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An Interview with Alfredo Salvatore Arcilesi, Director of Canswer

by Mike Haberfelner

May 2014

Films directed by Alfredo Salvatore Arcilesi on (re)Search my Trash


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Your new movie Canswer - in a few words, what is it about?


Since I enjoy revealing very little, I think I’ll play it safe here and plagiarize my own logline:

"Canswer: Stranded together on an industrial rooftop in the midst of a global pandemic, strangers Cillian and Ellen battle starvation, dehydration, and each other."


Your sources of inspiration when writing Canswer - and since cancer is one of the main topics of your film, any personal experiences with the disease or the like connected to this?


How ironic that you should ask this question and here I am typing my response while sitting on the very same side of the very same couch in which I received the phone call.

Now, which phone call am I referring to? And why a couch?


Well, it was Saturday, December 31, 2011 (I remember this for two reasons: 1. New Year’s Eve is quite possibly one of the easiest dates to recall [unless you’re intoxicated], and 2. the calendar on my laptop can trace dates all the way back to the 1800’s). I had just returned home from a very long and very boring day at work, which, as is unfortunately the case with most indie filmmakers, has nothing at to do with film in any capacity. As tired as I was, I, very much like the “zombies” that would later appear in Canswer only five months later, walked through the door and collapsed onto the couch. And I just sat there. And sat there some more. And some more.

I’m not much of a party animal to begin with, and with work in the way of most possible plans for that evening I might’ve had with friends, I didn’t really feel like doing very much. And that’s when my phone rang. I looked at the screen and saw that it was my mom who was calling. Naturally, I picked up. All I could say was the clichéd “hello” before I was greeted with a loud and garbled “…we’re downtown… …come here… …hope to see you… …love you…” Then the dial tone. I tried calling back, but my mom wasn’t picking up. I tried my uncle who was with her – nothing! I looked at the phone’s clock: it was a couple of hours before the big countdown. Fatigue and laziness battled my underlying want to just go out and meet up with my family downtown. Finally, my want won!


The subway station is not too far from where I live, and from there, it’s only a few stops to the core of the city and where the biggest New Year’s Eve party was taking place: none other than Nathan Philips Square, which is our City Hall. The subway cars were completely packed! People were coming and going, dressed up for parties, bleary-eyed from partying too much and continuing to party too much, and this is when I had a sudden image of someone projectile vomiting on me (this is actually always a funny detail in my family, especially among my siblings; I have this thing – perhaps a tick – where, if someone tells me that they or someone they knew was sick or partied too much, I would ask if they vomited; it’s my personal gauge/measurement of how sick they are). Lucky for me, nobody vomited on anyone. In the end, I could only endure a few subway stops of alcohol breath and the pace of a train that could have been out-crawled by a toddler. I’m a walker, anyway (no pun intended, honestly). And so I speed-walked through several city blocks to get to my family. But doing so was no easy task. The crowds were fun and rowdy, becoming more and more dense as I navigated my way towards City Hall. How I was ever going to find my family was beyond me!


I got on the phone, dialed my mom and then my uncle, each time reminding me of how I failed to reach them earlier from my couch (which I was starting to miss). But it’s “try, and then try again,” right? “Alfredo!” I heard on the other end of the line. My mom sounded so far away and we were more than likely not even half a football field away from each other. In between her chopped up directions and my constant “don’t hang up”’s, we connected, “we” being my mom, sister and her boyfriend, uncle and two younger cousins. And here’s where things started to take a toll on my creative mind. Like most creatives – hopefully – I tend to drift. Yes, I recognize that I’m, in this case, at a party, but my mind thinks “okay, I get that I’m at a party, now what?” The answer to this and similar questions in similar circumstances is to start to find a way to look at the situation, event, or other, in a creative way. I’m not a prude, I just started to look around and think about things and draw comparisons, usually to movies. For example, the fact that my family and I were mildly struggling to find each other in the midst of a mass of people, finally connecting, and now standing in the cold with nothing but the shirts on our backs reminded me an awful lot of Tom Cruise and his family in the movie War of the Worlds, particularly the ferryboat scene. Another example is when I began to look around at all of the tall buildings and imagined seeing the alien from Cloverfield wrecking havoc; what would I do?; where would I go? Say what you will, but it’s fun.


The hosts of the New Year’s Eve party huddled on stage and signaled the last minute of the year 2011. Thousands of people began to push forward as if doing so would make any sort of difference to their personal enjoyment. It was at this point that I was separated from my family, with only my youngest cousin, then seven years old, by my side. Poor guy was going to get swallowed by the mob in no time, but not on my watch. I grabbed his hand, cared not that I was most likely reshaping the bone structure in his tiny hand, and held on. Thirty seconds to 2011. The crowd pushed even more violently. I was literally twisted ninety degrees, facing away from the stage. I’m not prone to claustrophobia, but it just seemed natural to look up at the sky… the open sky. Instead, I saw the massive hotel that oversees Nathan Philips Square, and all of the miniature figures that were people watching safe and sound and comfortable from their windows.



I was losing grip…


Only fingers now…


I lost him!



My poor cousin rung in 2011 facing the backs of strangers’ legs… wherever he was. Everyone’s hugging, kissing, and carrying on, and I’m fighting through their private/public celebrations, searching for my cousin. There are two types of kids in this situation: the kid who remains calm, whether or not because he/she is aware of what’s going on, and the kid who freaks out, whether or not because he/she is aware of what’s going on. As it turns out, my cousin was the former and I was the latter. Standing off to the side, not too far from where I lost him, I took back his hand as if it were more mine than his, and we waited until the crowd started to disperse before we started to search for the rest of our family. Eventually, we all reunited and started the long walk to the subway station, which, like my drifting, creative mind helped remind me, felt a lot like a modern reenactment of the slaves leaving Egypt in The Ten Commandments.

And that vomiting I had mentioned earlier? Well, that overweight guy barely supported by his just-as-drunk friends? Vomit! That cute girl in those incredibly high heels, which gave her the gait of a newborn colt? Vomit! That guy with a hematoma from either a fight and/or a previous hard fall against something equally hard? Vomit! Though he had some impressive distance (and each time I walk by the front entrance to that particular Best Buy, I can’t help but think about what everyone – myself included – am walking on or over). It seemed like every other nook and store entrance celebrated a vomit party that I just – thankfully – missed. In the midst of all of this regurgitation, I couldn’t help but think about scenes from 28 Days Later and how this amount of people, the density, the chaos, the vomiting… how this could’ve been what we didn’t see in the film, what would’ve been the 1 Day Later or 13 Days Later stories. The wheels were turning (I mean, they always are, but they were burning rubber now). The calm at home traded in for the chaos downtown. The search and eventual reunion with family. The dense crowds. The people, safe and sound up in their hotel, looking down upon me and several thousands. The projectile vomiting.

Yes, the wheels were definitely turning!


We finally made it to the subway station, and, as is usually the case when I’m beginning to formulate a completely brand new idea (or trying to fill in the blanks of an existing idea), I shutout the world around me. I could only see the scenes I just lived, but as a movie. I could only hear the scenes I just lived, but as a movie. But as much as I lived those scenes from the ground level, I was curious about what they might look like up high from the perspective of…

Ding! Dang! Dong!

The subway chime. It was my stop. I was going to grab something to eat with my family, but I decided that the fragmented scenes and garbled dialogue I had flashing and echoing through my head were much too important to be forgotten, and so I needed to go home and write them down. I said my farewells, started to step off of the train, and thanks to a few drunks for which the subway operator needed to make sure were clear off the train before closing the doors, I had just enough time to turn around and ask my uncle an important – no, essential! – question in order for my idea to be fully realized: “What’s your body shop’s rooftop look like?” He knew it! I definitely knew it! Another film was coming to his body shop. And I already had a title for it, and while I’m not a fan of single-word titles – another tick – I felt that this title was clever and meaningful enough that I could circumvent my tick. Thus, I went home, typed out a few notes, and, prompted to “Save,” typed in…

… C… … A… … N… … S… … W… … E… … R…


As far as personal experiences are concerned, I will simply and proudly say that my Zia is a victor of breast cancer. Conversely, my Nonno Salvatore Arcilesi, had been diagnosed with three forms of cancer. Given mere months to live, he managed to put up a fight for several more months, and well beyond his eighty third birthday. Without him (and my Nonna, of course), I wouldn’t have my mom, who wouldn’t have had me. Without him, a clever mechanic for several decades, I wouldn’t have had a body shop rooftop with which to make the film that, sadly, he would never see. But make no mistake, each and every one of us has either personally battled one or more cancers either once or more than once and/or know or have known at least one person who has fought the battle. It is a very sad truth that cancer lives within each of us.


Of the two characters that make up Canswer's cast of characters, who do you identify with more, actually?


I feel strongly that each character ever written by any writer has either a major or minor piece of them within the confines of that character. Writer or not, each and every single one of us has many sides, many faces, and it only makes sense that, especially for writers, we address, identify, and explore those many sides and faces. I’ve always viewed my roster of characters from all of my films put together as tenants in an apartment building; I am the apartment building and they dwell within me, and, much like in a real apartment building, certain characters (or people) see each other and interact fleetingly, in most cases in the laundry room or elevator. Well, as far as Canswer is concerned, the rooftop is that laundry room or elevator, and Cillian and Ellen, whom have both lived in my “apartment building” for years, have finally been addressed, identified, and explored, and we’re all meeting for the very first time. From there, we all begin to explore each other.

Robert Nolan’s [Robert Nolan interview - click here] character, Cillian, definitely has several of my qualities: hopeless romantic; reasonably, though tragically, intelligent; stressed; guilty; regretful; remorseful; and so on.

Sarah Cunningham’s character, Ellen, also has several of my traits: quiet; introverted; mysterious; wandering; explorative; curious; constantly searching for meaning; unsure of her purpose in life; and so on.


Despite Canswer being a zombie film by definition, the zombies are probably shown for less than a minute - so what can you tell us about your special approach to the genre, and what are your thoughts about the zombie genre and where it's heading to as such?


You may have noticed that I’ve placed quotation marks around the term “zombies” in my response to Question #2. Reason being is that I have never felt that “the infected” were “zombies” to begin with. Much like the infected in 28 Days Later, these people are suffering. They’re not governed by any supernatural or inexplicable force, and they’re most certainly not on the prowl for brains or any specific anatomy. To be as vague and informative as I can simultaneously be, like cancer cells (and other diseases, viruses, bacteria, etc), their objective is to multiply and to survive until both objectives are no longer possible. I am a huge fan of the zombie subgenre. My very first exposure to anything having to do with zombies was thanks to either my grandfather or my uncle. I can’t quite remember who bought me the Michael Jackson’s Thriller, complete with the making-of documentary, but I will fully admit that I would always hesitate to peer out of my grandfather’s living room, bedroom, backyard, or any other window for fear of catching a glimpse of a zombie. I’ve mentioned the title a few times now, and so I can safely say that 28 Days Later capitalized upon my preexistent interest in zombies, and made it… organic. Much like how the fantastic District 9 illustrated a very possible alien invasion/contact scenario, which also inspired my previous For Clearer Skies, it was 28 Days Later that took the supernatural and exploitative and put it right in your own backyard.

I don’t watch TV, but I have caught episodes of The Walking Dead long after I had shot Canswer, and I can honestly say that that is a fairly decent avenue for the zombie subgenre to travel (or shuffle, if you’re a zombie!). Zombies are fun in any format (movies, video games, other paraphernalia) and universal. Anyone can be one, and almost anyone can kill one. While I’m not suggesting a “zombies in space” film (does that exist?), I’m interested in placing zombies, which are so incredibly recognizable/identifiable, in different scenarios, environments, and ideologies. And I would do – have done in the case of aliens - the same for vampires, werewolves, witches, warlocks, and whatever other embedded fictional culture exists.


How would you describe your movie's look and feel?


When I was writing my third film, Scent of Rosemary, a story about three pedophiles, one of which faces most likely some of the most poignant karma a creative mind could conjure up, I had to devise a way in which two of the pedophiles were describing a video of a child they were watching. Now, I obviously have never in my life seen any child pornography; therefore, how do I really know what to describe? And how would I write that dialogue? Well, I simply wrote the dialogue as if I were describing my favourite film. In other words, the enthusiasm portrayed by the two characters for the subject matter was the same as it was for my favourite film, however, it was the subject matter and its context that was different. I applied this method to the visualization of Canswer. I knew that the film contained a strong “zombie” element, but didn’t want to fall into any visual genre clichés. Almost with any genre of film, you can see where the writer and/or producer and/or director literally ticked off an item or detail from their checklist. I didn’t have any checklist.

I knew that the film was about two people stranded on a rooftop, much like a pair marooned on an island. I knew that it wouldn’t be enough to simply say or show, to a limited degree, that they are stuck, that life through their eyes is boring, that waiting is boring, that waiting to live or most likely die is boring; but to allow the camera, the cinematography to accent and underscore that boredom. In this line of thinking, the camera is simply an extension of each of the characters, trudging from one scene to the next, waiting… There is a perpetual lingering, a sense of yearning, a sense of longing, a sense of underlying tension that may or may not come; this is what the camera does. One inspiration is Gus Van Sant’s Gerry, a film about two young men both named Gerry, played by Matt Damon and Casey Affleck. They find themselves lost in the desert and have nothing but themselves to rely upon. It is in this spirit that Canswer was derived.

I am proud that with each of my productions, and Canswer is no exception, has developed its own visual language. And like verbal languages, the film’s survival will solely be just a matter of whether or not the audience is willing to truly watch and listen.


Do talk about Canswer's location for a bit, and what prompted you to film up on that particular roof? And what were the advantages and challenges of filming up there? And some of your techinques to keep the location interesting throughout?


Well, it’s like I was saying in my response to Question #2, I was inspired by those miniature figures standing high above me, looking down at all of the New Year’s Eve party chaos, safe and sound from their window; much like Cillian and Ellen observing the devastation beneath them albeit from a safe height. While I could just as easily set the film in the mosh pit of “zombies”, I felt that being up top would provide a sense of safety, control, and advantage, however faint those realities might very well be. As for the rooftop itself, I have filmed the interior of my uncle’s body shop for at least five films, and while I could’ve easily set Canswer within the walls of the body shop, I felt that in addition to the reasons stated above and the fact that I wanted Cillian and Ellen to have a certain (false) sense of freedom being outdoors, I also just wanted to try something new, to shift the perspective of those who have become so accustomed to the interior of the body shop, myself included. Filming on the rooftop wasn’t a problem in terms of accessibility; the property was controlled by my uncle. My first and obvious concern was safety. There were two ways of climbing atop the rooftop: 1. climb a 25-foot ladder from the side or rear of the body shop, or 2. climb a 15-foot ladder to the sublevel of the rooftop near the front, and then climb another 10-foot ladder from the sublevel to the main rooftop portion. I opted for the second option (I would feel better falling from a shorter height, though once I was atop the main rooftop, it was all the same). Once up there, I began testing its strengths and weaknesses, which mainly consisted of me jumping up and down as hard as I could (and praying that I wouldn’t suddenly visit my uncle down below) and adding pressure to the two skylights (and praying that I wouldn’t shatter them, thus, sending shards my uncle’s way down below).


Now, the body shop only occupies one end of a multi-unit structure, so I needed to have permission (which I really didn’t ask for) to shoot over the entire expanse of the rooftop, otherwise, we would be confined to our corner (though this was the case when it came to filming the “zombie” scenes).


Being an industrial neighbourhood, noise was most definitely a concern and, sadly for Ryan A. Moore, our production sound mixer, a harsh, high-decibel reality. We were literally surrounded by a wealth of auditory intrusions: there were the mechanics revving engines and banging away throughout the day (we shot over a course of two and a half weekends; therefore, Saturdays were a bit loud at times, while Sunday quieted down significantly); airplanes flew over and around us (we were directly underneath their flight path and minutes away from the airport), which made it not only a sonic nightmare, but a visual logistic issue as the story absolutely needed to depict Cillian and Ellen’s utter isolation; a busy highway was minutes away in the opposite direction of the airport; there was the occasional horn-honking from the coffee truck, which was not only distracting sound-wise, but got my cast and crew thinking about their stomachs.


Every angle that showed minimal to no life or activity needed to be maximized and favoured in order to, again, support that isolated atmosphere that was so imperative to the story. Low angles were often employed and higher angles were used sparingly. It never ceased to amaze me how many cars actually drove along the street immediately beneath us and past the little slit of a laneway in the background, how many reflections the front windows of the businesses down below caught, and how many tiny, speck-like planes appeared out of nowhere within the captured footage.


While there were scenes that were most definitely planned in terms of visuals and camera/actor blocking, many times we improvised movement, and this was solely to allow both characters to move, behave, and interact with each other and the environment organically. Jolts in the camera, slightly off-timed focus-pulls, and many other techniques were purposely employed to ultimately minimalize a staged feel. And I know that, especially since the advent of The Blair Witch Project, filmmakers scapegoat unintentional rocky footage as a creative choice, but in the case of Canswer, well… the camera represents more than just the audience…


Since the film contains a number of scenes in which the characters are yelling, there were a couple of occasions in which people stopped to see what was up (at which point I was inspired to recreate a scene from Zack Synder’s Dawn of the Dead and, instead of creating and advertising a “People Inside” banner along the side of the all, drop a “It’s Okay, We’re Only Filming” sign over the side of the rooftop).


We all know that the weatherman/woman is right and wrong depending on our needs, but whoever (or whatever) was looking out for us sure did us a huge favour. Aside from light rain during the night before our GET INFECTED! Zombie “Mombie” Day (Sunday, May 13, 2012 was not only our “zombie” shooting date, but also Mother’s Day), we pretty much shot under a hot sun.


Do talk about your cast for a bit, and why exactly these people?


I have collaborated with both Robert Nolan [Robert Nolan interview - click here] and Kelly-Marie Murtha on several projects, whether I’m on set as a writer/producer/director, or crewing for another film in which they are starring. Sarah Cunningham, as far as Arcilesi Films is concerned, is the “new kid on the block” (hopefully, I don’t get sued for using that phrase).


Robert Nolan brings a level of understanding, maturity, courage, and dedication that not very many actors possess (and honestly boast and/or wish that they did) in the independent film community. I remember way back when I was shooting my third film, Scent of Rosemary; I was struggling to cast one of the three lead roles (after several “I-can-play-anything-but-I-just-read-your-script-and-I-won’t-play-that” actors ultimately wasted my time), and I ended up contacting Robert. He told me that he would read the script and would contact me later on.


Of course, based on the slew of negatives I already experienced, I felt that there was a good chance that Robert would also turn down the material. Well, he ended up contacting me, asked me a few questions (which was most likely his way of auditioning me to see if I was familiar even with my own material - the sign of a smart actor!), and the rest of cinematic history. But what I remember most about working with Robert on Scent of Rosemary, and this is regardless of the heavy subject matter, was his propensity to challenge me; how his character walked, talked, behaved, motivations, and more. Every now and then, when I’m writing a script, Robert appears in a little shimmery thought bubble and I can hear him questioning my choices in an echoing voice (not always, but sometimes). So here I go praising Robert, spewing how much creative respect and trust I have for him, having worked with him on several projects, and now I’m going to tell you that I still had him audition for the role of Cillian in Canswer. Why?

Many reasons, but one that stands out is when Robert and I were walking down the street having just left an after party back in 2009, just after our award-winning God's Acre screened, and just after he had won Best Actor; and what does he tell me? – “Alfredo, you don’t always have to cast me. You never know who’s out there. Yes, I might be good for the role, but someone might be great for the role. That’s what auditions are for.”


Now, I did post a casting call for Canswer. Usually, for a low/no-budget feature film, one might receive tens of responses, which will exponentially decrease for a multitude of reasons, but for Canswer, well… I had never experienced any response like it. In the two weeks leading up to the auditions, I had received well over 250 applications for the five existing roles. I had only booked a 4-hour timeslot at the audition space and would never be able to see everyone. Well, there was no need. After seeing close to 100 people within that 4-hour window, I didn’t have to look any further than Sarah Cunningham. I have said it to her and to others before, and I’ll say it here so it’s in print: her voice literally swept me away. Her delivery, the nuances and inflections of her voice, the soothing texture of her storytelling… well, she could deliver my eulogy. And I hope that I’m not embarrassing her by sharing this little piece of trivia, but during one of our many conversations, Sarah had shared with me how tough it is to succeed as an actress, especially if one doesn’t look like and do what Hollywood has brainwashed audiences and aspiring and professional actresses (and actors!) to look like and do. I have a simple philosophy: if the performer knows how to perform, if the performer is intelligent enough to absorb and evoke emotions via physical and verbal means, if the performer is someone who I can see as a representative of my (which would become “our”) production/film, and I can stand beside him/her without a doubt or a shudder, then you just might be cast; you can have all the looks and ooze sexuality, but as far as my work is concerned, I’m only going to dirty you up anyway, so I don’t give a fuck about that.

Plus, I don’t do casting couches.


Kelly-Marie Murtha has learned American Sign Language for my Lavender Fields and a completely fictional alien language for my For Clearer Skies (some of which we jokingly say she improvised during the extensive take), therefore, when someone puts in that time and effort into not only learning two languages foreign to her, on top of the weight of the character I’ve thrown at her, on top of whatever craziness I come up with, well… she gets the role! Like the rest of the cast, I’ve become friends with Kelly, and she’s oftentimes been my sounding board for matters in life and love. Plus, I think she’s the only natural redhead that I know (how narcissistic of me).


I had directed Eric Hicks in an unreleased web series and admired his natural abilities as well as his honest interest and curiosity with all things film and performance. From our few conversations, it’s easy to see that he is truly striving to be not just a better performer, but, most importantly, a better human being. It is from this betterment that he can apply himself to anything.


When I was on my way out of elementary school, I had the option of attending a brand new high school, one that had yet to open its doors. Ultimately, I decided to attend another high school for their hockey program (another story for another day), and never attended as a pioneering student to that other high school. But, several years later, my sister did attend that high school, and a short while after that, I attended as a member of the audience for a show. My sister was in the school band, and I did my brotherly duty (by my own will, I swear!) to support her. After her show, she introduced me to a couple of her teachers and friends. One friend a young kid named Brian Quintero. We chatted briefly about film since my sister told him that I was a filmmaker (I hadn’t made a single thing by that point, I’m sure of it; or at least anything worth pointing out). And we all know how these “networking” events go, right? We dress up, hold a drink in one hand, exchange and stare a few extra seconds at the others’ business card so as to not appear to be rude, talk about how we’ll keep in contact, but, more than likely, have never any intention of doing so.


Well, in the case of Quintero and Arcilesi, Brian walked into my audition for my first feature film, Snow Angel, back in 2011. While I didn’t cast him for that particular production (how evil of me!), we gradually became close friends and frequent collaborators on projects such as Reality Check, Green Peaks and Valleys, Saviolum, and, of course, Canswer.


What can you tell us about the shoot as such, and the on-set atmosphere?


I cannot begin to count the amount of times I’ve been labeled “Intimidating.”

While I have my own theories, as do a handful of friends and family members, as to why this is, I will say that I will absolutely relegate you from an “is” to a “was” if you so much as change your breathing pattern around me.

No, I’m only kidding. I can’t back that up. And, besides, that last bit was actually Morgan Freeman’s line of dialogue from the very cool Lucky Number Slevin.


In all honesty (and I am always honest, for better or worse), in spite of the heavy handed material I create, I like to create and maintain a very lackadaisical working environment (and I probably shouldn’t even call it “work”). I am a huge believer in respect, intelligence, responsibility, trust, dedication, and leadership; therefore, I try my damn best to be a respectful, intelligent, trustworthy, and dedicated leader. I am very in tune with my cast and crew, and can oftentimes sense when there’s an energy shift, and why that energy shift is taking place. And I have no qualms with admitting when I’m wrong (the last time I accidentally cut my finger I bled red, so that makes me human!). Canswer was so much fun! Since we shot over the course of two and a half weekends at my uncle’s body shop, and since it was located quite a distance from where any of us lived, I setup a sort of camp where each cast and crew member would each take a vehicle in the body shop, and use it as their own personal hotel room.

As with most film sets, when you’re working with any number of people for any number of hours/days, you tend to come up with antics. I’m not sure if it was due to working under the hot sun, but at one point we each began to speak in different dialects and accents; I think I was Russian at one point!


I think it’s safe to say, however, that the absolute best and most memorable time we all had was on Sunday, May 13, 2012. This was our GET INFECTED! Zombie “Mombie” Day (as I mentioned earlier, it also happened to be Mother’s Day). We had close to 100 friends and complete strangers (who have now become friends, and most of us remain in contact to this day) come on out and play The Infected for the day. I had setup a big screen TV in the body shop, which played the original Dawn of the Dead and 28 Days Later, complete with a bunch chairs for viewing, and a table full of food and drink. We created a sort of “zombie” car wash, but instead of getting cleaned, our wardrobe (Perin Westerhof Nyman) and special makeup effects team (headed by Carlos Henriques and Ryan Louagie of The Butcher Shop) “zombified” everyone with blood, dirt, torn clothing, guts, and all kinds of gore. One of the coolest moments was when some of those who brought their vehicles actually volunteered to have their vehicles bloodied up for our scenes. Everyone was snapping pictures and coming up with some of the worst (and by “worst,” I mean “best!”) zombie puns; I was amazed by the amount of fan-made posters that resulted from this, which was a first for me.


A highlight was when I announced that the first “zombie” to reach the far fence (as seen in the film) would receive a raffle prize (yes, I also handed out a dozen or so zombie-related raffle prizes as a way of thanking everyone for being a part of the film). The media was present, including local publications and Kelly Michael Stewart of Fangoria Magazine, who not only interviewed some of the cast and crew, but participated, along with his mother, as a member of the Infected Horde.


The look on Ryan A. Moore’s face (our production sound mixer) when I called “Action!” for the very first “zombie” scene was priceless. His head just popped up from looking down at the recorder, and he just looked at me with the widest of smiles; it was the absolute first time that we had any idea of what it truly felt and sounded like to have a mass of The Infected down below. It was eerie and cool. I remember squatting at the edge of the rooftop, knowing that after a day’s worth of filming The Infected that I was entering the last take I would need with them. At the risk of sounding cheesy, I looked down at everyone; they were all so energetic, supportive, and I wondered what George A. Romero felt when he was creating his zombie extravaganzas!


What can you tell us about audience and critical reception of your film so far - and any idea when and where Canswer will be released onto a general audience?


As of this writing, Canswer has only been reviewed by a trio of reviewers, all of whom have said exactly what I had felt and had hoped for with regards to the performances, its feel, and, I’m proud to say, its originality. It is currently being submitted to film festivals, and, along with my cast, crew, and The Infected, I have very high expectations for this film, especially after a very successful festival run with For Clearer Skies, which is sort of a companion piece to Canswer.


Any future projects you'd like to share?


I’m currently in postproduction for a pair of short films: Green Peaks and Valleys and Saviolum, as I’ve come to realize, will act as companion pieces to one another.

Mnemophobia: Fear of Memories is an episode of the TV/web series In Fear of I had the pleasure of writing and directing for creator Scott W. Perry [Scott W. Perry interview - click here] and company in Long Island; that is also in postproduction.

Last, but certainly not least, I am one week away (as of this writing) from entering auditions for the third feature film from Arcilesi Films titled Usher, the Usher.


Your/your movie's website, Facebook, whatever else?


Feeling lucky ?
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x-rated  find Alfredo Salvatore Arcilesi at

I humbly invite everyone to GET INFECTED! (sorry, that was our marketing slogan for our “Zombie” Day) by staying connected and checking out, bookmarking, liking, commenting on, and sharing any and all of the following links:

Official Canswer website: 

Official Canswer Facebook fan page:

Official Canswer teaser trailer #1 (Animal Nature): 

Official Canswer teaser trailer #2 (Human Nature): 

Official Canswer teaser trailer #3 (Inhuman Nature): 


Anything else you are dying to mention and I have merely forgotten to ask?


Rest in peace, Nonno Salvatore Arcilesi 1931-2014.


Thanks for the interview!


© by Mike Haberfelner

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Thanks for watching !!!



Robots and rats,
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Tales to Chill
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Tales to Chill
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