Movies & TV / Columns

Harley Di Nardo Talks w/411 About His New Movie Dead Envy

September 7, 2018 | Posted by Bryan Kristopowitz
Dead Envy

The 411 Interview: Harley Di Nardo


Harley Di Nardo is an award winning writer, producer, actor, director, and musician. His short films include Weathered Storms and Blue Valley, and was the lead singer for the bands Closer and White Light Motorcade and has toured with bands like The Donna’s, Alice Cooper, among others. Di Nardo’s feature film debut as a director, writer, and star is Dead Envy, which recently received a theatrical run in Los Angeles (check out my review of the movie here). In this interview, Di Nardo talks with this writer about making Dead Envy, the movie’s soundtrack, his moviemaking influences, and more.



Bryan Kristopowitz: Why did you want Dead Envy to be your first feature film as a director?

Harley Di Nardo: Well, Dead Envy is everything that I am. It’s the things that culminated into my existence for the last couple of decades. I had to get this one out of my system. Also, it’s what I want to project as my future. Music and Rock n’ Roll is a big part of what I want to do, and it’s how I want to be perceived. It’s all natural, really.

BK: How did you come up with the idea for Dead Envy?

HDN: I was making the bed one day, or cleaning my room or something and it was there. It popped into my head. Husband and wife own a salon and a younger, cooler guy enters their life. My character tries to enlist him… but nothing is as it seems.

BK: Where did you film Dead Envy?

HDN: We shot it in a salon in Hermosa Beach. We found a salon owner that wanted to play a hairdresser in a film. We also had the Victorian house in DTLA. Our producer used to live there with a bunch of musicians. Then we built the sets for the bar scenes. I wanted it to have a strange and unique feel.


BK: How did you cast Dead Envy?

HDN: We held auditions at Hollywood Casting and Film. It’s an awesome studio where you can audition and record it. Adam, who plays Javy, came from our DP’s reel. I saw her reel and asked who he was. She said, “That’s Adam, he’s great… call him.” I sent him the script and he read it the first night. I knew he’d be dedicated and that’s most of the battle. Samantha just killed it. She came in the second day and we had chemistry, and that shows in the film.


BK: How long did it take to make Dead Envy, from finishing the script to completing post-production?

HDN: 3-4 months. I like to work fast. I get bored. I want to be doing or seeing something every day. I want to be working. Sitting around makes me crazy. I feel it stifles creativity.

BK: You directed and starred in Dead Envy. How difficult was it to do both jobs at the same time? Is that something you hope to do again with future projects or would you rather do one or the other?

HDN: I’d want to be an auteur, like Woody Allen or Lena Dunham. I also admire Vincent Gallo. I want to be seen as a creator that brings my own spin to things, so I guess I’ll always do a little of both. Sometimes more of one than the other. Also, my goal is to do the soundtrack for every film as well. Whether I am recording the music myself, or delegating the job, I would love to have creative control over that. There is a soundtrack for the film coming out for Dead Envy. It will be available on iTunes this week!


BK: Is the Dawn character meant to be psychic or sort of psychic? Where did that psychic/ “supernatural” element come from in terms of the story’s development?

HDN: Actually, that’s an interesting question. When I was making my bed and the idea popped into my head, I also saw the psychic there as well. It reminded me of the film Death Trap with Michael Caine and Christopher Reeve. That’s where the idea for the psychic came from. Great film.

BK: Dead Envy moves quickly and doesn’t waste time. Was it always your intention to make a lean and mean fast moving movie or did it sort of work out that way?

HDN: Both. We trimmed off the fat, then trimmed it again and then again! I wanted to add one more scene that was deleted and it wouldn’t have cost much to do, but we cut it to get to the point. I wish that scene would’ve stayed in there. It’s a scene where David tells his wife that he wants to make another record and she lays into him about giving it up to concentrate on the salon once and for all. He gets upset and they argue. She eventually gives in because deep down she wants him to succeed. Very real.

BK The music in Dead Envy is fantastic. How did you develop that aspect of the movie?

HDN: Thanks. That’s my world. I’ve had friends that are musicians in the business that have songs sitting around, and I’ve written songs over the years that have been just sitting waiting for a project like this one to come along. If I had something or a friend had something that fit, I’d use it, if we didn’t, I’d write something in a day, give it a rough mix and send it to my editor. Once we were done, we mixed and mastered it all. It’s a fun part of what we do.

BK: Will there be a Dead Envy 2?

HDN: I hope so. When we were on set, we kept saying there is going to have to be a sequel. It was exciting on set. We felt we didn’t want it to end. We all felt it. But I’ve got to concentrate on getting Dead Envy 1 out into the world so that we can make a second one.

BK: Who are your movie making heroes?

HDN: Stanley Kubrick, Woody Allen and Martin Scorsese. Those three sum up who I am. I’m somewhere in the middle. But I really like John Waters, David Lynch as well as some others.

BK: Any upcoming projects you can tell us about?

HDN: Yes, right now I am writing a paranormal thriller about a single mom who is repeatedly attacked by a sexual demon. She takes matters into her own hands and finds a demonologist on YouTube. He’ll do it for free because he is pitching a show to Bravo.

BK: Is the Javy Bates character based on people you’ve met while in the music business?

HDN: There are some stalkers out there, but the idea for Javy came from my obsession with Mark David Chapman, the man who murdered John Lennon. He loved him but then felt betrayed by the way Lennon was, in his eyes, a hypocrite. He preached the working man’s persona while he lived in the Dakota Building on Central Park, disconnected from the world. He felt John was a phony and needed to be corrected.

BK: Will there be a Dead Envy soundtrack at some point?

HDN: Yes, it’s out this week on Artisan Fire Records. You can buy it on iTunes and other outlets!

BK: After its theatrical run what sort of release will Dead Envy receive? How will people be able to see it?

HDN: It’s coming out September 4th and it will be available on DVD, Cable and Digital HD, including iTunes, Amazon Instant, Google Play and Vudu.


A very special thanks to Harley Di Nardo for agreeing to participate in this interview and Justin Cook for setting it up.

You can purchase Dead Envy here.

Check out the official Dead Envy website here, Dead Envy Facebook page here and Twitter page here.

Check out Harley Di Nardo’s website here.

Harley Di Nardo headshot from imdb. All other images from Harley Di Nardo.