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'Bad Axe' film puts thumb on America's tension points

Adam Graham, The Detroit News on

Published in Entertainment News

Siev grew up going to movies at the two-screen movie theater on Huron Avenue in downtown Bad Axe, across the street from the police department and a block away from Pete's Bar, a local watering hole. He remembers seeing the "Lord of the Rings" movies and the "Star Wars" prequels there on the big screen.

But he didn't take film seriously as a career path until he took a film class at University of Michigan and was shown movies like "Citizen Kane" and "The Searchers."

"That's when I first realized how much passion had to go into filmmaking," says Siev, 29. "I always really loved movies, but being in film school, you begin to have an appreciation for the art, and that's when you can venture on your own and find films that resonate with you and that you love."

He took on film as a major and after graduation moved to Los Angeles where he worked as a production assistant on "FABlife," a daytime talk show hosted by Tyra Banks and Chrissy Teigen. The show was canceled after its first season.

He then picked up a job working under "Jackass" impresario Jeff Tremaine at his production company, Gorilla Flicks, where he worked on MTV's internet clips show "Ridiculousness" and on Tremaine's 2019 Mötley Crüe biopic "The Dirt."

Siev credits Tremaine with teaching him the ropes of filmmaking.

 

"Even though what I do might seem so different from what Jeff does, he really taught me so much about what it means to be a director, as far as being a great leader and being collaborative," he says. Tremaine carries an executive producer credit on "Bad Axe."

While working with Tremaine, Siev made his 2018 short film "Year Zero." It is inspired by his father Chun, who survived the mass killings in his home country of Cambodia in the 1970s. Siev cast his father in the film, and the experience helped him better understand the sacrifice his father made and what he escaped to come to America and put down roots in Michigan.

Chun was a tae kwon do instructor when he met Jaclyn, a Detroit-bred Mexican American. After living in Romeo the couple settled in Bad Axe, population 3,000 and some change, in a two-bedroom home. They had four children, and David spent the first 10 years of his life sleeping on a bedroom floor.

Chun and Rachel ran a doughnut and sweet shop, which they eventually transformed into Rachel's, a family restaurant with a wide-ranging menu of American, Mexican and Asian fare and a full bar. The rice bowls come recommended, as do the specialty drinks.

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