.

Veteran actor Paul Guilfoyle as Peter, the owner

His staff consists of one host/waiter/busboy, Henry, played by Riker Lynch (Glee); a cook; and himself. When Peter’s doctor tells him to take time off for his health, Henry feels betrayed, and decides to get back at Peter by hiring a staff of misfits.

I thought the storyline might be kind of predictable, but it kept surprising me. Several times I thought it was about to end, and then a twist took it in another direction. Although I wouldn’t call it an ensemble drama, several of the characters who work for or eat at the café have their own character arcs, and their stories will keep you hooked.

This film has an exceptionally strong cast and outstanding writing.

A Veteran Cast

Besides CSI veteran Guilfoyle, the cast includes many other recognizable faces.

Turnover customers
From left, Julia Silverman, Beverly Todd and Donna Mills are dedicated customers

I was particularly impressed by the performance of Julia Silverman. She plays Gladys, who applies for a job at the Café as part of a game of Truth or Dare, but hasn’t worked in decades. Silverman is one of those actresses who can say more with an expression than others can say with a page of dialogue. Maybe that’s what appearing on General Hospital and 50 other films and TV shows does for your acting chops.

Isabella Blake-Thomas
Isabella Blake-Thomas played a lady with a secret

Pat (Donna Mills), a customer, encourages her buddies who hang out at the Café to change and take action. Mills, another graduate of General Hospital, also has credits that include Play Misty for Me, Gunsmoke, 236 episodes of Knots Landing, and 1,256 episodes of Love is a Many Splendored Thing.

This is a cast with experience.

Talking with Linda

Turnover is currently in its film festival run and I got a chance to ask writer/director Linda Palmer a few questions about the film.

I watched Turnover today and wondered where the ideas for the story came from. Is there a personal connection?

I used to work in the car audio industry and knew many older men who had great friendships with much younger men who worked for them. Almost a quest for their youth. I wanted to do a study of that, but then talked to a friend who worked for a popular bookstore that suddenly hired an awful manager who was so mean that everyone quit, and I kind of mixed the elements. I chose the restaurant background because I grew up around them with a waitress/bartender mom and was very familiar with the “family” aspect of many places she worked. So, I guess, [it’s] a little personal, but [also] completely fabricated.

Turnover actors and director
Clockwise from top, Riker Lynch, writer/director Linda Palmer, Jamie Brewer and Blair Williamson

I thought there were some exceptional performances, especially Julia Silverman’s. What is your approach to directing?

Julia is a fantastic actress who I’ve known for many years. We worked together on The Wedding Video, Halloween Party – she plays two roles in that movie – Our Father, and Intervention. About my directing, I like to find out what the actor thinks of the character after they are cast and then work from there. They often put a lot more research into the [character’s] backstory than I ever do as a writer. I love to let them play.

As I watched, I expected the story to wrap up several times, and then it took a twist in another direction. Was the story set in stone at the beginning, or, being writer and director, did you make some course corrections along the way?

The story was pretty set. The big difference was the character of Peter, which was originally written a little more harsh, and Paul wanted to play him more likable and indecisive, which was a great choice! Laree’ D. Griffith, my co-writer, really added the depth to Gladys’s friends, Cherub, Pat and Ruth, and generally amped up the dialogue throughout. Other than that, pretty close to my original.

The story is full of charmingly quirky characters. How would you describe this in terms of genre?

I think it’s a dramedy for sure, but that category doesn’t really exist, so it’s been being categorized as a drama, comedy or family film.

Is this your favorite film so far?

Well, in many respects yes, but I’m still absolutely in awe of the work in Our Father. I honestly think that is my best work ever, but it’s a short film starring Michael Gross. Definitely worth 20 minutes if you have the time to see it.

Watch the trailer below, and find out when you can see Turnover on its website. Photos courtesy of the production.

About Leo Sopicki

Writer, photographer, graphic artist and technologist. I focus my creative efforts on celebrating the American virtues of self-reliance, individual initiative, volunteerism, tolerance and a healthy suspicion of power and authority.