Your upcoming movie Angel of
Reckoning - in a few
words, what is it about?
Reckoning is the latest movie from prolific indie
filmmaker Len Kabasinski [Len
Kabasinski interview - click here]. It is a revenge thriller involving a female
soldier returning from war only to start her own personal vendetta when a
close relative dies under suspicious circumstances. Thereís lots of
action and drama, babes and bullets.
What can you tell us about your
editing style on Angel of
a fairly straightforward narrative style. But Iím adapting my editing
decisions from scene to scene based on the needs of the moment. My number
one rule is not to do anything that would pull the audience out of the
story. I think Requiem For A Dream is a great example of changing
editing styles that still serve the narrative. But I donít do anything
quite so experimental in Angel of
did you get involved with the project in the first place?
and I had a very favorable experience working on the re-edit and DVD
mastering of Warriors of the Apocalypse so he invited me to be
involved in his next film: Angel of
far as I know, you were very much involved in the actual production of Angel of
more so than usual for an editor - so what can you tell us about that
aspect of the movie, and about your collaboration with its director Len Kabasinski [Len
Kabasinski interview - click here]?
Len has very
definite ideas and opinions about his films, but he can also be very
collaborative with people he trusts. Ultimately he wants the film to be
the best version possible. So after our experience working together on the
special edition of Warriors of the Apocalypse, he invited me to edit
Reckoning and even come out for
the shoot if possible. At first I was reluctant to make the drive for
financial reasons (Len lives in Erie, Pennsylvania and I live in southern
Ohio), but my wife insisted we could manage and supported my being present
for almost the entire production. The night before every shoot, Len would
meet with myself and producer Ruth Sprague to plan the logistics in
detail. On the day, we would arrive at each location and I would
immediately start planning the lighting to suit the needs of the set.
Itís one thing to talk about an environment, itís another to actually
be there. Since I was coming from out of town I really didnít have time
to personally see the locations in advance, so often I wouldnít have any
real idea of the space until we arrived. Fortunately I had a good
understanding of what Len was trying to do stylistically so we developed a
kind of shorthand. I remember a particular moment during the climax when
we did a sudden switch from one lighting scheme to the next without Len
and I communicating to each other in advance. It turned out to be exactly
what he wanted, thatís how in sync we were at that point. We often
consulted with each other on the actual shots, and if I had an idea I
really thought would work, Len would accommodate getting it. However, as
time went on I really came to appreciate just how much Len understood
about what the film needed. Eventually I only made suggestions when I
really thought it would add in a significant way.
How did you
and Len Kabasinski meet in the first place even?
to see a Facebook post from Len in which he was looking for someone to do
a re-edit of his film Warriors of the Apocalypse. I had seen him on
a couple of episodes of Best of the Worst by the Red Letter Media
guys, so I knew he had a reputation of someone in the indie world who gets
things done. If thereís anything that attracts me most to someone in the
industry, itís when they actually see their projects through to the end.
I donít need to tell you how rare that is.
As mentioned, you've
recently also re-edited Len Kabasinski's Warriors of the Apocalypse,
to be re-released as Apocalypse Female Warriors - so what can you
tell us about this new edit of yours, and what were the challenges there?
had recently reacquired the rights and wanted to make about five changes
to the original film before releasing a brand new DVD. While I was making
those changes I became aware of other ways it could be improved. Sound
effects, tighter pacing, additional special effects, color grading, etc.
So, with Lenís permission I started making additional changes. Len began
to get excited about the movie again and began submitting more tweaks and
changes as the edit progressed. I ended up spending over one hundred hours
on the film before we both felt we had the best version of Warriors of the Apocalypse
Len wanted to add a commentary track with us talking about the new
version. In addition, I suggested he contact the guys at Red Letter Media
and see if they would be interested in adding their own commentary as
well. Fortunately they were more than happy to do so. Since I was the one
remastering the DVD I had the distinct privilege of being the first person
to hear it. Needless to say, it was very entertaining.
future projects you'd like to share?
Iíll be working on
Lenís next film Bite of The Mummy this summer and possibly more
after that. I also have a project of my own Iím writing and plan on
shooting in a couple of years. Itís a supernatural western and I already
have the location and several of the principal actors secured. I can
safely say I wouldnít be able to do it without all the things Iíve
learned working with Len.
What got you into
film editing to begin with, and did you receive any formal training on the
art by Chris Young
My classroom has always been the theater. You know
the J.J. Abrams film Super 8? I was that kid. My dad bought me a
Super 8 camera and projector so I could make my own movies with friends. I
did that all the way through the transition to video tape. At one point I
attended school for two years with the intention of creating soundtracks
for film as a career. However, I lost both parents in my early twenties
and ended up taking a few years off to get my feet under me again.
Eventually I went back to school and earned a Bachelor's in Fine Arts with
an emphasis in video and animation. Over the next twenty years I used my
skills to work for ad agencies, sports franchises and various corporate
clients, doing motion graphics and video production. About three years ago
I started to network with people in the indie film industry over social
media and was able to use my artistic abilities to provide concept art and
posters for several productions. Iíve spent decades editing for retail
and corporate so finally getting to return to my first love of movies has
What can you tell us about your filmwork prior
to Angel of
I love many genres of
film but have a warm spot for horror in general. Iíve been fortunate to
provide concept art for indie horror actor Bill Oberst jr [Bill
Oberst jr interview - click here] and his pet
project Lord Bateman. Iíve created illustrations for the
Lovecraftian atlas app called The Pnakotic Atlas and movie posters
for a variety of projects. One of the most notorious is Snake With A
Human Tail and of course thereís the poster for Angel of
Reckoning. Billy Blair has
also been great to work with and uses several of my promotional pieces at
his convention appearances.
How would you
describe yourself as a film editor?
I want each film to be
the best at whatever it is trying to be. I like to be able to implement
whatever style is appropriate. If I have any personal preferences it is to
cut to the chase and keep the storytelling tight and efficient. Nothing
makes me turn off a film faster than a lot of extraneous footage that does
nothing to further the story. Thereís a big difference between
atmosphere and just padding for time.
whoever else who inspire you?
Iím kind of in awe of
Kurosawa and his complete artistic control of every aspect of filmmaking.
Val Lewton and Jacques Tourneur invented many of the horror tropes that
are still used today. Hitchcock is certainly the grand master everyone
says he is. I agree with William Friedkin when he said that ďeverything
you need to know about filmmaking you can learn by watching Alfred
Hitchcock filmsĒ. No one can come close to David Lynch for crafting
stories that are more like waking dreams than reality. Cronenberg makes
everything he does look easy which is baffling to me. Early Spielberg is a
wonder and Darren Aronofsky is without peer when heís on his game, that
also goes for James Wan and Leigh Whannell. Thereís more but thatís
the short list.
Your favourite movies?
have to choose, then Iíll start with Saw. That first movie in the
series does just about everything right and it also almost works as a one
scene stage play. The Evil Dead is a thing unto itself.
Trouble In Little China benefits from John Carpenter at his height and
a great script from W. D. Richter, The Thing, Terminator 2 may
be one of the most perfect screenplays ever written. Silverado, Shadow Of A Doubt (1943),
Insidious and too many to mention
and of course, films you really deplore?
Feeling lucky ?
any of my partnershops yourself
for more, better results ?
The links below
will take you
In general, lazy
filmmaking. That goes for any genre or budget and can be found in both. It
sometimes makes me angry. I see it as a waste of my time.
Facebook, whatever else?
You can follow my work at
including interviews and reviews, my Twitter handle is
@DarthDragon, and FaceBook is
Anything else you're dying to
mention and I have merely forgotten to ask?
If you want to
do something then do it yourself. Donít talk about it or gripe about how
hard it is and why others wonít help or give you money. Grab your
smartphone and shoot it if necessary.