“Told through the eyes of a Detroit teenager, it is the story of the poet Ovid whose work has been cherished for over 2,000 years.” Those are the words describing the film Ovid and the Art of Love, as they appear on its Facebook page. Ovid was written and directed by Esme von Hoffman. One of the film’s producers, Michael Zervos spoke with The National Herald about that project as well as his other films.
“The passion for the subject matter” and “a connection to the director is what inspires Zervos to choose to produce a film. “I must feel that the director has a vision in which I can trust…and a strong, authentic voice that links every creative decision made with the final goal in mind. I interview every director I work with this mindset.
“Ovid had both and interesting concept and a director that had an idea of where she wanted to take the film. I joined Ovid as the lead Michigan producer.”
Two notable Ovid cast members are veteran actors John Savage and Corbin Bleu. Zervos tells TNH about both:
John Savage read the script and was instantly attracted to the blend of modern and classic, both in costuming and language. Watching him as Augustus Caesar on set was a remarkable process. He comes from the same acting generation with the likes of Robert DeNiro and Al Pacino, where you can see the methodological approach to putting on a character. He asks about every detail of the script. Every costume decision. Every prop he uses. His involvement in minutiae at first appears petty but then you realize what he’s doing, wanting to ensure the best possible on-screen performance, and it makes complete sense. Boy, does it show.
“Corbin was someone that Esme liked for a while and after reading the script, he too fell in love with the originality of the concept. Corbin has such a natural charm on and off camera. He’s a genuine, compassionate gentleman who fit the role of the famed ‘poet of love’ so very well. By the end of the shoot, he knew every single cast and crew member’s name by heart. Not every actor does this and frankly, it does affect the morale of the crew knowing that the talent cares about the project over and above the paycheck. There really isn’t someone I could think of that could have taken on this role with more grace than Corbin.”
My family on my father’s side is from Kardamyla on Chios and from Sparta (Vlahioti) and Arcadia (Kosma) on my mothers, says Zervos, who speaks the language and has been to Greece multiple times. Both sides of his family “brought with them heavy ties to their culture, including the language, food, religion, and lifestyle,” when they immigrated to the United States, none of which has been lost on Zervos, as evidenced by his words: “I truly relish my travels in that beautiful country and look forward to every visit.”
PAST, PRESENT, FUTURE
Zervos’ first feature film, which he directed and is still editing, is Papou. “It is about the relationship between an imaginative young boy and his dying grandfather as they search for a way to live together forever,” he explains.
Then he moved on to Tommy Battles the Silver Sea Dragon, “a musical drama about a man who puts himself on trial in his own mind for the guilt he feels over the death of his own mother, who died in the strain of his birth.”
Zervos has several other projects on the horizon “that I’m very excited about sharing soon.” More information is available on his website, motherandmidwife.com.