Greg Poppa

Greg Poppa was born in Philadelphia. He began his creative career writing short stories as a child before moving into acting in his early 20s. Greg has worked on several big budget productions such as M. Night Shyamalan's Apple+ show "Servant" and HBO's "Mind Over Murder" as well as numerous indie features and shorts including "Weapons and Their Names" which has been nominated for best short film at Sundance Film Festival 2023. Greg made his directorial debut in the short film "Foxes".

When he's not working on films, Greg can usually be found playing guitar, piano, ice hockey, boxing or riding horses. Greg studies acting under Lisa Pelikan at HB Studio in NYC.

Interview with  Writer/Director and Lead Actor of "Foxes" Greg Poppa

Your project has entered in our festival. What is your project about?
Foxes tells the story of two Mesolithic era hunter gatherers struggling to survive. The last of their tribe, Man is suffering from the same illness that took the lives of his family and friends and Woman is 9 months pregnant. Both are guided by the cries of an unseen fox who guides them where they need to be. Foxes is really about humanity's ability to adapt to the world changing and our will to survive no matter how dire our situation is.



What are your ambitions with your project?
Ideally get it into as many festivals as possible and be seen by as many people as possible. I want Foxes to be the baseline of what people should expect from a film I wrote, directed, or produced. All future projects should be at least as visceral and jarring as Foxes or significantly better.

Tell us something about your shooting? What pleasantly surprised you?
Filming Foxes had many challenges but something I really enjoyed about the process was problem solving. If I didn’t have an answer for something someone from our team usually had a solution so the whole process felt very collaborative from beginning to end. Something that surprised me was how well a vision that was in my head and started off as a simple character exercise in my acting class could be made into something like this. How everyone could attach to the vision and add so much along the way. Making the world richer and fuller through their expertise and fine tuning.

For what group of spectators is your film targeted?
Foxes is definitely for people who enjoy a slow burn, ambient horror film with strong body horror elements involved. There are some extreme scenes that we felt were 100% necessary to telling the story of these two characters.

Why should distributors buy your film?
They should buy it because it is very different from most films I’ve seen out there. As a pre-civilization period piece Foxes feels modern in many ways while also exploring an under-examined time in our species’ existence. There aren’t a lot of films that deal with hunter gatherers in this pivotal era of humanity, one that shaped us into who we are today.

How would you specify your work? What characterizes your film?
I like to deal with a character's mental state. I really enjoy exploring characters who have a loose grip with reality and how their deterioration affects their decision making. I also enjoy incorporating body horror elements into my films, not just as a shock element but because humans are such incredible creatures who can survive brutal conditions and keep fighting for survival.

Why did you decided to become a filmmaker?
I’ve always had a fascination with film ever since I saw Fight Club when I was 15 years old. That’s the first film I saw the craftsmanship of filmmaking. I got into acting during college and after I graduated didn’t really have a plan of what to do next so I decided I would become an actor. I moved to NYC at the beginning of 2020 and started attending HB Studio and learning under Lisa Pelikan. One thing that Lisa told us over and over again was “by the end of class, you’re all going to be making movies.” This is where I met Caitlin Wells who helped produce and played Woman in Foxes. When I had the idea for Foxes I thought “I think we’re supposed to make this” and I decided to direct. I really enjoyed the challenge of directing and plan on directing my second short “Cold” later this year.

Who is your role model?
I’m not sure I have a “role model” per say but I do have people in and outside the entertainment industry that I admire. My brothers are two that I really admire and who have taught me a lot about life and push me to be better. My acting teacher Lisa Pelikan constantly pushes me to be better. David Goggins is someone who I look to for inspiration and work ethic especially when I’m feeling down and out. My biggest influences within entertainment are Kurt Cobain, Robert DeNiro and David Fincher

Which movies are your favorites? Why?
My top 5 would probably be.
1. Fight Club - I saw this when I was 15 years old, trying to figure out who I was and who I wasn’t and the film felt like it spoke directly to me. The performances by everyone, Fincher’s brilliant directing, the film's overall gross feeling and atmosphere, the story telling style are things I love about the film. I watch it at least once a year and always find something new to love about it.
2. Taxi Driver - DeNiro and Scorsese at their finest. DeNiro’s acting in this is on another level, his ability to play someone like Travis Bickle who isn’t really a hero at all but is so sympathetic is really a masterpiece of acting and filmmaking.
3. There Will Be Blood - Again the perfect blend of phenomenal acting and filmmaking. I really love a good period piece that feels modern and There Will Be Blood strikes that chord for me. Daniel Day-Lewis is on a different level entirely in this film and it introduced me to Paul Dano who I’ve been a big fan of ever since.
4. No Country For Old Men - I’m a massive Coen Brothers fan and this one is probably my favorite for its simplicity and straightforwardness. The characters feel so real, the film doesn’t really have a score, the atmosphere of Texas and the situation is allowed to breathe which draws me in as an audience member.
5. The Godfather 2 - Growing up in an Italian household the Godfather 1 & 2 are mandatory viewing and I’ve always preferred the Godfather 2 for its style of mixing Vito Corleone’s story and Michael’s story seamlessly. I also love DeNiro so getting to watch him, especially in this era, is always a treat.

Where do you look for inspiration for your films?
I find inspiration all over for my films. Foxes started as a character/movement exploration in my acting class. The last film I wrote and starred in “Score (You and Me)” started as a writing exercise. And my upcoming film “Cold” started when I was out at Sundance Film Festival in January and saw a small, isolated house on a sun capped mountain and thought “I wonder who lives there and why?” Other times they come from walk, runs, driving in my car. I usually think of a scenario then ask “how did this person end up here?”

Which topics interest you the most?
Topics that relate to the mind. The extreme lengths the mind can go to, create and destroy itself when left untreated. Other topics such as drugs and cannibalism have always interested me because of what it takes to do them and how they affect the user/consumer and the circumstances of those peoples lives.

What do you consider your greatest achievement in your career?
I would say between Foxes and Score those are my greatest achievements so far. I want my previous films to be the floor of how good my next film should be. So Score needed to be at least as good as Foxes but should be significantly better. Cold should be at least as good as Score but should be significantly better. I want to always be growing as a filmmaker so I want my greatest achievement to be my next film not my last.



What do you consider most important about filming?
Finding the right team is absolutely critical to making a great film. When you have too many egos and set cancers involved you inhibit your ability to make a great film. Many people are talented but if they don’t fit with your team or what you’re trying to do, it can really damage the film.

Which film technique of shooting do you consider the best?
That’s a tough one. I wouldn’t say there are any “best” techniques but there are the best techniques for telling your story that show your vision. I think keeping things simple and not spoon feeding the audience are techniques that fit my style and I would consider best for me.

How would you rate/What is your opinion about current filmmaking?
I think filmmaking is at a really interesting point in its history right now. It’s easier than ever to make a film and get into filmmaking with all the free information on youtube, high quality cameras are easily accessible, there’s so many great films being made. The big problem I see is that, studios want to make the most amount of money per film, so they spend hundreds of millions of dollars on gigantic super hero/epics and not much on those “mid tier” $20-50 million budgeted films which frankly are usually my favorite kind. But there are some phenomenal companies out there like A24, Bleeker Street, Blumhouse and Plan B to name a few who are making really great films in that budget.

What can disappoint you in a movie?
My biggest disappointment when watching a movie is when a film has so much promise to be great but doesn’t execute quite right and takes me out of it. A bad movie is a bad movie but when a movie has all the elements to be great and can’t put it all together, that’s when I’m really disappointed.

Who supports you in your film career?
My family, friends and team.

What are the reactions to your film? (opinion of spectators, film critics, friends and family)
We had the first in person premiere for Foxes recently and the whole time the film was playing there was this one woman sitting in front of me who would squirm, hide her face and look away any time there was anything “gross” on screen. And I really took a lot of delight in that. Getting a real reaction out of her. Other than that, people really seemed to like Foxes and find it really interesting and weird/gross (which are compliments to me and for everyone involved with the film.)

Have you already visited any of the prestigious film festivals?
I was recently in Utah for Sundance Film Festival supporting a different short film I was in called
“Weapons and Their Names” which was nominated for best short at Sundance. Other than that I
haven’t been to many of the “big” festivals just yet.

What are your future plans in filmmaking carriere?
My future plans are to keep coming up with stories that I find interesting. For me to make a film it needs to be a film I want to watch, a character I want to play and a story I find interesting. Right now I’m in pre-production with fellow actor/producer Sugey Cruz for a film called “Cold” about a grieving woman living in isolation who has 1,000 days to fix her vehicle or spend the rest of her time in purgatory. After that I would like to direct a feature film. I have a few ideas brewing for that.

Learn more about Greg 

Short Film
Guided by the cries of an unseen fox, prehistoric Man and Woman struggle to survive the harshness of their environment, sickness, birth, and death.