Your upcoming film Manifestation - in a few words, what is it
Manifestation is a dark drama with a number of very disturbing
moments of horror. It is about a couple whose son dies and that event
tears their relationship apart. We come into the story about a year and
half on, the husband, Bob, played by Robert Bozek, has located his wife
Anna, played by Melantha Blackthorne [Melantha
Blackthorne interview - click here], who does not wish to see him. He
wants them to get back together but it becomes very clear very quickly
that these people are never going to get back together and probably should
have never been together in the first place. Think George and Martha from Who’s Afraid of Virginia
Woolf, but much more vicious. Bob soon
learns that his wife has a lover, played my Michael Berryman… but she
also has something even more disturbing in her garage loft… something not
So how did the project first come into being, and what can you
tell us about your screenwriter Robert X Willis and your collaboration
and I came up with the basic story and he wrote the screenplay. It comes
out of a question that was asked one night after a few beers… maybe more
than a few. But the question was, if everything is energy and if energy
cannot be destroyed, it can only be changed, then what happens to
emotions? Where does all the hate in the world go? All the fear and
sorrow? Where do these powerful emotions, once released, go to… and what
could they become under the right circumstances?
How would you describe Manifestation's
approach to horror (as in atmosphere vs all-out-gore, suspense vs sudden
shocks and the like)?
early creature concept by Pat Tantalo
I’m known for shouting “more
blood” on the set. I like extremes, whether gore or sexuality or
emotional outbursts. In Manifestation however, we are adapting a more
classic less-is-more aesthetic. There will be some shocking moments. There
will be some over the top gore. But there are also many moments of quiet
horror, where you are not quite sure what you have just seen. I think
these are the moments that stick with you long after the more immediate
reaction to the over the top stuff has passed.
Since you have hired a couple of
quite prominent special effects artists for your movie, you just have to
talk about the intended effects for Manifestation for a bit?
creature is still in development so I really can’t say much about it.
But think Lovecraftian Old One meets Cenobite meets Japanese squid porn
and that might give you a bit of an idea.
leads will be played by three rather well-known horror actors, Michael
Berryman, Melantha Blackthorne [Melantha
Blackthorne interview - click here] and Debra Lamb [Debra
Lamb interview - click here]. Why them, and how did you get them?
know Melantha for a number of years. She appeared in my films Prison of
the Psychotic Damned and Fable. I wrote and produced both of those, and so
am really looking forward to working with her in a director-actress
relationship. She is a wonderful human being, smart and sexy and a great
actress. I think this role is going to be her Oscar. This is a seriously
intense role and she is going to knock it out.
I met Debra through Melantha, who I had asked to recommend a couple
actresses for the part of Mia who meets a rather nasty end. We spoke a few
times on the phone and she instantly understood what I was going after.
She seems a real sweet-heart and by all accounts is. Again, this is a role
that is intense and I believe she can knock it out as well.
Michael Berryman, I was talking to Melantha about the script and she asked
if I had any one in mind for the part of her lover. I said I did not. And
she suggested Michael Berryman. And I went…huh? That really blew my
mind. But the more I thought about it the more brilliant I thought the
idea. It is so unexpected, so totally out of the realm of the kinds of
roles Michael usually plays. He is always the mutant, the monster, the
henchman. Here is suave and cultured and just a little bit deadly. So I
reached out to his agent Judith Fox and told her what we were all about
and… here we are. Great person Judy by the way.
the look of your film, you'll work together closely with DoP Wolfgang
Meyer [Wolfgang Meyer interview -
click here] - so what can you tell us about the intended look and
feel of Manifestation, and your collaboration with Mr Meyer as
We’re shooting on film rather than digital. We had
an opportunity to shoot on the RED, which I love, but for the look we want,
film is a much better medium. Years and years ago I shot a film on 16mm
using only natural sunlight and that looked fantastic, it gave the actors
a sort of ethereal glow, a dream-like aesthetic. Wolfgang and I are both
huge fans of art cinema, especially the European films of the 70s. We want
As far as I know, Manifestation
will partly be shot in the Buffalo Central Terminal, where you also shot
your last movie Scarlet
Samurai: Incarnation (formerly Terminal
Descent) - so what do you find so appealing about this location?
There is something about the terminal that calls me. If you
ever come face to face with this imposing structure, you’ll feel it too.
I’ve lived in western New York all my life but didn’t even know the
terminal existed till the late 80s. I was visiting a friend who had moved
near there and I got out of the car and saw this tower looming over the
room of her house and I was like… wtf is that? She said, “The Buffalo
Central Terminal” and I was like, what? So she took me over there and
I’ve been returning to the scene of that crime ever since. I’ve
probably walked from one end of the building to the other and from top to
bottom. There really is something about it. At that time the place was in
terrible shape. It’s still not in the best of shape but the restoration
people have been working hard to stabilize it and not let it fall to ruin
like so many other Buffalo landmarks have been allowed to. When I die I
plan on haunting it.
You're presently still raising funds for your movie, right? So
what can you tell us about your fundraising efforts?
launched a Kickstarter campaign to raise the $50,000 we need to shoot the
film. There are other efforts going on, but if we can raise the money
through Kickstarter, that is the best possible scenario. Of course if any
deep pocketed individuals who’d like to see their names on a movie
starring Michael Berryman want to give me a check directly, that works
once the funds are raised, how are you planning to proceed, and though I
know it might be waaay too early to ask, any idea when the movie's going
to be released onto the general public yet?
happens and, we all realize there is at best a 50/50 chance this will
happen, but nothing ventured nothing gained right? We would probably be
ready for market in October. I am considering self distribution, as that
will give me the most control over the project, but we’re open.
As far as I
know, two of your films this site has covered a bit are going to be
released this year (tentatively), Cleric
and above mentioned Scarlet
Samurai: Incarnation - so please say a few words about those two?
Samurai: Incarnation, originally Terminal Descent is in the
last stages of post production. Tara Cardinal [Tara
Cardinal interview - click here] and Sean Wyn [Sean
Wyn interview - click here] have worked
very very hard to rescue this film from the shelf and get it finished and
ready for market. All kudos must go to them.
is nearing completion, and the game plan for that is to release it as a web
series first and then possibly all episodes with some bonus material on
DVD. That’s pretty tentative right now however.
got you into filmmaking in the first place, and did you receive any formal
training on the subject?
I’ve been making movies since I
was like 14 years old and discovered an old 8mm camera my friend’s uncle
had. I caught the bug early and have been at it ever since. I have a BA in
Media Study from the University of New York at Buffalo, but that was more
theory than practice. Most of the practice is hands-on self taught.
Do talk about your filmwork so
far for a bit?
abhor cookie cutter filmmaking. I’m not interested in the same old same
old. I’m not interested in template characters and paint by numbers
plots. I hate having to explain anything to the audience. The audience has
seen enough films and should be smart enough to figure out this shit for
themselves. Nothing pisses me off more than hearing some filmmaker talk
about how their serial killer zombie werewolf whatever movie is different
with real people and unique plottwists and you go see it, and it's like,
the same old tried shit with stereotypical characters and “plottwists” you can see a mile away. My work goes against that grain time
and time again. If I can see a plotpoint coming, I make a sharp turn to
avoid it. And I want to challenge the audience. I want to test their
limits when it comes to gore and sexuality. I want to make them think and
will drag them kicking and screaming to the end if I have to.
Any future projects beyond
at this moment.
would you describe yourself as a director?
I love the
collaborative nature of film. I see my scripts as templates, not rigid
instruction manuals. When we shoot a scene I work with my actors and the
crew to explore the space. How far can we push it? I’m not afraid to
take chances. They may not always work but at least it keeps things
who inspire you?
Michelangelo Antonioni is a huge
influence. Also Fellini. Godard to an extent. Bergman. Tarkovsky. David
Lynch and early Cronenberg.
Your favourite movies?
Feeling lucky ?
any of my partnershops yourself
for more, better results ?
The links below
will take you
a huge fan of classic Universal horror films, so
The Wolfman. Also the Hammer remakes with Peter Cushing and Christopher Lee.
The films of Roger Corman [Roger
Corman bio - click here]. But also art-cinema so films like The Silence
by Bergman. L’Avventura, Eclipse and Red Desert by Antonioni.
The Bad and The Ugly is on my top 5. Also Last Year at Marienbad and
pretty much anything else by Alain Resnais. And American underground
cinema, so Maya Deren, Jack Smith, the Kuchar Brothers.
and of course, films you really deplore?
said prior, any film that is nothing more than a step by step retread of
everything that has come before. Mainstream
Hollywood and those who seek to imitate that model of filmmaking.
movie's website, Facebook, Kickstarter, whatever else?
else you are dying to mention and I have merely forgotten to ask?
think you covered it =)
for the interview!