Kim Coates Delves Into Thriller and Mental Health Aspects of ‘Neon Lights’

Neon Lights, co-starring Dana Abraham and Brenna Coates, is now out on Digital and On Demand.


Now available On Digital and On Demand, Neon Lights centers on Clay Amani (Dana Abraham), an introverted tech figure who attempts to reunite his estranged family. Kim Coates (Sons of Anarchy, Bad Blood) is Denver Kane, a mysterious figure who has a crippling hold on Clay’s psyche. Coates talked to Deepest Dream about his motivations behind acting and producing this indie project.

Audio version of Kim Coates’ and Dana Abraham interview is up on CinemAddicts:

As Kim Coates states in the interview, the less one knows about Neon Lights the better. It’s a total mind twister of a narrative, and Dana Abraham’s portrayal of an emotionally fragile Clay Armani is an intentionally uncomfortable watch. Neon Lights is a slow burn thriller that took me by surprise, and hopefully this film will receive its share of attention from fellow cinephiles.

I appreciated how Neon Lights, while effective as a psychological thriller, is more than just entertainment fare.

Coates: This movie has mental health at its forefront. It’s very Hitchcock. It’s very psychological thriller. Things happen and you don’t know what’s happening at times.

Is it coming from Dana Abraham’s head, who plays Clay Armani. We can’t talk about my character too much because you’ve seen the film. It’s so important for the people sitting down in the theater or watching it at home to let Denver, my character, evolve from the beginning to the middle to the end.

But you’re so right. It encompasses so many themes it’s ridiculous.

Dana Abraham as Clay Amani and Kim Coates as Denver Kane in the horror/thriller NEON LIGHTS, a Momentum Pictures release. Photo courtesy of Momentum Pictures.

***this Q&A was edited for length and clarity. Full unedited talk is in the podcast and YouTube video.

Dana said as great of a collaborator you are, you’re even a better person. Is kindness, in your opinion, an underrated superpower?

Coates: That’s so freaking great to hear, man. I don’t have an answer to that. All I do know is unlike this movie, my parents raised me with such a kind and loving embodiment of a beautiful family.

My two little brothers and me we didn’t have much growing up. But man oh man, it was a great household to be from Saskatoon, Saskatechewan. I don’t know maybe kindness has been ingrained in me and I’m far from perfect.

Doing a movie like this – they needed a bit of a name. They probably couldn’t afford Kim Coates, but the script was so goddamn good . . . Brenna, who plays the psychiatrist (in the film), is amazing in this movie.

It all worked. I was going to work with Brenna (and with) Dana. He’s super kind. Super smart. He wrote this thing and Rouzbeh Heydari directed (Neon Lights) beautifully. Dana and him are attached at the hip.

This movie was only a 15 day shoot. I’d like to think whatever I have helpled lend a helping hand in this very, very dark film that has some enlightenment throughout that you can’t stop watching.

You’ve never seen a movie like this before – it deals with such themes (like mental health). Hopefully that kindness reverberated through the rest of the cast. It was a really, really good time.

Brenna Coates as Dr. Laila Mori in the horror/thriller NEON LIGHTS, a Momentum Pictures release. Photo courtesy of Momentum Pictures

I’m assuming seeing your daughter shine in this movie supercedes all the accomplishments you have had as an actor?

Coates: That’s awesome that you said that. That kid has been an actor her whole life. She auditioned for NYU and gets into Tisch Acting Academy. She’s got her degree. She won a Drama Desk award for Best Actor in The Wolves. The New York Times called it one of the best plays in 25 years on Broadway.

Look, that kid doesn’t need my help. She’s her own machine right now, but she’s my daughter and to act with her in Jerusalem, this incredible play by Jez Butterworth a few years in Toronto, she came right from Broadway to be in that with me.

To see her night after night in that play was unbelievable. I’ve seen everything she’s done. She is well on her way. I’m really, really proud. For sure.

You are also a podcaster with your Sons of Anarchy co-star Theo Rossi with #ReaperReviews.

Coates: Isn’t that just the most freaking unbelievable thing? Theo Rossi calls me up two and a half years ago. Pandemic’s starting. What are we going to do? He said “We should do this.”

We’re almost done. It’s been the most fun. We just cut each other down all the time. It’s just been the greatest thing. Me and Theo are just amateurs, but we have so many viewers, so many followers. It’s nuts around the world. It’s been a lot of fun man.

I’m a big fan of Cold Brook. How special of an experience was that for you working with William Fichtner? That is a movie that I feel, as years progress, that will get a wider viewership.

What a great thing to say. Billy and I, we would have never been offered those two janitors in that small town. Because we’re tough guys. We’re bad guys.

Billy wrote that for me and we waited until Sons of Anarchy was over. We raised the money from my Canadian producers in Calgary and we shot that thing in Buffalo and Cortland where it was supposed to be. It’s a movie about love – we don’t even swear in that thing.

There’s no violence. There’s no sex. It’s just one of those incredible, for the whole family (type of) films that turned out really, really well.

I think you’re right. I think people, when they stumble upon it, will go “Wait, Fichtner and Coates did this? What is this about?”

(It’s a ) really cool story.

Kim Coates as Denver Kane in the horror/thriller NEON LIGHTS, a Momentum Pictures release. Photo courtesy of Momentum Pictures.

Do you have any favorite projects of yours from your extensive body of work?

You know Greg, I really don’t have any favorites. That’s the honest truth. But I will say with all my hard work I’ve been very fortunate to go from stage to film to TV back to film and TV back to stage with Jerusalem. And to watch Brenna grow into this incredible artist that she’s become.

Pretty lucky dad, husband and pretty lucky guy. No favorites. I enjoy all of my work. I really do.

You seem to be working a ton. Do you have time for any extended vacation?

Greg you know what? I say no all the time. I’m so lucky to be in my position to be able to say no. I’m older now. Maybe wiser. I don’t know if any smarter but I’m wiser. I do take my odd vacation so I’m all right that way.

But I still want to produce. I still love to act. I will direct one of these days, so I’ll be talking to you soon and get ready for that.

Kim thank you so much for your time. Much appreciated.

Thanks buddy. Really fun with you Greggy. Thank you!

NEON LIGHTS is now out on Digital and On Demand. Support our site and podcasts by renting/purchasing Neon Lights on Amazon.

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