Your new movie Queen
Crab - in a few words, what is it about?
Well, it's the story of a young
woman and her beloved pet, rather along the lines of Lassie or National
Velvet or something, only in this case her pet is a giant crab.
question: Why a crab?
make great monsters. They're armor plated and have menacing claws and no
real faces. Blow them up to giant size and they're naturals for monster
movies. Corman thought so, and so did Harryhausen. Also they're quite fun
I think it's fair to say Queen
Crab has been inspired by 1950s drive-in monster movies - is that
a genre at all dear to you, and some of your genre favourites?
do love 1950s monster movies. In many ways it's my favorite period for the
genre. Beast From 20,000 Fathoms,
Them, 20,000,000 Miles to Earth,
Godzilla, it really was the Golden Age.
Queen Crab is patterned more on the
fiction movies from that period, and specifically the sort of second
string features like Monolith Monsters, with the small town setting
and the sheriff investigating and all, although I think the
influence of Tarantula is quite clear.
sources of inspiration when writing
really. Well, maybe Mighty Joe Young
in the sense that the main character is a lonely young woman
whose only close companion is a giant beast (except that Jill Young wasn't
nuts). In fact at one point I jokingly titled the script Mighty Joe
How would you describe your directorial
approach to your story at hand?
it done! Really, that's
your main focus on a shoot like this. We shoot these things in about a
week, with barely any crew, so everyone has to work his or her ass off
just to get all the footage we need to make the movie. There isn't time
for a lot of finesse. Fortunately there's not a lot of finesse required
either. You try to hire people who are right for their parts and then just
let 'em go. If they stray too far off from what you think you need then
you have to guide them back on track but honestly there isn't a lot of
time for that. Mark's mantra is “CE --- Committed to Excellence
or close enough.” It's the nature of the beast (so to speak).
What can you tell us
about your key cast, and why exactly these people?
Michelle Simone Miller
sort of slowly building up a little repertory company, which is nice. I
write a lot with certain people in mind. Unfortunately we live and work
pretty much in the middle of nowhere so there isn't much of a talent pool
to draw from. It's expanding, bit by bit, but a lot of the local people
are Polonia regulars, people Mark has known and worked with for years like
Ken VanSant and Steve Diasparra. Yolie Canales, who is a hoot as Sally
Rae, is local also and a relative newbie but we've used her in everything
since Dark Sleep. We had to bring our leads in. Michelle Miller is
from Manhattan, Richard Lounello and A.J. DeLucia are from Albany,
Kathryn Metz from south of Philadelphia, all quite a distance. It's
not bad when you're doing a sustained shoot but when you need to do quick
retakes it can be a real pain. We had to bring Richard and Kate back one
night to retake a handful of shots and Kate drove for four hours to do
about an hour's work (but it was worth it).
of course also have to talk about the wonderful practical effects of your
movie for a bit, and how were they achieved?
I'm using state of the art technology from 1920! Actually It's not quite
that bad. I still do the monsters using old fashioned stop-motion, but I
do my comps and such digitally. Composite effects that would have once
cost me thousands of dollars I now do for free on my desk top.
And it simplifies the stop motion process somewhat. Just as a tiny
example, I don't animate blinks any more --- no more crafting tiny eyelids
from resin or latex and sticking them on every hundred frames or so, I
just add them in post when I want them. And I can correct things. If I
bump the animation table it's no longer a disaster, I can realign on the
computer. I had a fang break off a creature and I just kept animating and
created a new one in post. So I'm not a total Luddite, but I still like to
build models and miniatures. It's part of why I do these movies. And I
can't afford CGI!
about the shoot as such, and the on-set atmosphere!
There's never enough time, you're always struggling just to keep from
falling behind. It's like Lewis Carroll wrote, it takes all the running
you can do to stay in the same place. But everyone is good to get along
with. There's a lot of joking on the set. We don't have any temperamental
people. We had a couple on Muckman and they got replaced. It
created all kinds of problems but I'm glad we did it. Now the only pain in
the ass on my sets is me.
you can tell us about audience and critical reception of Queen
a little soon for that, although most of the feedback we have gotten has
been positive. One person gave the movie a generally favorable write-up
but mentioned that most people won't like the old fashioned effects. Well,
I'm sure he's right but that's too bad. We're making movies for a niche
audience. I'm perfectly happy with that. Let me make a comparison: when I
listen to music I mostly listen to jazz and classical. Only about ten
percent of music sold falls into those categories, which actually makes me
feel like part of an enlightened minority. If we can sell as many movies
as Branford Marsalis does albums (or whatever) I'll be happy.
Any future projects you'd like to
Feeling lucky ?
any of my partnershops yourself
for more, better results ?
The links below
will take you
finished Triclops (after two years in post). It's a real old
fashioned monster movie, basically a compendium of all the old cliches I
could think of all wrapped up in a nice cheap package. And we're currently
shooting another movie tentatively called Outpost Earth, your basic
small-band-of-survivors-in-a-post-alien-invasion-world story. It's coming
along pretty well.
Your/your movie's website, Facebook, whatever
Thanks for the interview!
more than welcome. We can do it again on the next one!