INTERVIEW WITH FILM MAKER MICHAEL McCALLUM/REBEL PICTURES!

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I recently came across Michael McCallum‘s work online very recently through a random comment in a film noir group. I bought the filmmaker’s first film, Fairview St. and was blown away, giving it the highest marks. I wasn’t aware that Michael had a film company called Rebel Pictures which released many more of his other films (all available on http://www.rebelpictures.net to buy/rent online and some on DVD). I then bought his film after Fairview St. called Lucky and again was just immensely impressed. While this interview focuses on these 1st two features, I encourage you to check out his other films as they run the gamut of genres and styles. I am sure you will find something to like. Michael McCallum is definitely not a one hit wonder. -Dave K aka A Fiend On Film

1) OK, so who is Michael McCallum and how did you get interested in making films?

Who am I? Isn’t that the burning question for us all. I’m a Filmmaker/Director/Actor/ Writer/Producer/ Editor/Photographer and Radio Show Host. It’s a laundry list I know. All of these things I’ve been interested in for some time and have been pursuing and improving on.

As for how I got interested in making films, I am first and foremost a Movie Lover. I watched a lot of movies and TV as a kid and would also do impersonations of actors/characters at that time as well as family and friends. I really wanted to be an actor from a young age (5 or 6), but had no clue what was involved in that pursuit. I liked to entertain. We didn’t have a lot when I was a kid and my folks did the best they could, so my imagination played a big part of my growing up. I rely on it daily as a creative person.

I didn’t start making films until I was in college and took a Film Production class to just have a better understanding, as an actor, what a director went through. It definitely helped me have a better understanding of what directors go through. I felt I had a clear perspective and empathy for them the next film I acted in after that class. Now mind you, I did poorly in the class itself. I didn’t follow many of the rules and really pushed the limits of what we were “supposed” to make for the curriculum.

Then 9/11 happened and I lost all of my financial aid for school. Even at a local community college I was struggling money wise and couldn’t finish obtaining my degree. I did however finish the Studio Program for Acting and then preceded to audition for and act in some of the worst movies made in Michigan. I’d say a broader demographic than just Michigan, if we’re being completely honest. I definitely learned a lot of what NOT to do on those films.

The worst part of those times were not that the films were bad, but that the experiences were even worse. I wasn’t only embarrassed by the finished films, but had pretty terrible experiences on them as well. I then figured, “well shit, I have my own ideas and I know I could do something better than THAT and I’d have a better time doing it too.” It hit me hard that I can create my own atmospheres and have a better environment on my own films than these that I was acting in at the time. Now some of my cast/crews might disagree, but I feel overall I’ve accomplished that to say the least.

I essentially became the director I had always wanted to work with. Someone who demanded a lot, communicated well, was passionate, had high expectations, but would actually lead the team and not with an iron fist either.

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A scene from Lucky

2) I have only seen two of your films so far, Fairview St. and Lucky, both starring you. Fairview St. was your 1st feature. Was it a conscious decision to be the lead in it? 

Casting is an interesting endeavor. For me as a director/filmmaker it really is the most important thing to get the right people in the right places. Casting being not only the talent, but behind the camera as well. Putting the right people in the right positions is crucial. If you’re pushing and pulling with someone, they might be in the wrong place or shouldn’t be a part of it at all.

Fairview St. was set from the get-go that I would play James Winton. I had wanted to make that film for a ridiculously long time before we even started filming (9 years or so) and I only envisioned myself in it. Now some critics would nit-pick this choice, but I only cast myself when I know I’m the best person to play the part. I have done many other films where I wasn’t in them at all because I didn’t fit for anything. I’ve also recast myself twice in small parts in Buffalo and Memento Mori with a talented actor, Cody Masalkoski, because I just started seeing him in the role(s) over myself. In this life, and this creative life especially, you need to have confidence and you need to balance that with being truly real with yourself. No bullshit. When I’m right for something, I’m right. When my gut tells me differently, I don’t argue or debate it.

Now Lucky is a different story. Originally it was meant to be a story of two characters pretty equally balanced out. Kind of an homage to Carnal Knowledge where it’s about 2 friends and their relationships with different women over many years. My co-star, Justin Muschong, and I had originally thought of the film in those terms. It was probably the fastest turn around from idea to production I’ve ever done, other than a competition film. We had talked about the idea over drinks in Dec. of 2006 and by Jan. 2007 we were filming. It was an insane turnaround. But once we were about 4 scenes in Justin had dropped a bomb on me that he was moving to NYC. We had all agreed to do something really different with Lucky and that was to not shoot it in a short amount of time, which is usually what I have had to do with the combination of schedules, money, and resources. We had planned to shoot Lucky over a year and a half or so. Well, that went out the window when Justin had to move. I sat down and reworked the story so it focused more on my character and had Justin’s character, Nick, come in and out and tie things up with him at the end of the film.

That was the only time I’ve had to completely rework where a story was going because of something like that. I feel confident in how the film turned out, but man did it add a lot of stress to me at the time. I’m glad it was shot that way, but I’m hesitant to ever shoot something over that long of a period of time again.

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a scene from Fairview St.

3) You seem to pick your actors well, even having your father in Fairview St. Where did you meet some of them? Do you just do a straight casting or are they just all friends you grew up with.

Again, back to casting being the most important thing to me after working out the story. Everything else is crucial, but if you don’t have a solid story and the actors to create that, then it really doesn’t matter how great it looks or sounds. You’re just putting a bow on a pile of shit.

My Father is a real character. I always say to people that if I wasn’t related to him and just met him through people that I would cast him continuously. He’s a great storyteller and extremely natural on camera. He has a great ability to not let all the chaos around him affect his performance. He can get right there and sat there in the moment. Now he does get a bit touchy leading up to a shoot. We all have our own processes so I don’t want it to sound like everything is a breeze with him because it isn’t. I love working with him, but I have to earn every moment with him.

As for all of the others I have cast in Rebel Pictures’ projects, it’s a big combination of people I’ve previously worked with and others that I’ve met in some way shape or form. I’ve been acting professionally since 1997, so I get the opportunity to meet and collaborate with a lot of different types of talent over the years. I also will see “true independent” films and make decisions from that. It’s a combination of those and seeing a lot of local theatre and watching films and checking out reels when I’m interested. I have also cast a fair amount of non-actors in roles. It’s beautiful to see their work appreciated and nominated/win awards when the audience or the judges have no clue they haven’t done it before. That’s a true testament to the trust I work hard to build with my actors. I want them to feel like they can communicate and try anything at any time in the context of the scene. I work hard to build an arena where they feel they can have the confidence to make mistakes.

4) The scripting of these two films was very believable and fluid. Are you really writing all the dialogue or is there a good amount of ad libbing going on? What is your writing process?

You want the secret in the sauce. Ha. Well, it’s another combination of things and depends entirely on the situation and the piece at hand. Fairview St. was a really planned-out, story-boarded, scripted project, where Lucky was not because of the circumstances. Now these two films for instance, meet somewhere in the middle of that. Even though Fairview St. was really planned out I still made changes during shooting with where the camera would be placed and what the actors would say. Some times what the actors are saying and how the scene is playing out isn’t working. You don’t always know why either, but it’s just not. So you have to be make changes on the fly.

I don’t usually share this, but Lucky did not have a written script at all. I had a list of scenes and notes on each scene, but what I found was that I have a very good memory and didn’t need to script everything out. I worked with a really good DP at the time, A.E. Griffin, and we would walk through every single locations possible and talk about the shots in terms of a series of numbers or letters. A to B to C or 1 to 2 to 3, etc., etc. I then knew deeply what each character and scene needed to be and worked with the individual actors on their scenes alone. So they all knew what the story was about, but the details on scenes that didn’t concern them weren’t discussed. There was and is a fair amount of ad-libbing, but it’s not like we just show up with a camera and pull people off the street to play. These are well thought out and well constructed projects in every aspect. I also do something most other filmmakers don’t do that I’ve acted for and that’s I fight hard to shoot everything IN SEQUENCE. 90% of the time or more what you’re seeing in the finished film is in the order it was shot. It is a pain in the ass to the crew sometimes, but it helps the actors and the story layers be peeled back. On so many sets the actors and the space their working in is the least of the director’s concerns. I like to make that more important on my films. Every aspect is crucial, but the actors shouldn’t be thought of last and shouldn’t be pushed into “bringing it home” to make the day under pressure when so many other departments take their sweet time. There has to be a balance there. I desperately try hard for that balance.

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Lucky

5) I mentioned in the review for Fairview St., the city you film in, Lansing, MI is a “character”. It just oozes that blue collar small town sensibility. Is it easy to film there? How did get you permission to shoot in some of those places?

Lansing, MI definitely has a certain vibe to it. I used to as a younger person want and need to try to get away. Born To Run playing in my mind at full volume. The problem was I had family issues that kept me here. I learned to embrace it. I definitely went through and some times still go through a love/hate relationship with Lansing. I have mainly shot in and around it, but love to shoot other places too. I like to think that I’ve shot out every place in the area and have highlighted some cool, honest and real elements of the city. It’s a little gem that a lot of people overlook. I’m glad you’ve seen it as a character in itself. I’m looking forward to your thoughts and feelings on other Rebel Pictures’ projects shot in and around Lansing.

It isn’t always easy to film there. Sometimes yes, and it has gotten somewhat easier over time because I’ve built a body of work that interested parties can look at on their own instead of me having to do a hard sell like when I was first starting prior to Fairview St.

Permit wise I get releases for every location, talent and music in the project, but we don’t need specific permits like in larger cities such as NYC, LA, etc. I have had to run and gun on a few locations here and there though. I always say, “that’s why it’s called Rebel Pictures.”

6) Finding money for film making is probably the hardest thing to do. How did you gather funds for Fairview St. and Lucky as examples? What were the budgets?

I do think the money aspect is the hardest part of it. Getting people to invest or contribute to what your creative idea and endeavor is never easy. I’ve done 3 different Kickstarters, which were all successful, and done in person. Fundraisers back in the day as well. I’ve also put a lot of my own money into my work, which some would swear to not do, but when it comes down to it the work has to be made. I’ve also played a fair amount of poker in the past that helped fund projects, especially Handlebar. I even put a message in the end credits about funding some of the movie that way.

It’s getting harder and harder to raise that sort of awareness and funds for each project. I’ve also been blessed to have met some interested parties that have helped and really made some of the shoots and post possible.

Now when it comes down to specific budgets I never like to give exact numbers because I feel it makes the viewer or audience member an instant critic. You either have more empathy for what it was made on or you go back and nit-pick ever frame trying to pull apart where the cracks are in the painting. Either way neither opinion has anything to do with the film and the work.

As I like to say, “I’m not a filmmaker/actor/writer/producer, I’m a fucking magician. It’s all smoke and mirrors.”

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Fairview St.

7) What camera (s) do you use to shoot?

Those first 3 features (Fairview St., Handlebar and Lucky) were all shot on the Panasonic DVX 100A. A lot of my early short films were as well. All the others were shot on some form of digital camera. The technical aspect is extremely important to me, but I don’t get too caught up in “oh you have to shoot on THIS or THAT” sort of mentality. As an independent filmmaker a lot of it comes down to the look of the piece and what DP has what camera to shoot said project on. Some times it’s that with a combination of what we can get when we need it. I’m also a big believer in it’s what the person does with the gear, not the gear itself.

8) As an actor, you have a very natural style. Do you have any “film idols”, maybe growing up, that give you inspiration?

Thank you. I really appreciate that. I definitely have artists that have inspired me. There’s a mixture of film, musicians, painters, writer, etc. Filmwise though I constantly go back to the works of Marlon Brando, Elia Kazan, Jules Dassin, Billy Wilder, James Dean, Paul Newman, Jack Nicholson, Robert Duvall, Robert Ryan, Humphrey Bogart, Edward G. Robinson, Ava Gardner, Robert Wise, Orson Welles, Sidney Lumet, Woody Allen, Rita Hayworth, Elizabeth Taylor, Bette Davis, Martin Scorsese, John Carpenter, Montgomery Clift, Sean Penn, Meryl Streep, Cate Blanchett, etc., etc. I can literally go on and on and on and…well you get the point.

I’m extremely nostalgic. I don’t hide that at all.

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Lucky

9) I met you through a Film Noir group online, so I know you like those types of films but what other genres/styles do you like? Any favorite films of your you think we should see?

I do love Film Noir, but I also love Comedies, Dramas, Westerns, Sci-Fi and Horror. There are a lot of musicals I enjoy as well. I would like to eventually touch on all of those genres and even combine some. I’ve been able to do a lot of different things except for Westerns and Musicals at this point. I do have a really sparse dark Western idea though. I like to allow the story to dictate the genre, not the other way around.

10) People can go to Rebel Pictures to find all your work but what can we expect in the future? Do you have anything new lined up for us to look forward to?

I’m always working on something. This current COVID19 pandemic and the quarantine has been a really difficult time. I know I’m no different than anyone else when I say that. I’ve spent that time watching a ton of Turner Classic Movies with my Father, William C. McCallum, and walking, writing and slowly learning French.

I haven’t been able to finish some of the work that I’ve been wanting to get back because I don’t have the editing gear at my place. I’ve had to learn to be patient at different times in my life and this is another learning process.

I have been able to get 2 competitions films made during this time though. Choices and Photalgia were both made for different filmmaking competitions and both won BEST FILM at their respective competitions. Choices was made for the Quarantine Filmmaking Contest in March and Photalgia was completed on June 7th for the 48 Hour Global Filmmaker Challenge-Detroit. Both are being sent to other film festivals currently and I look forward to having them available to rent down the road.

I’m really excited to finish Reverb, which is a Sci-Fi short film in the vein of Twilight Zone/Tell-Tale Heart and to get another feature film with my Father as the lead going. Money and funding are always difficult and now with the pandemic things are really slow in moving forward. We’re all still figuring out how that can actually occur. I know it’s going to be even more difficult with all the new requirements going into place.

I’ll just keep creating and telling the stories I want to tell and collaborating with like-minded talented folks.

Viewers and potential audience members can go to my site: REBELPICTURES.NET and watch/rent work there and also buy merchandise and make any donations if they would like to see the work continue.

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Fairview St.

11) Thanks for taking the time to answer these questions. Any advice to aspiring film makers out there?

Don’t stop. Actually don’t start. Don’t start unless you’re willing to go the full ride. The ups and downs have a lot of space in-between them. Figure out what you actually want out of this life and if it’s a creative life then give it everything you have and don’t ever stop creating. Get everything in writing and understand people change. You change as well and sometimes those paths aren’t parallel anymore. Enjoy the moment and be respectful, kind and genuine.

If you only want to do this for fame, money and accolades, don’t even start. If you can imagine your life doing anything else other than filmmaking or acting then do it. It isn’t always an easy road to say the least, but it’s an interesting and unique one.

FIENDISH 2 is OUT NOW! Download or Read! Horror/Cult/Exploitation films!

As promised….FIENDISH 2 is here!

54 pages 8 1/2 x 11 Black and White

The contributors are as follows:

Philip Perron
Christopher Bickel
Danni Winn
Psycho Gnostic
Rev. Terry
Paul Mcvay
Robert Freese
Rob Talbot
Jonny Numb
Alexandra Heller-Nicholas
Bill Van Ryn
John Leavengood
Michael E. Wilson
G.G. Graham
Benjamin Mero
Angela Jane Magy
Elwood Jones
Jesse Midnitekrawlr

Thanks to all for helping me with this project!

Print copies are only for the contributors and FIENDISH 2 is not for sale BUT you can download a printable copy or read on screen!

Download FIENDISH 2 HERE!!!

FIENDISH 2 one-shot June 2020

Read FIENDISH 2 HERE!!!!

 

INTERVIEW with Artist Bryan Silverbax!

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A few years ago at a Walker Stalker Convention in Atlanta, I met Bryan Sheppard aka Silverbax. I was drawn to a collection of artwork he called Paint Pals. They were distorted spray cans with the shapes of various comic book characters. I loved them and followed his work every since. What is great about Bryan is his huge personality and love for constant creativity. Humble, gracious and always lifting others up, he is on the forefront of the modern comic book art scene. On top of that, he has been in many locally produced (We are in Atlanta!) movies and television shows. He is always surprising me with his incredible talent, especially his amazing coloring skills. People take note, he is going places. – Dave K.

I have known you for a few years now but many have not. Who is Bryan Sheppard aka Silverbax?

I was born in this world as Bryan Sheppard and I leaned a lot about life that I now use as Bryan Silverbax. I had pretty much stopped drawing after high school in 1994 but in 2013 I picked it up again. Since I was a police officer, I did not want to you to know my real name, making easier for bad guys to find me if they wanted to, so I used the name Silverbax Media. It just began to get weird when I would tell people I was Bryan of SilverbaX Media, so I just became Bryan Silverbax. The name stands out from the pack, its sounds powerful and the initials are the same. FYI the symbol I use to sign my work is the same as when I was in high school, a B and a S.

Why comic art? What initially made you interested in it?

Why not comic books art? I always had a bit more artist juice than most but once I found comic books I said THIS IS WHAT I WANT TO DO. In the mid 80s, I think, my dad introduced me to comics with his favorite Silver Surfer. That same rack also had some X- Men and Wolverine books, I picked those up. I really liked knowing that drawing super heroes could be a living for some one. How cool would it be to tell all these cool super stories and draw at the same time. Once I started getting comics, I began to focus my art. Side note, looking back at my school comic art, I was not that good. HA.

Let’s say from 3 years ago until now, what aspect of your art do you feel you have improved the most?

I think my understanding how the process works has improved the most. I know that is not the kind of answer you wanted but I would have to say that digital coloring for me has grown the most. A close second would have to be getting back to pen and ink for my line work. My current work flow allows me to use my digital skills to set up a piece and them print that out as my sketch and then get right into the pens and inks.

You have created a few unique characters. Loggerhead seems to be the one you are having the most success with. How did this character come to be?

I had created a comic book world as well as over 20 different characters to live in that world and I had planned on telling stories with all of them. I was told by someone that has been in comic books for a while that Loggerhead should be my first shot. He fits my creature and monster skill set and he has a different look. He said I should take Loggerhead and try to tell a horror movie style story. So that is what I tried to do. This was my first comic book writing and drawing adventure. I have learned a lot. To get more back to your question, I felt that my world need a big brute character and I always liked half and half type characters. I felt that making him a snapping turtle from Louisiana would lend itself well to an interesting back story. 

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The Loggerhead comic will be released soon on Scout Comics. What was the process to get this character from your head, to paper and to become an actual comic book?

That is hard for me to say. I am still figuring things out. Not to spoil anything about Loggerhead: Bloody Bayou but he isn’t in the book very much. Within the story, he is treated much like Bigfoot, people have heard stories but has anyone really encountered the Loggerhead? So in moving forward in different stories, I will have to figure how he talks, his past, and think that will be very fun. I just wont know until I need to, I guess.

What other characters are you working on? Are they in the same “world” as Loggerhead?

The world that Loggerhead lives in is now called Kerra Prime, it was a few other things but those names getting getting used by other people or I’d find out they are already taken but I am pretty damn sure Kerra Prime will stick. As it stands right now, I plan to doing a few more one-shot comics to feature other characters and give people a sense of who the characters are and what they are about. After all those, I will do an epic and much longer story in graphic novel form that will have all those characters from the one-shots involved. The plan after that is unclear, I am just happy to have world built where I can tell any kind of story I want.

Who are your favorite “classic” artists and who do you think we should be currently looking out for?

I am not a huge comic book information and knowledge guy, so I am not be able to give a cool comic answer. I liked almost all of the guys that started Image comics. I liked them before they went to Image and I like most of them now. I have to admit that I wasn’t really into reading comics and I still don’t. I did not not appreciate the story telling abilities of artists then because I wasn’t looking for it. That is a very under appreciated skill by most readers and I was one of those. Outside of the big 2, I really like how comic books have allowed creators to tell their unique story and then move on. There is no beating a dead horse or how many times can hero X beat bad guy 1. There are ton a great creators out there. The hard part now is finding them all.

2020 has been a rough year for the comic industry/comic conventions? How are you personally handling this?

Well, Loggerhead was in the middle of the pre-order window with Diamond when everything locked down. Love it or hate it, Diamond was THE distributor of comic books to comic shops. I had invested a shitload of time and money into getting shops aware of my title and its order code for Diamond. Then all this mess and shops had about 10 tens days to cut or even cancel their order because they know that shops would have to be closed. They way everything was set up Loggerhead was set to be in shops in mid May and I had lined up book signing appearances. Those appearances would have made me some money and helped create more interest in the title. All that went away. No appearances, no conventions, no money. I had to set up a space in my creation cave for live streaming with real time drawings. Once I started doing that, money and commissions started to appear. I am getting by but I did put a ton of effort into the first Loggerhead awareness campaign and I don’t know what will happen now. Scout Comics will release Loggerhead in June through direct shipping and I am still unsure when Diamond will fire back up and get it to those that did not cancel their orders.

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How important has social media been for you as a promotional tool? Do you feel it is becoming more and more effective as you have grown as an artist over the years?

I feel that you have to have social media if your creating a brand. Silverbax is a brand. I want people to invest in me and what I do. I feel that I am a mildly cool dude who does mildly cool things, meets mildly cool people, and draws mildly cool stuff so I share all of that on social media. If people dig me and value what I do, one day I will work on a comic project, the next day could be working with a movie director on his poster or even be in the background of a shot. All in all, I want people to see me and then try to do better than me. I am just a jabroni who has lucked into something late in his life, I want people to see what I am doing and then start doing to do thing they want to do. I did get a late jump on social media. Hell, I got a late jump in the art game, so now I am playing catch up all the way around. Social media had landed me a few great jobs and it is a great to let the world follow what your doing so that they can figure out whether they want to support you or not. I have tried to stay on top of my social media, so I am always learning and trying things that don’t cost me money. LOL.

Any advice for upcoming talent?

Man, that is a big question. I give tons of advice all the time but if I had to drop just a few nuggets, here they are. You have to start, even taking baby steps and you can complete a marathon. Don’t be a dick, most people don’t mind helping people that have helped them or even someone they know has helped others or is just a good person. Don’t aim for the stars, aim 2 levels above where you are now, then aim two levels above and so on. You have to make the effort, don’t talk about it, be about it. And always help others, no hand outs, just hand ups.

Thanks for the interview. Anything else you might want to say? 

I would love for anyone that reads this to find me on Instagram (@bryansilverbax) and follow me, wink wink. But for real. Don’t be afraid to ask for guidance, don’t be afraid to try something creative. Leave your mark!

Find out more at Scout Comics: https://www.scoutcomics.com

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INTERVIEW with Filmmaker Fernando Costa!

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1) So can you give us a little background into who Fernando Costa is?

I’m a former journalist and a film school dropout. In film school, I was lucky enough to meet some wonderful friends which became my brothers in arms in this cause of producing films independently. As a result, we started our production company, ASILO FEBRIL, a few years ago. In ideal conditions, I work mainly as a screenwriter, producer, and director.

2) How did you get into being interesting in film making?

Film making has always been a kind of a hidden dream I told no one about until I decided to give it a try. This happened about seven years ago when I went to film school after my disillusion with journalism as a profession.

3) What lead you to make Waiting For The Thin Man?

A big personal crisis: 2016 was a shitty year for me and one of the few things that gave me any pleasure was the prospect of shooting something with my friends. It had to be something small and simple, but interesting enough for a general audience. My associate, Christofer, was most helpful: he read every draft and made some nice suggestions. When I finished the script, I knew I had something feasible at hand, and that gave the confidence I needed to get the things done.

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4) What were your challenges on working with a low budget on this film? How did you decide on the location (the hotel, upstairs room) where all of the action takes place?

As I said, it had to be simple. So I started with what I had available. Since Christofer’s family has a motel, I came up with a basic setup, a dark room with three crooks with a bag full of money. What are they doing? Waiting for the gangster who will solve all their problems. It’s kind of a pulp twist on “Waiting for Godot”, which is my favorite play. This premise was enough for a start. I then built the characters around friends that could play them. The cocky leader, the storyteller, the likable but naive rookie, and so on. The plot that followed was my attempt to get the best out of these initial conditions.

5) What camera(s) did you use to shoot Waiting For The Thin Man?

It was shot on a Sony VG-20, a simple and very capable camera.

6) How is the independent film scene in Brazil? It seems like it’s a country you do not hear about too much when it comes to independent film production.

I’ve been very critical about contemporary Brazilian cinema. Most of the Brazilian films that get an actual chance to be screened in any international film festival are state-funded and state-oriented; they are also marketed to a minimal target audience composed of the dumbest national intellectual elite you’ll ever see. Ironically, these films are often advertised as the quintessence of Brazil’s “independent” cinema. This situation is pervasive to the point of creating a strong incentive for young filmmakers to side with the status quo (economically and creatively). My associates and I at ASILO FEBRIL are trying to counter this state of affairs by doing our own thing no matter what (isn’t it the very definition of “independent”?). 

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7) I found this film on the Asilo Febril production You Tube page. Is this a film community collective or a releasing company? What is your involvement with it?

ASILO FEBRIL is a production company. However, and most importantly, it is also a certain common sense of appreciation for movies and a common interest in making movies together. We began as a group of stubborn film buffs engaging in endless film club conversations and a lot (I mean, a lot!) of discussion. And now, we are a group of film buffs trying to make something productive out of our love for film. And help each other in the process.

8) What do you feel is the biggest challenge to film makers right now?

I can only talk for myself on that one. I think the biggest challenge facing us all in the film front right now is to rediscover film craftsmanship in an age of technological abundance. I believe we all must learn once and for all that technological innovation and technical quality does not imply good filmmaking! The opposite is often the case. Auteurish stylistic flourish and intellectual or political pretenses won’t help us to make better films either! Once we reject these shortcuts that lead to a creative dead-end, then the real, hard work begins. This hard work is what I like to call craft.

9) As a film maker, how important is streaming video to you? Or do you prefer films on physical media?

I was lucky enough to live through the golden age of home video (the last days of VHS and the heydays of DVD). The video store was the temple of my movie idols and renting movies was a form of life. It’s a time mostly gone. So, while streaming can get the job done sometimes, for me, it’s physical media all the way.

10) Any new films from you in the future? What are you working on next? 

If things go well, I hope to finish the post-production of my first feature this year. It’s called “The Prisoner” and is another noir set in a confined space. It’s also very dialogue-heavy. Besides that, last year, a friend of mine asked me to work with him on a most lovely premise for a screenplay; it’s about a movie rental store. But right now, I’m making my first attempt at writing a stage play (which is an old dream of mine).

Thank you to Fernando Costa for his time.

See WAITING FOR THE THIN MAN here:

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SHORT FILM LOOKS: WAITING FOR THE THIN MAN (2018) BY DIRECTOR FERNANDO COSTA

Another quality film that I found out about while trolling Instagram by film maker Fernando Costa and his crew.

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Plot: Three men “acquire” a bag of $200,000 in cash. They are looking to launder it and split town with their ill gotten gains. They know about a criminal, “The Thin Man”, who would be able to do this quickly.  After discussing this with a middleman to set up the transaction… the waiting for The Thin Man to arrive begins.

I just love when film makers succeed in making a film solid while not having a lot of resources to work with. The cast of Alexandre Magno, Leonardo Goulart, Pedro Ribeiro, Andrew Olejnik, Diego Rezende, Bruno Kondlatsch Reddin and Paulo Matos are all great in their roles. They all bring a natural touch to the material given to them. What makes this film work is the script itself. It is extremely dialogue heavy as most of the action takes place in a single claustrophobic room. The actors make it look like this is everyday conversation. You do feel sad for one of the characters, who is the sap of the story, as he tries to get in on the conversation but is cut off at every turn (this also plays well in the ending…)

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The film’s look is pretty raw and low lit. It can get dark at times but that is most due to budget limitations I am sure. It does add to the over all situation the characters are in.

Just based on this short film, I would gladly welcome seeing Director Costa’s other and future work…

Full film is here

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SHORT FILM LOOKS: BLOCK by Director Neeraj Awchat

Came across this film maker, Neeraj Awchat, on Instagram promoting his short film BLOCK. Just a single image of the film was intriguing enough to get me to see it…

Plot: A young writer has a couple of months to complete a book. The pressure is evident as it keeps him tight and is a short fuse. His anger is directed at his pregnant wife and slowly his mind starts playing tricks on him…or is it really happening…

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This short film is really solid and has an exceptional Black and White look to it. The acting is great by the two leads. The editing is really tight and the music chosen keeps it moving.

I don’t “rate” shorts but this is highly recommended to see. I do hope that Neeraj gets more opportunities to create, as you can tell there is serious talent here.

See BLOCK here on You Tube:

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Review/thoughts on Michael McCallum’s FAIRVIEW ST. (2009)…

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In my hunt for talented indie film makers to follow, I came across Michael McCallum in a random post on Facebook’s Classic Film Noir group. He let a member know of his film FAIRVIEW ST. and of course, I pounced on the link… and proceeded to watch a deceptively mind blowing film.

James Winton (played by the director) has just been released from jail after a four year stint on an armed robbery charge. He comes back to the only place and life he knows, his nearby hometown, to his wife and father, etc. Unfortunately, it’s also the place of his old “friend” Bobby (who he apparently went to jail over) and Detective Massey (who made the arrest and has an eternal mad on for James). So basically, James is 110% screwed from the very beginning.

Now….. why am I so high on this film. When I first started viewing it (and since the director just posted this film), I assumed it was a “new” film. It’s not and it is the director’s 1st feature from 2009. Insane. Mind melted.

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Ok, this film is FILM NOIR/Neo NOIR to the ninth degree and doesn’t try to hide it. The story itself is 101 Noir. Very basic. The character is doomed from frame one. The whole point of FAIRVIEW ST. is to see the brilliance of the script and the actors working it.

Every actor is so natural, they act like “real” people would. The visuals are stunning with its Black and White cinematography, blown out at the right moments. Another noir element the director uses exceptionally well is “the town as a character”. He shot it where he lives in Lansing, Michigan and the landscape bleeds the sadness needed for this film. The music too… is well chosen and suited for the blue collar atmosphere presented.

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I haven’t been able to see the rest of the director’s films (and there are quite a few) but will definitely be checking them out. In the meantime, do check out FAIRVIEW ST. I hope my film maker friends all give this and Michael’s other work a look.

Fiend ‘O’ Meter is at a well deserved 10/10

 

Visit Michael McCallum’s Rebel Pictures here:

http://www.rebelpictures.net

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FIENDISH 2 submission deadline is JUNE 1st 2020!

OK folks…I had this thing asking for submissions to the group think horror/cult/exploitation fanzine FIENDISH 2 up since January and we are getting to the end. I have received some solid work so far and if you want to get in on it, please be aware the final deadline is JUNE 1st 2020.

FIENDISH 2 is looking for:

Full length horror/cult/exploitation film essays, full and short film reviews and other assorted writing to fill the pages. It can be new writing or old stuff posted in forgotten blogs/websites, college papers, etc. All professional and amateur writing is welcome. Also, art in the dark and horror vein is cool too!

I do all the final layouts.

This is a non paying gig but all participants will receive a printed copy of the ‘zine when finished. I ship world wide, so don’t let that stop you! The zine will also be available on line for download/reading.

If you have any questions, please ask me at Grandnagus69@yahoo.com. Send everything to the same e-mail address (along with your mailing address)

It’s shaping up and there is room for all. Don’t delay! Get writing!

COVER FOR FIENDISH II