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In Depth with Ash Avildsen Creator of Paradise City

Sailun Tires

The now-viral teaser trailer for Paradise City stormed the internet earlier this summer and Swagger Magazine has snagged an interview with the shows creator Ash Avildsen. Here to talk about his new show, success as the CEO of a record company, working with the late Cameron Boyce, moving from music to tv and so much more. Without further adieu Swagger Magazine introduces to you, Ash Avildsen.

Photography: Storm Santos

It’s great to meet you, Ash. Could you give our readers an introduction to your new project Paradise City?

It’s a scripted modern-day music drama rooted in rock & roll culture.

The trailer mentions Black Magic, how long have you been interested in the subject? What are you a believer in?

I’ve been fascinated with it since my teen years when I started reading and researching Led Zeppelin and Jimmy Page interviews.

I believe magic can be used for good or for evil. I think our modern society has conditioned us to believe it’s all just myth and folklore of humans’ ability to use it, but it’s been referenced and documented for thousands of years. It didn’t just go away one day. It’s still here.

Who contributed to the project so it could be uniquely independently financed?

Myself and my business partner.  We’ve had great success together with this world of music and fandom. We believe they deserve this series.

It’s very cool Isabella Summers of Florence and the Machine is the series composer. Had you worked together through your Sumerian Records label previously?

I’ve never worked with her prior to Paradise City but Florence + The Machine is one of my top 5 favorite groups of all time, so it was a dream come true to team up with her. She is an absolutely brilliant maestro and one of the greatest musical minds I’ve ever experienced.

Paradise City is a TV music drama series. You have built your own independent record label from the ground up. How did your significant expertise in the music industry benefit your latest directing project?

They say “write what you know” so I believe all of the real-life experience and trauma I’ve had coming up in such a rough industry has made for great storytelling.

Is there anything you would like to say about working with the late Cameron Boyce and how the show’s future looks in his absence?

He is so incredible in the series and was such a timeless, ethereal talent. I feel so grateful to have gotten to work with him. I believe he was on his way to being one of the biggest stars in the world now that he was ascending into young adult dramas coming out of his Disney days. He played a central character and in many ways is the heartbeat of the show with the audience.

There are several very talented and popular actors in Paradise City, including Bella Thorne, Booboo Stewart, Olivia Culpo, Drea De Matteo, Mark Boone, Fairuza Balk, Perrey Reeves, Rys Coiro, Ryan Hurst, and Brooke Lyons. What is your managing and/or directing style working with so many young, skilled artists?

It starts with casting the talent in the right roles where they will be most believable and most easily shine. I think they all are great fits for the characters they play. Collaborating with the actor’s scene by scene to make the “soul” of each scene come to life is the most important while allowing them to have enough room to improvise within the writing so that the performance feels authentic and genuine.

Photography: Storm Santos

You also created and wrote the series Paradise City. From where did you draw inspiration for your characters and their storylines?

Almost all of it is based on real events and people. This question is a whole other interview in itself. 🙂

Do you have a funny or challenging antidote that occurred during the filming?

We were on a limited budget every day to get all the scenes shot in time so we couldn’t buy out all the locations for as long as we needed them. There were days when we were filming at a place like The Rainbow Bar and Grill and running into their normal hours of public operation. For instance, we’d be still shooting a scene inside the place but while the outdoor patio where we had a video village setup was getting mixed in with customers coming in to eat and drink!

How has COVID-19 affected the Paradise City project?

It’s made the post-production process a lot more challenging as so much of it is happening from remote locations.

You’re the CEO of Sumerian Records and Sumerian Films.  How has your success in the music industry shaped the path for your transition into film/television?

It’s made it a good bit easier than someone who didn’t have a history of credibility in entertainment to reference. There’s a lot of similarities between the two industries. There’s also the allure of how so many actors want to have a presence in the music world and so many musicians who want to have a presence in the film/tv world. Things definitely happen a lot faster in the music business though. You can make a hit song in one late-night studio session and then launch it online the next day. Making a movie or TV show doesn’t have such a luxury. 🙂

Can you give us an insider’s scoop on where and when we will be able to watch the Episodes?

I hoping by or before, the end of August.

You can watch the trailer for Paradise City below which is now available to stream on Amazon Prime.


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