Category Archives: Interviews

WEDNESDAY NIGHT LIGHTS: THE MAKER OF “MANDY”

From my vantage point on the less-esteemed side of the velvet rope, I saw my quarry, Panos Cosmatos, posing for innumerable photographs with various industry and festival bigwigs just before the Canadian premiere of his new movie, Mandy. I had been shuffled around no fewer than four times before being planted right underneath a bright spotlight a few feet from the director. Eventually, he came over—and I got my four minutes.

366: I’m with 366 Weird Movies, and we’re a big fan of your previous movie, Beyond the Black Rainbow. It beat out 63 contenders in a readers’ choice poll to be certified on our list–

PC: A list of “weird movies”? Nice.

366: Yup. We’re looking for  366 of best, weird movies we can find, one for each day of the year including leap-year.

PC: Love it.

366: I have a few questions for you. In Beyond the Black Rainbow, we saw some and influences; I was wondering if you might remark on some of the directorial influences specifically for Mandy?

PC: Honestly, for this film, I felt more that I was just tapping into myself, just following my instincts a little bit more and seeing where that took me.

366: In Beyond the Black Rainbow, there’s a melancholic, sort of space-y feel. Obviously it’s a very different tone from Mandy.

PC: Yeah, it’s more “melancholic and barbaric”.

366: Nicely put. Now, tapping into yourself, I know that your father was involved in any number of motion pictures. I was curious personally in regards to your mother, who was a sculptor. Did she influence you artistically in any way?

PC: Very much so, yes. She nurtured my creativity from the beginning and had an incredible way of looking at the world, and that’s a big part of me.

366: Now your previous movie and this one, they both take place in 1983, and you’ve indicated in a number of interviews your reason for that. 1)1983 was the first year that a young Cosmatos went to the store “Video Addict”, during which time he would imagine the stories behind the box covers of horror films he was not allowed to rent. Obviously it might be too early to ask about future projects, but do you think you’ll be sticking with the year 1983 in the future, or do you think you might eventually go forward or backward?

PC: *laughs* I think the next film will probably go forward — but never the present. Never the present.

366: Your previous film was largely self-funded–

PC: Yup.

366: –This was a larger production. Were there any problems with “strings attached”, or were you able to maneuver things?

PC:Amazingly I was given basically complete freedom, that’s why I got involved with SpectreVision, because they vowed to protect my vision and nurture it all the way through, and they lived up to that.

366: That’s excellent. I’m from the United States, and I’m fearful I might not be able to catch this movie again; do you know anything about wider distribution?

PC: I think it’s getting released on about 300 screens in the US on September 14th. Where in the US are you from?

366: Upstate New York.

PC: Cool! I always romanticize that area in my mind, having never been there. But I do have that romanticized version of Upstate New York in my mind.

366: Well, Upstate New York is very flattered.

PC: *laughs*

366: In regards to Mandy specifically, where in Heaven’s name did that “folk song” come from?

PC: The lyrics were written by me and Dan Boeckner from the band “Operators”. He wrote the verses, I wrote the chorus. And then Milky Burgess wrote the instrumentation and Randall Dunn produced it and we kind of just threw it together in the recording studio in a day or two.

366: It is, in its way, a very good song–

PC: *laughs*

366: –and it certainly conveys that fellow well. And one question I like to close all my interviews with, what’s your home town and do you have a restaurant you can recommend?

PC: Where I live now? Vancouver, and I would recommend “Kingyo”.

366: Thank you very much for your time. Fantastic movie, and I wish you the best of luck.

…and with that, mere minutes before the film’s start, he was summoned for further photographs. 

References   [ + ]

1. 1983 was the first year that a young Cosmatos went to the store “Video Addict”, during which time he would imagine the stories behind the box covers of horror films he was not allowed to rent.

RAW AUDIO: CAM CAST AND CREW

366 Weird Movies interviews the cast and crew of Cam, 2018 psychological thriller in which camgirl Lola finds that somehow, someTHING has nabbed her account and is posing as her, performing acts she would never agree to…

Interviewees: Daniel Goldhaber (director), Isa Mazzei (writer), Patch Darragh (actor, “Tinker”)

See also the mini-capsule in Giles’ Fantasia 2018 batch update, “A Second Slice of Strange.”

INTERVIEWING AARON SCHIMBERG: KEEPING IT NORMAL

On Thursday, July 19, I had the pleasure of meeting with director Aaron Schimberg, whose new movie Chained for Life had its International Premier the night before. Nestled in a back room in the SGWU, we had a quick chat.

366: This is Giles Edwards sitting down with Aaron Schimberg who directed Chained to Life … Pardon? Oh, Chained for Life. Terrible start. It played to a full house, and I also noticed when I was out in line that the press line was as long as the ticket-holder line, so that will hopefully get the word out on this great feature. You probably saw the reaction of the house a lot of clapping and laughing.

AS: I only paid attention to the people who weren’t clapping and laughing.

366: Well, there were plenty of people who were. Now, Chained for Life is kind of a “meta-movie” about making a period hospital-horror film while mostly focusing the actors’ world. We actually recently did a long-form review of the movie Freaks, and one of the things remarked on by the reviewer was that that was the kind of film you really couldn’t make anymore. But you, obviously, have put together something that, while different in tone, is comparable in structure, with a band of “normal” actors and production people and individuals with different disabilities. So it looks like that kind of thing is still possible. Did you have difficulty corralling the groups together or starting this project in any way?

AS: The film is in many ways a response to Freaks and an update of it. It was hard to cast in a way because there aren’t a lot of advocacy groups for people with disabilities, but not everyone in the film was an “actor.” Just because it’s a low budget film, it’s difficult to cast anyway, so I had to cast sort of by any means necessary: either pick people out from the street, or go through casting agents, or friends, or people that we’d seen in other movies. Everyone seemed to me—if you’re asking about actors with disabilities—seemed to relate to the script and and seemed fully on board. It was almost like a summer camp atmosphere, a very positive environment. It’s hard to get a film off the ground, but once we were up and running it was a pretty smooth process.

366: I like how you said “summer camp atmosphere,” because that was definitely captured—certainly in the scenes at night at the hospital with just the “freak” part of the cast there, hanging out.

You said [last night] that about twenty pages into the script you were writing about this lead character with certain attributes, a certain accent. How did you get in touch with your leading man, ?

AS: Yeah, so I had written a character with neurofibromatosis, who was British. I don’t know why. I was probably thinking of the Elephant Man, who had neurofibromatosis—possibly, there’s a debate Continue reading INTERVIEWING AARON SCHIMBERG: KEEPING IT NORMAL

INTERVIEWING JOEL POTRYKUS: THE MAN BEHIND THE COUCH

A lazy man with a movie-making mission, Joel Potrykus continues to tap the deep creative vein of Grand Rapids, MI with his fourth feature, Relaxer. We sat down together, perched high above the SGWU mezzanine.

366: I’m here with Joel Potrykus whose movie Relaxer debuted at Fantasia to much laughter and applause. I’ll admit from the get-go that I’m not well prepared, so if you’re feeling chatty about anything, feel free to continue talking at me.

JPI’m never prepared, so we’re on the same page.

366: Then I’ll start with an easy question: other than the promise of fame and riches, what was it that got you into filmmaking?

JP: Shoot, well, it was really all about the fame and riches… I was a “VHS kid,” and there was one summer, when I was ten, I broke my leg playing baseball, so I had to spend the whole summer in a cast up to my hip in the basement. It was so hot, and nothing to do, and we didn’t have cable in the basement, so my dad would bring me five movies every day from the video store, whatever he picked, so I just spent a whole summer watching, like, two-hundred movies. And in there was American Werewolf in London, and that kind of changed a lot of things for me. Seeing that kind of blend of horror and comedy, and [director John] Landis going whatever direction he wanted.

Then when I was fourteen, I was really into the Doors, and I was at a birthday party where they rented that movie and ‘s at the beach saying, “Yeah, I’m going to film school right now!” When I was fourteen, I had never heard those two words connected to each-other: film cchool. And I was like, “That’s where I’m going to go.”

366: You’re from Grand Rapids, Michigan. Do you have much to recommend about that part of the world?

JP: Yeah, dude, if you want to make a feature film, and don’t want to spend a lot of money for permits, and are asking the police if it’s okay to close off the street, go to Grand Rapids, Michigan. We still make the movies there because it’s really the only place… I have a manager in LA, who’s like, “What are you doing? Come to LA and direct TV, and pitch your big ideas…”. So I guess maybe it’s not fame and fortune I was after, because then I’d be out in LA. But I prefer to just hide out, that’s the only place I know how to make films.

366: Well, maybe the fame and fortune will hunt you down. Your rep said you had big ideas to pitch. What are your big ideas?

JP: In my head they’re big ideas, but I was recently tracked down by Amazon and I pitched the ideas, and I don’t think they were very big. They’re weird and small. [Amazon had] a specific budget range they need to hit, and it was ten-million dollars. I had no idea how to Continue reading INTERVIEWING JOEL POTRYKUS: THE MAN BEHIND THE COUCH

KICKING BACK WITH A BUNCH OF LOWLIFES (2017)

Gathering in Fantasia’s secret basement lair, I had the opportunity to talk with the director, a few writers, and most of the stars of recently premiered crime drama, Lowlife. Because this was such a large group, I indicate the director, Ryan Prows, with an “RP”, and others as “->”. My apologies to the non-Ryans who participated in the interview: your involvement was just as valuable as his.

366: Hello everybody — thank you all for gathering here today! I wasn’t originally slated to come and interview you fine people, but I had a gap in my schedule after I chatted with the director of Kodoku Meatball Machine

Ryan Prows
“Lowlife” director Ryan Prows

RP: Aw, shit. Was it good?

366: …Well, it certainly does what it does. [Laughter]. Whether it’s good, I suppose that depends what you’re looking for. So if you’re looking for a funny variant of Tetsuo: The Iron Man, then maybe it’s your kind of thing. [Laughter]. So, in the interim I was able to whip these questions together kind of quickly, so hopefully this will work out all right. Now, you mentioned after the screening one of the things that influenced you was Wild at Heart.

RP: Bobby Peru! Actually, we were just talking about it. Teddy’s character is totally, like, his cousin or something.

366: Definitely one of the great scumbags of… uh…

RP: “Scumbag Cinema”?

366: I wanted to ask you—you’re probably asked a lot, “Do you feel you’re like ‘this director’ or ‘that director'”—but what filmmaker would you like to be compared to?

RP: Like I said yesterday, Cassavetes meets . So hopefully there’s some kind of sensitivity with the character work, so people care about the actors, like there’s an actors piece, but there’s also RoboCop shooting between the legs…

366: So there’s a little bit of splatter-gore-sci/fi-hardcore-Western.

RP: There we go. Nailed it!

->With heart.

RP: Now with Verhoeven, it’s like the same thing. He’s so smart and does his thing, perhaps the best satirist in cinema history. Cassavetes, same thing. He made these important movies, but they’re all wild as fuck. He left his own stamp on each thing. So those are the film-makers that excite me, and I think the goal of trying to make this movie was so—I remember talking about this, when we were flying out here—from the beginning of the process to now, it was… absurd. We were sitting here a few minutes ago being interviewed and Mil Mascaras walked in to be interviewed—and we thought, “What world are we fucking living in?” We’re talking about Lowlife and this luchador comes in being interviewed next to us.

366: Yes, it seems you’ve come a nice long way there, and speaking Continue reading KICKING BACK WITH A BUNCH OF LOWLIFES (2017)

A QUICK CHAT WITH GORE MAESTRO YOSHIHIRO NISHIMURA (2017)

Before leaving Montreal, I had the pleasure of a quick chat with the director of Kudoko Meatball Machine, , through his translator.

366: Hello, I’m with these people, [Present business card with Japanese translation on it] I hope I wrote that correctly.

Translator: Yes, yes. [Hands card to Nishimura]

366: First of all, thank you for sitting with me. Last night was the first of your movies I’ve ever seen, but my boss is very familiar with your work and he wanted me to ask, regarding the state of independent/low budget film-making in Japan, would you say it’s in healthy shape? Has it been evolving in any way?

Yoshihrio NikimuraYoshihiro Nishimura: It’s in a very bad shape.

366: Bad shape since the start—the get-go?

YN: Twenty years ago in Japan, Tsutomu Miyazaki killed four little girls, and when the police investigated his apartment, they found a lot of “splatter” movies, so the media accused those kinds of movies very openly, and since that time it has been very bad. At that time, splatter movies were having a boom, but since that time school boys have been told not to see splatter movies, so now in their 20s and 30s, they have a very bad opinion of those movies.

366: I was told some names: , , and . Would you say these film-makers are part of your film “movement” all together?

YN: [Laughs] You forgot ““. Actually, the people who categorize us together are the media, not us. So I cannot answer that.

366: Now, your working relationship with Sono, how did that develop?

YN: Sion Sono is a good friend, we met in film school, and we’ve made movies from then through now.

366: Are you surprised—and hopefully happy—at how much your work has infiltrated North America? Certainly there were a lot of people last night very happy to see Kodoku Meatball Machine. And are you at all concerned North Americans and foreigners might miss references that a native would pick up on?

YN: Rather surprised [at the popularity], yes. For example, in my last movie, in Japan it is an insult to say someone is “bold”, but here it is not an insult.

366: What started your interest in the human body and its malleability—morphing from the organic to the mechanic kind of thing?

YN: and Johannes Vermeer were two artists that inspired that interest.

366: Regarding this sub-genre of “body changing”, you’ve no doubt been asked a lot about Tetsuo: The Iron Man. Would that be the starting point of these films?

YN: Before I made Tokyo Gore Police, I made Anotomia Extinction, and Tetsuo was released before I was finished, so a lot of people said Anotomia Extinction was copying Tetsuo, but I feel it’s different, because I started it before Tetsuo came out.

366: Any quick word about upcoming projects?

YN: I’m going to be doing a story about embalming.

366: There’s a question from my brother-in-law, can you recommend any good restaurants in Tokyo —

Translator: The brother-in-law is…

366: …my sister’s husband.

Translator: Big sister or small sister?

366: Younger.

[Translates]

YN: [Laughs] I can only tell you about ramen. “Kanda Kikanbo.” [writes name in my note-book] This is the best ramen. It’s very good.

366: I think that finishes the questions I was given. Thank you for your time!

YN: Thank you!

BREAKING IT DOWN: AN INTERVIEW WITH GRAHAM SKIPPER (2017)

After a long night out on the town, Graham Skipper is still able to meet with 366 in the Fantasia Film Festival media lounge for a chat about his directorial debut.

Graham Skipper366: It is the 20th of the July, Thursday and I’m here with Graham Skipper, director of Sequence Break [reviewed here] for an interview about the motion picture and whatever else comes up. Hello, Graham!

Graham Skipper: Hello!

366: This is your directorial debut?

GS: Yes it is.

366: So you’ve disowned Space Clown?

GS: [Laughs] No, I wouldn’t use that term… Space Clown was a good experiment that definitely helped me to learn more about film-making. But Sequence Break is definitely my first real directorial effort that’s indicative of what I’m trying to do.

366: I noticed you had a bunch of acting credits to your name, short films, TV shows, and things, and then on your website—congratulations on getting “GrahamSkipper.com” before the other guy, by the way…

GS: [Smiles] Thanks, thank you.

366 : …you’re listed as an “Actor/Writer/Director”; are you interested in shuffling those words around at any point?

GS: I love all three of those things. I love acting very much, I really loved being able to direct, and along with that, writing—the seed that grows in that sandbox. But they’re different skills and different adventures, so I want to continue doing all three.

366: You mentioned before the screening your role as Herbert West [in “Re-Animator, the Musical”]—you’re the first person in the role of Herbert West on stage. I take it you must be a fan of the original Re-Animator movies?

GS: Absolutely.

366: And , who obviously doesn’t show up on screen nearly often enough.

GS: Oh yeah. I wish that — I could watch Jeffrey Combs read the phone book. He’s amazing.

366: Have you read the original story? What did you think of it [compared to the movie]?

GS: I have. It’s very different. I like it, it’s very pulpy. I like that it leans so heavily to the Frankenstein archetypes. I like the war time elements, the Zombie war during [World War I].

366 : I recently finished reading all the Lovecraft works…

GS: Oh cool.

366: …and there’s a rich vein there that has barely been tapped, cinema-wise.

GS: I think Lovecraft is really hard to adapt, so much of Lovecraft is, Continue reading BREAKING IT DOWN: AN INTERVIEW WITH GRAHAM SKIPPER (2017)